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Cool Tools, lesser known tools that can improve your life

 
pollinator
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So I happen to find this while looking at poor mans ATV videos and just thought, wow that is awesome. What a great option for folks who don't want to deal with trailers.



It is a truck bed rack and ramp system that weighs aprox 450lbs, can be installed and removed in aprox 10 min (with a group of people or mechanical help), allows for the carry of ATVs and or mowers, has a rack for storage of items with room to park a mower or ATV under, assisted ramp lift, extends your track bed length, and depending on local laws needs no special registration, title, inspection or insurance.

While not exactly a cheap item at $3000, it is competitive with trailer prices while saving a lot of the added costs of trailers.

It can be found here https://theramprack.com/

I am seriously looking at this as a great option to have, so thought it highly worth sharing since others here might appreciate it as well. Now I suspect most of us wouldn't use it as a landscaping truck (though some permies are doing permie landscaping), but more of a farm truck addition to bring in some of those bulky and heavy items that would normally need a trailer.
 
pollinator
Posts: 493
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aluminum OHV truckbed ramp

This is what my uncle liked to use to load his dirtbikes into his truckbed, light, folds down, and easy to load engine driven equipment(rolling non-drive-powered heavy equipment up that ramp would be quite a chore).

 
Devin Lavign
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:aluminum OHV truckbed ramp

This is what my uncle liked to use to load his dirtbikes into his truckbed, light, folds down, and easy to load engine driven equipment(rolling non-drive-powered heavy equipment up that ramp would be quite a chore).



Yep, I already have a folding ramp for my truck. The one I posted however is more than just a ramp, it is an extension. Giving you more room for equipment and/or items. Which is a big part of why I find it so cool.
 
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One of my favorite tools is my prong.  https://www.theprong.com/pri-long-prong
We use it a few times weekly for leveraging rocks and other heavy stuff.  
 
gardener
Posts: 610
Location: Ontario - Currently in Zone 4b
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This year I have been discovering the amazing utility of what I affectionately refer to as "baby tools". All the effectiveness, or more, of the big tools, with more precision and a lighter weight. No idea on real names, most of our garden tools come from yard sales and antique stores.

So far this year I have split and planted about 150 perennials, and likely another 50 ish annuals or garden center plants. The majority of this has been done with my baby spade -almost the same precision of a trowel, and nearly the same power as a big spade, with the same upright posture. I use it for digging holes, and also for splitting. It's straight, so it cuts down between things nicely.

I have also inherited my grandma's baby hoe. Its so light my 90 +year old grandma can use it, and has a thinner than normal handle because it's not used for any heavy work. It does a far more precise job of weeding than a big hoe, with the same upright posture, and is better than my scuffle hoe for getting in between plants.

I also love reprurposing tools... one favourite is something I have recently learned is an edger.... I had grown up referring to it as an ice chopper.
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Baby spade side by side with normal spade
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Baby hoe vs normal hoe
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Ice chopper
 
pollinator
Posts: 449
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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S Tonin wrote:Last year I bought a Korean homi and it's better than any other hand tool I've tried in my conditions.  Hori Hori and normal trowels won't work for me because my soil is too dense and rocky.  I have a nejiri kama, but it's not substantial enough for my needs.  I have a few different hoes that are probably as old as my parents, but I can never seem to find the right body mechanics to use them comfortably (and, well, rocks the size of shoeboxes don't help much either).  
This is what mine looks like (bought it on Amazon for like $15 I think):



Yes!  And yes, yes, yes, and yes again!!!  I have one of these and I love it, though I didn't remember that it was called a Homi.

Funny story though...  I bought this 15 years ago, in my old life, when I was a bonafide yuppie.  Well, not really bonafide.  I was a yuppie in that I was a "young urban professional," but I still spent my evenings and weekends working in my community garden plot, rather than out at clubs or collecting expensive clothes.  So I was probably the least yuppie yuppie around.  Anyway, somebody recommended this Korean cultivator tool, and I eagerly bought one.  But I couldn't ever quite figure out how to use it right.  I can't explain it, but it just seemed awkward to me.  So I chalked it up to a bad investment (thankfully it wasn't too pricey), left it in the bin, and relied on a standard hand spade (some people call it a garden trowel) instead.

