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!!!! Cool Tools, lesser known tools that can improve your life

 
Devin Lavign
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Hey Permies, I though it might be a nice idea to start a thread for lesser known or new innovations in tools to help share and spread these tools to the community. I am hoping to learn of some other tools besides the ones I will list from some of the great folks who have been discovering tools that really make life better.

Some examples to get the thread started.

*note links to where to purchase are just provided as examples for folks to get more info and ideas of pricing. I am not affiliated with any of these places or promoting them over any other source. You might be able to find better deals by searching these tools and finding other options to source them.

A couple examples of different Hori Hori style knives with some differences to the standard you see in all the garden stores.

The Barebones Hori Hori. While the Hori Hori knife is not that lesser known, this take on it is a bit different. With a more ergonomic handle, tempered steel that takes sharpening well, and a pommel that lets you use it to impact things. Though I am not a fan of the bottle opener.





Can be found at http://realgoods.com/hori-hori-knife or https://huckberry.com/store/barebones/category/p/34748-hori-hori-gardening-tool?utm_source=shopping&utm_medium=googlep&utm_campaign=housewares.housewares&gclid=CjwKEAiA48fDBRDJ24_imejhwUkSJAAr0M5kUmh8cmBP9AdmscBRV88AI_8edw-2cyeVCWgDWt_t4BoC8Fzw_wcB

Lesche Digger. While not exactly a Hori Hori, these are very similar to Hori Hori style with some differences that make it worthy of consideration. Like the off set blade to give more leverage, or the downward facing serrations to give you root cutting ability when pushing into the ground, choice of left or right serration. Some folks might be familiar with the Garret Wade Pro Gardener's Digging Tool, which is similar in looks to the Lesche. The Lesche however is a superior quality version of these. The Lesche though might be lesser known due to it being mostly used by metal detector scene and not as well known in the gardening scene or even promoted or carried by garden suppliers.



Comparison of the Lesche vs Garret Wade.


Can be found at http://www.colonialmetaldetectors.com/lesche-digging-tool.html or https://www.amazon.com/Lesche-Digging-Tool-Cutter-Left/dp/B00AXB89PY

Next is the Magna Grecia hoe. This great hoe is catching on, but worth adding to let more folks know about. This is a special hoe design is like a combo of hoe and garden fork, that lets you penetrate deep into the ground with the tines to aerate and break up roots.





Can be found at places like https://www.thetoolmerchants.com/store/garden-tools/digging/digging-hoes/magna-grecia-hoe/ or http://scytheworks.ca/catalogue.html

My final example, is the Splitz-All. This is a slide hammer style wood splitter. While there are other slide hammer designs, this one has some great innovative features that set it apart and make it worth looking at. The two handed grip, the longer blade wedge, the multiple sizes/weight for different people's abilities and wood size, and the swiveling ability of the handles.



A decent review of these



Can be found at http://goodnuseful.com/splitz-all/

Hope folks find this thread useful and add to it with their own finds. There are a lot of amazing tools out there I suspect, that just don't get talked about enough or promoted by the industry. So giving us a place to exchange info on tools word of mouth I think is a great way to learn about things we might have missed.
 
Tyler Ludens
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One of the most useful tools we have is this small cart made from a baby stroller found at the dump.  We use it for all sorts of carting around the place, but mostly for moving loads of firewood from the woodshed to the house.  The deck will hold two 5 gallon buckets for carting liquids or soil, etc.
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Devin Lavign
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Tyler Ludens wrote:One of the most useful tools we have is this small cart made from a baby stroller found at the dump.  We use it for all sorts of carting around the place, but mostly for moving loads of firewood from the woodshed to the house.  The deck will hold two 5 gallon buckets for carting liquids or soil, etc.


Awesome, DIY and repurposed tools highly encouraged to be posted here as well as commercial products.
 
J Howard
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Awesome thread. As far as blades go, I don't have a particular item I recommend, but I'd like to point out the importance of a quality sharpener. My best knife was $3 brand new, only the best because with it I bought a $20 sharpener with it. Also, what's the purpose for the chains surrounding each three blocks of wood in the Splitz-All picture?
 
Devin Lavign
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J Howard wrote:Also, what's the purpose for the chains surrounding each three blocks of wood in the Splitz-All picture?


That is to hold the wood together so you don't have to bend over pick it back up to split again. There are many different videos showing different methods of doing this. From simple tying a rope, using ratchet straps, using a chain, or the very popular old used tire. The one smart and cool innovation the company put on their version of the chain, is they added a rubber elastic section to allow some give and expansion as the wood splits apart. Though this could be achieved by buying chain and adding a rubber bungee to it. And the videos of people using all the other methods the issue of needing a little stretch in the binding never seems to really come up as an issue.
 
James Kniskern
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http://ecominded.net/news/fokin-s-ploskorez.html
I bought 2 of these... Used paypal, and had them shipped to the US... Grand total $35. A steal! I had to make handles for them, but a few minutes of work and I have tools that are AMAZING! I went to try them out, and the next thing I knew, an hour had gone by and my 4 strawberry beds were weeded and tidied up, ready for spring.

