The Procrastinator’s Gift-Buying Guide for DIY Types
What are you waiting for?! Get your gift-buying done online today. This is the stuff we love—and other DIYers will, too!
The Last Hose You’ll Ever Need
When a company makes a rubber tire with an 80,000-mile warranty, you gotta believe it can crank out a darn good hose, too. Goodyear seems to have done just that. The MAXLite hose has big fittings that make it easy to secure to faucets or other hoses. Goodyear claims it’s twice as strong as and 40 percent lighter than standard hoses. And—though I rarely water my yard in winter—the company claims the hose will remain flexible down to 40 below. And it’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty—a vote of confidence from the maker. Check out even more tools you can buy on Amazon right now.
Handy Way to Grab a Handle
Getting a hammer out of a standard tool belt loop takes three mini moves: Grab the head, flick it upward and (hopefully) catch the handle—then start swinging. I’ve done this so many times that I don’t think twice about it. That’s why, when I saw the Prazi QuickDraw holster, I didn’t immediately see an advantage.
Then I started fiddling with it—and grew to like it. It’ll never replace my tool belt, but it has a lot of other great uses. You can hang it off your belt or a pocket. When I was working on my knees, it made grabbing and putting away a hammer way easier. For ladder work, it provided a surefire way to pack my hammer. I also liked it for holding a staple gun to install insulation and tar paper. The angle of the holster and the pressure of the metal clamp can be adjusted easily to hold different tools, and it only takes a minute to convert it for left-hand use. Get more info at praziusa.com. Price: about $10. — Spike Carlsen
Wall Repair That Works
If you have wall texture that needs repair, check out Zinsser’s four aerosol textures: “light” and “heavy” knockdown textures and “fine” and “medium” orange peel. Each type costs less than $10 per can, and covers 30 to 110 sq. ft. (Homax Products also makes knockdown texture sprays, but we haven’t tried them yet.)
Testing is everything with this stuff—set up a half sheet of drywall or a piece of cardboard and experiment with the spraying distance to get the best match with your wall.
The spray has a strong odor, so only use it when you can open the windows and vacate the room for a while. It’s incredibly messy—use lots of painter’s plastic on surrounding floors and ceilings. And be sure to shake the can every few seconds of spraying or the nozzle will plug. Also, these are the things we’re buying at The Home Depot this month.
A Wheely Cool Idea
DIYers and NFL halfbacks have one thing in common (hint—it’s not the salary): bad knees. We spend time on our knees laying tile, wood flooring and patio pavers. We kneel to install electrical outlets and baseboard molding. We stoop to paint floors and doors. And after a while, all that takes a toll. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to try KneeBlades, essentially a pair of three-wheeled knee pads. They allow you to glide across hard surfaces while working, meaning way less standing up, walking over, then kneeling down GOING MOBILE again to cut, install or fetch. I tried them while installing laminate flooring and loved being able to scoot over to the miter saw to make cuts, then scoot back again to install a section. Better yet, with the click of a button, you can ditch the three-wheeled platforms and use just the high-quality kneepads. Sure, they’re a little heavy and awkward to have on when you DO need to walk around. And someone may tell you that you look like something out of a Transformers movie. But if you’re serious about protecting your knees, pick up a pair for $60 at milescraft.com.
Better Table Saw Guard
I bought a table saw and hated the blade guard that came with it. It was big and clunky, offered poor visibility and had no port to connect a dust collection hose. So I ordered this custom guard from Shark Guard. For about $200, I got a blade guard that fits my saw perfectly, offers good visibility, is less in the way and has a dust collection port that works amazingly well with my dust collector. The company manufactures blade guards for just about any make and model of saw–even really old ones. The quality is excellent, but expect to wait at least a couple months for delivery, as each one is made to order. The guards are available at thesharkguard.com. — Jason White, Contributing Editor
Universal Router Hood
I have a love-hate relationship with my routers. I love that they can take a chunk of wood or a ho-hum project and turn it into something polished and classy looking. I hate that they scatter dust and debris to all four corners of my shop. That’s why I was intrigued when a box emblazoned with “UNIVERSAL DUST-FREE ROUTER HOOD” landed on my workbench. Could it really eliminate dust? And would it really fit my router without a lot of hassle? The answers are yes and yes. The Oneida router hood costs about $35 at hardware stores, home centers and online.
