From hatchet to crosscut saw, multi-tool to hammer, these 11 tools are the latest must-haves to hit hardware store shelves this year all over the world. And, don’t worry about the splurge-you’ll more than make up for it with the motivation to take on all of those pending DIY projects.
Ryobi TEK4 Professional Infrared Thermometer
This point-and-shoot infrared thermometer instantly measures grill and oven temperatures up to 590 F.
Demolition tools can be imposing, beautiful agents of destruction, but they normally sit idle: The average homeowner rarely finds the opportunity to knock down entire walls. Demo multitools, in contrast, are good for a whole lot more than smashing drywall. The Razor-Back Pulverizer has a pair of nail pullers that can dislodge fasteners with either a squeeze to the head or bite to the shank, two pry bars to pull apart framing from distinct angles and a silver-dollar-size hammer head designed for pulverizing hard concrete. And the rubber handle is a vibration-dampening miracle.
Rockwell Jawhorse with Plywood Jaw Attachment
The Jawhorse, popular as a stable, vise-equipped work surface, has a hard time gripping big panels for work with a paintbrush or a circular saw. New jaws designed to wrangle 4 x 8-foot sheets can manage drywall, MDF, OSB, particleboard and, yes, plywood. Hold the work steady and stop making crooked cuts.
Leatherman MUT Military Utility Tool
Two years ago, two snipers from the Army Marksmanship Unit approached Leatherman with an idea: Combine a standard pliers and knife with specialized tools for maintaining M-16 and AR-15 rifles. The company responded with the Leatherman MUT Military Utility Tool, which contains a bolt-override tool to clear jams, a bronze scraper to remove carbon deposits and a 1/8-inch steel punch for disassembly. The tool has already been tested by Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The fact that it can make a plunge cut–that is, a cut beginning in the middle of a work piece, used when routing a groove or carving a mortise–signals that the Dremel Trio goes beyond the typical lightweight hobbyist’s rotary tool. Using proprietary 3/16-inch shank bits, the 12-volt lithium-ion tool cuts laminate flooring or galvanized ductwork, sands molding edges and routs holes in drywall for electrical boxes. The bit spins at up to 20,000 rpm; the head articulates in a 90-degree elbow pivot, and, on a dusty day in our test labs, we successfully Trio-ed every material listed above.
Ridgid JobMax Tool Set
Like a five-headed power-tool hydra, this 12-volt system’s single handle can accept interchangeable attachments. Switch between a socket wrench, a right-angle drill, an impact driver, an oscillating tool and an automatic hammer.
Lee Valley Wenzloff Crosscut Panel Saw
No, this saw isn’t cheap, but its classic design, hand-sharpened spring-steel blade, bubinga wood handle and taper-ground precision make it the perfect pegboard centerpiece.
Once we got our hands on this thing, we couldn’t stop playing with its innovative locking mechanism–the springs are controlled by pushing down on a free-floating ball bearing. And while the manufacturer claims this design can handle extra abuse, to us it just feels and looks great.
Craftsman Nextec Circular Saw
The Craftsman Nextec Circular Saw may have a relatively puny 33/8-inch blade powered by a 12-volt, 1.3-amp-hour lithium-ion battery, but our tests proved it more than able to crosscut 1x stock and rip 3/4-inch sheet goods with relative ease. And while the saw occasionally bogged down on us as 1 x 4 lumber pinched its wee blade, a little persistence at 2400 rpm pushed the 20 carbide-tip teeth through. At 3.8 pounds–less than half the weight of a standard 7 1/4-inch-blade circ saw–it makes handling small jobs a breeze.
Milwaukee 12A Corded Sawzall
Milwaukee’s biggest Sawzall dominated a recent reciprocating saw test, in which PM pitted seven tools against a brutal test rig of copper wiring nested inside armored cable, steel pipe, PVC, ABS and AstroTurf. That was the 15-amp. It remains to be seen whether the new Milwaukee 12A Corded Sawzall can keep up with its big brother, but the compact version has advantages: a short 3/4-inch stroke for tight areas and roughly 25 percent less weight.
Stanley FatMax AntiVibe Carpenter’s Hatchet
This carpenter-friendly combo has a wood-splitting hatchet on one side and a hammer on the other.