7 gift ideas for the handy dad

Paul Bianchina

Put that necktie down and back away slowly! You know what dad really wants this year is a cool new tool for his do-it-yourself arsenal, so I've put together some great suggestions, listed in order of retail price. They can be found at most home centers, hardware stores and other retailers, as well as online.

Craftsman Figure Eight Universal Wrench (Model 32761, inch, or 32762, metric, $24.99 each): "Innovative" truly describes the design of this wrench. The rugged 12-inch steel handle has two pivoting box-end heads on each end, and each head is sized for two different fasteners, so the wrench will handle a total of eight different fastener sizes. (Inch sizes: 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4; Metric sizes: 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18). The heads are capable of fitting hex, 12-point, square, external TORX, Spline and even partially rounded bolt heads. Plus, the pivoting design offers additional clearance and leverage. It's a great one-size-fits-all wrench for the toolbox or vehicle.

Black & Decker 20V MAX Lithium Drill Driver (Model LDX120SB, $79.97): Is dad in need of a new cordless drill? Well, here's a nice one at a price that won't break the bank. It offers 20 volts of lithium ion power that holds a charge up to 18 months, in a freestanding, flat-bottom battery design. It has a 10-position driver chuck, plus drill mode, a keyless 3/8-inch chuck, dual-speed transmission (0-400 and 0-1,400 RPM), variable speed trigger, and even a built-in LED light for those confined spaces. It includes one battery, a charger, a bit and a carry bag.

Porter-Cable 18V Two-Speed Close Quarters Drill (Model PCC520B, $79.97): Everyone faces that tight spot that you just can't get a regular drill to fit into. Porter-Cable's solved that with its Close Quarters drill, with a compact head design that's small and light -- just 2.4 pounds without the battery. It's very comfortable and well balanced, with lots of rubber overmolding and nonslip hand grips. It features two speed settings (0-350 and 0-1,400 RPM) for drilling and driving, with a variable speed, reversing trigger and an LED work light. The drill works with all of Porter-Cable's 18-volt lithium ion and NiCd batteries. It includes the drill and bit only, with the battery and charger sold separately.

DeWalt 12V MAX Pivot Reciprocating Saw (Model DCS310S1, $149): DeWalt specializes in tools for the contractor, so you know dad's going to love this compact and lightweight cordless reciprocating saw that's perfect for smaller jobs and tight places. It features a very handy three-position pivoting handle (straight, 45 and 90 degrees), with comfortable rubber overmoldings. Trigger-activated variable speed of 0-2,700 strokes per minute, with an LED light. The pivoting front shoe assists with cutting a variety of materials, and you can change blades without tools. It uses DeWalt's compact 12-volt lithium ion battery, which is interchangeable with other tools in the line. It includes one battery, charger, two blades and a soft carry bag.

Milwaukee M12 Cordless High Performance Jig Saw Kit (Model 2445-21, $159): Get great jig saw performance with cordless convenience, as well as a lot of extra features. This saw uses Milwaukee's compact 12-volt lithium ion battery, which is interchangeable with other tools in its line. It's comfortable and easy to control, weighing just 3.8 pounds and only 9 inches long. It has tool-less, spring-loaded blade changing, and an innovative base that bevels from 45 to 90 degrees without tools. The trigger controls the variable speed blade of 0 to 2,800 RPM, and also activates an LED light and onboard battery fuel gauge. It includes one battery, charger, soft bag and blade.

Bosch 12V MAX 3/8 Inch Hammer Drill/Driver (Model PS130-2A, $169): Wood, masonry or metal -- dad can handle drilling into anything with this versatile, professional-grade tool. Though light and compact, it features 265 inch-pounds of torque, speed ranges of 0-380 and 0-1,300 RPM, and hammer rates of 19,500 BPM. The rubber overmoldings make it very comfortable to hold, and there's a trigger-activated LED light and an onboard fuel gauge. Twenty-position clutch; two-speed transmission; easy-adjust, three-position mode dial; and a keyless chuck round out an impressive list of features. It includes two compact 12-volt lithium ion batteries, 30-minute fast charger and carrying bag.

Delta 20-inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw (Model 40-695, $489.99): If dad does scroll saw work or would love to take up a rewarding new hobby, then how about the ultimate Father's Day gift: this beautifully designed new scroll saw from Delta? It has an impressive list of features, including electronic variable speed of 400 to 1,750 strokes per minute. The upfront controls are well placed and easy to use, and especially handy is the pivoting locking pin that allows for fast, tool-free blade changes. Delta's unique arm design keeps the blade perpendicular to the work surface and free of vibration, so the cutting action is quiet, smooth and truly enjoyable. There's also an oversized cast iron table that bevels 45 degrees to both sides, a built-in dust blower and an adjustable work lamp. The complete package even includes a full-size floor stand.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com. All product reviews are based on the author's actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

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