Then one day I woke up in a hospital, was told I'd been wiped out on my bicycle by a drunk driver, that I was now permanently paraplegic, and that my life as I'd known it was over.

Flash forward 15 years.  I am still, of course, paraplegic.  I am now living a different life in a different state and attempting to build my own suburban-scale permaculture homestead from a wheelchair.  Which probably makes me an idiot, but that is another conversation.

The point is that my approach to things now is by necessity different in just about every conceivable way compared to back then: mentally, financially, physically, ergonomically, etc.  Ergonomics is the key dimension for this discussion.  Since everything I now do is done one-handed while hanging sideways out of a wheelchair, a conventional shovel is less than useless.  Most tools are, for that matter.  Hand spades are okay for some things, but I just can't get much power out of them for any serious digging in my heavy clay soils.

So, I have relied on one-handed mini-mattocks.  "Those are awesome!" I thought.  But I had to keep a hand spade around at the same time.  I'd use the mini-mattock to break up the soil, then switch to the hand spade to move the earth.  A workable arrangement, but also kind of a pain in the ass.

And then this year I discovered my old Homi in a storage unit, hidden among a load of items from my old life.  I started using it again.  Somehow, it perfectly suits my new ergonomics!  Whereas before I just couldn't get the hang of it, this season it was my one go-to gardening tool.

Because of its recurve shape, you can dig with the point using the same one-armed chopping action that I use with the mini-mattock.  And the steel is thick enough to totally support that sort of robust, chopping/hacking approach through my heavy clay.  But you can also then turn it sideways and use the blade to move the loosened soil around perfectly well, without changing tools!  You can also use the point to scratch a narrow furrow in softer earth.  And you can use the flat of the blade as a mini-tamper.  It is the perfect tool for transplanting and general-purpose light gardening : )

I guess the lesson to be learnt here is that circumstances matter.  Different gardening approaches, different soils, different capabilities, and different body types will make different tools work for different people at different times.  So keep trying new things, and even retrying old ones.  You never know what new/old tool you might discover!
 
pollinator
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Matthew Nistico wrote:
I guess the lesson to be learnt here is that circumstances matter.  Different gardening approaches, different soils, different capabilities, and different body types will make different tools work for different people at different times.  So keep trying new things, and even retrying old ones.  You never know what new/old tool you might discover!



Oh, how you have inspired me and given me hope. Here I was, moping, because it's so hot outside and I feel so physically not up to the tasks before me. But you've given me a second wind and a desire to find the tools that will work for me, too. Thanks so much!
 
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Francis Mallet wrote:


When I first used this trench digger I fell down to my knees and cried. I use it to break new ground, remove small stumps, cutting roots, unearthing rocks, etc.
Before digger = hell
After digger = pleasant workout



Francis, who is the maker for that trench digger?  I am in the market for one have not see one like that.

Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1981
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I like this how very much because it is light, has a short and ergonomic handle.
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Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1981
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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This one is absolutely tipical from the Canary islands!

I have to shorten a bit the Wood handle‚Ķ They are often all in iron though, but this one is lighter, for the garden. You can use the point part or the flat part, and even start with the Sharp point and then turn it when it entered the soil. I like it very much, you can do a lot of things  with it, and pull more soil tan with the usual triangular one.
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Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Local artcraft 24 cms Blade and a smaler knife used to remove flowers from the bananas.

I had the idea this one would be perfect to work on a skin without risking a hole!
Local-aircraft-knives.jpg
Local aircraft knives
Local aircraft knives
 
Devin Lavign
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Nicole Alderman wrote:LOL on the redneck quad! We totally used ours as one yesterday! (Though, we didn't modify the lawn mower at all. It's still our lawnmower!)

Our neighbors became too busy for their chickens, and so we adopted them and took their coop/run to our place. Of course, none of us had a truck. It was me, my husband, my teenager neighbor and her mom. We pushed the coop onto their trailer and tied it to our John Deer riding lawnmower with a chain. My husband drove and the three of us ladies pulled and pushed to keep the coop on the trailer and relatively balanced down about 1/2 a block of gravel road. We all wished we had a camera, because it was so redneck. But, we did it!