Great String Trimmer for the Money
I needed a new string trimmer but didn’t want to spend the $300 to $400 that most home centers were charging. Then I found this one made by Jonsered (model GTS 2228). It works great and has plenty of pro-quality features like a straight shaft, an adjustable handle and a “Tap’n Go 35” head—which makes dispensing new string a breeze. It also has lots of power and starts right up with a pull or two. I bought mine for about $220 at Menards, a Midwest chain of home centers. You can also find them at Tractor Supply Co. and many independent dealers. — Jason White, Contributing Editor
Check out some more garden products here.
Amazing LED Rope Lights
The Luminoodle is part flashlight, part lantern and part gee-whiz. The waterproof 5- and 10-ft. rope lights can be hung as general or decorative lighting or placed in the nylon carrying bag for use as a lantern. The battery pack is rechargeable via a USB port and can be used to power the light, your cell phone and other small devices. The 5-ft. Color Light Rope ($40) has 15 color options and a remote control for changing the color, intensity and blink pattern. Great for camping, road emergencies, party lighting … the uses are endless. Learn more at powerpractical.com.
Watering my garden is a big enough hassle without having to bend over to attach the hose to the spigot and stop to unkink it every three minutes. The Swan Hose Swivel solves both problems. Attached to the spigot, it can swing up and down 180 degrees and rotate 360. This means securing the hose requires fewer contortions, and it’s less likely to kink as you move about your yard. You can also attach it to the other end of the hose to make hand sprinklers easier to use. Best of all, it doesn’t leak. You can find the Hose Swivel for about $6 at hardware stores and home centers. —Spike Carlsen
Smart Irrigation Saves You Money
Do you know what’s better than a sprinkler timer with a rain sensor? A smart timer that knows the exact rainfall in your area so it can adjust future schedules to avoid overwatering. The Orbit B-hyve Wi-Fi irrigation timer (orbitonline.com/) grabs local weather data via the internet and computes how long each zone should run to keep your plants and turf healthy while conserving water. You can also program it with a tablet or smartphone. It comes in two models: a six-zone unit for about $100 and a 12-zone model for about $120. They’re available at home centers and online. — Rick Muscoplat, Contributing Editor
Pocket Hole Jig for Big Projects
We love Kreg pocket hole jigs because they make furniture and cabinetry projects fast and easy. But sometimes we build projects out of thicker 2-by lumber, which requires bigger screws.
Kreg now offers a pocket hole jig made specifically for 1-1/2-in. or thicker lumber called the Kreg Jig HD (HD = heavy-duty). Combined with Kreg’s larger HD screws, it’s perfect for building bigger projects like workbenches and outdoor furniture. Kreg also makes weather-resistant screws (sold separately). The jig, which includes a drill bit and a square-drive bit, costs $60 at kregtool.com.
A Saw For The Ages
When I was a framing carpenter in Denver back in the day, pulling a mammoth “worm-drive” saw out of your truck and going to work was the sign you’d reached the big leagues. These monsters required Popeye forearms and a diet of canned spinach to operate, but they could cut through anything and were virtually indestructible.
The DeWalt 60-volt MAX circular saw (model DCS575T2) is the cordless equivalent of these vintage brutes. It has a lot to love. Like all worm-drive saws, the left-side blade position makes it easy to see your cutting line. It’s a workhorse: The 60-volt battery coupled with DeWalt’s thin-kerf FLEXVOLT blade (specifically designed for cordless saws) creates a saw that’s fast and powerful. It can churn through materials up to 2-1/2 in. thick and cut bevels up to 53 degrees. The safety button is easy to access.
The saw also has some nice grace notes, like the on-board blade-changing wrench, a depth gauge that tells you how deep the blade is set, and a carrying bag. The swing-down rafter hook lets you hang the saw from a joist or rafter between cuts (and believe me, you’ll want to give your arm a break between cuts).
The DeWalt Fast Charger is so hardworking that it’s fan cooled. The battery itself has a simple gauge that indicates how much juice is left.
Weighing in at 11 lbs., it still requires Popeye forearms to operate. And at nearly $400 (with battery and charger), it takes a Popeye-size wallet too, but if you’re looking for a saw, corded or cordless, that’ll handle anything, this is the one. It’s available online or wherever DeWalt tools are sold.
