Cool New Tools


The bible of the do-it-yourself movement that grew out of the 1960s counterculture was the Whole Earth Catalog. Now Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly, who edited the Catalog for a spell, has created a similar resource for the maker era, Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities (Cool Tools Lab). We asked Kelly to share three liberating tools that were not available in his Whole Earth days.

  1. Shopbot. A generation ago, garage tinkerers would have died for this low-cost computer-controlled milling machine. You feed it digital files and it automatically carves through plywood and hunks of wood with insanely exact and smooth cuts. For making prototypes, repetitive items, and amazing artwork.
  2. Techshop. Why bother to purchase fancy tools when you could join Techshop-a tool gym that has the latest of everything? Need a laser cutter? Plasma welder? 3D printer? Your local Techshop will buy, maintain, train, and upgrade them. Your membership pass-either by day, month, or year-gives you unlimited access to all the tools and friendly help in using them.
  3. Griphoist. A superior hand-powered winch that allows you to move several tons by hand at the precision of millimeters. It's great for hoisting wooden beams, moving heavy machines, or getting a vehicle unstuck. Most ordinary come-alongs use a ratchet, so your burden lurches in steps; this one moves in continuous strokes, which you can control deftly with a light touch.