The Lost Art of Aztec Prismatic Blades

Prismatic blades photographed by Joshua Ream

Start talking about flintknapping, and most people probably think of arrowheads or other projectile points. Though made using essentially the same fundamental techniques, a "prismatic blade" is a very different animal. In the archaeological record, prismatic blades appear as long, thin flakes of stone, usually having two parallel cutting edges... Read more »

11 From 11: Apollo Moonshot Tools

Levers of the Third Class

In 1969, human beings first set foot on the moon. The mission was Apollo 11. Here are eleven tools that helped us do it. These are not rockets, spaceships, or robots--though those are certainly "tools," in their own way--but humbler implements, having more in common with the bone club (to... Read more »

How-To: ShapeLock Sanding Blocks

ShapeLock Sanding Blocks

Inspired by the Sandables concept that recently made the rounds, we've been experimenting with adding abrasive grit to polycaprolactone (aka ShapeLock) thermoplastic to make rigid sanding blocks that can be reformed, with mild heating, to fit into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies on your work. Read more »

Tool Tales: The Pump Drill

Handle tie detail

A pump drill is an ancient tool traditionally been used to generate friction heat for starting fires, as well as for boring holes. The principle of a pump drill's operation is similar to the button spinner or whirligig, in which rotational momentum is built and maintained by repeated twisting and... Read more »

Tool Tales: A Pivotal Piece of History

Pivot locator tool

Recently, I’ve been learning how to repair antique clocks under the guidance of clock expert Bob Frishman. When assembling a clock, there are many axles with pivots on the end that must be fitted within the holes in the clock's plates. It is one of those jobs that seems to... Read more »

Tool Review: Barch Designs Raspberry PiHolder

Barch Designs PiHolder

I’ll admit it: I'm an enclosure geek. From the sleek, brushed-metal case I got for my first Mini-ITX computer, to the sheet steel box I wrapped around the electronics in my Nerf Sentry Gun build, I put a lot of thought into selecting the right case for the job. For... Read more »

Tool Tales: The Case of the Rattling Awl

Rattling Awl Detail

The first car I remember my parents owning was a 1977 Chevrolet station wagon—blue, with fake wood paneling on the sides. A few months after buying the car, Dad reports, something within the passenger-side rear compartment wall, near the spare tire stowage, began to rattle. Soon, the noise irritated him... Read more »