Tools & Materials
10 Expertly Efficient Tools Every Handy Person Should Own
Find out why you need these in your toolbox ASAP. These are the products our editors and DIY gurus are loving.
Cordless Jigsaws: Are 12 Volts Enough?
The tool shelf at the Family Handyman workshop holds both 12-volt and 18-volt jigsaws. To our surprise, we generally, prefer the 12-volt models. They’re lighter, easier to handle and have plenty of power for cutting hardwoods or 1-1/2-in.-thick material. This Bosch 12V Max Barrel-Grip jigsaw is our current favorite because it’s especially compact, comfortable and smooth-running.
I never noticed the time I wasted changing out drill bits until I discovered hex shank bits. Whether I’m drilling 1/8-in. pilot holes or hogging out a 1/2-in. peg hole, the bit shank is the same size. So I just have to open the chuck slightly to swap out the bit. If I’m using an impact driver, the swap is even quicker! Several companies offer hex shank sets; mine is an 18-piece Milwaukee set. — April Wilkerson, Contributing Editor for Family Handyman
Blast Clogs Away
This Drain King drain cleaner from GT Water Products is my go-to tool for removing tough clogs. When drains in basements, bathrooms or kitchens stop up and homeowners can’t plunge the clog out, I hook this tool up to a garden hose, feed it into the drain and turn on the faucet.
Here’s how it works: The bladder swells and wedges itself in the pipe, and its patented dispersing valve vibrates the pipe while shooting jets of water to dislodge the clog safely, without chemicals. — Jonh Wood, Plumber for ProMech
Every Last Glob
Remember the toy that had you fit square pegs in the square holes and triangular pegs in the triangular holes? Taping knives are straight; buckets of joint compound are round—a toddler could figure out that there’s a better tool for scooping out mud. Enter the bucket scoop: Its curved blade is shaped to match the bucket, so you can scoop out every last glob.
Notes that Weather the Storm
How did 3M make the ubiquitous Post-it notes better? By making them stickier and tougher so anyone can jot notes on anything in all kinds of weather. Post-it Extreme Notes stick to rough material and won’t bleed ink if they get exposed to moisture.
Lights, Camera, Catch’em
This Kuna Maximus Camera Floodlight shines bright, rolls the camera and gives you peace of mind while you’re away. When motion is detected, the light turns on and the built-in camera starts recording. There’s a two-way speaker you can speak through or use to sound an alarm. Through the connected app on your smartphone, you can always take a peek at what’s going on while you’re away—perfect for checking on your latest Amazon delivery or finding out how late your teen actually got home. — Aaron Massey, DIYer at mrfixitdiy.com
Since getting my hands on a FastCap ProCarpenter tape, I’ve refused to use any other tape measure. I love that it shows the fractions down to 1/16 in. right side up on both sides of the tape, which means I can pull the tape from the left or the right and not have to read numbers upside down. It has an erasable writing pad, a built-in pencil sharpener and a white blade, which I prefer to yellow. — Tamar Hannah, Woodworker from 3x3custom.com
Fiskars has a great new knife designed for hanging drywall. The Pro Drywaller’s Utility Knife does double duty as a retractable utility knife and a switchblade-style jab saw. It’s a bit pricy for weekend warriors, but if you do lots of drywall work, it will be well worth the money.
Foldable, Rollable, Shapeable Sandpaper
Folding a piece of sandpaper usually means shortening its life span. Not so with these 3M Ultra Flexible Sanding Sheets. They’re super tough and have a bit of stretch, so they won’t tear nearly as easily as their paper counterparts. Just wrap a sheet around a block, dowel or other profile to match your needs, then go to town. The sheets are great for wet sanding. If your sheet gets clogged, just rinse it off or crinkle it up to release the dust.
Time-Saving Brush and Roller Covers
With a Paint Poncho, your paintbrush can stay fresh and reusable without cleaning between painting sessions. I know because I recently used one with the same brush and color for three straight weeks at my house with no bristle drying at all.