The Best Tape Measure 25-foot Stanley PowerLock
After 45 hours of research and dropping, extending, and scrubbing the blades of 17 different tape measures with 60-grit sandpaper, we found the Stanley 25-foot PowerLock Tape Measure is the best option for most people. The PowerLock has a more durable blade than nearly all of its competition, and its pared-down simplicity makes it light, accurate, and easy to handle. Plus, it’s one of the least expensive tapes we looked at.   Read More >
The Best Bike Pump (Floor Standing) Lezyne Steel Floor Drive
If you ride a bike more than a couple times a year, the $44 Lezyne Steel Floor Drive is the floor pump to buy. We reached this conclusion talking to a former bike pump designer, a mechanic who supports riders in the Tour de France, and the world’s preeminent bike repair manual author. We also ran tests on 15 different pumps. Paying just a couple bucks more than the absolute minimum gets you a pump that is extremely easy to use, thanks to what is far and away the simplest and most secure pump head. And because the Lezyne’s wooden handle, steel barrel, and heavy aluminum base are much more durable than bargain-basement pumps, odds are that it’ll last a lot longer.    Read More >
The Best Tools and Toolbox
After more than 300 hours of research and testing more than 180 tools, we’ve put together the best tool kit for your home. To come up with these 22 recommendations, we consulted three carpenters, six leading tool experts, and many, many tool manufacturers. Plus, after narrowing the tools down to our top picks, our writer used our 22 picks exclusively for eight months in a major home renovation.   Read More >
The Best Stud Finder for Home Use Magic Stud Finder Plus
If you’re hanging heavy pictures, mirrors, or shelves, you need to know where your wall studs are—and the best tool we found for the job is Biary Innovation Company’s Magic Stud Finder Plus (about $15). After 30 hours of research and testing against five other magnetic stud finders, we found the Magic Stud Finder Plus to be reliable and accurate, and because it’s magnet-based, it doesn’t need batteries or any kind of calibration. It’s also relatively inexpensive. Unlike other stud finders, the Magic Stud Finder Plus allows you to mark multiple points along a wall without having to use a pencil—its three removable magnets pop out and stick to the screws that anchor the drywall to a stud. Locating studs isn’t an exact science, and to do it accurately, you need to double-check your work, so this feature adds to the tool and elevates it above the rest.    Read More >
The Best Hex Wrenches TEKTON 25282 26-piece Long Arm Ball Hex Key Wrench Set
For installing towel bars, tightening door handles, or assembling IKEA furniture, a home toolbox should have a good selection of hex wrenches (commonly known by the trademarked name Allen wrenches). We had three carpenters test 11 top models, and our favorite set is the TEKTON 25282 26-piece Long Arm Ball Hex Key Wrench Set (about $17).    Read More >
The Best Non-Contact Voltage Tester Klein NCVT-3
A non-contact voltage tester is a useful tool for any kind of electrical work—there’s no quicker or simpler way to safely check for electrical current in a wire, outlet, switch, or an old lamp that has mysteriously stopped working. Every electrician carries one. And after talking to a 20-year veteran electrician and performing eight months of testing with seven leading models, we found that the Klein NCVT-3 (about $25) is the best one to get.    Read More >
The Best Precision Screwdriver Maxcraft 7-in-1
If you need to change a toy’s batteries, swap out a thermostat, or tighten your sunglasses, you need a precision screwdriver, and the best one for most people also happens to be the simplest and least expensive: the Maxcraft 7-in-1 (about $5). Most homeowners won’t use a precision screwdriver all that often, so we think you really just need to cover the essentials. The basic Maxcraft has the most frequently needed bits, and they store right in the body of the tool, so it’s a convenient item for a toolbox or kitchen drawer. A pocket clip helps while a project is going on and the knurled body makes it easy to grip and turn.    Read More >
The Best Painter’s Multitool Hyde 17-in-1
If you’re planning on engaging in any painting projects at all, a painter’s multitool can make the process a lot easier. We researched the topic and tested four, ultimately finding that the Hyde 17-in-1 is the most versatile of the bunch.    Read More >