Editing to add a picture of the coop/run, nos that I have a picture!





l love the chicken coop/run. It is an amazing thing to have on the homestead.
 
Devin Lavign
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:Local artcraft 24 cms Blade and a smaler knife used to remove flowers from the bananas.

I had the idea this one would be perfect to work on a skin without risking a hole!



A good knife is important.
 
Devin Lavign
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The knife I carry, well besides my Barebones hori hori, is the Jeff White Nessmuck

Can be found on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Jeff-White-Nessmuk-Skinning-Knife/dp/B00YJE112Y
and ebay https://www.ebay.com/itm/Jeff-White-Custom-Nessmuk-Trade-Knife-w-Curly-Maple-Handles-Sheath-NEW/283513495559?hash=item4202b8a007:g:DZMAAOSw9KBd0Ysv

JW-Nessmuck.jpg
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Diane Kistner
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Nicole Alderman wrote:LOL on the redneck quad! We totally used ours as one yesterday! (Though, we didn't modify the lawn mower at all. It's still our lawnmower!)

Our neighbors became too busy for their chickens, and so we adopted them and took their coop/run to our place. Of course, none of us had a truck. It was me, my husband, my teenager neighbor and her mom. We pushed the coop onto their trailer and tied it to our John Deer riding lawnmower with a chain. My husband drove and the three of us ladies pulled and pushed to keep the coop on the trailer and relatively balanced down about 1/2 a block of gravel road. We all wished we had a camera, because it was so redneck. But, we did it!



You lucked up big time!!!

Like I always say, where there's a will there's a way....
 
master gardener
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S Tonin wrote:Last year I bought a Korean homi and it's better than any other hand tool I've tried in my conditions.  Hori Hori and normal trowels won't work for me because my soil is too dense and rocky.  I have a nejiri kama, but it's not substantial enough for my needs.  I have a few different hoes that are probably as old as my parents, but I can never seem to find the right body mechanics to use them comfortably (and, well, rocks the size of shoeboxes don't help much either).  
This is what mine looks like (bought it on Amazon for like $15 I think):



How big is this, please? And how much does it weigh?
 
pollinator
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Carla Burke wrote:How big is this, please? And how much does it weigh?



Total length:  ~11.75" long
Handle: ~5.75" long, ~1" diameter
Blade is ~5.5" from where the metal bends to the tip and maybe 3-ish" at its widest point (forgot to measure that bit)

I didn't weigh it, but I don't think it even weighs a pound.  The one I have has a very lightweight handle, not a heavy wood like oak.  It feels chintzy when you pick it up, but it's not.
 
Carla Burke
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S Tonin wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:How big is this, please? And how much does it weigh?



Total length:  ~11.75" long
Handle: ~5.75" long, ~1" diameter
Blade is ~5.5" from where the metal bends to the tip and maybe 3-ish" at its widest point (forgot to measure that bit)

I didn't weigh it, but I don't think it even weighs a pound.  The one I have has a very lightweight handle, not a heavy wood like oak.  It feels chintzy when you pick it up, but it's not.



Thank you! This might be a huge help for me, too. I've been looking at them, for a while, but haven't been able to decide, without getting my hot little hands on one, to try it!
 
Devin Lavign
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So these videos are for wood working tools, but it shows how much is out there. They are up to #22 now

 
master pollinator
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Alex Arn wrote:Francis, who is the maker for that trench digger?  I am in the market for one have not see one like that.


I bought mine at Lee Valley Tools a number of years ago. A bit spendy, but very well made and heavy duty. Plus, you can bolt it on to any handle you please. Apparently it's a copy of a Swedish wilderness firefigher's tool. Their version of a Pulaski perhaps. Anyway, it gets my recommendation for function and good long-term value.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Amit Enventres wrote:Someone's going to roll their eyes, but I gotta add these with their special uses.

1. A large flat head screwdriver.

2. A hammer. The back end is a small hoe and an excellent weeder.


A thousand times yes! No eye rolling here. Every off-grid tool kit needs one of each.

1. A heavy duty flat head screwdriver (sometimes called a mechanic's screwdriver) is a prybar, weeder, punch, shim and chisel. And emergency tent peg.

