Even though we're obsessed with the iRobot Roomba (our review here), we haven't yet gotten to the point where we're taking years off our lives using the funky vacuum to recreate a long-dead piece of our childhood.
Seems like these guys (who, for some reason, reek of MIT) have made a real life version of Pac-Man with the Roomba. It reminds us of an updated nerd version of those full-sized chess games that you see at Renaissance festivals (we're just guessing on this, we've never been to a Renaissance festival...really...no, really...well...ok...there's actually one we go to every year...and it's awesome).
But back to the Pac-Man dudes. They've put up a website explaining how they did what they did and it's really pretty cool if you're into that sort of thing.
Harry Sawyers from Popular Mechanics has come up with a list of tools we might see as a result of the Stanley/Black & Decker merger. Of the new items, our favorite is the Dead Mouse, a combination of the B & D Mouse Sander and a Stanley dead-blow hammer. Harry has this to say about the stunning potential of the new tool:
The Mouse sander, a Black & Decker detail sander that has had numerous generations of design improvements, has nearly reached perfection. At this point, the clothing-iron-shaped tool could only be criticized for perhaps taking too long to sand a surface smooth. The solution: Combine it with one of Stanley's dead-blow hammers, creating a toolbox essential called the Dead Mouse.
Dead-blow hammers or mallets contain a soft, shot-filled head which absorbs impact as it strikes delicate surfaces. When incorporated into the Dead Mouse, these features could create a sander that operates by simply slamming into the workpiece repeatedly, quickly sanding material with each blow while minimizing impact on the user's arm. The most recent version of the Mouse contained a "Zone Touch" light that turned red when an operator pressed the tool too hard into the sanding surface. This feature would need revision in the Dead Mouse--the light must be reversed to display a warning when the tool isn't hitting the surface hard enough.
Check out the other new tools (the Fu-Buster, the Ready-Plane, the AlligatorVibe AntiLopper, and the AutoFat Tape Measure) over at Popular Mechanics.
Like we've mentioned earlier, we've just moved into a 1915 farmhouse. It's a wonderful, saggy, uneven structure with more character than Clint Eastwood's face. The house has good bones and most of the work associated with the man who built it and first lived in it is very nice. There have been other owners though who have been tinkerers and their work is...well...interesting. Interesting enough that we're going to start a new series, "Crazy Details In Our New House."
This first installment is of the creative plumbing that occurs as the waste line leaves the house. It's a beauty. The two small lines coming in from the top are a sink and a tub (why bother with two traps when you can just use one?). Unfortunately, the photo doesn't represent the whole effect. You're missing the strange patch further down on the waste line which has a slight leak, and there's no way to tell from the photo, but the plumbing system isn't vented, so every time we flush a toilet, there's a fantastic 'GLUG...GLUG...GLUG." Actually, now that we think about it, the corroded and abandoned cast-iron pipe that's stuffed with newspaper sort of acts as a semi-functional vent. Maybe that's why the glugging isn't as loud on the first floor.
Did we mention that we love this house? We really do.
Tool companies are always cranking out micro sites. Here's one for our new 12-volt line...here's one for our new glass cutter...and another one for the glass cutting blades! We tend to like them because they're usually made with a little more pizazz and creativity than the company's corporate site. But as far as we know, until now, no one has ever made a micro site dedicated to the straight-up abuse of their tools.
Craftsman's new Craftsman Lab is just that. The site showcases a number of movies of these three dudes (Kenny, Matt, and Sam) unleashing all sorts of interesting mayhem on a wide variety of Craftsman tools. At the moment there are videos of them beating on a drill, a socket set, a hammer, a vacuum, a radio, and a tool box.
Without question, the best video is the one with the drill. The videos are shot in this really stylized Michael Bay kind of way, but that's all quickly forgotten once you see the guys attach a mannequin to a bike, duct tape a drill to its hand and launch it off a rooftop. It's great entertainment, there's no question about it.
They're pretty cool videos and worth a look. There's also a place where you can suggest a tool for their next test, as well as the testing method.
