Tool Gift Guide
We at This Old House know you'd rather shovel six feet of snow than fight for a parking spot at the mall. So we did most of the legwork for you.
Arm your future DIYer (age 10 and older) with
these lighter-weight, easier-to-grip tools and gain
two extra hands on your next project.
1. Skil iXO cordless palm-size screwdriver is perfect for small hands, yet brute enough to tackle trim on a tree house thanks to a lightweight and long-lasting lithium-ion battery. Has a 34-piece bit set; about $50; Skil
2. Mini maglite flashlight with adjustable beam; about $11; maglite.com
3. McGuire-Nicholas tool bag of sturdy canvas with 14-inch-wide opening will hold it all; about $28; McGuire-Nicholas
4. Chrone 6-inch Crescent wrench, about $10; Cooper Hand Tools
5. Estwing 12-ounce claw hammer has a cushioned, nonslip rubber-grip handle; about $25; Estwing
6. Tough Tools 6-inch needle nosed pliers, about $3; Rubbermaid Tough Tools
7. Stud Magnet rare earth magnetic bar tells you where to anchor heavy shelves by detecting the metal fasteners that attach drywall to wood studs; about $10; All Magnetics
8. Tough Tools Stubby Screwdriver is easy to hold, stores six bits in the handle so Junior won't lose them like Lego pieces; about $7; Rubbermaid Tough Tools
9. OXO 9-inch torpedo level (DISCONTINUED)
10. Lufkin 10-foot measuring tape, about $8; Cooper Hand Tools
Being prepared isn't just for Boy Scouts. The materials in this kit are great to keep on hand in the garage or workshop—the next time a storm knocks out the electricity, they'll prove
a heck of a lot more useful than a fruitcake.
1. Black & Decker Storm Station has a 25-watt rechargeable battery to power small household appliances, a recharging port for cell phones, weather radio, LED flashlight, and a "find me" light that turns on when the power goes out (as long as it's plugged in); $99; blackanddecker.com
2. Medium-size blue tarp, $9; Homedepot
3. Husqvarna E-Series gas-powered Chainsaw with a 16-inch bar helps clear the way when the wind throws tree limbs in your path; $230; Husqvarna
4. Super Bungee contractor pack has 12 cords in assorted lengths; $7; Homedepot
5. Leatherman Surge multi-tool has pliers, wire cutters, knives, screwdrivers, ruler, can opener, electrical wire crimper and more; $90; Leatherman
6. Wind and waterproof matches, $3; Coghlans
7. Duct tape, $6; Homedepot
8. Estwing 22-Ounce framing hammer, $30; Estwing
9. Dasco Pro 17-inch ripping bar, $14; Ace Hardware
10. Freeplay X-RAY LED flashlight provides 20 minutes of light per 30 seconds of hand winding, no batteries required; $35; Order Tree
11. SweetWater Microfilter not only keeps hikers hydrated but also is useful when home tap water is contaminated;
12. Motorola TalkAbout SX700 lets family members communicate within a 12-mile range (and comes in pretty handy on road trips, too); about $70; Motorola
13. 50-foot electrical cord offers plenty of slack to run power tools off a portable generator; about $20; Homedepot
14. Stanley 24-gallon Mobile Job Chest makes emergency gear easy to grab and get rolling in a hurry; about $50; Stanley Tools
15. Family First-Aid Kit from the American Red Cross; about $25; Red Cross
16. Cotton and Kevlar rope, about $14, Homedepot
For a complete list of emergency essentials, visit Red Cross
TOH Tip: "Toppled trees are dangerous to work on. You need to make sure what you're cutting
isn't going to spring back or fall on you. Only clear what's necessary and leave the
rest for a professional." —Roger Cook, TOH landscape contractor
1. Timberland Pro Series reversible jersey knit cap (DISCONTINUED)Timberland
2. Duluth Trading X-Static Work Socks are made with anti-bacterial yarn that also wicks moisture away from your foot. So you won't be embarrassed to kick your boots off. Khaki, about $10.50; Duluth Trading
3. IronClad Cold Condition nylon gloves have a Teflon coating so melted ice or snow beads up and rolls off, rather than soaking through to your hands. Rubberized palm and finger pads make grabbing tools easier; about $32; IronClad
4. Timberland Pro Series steel-toe Titan Hiker High boots are made for working, not mountaineering. They offer good ankle support and protect toes from (yikes!) falling power tools. Twig brown, about $130; Timberland
1. Ridgid JobMax Tool Carry-All has 42 pockets inside and out so you can easily tote your collection
of hand tools and still have room for a drill driver; about $70; Ridgid.
