Gone are the days when a hammer was a hammer and a drill just made holes. Today's tools are more versatile than ever, from sanders that drill to drills that find studs. And they don't merely get the job done; they do it better, more quickly, and more safely. Cordless tools are getting lighter and more powerful, thanks to new battery technologies. It's enough to inspire you to replace everything you own, so here are 11 high-tech tools you'll want for your new toolbox.
1. Skil 14.4-volt Cordless Drill Driver
Stud-Finding Drill: Like peanut butter and chocolate, drills and stud finders just go together, so Skil cleverly built a detachable stud finder into its 14.4-volt Cordless Drill Driver. The drill's chuck is angled up 10 degrees from the housing to relieve pressure on your wrist when drilling at or below waist level.
2. Vaughan and Bushnell Ti-Tech Hammer
The Switch-Hitter: Use the Ti-Tech's serrated steel cap for framing and demolition, then switch to the smooth one for finish work or hanging pictures. The caps attach to a lightweight, vibration-absorbent titanium head that's kind to your forearm.
Price: $90, plus $15 each for the optional heads.
3. Stanley Proto Ratcheting Flex Wrench
The Neiman Marcus of Wrenches: Sure you can buy a $20 wrench set at Wal-Mart, but the steel will be softer. Plus, those wrenches lack the Flex Wrench's 180-degree pivot-which enables you to slip it into spots that typically require a socket-and the antislip notch, which allows you to pull on the most stubborn nuts without stripping them.
Price: $215 for a set of seven
4. Milwaukee Cordless Caulk and Adhesive Gun
Drip-Free Caulking: Pull the trigger on this cordless gun and 650 pounds of force evenly dispel the most stubborn caulk. Better yet, when you let go, the gun automatically reverses, eliminating those annoying, unwanted drips.
5. DeWalt DW0246 Battery Charger
Smart Batteries, Cool Charger: Heat shortens battery life, so new chargers from DeWalt and Makita (the MakStar) activate a built-in fan if the battery gets hot while charging.
Price: $85 (DeWalt), $160 (Makita)
www.dewalt.com and www.makita.com
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.