Stud detectors are not user friendly devices since they’re usually just equipped with a light or two and a speaker, emitting an annoying beep that vaguely lets you know where a stud is hiding. Ryobi’s Whole Stud Detector leaves less to chance thanks to Auto Deep Scan technology and a series of seven lights that illuminate to show you the entire length of the stud as you pass over it, leaving less to luck while also helping steer clear of wires. A ring of LEDs around the center indicator light up when the stud’s center is located, and when that happens just press the stud marker button to leave a slight dimple in the drywall so you’ll know exactly where to drill, hammer, or screw.
Find it at Home Depot – $30
You might not think much about spirit levels, but Milwaukee does. And the fruit of their labor is the Redstick Level. It’s first of all precise, with a guaranteed accuracy of just 0.029 degrees provided by highly readable, high-contrast (and replaceable, in the event that one breaks or ceases to be accurate) magnified vials. Moreover its red aluminum frame isn’t completely hollow but is instead reinforced by a metal backbone at the level’s weakest points (namely, where the middle vial is held) for added durability against drops and added resistance against bends. The Redstick also features rare earth magnets for serious gripping power, precision milled measuring surfaces to ensure there are no slight production defects that might affect your results, removable rubber end caps, and comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from 16 inches to 96 inches depending on your needs. Bigger models even feature a handle or two to simplify use and carry.
Grab one at Acme Tools – $60+
The best multitool is the one you’ll have on your person when it’s really needed. And most of the time that means we’ve out of luck and need to slice open boxes with a key or tighten a screw with a paperclip. But entrust a SOG Sync II Belt Buckle Multitool to your pant-holding duties and you’ll never be without a tool that detaches with a single hand and handles minor tasks far better than anything you could fit on a keychain. The twelve included tools span a pair of pliers, scissors, wire cutters, a straight blade, a file, a bolt gripper, a few screwdrivers, and the all important a bottle opener for cracking open a cold one after the job’s done. Though it doesn’t include a strap so you’ll need to rid one of your existing belts of up to 1.75-inches in width of its buckle. For smaller belts, look for their Sync I buckle instead.
Find it at SOG Knives – $80
The All In Bike Multitool is built for cyclists, but it won’t take up any space in your bike bag. Nor can you forget it at home because it slips into the [otherwise completely useless] hollow space in your bike’s crankshaft (that is, in the axle between the pedals), locking in place thanks to seven powerful neodymium magnets. If you need a hand, yank it out; the Italian-made tool comes equipped with four Allen keys, a T25 torx, and a Phillips bit — though you can swap out any of these with any standard bit. It’s also got a few slots for extra chain links but doesn’t come with a chain breaker tool, so pack one of those alongside a spare tube and tire levers.
Learn more at All In Multitool – roughly $70
Remember PowerPenz? The SOG Baton Q1 Multitool Pen is a bit like those, but actually useful (and also, you know, not a cheap plastic toy). Part of SOG’s new Baton collection, the TSA-friendly Q1 thrives in office and work settings, functioning as an ordinary ballpoint pen, albeit one with a pressurized ink cartridge. Split it in two and it transforms into a spring-assisted scissor. Its two other functions (totalling four in all) include a bottle opener and a medium flat screwdriver, so while it won’t saw through wood or help filet a fish it’s still more capable than whatever pen is currently in your pocket. If you can do without a pen and want a few more tools in a slender package, however, check out the rest of the Baton collection.
Learn more at SOG Knives – $54
You don’t need to work on airplane engines to appreciate the versatility of the Grypmat Tool Mat. This bright orange polymer-silicone mat is non-magnetic, chemical resistant, and anti-static, but most of all it’s flexible and, as hinted by its name, highly grippy, sticking to a variety of uneven work surfaces to keep your tools in close proximity. Its non-absorbent material won’t suck in grease or dirt so cleaning is generally as simple as wiping gunked-up surfaces with a damp cloth. Get it in three sizes: a small version with six compartments, a medium sized one as well as a large, with the latter two featuring integrated rulers in both metric and imperial.
Find it at Kickstarter – $30+
The Millennium Falcon isn’t in the best of shape. Short of having an R2 droid onboard to handle repairs, the Star Wars Millennium Falcon Multi-Tool Kit should do nicely. The die-cast zinc alloy Falcon replica stashes two carbon steel screwdrivers — one a flathead and the other a Phillips — in its escape pods, four hex keys that stash away in its cargo bay (and that are accessible via a magnetically closing door), and a wrench that’s adjusted by a worm gear on the ship’s underside. And it’s just in time to stuff some stockings.
Grab one at ThinkGeek – $30
It’s downright tiny, yet the Titanium Little Pinch More is completely packed with features that you wouldn’t expect from a tool of its stature. Functions include scissors, tweezers, a flathead screwdriver as well as a Phillips, a small knife, a bottle opener (though you’ll need a loop, like a keyring, for leverage), a wire stripper, and can also be used as a lever or even as a can opener with a bit of ingenuity. Until you need the above it can sit dormant on your keychain or even on a zipper as a zipper handle, waiting.
Find it at Kickstarter – roughly $60