The Best Drill Bit Set Ryobi 90-Piece Drilling and Driving Accessory Kit
For around the house drilling and driving needs, the Ryobi 90-Piece Drilling and Driving Accessory Kit gets it just right. Some sets have too much repetition, others lack critical pieces, but the Ryobi provides a wide selection of useful items without all of the unnecessary filler.    Read More >
The Best Locking Pliers Grip-On 111-10
If you’re going to own a set of locking pliers1 (and we strongly suggest you do), the best ones to get are the Grip-On 111-10 (about $20).    Read More >
The Best Needle-Nose Pliers Klein J203-8 Heavy Duty Journeyman Pliers
After enlisting three veteran carpenters to test 16 different pairs of needle-nose pliers1, we found that the Klein J203-8 Heavy Duty Journeyman Pliers are the best.    Read More >
The Best Handsaw Shark 15-inch Carpentry Saw
For replacing a deck board, building a treehouse, or fixing a piece of rotted trim, it’s essential to have a handsaw. We had three carpenters test seven saws, and the one chosen unanimously as the best is the Shark 15-inch Carpentry Saw (about $29).    Read More >
The Best Toolbox Milwaukee 13ʺ Jobsite Work Box
The best toolbox for most people is the Milwaukee 13ʺ Jobsite Work Box (about $30). We came to this conclusion after three carpenters examined seven leading toolboxes, and once we chose the Milwaukee, I used it exclusively during an eight-month period while wrapping up a renovation. Simply put, it is the most efficient, portable, and organized toolbox we could find. The biggest difference with the Milwaukee is the way it stores tools vertically in individual slots, so they stay in place and remain easy to access. This arrangement stands in stark contrast to the “jumbled pile of tools” that you typically have with other boxes. The shape of the Milwaukee makes it easy to carry, and with its lid on, you can use it as a seat, which we found to be very convenient.    Read More >
The Best Torpedo Level Sola PH 22 Flooring Level
For hanging pictures, installing shelves, or adjusting the legs on the washer/dryer, we recommend an 8⅝-inch-long torpedo level called the Sola PH 22 Flooring Level (about $19). Even though it’s designed for the specific needs of the flooring installer, we found it to be great for general work. Its magnified center vial was very easy to read, even in low light, and this was the only one with a solid 90-degree corner, making it easy to draw a crisp perpendicular line. Because of this feature, the level can be used for marking a square corner on a board or indicating on a wall where the end of a shelf will fall. Three carpenters tested this tool, and they started off wary of the durability on a plastic level like this one, but everyone came away impressed with the thick I-beam construction of the PH 22. Even using moderate strength to try and torque the level, it won’t twist or bend.    Read More >
The Best Putty Knife Craftsman Flex Stainless Putty Knife
After spending months filling nail holes, repairing cracked plaster, and talking to a painting contractor with 30 years of experience, we found the Craftsman 1½-inch Flex Stainless Putty Knife is the best putty knife for most people. Its 1½-inch width is perfect for filling small holes, the stainless steel blade is easy to clean and won’t rust, and its handle is shaped to fit your hand with a rubbery padding that makes it much more comfortable than the competition.   Read More >
The Best Combination Square Irwin 1794469 12-inch Combination Square
If you're planning on doing any carpentry–successfully–you'll need a way to mark a straight line. After researching at least 20 combination squares and testing six during the final phase of a whole-house remodeling project, we’re convinced that the best option for most people is the Irwin 1794469 12-inch Combination Square (about $11). You can find pro versions of this all-purpose marking tool that cost hundreds of bucks, but the Irwin model is a solid alternative that works well for a fraction of the price. It surpassed the other combination squares we tested thanks to several details that differentiate an excellent tool from an average one; in particular, we liked the smooth machining of the main body, the evenly chamfered edges, the nice powder-coated finish, and the fact that it’s a touch heavier than the rest, which gives it a truly solid feel. Like some other combination squares we tested, the Irwin has a zinc body and a stainless-steel ruler, so it won’t rust or corrode. Our carpenter test crew kept coming back to the Irwin because it got the job done and it feels like a high-quality tool—much higher quality, in fact, than its price would suggest.    Read More >