And it has a critical and unorthodox use: the kitchen prybar.  Here's the story: many years ago, I got tired of reprofiling the broken tips of chef knives. You see, people would try to pry apart frozen steaks, burgers, blocks of rhubarb, or whatever with the biggest and heaviest knife in their knife block. They would try to use an expensive, precision cutting tool as a chisel/prybar. You can guess the result. AARGH! So I started picking up heavy duty flat (mechanic's) screwdrivers on good deals, preferrably with a corrosion resistant coating so they would survive a dishwasher. And I gave them as Christmas presents. Put this in your kitchen drawer! Put this on top of everything in your freezer! And I think it caught on (or they got tired of me ranting, dunno). You want one too! In your freezer! (End of sermon.)

2. A framing style hammer, the ones where the nail pull tines are nearly perpendicular to the handle, is an indestructible mini-mattock. Nothing can stand in its way. Brilliant.
 
master gardener
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I posted this picture elsewhere,  but this stool is in constant use.  It functions as a stool and a kneed pad. The legs/handles are great to help me get back up.
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pollinator
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Alex Arn wrote:

Francis Mallet wrote:


When I first used this trench digger I fell down to my knees and cried. I use it to break new ground, remove small stumps, cutting roots, unearthing rocks, etc.
Before digger = hell
After digger = pleasant workout



Francis, who is the maker for that trench digger?  I am in the market for one have not see one like that.

Thanks!



Ahh I missed this reply sorry! If anybody is interested it's available from Lee Valley at 66.50$ CAD

Lee Valley Trench Digger

I broke a piece off the handle this summer pulling rocks from the garden. To be honest I should have used a pickaxe for this job the digger took a lot of abuse. When I replace the handle I think I'll make it 6" longer.


 
pollinator
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Francis Mallet wrote:

Alex Arn wrote:

Francis Mallet wrote:


When I first used this trench digger I fell down to my knees and cried. I use it to break new ground, remove small stumps, cutting roots, unearthing rocks, etc.
Before digger = hell
After digger = pleasant workout



Francis, who is the maker for that trench digger?  I am in the market for one have not see one like that.

Thanks!



Ahh I missed this reply sorry! If anybody is interested it's available from Lee Valley at 66.50$ CAD

Lee Valley Trench Digger

I broke a piece off the handle this summer pulling rocks from the garden. To be honest I should have used a pickaxe for this job the digger took a lot of abuse. When I replace the handle I think I'll make it 6" longer.




I bought one of these.. my sister, who is quite short, loves it. I am 5-10" and the thing is a frustration to me; exactly the tool I want, and the quality of steel seems pretty good compared to the heavy mattock/pick I have... but it's built at about  3/4 scale! I hope to find a matching tool in a larger size, because otherwise it is excellent..

 
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I recently fell in love with a small curved garden knife / pruning knife. I bought it some years ago because it looked really nice but didn't manage to find a good use for it for some reason. Flash forward to this spring when I found myself using it for all sorts of vegetation cutting - from weeding to cuting down unwanted vegetation at a particular place to harvesting veggies to pruning fruits and bushes.
Other one is a small hand held scythe for various chop and drop, harvesting and "mowing" small patches when getting the mower out and about would be too much.

I'll add some pictures later when I'll be back home.
 
pollinator
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I second Douglas's comment about screwdrivers as kitchen tools! Indispensible for prying apart frozen stuff, but my main kitchen use for mine is opening coconuts and separating the coconut flesh from the shell. A knife is NOT a safe tool to do this, as I discovered after a nasty cut!
 
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That aero art is cool, I'm going to have to look into that! When i think of this concept my first thought is the trompe from one of bill mollisons lectures. There are a lot of alternative technologies out there, that's why we are here isn't it?!?

Another is the chinese wheelbarrow. The idea is that it has one big wheel in the middle so the load is on the when instead of your back. I've wanted one of these for years but i don't think it's something you can buy and i would love for someone to show me how I'm wrong or how easy it is to actually make one!
 
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I have a similar tool, but the blade is a bit longer and narrower. It is my new go-to for removing grass/weeds for new planting spots.
 
If you were a tree, what sort of tree would you be? This tiny ad is a poop beast.
List of last chance earlybird goodies for SKIP book kickstarter
https://permies.com/t/157073/List-chance-earlybird-goodies-SKIP
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