The basic building blocks for any home toolbox just keep getting better. Not sure what your DIY-er would like? They’ll find something here. Correspondent Allen Norwood
Stanley 2x4 clamp
This one’s ingenious: Stanley’s new 2x4 clamp replaces bar and pipe clamps for lots of jobs. Instead of lugging around long, heavy pipes, grab a 2-by-4 and add the clamp heads. The system provides 400 pounds of clamping force, Stanley says, and up to 850 pounds when bolted to the 2-by-4. It stands upright, lifting the project off the work surface. Adjusts to any length.
The SnakeLight from Black and Decker has been around a while, but the latest generation comes with lots of improvements. Hang it or twist it to get light into tight spaces. The new 4V MAX SnakeLight has a rechargeable lithium battery and 10 LEDs of lighting to go along with the flexible, wrap-around hose. The SnakeLight has spawned many imitators, which tells you just how handy and versatile the design can be.
$29.99. Many stores.
Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal
This multifunction knife sharpener is handy for keeping sharp edges on knives in the shop or the kitchen. It features carbides set at the proper angles to sharpen dull edges quickly, a ceramic slot to finish edges, and a tapered diamond rod for sharpening standard and serrated edges.
$10. Widely available.
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
Some modern electronic stud finders are amazingly sophisticated. When their batteries die, though, you’re left to tap on the wall to (with luck) find that stud. Or … reach for the CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder. It fits easily in a tool pouch, and powerful magnets allow hands-free use. There’s a two-way level, too.
$10. Widely available.
CMT1000 Odd Job multi-tool
This one’s not only fun, but also gets pretty good reviews from real tool guys. Crescent says this multi-tool is 11 tools in one, including hammer, soft-faced mallet, utility knife, ratcheting bit driver with flexible shaft, and a half-dozen screwdriver bits that store in the handle. It will neatly take the place of all those random tools in the kitchen junk drawer. Check out the video at www.oddjobtool.com.
$14.99. At some retailers.
Kobalt Magnum Grip locking pliers
These pliers from Lowe’s look like a first cousin to some sort of Transformers robot – which the tool geek on your list will love. The jaw design makes them twice as strong as regular pliers, and they’re self-adjusting to quickly grip all sorts of shapes. The 8-inch model features a straight jaw with anvil-style wire cutter, and the 6-inch model has a V-notch jaw. Both have built-in wire bending feature.
$19.98 a pair. Lowe’s.
Craftsman C3 Drill/Driver Kit
Many power tool companies have all kinds of full system and combo kits of tools that use interchangeable batteries. This Craftsman C3 Drill/Driver Kit with 19.2-volt lithium-ion battery is an affordable way to get started in Craftsman’s huge C3 system, which includes dozens of tools and battery options.
Pivot Power flexible surge protector
Each outlet bends any way you need it to so you can accommodate those big brick plugs or tight spaces. Available in black, white or gray.
Get a budding gardener going with this instant raised bed from Blowing Rock-based Victory 8 Garden. The tough but breathable fabric walls can be set up on any level surface and can come with you if you move. victory8garden.com.
Prices vary by size, start at $29.95. Logan Trading Company, Raleigh.