David Frane
David Frane

Last week, on the way home from a distant tool store my stomach told me it was time for lunch. There was an Ikea nearby so I stopped in for some their famous Swedish meatballs (sorry, no pics-I was starving and they didn’t last long). Fortified by a cheap and tasty meal, I walked through the store and found it was selling some tools. Ikea makes tools? Well, a few—after all, their furniture is “ready to assemble” and the folks who buy it may not have the equipment needed to do the job. There was an $8 hand tool set and two cordless drill/drivers. It’s hard to believe anyone could make money selling a $25 cordless drill, but then at 0-400 rpm the tool is about on par with tools that were out in 1985. The $49 dual-speed model is on paper at least a little bit better, topping out at 1,200 rpm—though the 3-5 hour charge time of the internal battery leaves much to be desired. I don’t imagine the big tool companies are losing sleep over competition from Ikea, but Harbor Freight might want to watch out.

John Cox, the chef at the Sierra Mar, a hotel restaurant in Big Sur, California has come up with a novel use for an air compressor. Instead of rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher, the kitchen staff blows them off with an air gun. Why? California is in the fourth year of a record breaking drought and the state has ordered mandatory water rationing. The use of a compressor has allowed the restaurant to reduce its water consumption by 400-800 gallons per day (out of a previous total of 3,500 gallons per day). They’re using a $200 Ultra Quiet California Compressor (CAT-6310), 1.0 Hp oil-free model with a 6.3-gallon tank. The compressor is rated at 60 dB; I’ve seen this model at a tradeshow and it is very quiet—not that noise matters much in a commercial kitchen. In the video below Cox demonstrates the rinsing of plates with water and air.

A video posted by John Cox (@chefjohncox) on

I saw the unusual Japanese tool below at a store in Berkeley, California--and had to read the label to find out what it’s for. Does anyone know or care to guess what it is? Please answer in the comments section below.

Bamboo splitter at Hida Tool in Berkeley California