25 Gifts Every Shop Rat Will Love
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Need to find a gift for a guy or gal who loves tinkering in their home workshop? You can’t go wrong with any of these seriously cool tools and gear.
This simple-yet-sophisticated stud finder features an LCD display that shows users the exact center of the studs inside a wall. It has five scanning modes for locating wood and metal studs, joists, beams, metal pipe and rebar and live AC wires behind walls, floors and ceilings.
“A reliable stud finder, easy to use and all functions worked with accuracy! I was able to find studs, nails in studs and electrical lines,” says Amazon reviewer Teresa.
Easily add a little light where you need it—without having to run wires! These adhesive-backed LED lights can stick to any clean, hard surface and run on three AAA replaceable batteries. Just push the face of the light to turn it on and do the same to turn it off.
A shop rat can never have enough heavy-duty storage hooks. This 10-pack of steel hooks is great for storing just about anything: power tools, yard tools, bicycles, ladders, you name it. The anti-slip rubber coating on these hooks helps to protect your things while they’re stored on a wall.
Whether you’re assembling furniture or installing interior doors, this super-strong magnetic wrist band is a lifesaver. It holds washers, screws and the like within easy reach while you work (and keeps them from getting lost!).
“It makes a big difference when working up on a ladder with a drill and/or a hammer. I recommend this for all of the people in your life who like to swing a hammer and fire up a drill,” says Amazon reviewer DrStTee.
Not only does this Lufkin tape measure have unique vertical numbers, but it even has fractions and the decimal equivalents printed right on the tape. Even seasoned DIYers will appreciate the convenience of that! No more counting hashes to figure out your measurements.
I drive a pickup and sometimes need to transport things too heavy for bungee cords and too fragile for ratcheting tie-downs. That’s when I break out my Cordzilla Stretch Ropes. These ropes work like bungee cords but have spring-loaded safety clips to keep hooks securely connected to anchors.
Cordzilla ropes come in different lengths and have rubber pads to protect corners on delicate items. I’ve been using mine for about six years for everything from lightweight furniture to heavy buckets full of tools. Find them for $10 to $20 online. — Jason White.
A good pair of gloves can be pretty important for working on the car and Mechanix Wear has some of the best. These M-Pact gloves are machine washable, includes a dual layer for the index finger and thumb and can be used on a touchscreen phone.
Discover other work gloves that work well in various scenarios.
The Stanley 32050 FatMax Power Claw is a clever power strip built into a clamp. It can grab on to a stud, rafter, sawhorse or ladder. Hang it wherever you need power. This strip works great at keeping extension cord connections off the ground. That’s convenient, but it makes even more sense if you’re working outside on a wet surface. The Power Claw has three grounded outlets and a 15-amp breaker. Next, check out these 19 surprisingly easy woodworking projects for beginners.
I bought this little NewAir heater (model G56) a couple of years ago for my garage workshop. I live in Minnesota, the land of subzero temps, where it does a fantastic job of getting my mostly insulated two-car attached garage from 40 to 60 degrees F in about 30 minutes. That’s plenty warm for my needs. You’ll need to have an electrician install a dedicated 30-amp, 240-volt circuit to power it. NewAir model 56 costs about $170 online. Check out these great other ideas for upgrading your garage workshop.
The Irwin 3-in. Clamp-On Vise attaches to any makeshift workbench and is small and light in weight—but not lightweight when it comes to clamping. It’s a great tool for holding spade bits for sharpening, steel conduit or chain for cutting, and strike plates for filing. It also grips hard-to-hold bolts for cutting, steel angle for bending…the list goes on. The jaw measures about 3 in. and it opens to about 3 in. Next, check out these other amazing workbench upgrades you can DIY.
Maybe you have your eyes on even dirtier projects, and would rather not risk any of your nicer outdoor clothing. And in that case, think about a full-body coverall. Also you can slip on so you don’t have to worry as much about mud, oil, paint and other messes.
Figure out where to store those clothing items with these 11 clothes storage ideas that will transform your closet.
A rolling creeper seat doesn’t need much explanation. You sit on it. You store tools and parts under it. And you roll around to reach the tools and parts you forgot.
Find creeper seats at any auto parts store, home center or online tool site. The model shown here is the Sunex 8507 Creeper Seat. A unit with a pneumatic lift and a contoured seat (for you Ferrari owners) could set you back a little more.
The Kreg Mobile Project Center makes an excellent portable work station. It’s very well-designed and the large 30 x 32-in. work surface supports up to 350 lbs. Set your miter saw up on it, or your planer. Or use the integrated clamping points to hold any variety of projects in place. It sets up quickly and easily, is easy to stow and can be combined with another project center to create larger work surfaces. The Kreg Mobile Project Center is definitely something to consider for that special DIYer on your list.
Milwaukee recently introduced the M18 Jobsite Radio/Charger, which allows you to play tunes on the radio from the smartphone in your pocket. No more missed phone calls when you can’t hear your phone ring because it’s plugged into the radio in the other room.
Like other job site radios, the M18 charges your tool batteries when it’s plugged in and runs off them when it’s not. It’s ruggedly built and has USB charging ports to charge your devices. But unlike other radios, the M18 allows you to stream your music from up to 100 ft. away. Also check out this indestructible coffee maker.