 
Bonnie Kuhlman
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Great thread.  Anyone here use a broadfork?  They're expensive hand tools, so I'd like to know if they're worth it, and if so, brands and sizes you'd recommend.

Bonnie
 
Hans Quistorff
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Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:Great thread.  Anyone here use a broadfork?  They're expensive hand tools, so I'd like to know if they're worth it, and if so, brands and sizes you'd recommend.

Bonnie

I use the Meadow Creature broadfork. There are lighter less expensive ones but the Meadow Creature version is the strongest and most effective for breaking new ground.  It is capable of prying up a one man rock burried in the ground without damage. It is manufactured near me on Vashon Island, WA. I had mine custome made with the tines closer together for digging up himalayan blackberry crowns. That is another video project on my list.
 
Devin Lavign
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Another tool I just heard about on this thread https://permies.com/t/55529/Perfect-offgrid-welder#539094 is the Ready Welder.





It seems this has been well known in the 4X4 off road circles, for out in the field repairs. But for the same reasons the off road folks love it it makes this a great off grid welder option.



I am not going to go too deep into it here since I don't have experience with these, I would suggest if you are interested check out the thread I linked that specifically discusses it by someone who does have experience with it. One last thing to mention is that it is said to weld steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. So not only portable and small sized, but versatile too.

You can find all four versions at their website http://readywelder.com/products-page/?doing_wp_cron=1488198527.2970209121704101562500
 
Travis Johnson
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I have a Wallenstein Trailer.

It can be use as a log trailer to haul out logs for firewood, building WOFATI's, setting rafters and timbers in place, picking anything heavy, moving big round bales, or any other number of things. But then the grapple can be changed out and a post hole drill put in its place so you can bore fence posts, posts for WOFATI's, or any number of things. But then the log bunks can be swapped out for a dump body that comes with it, so you can move brush and dump it, place big rocks you have picked up with the grapple in the dump body, or fill the dump body with soil or gravel to build driveways, paths, move manure, brush for hugels, etc. But wait there is more. You can then put a backhoe bucket on it so that you can dig trenches, make swales, make hugels, cover WOFATI's, etc.

I am in the process of building an upside down woodsplitter for it so that I don't have to lift firewood at all.

In short it is the swiss army knife of homestead equipment. And with its own 6 hp engine driving the hydraulics, it is self powered. I use it on my bulldozer, farm tractor, but honestly use it the most on my Ford Explorer! That is because it is so fast, can go down the highway, and is so versatile. Besides my bulldozer, it is the second best purchase I ever made.

 
Tracy Wandling
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Oh, my goodness, Travis! That is a magical machine! Having major machine envy over here . . . Tell me how much it cost, so I can get back to reality and realize that it's out of our price range.
 
Devin Lavign
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Tracy Wandling wrote:Oh, my goodness, Travis! That is a magical machine! Having major machine envy over here . . . Tell me how much it cost, so I can get back to reality and realize that it's out of our price range.


Yes I am imagining those cost a pretty penny, but it has me wondering if one could find them for rent somewhere. I could see how they could make a great rental for a homesteader to get some good log hauling wofati work done.

*edit to add, A quick search and I am finding the lower end ATV and side by side pulled version is $15-$17K I don't think I want to keep looking to see what the larger ones cost.
 
Deb Rebel
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James Kniskern, thank you. I just watched the video and ordered the set. I have clayey soil, tons of weeds all the time (not ones I WANT to eat, anyways) and foot issues so a hoe type item is the way to go. Might even be able to dispense with the tempermental gas powered weed whipper (part temper, part mental, that thing is always sulking instead of working).
 
Travis Johnson
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Tracy Wandling wrote:Oh, my goodness, Travis! That is a magical machine! Having major machine envy over here . . . Tell me how much it cost, so I can get back to reality and realize that it's out of our price range.


I got it because I needed a way to get wood out with my bulldozer. It can pull wood out dragging it on the ground, but when I hit a root, stump or rock, my bulldozer would break 3/8 chain chokers. Bigger chain would work, but really getting the wood off the ground was really best, plus I could move more wood since my dozer will go anywhere, but does so very slowly. When I saw this at a local dealership, I inquired.

Note: NEVER just go in to "inquire" at any tractor dealership, you may be surprised what you walk out with.

Tracy, it was $17,999 to the penny delivered to my driveway.  However, this was with the "powerpack", a 6 hp engine and hydraulic system that makes it work independently of the machine pulling it. It can tap into a tractor's hydraulic system, but honestly I use it on my Ford Explorer about 3 times as much as my bulldozer or farm tractor. I just got back from delivering two Spruce Logs to a guy about 10 miles away. He is a Luther (makes custom acoustic guitars) and wanted a few choice logs I cut while logging today. I could not have given them the logs without the ease of this guy.