A Carpenter’s Pencil That’s More Like A Pen
Legend has it that the classic rectangular carpenter’s pencil was invented so carpenters would have a marking tool that wouldn’t roll off the roof. Those pencils may stay put, but sharpening them is a fine art, they leave a wide mark when dull, and they’re not up to the task of marking on dark woods and metals. Enter the FatBoy.
The FatBoy pencil looks and feels like a hefty pen. It comes with three leads: a regular lead for marking light woods, a white soapstone “lead” for marking concrete. The interchangeable leads can be switched or advanced with a push of the end cap. That same end cap contains an eraser and sharpener (though you can use a standard sharpener too). we liked them so much that we fired our old pencils and hired these guys.
FatBoy pencils come with extra leads and are available online and at home centers for about $16. To find more, go to fastcap.com.
Tool Bag That Says “Aah”
Hauling tools around can be a real pain in the a … arm. Digging for the tool you need is another hassle. The Tradesman Pro Wide-Open Tool Bag by Klein Tools solves both problems. The padded handles and shoulder straps make it easy on the back and hands. And the wide-mouth, stay-open top keeps your tools visible and easy to grab.
The bag is big enough to haul the hand and power tools you need for most any job but small enough to easily carry and store. The interior has 33 pockets for organizing small tools, a zipper pocket big enough for a laptop, and space for a battalion of cordless tools, batteries and chargers. The exterior has six large pockets – four with flaps – and two mesh bags for larger items. The molded plastic bottom keeps your stuff dry, and the ballistic nylon construction says “I’m here to stay.”
The Tradesman Pro Wide-Open Tool Bag (No. 55469) costs about $90. To buy it online or find a retailer, go to kleintools.com.
Check out even more products we love here.
Easier Miter Measuring
The trickiest part of trimming out doors and windows is measuring, marking and cutting each trim board the right length. The problem? You take your final measurement from the “short side” of the first miter cut – and the wiggly end of the tape measure is hard to position in exactly the right place.
With the Miter Aid Measuring Clamp, you make your first miter cut (it has to be the “left side” miter), apply the clamp, slip the hooked end of your tape into the slot, then get your measurement and mark away. No fuss, no muss. The tool also has a built-in 1/4-in. lip you can use to mark a 1/4-in. reveal on the door or window jamb before measuring.
The Miter Aid Measuring Clamp costs about $16 at home centers and online. Learn more at trimclip.com.
A Pair Of Killer Digging Tools
When you see the word “assassin” in a company’s name, you figure it must have some killer products. Well, the two “Root Assassin” shovels we tried sure lived up to their name.
The Root Assassin Shovel has an alligator snout-shaped blade with aggressive teeth to match. It will easily sever small roots with a single plunge and can be used as a foot-powered saw for cutting through larger roots. The teeth are so sharp that you can use the tool for pruning above-ground branches. the blade and handle are unibody constructed of industrial-grade steel and guaranteed for life. It’s a heavy-duty tool, yet at 4 lbs., it’s light enough to carry around all day. If you ever need to dig a posthole or remove or transplant a root-bound bush or tree, this is the shovel to grab. The company also offers a small version of the tool.
The One Shot Shovel, also made by Root Assassin, has two features we love. The top of the blade has a wide flange that gives your foot more area to push and distributes the pressure over a wider area. The flange continues around the side of the shovel, allowing you to carry larger loads without spilling. The top and side flanges combine to increase the overall strength of the blade, making this a true workhorse.
The Root Assassin shovel retails for $50, the One Shot shovel for $40. You can buy them at other online retailers.
Plus: You need to see these 23 yard tool hacks that’ll make your life easier.
A Low-Vibration Sander
There’s not one BIG thing we love about Rockwell’s new Vibrafree random orbital sander—it’s a lot of little things. The split disc has inner and outer rings (one turns clockwise, the other counterclockwise) that counteract each other for less vibration. The split-disc design also provides a larger opening for more efficient dust collection (using either the clear collector shown or the vacuum attachment included). The sander feels good in the hand, and we like the variable speed – not a revolutionary feature on an RO sander, but like we said, it’s the little things. At first glance, the inner and outer sanding discs might seem like a disadvantage – more edges to catch and more sandpaper to tear – but they grip tenaciously.
