Gifts for DIYers

Master handyman Steve Maxwell’s top picks under $40

By Steve MaxwellSteve Maxwell


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Corrosion inhibitors


These plastic canisters and foam sheets, made by Cortec, give off harmless rust-preventing vapours to protect metal tools and valuables in a closed drawer or box. They’re especially useful in unheated cottages, where seasonal condensation promotes rust. Available at Lee Valley.

Rope tensioner

These gizmos let you tie down a rope ithout losing tension,and tighten and release it quickly, regardless of the situation (or your ability to tie fancy knots). They work well with EZ Grabbit tarp grippers, too. Available at Lee Valley.

Adjustable ratcheting wrench

Ordinary adjustables are handy but slow. The unique ratcheting feature of this tool made by WorkForce lets you work just as quickly as with a socket wrench, and you’ll never need to hunt for the right socket. Available at Home Depot.

Wire-working tool

Just the thing for wire-obsessed putterers, the Clamptite lets you apply tidy wraps of reinforcing wire around anything that needs structural help (like a broken tool handle). It’s a handsome, well-made tool that raises the art of jury-rigging to new heights. Available at Lee Valley.

Multi-pouch nail and screw bag

A sectioned, nylon parachute bag is a simple, inexpensive way to keep fasteners oganized and close at hand. The central strap is easy to grab, even when the bag is fully loaded. Most models come with a drawstring top, but I find screws stay inside the bag just fine when it’s open. Available at E. S. Gallagh

Magnetic hammer

When you can’t spare a hand to hold a nail while getting it started, a magnet-equipped hammer can help. This tool includes a small, powerful magnet on top that holds nails securely on the head. Start the nail with a flick of your wrist, pull the hammer off, then pound the nail home. Available at Vaughan & Bushnell.

Tarp gripper

The inventive two-part EZ Grabbit can be installed anywhere on a tarp to provide a strong tie-down point. Wrap the tarp around one piece of the device, and slide the other piece overtop, pinching the fabric in between. Then tie your line through the hole in the outer piece and pull as tight as you want; or screw the gadget to a trailer or building for an instant cover or awning. The EZ Grabbit spreads the tension over a large area, offering tremendous holding power without damaging the tarp. Available at Grabbit Tool Company.

Multi-head screwdriver

I’ve been using one of these outstanding Canadian-made Picquic tools for more than 10 years. Each full-size driver bit slides into its own hole in the handle. Push one out when you need it and slide the bit into the magnetic tip. Available at Picquic Tools.

Bigger budget?

Two power tools that every putterer’s workshop needs: A cordless impact-driver ($200 and up) for installing fasteners and drilling small holes, and a random orbit sander (starting at $40) for prepping outdoor wood for finishing. My Porter-Cable 7336 sander is going strong after 15 years of hard use.

This article was originally published on December 5, 2008

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