9 Tools Dad Secretly Wants and Doesn’t Have, According to Real Handymen
We checked in with the editors of Family Handyman to find out the little-known tools and gadgets that help get the job done.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
If your pop has been on DIY duty for years, you may think he has everything he needs by now. But there are always situations where you make do with what you have, or just avoid the task for as long possible. As there’s nothing so satisfying as having the right tool for the job, we asked the pros at Family Handyman—who get to test out a whole lot of products—to share the little-known tools that make a job easier.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
Makita 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Inflator
“Cordless inflator: OK most folks would say, why do you want one of these, you’re a tool guy, don’t you have a compressor? Yes, I have three compressors but one is in my shop, one is on a job site, and the other is in my truck and I’m too lazy to get it out on a weekend. Even if I did get it out of the truck I would have to: plug it in; connect the hose; find the right inflator tip, and then fuss around to get the right PSI for that bicycle tire, basketball, or air mattress that needs inflating. Having one of these inflators would do away with that whole rigmarole. All I would have to do is grab a battery out of my cordless drill, put it in the inflator, grab the right tip from the onboard storage, dial in the desired pressure, and just go to whatever needs blowing up. It’s so much easier than a compressor or a bicycle pump and pretty slick for camping trips as well. Being a professed bicycle geek I imagine one of these inflators would also enable me to dial in the ideal tire pressure for the perfect ride. I chose Makita because that’s my primary cordless system but Hart, Ryobi, Milwaukee, and others make these handy pumps.” —Bill Bergmann, associate editor
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DeWalt 60-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless FLEXVOLT Brushless 16 in. Chainsaw
“This is not a go-to tool for me but when I do need it, the last thing I want to do is mess around with starting my stubborn gas saw. Plus that old saw is so noisy and I end up reeking of exhaust fumes by the time I get done with it. These cordless saws are quiet, powerful, and burn no fossil fuel. It’s perfect for that errant branch that comes down or the heavier pruning I need to do now and then. This DeWalt is top of all the heap but again every major tool company is into these tools now, all offered at various price points.” —Bergmann
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Snow & Neally 2-1/4 lb. Single bit axe
“This is the perfect all-around axe for me—heavy enough for splitting firewood and light enough for camping (particularly car-camping). It takes a good edge and holds it well. The handle is well-shaped and comfortable, but the first thing you should do is to sand off the thin coat of polyurethane and apply a coat of linseed oil or just leave it raw. This step helps alleviate blisters for non-lumberjacks!” —Brad Holden, senior editor
Ryobi AirStrike Brad Nailer
“One surefire way to keep me from starting a project or fixing something is the thought of dragging out the compressor. This versatile battery-powered air nailer removes any excuses; no compressor necessary. And it actually performs well and shoots 5/8” to 2” brad nails. It’s perfect for all sorts of trim work and cabinetry.” —Holden
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Occidental Leather 5523 Clip-On 4 in 1 Tool/Tape Holder
“When doing small woodworking or small house projects I find myself doing more searching for my misplaced tape measure or pencil rather than the work I want to get done. This can drag a day-long project out the entire weekend. You need a place for those essential tools at your hip and this Occidental belt clip is the ticket. It’s not big or bulky, it’s easy to put on and take off your belt and holds a few of those tools you’ll be grabbing throughout most jobs.” —Mike Berner, associate editor
CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
Starting at $7.48
“Electronic stud finders are not always a sure thing; in my experience they will get you close most of the time but every once-in-a-while will give you a false reading. Not so with this CH Hanson magnetic stud finder. Drag it across the wall until it pulls itself to a nail or screw and, boom, stud found. No batteries to worry about and it fits in your pocket, not to mention all the opportunities it presents for a good dad joke.” —Berner
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Rikon Mini Lathe
“Want to get dad a woodworking tool that he’ll fall in love with? The lathe gets you about as close to instant gratification as possible. Bowls, pens, balusters, kitchen utensils, and vases are just some of what can be made on a lathe. Tell him to be careful, it’s addicting!” —Jay Cork, associate editor
Ryder Indestructible Shoes
“The most important tools we own are the tools we use to keep our bodies healthy and safe. Happy feet make a happy dad, and these shoes will keep him safe in the shop!” —Cork
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Remington Body Groomer Kit
“This is a tool that I use just about every day; it’s hard to imagine being without it. If dad’s trimmer is getting old, or worse yet, he doesn’t have one, this lithium-ion powered body trimmer will be a welcome addition.” —Cork
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