For all he’s done and all he’s taught you, you’d think dear old Dad would be honored more than one day out of the year. And if you want to get technical, had he not teamed up with mom on that one long-ago DIY project, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. So this Father’s Day, pay homage to his tinkering spirit with something he’ll use in future acts of glorious creation.
Throughout this guide, you’ll find a wide selection of tools from free iPhone apps to a budget-busting hammer drill; an oh-so-convenient cordless glue gun and soldering tool; plus a variety of things to help him amp up his environmentalism, his swing, his gut, and his chances of getting a speeding ticket.
Rapid Edge SHARK Utility Knife/Wire Stripper
Ever since the hammer/hacksaw idea fell flat on its face, the goal of combining two tools in one for convenience’s sake has never really made sense. Until now. This baby from Rapid Edge is the “first and only tool to combine a utility knife with a wire stripper.” Why not, right? Your dad will probably scratch his head before realizing he raised a very smart child. Whether he uses the wire strippers or not, Rapid Edge knives are heralded for their ridiculously long-lasting blades and one-button, quick blade-change technology.
Hitachi DH50MRY Masonry Hammer Drill
Ok, this one’s a bit pricey, but your Dad’s worth it, right? He may not have a huge need to bust holes in concrete and masonry, but when he does, watch out! Hitachi is one of the first to integrate a counterweight to absorb recoil. The counterweight combines with handle dampers to reduce full-load vibration by up to 55 percent — greatly increasing the tool’s efficiency and Dad’s overall productivity. Trust me,
he’ll love it. $999.99
Smooth-on Casting Resins
For a recent
PopSci assignment to modernize an old Popular Science DIY project, I cast a lamp base from a plastic bottle. The resin I used was Smooth Cast® 300 Series from Smooth-On products. I have to say it was incredibly easy and the results were great. Give your pop some of this stuff and let him go wild. They offer the convenience of a one-to-one mix ratio, so there’s little chance he’ll botch things. Oh, and be sure to check out the huge selection of other casting products on the Smooth-On site. Very cool stuff. $24.72-$81.76
ColdHeat Cordless Glue Gun
A hardcore crafter I know recommended this, and I have to say it’s become one of my favorite tools. The convenience factor alone will put a smile on Dad’s face. There are many cheaper cordless models on the market, but this one actually works. For starters, the ColdHeat technology heats so fast, he’ll be gluing in under a minute. And even better, one charge will keep him in full glue mode up to one and a half hours later. The only downside is trying to keep other family members from always borrowing it.
ColdHeat Cordless Soldering Tool
Never mind the convenience of a cordless soldering gun, it’s the space age ColdHeat technology that makes this one a no-brainer. The tip reaches 500ºF in less than a second, and cools to the touch in around 3 seconds. That’s 20 times more efficient than the average conventional soldering iron! The ColdHeat Cordless Soldering Tool is great for electrical work, hobbies, and light PCB jobs (case-modding, repairing motherboards, etc.). Even if he only uses it a few times a year, it’s the kind of technology every man would be proud to own.
Krylon BBQ & Stove Paint
Is your Dad a BBQ master, but his grill a BBQ disaster? Help him restore pride in his rig with a can of Krylon BBQ & Stove paint. The durable finish with “Thermo-Guard protection” is designed to withstand temperatures up to 1200°F intermittently, and up to 600°F continuously. And to make sure he doesn’t put it off, remind him Independence Day is just around the corner.
DIY Duct Tape Wallet Kit
Don’t buy Dad another wallet. This year let him make his own, out of something he knows and loves…duct tape! The myDuctbills Kit comes with all the raw materials he’ll need, and a detailed instructional booklet. It also includes six bonus swatches of colored duct tape (red, pink, navy, ochre, white, red, and black), so he can cut out and customize his own design. And the best thing is, if it breaks, he’ll know exactly what to use to fix it.
