Monday, March 2, 2015

Everyday Commentary Reading List: Cool Tools by Kevin Kelly

I am an avowed tool addict. My two hobbies--gear and woodworking--share a common theme that is simply put as a lust for tools.  So when I heard Wired's Kevin Kelly on the Still Untitled podcast (Adam Savage and crew) talking about his new book, Cool Tools, I had to check it out.  Here is a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book (proceeds benefit the site):

Its weird because he is essentially writing a catalog and while I am a fan of a good catalog (AG Russell and Lee Valley both being awesome), as a book and not a piece of sales literature its kinda werid.  But the idea came from a previous catalog, a real catalog called the Whole Earth Review.

What you get is a massive format book with blurbs in it about a insane array of stuff.  More to the point, it is curated and the sales copy is actually a review from a proponent for the tool, as opposed to some J. Peterman baloney.  And  here is the good thing--the curators know what they are talking about.  I flipped to the flashlights and there, in a mainstream publication, sat two recommendations that easily could have come from a gear centered blog like this one--the 47s Preon and a Fenix light.  I then flipped to the woodworking section and despite their bonkers price tag and scarce availability there, amongst all of the DeWalt and Makita tools, were Festool stuff.  One had the wrong picture, but other than that, they got all of the right picks for all of the right reasons.  I flipped to the knife section and there were more good recommendations, but two bad ones--Gerber made two separate appearances.  Oh well, they are batting like .666 and we all know that's a good average.  

But more than just getting stuff right there is such a breadth of items listed that the Cool Tools book transcends being a mere catalog.  Its actually something so much more, a sort of unique repository for generational wisdom.  They explain why ball end hex wrenches are so much better.  They lay out a case for Wiha drill bits.  They have good advice on everything from podcasting (they chose the mic I chose after about a year of research) to logging.  Its all there.  

In many ways the book is like having a knowledgeable father figure close by.  I am really fortunate to have a tool loving, get er done Dad a phone call away, but some folks aren't.  Without such a figure in your life there all sorts of things that you have to learn by experience and Cool Tools helps you short circuit that just a bit. 

No question about it--if you read this site you will love Cool Tools.  And its not that expensive.