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We receive at least 20 emails a week from folks asking us where they can find replacement parts for a tool. So we thought it might be worth a post to explain how we go about finding this information for our own personal needs. This might seem a bit simple to some of you, but the volume of mail we receive indicates that it’s a topic we should address. If you’re already very comfortable finding this information yourself, we’d love it if you’d add your own recommendations in comments for future readers who find the post and can benefit from your experience.

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I work in wood a lot. I try to combine or create objects in a smart or new way all the time, and still this idea never occurred to me. Innovative architects Suzan Wines and Azin Valy took 200 shipping pallets and built a small house out of them as the rest of us wind up collectively smacking our foreheads.

For years I always felt bad about not doing something with pallets. You often see them thrown away, broken apart, or burned. I’ll admit I’ve had my share of breaking them up and using them as firewood, scrap, props, shims, and sawhorse materials, but never could I have thought this ambitiously.

They say in the video that, over the course of a year, just the throw-aways in the U.S. could house every refuge in Haiti. That’s powerful thinking and our hat is off to this creative group and their new building material!

The Pallet House [YouTube]


Though we suspect many pros already know about this, we wonder how many high-end DIY folks are aware that most of the major manufacturers offer automotive versions of their charging systems. Indeed, if you take the time to do a little Googling, you’ll discover lots of options regardless of the color of your power tools. Read on to take a closer look at four of them.

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Lance Herriott was a ship welder, until he retired. But like many Toolmongers, retirement represented a change in, rather than a departure from, the idea of making a living with one’s hands. In this ~30-minute video, we get a look at this process through the eyes of Herriott’s daughter, Nikole. (We’re sorry, by the way, that we can’t embed the video directly. It’s Vimeo’s limitation, not ours. Don’t worry, though. Just click through the picture above or the link below to play it directly off the Vimeo site.)

While not everyone will necessarily feel the same way she does, I’m betting we all feel a little bit like Lance. What would you like to do when you retire? Have a good weekend, everyone. And remember to do something cool (and tell us about it).

Herriott Grace [Vimeo]


Sun Jifa is a badass. The 51-year-old Chinese man lost both his hands in an accident but didn’t have a lot of cash for medical prosthetics. He could have despaired or gone off hunting cash, or half a dozen other roads that may or may not have gotten him new hands. What he did do is go all Tony Stark and build himself some hands out of a box of scrap.

Yep, Sun Jifa took a pile of steel and built full prosthetic versions of working hands that can grip and do his work. They look a bit rough, they’re fairly heavy, and they took eight years to craft — but the prostheses allows him to live a more normal life. He states that the hands work on a series of wires and pulleys inside the sleeves that are controlled by movements in his elbows.

We know he did it out of necessity, but the sheer force of will it had to take is amazing. We doubt most people could have done the same.

Man builds himself bionic hands [Yahoo News]


About 10 minutes into the movie Tron: Legacy, the character Sam Flynn rides his Ducati up to his dockside home: an industrial-looking place obviously built from shipping containers. Large glass garage doors open on the front and back, permitting him to store his bike right in the living room and giving his living room a water-front view. It’s a bit of a dive, but I couldn’t help but wonder: could a home like this — cleaned up, of course — work for normal living? And how expensive would it be (or would it even be possible) to build one?

It turns out I’m not the only one thinking along those lines. Meet Adam Kalkin and his Quik House.

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I know I should be out in the shop tearing into the pile of tools we’ve got backed up here for testing, but (like everyone else, I suspect) I get sidetracked by the internet sometimes. It’s one of the dangers of writing online; the net’s always there, just a click away, waiting to tell you all about some new-found interest. Here’s how it happened to me this time:

I was walking around Half-Price Books (an awesome place, by the way) a few days ago when I came across the book What Knot? sitting on an end cap. Flipping through it, I discovered that it’s pretty much like all the other knot books I’ve seen, with the notable exception that it includes quite a bit of history as well as some pretty sweet color photos. Not quite motivated to pick it up, I snapped a shot of it with my cameraphone, intending to look into it later.

Then this morning I ran across the picture and looked it up on Amazon [What’s This?]. Good news: Lots of used copies are floating around cheap. Then I Googled the first-listed author, Geoffrey Budworth. Read on to follow me down the knot-history rabbit hole.

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We came across this interesting project posted over on Instructables by user Vitizop. It’s a cool idea: take a key that you need to carry anyway, and shape it a bit to make it more useful — in this case, a lot more useful. As you can see above, this key can do quite a bit, even if you discount a few of the more far-fetched applications, like #7. Hell, #3 alone would be worth taking your housekey into the shop.

If you follow through some of the additional frames, Vitizop continued the creative streak past 10 uses, adding in a 2.5 cm ruler and even a freakin’ light from a Lego toy.

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And no, they don’t mean the Miami kind. The long-time vise manufacturer is holding a sweepstakes in which they’ll select their favorite story and bestow its teller with five grand. All “qualified” entrants will receive a “free Wilton C-clamp.” We’re not sure what “qualified” means, but after our quick read of the press release, it looks like you just have to be over 21.

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I guess all the talk of expensive LED products this week got us wondering: Does the company known for offering drool-worthy-yet-astronomically-priced tools offer a simple worklight? Answer: yes. You’re looking at it. And it checks in at a whopping $175. (No, really.) So what exactly do you get for that much cash?

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