How green is your Dad? Regardless, help him take it to the next level with this NatureMill composter. Waste items are processed continuously, mixing every four hours until they are completely ground down to small particles. Every two weeks a red light will alert him when to empty the machine. Simply open the door and remove the compost. One of the main benefits of this unit is how well it cuts down on the nasty trash odors composting produces in such abundance.
Beer Making Kit
This gift is officially approved by Homer Simpson and every other father on the planet. Yes, you’re signing him up for a little work and a potentially bank-account-draining hobby, but take it from my Dad, “There’s nothing sweeter than crafting your own pint.” Cheers!
Collins Complete DIY Guide
Seems like you can’t go wrong with this one. Catering to novices, DIY enthusiasts, or professionals, this tome aims to be the most in-depth, up-to-date, and user-friendly DIY book on the market. It covers decorating, repairs, electricity, plumbing, and much more. According to the publisher, this international bestseller is the most comprehensive and authoritative DIY manual ever produced. But let your Dad be the judge.
This one is a little different, but Dad might find it fun. Using this kit, he can turn old glass bottles into glass sculptures, vases, lamp shades, votive holders — anything he can imagine — in just four easy steps. Everything needed to safely and accurately cut and polish glass bottles is included.
Fiskars Bucket Caddy
Here’s another idea your Dad will really use. The Fiskars Bucket Caddy is designed to make sure the tools you need for the job are always right at hand and easily accessible. Although this model is marketed with a gardening bent, there’s no reason he can’t use it for his less garden-variety projects, too.
There comes a time in every hammer-swinger’s life when space is too confined to create usable force. That’s when Dad needs the Craftsman 12V Lithium-Ion Hammerhead Auto Hammer. It removes the need for a hose or cord and uses the power of a 12-volt lithium-ion battery to nail nails up to 3 1/2 inches in length with the press of a trigger. For assistance in nail placement and nailing accuracy, a magnetic head conveniently holds nails up to 7/16 inches wide. MC Hammer-approved!
Does your Dad speak Dremel? If he does, he’ll love this one. The Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Tool is a versatile multitasking tool. With fast side-to-side motion, the Multi-Max can take on a variety of projects that involve repair, remodeling, or restoration. For cutting, grinding, sanding, scraping, and grout removal, this is one of those products that he’ll create projects for, just because it works so well.
If your Dad owns an iPhone he’s already pretty cool. Now he just needs a few good apps to really improve his street cred. Log on to the Apple Apps store and check out these great digital tools: iHandy Carpenter (which includes a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level, protractor, and ruler), Flashlight, Digital Altimeter, Digital Compass, Units, and Knot Guide. If he’s like every iPhone user I know the only trouble will be getting the device away from him long enough to load the applications without him knowing. An alternative would be an iTunes gift certificate, with a note to check out the apps you think he’ll like.
Does your Dad have a need so specific there isn’t a digital device to solve it? Give him the tinker tools to find the solution before anyone else does. BUG is a collection of open-source programmable modules he can easily snap together and program to build his dream gadget. Who knows, it might even spark an idea for a problem he didn’t realize he had.
[base: $249, modules: $59-$119](http://www.buglabs.net/ (with link to Bug module articles))
Motorized Bicycle Converter
Dad getting too much exercise? This kit comes with everything he needs to convert his bicycle to a 48cc gas-powered scooter. By simply clamping on the engine, installing the sprocket, gas tank, and other hardware, he’ll be lazing around town at 35 mph in no time flat. I recommend the lower-powered models, because most state laws stipulate that any motorized vehicle under 50cc is legal to operate without a license, registration, or insurance. Plus, you don’t want him pulling any crazy Evel Knievel stuff in the driveway.
Poor Man’s Steady Cam
If your Dad is a movie maven, he’ll surely appreciate the Poor Man’s Steady Cam. With just a few hardware store supplies under $20 total, he’ll increase the quality of his productions tenfold. Just log on to the site, print out the instructions, shop for the materials, and leave the rest to him. Careful though: next thing you know he’ll want to move to Hollywood.
