It's holiday season again, and some of us are on the move: ENR's New York City office is relocating to a new floor, while I'm unpacking my things in my new Midwest office. Moving forces us to decide what to keep and throw away—and useful tools needed to take things apart and put them back together usually stay with us. Below is my sixth-annual list of nifty gadgets to help out with major moves at home and work.
1. Screw Art
I know what you're thinking: Is he talking about fasteners or something else? In this case, artist Andrew Myers has found a playful way to make art out of everyday construction items. His series of "screw abstracts" experiments with multicolored Phillips-head fasteners driven into panels at varying lengths. The effect definitely catches the eye. Basic panels start at $750 plus shipping.
2. Porter-Cable Impact Driver
If you dare to emulate Myers' screw art, you are going to need a long-lasting driver with plenty of twisting power. New on the scene this year is Porter-Cable's 20-volt Max Lithium line of power tools. I've been testing out the 20-volt impact driver for several weeks and am still operating on the first charge. The gun itself is comfortable and lightweight, and the battery pack is easy to handle—even with gloves on. Pick up a two-piece combo with the impact driver and a 20-volt drill/driver at Grainger for $213.
3. Makita ImpactGOLD Bits
Of course, no impact drill is complete without a new set of bits. Makita comes to the rescue with its new line of ImpactGold bits, specifically designed for impact drivers. These bits are some of the strongest I've ever tested. Over the past few weeks on my own home projects, I tried to strip them out, twist them apart and tear them up, but they keep holding on for dear life. Meanwhile, I have had to throw away competitors' bits that lost their grip. Get this 21-piece magnetic driver set for less than $20 at Home Depot.
4. Motorola Roadster 2
If you aren't satisfied with your vehicle's hands-free device, or need one for an older vehicle, then check out the Roadster 2 from Motorola. I received one as a gift earlier this year, and the sound quality is great. For longer conversations, you can beam your caller right into your stereo system, as well as play music from your smartphone. Forgot where you parked? Android users can download an app that works with the device to remember your last location. Get one at B&H for less than $80.
5. Construction Kitties
We can't forget something for the little ones, and this year's "Construction Kitties" by Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges is a fun read for those future engineers. The main characters put on their hats and get right down to the business of hauling, dozing and excavating. A quick lunch and they are back to work. The day ends with some playground fun. I couldn't be happier to see more children's books about construction—even with proper equipment terminology. Order it on Amazon for under $13.