2. Craftsman 16-ounce Claw hammer with hickory handle, about $20; Sears.
3. Stanley FatMax 3-Piece Wood Chisel Set, about $35; Stanley Tools.
4. Shark 10-inch cat's paw nail puller/pry bar, about $12; Shark Corp.
5. Embee putty knife, about $5; Marshalltown.
6. Festool C12 Cordless Drill weighs just 3 pounds, 7 ounces, less than any other 12-volt driver on the market, yet has enough stamina to drive 230 screws per charge; about $375; Festool.
7. Stabila 10-inch Die-Cast Magnetic Torpedo Level, about $30; Stabila.
8. Irwin Vise-Grip curved-jaw locking pliers, about $13; Pro Touch needlenosed pliers, about $14; Pro Touch 7-inch locking pliers, about $20; Irwin
9. Superknife has a new push-down switch that releases the razor for a quick blade change. Unlike bulky utility knives, it also fits neatly into your pocket; about $11; Super Knife.
10. Starrett 12-inch combination square, about $85; Starrett.
11. OXO Ratcheting screwdriver (DISCONTINUED), OXO.
&TYPE12. Strait-Line laser level 120 shoots a bright beam that spans up to 120 feet, and it can spin 360 degrees for hanging crown molding; about $30; Strait-Line.
13. Stanley 12-inch Wonderbar pry bar, about $8; Stanley Tools.
14. Craftsman Cobra slip-joint pliers with long, 10-inch handles for greater leverage and a quick-release button that lets you change jaw size and then lock it securely in place; about $41; Sears.
15. Silky Saw Woodboy 240 fine-toothed Japanese folding saw, about $44; Silky Saws.
16. Stanley FatMax Extra-High-Tension Hacksaw with front and rear contoured handles for better control, and a dial
built into the frame for changing the blade and adjusting the tension; about $28; Stanley Tools.
17. Tough Tools adjustable crescent wrench, about $6; Rubermaid Tough Tools.
18. Lufkin 30-foot tape measure, about $11; Cooper Hand Tools.
The Metabo SXE400 random-orbital disc sander with a 3½-inch disc is more compact than a standard 5-inch disc, so it can squeeze into tight corners and better maneuver on flat, narrow surfaces like windowsills; about $128; Metabo
Starting this month, all Bosch power tools, including this 6½-inch 18-volt cordless circular saw, will be equipped with the company's new Bluecore batteries, which offer 50 percent more run time. The batteries will also work with old Bosch tools-and their new, 30-minute charger bays cut refueling time in half. Saw, about $190; Bosch
Hitachi's new 12-inch sliding compound miter saw features a fixed rail system that requires no rear clearance, so you can back it up against your workshop wall. It also has an eye-level digital screen that displays miter and bevel calculations, accurate to half a degree. A laser guide lines up the blade with your pencil mark, so measure well and this saw can't miss; about $650; Hitachi
The Worx Revolver ergonomic hammer drill with an adjustable handle lets you position your wrist at the most comfortable angle for maximum leverage, making all those block-busting jobs seem less like, well, work; about $129; Worx
Thanks to the PowerSquid Power Multiplier you'll never be stymied by an overcrowded power strip again. With five flexible cords of varying lengths with receptacles on the ends, you can plug in
all of your corded tools at the same time; about $20; Sporty's
The Mini-14 TiBone is a 14-ounce titanium hammer with two interchangeable steel face plates—one smooth for finish work and the other waffled for framing—so just one hammer does the job of two; about $263; Stiletto Tools
It's the overachieving sibling of the old 5-in-1 painter's tool: The Shur-line 10-in-1 Multi-Tool chisels, scrapes, removes grout, spreads putty, hammers, pulls nails, opens bottles, screws fasteners, and cleans paint rollers; about $12; Shurline.
Starrett's ProSite protractor opens inside or closes around corners, calculates the angles, and holds its shape so you can adjust your miter saw's blade accordingly; about $43 for the 7½-inch model and about $60 for the 12-inch; Starrett.
Since this all-purpose lubricant was invented in the 1950s, WD-40 has been a workshop mainstay, but now it's even better. The skinny red straw (used for a precision stream) that always went missing is now attached to a fold-down nozzle. WD-40 Smart Straw, about $6; wd40.com.