Tools make great holiday gifts

December 05, 2008|By DWIGHT BARNETT / Scripps Howard News Service

With the economy in decline and Christmas just around the corner, almost all of us have to be careful with what we spend, but spend we must to get out of this economic stew. I have found a few tools that are not all that expensive. I have used them myself, and I think they can be very useful for the everyday do-it-yourselfer.

By far my favorite new tools of 2008 are the Hard Case flashlights by Energizer. How is a flashlight a tool? If I can't see what I'm working on, I am easily lost. There are three Hard Case flashlights in the series available at Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's and other major retailers.

The first is the Hard Case Headlight, which, true to its name, straps to your head for hands-free work in tight or dark places. The Headlight uses two AA batteries that serve a bright LED lamp, plus a red and a green lamp to provide low-level lighting, which is easier on the eyes in low lighting conditions.


The second is the Hard Case Swivel Head flashlight, which also has the bright LED lighting plus the red and green low-light lamps. The Swivel Head light stands on its own, no hands required, while the light head swivels up to 125 degrees to provide illumination to any part of the work area.

Finally, the Hard Case Inspection light is a small, pocket-sized, LED flashlight that I carry with me everywhere. The Inspection light has become a favorite at restaurants when the lighting is low and the menu lettering is too small to read. The Headlight and the Swivel light retail for $35 to $40. The Inspection light has a suggested retail of $14.99 and makes a great stocking stuffer. Visit

Another popular handy light is the Striker Magnetic LED Light, which uses 12 rare earth magnets sticking out of a central ball, enabling the light to be fixed to a metal object in almost any position. Powered by three alkaline button cell batteries (included), the Striker Magnetic LED Light is available at hardware stores and home centers and retail for $6.99 to $7.99. For more information, you can call 704-658-9332 or go to

How about a new type of power saw that not only cuts through the toughest wood, but also sinks its teeth into marble, tile, copper, aluminum, plastics, fiberglass, cement board and drywall? A typical circular saw operates at 2,500 rpm or less, while the aptly named Crocodile Saw blade spins at 4,000 rpm for solid performance and for making straight-line razor cuts. The saw comes with four 3-1/4-inch blades that cut to a maximum depth of 1-1/16 inches. The Crocodile is a go-to saw for any number of projects, such as basement remodeling, handling cutouts for outlet boxes, tile flooring and kitchen backsplash jobs, custom cutouts for stereo sound system installations, plunge cuts, HVAC cutouts for whole-house humidifiers and vents, trim work, crafts and hobbies. The Crocodile retails for $99.99 and is available at

If you have ever tried to drive a nail in a tight or restricted space, you know why nail guns are superior to the common hammer. Can't afford a nail gun and compressor? Craftsman, the most popular name in tools, has introduced the NEXTEC Hammerhead Auto Hammer. This new tool operates similar to a palm nailer without the inconvenience of an air hose and it can drive nails or tacks, including 16-penny framing nails, in seconds flat. The Hammerhead Auto Hammer is powered by a 12-volt lithium-ion battery and arrived in Sears just in time for Christmas. The suggested retail price for the new Hammer Head Auto Hammer is $99.99. Visit and in the search box type in "hammerhead auto hammer."

Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 286, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at

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