The only drawback we see is the need to buy proprietary sanding discs; more stuff to store and keep track of. But the pain is lessened by the 15 discs that come with it, along with a tool bag to keep everything together.
The Vibrafree sander (about $70) is available at home centers and online.
Why We Love Impact Drivers
Impact drivers are one of the coolest tool inventions of the last few decades. They have enough torque to drive construction screws, but they don’t cam out heads the way conventional screw guns do. They’re a must-have tool for any DIYer. The downside? They’ve always been mind-numbingly loud!
No more. Instead of a mechanical hammer- type system, several manufacturers now employ a new technology that uses oil to hydraulically drive screws. The 18-volt Makita shown (model XST01Z; about $200 without battery) is one example. Last week, I used it to drive about 25 8-in. construction screws into solid lumber with no problem, and it was so quiet that I forgot my hearing protection! If you don’t yet own an impact driver or want to upgrade your noisy old beast, go with an oil impact driver. Ryobi, Kobalt, Ridgid, Milwaukee and other companies also have offerings in this category. — Travis Larson
A Lawn Mower That’s Got It All
Troy-Bilt began making steel-wheeled rototillers in Troy, New York, more than 60 years ago. And it continues to churn out high-quality yard and garden equipment. The TB240 self-propelled mower is no exception. The TB240 features front wheel drive and big, 11-in. wheels in back, a combination that makes it easy to maneuver. It’s powered by a high-performance Honda engine with an AutoChoke starting system, which means no priming, no choking and no need to pull the starting rope more than once. Variable-speed control allows you to set the pace. There are three cutting modes—side discharge, mulching and rear bag collection—and the 21-in. deck can be easily adjusted to cut grass in height from 1-1/4 in. to 3-3/4 in. The handle can be adjusted to three angles, so you can mow in comfort regardless of how tall you are.
The World of Stuff
Who knew 10,000 tons of copper ore were mined to create the 300,000 chisels used to build the pyramids of Egypt? Or that there was a 1,000-year gap between the Romans’ use of concrete to build some of the most magnificent structures in the world and its rediscovery in the 1800s? In his book, Stuff Matters, Mark Miodownik, a professor of materials science, explores a dozen materials we see, touch and use every day but know little about. It’s no dry, academic tome; he uses his personal experiences of getting stabbed on a London train and being thrown into a windshield in Spain to introduce two of the materials. If you love learning about the world around you, you’ll love this book.
You Need This Magnetic Stud Finder!
I need a stud finder about once a year…and that’s about how long the batteries in my electronic stud finder last. So I keep this handy gadget in the bottom of my toolbox for finding studs the old-fashioned way—magnetically. You run this little fella in a zigzag pattern across the wall, and when it detects a metal screw or nail that fastens the drywall to the stud, the little red tongue waggles. It seems a little hit-and-miss, but finding a stud has never taken me more than 15 seconds. Johnson Level’s Stud Finder Plus (about $4) is available at most hardware stores and home centers. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
Replaceable Foam Brush Heads
I buy disposable brushes by the dozen; they’re indispensable for painting little projects, touching up large ones, spreading glue and cleaning crevices. But some snap pretty easily, and then perfectly good handles end up in the landfill. That’s why this foam brush set caught my eye. It uses replaceable foam inserts that fasten securely to the handle. When you’re done painting, you wash or toss them. You can use the inserts with most paints, stains and finishes, and they leave a smooth, streak-free finish. The 48-piece brush set, which includes 12 handles and 36 inserts, costs $16. That’s a great value—even with shipping, these brushes cost about half as much as conventional disposable brushes. Refills cost 20¢ to 40¢ each. Get the set (No. 96-404) at woodworker.com. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
A Matchless Safety Flare
The Flashing Safety Puck is a gadget you may never need—but if you ever did, it could just be a lifesaver. This 4-in.-diameter polycarbonate disc contains 16 LED lights that flash in nine patterns (including the universal SOS warning). It has 360-degree visibility and is nonflammable and waterproof—it even floats. Its super-strong magnets hold tight to your car or other metal surfaces. The manufacturer claims the batteries will hold their charge for 10 years and that the unit can be seen from more than 1/2 mile away. Its most common use is as an emergency flare—keep one stashed in the trunk of your car and you’ll have a beacon that can be activated with the push of a button. They’re most popular as a roadside emergency warning light, but some people put them on slow-moving vehicles on back roads, on kayaks to alert larger boats they’re in the area, and on top of bike helmets for night riding.
