I consider very few tools “sexy,” but this set might fit the bill: these were just a few of the tools in the space shuttle Atlantis’s multi-billion-dollar kit on its recent mission to repair the Hubble Telescope.
Astronauts packed a total of 180 tools on this mission, 116 of which were specially designed for this trip alone. Pictured above are a CPU-powered hi-torque pistol, EVA mini work station, imaging spectrograph repair tool, and other items we’ll probably never get to see in person — still, it’s fun to dream.
4Dorks on Flickr posted this awesome (strobist) shot of his custom-built depth gauge, which he uses in conjunction with some of his other custom tools to build split-cane bamboo fly rods. For those of you who build fly rods, this tool helps set the v-gap in the planing forms.
Planing Form Depth Gauge [Flickr]
I could hear the Jetsons theme playing in my head while I wrote this — the future is here. In a video on his website, Jay Leno demos a consumer-level 3D scanner, showing how it can be used in real-world applications such as automotive restoration. He scans a broken steam valve and sends the data to a 3D printer for mock-up and to his CNC machine to mill the final part.
I was amazed that the 3D printer can even make models with moving parts. Jay shows a wrench that was printed with perfectly moving parts already in place, just like the original metal one!
Ok, so it’s not really a Terminator, but someone involved with this project had to be a Terminator fan. Officially, Seco Tools machined a miniature skeleton from a 6”x12” aluminum billet to demonstrate the capabilities of their tooling. They made a 3D scan of a full-size skeleton, translated that to a solid model, then converted the solid model into the tool path for their CNC machine.
The hands-off operation can create models accurate to one thousandth of an inch — someday the technology may allow Toolmongers to machine human body parts to fit the individual recipient. Seco raffled off this piece to one lucky visitor at the 2008 International Manufacturing Technology Show. Maybe it’ll show up on eBay.
You could describe many of Bridge City Tool Works’ tools as “tool pr0n,” but does their limited-edition multi-square belong in that category? Certainly — but in addition to being beautiful and expensive, this well-made tool packs a lot of features into its 4.125″ tall, .875″ wide, and .73″ thick body. After looking at the realistic renderings of the multi-square and reading about it on their site, you’ll feel the need to hold it in your hands.
Continue reading »
This photo of reader txinkman’s freshly restored tool chest definitely qualifies as tool porn. Txinkman is no stranger to restoration, but one detail here struck us as extra cool: He managed to get the faux leather not only clean but most likely looking better than when it was new.
It didn’t hurt that it was in pretty decent shape to start with, but anyone who’s tried to scrub decades of grime off one of these bad boys will tell you it’s not only time-consuming but difficult to do without ripping or wearing a hole in the material. As usual, Txinkman makes everyone else’s toolbox seem uninteresting.
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]
Mirrors on your tools? I couldn’t resist posting about this pretty tile saw, just for the picture, but this tool’s beauty is more than skin-deep. Like Gemini Saw Company’s more mundane-looking Taurus 3, this Revolution tile saw features a cool ring-shaped blade. Whereas a normal wet saw pretty much only cuts straight lines, the ring blade allows cutting action more like a scroll saw.
Street pricing on the Revolution starts at $945 and blades run $100+.
You might not consider this sweet pneumatic drill “tool porn,” but given my obsession for anything tracked, I’ve elevated it to that category. Reader mbeldyk says that together with a pump this drill helped build the still-unfinished statue of Crazy Horse that’s carved into a mountainside about 17 miles from Mount Rushmore.
Though the drill and pump combo was largely unreliable, the reported reason for the statue’s incompleteness has more to do with lack of funding and the death of the original artist in 1982. It’s too bad — we’d love to see this baby back in action.
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]
Bright red and yellow make for a very cheery machine! Though it looks like a children’s toy, this portable backhoe should prove fairly useful for a farm or small operation. The website contains hardly any information besides contact info for the manufacturer, but at least they put up some pretty pictures. This sure looks better than Red Green’s Cadillac backhoe.
Portable Backhoe [Collins Machinery]
Recently, one of the mechanics at my local shop got himself a brand new Snap-on box with a top hutch, and I got a little jealous — ok, a lot jealous. It’s big, blue, shiny, and completely lust-worthy.
The five thousand dollar buy-in is steep for most, but you’re really buying the Snap-on name and quality. A box like this will last through many moves from house to house, from shop to shop — and all the while it’ll hold a ton of tools without sagging or faltering like a few department store toolboxes might. Plus, you can always expand or adapt this versatile box to suit your circumstances.
Only the buyer can say whether the Snap-on box is worth the uber price difference. But most of us can agree, this box is mighty good looking — even with all the drool stains on it.
Rolling Toolbox And Top Hutch [Snap-on]