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Hardware store shelves are stocked with new tools that pack more power in lighter-weight casings, and come with more comfortable, easy-to-grip handles. 

Your home’s handiest occupant will be able to skip some of the back-bending, eye-squinting and do-overs associated with do-it-yourself projects with tools designed for the comfort of the user in mind. A few tool trends to latch onto:

  • Magnet magic. Every handyman spends too much time bending over to pick up dropped nails and screws. A cordless screwdriver with a retractable magnetic screw holder, which secures the screw and frees the hand that ordinarily would have that job. It makes dropping screws on the floor less likely and minimizes fumbling.
  • Easy on the eyes. A handy Baby Boomer’s back isn’t the only thing that could use a break. A handful of new power tools come with bright, LED lights that shine onto the object that he’s drilling or cutting. Tools and accessories with extra-large type that makes numbers and letters a little easier to see without reading glasses. A Rosie favorite: The new DeWalt DWHT33385 25-foot tape measure has extra-large numbers, and red numbers every 16 inches make it a cinch to mark stud spacings. The tape measure has tick marks every 1/16th of an inch. You can get the tape measure in 16- and 30-foot lengths as well.
  • Easy on the ears. Power tools are noisy, and too much blasting from a loud motor too close to the ears isn’t healthy at any age. High-quality headphones will block noise and protect hearing in loud workshops and when using power tools. Save some green by choosing a speakerless set—they’re not designed for listening to music; they only block sound. Example: Direct Sound HP-25 speakerless headphones sell for around $40. And look for built-in sound control in the tools you select. Example: The engine, fan housing and exhaust tube on Husqvarna’s 356B T backpack blower for large yards is insulated to dampen noise, which is good for the operator and for the neighbors.
  • No guesswork. It’s tiring work even for a young DIY-er to hold a level while positioning a picture frame for hanging. An array of new levels combine laser precision with suction cups that adhere the level to just about any wall or surface so you can use both hands for something besides holding your tool in place. The laser changes colors to let you know when the device is level. Check out Black & Decker’s Linefinder orbital.
  • Lighten up. Lithium ion batteries have made it possible for power tools to weigh about half as much as traditional models and still pack a lot of torque, so they’re a good investment for the serious handyman who’s getting a little older but doesn’t intend to slow down when it comes to home repair and renovation. Example: The 12-volt Milwaukee drill weighs in at just 2.6 pounds yet gets consistently good reviews. It comes with an LED work light and its batteries recharge in just 30 minutes.
  • Less mess. By the time a knowledgeable DIY-er reaches a certain age, his experienced, steady hand probably has given him enough confidence to skip the drop cloths because he makes so few errors. Still, nobody wants to spend valuable weekend time cleaning up goofs. A great find: Dow Great Stuff Work Wipes, which wipe up any paint, caulk, adhesive, grease, grime, oil, tar and even permanent marker. The oversized wipes also safely clean hands, tools and most hard surfaces.
  • Hold on. Handle features like “easy-grip,” “non-slip” and “anti-vibration” make a tool easier to handle for long periods. Similarly, NS Mechanics’ gel-padded anti-vibration gloves, which cushion the impact of a power tool’s vibration and reduce hand fatigue. 

    The best tool for a seasoned DIY-er might not be the newest, coolest, most complicated tool on the market. It just might be the safest, most comfortable and easiest to use.


  • Sanderson Ford

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