You might say I’m fickle when it comes to compound miter saws. I’ve tried 10- and 12-in. models—both sliding and nonsliding—made by DeWalt, Craftsman, Hitachi and Festool. And while they all had their strengths, I’m currently in love with my 12-in. Bosch Axial-Glide miter saw (model GCM12SD). The Axial-Glide saw is big and powerful with no slide arms behind the saw, which means I can push it tight against a wall, making it perfect for my space-challenged workshop. The bevel and miter controls are on the front of the saw and super easy to use. The 12-in. model retails for about $600, and there’s a similar 10-in. model available for about $550. See our reviews on 8 popular brands of miter saws. — Jeff Gorton.
You’ve probably used halogen work lights. And you’ve also probably burned your fingers on them, cussed the fragile bulbs and sweated from the heat they generated. Now there’s an alternative.
The Husky Portable LED Work Light is cool to the touch, can take abuse, won’t heat up a tight work space and costs about $40. I’ve been using it for various small projects, and I love it. Especially the fact that I can knock it around a bit. And since it’s got an LED, its power use is minimal.
All that is great. But one thing you need to know: It can’t match the brightness of your typical halogen work light. A traditional halogen work light might produce 8,000 lumens, 10 times the output of this light. But for small jobs or tight spaces, it’s just the ticket. — Ken Collier.
Ryobi has transformed a useful tool into one that’s incredibly handy. The Ryobi 18V ONE+ Hot Glue Gun lets you take your glue gun wherever you’re working with extension cords. And it heats up in only 90 seconds.
Unlike most glue guns, which lie on their sides, this model stands up straight, keeping the business end out of harm’s way. The rubberized tip doesn’t get hot (only warm), so you can use two hands for precision and you don’t have to worry about inadvertently burning a project. And as the name says, it’s cordless! It runs off the ubiquitous Ryobi 18-volt lithium battery and has a run-time of up to three and a half hours.
If you thought hot glue was only for crafts, you’ll be surprised just how useful hot glue is in the workshop and around the house. When you only need a temporary hold, hot glue works wonders.
Looking for more glue tips? Check out the definitive list on how to glue wood.
We tried it, and it’s true. The Multi-Material drill bits from Irwin actually do drill almost everything. For us that included marble, steel, aluminum, wood, concrete and brick. We used an ordinary cordless drill, but the bits are rated for rotary or hammer drills, which would really speed up drilling masonry or stone. Plus: Learn everything you need to know about boring holes here.
The Rockler Silicone Project Mat is the perfect surface for gluing small projects. Excess glue drains into the little grooves instead of pooling and getting smeared all over. When you’re done, the dried glue just peels right off. The silicone also holds your board or project in place while you sand or rout it. And it’s super soft, so it won’t scuff finished parts.
If you don’t feel like buying a ton of sockets, get this universal socket that can adjust to any size or shape. It will grip from 7 to 19 mm. The socket will grab hex nuts, screw eyes, hooks, a tension screw and a bolt head. It’ll even work with a power drill with an adapter, which isn’t included.
This Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is 21st-century fun! Yeah, you could adjust your saw’s angle using other methods and eventually get it perfect, but this gizmo saves lots of time, and did we mention it was fun? Just crank the blade up, set the magnetic base on the blade and square up the blade to the table (the body of the tool is absolutely square). Then push the zero button to calibrate the tool.
Once it’s calibrated, you can adjust the blade to the desired angle, all the while getting an accurate digital readout. When you get the desired angle, whether it’s 22-1/2 or 45 degrees, you know it’s right on, and you can proceed with your project instead of spinning your wheels micro-adjusting.
Diagonal cutters have been around for decades. Now Irwin Tools has introduced a new version called the PowerSlot (aka the VISE-GRIP Max-Leverage Pliers with PowerSlot, Diagonal Cutting, 8-inch #1902413).
Irwin engineered the mechanics so that the cutters exert twice the cutting power of conventional diagonal cutters with the same amount of hand squeeze. Couple that with super-duper hardened steel to handle all that cutting power and you have a set of diagonals worth the price. (And yes, we really did cut that chain link with them. You’d never be able to do that with everyday cutters.)
This little sight level is great for getting a close approximation of elevation or aligning XYZ over a long distance (it’s way better than a clip-on line level). For example, you can use it to check the pitch of drain tile, estimate the slope of a backyard or fence, check the slope of driveway forms and determine the height for the post of an elevated deck. You just look through the lens the way you do with a telescope and level the tool with the visible bubble inside. The CST/Berger 17-5502-1 Sight Mark level shown has a 2-1/2-power magnification to help with distant objects.
If you have a really expensive trailer, it pays to get an extra layer of protection by using a “boot”-style lock in addition to the coupler lock. There are many styles to choose from, but we liked this particular model (the Trimax TCL75 Wheel Chock Lock, available at amazon.com) because it doubles as a wheel chock to prevent the trailer from rolling. Just slide it onto the wheel and press in the lock cylinder.
Sometimes you need a little more than the classic wheelbarrow to get things done. The Gorilla Cart is a heavy-duty trolley that’s designed for especially heavy objects that just can’t be moved any other way. The trolley can hold up to 800 pounds, the steel mesh sides are removable for greater versatility and the pneumatic tires are durable enough to make many tough trips.