Bob Vila's Holiday Gift Guide: For the Gadget-Loving DIYer

We hear Santa's got some pretty sophisticated workshops up north, so if you're unsure what to get the tech-loving, tool-obsessed DIYer in your family, our guide to the season’s best DIY gear should be right up your chimney!

DIY Speakers

DIY Speakers

Don't let your gadget-lover be confined to ordinary, store-bought speakers. Dedicated tinkerers can make their own with the awesome DIY Speaker Kit. With the custom-designed amplifier and components provided, you can make a speaker out of any material—even a cereal box or your favorite shoe! Available at Technology Will Save Us; 34 GBP (approximately $55), before international shipping.

Hydrogen Generator

Mini Hydrogen Generator

Help your tech geek upgrade to the future with this unique, environmentally safe Hydrogen Generator. Using hydrogen cores—cool!—that are the equivalent of 30-plus AA batteries, this reactor combines hydrogen and oxygen to bring you power no matter where you are. You can charge your smart phone and other USB devices on the go, and have the smug satisfaction of talking about "my hydrogen reactor" and bragging that "my generator is cooler than your generator." Available at Brunton; $169.99.


"Remote"- Controlled Drone


The remote-controlled Parrot AR.Drone isn't technically controlled by a "remote," but by your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Onboard cameras let you see in real time what the "pilot" sees, and the drone's onboard computer can integrate computer-generated images into its video, creating a seamlessly augmented reality gaming experience throughout your entire house! Available at Brookstone; $170.


Zircon Sonic/Laser Measure DM S50L

Laser Measure

It's fun to shoot lasers—which is why when we were kids, our holiday gift lists used to include Star Trek–style toy guns—but digital laser measures are a lot more practical. This one uses a laser to target the spot you want to measure, then bounces sonic waves off it to give an accurate distance. Let’s see Spock’s tricorder do that! It also automatically calculates area and volume and works in U.S. or metric measurements. Available on Amazon; $45.


CRKT Multi-Tool


In this busy world, who has time for tools that serve only one function? This new multi-tool from CRKT does a lot with minimal bulk, featuring a utility blade, sawtooth blade, multi-fit box wrench, wire stripper, and Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, plus driver bits and the essential bottle opener. Does the gadget-lover in your family need this many gadgets rolled up into one? Of course. Available at CRKT; $55.

Festool Carvex 420 Jigsaw

Festool Jigsaw

This device really is the next evolution of the jigsaw. Its main claim to fame is its multibase platform that lets you swap out the bottom of the saw depending on the surface you’re working on, from rough to delicate. The coolest base lets you make angled cuts like a table saw. LED lights strobe in time with the blade to make it look like it’s not moving, which allows super-precise cutting. Available on Amazon; $350.

Mini Emergency Radio

Mini Emergency Radio

Is the gadget-lover in your family also secretly planning for the impending zombie apocalypse? If the answer is yes (and even if it's no), here's the tool that could mean the difference between life and having your brains eaten. The mini emergency radio—with built-in LED flashlight—operates on a hand-crank battery or USB cable, and receives AM, FM, and all seven NOAA weather stations so you can follow news, storm conditions, or coded messages from other underground zombie fighters. Available at L.L.Bean ; $29.95.


Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Detector

Nest Smoke Alarm

Can you imagine a world where the smoke alarms alert you to smoke but can be turned off without your having to crawl up a ladder and swing a broom? The Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide detector can be silenced with a wave of the hand, and instead of defaulting to a screeching alarm, it gives a friendly "heads up" beep to get your attention about, say, burning toast. Sometimes the little things can make a huge improvement. Available on Amazon; $129.

Laser Level

Laser Level

Levels are useful. Lasers are cool. So a laser level, is not only useful AND cool...but it also makes the perfect, simple stocking stuffer for the handy tech-geek in your family. Spirit levels are SO 20th century. Available at Lowe's ; $35.98.

black and decker

Waterpebble Water Saver

Shower Gadget

By memorizing the time of your first shower and using it as a benchmark, the oh-so-clever Waterpebble indicates (via a series of "traffic lights" that flash from green through red) when to finish showering. Each time you shower, Waterpebble fractionally reduces your shower time, helping you to save water without needing to think about it. Available on Amazon; $9.95.

Robo Reel

Robo Reel

Ever tripped on an extension cord while walking through your garage or backyard? Are your cords tangled into one doomed ball of knots? The RoboReel Portable Power Cord System is here to help. Holding 50 feet of 12-gauge electrical extension cord, this motor-driven reel automatically winds in at the touch of a button and can operate freestanding, on a bench or table, or on a wall with an optional wall mount. Give the gift of organization. Available on Amazon; $280.

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If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!