Gilmour Circular Sprinkler with Spike Base
I’m not a huge fan of yard work, especially watering grass and gardens. So I pay attention to watering tools that make it easier—and Gilmour has come out with two watering tools that do just that. The Circular Sprinkler with Spike Base (No. 3203) has all the features you want and need, and its design makes it intuitive to operate. You simply slide collars to adjust the spray pattern or pull up the top for full-circle watering. It has a simple lever for adjusting spray distance and an on/off switch to minimize back-and-forth trips to the spigot. Two sprinklers can be linked in series. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
Black & Decker Multi-Purpose Inflator
Air mattresses, inflatable beds, tires, balls, swimming pools—we spend a lot of time fiddling with hand pumps and air compressors. Black & Decker has made life easier with its Multi-Purpose Inflator. This football-size tool can be powered three ways: 120-volt AC, 12-volt DC (via cigarette lighter adapter) or 20-volt rechargeable battery (it’s part of the B&D 20V MAX system.) And it’s packed with lot of great features:
- Onboard storage for power cords and air hoses.
- A niche for holding a needle valve, tapered nozzle and Presta valve adapter.
- The ability to deflate air mattresses and other inflatables using the hose attached to the end of the inflator.
- A digital gauge for checking the existing air pressure and setting the target pressure (with automatic shutoff).
It won’t win the “Quietest Tool of the Year” award, but it sure is versatile. You can find it for about $50. Get more info at blackanddecker.com.
Before you set out on your next outdoor adventure, be sure to check out the following 10 cool camping gadgets that will help to keep you safe, add convenience to your everyday tasks and make your whole experience more fun.
We spend our hard-earned cash for special shoes to help us golf, run and bike. So why not a shoe to help us do yard work? Kujo Yardwear shoes were developed by a guy fed up with slipping while mowing his lawn, weary of wearing heavy boots for digging, and tired of having wet feet. His goal: a shoe that was lightweight, breathable, flexible and comfortable, yet durable and water resistant with good traction. I “test walked” a pair for a week and found them to be functional and comfortable. They offer good support and traction, yet the shoes flex easily. The waterproof sole and lower rim kept my feet dry in damp grass, while the upper mesh let them breathe. The shoes are available in men’s and women’s styles for about $120 (including shipping.) You can order a pair at kujoyardwear.com. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
It may be surprising to discover that work boots are much more than steel-toes and laces. There are specialized boots for almost any DIY job, and we’ve rounded up 15 of the best.
Extra Hand, Anyone?
Ever held a flashlight in your teeth to make a plumbing or auto repair? Well, these flashlight holders can save your teeth and your neck. Both holders have a 9-in. flexible neck that bends 90 degrees and rotates 360 degrees. The tapered spring clip firmly grips flashlights ranging from 3/4 in. to 2 in. in diameter. The spring clamp version can be secured to any object up to 2 in. thick. The magnetic version has a powerful disc magnet that can cling to appliances, vehicles and many flat metal surfaces. You can even stick this version to a drill press table so a flashlight can illuminate your work.
The Lisle holder with a magnetic base (No. 71070) sells for about $20, and the clamp version (No. 70450) for about $30 online and at some auto parts stores. Find out more at lislecorp.com or pick them up at Amazon.
Plus, check out The Coolest Yard Tools You’ve Ever Seen.
Hair’s a Solution
My daughter has long hair, which means constant drain clogs. So I tried the SinkShroom. Bottom line: It works. The SinkShroom catches hair before it gets deep into the drain. Instead of fishing out clogs, I just lift the SinkShroom out of the drain and yank off the hair. Installing one involves removing the existing stopper, which can involve a little wrench work if it’s connected to an operating arm.
There are models in various finishes for bathtubs, showers and sinks. They cost about $15 each. To find them, as well as other clog-busting solutions, search online for “drain hair catcher.” — Gary Wentz, Editor-in-Chief
Plus, check out What is a Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool and Why Do You Need One?
