Well, it’s time once again to be thinking about what to get for the avid do-it-yourselfer on your holiday shopping list, so here are some great tool suggestions — listed in order of price — that are well worth considering. (Prices are MSRP, and the tools are commonly available through home centers, hardware stores, lumber yards and other retailers, as well as online).
And this year a big thanks to all of the manufacturers who are getting rid of those irritating and dangerous blister packs in favor of more user-friendly packaging!
- Fat Max Push Button Slip-Joint Pliers (Stanley, $9.99) and Groove-Joint Pliers (Stanley, $19.99): Stanley has improved adjustable pliers technology by adding a push-button lock that keeps the jaws where you set them, without slipping. The 8-inch slip-joint pliers have three jaw positions instead of the traditional two, and the 10-inch groove-joint pliers adjust to 17 different settings. Both have hardened teeth, multipurpose jaws and cushioned, slip-resistant handles.
- Gecko Level (Black & Decker, $24.99): Black & Decker’s clever 24-inch aluminum box level has “Gecko Grip” friction pads that really help keep the level from slipping when marking lines. There’s also a convenient 9-inch torpedo level tucked away in an on-board holder, and the torpedo level doubles as an accurate wood-stud finder.
- Rota-Driver (Black & Decker, $29.99): Here’s a compact screwdriver with a head that rotates into four different positions to simplify reaching into even the tightest, most confined spaces. The compact 4.8 volt Rota-Driver is comfortable to hold, has a built-in work light, and accepts any 1/4-inch hex-drive tips. The price includes a plug-in charger and two tips.
- Carryalls 20-inch Large Mouth Tool Bag (Husky, $36.99): Made from tough, water-resistant material, this soft-sided tool bag has a big, zippered inside compartment for larger tools, and 22 inner and outer pockets for smaller stuff. It features comfortable reinforced carrying handles and a detachable padded shoulder strap. There is also a smaller, 14-inch model for $19.99.
- Digital Angle Finder (Skil, $59.99): For measuring inside or outside angles from 0 to 220 degrees, this digital tool has an easy-to-read screen that displays the angle in 1/2-degree increments, and then converts it to the proper miter-cutting angle at the push of a button. The Digital Angle Finder also doubles as a level, straightedge and ruler.
- Scrolling Orbital Jigsaw (Skil, $79.99): This powerful, 6-amp saw has a laser guide for accuracy, and a five-position cut control to adjust the cutting action from smooth to fast. There’s a top-mounted scrolling handle that lets you turn the blade without turning the saw, a dust blower and a built-in work light. You can change the blades and adjust the foot without tools, and the blades are stored in an on-board holder. The package includes a fitted hard-shell case and a blade assortment.
- Black Chrome Socket Set (Stanley, $99.99): First of all, this socket set just looks cool. All of the corrosion-resistant wrenches and sockets are black, with contrasting laser-etched markings that let you quickly identify the sizes. The 99-piece set includes ¼-inch and 3/8 inch sockets in metric and SAE, 1/4- and 3/8-inch ratchets, 10 combination wrenches and more, all in a fitted hard-plastic carrying case.
- Motion-Activated Laser Compound Miter Saw (Skil, $179.99): The unique motion-activated laser beam projects dual red lines before the saw is turned on, allowing you to use both hands to align the cut. The saw angles and bevels to 45 degrees in each direction, and has built-in supports for longer boards and clamps for stable cutting. For crown moldings, there are built-in stops for the proper miter and bevel angles, as well as molding stops to hold the molding in an angled position if you prefer to cut it that way. Also included are a dust bag and a 10-inch, 40-tooth carbide-tipped blade. This is a saw that’s really packed with features for the price.
- 18-Volt Lithium Ion Drill, Model 86006 (Ridgid, $189): This is an excellent cordless drill kit that offers the professional or the serious do-it-yourselfer everything he or she could want. The latest lithium ion technology makes the batteries lighter without sacrificing power, resulting in a drill that is light (under 4.5 pounds), very powerful and feels well balanced in your hand. It features a 1/2-inch keyless chuck, 24-position clutch, two-speed transmission for better power control, and trigger-controlled variable speed. The handle has a comfortable, overmolded grip; there’s a built-in work light; and the high capacity, slide-in batteries recharge in just 30 minutes. Also included are a charger, two batteries and a soft-sided carrying bag.
Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at email@example.com.