If you have a tool lover/collector in your life, I’m going to tell you about a gift that is guaranteed to gain you VIP status for the next ten years. Maybe longer…
I want to tell you right now that if you know someone who is always on the lookout for a new tool, someone who has a dedicated place on the pegboard for their current tools, someone who is always wanting to show you their latest addition, someone who recognizes the word “tool” doesn’t just apply to hand tools but also software or clothing or even books, someone who is always learning a new skill, someone who is just plain difficult to shop for because you’re certain they already have any tool you might purchase for them… today’s your lucky day.
Right now, do not pass Go, do not collect $200… just grab a copy of Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities. It’s 460+ full-color pages of ear-to-ear grinning, hours of ooh-ing and aah-ing, and years of repetitive page-turning. After it arrived at my door, I lost almost two full hours in its pages before realizing just how much time had elapsed… and this was me just skimming the various sections and randomly jumping from item to item. Since then, I’ve lost a few more hours as I’ve started to methodically tackle specific sections that are relevant to a few special projects that interest me (right now).
This catalog is HUGE. And heavy — it weighs almost five pounds! It’s 14 inches tall x 11 inches wide and over 1/2″ thick. Much of its content is taken from the Cool Tools website/blog that Kevin Kelly (no relation… but I wish there was!) began about eight years ago as an email between friends and has evolved into what it is today… the Go-To source for not only folks looking for the right tool for the job, but also the place to go and share your own tool recommendations with others. (And again, the term “tool” is used loosely here because it can mean a book, a piece of clothing, a website, and much more.)
The website is fairly easy to navigate, but not nearly as easy as the printed catalog. The inside front and back covers contain a list of the Topics (or categories) that are used to help group similar subjects. I’m including two photos here so you can see just how comprehensive this book really is…
You’ll find exactly what you might expect in the book. Looking for a Japanese Screw Punch? Page 62. Looking for a Univeral Cable Slitter? Page 71. Want a Sliding Bolt Lock with a built-in Combination Lock? Page 159. Maybe a Pocket Chainsaw? Page 258.
You’ll also find an amazingly large number of things you probably don’t expect from a book. Need components to build a Dome Home? Page 119. Collapsible gasoline can? Page 271. The world’s smallest lighter? page 306. The best prop-building books? Page 316. Grow edible mushrooms? Page 138.
Every single item in the book has a QR code included in the writeup, so you’ll be able to quickly and easily get to the relevant website. Where important, model and/or version numbers are provided along with the proper name of the tool. The first few pages give you a rundown of how the book works as well as how the Cool Tools project has evolved. Kelly even lists all the tools used to make the book… it’s self published, so Kelly talks about how the book was created and why some tools made it… and others did not.
And speaking of being self-published, I enjoyed reading (on page 347) the complete story related to taking the book from digital to print. It turns out that only 10,000 copies have been printed. I’m telling you this because once word of this book begins to spread, I have a strong feeling it’s going to sell out. Fast. Inventors, gardeners, homesteaders, preppers, woodworkers, electricians, gardeners, animal lovers, musicians, teachers, writers, first responders… fill in the blank with your own hobby or interest and rest assured that group will also find the catalog useful.
Whether the book is for you or for someone you know, don’t take too long to grab a copy. Tools always make great gifts, but Cool Tools is a gift in itself.
Note: I’d like to thank Kevin Kelly for providing a review copy. I now know how my holiday break will be spent — in front of a fire reading for hours on end. With a grin on my face.