The Do-It-Yourselfer Holiday Gift Guide: 20 Handy Gift Ideas
The perfect gifts for your favorite do-it-yourselfers, whether they're gadget geeks, tool freaks or they just like to get the job done right!
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The Centipede is a multi-legged, portable support base that folds out in seconds and is as versatile as it is funky looking. It can function as a workbench, tool stand, table base, or as a pair of good old-fashioned sawhorses. It’s not only perfect for construction but also handy on a camping trip, tailgating or anywhere you need a stable platform. The two sizes both come with quick clamps to cinch down sheet goods, and X-cups designed to hold 2x4s. The 2 x 4-ft. model can support 1,500 lbs. The 4 x 8-ft. version can handle 3,000 lbs.! Learn these savvy sawhorse tips to make your sawhorse a workhorse.
For the person who loves to make pizza, now there’s the PizzaQue — a dedicated propane-powered pizza oven (26 lbs.) that’s easy to take camping, to the beach, tailgating or your weekend place. It takes about 20 minutes for the PizzaQue to heat up, it reaches high temperatures you can’t get in a home oven (well over 700 degrees F), and it has two built-in pizza stones. Pizzas take only about five minutes each to bake!
You’ll be more likely to use eye and ear protectors if they’re readily accessible, so why not keep them together — better yet, why not buy a pair of safety glasses that has built-in earplugs? These ReadyMax SoundShield safety glasses are equipped with a pair of earplugs that tuck into the ends of the earpieces/temples. Pull the plugs out of the earpieces when your work gets loud, and yank them back in with the retractable string when it quiets down a bit. These are perfect for construction, hunting or just cutting up wood in the garage. There are various styles to choose from — some glasses are tinted, some clear?and replacement earplugs are available.
For the Cyclist: Hoist Your Bike Out of the Way
When it comes to garages, there's no such thing as enough space. One product we find useful to free up some floor space is a bicycle hoist. It's easy to install and very easy to use. When shopping for a hoist, beware of models that have undersized ropes. They can slip off the pulley wheels and jam. Look for one with a good, hefty rope.
If it never gets cold where you live or your outdoor projects only require you to stand in one place with your arms at your sides, then stop reading. But if you actually need to move around in frigid weather, check out the new Full Swing jackets by Carhartt. These jackets are warm and ruggedly built like traditional Carhartt jackets but are equipped with well-placed gussets and flexible material. Now you can reach farther with less restriction and bend sharper with minimal binding.
Sometimes new tool features can seem a little gimmicky. That was our first impression of the Bandy Clamp, which is basically a spring clamp with a rubber band connecting the two jaws. However, we quickly changed our minds when we put it to work in our shop. It’s perfect for clamping solid edging onto plywood and excels at holding stuff like electrical cords and air hoses in place. Plus, it can do everything a standard spring clamp can do, so you don’t need both kinds. You’ll want more than a couple Bandy Clamps for edge-clamping, so consider buying three pairs.
You probably don’t have a complete set of sockets and wrenches in your tool bag or the emergency vehicle kit under your truck seat. And you don’t have to if it contains the new Crescent Pass-Thru Adjustable Wrench Set. This compact tool kit features 10 spline-style sockets that work with hex, square and external Torx fasteners, from 10mm to 19mm and 3/8 to 23/32 in.
The pass-through sockets fit over protruding bolt threads and nuts mounted on studs, eliminating the need to carry deep sockets. For more grabbing power, simply replace the smooth jaw with the serrated side, and you’ve got yourself a pipe wrench, perfect for stripped bolt heads and pipes up to 1 in.
Protective headphones equipped with a radio have been around for a while. Some models offer an auxiliary jack so you can plug in your phone or MP3 player, but good luck keeping that irritating cord plugged in for more than five minutes at a time.
ION has solved that little problem with its Tough Sounds Hearing Protection Headphones with Bluetooth & Radio. Now, while mowing the lawn or running a chain saw, you can tap into your Bluetooth-equipped device and listen to your own tunes or a podcast. These headphones have a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 20 hours per charge.
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There have been several variations and improvements on the old adjustable wrench, but none of them seem to solve the two problems we encounter most: jaw capacity that’s too small and jaws that are too thick. That’s why we’re impressed with Channellock’s Xtra Slim Jaw WideAzz adjustable wrenches.
The jaws are 40 percent thinner than on conventional adjustable wrenches. That makes them perfect for plumbing jobs where you need a thin wrench to hold the body of a compression or flare fitting while you tighten the nut with a second wrench. Also, these wrenches have an extra-large jaw capacity that works great for most household, automotive, small engine and yard equipment repairs.
When a tree falls on your property, you don’t usually hear it, but you still have to clean up the mess. We tested Oregon’s CS250 14-in. cordless model the last time a tree fell on one of our outbuildings. Talk about ‘the right tool for the job.’ It was light, quiet and had plenty of power.
We had never used a saw with more aggressive teeth, but of course Oregon does know a thing or two about chain saw chains, since it’s been making them for more than 65 years. The battery had plenty of juice to dismember the problem tree, and the onboard sharpening ensured the saw was ready to go the next time the wind blew. Oregon also makes a string trimmer and hedge shears that run on the same battery platform.
