3 Small Tools That Can Have a Big Impact on Your DIY Projects

Check out a firewood splitter that doesn't require an axe, plus two other tools we're digging this week.

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See-in-the-Dark Tape Measure

tape measurevia amazon.com

There’s a lot to like about Lufkin’s Shockforce tape measures. But I like the markings best: big, bold numbers on both sides of the blade and increments of 1/16 in. (1/32-in. marks are just clutter, in my opinion). The Nite Eye version—neon green on black—took some getting used to, but it’s easier to read in dim basements, while the matte coating prevents glare in bright conditions. I have a stack of tape measures in my shop, but this is the one that stays in my tool belt and gets used. A 25-ft. version costs about $30 online.

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Craftsman Socket Set

craftsman socket setvia lowes.com

This is a great beginner socket set and will fit the needs of many DIYers, no matter their skill level. The 3/8-in. drive ratchet comes with a set of metric sockets, standard-unit sockets and a deep socket set. Also neatly packed away in the hard case is a socket extender, a universal joint and a 1/4-in. hex shank adapter with bits. The thing that really sets this apart, however, is the 120-tooth geared ratchet. We’ve all run into those tight-spot situations where there’s not enough clearance to make the bolt turn. With the extra set of teeth, you will be able to turn those bolts with as little as a 3-degree swing. Find them online for around $80.

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Plus: We think these are the best air tools for automotive work at home.

Northern Tool Log Splitter

kindling cracker from northern toolvia northerntool.com

Wielding an axe to chop any log can be dangerous, and using one to cut small kindling increases that danger. The Kindling Cracker from Northern Tool is a much safer solution, allowing you to put down the axe and grab a 3-pound hammer instead. Just place the log in the ring and drive it through the wedge. And because you don’t have to worry about holding the log, it’s safe for older kids to use as well. In fact, it was invented by 13-year-old DIYer Ayla Hutchinson for a school project, and now it’s sold all over the world. Pick up a Kindling Cracker for about $90 or the XL version Kindling Cracker King for about $130 at Northern Tool.

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Next, check out our top tips for starting a fire in your fireplace.

Watch this episode of Stuff We Love to learn more about these smart, helpful tools for homeowners: