13 great gifts for do-it-yourselfers

Home improvement is more enjoyable with top-quality tools

Do you have some avid do-it-yourselfers on your holiday gift list this year? If so, here’s my annual roundup of suggestions for some interesting, quality tools worth considering. They’re listed in order of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Black & Decker All-In-One Laser Level (Model BDL100AV, $29.97): This is a clever and useful little level that really works. It has two parts: a heavy-duty suction cup; and a small level with a bubble, a light and a laser beam.

The two are held together with a powerful magnet. The suction cup holds the unit securely to most surfaces, and a green light tells you when the unit is level (red light when it’s not). It projects a bright red laser line for leveling pictures, shelves or whatever. It includes two AA batteries.

Craftsman Folding Clench Wrenches (Model 30879, $29.99): This clever, compact pair of wrenches covers a wide range of bolt sizes and types to tackle just about any type of project. Ratcheting, adjustable and collapsible, for the toolbox, glove compartment, RV, bike — anywhere. One 6-inch and one 8-inch wrench cover 1/4 to 7/16 inch and 6 millimeters to 11 millimeters.

Milwaukee 6-in-1 Combination Pliers (Model 48-22-3069, $32): A very handy, professional-grade tool for anyone’s toolbox. These heavy-duty, needle-nose pliers feature a wire stripper, wire cutter, pliers, loop-maker, screw cutter for the common 6-32 and 8-32 screws, and a head designed for reaming metal pipe from 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter. Nonslip, spring-loaded, locking handles and forged alloy steel round out a very well-made tool.

Craftsman NEXTEC G2 Drill/Driver (Model 30565, $79.99): A nice, compact, 12-volt lithium ion drill/driver at an affordable price. It features a two-speed gear box (0-400 and 0-1,300 RPM, trigger-controlled). There’s an 18-position clutch for proper torque settings to match the material and fastener. It has a comfortable, soft-grip handle, built-in fuel gauge, keyless chuck, and LED work light. It includes a 12-volt battery, carrying case and quick charger.

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Skil Oscillating Multi-Tasker (Model 1400-02, $79.99): Oscillating tools have been on everyone’s wish list, and Skil has introduced a great kit for do-it-yourselfers at a very affordable price. Designed for home projects and light remodeling, the Multi-Tasker has a variable speed, 2-amp motor, integrated dust control, a soft-grip handle, and a no-mar head. The kit comes with three blades; sanding pad and paper; case; and an adapter plate to fit other blades.

Home Right Command Max HVLP Sprayer (Model C800766, $89): The Command Max offers the occasional user the opportunity to own a sprayer at a very affordable price. Lightweight and easy to use, the Command Max is perfect for smaller projects such as spraying clear sealers, polyurethane, stain and varnish. Properly thinned, it can also be used to spray paint. It features an adjustable spray nozzle for different patterns, and adjustable material flow volume control.

Skil Combo Router Kit (Model 1830, $109.99): For anyone who needs to add a router to his or her arsenal of tools, Skil’s come up with a very attractive combo kit at a great price. With a 2 1/4-horsepower motor and a 1/2-inch collet, this is a definite step up from most entry-level routers.

The motor even has variable speed and soft start, usually only found on more expensive routers. You get a fixed base and a plunge base, both with micro-fine depth adjustments, quick-release clamps and soft-grip handles. You even get a case.

Werner Telescoping MultiLadder (Model MT-13 [13-foot], $119.99): If you have only one ladder around the house, this should be it. The Werner MultiLadder is a single stepladder that adjusts to different heights; is a stair ladder that can be adjusted to unequal lengths for stairs; converts to two stepladders; converts to an extension ladder; and splits into two scaffold bases for use with an optional plank. The operation is smooth and easy, and the ladder feels sturdy underfoot in all the different modes. It features a type 1A duty rating and a 300-pound load rating.

Dremel Saw-Max (Model SM20-02, $129.99): This is an innovative new tool from Dremel with a ton of uses around the house. It’s basically a small but powerful worm-drive circular saw with interchangeable, 3-inch cutting wheels. Use it to cut wood, plastic, metal, tile, masonry and more. You can plunge cut, or flush cut for tasks like fitting flooring under door jambs. It’s light and easy to handle, and cuts to 3/4 inch deep. It includes four different cutting wheels, vacuum adapter, and a hard case.

Milwaukee M12 Cordless Ratchet (Model 2457-21, $149): Part of the Milwaukee family of compact 12-volt lithium ion tools, and perfect for anyone who needs the convenience of a powered 3/8-inch ratchet. It’s powerful, with 250 RPM and 35 foot-pounds of torque. There’s a compact head design for tight spaces, on-board LED light and battery power levels, variable speed metal trigger and reinforced steel housing for durability. It includes a case, battery and 30-minute charger.

Ridgid TwinBlade Saw (Model R3250, $149.95): This heavy-duty little brute from Ridgid uses twin 5-inch blades spinning in opposite directions, coupled to a powerful 10-amp motor. It’ll cut through just about anything, including stainless steel, galvanized iron, wood, copper, steel, aluminum, rebar and more — both forward and backward.

It has a compact design and comfortable grips for use even in confined areas, and has a wax port for use with wax sticks. It includes blades and a case.

Ridgid 18-Volt Compact Drill/Driver (Model R86008K, $179): Pro-grade cordless drill/drivers are always a great gift for the do-it-yourselfer, and Ridgid has a great one here. Featuring a compact size with a slide-in, flat-bottom 18-volt 1.5 Ah lithium ion battery with fuel gauge, it’s got 455 inch-pounds of torque and two speed ranges (0-450 and 0-1,650 RPM).

It has a textured, nonslip grip, 24-position clutch, 1/2-inch keyless chuck, and an LED light that can be triggered independently. It includes a belt hook and very handy auxiliary handle. Complete kit with fast charger, two batteries, and soft case.

Dewalt 20-Volt MAX Compact Drill/Driver (Model DCD780C2, $219): Looking for more power in a compact package? Dewalt delivers with its new pro-grade 20-volt MAX lithium ion drill/driver. It’s loaded with features, including two speed ranges (0-600 and 0-2,000 RPM); 1/2-inch keyless chuck; 16-position clutch; LED light; 1.5 Ah flat-bottom, slide-on battery; and a soft, contoured grip.

It’s all packed into a compact body that weighs only 3.4 pounds and is just 7 1/2 inches long for easy access in tight spaces. It includes a complete kit with two batteries, fast charger, belt hook and hard case.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com. All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

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