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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.