The holidays are an ideal time to give the home handyman or handywoman on your list a cool new tool or two. Here, in order of price, are a few worth considering, and all are under $200 — many of them way under! Most are available at local home centers and hardware stores, or check out their Web sites for more information.

Striker Magnetic LED Light ($6.99, Here’s a clever little gadget that is sure to be a big help to do-it-yourselfers and pros alike — a spotlight that’s about the size of a golf ball! The Striker is a little acrylic sphere, studded around the outside with 12 powerful rare earth magnets and a bright, wide-angle, LED light. The magnets hold the sphere firmly to any metal surface, while the light gives surprisingly bright illumination. And with a choice of 12 different magnetic positions, you can direct that light right where you need it. Use it under the sink while you stop that leak, behind the stereo while you sort out the cables, or inside the cabinet while you get the last screw into the drawer guides — the possibilities are endless!

Zip Sander (Model 7186, $11.99) and Zip Sanding Sponge (Model 7233, $9.99, You may not take these little guys seriously when you first see them, given their bright yellow resemblance to your favorite bathtub rubber ducky. But if you’re used to doing your hand sanding by wrapping sandpaper around a wood block, you’re sure to love these innovative sanders. The Zip sander is made of a tough foam material with a contoured grip that fits perfectly in your hand. It has a flat bottom with pointed ends to simplify sanding along edges and into corners, and it uses hook and loop material to make changing sandpaper a snap. If your project calls for a sanding sponge instead of sandpaper, try the Zip Sanding Sponge, which has the same comfortable foam grip and interchangeable sponges in different grits.

Stanley Maxsteel Multi-Angle Vise (Model 83-069M, $29.99, Here’s a versatile little vise that’s perfect for all your small- to medium-size projects. Made of durable cast-aluminum, this multi-angle vise has a huge ball socket that allows the head of the vise to be rotated, pivoted and angled into a virtually unlimited number of positions. The jaws will open to 3 inches wide, and have steel faces with a horizontal V-groove for holding pipe, dowels and other round objects. There is a also a pair of soft jaw covers that slip in place when working with more delicate objects. A large screw clamp holds the vise securely to your workbench, table or truck.

Dremel Duo Cordless Screwdriver and Rotary Tool Combo (Model 1130-01, $92.99, This is a great combo kit, featuring the "Dremel Driver" cordless screwdriver and the Dremel "Stylus" cordless rotary tool. Both are compact and powerful, with 7.2-volt motors and lithium ion batteries. The Dremel Driver, with variable speed and reverse, is less than 5 inches long but is powerful enough to drive 3-inch screws. The Stylus is also small and lightweight, with a very comfortable grip and a speed dial that regulates the speed from 5,000 to 25,000 RPM. The dual charging stand holds and charges both tools at the same time, and also provides bit storage. The kit also includes a nice collection of 33 different accessories in a storage case.

Bosch Lithium Ion I-Driver Kit (Model PS10-2, $119.95, Bosch has taken advantage of the smaller, lighter lithium ion battery with its compact and powerful 10.8-volt "I-Driver." It’s the perfect solution for those tight spots when you need real power. The head rotates to five different positions, from zero to 90 degrees in relation to the handle. It has an eight-position clutch, accepts any 1/4-inch hex bit, and has a comfortable, sturdy feel — a real workhorse in a compact size. The complete kit includes the driver, two batteries, a 30-minute charger, soft carrying case, and a couple of bits.

Skil X-Bench (Model 3100-12, $159.95. Optional accessories range from $19.95 to $79.95, If you don’t have the shop space to spread out all your tools or if you need a portable shop you can take to where the work is, Skil’s new X-Bench may be just what you need. The X-Bench has a solid 53-by-23-inch table top with ruler markings to help with your layouts, mounted on a sturdy frame that folds in half for transport. The table sits on four steel legs that independently adjust from 24 to 34 inches high, allowing you to set the table to the height that works best for your project, or to compensate for uneven surfaces. The table has a "cut channel" in it that allows you to lay materials on the table for cutting without worrying about damaging the table top.

Inset into the table is an innovative Universal Insert Plate system that lets you turn your portable tools into bench-top tools for easier, more accurate use. There’s a router plate that accepts several of Skil’s routers, making the X-Bench into a router table in seconds. There’s a plate to hold a jigsaw, and one to hold a sander. There is also a tail vise attachment, a vacuum sanding table, a staining table and more, all designed to work with the basic X-Bench.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at


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