Next to my bulldozer, it is the second best purchase I ever made. I use it almost every day.

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Travis Johnson
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Another thread got me thinking about this: My Cement Mixer.

We honestly use our cement mixer for a lot of stuff other than mixing cement. We have used it more for mixing potting soil, garden soil, mixing compost, mixing large batches of paint, mixing feed rations for my sheep, than we have for mixing concrete.

But cement mixers can also wash. As it tumbles around you can add water and rinse the dirt off rock for landscaping, pond edging, erosion control, even wash sheep fleeces, and heavily soiled clothing.

You can also use it to crush and pummel. Have a party and need to smash up a lot of ice? Put it in the cement mixer with a few bricks or clean rocks and in short order it will pummel the ice into manageable sizes. This works well if you are making lots of ice cream and are using your own ice taken from a water body of some sort.

It has worked well for that, and while it is a pain to do big jobs, a bag of cement costs $6 and takes (5) of them to make a cubic yard, where as delivered redi-mix cement costs $100 a cubic yard with a 3 cubic yard minimum. Some jobs do not require 3 cubic yards of cement, and $30 a yard is better then $100! Our kitchen counter tops are made from concrete mixed with gravel from our gravel pit and a bag of purchased cement. It is 42 linear feet of counter top for $6!! Its hard to beat the square footage cost on that!


 
Devin Lavign
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So I have been collecting some timber frame tools for building my house, and thought I would share a few cool tools I have discovered and picked up.

These are a bit expensive, but are the top of the line multi function multi generational lasting tools that are being made for a small nitch community so just don't have low price from volume production.

Timber Frame HQ's Timber Frame Layout Tool
It incorporates the features of a framing square, try square, speed square and a protractor all wrapped into one



A slightly cheaper version is Borneman Layout Tool or Big Al layout tool.



This is an earlier design video review


You can find Timberframe HQ's here http://timberframehq.com/shop/layout-square/

You can find the Borneman version here http://www.tfguild.org/products/layout-square

Chappell Universal Square
These squares include useful tables that can help you dramatically in building timber frame structures.



You can find them here http://chappellsquare.com/

Ok for the bit more budget minded there is

The Universal Square
Which is made for the more standard stick and frame building. Sized for standard 2X4 construction.



A decent review of this tool


Can be found at Homedepot http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-Universal-Square-HUS125/203951642 or Amazon, and plenty of other places.
 
Travis Johnson
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Felco makes a nice hand pruner. It is unique in that it is battery powered to give you two tons of cutting force with just a pull of your finger lobbing off 2" diameter brush. Holster, back pack battery, a charge that lasts 8 hours...

It is not for the frugal minded, but if a person needs to cut a lot of brush for Rocket Stoves, or needs to prune an orchard with a lot of cuts that require force, this little known tool might be the way to go.

 
Devin Lavign
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Well about time to mention another cool tool, or two related ones.

The Yankee Drill and Driver

I grew up with my mother having a Yankee Handyman drill, and was a bit upset when I became an adult and found they no longer made them. Stanley had bought the Yankee drill/driver name and stopped producing them because of the popularity of power drills, especially cordless ones. For them there just wasn't a market for these cool tools. A few years ago they allowed Garret Wade to have these start being made again under the Yankee name.

So thankfully new made all metal Yankee drills and bits are being made again to keep these great tools alive and out there.

Here is a collection of various Yankee drill types, the bottom right is 2 of the Handyman variety.


These make great drills for hanging pictures, or pilot holes, or many small drill tasks. Simple to use, and have storage for the bits in the handle.

Here is a video of the New made Garret and Wade Yankee drills.


You can find them and bits for sale here http://www.garrettwade.com/garrett-wade-yankee-push-drill-gp.html You can also find older versions on ebay for sale. Though quality bits can be pricey, I actually bought several drills that came with bits because they were cheaper than buying bits alone.

Also there are Yankee drivers,

Here is a few different sized versions.


Here is a video discussing and showing the restoration of some older ones.


There is a modern made hex bit insert to let you use hex bits like mentioned in the video, which you can find here http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=57809&cat= and you can get new made bits http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=66021&cat=1,43411,43417


Garret Wade does make a modern new make in what they call an "Improved" version that only accepts hex heads http://www.garrettwade.com/improved-yankee-style-screwdrivers-gp.html?green=1B0A2093-834F-58B3-A4E0-B15B476B675D

There are also a few other modern hex only bit versions you can find on Amazon from lesser known companies that don't have the Yankee name. They seem sort of forgotten in the modern Ratchet Screwdriver world, but typical modern ratcheting drivers don't include the push mechanism to power the bit they just give a ratchet option.

Otherwise I think you are left with buying old used ones, as I don't thing there is any modern manufacture of the drivers that actually use the old proprietary bit style.

Anyways, hope folks enjoy this addition to Cool Tools thread. I absolutely love these drills and drivers. They are handy to have and really are great additions to anyone's home tool set.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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