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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.

-Charles Wardell

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.

Price: $59

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.
Price: $180.

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) and

6. Craftsman Self-Adjusting Pliers

Your Grip Multiplied: Most pliers are simple tools-two metal jaws and a pivot. But squeeze lightly on Craftsman’s Self-Adjusting Pliers and its cam multiplies the gripping force like a vise. An adjustment screw enables you to change the level of multiplication, so you can apply the same force to a rusted steel nut or a brittle PVC plumbing cap. The jaws close parallel to each other and stay flat on any surface.
Price: $20

7. Skil 3.6-volt Twist Screwdriver

Screw Tight with Light: Securing a drawer in a darkened kitchen cabinet is no easy task, with a flashlight in one hand and screwdriver in the other. With its built-in light, Skil’s 3.6-volt Twist cordless screwdriver is two tools in one. It also has a four-position articulating handle, which means you have to crawl in there only once.

Price: $29

8. Craftsman Mini T

Get a (Good) Grip: Unlike other compact drills, the Mini T’s motor is housed below the trigger, leaving the grip small enough so that it actually feels good in your hand. That also means the drill’s head is diminutive enough to make accurate holes between studs and joists or behind cabinets.
Price: $140.

9. American Tool Strait-Line Laser

Light Keeps You in Line: Whether you’re hanging wallpaper, installing shelving, or laying tile, this level ensures everything is hanging straight. It beams a solid red line up to 30 feet long, so you don’t have to mark up the wall or floor. There are also two bubble-level vials for further precision.
Price: $50

10. The Super Knife

Cut More Comfortably: Combine the convenience of disposable razor blades with the feel of a regular knife handle and you have the Super Knife. The switchblade-style cutter easily opens with your thumb and folds to a mere 3.5 inches long.
Price: $25.

11. Craftsman GelTek Kneepads

Knee Savers: These kneepads use the same air-injected gel found in running shoes and bicycle seats to absorb shock better than conventional foam-lined pads. The gel returns to its original shape after every use. The pads also have interchangeable caps-smooth for new carpet and treaded for rough asphalt roofs.
Price: $20

soldier pointing the M-14 sniper rifle at the ground

M-14 Sniper Rifle

Old is new again with this reliable 1950s-era rifle, refurbished from existing inventories due to a pressing need for a midrange sniper rifle in desert conditions.
Pros: Better range and stopping power than the M-16 and M-4 rifles that replaced the â€50s â€relic.â€
Cons: Fires more slowly than the M-16 and M-4, and requires different ammunition.
Grade: A
Parked Meerkat mine detector military vehicle

Meerkat Mine Detector

Spindly mine-detection vehicles have been adapted for use against roadside bombs. They can be equipped with radar scanners and metal-detection gear.
Pros: Blast resistant, but also designed to break apart in places when hit by an explosion, to protect the operator.
Cons: They´re available only in small numbers and require armed escorts.
Grade: B
AH-64D Apache Longbow military chopper in flight

AH-64D Apache Longbow

An upgraded version of Boeing´s original Apache chopper, featuring top-mounted radar, data links and better night sensors.
Pros: Fast, lethal support for ground troops. Radar above rotors allows it to scan over hills without detection.
Cons: Cost and complexity make it difficult to operate, and it´s vulnerable to ground fire.
Grade: C
soldier using the the Talon small mobile military robot

Talon Small Mobile Robot

Clawed ground robot, used to dismantle explosives. Multiple cameras, sensors and communication devices can be mounted between tracks.
Pros: Has saved lives by letting soldiers handle bombs remotely. Can be made waterproof for underwater detection.
Cons: Difficult to use at night, and sometimes gets tweaked by nearby radio jammers.
Grade: A
soldiers on the M1A2 Abrams battle tank in the desert

M1A2 Abrams Battle Tank

Seventy-ton General Dynamics tank armed with machine guns and a 120-millimeter cannon. Has thermal sights and the latest battlefield network terminals.
Pros: Nearly invulnerable to attack. Fast and quiet (for a tank). Can see and shoot accurately in the dark-even at 40 mph.
Cons: Not suited to urban combat. Big, expensive, and sucks gas.
Grade: C
Link 16 Data Exchange System Interface

Link 16 Data Exchange System

Permits similarly-equipped aircraft to exchange location and targeting data. Also connects aircraft with Navy ships and Army missile batteries.
Pros: In theory, Link 16 enables a small number of vehicles to cover a vast territory.
Cons: Has evolved in fits and starts, so many vehicles use incompatible message formats.
Grade: D
23-ton Buffalo route-clearance vehicle in a hangar

Buffalo Route-Clearance Vehicle

Responding to threats from roadside explosives, the Army deployed this nearly indestructible 23-ton Buffalo route-clearance vehicle with tremendous success. Built by Force Protection Industries, it uses a clawed, 30-foot arm to move debris and examine potential explosives.
Grade: A
RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in flight

RQ-4A Global Hawk

The RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle, designed by Northrop Grumman for high-altitude reconnaissance missions, is the first fully autonomous air vehicle used in combat. It was critical to identifying Iraqi defense systems early in the war.
Grade: A
Remote-controlled MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in flight

MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

General Atomicsâ€built remote-controlled craft can circle above a target for 24 hours up to 400 miles from base. Equipped with sensors and Hellfire missiles.
Pros: Provides excellent, real-time surveillance imagery and the ability to attack targets with little advance notice.
Cons: Only a handful are airborne at any time, so most units don´t get them when they want.
Grade: A
Litening targeting and sensor pod on a grounded aircraft

Litening Targeting and Sensor Pod

Carried on Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft, Northrop Grumman´s Litening has day and night sensors, laser targeting, and a data link to transmit live imagery.
Pros: Turns jets into sophisticated surveillance platforms at the flip of a switch.
Cons: Expensive, and available only in limited numbers.
Grade: B+