Category Archives: Reviews

Party Potato

Party Potato

Party Potato

We stopped by Japantown in San Francisco the other day and picked up an absolutely hilarious toy in the Japanese dollar store. Drawing straws meets the game Perfection in the “Party Potato”. Each person pulls a french fry out of the container. When the right french fry is pulled out, the spring is released and the french fries fly.Party Potato

You don’t have to be able to read Japanese to understand these fabulous instructions. Two of the french fries are attached to strings which trigger the spring. It is awesome to see the plastic fly!

Catalog review: Practicon Dental


We recently had occasion to order a lot of toothbrushes, and received a catalog with our shipment from Practicon Dental. There are few things better than a catalog specific to a particular industry. There are so many items that can be applied to various projects having nothing to do with teeth. I’ve never noticed a small vacuum former in a catalog before. There are compartmentalized storage boxes have plenty of utility beyond storing dental impressions. Diamond wire (listed as diamond floss) could be very useful to have around for filing in tight places. Another interesting tool I hadn’t seen before was a small sandblaster.

IMG_7021.JPGIf you know someone who need to be scared into proper dental hygiene, you can get gross-out posters of what happens when you don’t take care of your teeth. Speaking of scary, for your next ultra-creepy halloween costume, there are “Marvy Masque Cone Face Masks,” which are sure to frighten: especially the clown version. I’m not so sure they will “increase smiles, decrease anxiety” as claimed.


On the less useful, but more interesting front, there is information on dosimetry services so you can track your x-ray exposure. You can order business card dental floss packets. I’m thinking that “tidy tube winders” would make a great give-away for people with as many half-used tubes of glue as we have. But one of my favorite items were these adhesive-tip applicators, which “help you securely hold and place fragile or small” things. Those definitely fall on the useful side. I’m not sure what for yet, but I’ll think of something.

Clearly there are many tools and supplies in the Practicon catalog that are applicable to a much wider audience than just dental practices. We may have to order from them again, and not just for bristlebots!

Catalog review: Garrett Wade Tools March 2008

GarrettWade Tools

When I reviewed the Feb. 2007 Lee Valley catalog, reader Dennis suggested we get the Garrett Wade Tools catalog. Excellent suggestion! We love drooling over tools, and the Garrett Wade catalog is a great place to do that. They carry a wide variety of “Tools for Enthusiasts,” primarily precision woodworking tools. They also carry high-end knick-knacks and home and garden items.

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Catalog review: Lee Valley & Veritas February 2008

Lee Valley and Veritas catalog

Thanks to Kaden‘s recommendation, we get the Lee Valley & Veritas catalogs. The February 2008 edition arrived not too long ago, reminding us of what a good catalog is all about. Lovely photos and clear, tempting descriptions are are often augmented by illustrations. Sprinkled throughout are tips on how to choose and use various tools.

The catalog is forty pages plus an insert. There is a nice assortment of items from their hardware, woodworking and garden catalogs. What more could you ask for in a catalog? How about a fold-out cable tie spread and a technical bulletin? Your wishes are granted.

Lee Valley and Veritas catalog

On page four there is a fabulous two-page spread of cable ties. The “Master Set of 1550 Ties” includes basic, heavy duty, and specialty ties. Specialty ties? Mounting ties, label ties, and releasable ties! One can never have too many cable ties.

If you can make it past the cable tie spread, you’ll get to the tools and hardware. I just don’t get tired of looking things like planes, picture screws, and drawer slides, and there is a truly impressive selection of the drawer slides. Right now I’m drooling over the double edged flush-cutting saw, which is used “to cut off a projection without damaging the surrounding or adjoining face.” I’m certain I will need one someday. I might have to come up with a project specifically for it, but I’m sure it will be worth it just to have an excuse to use the flexible yet rigid blade.

Lee Valley and Veritas catalog

The center insert had an added bonus beyond the usual order page: a technical bulletin. With articles on whittling utensils and using food-safe finishes it contains lots of interesting information and useful tips. The bulletin ends with this note: “These bulletins are intended as keepers, thus the three holes. We will publish them as often as we have something to say and as we have time to put it to paper.” I look forward to the next time they have something to say.

Project: Guerilla Art

The Guerilla Art Kit

Your task this week, should you choose to accept it, is to do everything in The Guerilla Art Kit (available at Amazon, Powells, SFMoma, and your local bookstore) by Keri Smith. Maybe doing everything is a little ambitious, but we exhort you to try these projects, or at least read the book.

We recently got a copy. We had to, since it had the subtitle “for fun, non-profit, and world domination.” Being in the world domination business ourselves, it’s important to know the competition. It turns out that she’s good. Very good.
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Book Review (and build!): Forbidden Lego

Forbidden Lego

It was on the 12th of March this year that I first heard about, and placed my order for, Forbidden Lego, a new book by Ulrik Pilegaard and Mike Dooley, $24.95 from No Starch Press. It’s finally here, and yes, you want a copy.

Forbidden Lego was written by a pair of Lego master builders, who used to work in designing advanced Lego sets (e.g., Mindstorms). While they obviously got to work on lots of cool things while they were there, there were certain projects that just turned out not to be suitable to be made into kits released by the Lego company. They wrote the book to give some kind of a tantalizing hint at the kinds of things that go on behind the scenes at Lego, and the kinds of neat things that might get released in a world without product liability suits.
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Book review: Sticker Nation by Srini Kumar

Sticker Nation - 1

For years we’ve admired the brilliant stickers, buttons, and shirts produced by Unamerican Activities (“quality rebellion at affordable prices”). So, when we came across a whole book about the stickers for $15 at Amazonwe though it was pretty sweet.
But what really sealed the deal was that we realized that it wasn’t just a book about the stickers but a book of stickers— 432 sweet stickers for fifteen bucks.
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