Buying Guides

2013 Tool Gift Guide for Contractors and Carpenters


No matter whether you are shopping for yourself or others, we’ve gathered up some of the coolest and best values in professional grade tools. All of these tools in the 2013 tool gift guide were chosen by our talented staff of tool users and reviewers to represent some of the top offerings on the market. Go ahead and spoil yourself, and use the holidays as your excuse to pick up some new tools! And, if we forgot anything you feel should be on here, be sure to leave a comment in the comments section below to let us know what you think.

Johnson Level & Tool 7-Inch Aluminum Rafter Angle Square

Johnson RAS-1 Framing SquareSquare cuts and proper angle layout is key to most framing applications. Thanks to the Johnson Level & Tool RAS-1 7-Inch Aluminum Rafter Angle Square you can do this and more. The square is made of lightweight aluminum, and it is CNC machined to ensure precision edges and accurate angles. All the numbers and marks are deeply molded into the square so that they can’t be worn or rubbed off. Included is an instruction booklet that gives you all the rafter and roof framing information and tables you will ever need. The booklet is easy to read, full of pictures and really can help you use the square at its maximum potential.

Price: $10

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Freud Diablo Demo Demon Framing/Demolition Saw Blade

Diablo Framing Demo BladeFor many power tools, sometimes the accessory is more important than than the tool. Take, for instance, circular saw blades. With the wrong or poor quality blade installed, the resulting cuts will be rough and ugly. Once you upgrade the factory blade on your saw to the Freud Diablo Demo Demon 7-1/4” x 24 Tooth Framing/Demolition Saw Blade D0724DR you will have one of the best framing/demo blades around. This blade is designed to provide performance and impact resistance through its new lock-tooth design and special carbide teeth. With a blade that is designed to deliver superior cutting life and durability, the new Diablo Demo Demon will definitely out is outperform anything else that is in your tool box!

Price: $15

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Milwaukee Fastback II Flip Utility Knife

MIlwaukee 48-22-1902 Fastback KnifeThink of the Milwaukee Fastback II knife as the Jeep of pocket knives—highly utilitarian, no wimpy plastic parts to break, only features that real men will use and you can flick it open faster then the guy with a switch blade. Milwaukee’s 48-22-1902 Fastback II Flip Utility Knife takes all the great features of the original Fastback and adds a magnetic blade storage compartment so that you never have to worry about a dull edge. Spare blades are even include in the packaging. This is easily one of the most universal gifts you can give to just about any guy out there!

Price: $22 Review

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Bostitch 25-Foot Tape with Blade Armour

Bostitch 33-001 Tape MeasureFor the uninformed tape measure shopper, you need to know that all tape measures are not created equal. At first glance it might seem like a simple enough tool, but here is actually a lot going on with this tool. In face, out on a job site, the dependability and accuracy of a tape measure makes all the difference. The Bostitch 33-001 1-1/4-Inch by 25-Feet Bi-Material Tape with Blade Armour is what we would consider a worthwhile purchase. With a 13′ blade standout, overside end hook, large size numbers, special blade coatings and a hefty feel, this tape measure would make any carpenter smile!

Price: $25

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Stanley FatMax 100-Foot Long Steel Tape

Stanley FatMax 34-130 Tape MeasureFor a 100-foot long tape measure going the distance is not a problem but traditionally reeling the tape back in has been. The cool thing with the Stanley FatMax 34-130 100′ x 3/8″ Steel Long Tape is that it has a 3:1 gear ratio built in. This means three times faster retrieval of the extend tape and you arm will thank you too. The blade of this tape measure is polymer-coated to resist abrasion and wear and there is a steel roller cage that makes for easier retraction. The 3/8” wide blade has large easy to see numbers and there are 16” stud center marks to make laying out large jobs easy.

Price: $30

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Stanley FatMax 17oz Anti-Vibe Framing Hammer

Stanley FatMax FMHT51244 17oz HammerWhile there are many different ideas on what the ideal hammer is, a few things are for certain. If you can reduce the amount of felt vibration and the amount of effort to swing the hammer to still achieve the same results you might be ahead of the game. Essentially the new Stanley FatMax FMHT51244 17oz Anti-Vibe Framing Hammer does just that. With a 2-Piece steel head and handle design vibrations are isolated to the head using AntiVibe technology. To further make the user comfortable a multi-layered handle helps to further guard against vibrations. Since this is a framing hammer, the face is aggressively waffled and there is a magnetic nail starter with a straight rip claw.

Price: $40

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FatMax Xtreme 48-Inch Box Beam Level

Stanley FatMax 43-649 LevelWith 48-inch long levels being one of the most common lengths of levels on the market, it can be confusing to try to figure out which one to buy. Well let us help you; the 48-inch Stanley FatMax Xtreme 43-649 Magnetic Box Beam Level is a great choice. The heart of this level is its super strong box-beam construction, so strong in fact that Stanley claims that it is 5-times stronger than any of their other models. This level also features easy to read oversized level vials, rare earth magnets and comes with a lifetime accuracy warranty.