A New Heavy Hitter
We expect a lot from our sledgehammers. We want an indestructible head and a handle that can withstand overstrike. We also want a tool to be the ideal weight: heavy enough to bust through concrete yet light enough to swing all day. With most sledges you get two out of three—but one company has upped the score. DeWalt EXOCORE sledgehammers feature composite carbon fiber handles that are durable and seemingly immune to overstrike damage. The handles—which are about two-thirds hollow—lighten the weight and help absorb shock. The sledgehammers are available in 8-, 10- and 12-lb. versions and cost $50 to $60. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
Check out these Concrete Demolition Tools and Tips.
Quick and Easy Watering
Watering my yard reminds me of the Beatles tune “Twist and Shout.” Connecting hoses, nozzles and sprinklers involves a lot of twisting—and watching them leak involves a lot of shouting. The Aquor system aims to eliminate that song and dance. The first step is to replace your standard outdoor spigot with an Aquor house hydrant (a simple or difficult task depending on your situation). Next you secure a twist-lock connector to your garden hose. From then on, connecting your hose and turning on the water are as easy as inserting the connector into the hydrant and giving it a one-third twist. The house hydrant with backflow prevention (required in many areas) retails for $90; without (as shown) for about $75. Both are available with stem lengths up to 12 in. for varying levels of freeze protection. — Spike Carlsen
Check out these Home Gardening Tips, They’ll Make for Easier Weeding and Watering. These great tips will help you create an ideal, low-maintenance and beautiful outdoor living space.
Sharper Way to Sharpen
The old adage “A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one” comes from the notion that forcing a dull knife can easily lead to slips and mishaps. The Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener lets you sharpen kitchen, hunting and pocket knives quickly and inexpensively. It consists of two V-shaped grooves: one with two coarse carbide stones to help reestablish the profile of extremely worn blades, and one with fine ceramic stones to provide a razor-sharp cutting edge. I found it took about 10 swipes in the fine groove to sharpen moderately dull kitchen and pocket knives. It also features a round diamond-coated rod to sharpen the hills and valleys of serrated knives. The Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener costs about $10. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
Check out these 13 expert sharpening tips and tools to make the job easier — no more dull DIY and garden tools!
Dueling Painter’s Tools
I love my 5-in-1 painter’s tool. It’s a putty knife, roller cleaner, scraper, chisel and pick all in one. When I finally wore it out and went to buy a new one, I found even more multi talented tools. The Purdy 10-in-1 folding multitool ($12) has a jackknife-style design. In the open position, it’ll clean rollers, spread compound, scrape away old paint and putty, cut tape and cardboard, and even open beer and pop bottles. In the closed position, it will drive popped drywall nails below the surface, open cans and drive slotted screws for switch plate covers.
I also discovered the Red Devil 19-in-1 painter’s tool ($10). It does everything the Purdy knife does but also has five screwdriver tips stashed in the handle and cutouts in the blade for handling four sizes of nuts and bolts. Find both tools at hardware stores and home centers. – Spike Carlsen
A Mini Air Jack
Pry bars are great for lifting windows, appliances or cabinets to level them. But they’re also great at leaving scratches—and sometimes you need three hands to lift, align, level and shim all at the same time. The AirShim Inflatable Pry Bar & Leveling Tool solves all that. This 6 x 6-in. bladder inflates with the squeeze of a bulb, up to about 2-1/2 in. thick. A push of a button deflates it. The manufacturer says each one can support 300 lbs. There’s also a Pro XL model that can handle 500 lbs. They’re handy for lifting appliances to adjust the leveling feet or lifting one end of a cabinet to slide permanent shims into place. You can also use them in pairs to level windows and doors during installation.
Check out these Premium Tool Gift Ideas that any DIYer will Love.
Duluth Trading Company’s 7-Year Performance Lightweight Socks
A friend recently told me that there are two signs you’re getting older. One, you start noticing bird behavior. Two, a good pair of socks becomes worth its weight in gold. I know he’s right about the second point because I had just bought a dozen different pairs of crew socks and tested which performed the best.
For starters, I wore them all a couple times and eliminated the ones that were too hot, didn’t stay up, were hard to put on or just didn’t feel good. Next, I randomly wore the remaining six pairs to see which ones held up the best over several washings and wearings. I didn’t keep a record of how many times I wore each one; I just tried to mix it up as best I could. Fortunately, the pair that outlasted all the others was also the most comfortable.