Recently we dropped an old pocket hole jig and broke it. This turned out to be a blessing because we went out and picked up Kreg’s K5 jig. Wow, what a difference!
Working with this new jig is like working with an altogether different tool—a much better tool. The spring clamp adjusts to any thickness of wood in seconds. The wings that support larger components also double as storage bins. The setting block makes adjusting the stop collar on the drill bit super easy.
We thought the dust collection port was a little hokey at first, but it really does save a lot of time since you don’t have to remove the bit and blow away wood shavings several times for every hole.
We recently upgraded a wheelbarrow with Simply Dump It pivoting handles. They slid right over the handles and took about five minutes to install. Tall people always have to hunch over when rolling a wheelbarrow around the yard, which sometimes ends up with a nose-dive of the wheel guard/brace into the ground, followed by messy spills and the occasional expletive. The Simply Dump It handles raise the grip location a few inches, which lowers the handles, which in turn raises the front wheel brace.
The handles not only prevent sudden stopping syndrome but also make the wheelbarrow easier to control, especially on rough terrain. And the pivoting action all but eliminates the awkward torque on wrists when emptying the wheelbarrow.
We’ve owned rivet guns for years and use them for everything from assembling downspouts to repairing boats. The head on this rivet gun can turn in virtually any direction, enabling you to get into really tight spaces and corners—places that standard rivet guns wouldn’t dream of going.
If you get this tool, you’ll be adding tool holders to aluminum ladders or fixing items like snow shovels or lawn mower controls quickly and cheaply. As with other rivet tools, all you do is drill a pilot hole, insert the pop rivet and squeeze the trigger. One end of the rivet mushrooms, and the other has a little dish that presses firmly to the surface. If you’re new to riveting, you’ll find that rivets are a great alternative to bolts and washers. This Ace model, made by Stanley, has multiple heads sized for rivets from 1/8 in. to 3/16 in. in diameter. You may also find a yellow-handled version carrying the Stanley name.
For the Budget DIYer: The Family Handyman DIY Projects Under $200
Grab a copy of The Family Handyman DIY Projects Under $200. With more than 450 budget-conscious projects and tips, it makes a great gift for budget-conscious handymen. Build this Craftsman bookshelf yourself and save $151,900! This bookcase is inspired by a Gustav Stickley model that sold for $12 in 1910. One of the original Stickley models recently sold for $152,000, but you can build yours for about $100. Get your own copy.
Moving 4 x 8 sheets of plywood or drywall by yourself is no fun, and it’s uncanny how your neighbor can never be found until right after your truck is completely unloaded. Unlike your neighbor, the Gorilla Gripper makes moving sheet goods a heck of a lot easier. And unlike other products on the market, the Gorilla Gripper grabs from the top, so you don’t have to bend over to slide it underneath the material you’re trying to lift. Check out the video at gorillagripper.com.
One of the best stud finders you’ll ever use is the Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710. It’s unique in that there’s a whole bar of red lights that light up whenever it detects a stud. Unlike other sensors, which have a single light that stays on as it passes over the wood, the lights on the 710 tell you exactly where the wood stops and starts. No guesswork. Push a button, drag it over the wall and those hidden mysteries reveal themselves. You won’t even need to read the directions!
Have you ever driven a Segway? Just lean in any direction and it takes you there. That’s a bit like Black & Decker’s Gyro screwdriver. Turn the grip left, it unscrews; right and it screws. Twist it farther and it twists faster. No trigger at all. It has little gyroscopes inside that magically make all that happen. Just like with the Segway, the operation is very intuitive and pretty cool.
Now don’t expect to be screwing down decking or anything. At only 4 volts, it’s for light- to medium-duty work only. But that’s what you do most of the time anyway, right? It’s got lithium-ion batteries, so the batteries stay charged for a long time when the tool’s just sitting in a drawer. This is truly an innovative tool!
The WORX SD SemiAutomatic driver is the coolest little tool we’ve come across in years. As you pull back the slide, a cartridge loaded with driver bits rotates. Slam the slide forward, and a new bit pops out, ready for action.
This onboard bit selection is handy for odd jobs, but you’ll really fall in love with it during an electrical project. Manufacturers of electrical stuff like to annoy us with a smorgasbord of screw types: big slotted, little slotted, big Phillips, little Phillips? Normally, we keep bits buried in our tool belt and play find-the-right-bit all day. The WORX SD has eliminated that ritual. No wasted time. No lost bits. We were even able to drive 3-in. wood screws (just barely) with this mini 4-volt (lithium) driver. The WORX SD comes with two cartridges loaded with bits. Or load in your own bits.
Most projects start with a hot cup of coffee…usually to go. A few years ago, we found a mug we really liked: the Contigo Extreme stainless steel travel mug. It has a quarter-turn lid to ensure the handle and mouth are always lined up properly, and a built-in hanging clip. Leakproof, keeps the coffee hot, a carabiner to hang it anywhere. What’s not to love? Every hard-working, caffeine-loving handyman needs one.