Price: $48

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Irwin 32-Inch 2500 Series Heavy Duty Box Beam Level

Irwin 2500 Series 32inch LevelThe 32-inch Irwin 2500 series heavy duty box beam level 1794065 is an ideal size level to do most tasks that come up. The thick-walled aluminum frame and a continuous edges make for a level that can take some crazy job site wear and tear. Easy to read level bubbles offer undistorted views which make taking readings quick and accurate. So accurate that the .029 degree accuracy is guaranteed for life. This level is a personal favorite of mine and we highly recommend it!

Price: $55

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PowerStrike Precision Technology Hammer

PowerStrike HammersSo what happens when you throw a mechanical engineer with designers that have worked with high end golf club and bicycle manufactures and tell them to make up a new hammer? Well what you get the PowerStrike Precision Technology Hammer. When holding this hammer it is easy to feel that that there was some major thought that went into its design, from a hollow monicoque aluminum handle to its stainless steel head with replaceable faces. It is available in eight different color handles, different faces and every part is replaceable. This hammer is for the connoisseur of hammers and is a true must have.

Price: $150

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Tomahawk GP Tactical Light

Tomahawk FlashlightAnything that uses the word Tomahawk in its name has to be good! When I first heard about these flashlights I knew we had to get them in for review. Sure the company’s primary market is military and police, but we are pretty sure that these lights would catch on with contractors and tool guys too. These lights feature 150+ lumens on high, have three light intensity levels and are available with a myriad of mounting systems that range from belt clips, magnetic mounts to military comparable MOLLE systems. The power comes from two CR123 lithium batteries and these flashlights have a lifetime warranty. Be on the lookout for a full review with all the details soon!

Price: $170

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Bostitch 4-gallon Oil-lube Stacked Tank Air Compressor

Bostitch CAP2040STOL CompressorCompact and powerful are what you want then it comes to a small size compressor. For real job site use we almost always suggest oil-lubricated models to ensure long life and lower noise levels. The Bostitch CAP2040ST-OL 4-gallon oil-lube stack tank compressor is all this and more. With a capacity to deliver 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI and a 13.5 amp motor, this compressor has the ability to run a few framing or trim nailers without a hitch. This compressor includes a built in regulator, quick release air coupling and a centered balanced handle that makes transporting easy. No worries for cold weather either since a cold start valve is built in too.

Price: $250

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Bosch Self Leveling 5-Point Alignment Laser with Cross-Line

Bosch GCL25 Laser LevelRecently on a project I had to not only line up but also project precision locations on a ceiling for a lighting project. Once I laid out the grid on the floor I was able to transfer the locations to the ceiling. All this would have taken hours using tape measures and plumb-bobs but with the Bosch GCL25 Self Leveling 5-Point Alignment Laser with Cross-Line I was able to literally do the job in minutes. This laser is an ideal layout tool for everything from framing to tile work thanks to features like a self leveling internal pendulum, high-visibility lasers and 4-selectable modes. The laser is tripod mountable, comes with a padded carry case and a target plane. For the guy that has it all, we will bet he does not have one of these!

Price: $325

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DeWalt 10-Inch Compact Job Site Table Saw

DeWalt DWE7480 Table SawThe brand new DeWalt DWE7480 10-Inch Compact Job Site Table Saw with Site-Pro Modular Guarding System is an ideal choice for the contractor looking for a versatile and portable table saw solution. This saw has a powerful 15 amp motor, 24-1/2” of rip cut capacity, a metal roll cage base and it all weighs only 45 pounds. The Site-Pro Modular Guarding system is essentially a system that has rack and pinion driven telescoping table extensions that make adjusting the fence for large rip cuts super easy. The bevel angle, depth of cut and fence are all very easy to adjust with out having any special tools. There is onboard storage and a 2-1/2” vacuum cleaner connection port on the back of the saw. In a nut shell, this saw packs loads of features in a compact package making it a must have.

Price: $400

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Ridgid 8-inch Wet Tile and Paver Saw with Stand

Ridgid R4040S Tile SawHaving laid tiles for years, we have used everything from dry scribe cutters to discount store tiles saws and even thousand dollar wet saws. What amazed us with the Ridgid R4040S 8-inch Wet Tile and Paver Saw with Stand is that for its size and feature set we have not found a better value. This 8-inch wet saw comes with a high quality diamond blade, features a 12 amp motor and a 5 gallon water capacity in the tray. The cut capacity is what surprised us as well with its ability to do 24” rip cuts and split 18” tile diagonally with no problems. The cast aluminum sliding table is very sturdy and smooth operating and the overall feel of the saw screams quality and business. The total weight of the saw is just 49 pounds which also makes it very portable and easy to move with just one person thanks to the wheels hidden in the base of the tray. This has quickly become our favorite wet saw.

Price: $499

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For more great holiday buyers guides, check out some of our friends’ sites!

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