Eight Great Tools for Less Than $100

Versatile wrenches, a super pruner, a hands-free lamp and other tools to save time and make projects easier.

| March 5, 2010


You can use a cordless drill or driver for all sorts of projects — without being tied down by a power cord.


Whether you’re Ms. Fixit or Mr. Homesteader, using comfortable, efficient and affordable tools makes any project easier and more fun. Plus, saving time and money is part of living a self-sufficient lifestyle. So, we’ve assembled a list of eight of our favorite tools that cost less than $100. Most cost less than $50.

Leatherman Wave Multi-tool ($80)
This is more than a tool, it’s a collection of tools in one handy unit — the “Swiss army knife” for DIYers and homesteaders. The Wave includes knives, pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, scissors, files and more. Carrying this tool will save you steps to the toolshed every time you encounter a situation where you need a different lightweight tool. Although for heavy-duty projects, such as sawing or mechanical work, you’ll still want to keep your other tools, too.

Petzl’s Tikka Plus 2 Hands-free Headlamp ($40)
You can’t work efficiently if you’re juggling a flashlight and tools. Strap this light to your head and adjust it to align with your gaze so you’ll have light where you need it — right where you’re looking. The Tikka Plus 2 headlamp has one white LED (light emitting diode) and one red LED, plus it has modes for continuous or blinking lights. But the light isn’t weak; in maximum mode, it can shine up to 100 feet. This is a great way to extend the working window of shorter days of winter.

Florian 701 Ratchet Pruner ($31)
Whether you’re a gardener or just want to keep trees and bushes in your yard trimmed and neat, you need a good pruner. The cutting mechanism of the Florian ratcheting pruner works like a car jack, using the power of levers to multiply your hand strength so you can make quick work of the toughest branches. You can easily prune branches up to three-quarters-inch thick, and the blade is Teflon-coated so it’s less likely to get gummed up.

Black & Decker Cordless Rechargeable Hand Saw ($30)
Reciprocating saws are powerful (and expensive). Jigsaws are good, too, if you’re cutting a relatively flat surface, such as plywood. The Rechargeable Hand Saw (Handisaw) is sort of a cross between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw. You can use it to cut wood (up to 1-inch thick), thin metal and plastic. The unique shape of the handle makes the tool more versatile than a jigsaw, plus changing blades requires no tools.

Skil 12-volt Drill/Driver ($55)
Screwdrivers are indispensible tools, but you can work more efficiently with a rechargeable driver. The Skil Drill/Driver has a keyless chuck (you don’t need one of those little tools every time you change the bit). Bits are conveniently stored right on the tool, and it’s cordless, of course, so you don’t have to worry about getting tangled in a power cord as you’re working. A convenient gauge is built into the drill so you can pick the best driver for the size of screws you’re using. For more information on cordless power tools, check out Choose Rechargeable Tools for Safety and Versatility.

robin mather
3/28/2013 8:13:03 PM

I find some excellent tools are frequently not mentioned: good chisels, for example, or the sharpening stone that keeps the shovel sharp. In fairness to this writer, I think the emphasis for the story was on *power* tools. And I will say that my cordless power driver is one of my favorite belongings.

jan steinman
5/4/2011 11:52:40 PM

What is it with all the cordless power tools? Didn't you get the memo that they are highly destructive of the environment, due to their insatiable need for batteries? Plus, they have MUCH less power than corded tools! On the plus side, these batteries are so expensive (give away the razor, make a killing on the blades, or give away the printer, make a killing on the ink) that people abandon the tools when the batteries go bad. I've gone to the dump and picked up FREE 12V cordless power tools, to which I then attach a length of wire and a pair of Anderson Power Pole connectors, and I then run them off car batteries or small "gell cell" 12V batteries. The tools get a new life, using a battery with ten times the capacity that costs 1/4th as much as the vendor's battery. I have do deal with a cord, and I have to attach a belt clip to the battery. Big deal. So if you're going to encourage people to buy cordless power tools, at least insist that they buy 12 volt ones, so I can pick them up at the dump next year!

11/3/2010 8:38:32 AM

Plus 1 on Ryobi tools! I've worn out all brands of tools over the years except for my Ryobi tools. I've worn out the batteries, but that took at least 4 years of hard work. Two other tools necessary are compression straps and pipe clamps for holding sections together while glue cures.

alex mckenzie
3/8/2010 2:45:00 PM

While I have some great tools, here are my favorites: 1) Slip-lock pliers. I use them for everything, and they're solid enough to stand up to it. 2) Ryobi One+ tool kit. Drill, reciprocating saw, circular saw, and vacuum, and I paid around $200 for the set, I think. Two batteries, and I almost never run out of battery before I run out of time to work. 3) Porter-cable air tools and compressor. Yeah, OK, I don't need them that often. But they made putting up a ceiling a 2 hour job instead of a three or four day job, which paid for the set right there. Crown molding was likewise sped up. The set was $300, and came with three sizes of nailer, a stapler, a compressor, and a 50' hose. I'd say every job I do uses at least one of these, and generally two or more... usually the pliers and one of the Ryobi tools.

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