Stuff We Love
The Ultimate Gift Guide for DIYers
Whether you’re shopping for others or making up a wish list for yourself, help is right here.
Garden hoses always used to be a hassle to lug around and to store at my farm. GrowGreen hoses have been the answer to both problems. Thanks to the lightweight material, the hoses expand with water pressure and retract when empty. A 25-ft. hose retracts to less than 10 ft. long. When the job’s done, I spray the water out of them and toss them into a bucket. — Anne of All Trades. Buy it on Amazon now.
Comfortable Dust Mask
Standard masks just aren’t comfortable for long periods of time. They tend to get sweaty, so I end up taking them off—and they certainly don’t work when they’re not on your face. The RZ Dust Mask is made of light mesh fabric and has a pair of straps that keep it in place, comfortably. Beneath the mask is a replaceable filter. The discharge valve lets your breath go out instead of up, so it doesn’t fog your protective eyewear. — Tamar Hannah. Get this mask. Next, check out 11 products we’re buying on Amazon this month.
A Costly Caulk Gun—and Worth It
It’s hard to appreciate the value of a good caulk gun until you’ve tried one. And this Albion B12 is the best I’ve ever used. The beefy trigger means less hand strain with stubborn adhesives and provides excellent flow control for a neat bead. And since this tool is built like a tank, I expect it will outlast me. Some builders also like the rotating cradle. But I couldn’t avoid turning it upside down, which allowed the caulk tube to fall out. No problem: I simply locked up the swiveling mechanism with glue. —Gary Wentz. Order it today.
Tough Attachment for Tight Spots
For driving or drilling in the tightest spaces, a right-angle attachment is a lifesaver. The Milescraft Drive90PLUS is my favorite because it’s tough enough to use with my impact driver. And that makes driving screws easier. Other right-angle attachments are only rated for 250 in.-lbs., while this one can handle up to 1,500 in.-lbs. — Jeremiah James. Buy it on Amazon.
Better Glue Bottle
The FastCap Glu-Bot glue bottle makes nearly every aspect of using wood glue a whole lot easier and neater. The wide base prevents tip-over spills and the cap is stored right on top of the bottle, so you should never lose it. It comes with a wide-blade tip and a pointed tip that can be swapped in seconds. But the best part is that you don’t have to wait for the glue to reach the nozzle. Just hold the bottle upright and squeeze to force the glue to the nozzle. (This is especially great for vertical glue-ups.) When you release the bottle, glue is sucked back out of the nozzle, which minimizes the mess. — Aaron Massey. Get this glue bottle.
The Magswitch Workholding System is awesome. It’s built around releasable magnets that solidly lock onto table saws or other machines—as long as they have an iron table. To release the magnets, just turn the knobs. This starter kit comes with a base, two switchable magnets and a reversible feather board. There are lots of other attachments available, or you can use your imagination and come up with your own jigs. — Mike Berner. Buy it on Amazon.
Accurate Table Saw Setup
If you’ve ever set your table saw to make a 45-degree bevel cut for a box or picture frame and ended up with gapping miters because the markings on your machine were half a degree off, you need this Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. Just set it on your table, zero out the display and then stick the magnetic base onto the blade and adjust the bevel. The digital readout will tell you the angle of your blade down to one-tenth of a degree. — Tamar Hannah. Get it now.
Twenty years ago, I took a chance on this odd-looking framing hammer (below right). Glad I did. Besides the perfect balance and feel, it has some nice extras. The steep claw angle gives ample leverage for pulling nails, and the claws are pointed so I can dig out sunken nails. A magnetic nail slot lets me start a nail where I can’t reach high enough to hold the nail. My wood-handled version costs $67 at japanwoodworker.com; the Ohsho Claw Hammer Middium on the left is about $46 on Amazon. — Brad Holden. Get it now. Here are 19 tech products that will make DIYers drool!
Projects for Kids
I’ve designed and built tons of kids’ furniture in recent years—and with eight growing grandkids, I’ve learned to do it fast and easy. My book, Building Unique and Useful Kids’ Furniture, shares those lessons and guides you through each project with clear instructions and photos. It’s available online and in stores December 1st. Get more info—and lots of photos—at spikecarlsen.com. Find this book on Amazon.
CliC reading glasses have three features I love. First, the solid plastic neck strap is adjustable at the temples so you can slide them until they fit your face perfectly. The lenses are much higher quality than the cheap ones I used to buy. And lastly, I love the magnets that snap the frame together over your nose (hence the name “CliC”).
CliC glasses (starting at $30) come in six magnifying powers from 1.25 to 3, and in many different colors and styles. I’m now on my third pair, upgrading the magnification as time marches on. They’re always right there around my neck when I need to cheat—perfect for the shop! — Travis Larson. Order these glasses now.
Shears for your Garden or Shop
When summer finally rolls around again, I’ll be in my garden every day, pruning, harvesting and maintaining the crops. My Chinese garden shears make pruning thicker stems and harvesting veggies a breeze. They’re part of the SE SC616 three-piece set I found online. I use small shears to clip herbs, and I keep a larger pair in my shop for trimming leather or other tough material. — Anne of All Trades. Buy these sheers on Amazon now.
