It’s that time of year again. Father’s Day is right around the corner, so here’s a roundup of some interesting new tools that any handy Dad ought to love. They’re listed mostly in order of price, with something for every budget.

Magnetic LED Light (Striker Tools,, $7.99): About the size of a golf ball and looking like a miniature naval mine, this little light really is clever. It has a bright, LED light in the center of a tough plastic sphere. The outside of the sphere is studded with 12 powerful rare earth magnets, so you can stick it to anything steel, or you can just set it down on any flat surface. Its design allows you to easily position the light to shine right where you need it, making it ideal for under the sink or under the hood of the car.

Micro Zip Sander (Ali Industries,, $9.99): Here’s a perfect little sander for small jobs and tight spaces, as well as for craft and hobby work. It’s just 3 1/2 inches by 1 inch, and its soft contoured handle fits comfortably in your hand, greatly reducing the fatigue and soreness usually associated with hand sanding. It has a quick-change hook-and-loop system for changing the sandpaper, and the paper is precut in several different grits. The complete kit includes the sander and an assortment of 80-, 120- and 220-grit paper.

Black & Decker 100Watt Power Inverter (Black & Decker,, $19.99): Does Dad have a lot of electronic gadgets? If so, consider one of these handy power inverters, new from Black & Decker. It plugs into any 12-volt DC power port in the car, RV or elsewhere, and converts it to 115 volts AC for recharging cell phones, iPods, camera batteries, laptop computers, or any other electronics up to 100 watts. Also features a USB port for direct connection to USB recharging cords.

Personalized Stanley FatMax 25-Foot Tape Measure (Stanley Tools,, $32): What Dad wouldn’t love a personalized tape measure? This is a professional-quality, 25-foot tape measure from Stanley’s excellent "FatMax" line of tools. It has a 1 1/4-inch blade, cushioned grip and a convenient thumb lock for locking the tape. But best of all, it’s personalized with Dad’s name in bold yellow print on the side. This is one tape he’ll never lose!

Wagner Power Painter Plus (Wagner Spray Tech Corp.,, $99.99) Here’s a very nice, easy-to-use spray painting kit that Dad will find very useful for small to medium-size projects such as shutters, decks, fences, outdoor furniture and even sheds. The sprayer uses a high-speed piston pump and a tungsten carbide tip to create a smooth and even finish. The tip guard rotates, so you actually have two different spray patterns to choose from. There is also an electronic 2-speed control that lets you adjust for larger projects or smaller detail work. There’s an attached 1.5-quart paint cup, or you can use the included 6-foot hose to draw material directly from a can. …CONTINUED

The Power Painter applies about 6 1/2 gallons of paint per hour, and the whole thing breaks down and cleans up in about 10 minutes. The complete kit includes the sprayer, cup, remote pickup hose, cleaning tools and a hard-shell case.

DeWalt 18 Volt Drill/Driver, Model DCD940KX (DeWalt Tools,, $279): DeWalt is well-known for making professional-grade tools, and you’ll see them in the hands of the pros on job sites everywhere. So you know this cordless drill and driver, which has been redesigned and newly introduced from DeWalt, is something that will delight Dad or any serious handyman or professional user. This is a drill that feels solid in your hand the minute you pick it up, with a number of rugged metal components coupled with a comfortable, rubber overmolded handle.

The DCD940 has a redesigned, all-steel transmission that offers three different speeds (0-500, 0-1,250 and 0-2,000 RPM), which are easily selected from a thumb switch on top of the tool. DeWalt claims a 30 percent increase in runtime, thanks to greater operating efficiency from the changes in the motor and transmission, and judging from recent testing that seems to be accurate.

There are 22 different clutch settings, and part of the new design places the clutch settings on a separate ring from the drill/driver selector. That means that you can easily change between drill and driver settings without affecting your clutch setting — a handy feature. The 1/2-inch chuck is all metal, with a ratcheting mechanism that really grabs onto the bits. They’ve also included a built-in LED work light near the front of the tool to help you when you’re working in those dimly lit places. It comes with a case, adjustable side handle, charger, and two batteries (and, unfortunately, DeWalt’s enormous, road-map style instruction booklet). A very nice drill that will make Dad’s buddies envious!

DeWalt NANO Technology Battery and Charger, 18 Volt, Model DC9180C (DeWalt Tools,, $155): Here’s something else to consider: If Dad already has some DeWalt 18-volt tools, DeWalt’s new nanophosphate lithium ion battery makes a perfect upgrade. The new batteries are smaller and lighter than the older versions — it changed the tested weight of the DCD940 drill (above) from 6 pounds 1 ounce to 5 pounds 6 ounces — but are still compatible with all of the 18-volt tools in the DeWalt line produced since 1996. The new batteries offer longer battery life and no memory. These new batteries require a different charger, which is included as part of this particular kit (includes one battery and one charger), but the new charger will also charge all of DeWalt’s other NiCad, NiMH or Li-Ion batteries, in any voltage from 7.2 to 18 volts.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at


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