The clear winner was Duluth Trading Company’s 7-Year Performance Lightweight socks. Unfortunately, at about $18 a pair, they were among the most expensive I tested. But they were still cheaper than gold, so I bought a bunch more at duluthtrading.com. Now if I can just get those pesky blue jays to stop chasing all my robins away. — Mark Petersen, Construction Pro Tips Editor
Natural Wasp Deterrent from Gardener’s Supply Company
When I first saw this thing, I thought it was really stupid. But surprisingly, it works. Seems that wasps are very territorial and don’t want to build one of their high-rise condos anywhere near another one. And it turns out they’re not smart enough to tell the difference between a fake one and a real one. So if you have wasp issues, go ahead and hang up a few fake nests wherever they usually appear. — Travis Larson, Senior Editor
Ryobi ONE+ 18-volt model P2190
We have a gas-powered leaf blower, but I hate to start it, and I got tired of begging my husband to do it for me. So I had resorted to using a broom to clean off our deck, stairs and paver patio. Not anymore. I bought this cool battery-powered blower, and what used to take me an hour or more now takes 10 minutes or less! I start up on the deck, work my way down the stairs and then blow all the debris from the patio out into the lawn or away from the driveway. I paid about $40 for the Ryobi ONE+ 18-volt model P2190 without the battery. (I use the batteries from my husband’s other Ryobi 18-volt tools.) The blower is light and has enough battery life to do everything I need to do. No more gas-powered blowers or brooms for me! — Jan Lehman. Buy this blower at The Home Depot now.
Blizzak Winter Tires
Imagine you just got 5-plus inches of snow and slush, and shortly you will be heading out with your family to an event that you need to attend. I don’t know about you, but my first worry would be: How are my tires going to do on the slick roads?
Well, with my experience I can tell you that the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 winter tires will perform amazingly. Bridgestone has developed a perfect winter tire that will perform really well in extreme conditions with its Blizzak snow tires. With its NanoPro MultiCell technology in the first 55 percent of the tire tread, and its amazing winter compound in the remaining 45 percent of the tread, it makes Blizzak winter tires my number one choice.
I thought colder temperatures and ice would be roadblocks for the DM-V2s, but they weren’t. The Blizzak snow tires handled both conditions perfectly. At the end of the day, my Blizzak winter tires give me peace of mind when traveling with my family on winter roads. — Josh Risberg, Construction Pro Tips Editor
Greenworks G-MAX 40V Self-Propelled Wheelbarrow
The first time I used a gas-powered wheelbarrow, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I was in heaven vibrating like mad with ringing ears, but at least my back wasn’t killing me. However, the Greenworks G-MAX 40V self-propelled wheelbarrow provides the best of both worlds—it gets your stuff where it needs to go, and does it quietly and painlessly. The dual 10-in. pneumatic front wheels supply the propulsion while the back wheel does the steering.
It’ll haul up to 220 lbs. while tackling inclines of up to 20 degrees. The nearly 4-cu.-ft. tray is spacious enough to haul dozens of tools, many bags of mulch, or armfuls of twigs and weeds. It dumps with the squeeze of a lever and the lift of a handle. It has “tortoise” and “rabbit” speeds as well as forward and reverse. The throttle is a motorcycle–style twist grip. According to the manufacturer, the battery will last up to 45 minutes between charges.
Two dinky quirks: You can’t disengage the drive system and push it like a normal wheelbarrow, and you need to push the “safety switch” each time you put it in motion. Both are easily forgiven once you haul four bags of mulch uphill without breaking a sweat. The G-MAX 40V wheelbarrow is available online and at some home centers. — Spike Carlsen, Contributing Editor
Tripp Lite, model TLP76MSG, Surge Protector and Power Strip
Awhile ago, I created a power charging station where I could amass a bunch of my battery chargers. All the chargers were connected to one power strip. It did help organize my shop, but it always bugged me that all those chargers sprang to life when I turned on the power strip even when I only needed to charge one battery. Not a big deal if the chargers are empty, but I often leave batteries sitting in the cradle until they’re needed again. I solved the problem by buying a power strip that has a separate switch for each outlet. There are a few brands available online. I bought the Tripp Lite model TLP76MSG. Six of the outlets are switched while one stays on all the time, and all seven have surge protection. — Mark Petersen, Construction Pro Tips Editor
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