No reproduction, transmission or display is permitted without the written permissions of Rodale Inc. From the carpenter's table saw to the weekend mechanic's worn-out socket wrench, men define themselves by the tools they use.
But which ones are really worthy of prime placement in your garage? Here, we'll go through all the pliers, drivers, and drills that are so versatile, they'll inspire even the most reluctant handyman to go out and fix something.
Now let's get to work. Learn the tools you need to sculpt a chiseled body. Ideally, every man's garage would come with an auto shop-grade lift to bring your chassis to eyeball height. But since we're woefully without Bruce Wayne's budget, your best bet for sliding under your ride with ease is this two-ton capacity hand-cranked floor jack from Torin. It even contains a safety overload system to prevent you from attempting to dangerously boost up more weight than it can handle.
Instead, it suggests potential fixes and the most likely solution as ranked by their staff of ASE-certified auto technicians. Any car maintenance more involved than a wash is going to demand you spend a lot of time close to the ground. Save your knees and your rump with this sturdy pad. It's filled with a long-lasting gel instead of a closed-cell foam that could collapse over time, and the waterproof cover means spills won't soak up and come back to haunt you the next time you take a knee.
This is the everything-you'll-ever-need kit. There's even a padded divider in the case to keep all those handy components neatly organized when you haul your socket set around. If you're just starting your tool collection, a first-rate socket set should be your first purchase. Modern cars cram a lot of hardware under the hood, and even classic muscle machines sport their share of awkward angles. Luckily this interchangeable-tip screwdriver from Snap-On flexes and locks to 30 and 60 degrees to let you work around corners.
Store your gear like a pro. This box has shallow drawers so you won't have to dig around for your socket wrench, and deep drawers to hold clunky power tools. Putting the whole box on rollers means you can bring the tools to you instead of making repeat trips to your wall shelves. Car designers don't exactly build engine compartments and chassis with the auto hobbyist in mind.
For working in tight spaces where a meaty socket wrench just won't go, you'll need a ratcheting box wrench. Plus you'll save yourself the aggravation of having to reset the wrench head on the nut after every pull. Sign up for the Daily Dose newsletter today! The last thing your garage ever needs is an environmental catastrophe that could literally burst into flames.
The No-Spill Gas Can's spout is a hand-held version of a roadside pump: Fit the nozzle into your tank, tilt the EPA-compliant container horizontally or vertically to pour, then press the thumb button to release the fuel. The valve ensures that no gasoline will drip or splash anywhere other than into your vehicle's tank.
A good bench vise is like a third hand, if that hand belonged to the Terminator. This one wins our vote because its base can swivel and lock a full degrees, giving you more flexibility in your trickier jobs. Be kind to your back. Powerbuilt's creeper is thickly padded, with a built-in pillow to lift up your head and ease the strain on your neck.
The wheels rotate so you can twist and slide in any direction, and the long inch body keeps any guy shorter than Shaq propped up from crown to tail. Straps have one big advantage over ropes or chains: They roll up tight and neat to store out of the way under a seat or tucked in the trunk. The heavy-duty stitching and tough, weatherproof nylon add up to 20, pounds of towing capacity, even if the strap itself weighs in at less than 3 pounds.
Amateurs patch up loose ends with duct tape; real pros use zip ties. Use these inert and self-extinguishing ties to attach a thing to pretty much any other thing, gather up messy cords and wires, or to help you make a quick temporary fix. You have to hand it to the minds behind The Perfect Bungee.
Most bungee cords are a bundle of thin rubber strands kept in a woven cover of nylon threads—any of which can wear out or dry rot, making it that much more likely to snap and let your cargo fly off the back of your car.
Perfect Bungee is a solid piece of polyurethane that can stretch up to twice its original length and won't crack or split with age, which means these will probably be the last bungee cords you ever need to buy.
No auto safety kit is complete without a couple of flares, but those things burn at ungodly high temperatures—when you can get them to light at all. Enter this super-bright puck of LED lights. Available in a range of colors from blue to infrared got any night vision goggles handy?
Know what the number one priority in a survival situation is? No, not water—it's to stop bleeding or whatever injuries might cut your life short. In this kit assembled by the American Red Cross you'll find all sorts of Band-Aids, bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, scissors, tweezers, and more.
