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
http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/eight-great-tools-for-less-than-100-dollars.aspx
You can use a cordless drill or driver for all sorts of projects — without being tied down by a power cord.


ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCKPHOTO

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.

Hitachi 725405 3/8-Inch Keyless Conversion Chuck for 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Drivers ($31)
If you have a drill or driver that uses a traditional chuck that requires a key, you can easily convert it to a keyless chuck with a conversion chuck. If you have only one drill or driver, you might need to change bits frequently when you’re working on a project. This adapter will make changing bits quick and easy.

Gator-Grip Three-piece Kit ($27)
Sometimes, investing in a complete socket set doesn’t make sense. You might not need wrenches that often. The Gator-Grip is a versatile wrench that works like a socket wrench, but it fits nuts and bolt heads from quarter- to three-quarter inch (7 to 19 mm). The three-piece kit includes a drill adapter and ratchet wrench.

Take-Apart Utility Shears ($22)
If a simple pair of scissors is too little and a wire cutter or tin snips is too much, utility shears might be just right. This shears has a screwdriver, nut cracker, jar-lid opener, bottle opener, and bone and twig cutter. You can take apart the two pieces to clean them.


Do you have a favorite tool that cost less than $100? Tell everyone about it in the comments section below.