Theo Gray’s Mad Science
Mad Science, Theodore Gray reveals how to demonstrate scientific principles through extreme experiments. He launches a toy rocket using the energy released from an Oreo cookie, ignites a “phosphorus sun” by suspending half a gram of white phosphorus in a globe filled with pure oxygen, whips up a batch of homemade nylon thread by linking the molecules of hexamethylenediamine and sebacoyl chloride, and gets the party started by adding 500 pounds of quicklime to water to create a homemade hot tub. Mad Science is the perfect book for anyone fascinated by all things electrical, chemical, or explosive, and who loves a vicarious thrill. Sounds like your father in a nutshell, right?
Gorilla Glue bonds materials other adhesives simply can’t — metal, stone, wood, ceramics, foam, glass and much more. I think of this stuff as the duct tape of glue. Plain and simple, your Dad just shouldn’t be without it. And if he already has a supply, now it’s available in a faster-setting formula and a Precision Glue Pen for pinpoint applications. Either one of those will be sure to come in handy.
Bring out the artist in your Dad whenever he needs to paint clean, crisp lines. FrogTape is not just another masking tape: it’s treated with a material called PaintBlock during the manufacturing process. When latex paint comes into contact with FrogTape, PaintBlock kicks into action and creates a micro-barrier seal, so no rogue paint can sneak underneath the tape edges. Once the paint is dry, pulling up the tape reveals a true work of DIY art.
Dust-Off Compressed Air
Every Dad knows ice-cold beer is infinitely superior to the lukewarm variety. This gift will help make sure quenching his hard-earned thirst will never come at a price. Check out this
PopSci 5-Minute Project to learn how Dad can use his can of Dust-Off Compressed Air with an old plastic container to take his beer from lava-flow warm to mountain-stream cold in just a few seconds.
I call this one the plumber’s crack reducer. The
PermaFLOW self-cleaning drain is engineered to eliminate plunging, the use of drain cleaners, messy drain disassembly, and associated health, safety, and environmental concerns. Now when Dad needs to fix a clogged sink, all he does is turn a knob to push the troublesome wad downstream. PermaFLOW also helps keep glop from gathering in the first place with a subtle angle in the incoming pipe that generates turbulence to carry it away.
Roxio Easy VHS to DVD Converter
Don’t let Dad’s years of videotaped antics, hairstyles, and interesting wardrobe choices degrade over time to the point they’re lost forever. The Roxio Video Capture USB device, combined with Creator 2009, make it simple to preserve those irreplaceable memories by transferring media shot on VHS, Hi8, and V8 to the much more stable DVD format.
Take Control: Mac
Your Dad may love his Mac, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to throw it out the window now and again. In this essential guide from best-selling author Joe Kissell, he’ll learn 17 basic troubleshooting procedures and how to solve nine common problems, along with an easy-to-follow way to troubleshoot novel problems. Whether his Mac won’t turn on, experiences kernel panics repeatedly, or is glacially slow, this book has the calm, friendly advice he needs to find a solution.
Pocket Scan Check Engine Light Assessor
Now when Dad’s “check engine” light comes on, a wave of Zen calm will rush over him. He’ll simply open the glove box and pull out his PocketScan Plus. In no time flat, he’ll have an immediate recommendation on how urgent the problem may be to his vehicle’s driveability. Not only will it provide him with the code for the check engine light, but he’ll have access to an online database that further explains the problem, its severity, possible symptoms, and common causes — all in easy-to-understand terms.
Envirotex Lite Pour-On High-Gloss Finish
This one will get your Dad’s project juices flowing. Envirotex Lite is a reactive polymer compound used to cover tabletops or other flat surfaces with a thick, glossy coating equivalent to 50 coats of varnish. One coat is all that is usually required for a deep attractive finish; however, two or more coats may be applied one over the other by simply wiping the surface with a clean cloth and alcohol prior to recoating. I recently completed a
desk project with Envirotex Lite and I have to say the process was quick and easy, and the result is beautiful.