The Best Basic Home Toolkit HDX 76-Piece Homeowner's Tool Set
After 70 hours spent researching and testing home toolkits, we found that Home Depot’s $20 HDX 76-Piece Homeowner's Tool Set is the best for most homeowners. The compact HDX set features all the essentials at a lower price than competitors charge, and it omits the useless filler tools found in other kits. Plus, it has the best adjustable wrench out of all the kits we tested.   Read More >
The Best Christmas Tree Stand Krinner Christmas Tree Genie XXL
We looked at new Christmas tree stands for 2014, but none came close to beating the Krinner Christmas Tree Genie XXL. Its fastening mechanism is superior to any other we tested; it only needs one person for set up and can accommodate trees up to 12 feet tall. Plus, there's a 2.5-gallon water reservoir with a water level gauge to keep your tree hydrated.   Read More >
The Best Step Stool Gorilla EasyReach Aluminum 2-step
We took a hard look at new competition in the world of step stools, but it was the new version of last year's favorite Gorilla EasyReach 2-step that came out on top. It's a great size for most use cases, is surprisingly light, and gives you a bigger lift than other stools we tested. Plus, this newer version features a built-in tool shelf.    Read More >
The Best Adjustable Wrench Channellock 8WCB WideAzz
We attached garden hoses and assembled furniture with 13 different adjustable wrenches to find the best for your home tool box. The Channellock 8WCB WideAzz is 8 inches with the jaw capacity of a much larger wrench and a thin, tapered nose for getting into tight spots.    Read More >
The Best Adjustable Pliers Irwin GV10 10-inch GrooveLock Pliers
A great home toolbox needs a solid pair of adjustable pliers. After considering over 50 models, the $14 Irwin GV10 10-inch Groovelock Pliers came out on top due to easy jaw-size adjustment and comfortable handles.   Read More >
The Best Utility Knife Milwaukee Fastback II
If you’re looking for a utility knife for general around-the-house use, we recommend the Milwaukee Fastback II ($15). After 26 hours of research and hands-on testing of 21 different knives, we found that, simply put, this knife has it all. It can be easily (and quickly) opened and closed with one hand. It has a comfortable grip with all the right contours and finger notches. Changing blades is easy and it has a nice, springy belt hook. For increased safety, the knife locks in both the open and closed position. And finally, despite its thin profile, it still has room to store one additional blade.    Read More >
The Best Hammer Estwing E3-16C
After testing 11 hammers and getting the opinions of two working carpenters and a former editor at This Old House and Popular Mechanics, we recommend the Estwing E3-16C, a 16-ounce, curved claw, steel-handled hammer for general around-the-house hammer needs.    Read More >
The Best Picture Hangers 30-pound Floreat
From this point forward, I’m only using 30-pound Floreat picture hangers to hang things on my wall. After 25 hours of research and testing, it became clear that they’re the best. In addition to our own testing, I spoke with four different art galleries and a professional art installer and all of them exclusively use Floreats. The hangers are also highly recommended in articles written by art hangers and custom picture framers.    Read More >
The Best Multi-Bit Screwdriver MegaPro 211R2C36RD 13-In-1 Ratcheting Driver
The MegaPro 13-in-1 Multi-Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver is the perfect one-stop screwdriver to have at hand around the house. After over 22 hours of research and hands-on testing of 13 different models, I found that the MegaPro has all of the right features: nice ratcheting action; smart, accessible bit storage; excellent bit selection; and a comfortable handle.   Read More >
The Best Drill for Common Household Projects Porter-Cable 12-Volt
If someone were to ask me to recommend a solid cordless drill for general use around the house, I would tell them to get the 12-volt Porter-Cable Drill/Driver. After about 30 hours of research and testing, I found it to be ideal choice due to its nice combination of power, weight and size, all for a fair price.   Read More >