Terrific for Tires
Why lug around a heavy compressor and hose just to fill tires? All you really need is a battery-powered inflator. There are many versions available, some costing less than $40. My favorite is the more expensive Milwaukee 2475 Compact Inflator, which automatically shuts off when the tire is at the correct pressure. — Mark Peterson. Buy it on Amazon now.
My Triton SuperJaws XXL Portable Clamping System is by far the most versatile tool in my shop. I use it on every single project. It’s a reliable third hand or a clamp when I’m doing a glue-up. When I need a quick work surface, I clamp a scrap of plywood between the jaws. The system folds up for compact storage, but mine is in use constantly and never gets put away. — April Wilkerson. Buy it on Amazon.
A Gift That Lasts Forever
Almost every week I hear from someone who built their DIY skills using Family Handyman as a guide—skills that bring a lifetime of satisfaction, savings and independence. If you want to give a skill-building gift, now’s a great time. If you order and pay for a gift subscription online, you can give a second gift FREE! — Gary Wentz. Get this deal today.
Perfect Hearing Protection
My ISOtunes PRO Bluetooth ear-buds have become almost as essential as my tool belt. Aside from noise-canceling, ANSI-certified hearing protection, they provide 10 hours of great sound quality between charges. They let me take phone calls without dropping my tools, and they never slip out of my ears. These earbuds are tough, too. They’ve been battered, snagged on nails and subjected to extreme heat, cold, rain and grime. No problem. If abuse ever wrecks them, I’ll definitely buy another pair. — Mike Berner. Buy these ear buds now.
A Work Light that Shows True Colors
The Hybrid LED Color Range Work Light from Ryobi features variable color temperature, allowing you to adjust the light quality to your work space. It improves color perception—a big benefit for painting—and it reduces eye strain from working in bright white light. The ability to warm up the light as well as dim it can keep you working comfortably longer. The work light features 360-degree light head rotation and includes a tripod mount. It’s cordless, but it can also be plugged into an extension cord. This light is available at Home Depot for $80 without a battery. It’s part of Ryobi’s 18-volt ONE+ System, so you won’t need the battery if you’ve already invested in the system. — Mike Berner. Get this light today.
I keep three essentials in my shop apron: a pencil, a tape measure and a small combination square. A 4- or 6-in. square can handle 90 percent of my shop needs: making layout marks, checking assemblies for square and setting up tools. A little square doesn’t create much extra bulk in my apron, and at less than $10, it doesn’t break the bank either. — Brad Holden. Order a pocket square now.
Hauling Lumber is a Cinch
Making trips from the lumberyard often requires driving with boards and sheet goods hanging out over the tailgate of a 6-ft. pickup bed. You could use a ratchet strap at the bed anchors to keep your materials from sliding around, but ratchets end up getting tangled in the strapping, and in tight quarters ratcheting can be difficult.
If you place the Cam Jam XT aluminum cord tightener between the anchors and wrap the cord around the lumber, pulling the cord through will engage the cam and secure your material. The Cam Jam cord tighteners make this process easy and take up less storage space than my ratchet straps. — Mike Berner. Get it on Amazon.
A Clever Solution for Sealing Big Gaps
InstaTrim is part trim, part caulk and part weather sealant. And for some situations, it’s a true problem solver.
InstaTrim is a V-shape strip of 1/2-in.-wide plastic, backed by a bead of adhesive caulk. To install it, remove the peel-off tape, position the strip, then press it into place. The self-centering “wings” along the edges flex to create a tight seal. Since InstaTrim goes on dry, it can be painted immediately. It’s perfect for sealing moderately large gaps (up to 1/4 in.) and leaving a clean, smooth bead. It’s ideal for sealing wall and floor gaps around tubs, for covering gaps around toilet bases and sealing windows and doors.
For good results, you have to first remove all existing silicone caulk, especially in bathrooms and other wet environments. InstaTrim is available in six colors. — Spike Carlsen. Buy InstaTrim now.
Lock Washer in a Bottle
Still using lock washers? Get a grip—pick up some thread adhesive instead. It’s been around a long time, but amazingly, pro mechanics are still the biggest users. All DIYers tighten nuts and bolts, right?
Thread adhesives are better than any mechanical locking system for two reasons. First, the liquid plastic fills all the gaps between the threads so the threads stay locked together. And second, the plastic seals the metal against corrosion. There are many formulas for all kinds of tasks, but the most common are the red and blue Loctite thread adhesives—red for permanent bolts and blue for removable ones. (Loctite is the dominant brand; Devcon is another.) The red and blue types cost about $6 for a 6-ml tube. — Travis Larson. Buy it on Amazon now.
Favorite Oscillating Tool
An oscillating multitool is the kind of tool that goes unused for months and then saves the day in some oddball situation. For me, that usually means cutting metal or wood in tight quarters. Over the past couple years, I’ve tried a dozen oscillating tools. The Rockwell Sonicrafter F80 is unique in letting you select the oscillating angle: The blade makes short swings when you need precision, wide swings when you want to get aggressive. It also packs more power than most (4.2 amps). The Sonicrafter F80 accepts blades of any brand. — Gary Wentz. Order this multitool now. Next, check out some really cool tech add-ons for your car.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Family Handyman editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Contact us, here.