Plus there's a Red Cross First Aid Manual to show you the right way to use all that great stuff until help arrives. You shouldn't have to skip maintenance on your car during the winter simply because your garage is colder than Pluto.
Crank up this propane heater and you'll soon feel near-tropical, thanks to its 35, BTUs of warm blown air. And since it's cordless with a rechargeable battery that runs for eight hours , you can carry it out to thaw your backyard shed, football tailgater, or ice fishing hut.
Michelin's jumper cables take the guesswork out of breathing new life into your battery. You won't even have to tell the positive terminal from the negative: A built-in polarity adjuster automatically feeds the correct current down the lines and serves as a surge protector to shield delicate electrical components. Wimpy cardboard boxes crumble under the pressure of keeping your spare tools and bits safe. You never think to buy a generator until you suddenly need one thanks, Hurricane Irene.
We like Honda's small powerhouse because it will keep your home essentials—including the fridge, window air conditioners, and the flat screen TV—humming for four hours per tank of gas. Plus it runs at a mere 59 decibels, which means it's quieter than normal speaking voices. Now he's the front man for one of the world's biggest fitness crazes and a millionaire exercise guru.
So is he an infomercial salesman? Or a fitness savior? Learn the truth about P90X. Sure, you can tap your way across a wall and get some sense of where your home's bones lay. With the Zircon stud finder, you can make sure your bolts line up smack dab in the center of either metal or wood beams, and it'll even warn you about nearby live electrical wires.
Take a similar approach to train your brain: Use this plan to sharpen memory, boost creativity, and slay stress. How do you build a better ladder? Little Giant's Revolution XE has several different configurations, letting you use it as a traditional A-frame step ladder, a straight extension ladder, or split in two to make scaffolding trestles.
It also has adjustable lengths on each side, so you can set it up on a staircase, over a curb, or on uneven ground. The smaller versions are great for cleaning gutters and changing lightbulbs. Since nobody's perfect, everybody needs a Shop-Vac. A top-of the line power washer is both a time- and money-saver. This one maxes out at 2, psi, which is enough to blast all the soot, dirt, and pollen off your siding and brickwork, and make your sidewalk and driveway look like new.
Screw on the variable-pressure nozzle to gently soap your car and your windows, followed by a rinse powerful enough to leave a streak-free shine.
Here's a thermostat that just might outsmart you. It's as easy to wire in as a light fixture, and all you have to do is spend a little TLC with it over the first week by adjusting the right temperatures throughout the day and when you sleep at night. At the same time, it senses activity in the house and even keeps an eye on the weather outside with a built in Wi-Fi connection.
After a few weeks, the Nest will have learned enough to both keep you comfortably warm or cool in the summer when you're at home and dial back the settings when you're out to cut energy costs. The FireText smoke alarm is no mere noisemaker.
This hand-pumped paint roller lets you cut any job in half. Paint is stored in the handle, so you won't have to trouble with roller trays. Fill it up with a no-spill system that attaches to the top of standard paint cans.
Then simply pump up a little bit of pressure, and press the trigger to apply the perfect amount of paint from the roller to the wall with every stroke. If you've watched more than 15 minutes of television, you've undoubtedly heard James Dyson and his English accent explain how his vacuum uses cyclonic separation to maintain powerful suction as it fills with dirt from your floors.
The latest model houses the motor in a ball, which allows for a low center of gravity and easy maneuverability around furniture legs and into awkward corners. Another technological wonder from the brilliant Brits at Dyson, this portable heater pumps air out of a narrow, oval-shaped opening without any visible blades.
As a result, it projects heat further into the room than standard space heaters, and does so in almost perfect silence. Plus with the heating elements switched off, it works just as well as a cool-air fan during the summer.
The big brains at 3M recently improved the adhesive on their famous duct tape—as if it really needed improving—so that it was even more resistant to extreme hot and cold and UV damage from direct sunlight. We especially like to use the transparent variety, which makes our exuberant use of the tape harder to spot. As the cornerstone of our modern civilization, a device as pervasive and essential as the light bulb deserves more careful consideration than it usually receives.
Unlike the energy-conscious compact fluorescent bulbs, which aren't that different in principle from the tubes buzzing above your cubicle, Switch bulbs are made from a cluster of LEDs and a smart cooling system. You need a machete to hack through the average tangle of wires behind the entertainment center.
These Velcro straps cost less than ten bucks and will keep all those cables neatly organized.More...