If you just want a taste, above is a trailer for the series. For more mannequin action, check out Craftsman Labs.
Yesterday, we mentioned the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny 12-volt radio that Milwaukee released this year. It's not surprising, but it, like all other Milwaukee tools, is built to take a few hits. To demonstrate this, the guys at Milwaukee have put together a video of them doing everything they can to disable, destroy, and in all ways defeat the small radio. The video is called a 'drop test,' but it's more like a 'drop, throw, toss out of a car, and kick test.'
We're immediately attracted to any video that starts with a disclaimer saying that what you are about to see will void the warranty of the tool. The third test is our favorite. There's something hilarious about the way the guy throws the radio and how it arcs through the air.
The cynical side of us keeps chiming in with the thought that somewhere at Milwaukee HQ there's a dumpster full of all of the 12-volt radios that were destroyed in the making of this video, but we've seen some incredible endurance out of other Milwaukee tools, so this is unlikely.
The new DIY radio show, MyFixItUpLife kicks off Saturday at noon, eastern time (4pm for all you Icelandic listeners!). We mentioned the show earlier here.
The first show is going to have an interview with Tony Eschmeyer, senior product manager at Simonton Windows. Looks like he'll be talking about the energy tax credit. This is of particular importance to us seeing as we just bought a house that is so drafty you could fly a kite in the living room.
More information on the show and how to listen, check out the MyFixItUpLife site. If you miss the broadcast, the shows will be available for download.
Reader John sent in some photos of a mystery tool that he came across. His description is as follows:
It's 4 1/4" long; the "wheel" is 3 1/4" in diameter; each measuring section is 3/4" wide; it comes apart at the acorn nut so you could turn the wheel the other way around; neither the number of "teeth" nor the number of openings between the teeth correspond to the numbers on the wheel.
We've never seen anything like it before. If you can tell us what it's called and what it's used for (with some sort of evidence to back you up), we'll send a random tool your way. Drop a line in the comments section.
Our good friend Mark Clement, a walking encyclopedia of tools and construction, is starting his own radio show. The show is called MyFixItUpLIfe and he's co-hosting with his wife Theresa. You can go the website to get a flavor for what the show will be offering, but it looks to us like a blend of all things DIY-oriented. Everything from what tools to use to energy-efficient appliances to how to juggle raising a family in the midst of a catastrophic renovation.
The MyFixItUpLife website also looks like a good destination site and not just a place-holder for the radio show, so we suggest a slapping bookmark on that one. Both Mark and Theresa have blogs at the site and there's opportunities to win plenty of free stuff, not to mention check out the guests for upcoming shows. Mark also has a few tool reviews up (under the Gear section). Thus far he's given his thoughts on the great Rockwell Jawhorse and the Ridgid Fuego mini-recip.
The show is going to debut a week from Saturday at 1pm. We're looking forward to checking it out.
Yeah, so we're obsessed with Marvin, the little iRobot Roomba Vacuum that we tested out a couple weeks ago. He not only cleaned the house but he entertained the cats and Tool Snob Jr. as well. In our review we mentioned the indecipherable pattern that Marvin uses to clean a room and if you didn't believe us on that point, we present to you: Roomba Art.
So it apparently all started when some guy set up the Roomba, turned off the lights and took a long exposure photo. It's a great idea and it reminds us of those fractal images that were popular with the incense crowd in college.
We mentioned the passing of James Krenov the other day. At the time we didn't get into any details on his life, but one of the things he is known for is that he founded the Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods.
So in memory of the self-described 'stubborn old enthusiast,' Tool Crib is donating $5 to the scholarship fund for every comment and newsletter comment that they get (until Oct 15th). They've got a cap of $300, so it would be nice to make sure that they hit that mark, which would mean that some young woodworker might get a chance to go to a great school. For more information on how to activate the donation, click here.
In addition to the scholarship drive, Tool Crib has put together a marvelous compendium of Krenov links. If you've never heard of him and are wondering why we're making such a big hooplah, you can learn more about him there.
We snagged the image from the College of the Redwoods Fine Furniture page (here).