It’s home improvement season! And while droves of shiny drills, drivers and saws roll out at the local home center this time of year, a lot of what you see is the same junk in a fancy new package. With that in mind, we sifted through recent tool offerings to find items that are truly unique and useful. These 10 make the cut.
SawStop Contractor Saw: If you really want to take your projects to the next level, a table saw has to be on your radar. But you don’t want to lose digits in the process. Enter the SawStop, the revolutionary new finger-saving table saw. The SawStop blade carries an electrical signal that detects contact with skin. If your hand contacts the blade, a brake engages the blade and causes it to drop below the saw’s tabletop, all in about five milliseconds. It’s not cheap, but what are your fingers worth? $1,750, sawstop.com
Flipout Tantrum Electric Screwdriver: I’ve always been a little skeptical of electric screwdrivers. To me, there are drills (which have a battery) and screwdrivers (which do not). But the Tantrum from Flipout might just make me change my tune. This little 7.2-volt powerhouse has plenty of juice to drive any screw. But the real trump card is its versatility. It can take on 168 different positions to fit into any space you can imagine. When you’re working inside a cabinet (or an engine block), that’s huge. The product is still in development but available for pre-order. flipoutproducts.com
Ego Power+ String Trimmer: The knock on battery-powered lawn tools has always been that they don’t have enough juice to compete with the gas-powered big boys. Ego has flipped the script with their new Power+ String Trimmer. The secret is a 56-volt lithium-ion battery, which gives it enough power to compete with a gas hog. And it still has all the features you want in a professional string trimmer: dual-feed lines, a bump head system and a maximum cutting swath of 12 inches. $199, egopowerplus.com
Dremel Fortiflex: Wood carving used to be the domain of old men with carving knives—and lots of time on their hands. Now you can bring some horsepower to the game with the new Dremel Fortiflex. It has a rotary motor like a regular Dremel tool, but it boasts a snake-like, flexible shaft that can twist and turn in any direction. The chuck at the end of the shaft readily accepts all Dremel shaping bits. (You can also get it in a kit that comes with many popular bits.) It’s the perfect solution if you want to add a little creativity to your projects. $239, dremel.com
Kreg Jig K5: The Kreg K5 is a pocket-hole jig. What’s a pocket-hole jig? Well, pocket-hole joinery is the easiest, and arguably the strongest, way to put pieces of wood together. You use the jig and an included drill bit to drill angled holes into one board. Then you put the other board next to it, drive in screws, and you’re done. Kreg is the kingpin of pocket-hole jigs, and their new K5 has everything you need to put this slick building system to use this weekend. $140, kregtool.com
Rockler T-Track Table Top and Accessories: Every workshop needs a good work platform, but not everybody has room for an 8-foot workbench. At 28 by 40 inches, this table is compact yet still large enough for most projects. Best part? The five rows of intersecting T-track built into the surface. These accept a variety of clamps, hold-downs and other accessories available from Rockler, which make it easy to keep your project in place while you’re working. $200, rockler.com
Festool Cordless Drill Line: If you consider yourself a tool aficionado, you may already know Festool is the Mercedes Benz of power tools. Unfortunately, you also have to spend about that much money to outfit your shop with these precision German tools. Festool’s line of drills and drivers is a good way to introduce yourself to the brand with a bit less of an impact on your wallet. Packing brushless motors, interchangeable heads and lithium-ion batteries with a 3-year warranty, they are also just about the best that money can buy. $245-$525, festoolusa.com
PocketMonkey: A multi-tool that fits in your wallet: What’s not to like? This credit card-sized, stainless steel dynamo is a letter opener, bottle opener, three different types of screwdrivers, five different sizes of hex wrenches, an iPhone support stand and much more. Also, it looks like a cute little monkey. So one other use is conversation starter. $12, zootilitytools.com
Ryobi One+ System: Most guys’ workshops feature a whole mess of different tools, batteries and chargers. Ryobi seeks to simplify things with their new One+ System. The idea? Buy one tool in the system with a charger and batteries, and then you can buy separate tools alone, without batteries, for a lot cheaper. All the tools in the One+ System work with the same 18-volt batteries. Tool options range from the standard drills and jigsaws to flashlights, radios, air compressors, lawn gadgets and more. Prices vary, ryobitools.com
Ridgid JobMax: Every guy likes a tool that can do more than one thing. But many such products tip the scale toward “gimmicky” and away from “useful.” I’m happy to report that’s not the case with the Ridgid JobMax. This heavy-duty, professional-grade multi-tool accepts a number of different interchangeable heads that turn it into a drill/driver, ratchet, auto-hammer, jig saw, reciprocating saw and more. Prices vary, rigid.com
Top-notch tools on the brain? A stocked industrial workbench is just one of several awesome prizes Dial For Men’s Power Scrub Power Garage is giving away daily, now through August. Other prizes include bottles of Power Scrub, the mother of all BBQ grills, a monster riding mower and a souped-up Ford Mustang full of Power Scrub! Get more details and enter to win on the Power Scrub Power Garage section of the Dial For Men Facebook page!