Best power tools ever


Bosch PS130-2A Hammer Drill/Driver

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A roundup of everything worth rounding out your shed. Laser included.

Bosch PS130-2A Hammer Drill/Driver

Not too many power tools can be stowed away in a kitchen drawer and also put a hole in a brick wall. Bosch has been releasing pistol-sized 12-volt drivers since 2006, and the tools got ridiculously useful with the addition of a masonry-punching hammer function.

At 2.3 pounds, this one's zippy 3/8-inch chuck bites on a bit and kicks a little when you pull the trigger. It's got oomph. But owning it also means you have no excuse as to why you can't hang a pot rack, assemble a bookshelf, or tighten up a deck rail today.

Starting at $150, Yahoo! Shopping.

Milwaukee 12-volt jigsaw

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Milwaukee 12-volt jigsaw

Don't kid yourself. There is not room in your life for a compound sliding miter saw. And using dad's old Disston for a few crosscuts in 2x4s conjures the unpleasant illusion that you're building a boat. But you've got boards to shorten.

Give yourself a chance at a passably straight cut, in seconds, with Milwaukee's cordless 12-volt jigsaw. The battery's charge lasts for enough cuts to rip plywood into a set of pantry shelves, and a tool-free lever pops the blade out like an ejected shell casing. Change the blade. It's fun.

Starting at $120, Yahoo! Shopping.

Ryobi TEK4 Stud Sensor RP4050

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Ryobi TEK4 Stud Sensor RP4050

Most stud sensors are so inaccurate that you're better off sliding a magnet across the wall, hoping it'll stick on some ferrous fastener buried back there.

To keep your walls from looking like pegboard made while drunk, try the Ryobi TEK4 stud sensor, a measuring tool with some actual thought behind its design. A decent backlit LED screen actually shows you information, like the edges of the stud and whether you're about to encounter live voltage. It probably works as well as it does because of its rechargeable 4-volt lithium-ion batteries, an upgrade from the half-dead AAs in a typical stud finder.


(See also: The best vacuums)

Toro 22-inch Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower 20371

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Toro 22-inch Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower 20371

The self-propelled lawnmower is a religious experience in suburban American life. Toro makes a sweet machine — the 22-inch Recycler, despite its lame name, has a 149-CC Kohler overhead valve engine, which fires up without the need to prime or choke (that's a cut above your standard Briggs & Stratton).

The self-propulsion is an old-fashioned fixed bar, not one of these weird sliding handles. As the big rear wheel rolls over uneven terrain and the mulch system spits minced fescue, 81 pounds of mower moving across the acreage, nothing can distract from this moment of divinity.


Dremel 8220 12-volt Max High Performance Cordless Rotary Tool

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Dremel 8220 12-volt Max High Performance Cordless Rotary Tool

You can do a lot of things really well with a Dremel — make clean plunges in drywall for a new electrical box, cut sliding door tracks to a perfect fit, shape bushings for go-kart wheel axles, and cut off bolt and screw shanks whether you're building something or taking it apart. The 8220 12-volt tool, with its 5,000 to 30,000 RPM and a 360-degree grip, gives you plenty of power to do all these things. In an hour, its battery recharges, and then you can tackle some of its questionable uses — you won't be the first Dremel user to think pumpkin-carving requires a power tool.


DeWalt DCF895C2 20-volt Max Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed 1/4-inch Impact Driver

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DeWalt DCF895C2 20-volt Max Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed 1/4-inch Impact Driver

Do you really need a tool that can drive down a fastener with 1,500 inch-pounds of torque at 2,850 RPM? Probably not. But the mood may strike you, at home one Sunday afternoon, to hide out beneath the deck for an hour with an impact driver.

Its rattling ratchet mechanism, just popping away on a fully secured bolt, makes a hell of a racket, and it really sounds like you're getting some work done. And who knows, maybe some day, that old deck will start to loosen from its ledger board, and you really will need to drive in another 8-inch carriage bolt. Lo and behold, you'll have the perfect tool for the job.

Starting at $250, Yahoo! Shopping.

Skil 1400-2 Oscillating Multi-Tool

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Skil 1400-2 Oscillating Multi-Tool

You may have heard of these strange oscillating multi-tools, capable of excising grout from tile, scraping away crumbling caulk and putty, or sanding a floor within a hair's breadth of a baseboard.

You may have also learned that the established leader of the category — the Fein Multimaster — costs hundreds of dollars between the tool and its accessories. Don't panic. The Skil 1400-2 is a decent substitute. It shares some basic DNA with another great oscillating tool, the Bosch MX30E, and it's about a third of the price. The only problem is the Skil-branded accessories are a little shoddy, but that's okay — the tool's universal 12-pin connector works with superior Bosch-branded accessories. Now go on and trim the door frame.

Starting at $70, Yahoo! Shopping.

Milwaukee 360-Degree Rotating Handle Orbital Super Sawzall 6523-21

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Milwaukee 360-Degree Rotating Handle Orbital Super Sawzall 6523-21

There's a reason every reciprocating saw on any job site, regardless of brand, is referred to as a Sawzall. Milwaukee's 13-amp version of the tool is clearly the best one available. And this particular Sawzall (er, Super Sawzall) has a rotating head that helps the tool's demolition blade work its way back to bite through the odd screw still holding old cabinetry to a wall or the old runs of obsolete iron pipe still wedged between joists, uselessly decorating your basement's ceiling.


Black & Decker 36-volt Lithium High Performance String Trimmer with Power Command LST136

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Black & Decker 36-volt Lithium High Performance String Trimmer with Power Command LST136

You may have heard of these strange oscillating multi-tools, capable of excising grout from tile, scraping away crumbling caulk and putty, or sanding a floor within a hair's breadth of a baseboard.

String trimmers are one of those outdoor tools that actually make sense to use with a battery. (That's generally not the case for, say, lawnmowers and chainsaws.) The 36-volt cell on this weed-whacker has a dial that lets you choose between max power or max runtime. It's not just a gimmick, either — the top setting works best for brambly, woody stems, and the lower settings do a fine job cleaning up stray grass blades crowded against the mailbox post. Plus, when you flip it sideways to edge the driveway, there's no engine to drool fuel down your arm.


Ryobi Professional Infrared Thermometer RP4030

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Ryobi Professional Infrared Thermometer RP4030

Pointing a laser gun at something to take its temperature is a lot of fun, and it's also occasionally useful. How hot is your grill? How hot is that little drafty spot by the kitchen door?

This 4-volt tool measures between -4 and 590 degrees F, and it can store up to 10 different temperatures in its memory. You can add real data to some classic scientific experiments. For example, under sunshine refracted through a magnifying glass, at what degree do various trespassers around the home begin to sizzle?


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