Prop Power Pro
A home-improvement enthusiast's favorite gadget is one that makes life truly simpler. This awesome extension cord has a simple “twist”—a semirigid covering at the end that lets you wrap it around nearby structures so that its two grounded outlets stay put. It’s especially handy when you’re working on a ladder. Available at quirky.com; $25.
Flash Survivor 16GB USB Flash Drive
Sometimes technology and DIY projects simply don’t mix. Case in point: One wrong swing of a hammer can smash a USB drive to pieces. These Flash Survivor drives (with storage ranging from 16GB to 256GB) are encased in either aircraft-grade or military-grade aluminum housings that can keep your data safe even in the roughest conditions. Available on Amazon; $35.99 (in 32 GB size)
Digital Sliding T-Bevel
This nifty gadget can get into tight spaces or wrap around cut pieces of wood to tell you the exact angle. Then it remembers that angle so you can take it back to your shop and make the right cut. Its memory stores multiple readings, and the tool can also tell you the reverse angle when you’re joining two pieces of wood together. Available on Amazon; $34.99.
Lazerwood Keys for Apple Extended Keyboard
Belkin WeMo Switch
These days, even the humble wall outlet is getting a high-tech boost. Just witness this smart outlet from Belkin: Once it's been plugged into a standard outlet and connected to your home’s Wi-Fi, you can control it from your smartphone—whether you're home or away—turning things on and off with a few simple taps. Available on Amazon; $49.99.
SafeGrip Security Case and Lock for iPad
More and more frequently, tablets are entering the workshop, where they host videos and how-to's that guide DIYers through their projects. But how to keep them safe from accidental bumps and drops? Though initially designed for kids, these tough Kensington cases are also perfect for this job. The super-rugged padded housing protects your tech from falls, and the handle/stand makes carrying and viewing a breeze. Available on Amazon; $89.99.
LED Lenser F1R Flashlight
Every homeowner needs a good flashlight, and this one is truly the mother of them all. Don't judge its power by its small size: This baby throws off a whopping 1,000 lumens, making it more light saber than flashlight. It’s also waterproof, weighs just 4.2 ounces, and can last three hours on its rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Available at LED Lenser; $140.
Actron Autoscanner CP9575
For the DIYer who likes to work on cars in the garage, this gadget will ease all future fixes. This handy computer connects to your car when that dastardly “check engine” light comes on to tell you exactly what’s going on under the hood—in plain English—so you can fix it and get back to rolling right along. Available on Amazon; $187.99.
WORX WG430 13-amp Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder
Disposing of leaves in the fall is the bane of many a homeowner. Let this device turn bane into boon as its quiet electric motor helps convert your annoying leaves into useful mulch. It can reduce a pile of leaves to one-eleventh of its size! Also, there are no blades to worry about—just a simple trimmer line. Available on Amazon; $191.
Bosch Laser Distance Measurer
When you can use a laser in home improvement, you do. This laser instrument makes measurements more exciting and more swift, and it takes only a fraction of a second to capture them. The device then lets you convert those measurements from feet to inches or to metric. It can even compute a room's area and volume. Available on Amazon; $298.48.
Milwaukee 2260-21 M12 Thermal Imager
For a prettier penny, this thermal imager lets you see through stuff—well, technically it lets you capture the temperature readings of a surface to give you a sense of what lies beneath. Just beam it at a wall, for example, and you’ll be able to see if there are any spots where your insulation is failing. It's not cheap, but really, X-ray vision? Priceless. Available at Ace Tool; $4,150.
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