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Tools & Home Improvement

The 7 Best Home Tool Kits to Buy in 2021

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best tool kit

A tool kit is a wise investment for fixes or improvements you want or need to make in your home. A good-quality tool kit will prepare you to handle a wide range of small jobs around the house, from assembling furniture to replacing a doorknob.

Let’s take a look at our favorite picks among the best home tool kit options available!

If you’re in need of an essential tool, the chances are good that the Stanley 65-Piece Mechanics’s Tool Kit will fit your needs.

The toll kit has two sets of hex keys, a standard and Phillips screwdriver, a utility knife, hammer, two sets of pliers, measuring tape, level, a ¼-inch round-head ratchet, a ¼-inch spinner handle, eight ¼-inch sockets, a ¼-inch bit handle, and 30 bits.

Owners say that the Stanley kit has just about everything they need, though some people complain that it doesn’t include an adjustable wrench. However, those in need of a wrench have the option to purchase it along with this kit. A more comprehensive screwdriver set is also available.

The tools all fit in the provided blow-molded plastic case. Although, some users say they don’t stay put as tightly as they like. However, the tools themselves are of very good quality for those who only need them for occasional household use.

WORKPRO 100-Piece Kitchen Drawer Tool Kit: Runner-Up, Best Overall 

A great set for anyone who needs easy access to the bare essentials, the WORKPRO 100-Piece Kitchen Drawer Tool Kit packs a lot of utility into a small package.

The kit includes two pairs of pliers, a utility knife, a hammer, a level, an adjustable wrench, a tape measure, a precision screwdriver, a bit holder, nine sockets, 19 specialty bits, and a set of hex keys.

Reviewers are impressed by the quality of the tools included in the kit, especially for the price. They also like the zippered case that holds this kit, which has straps to keep everything neat and is small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer, as the kit’s name suggests.

However, the reviewers note that the hex-key selection is kinda limited, and there are no wide-jaw pliers, two limitations that might frustrate some.

Some reviewers also note that the selection is a bit limited, and the tools aren’t appropriate for heavy-duty use. Still, they agree the kit is perfect for occasional, limited applications.

WORKPRO 322-Piece Tool Kit with Carry Bag: Best High-End 

Some people may be willing to spend a little extra to ensure their tool kit doesn’t leave them hanging. The WORKPRO 322-Piece Tool Kit with Carry Bag will cover all its bases with a staggering number of tools, reviewers say.

It includes a large socket set, six full-size screwdrivers, three pairs of pliers, and seven precision screwdrivers, a level, a hammer, a utility knife, a tape measure, a folding hex key, scissors, brush, an adjustable wrench, insulated tape, cable ties, and more.

Many owners rave about one feature that the WORKPRO kit comes with a nylon bag that has convenient exterior pockets and a shoulder strap.

Some people like being able to chuck tools into a bag instead of putting them in their proper slots in a plastic case, as is required by many tool kits.

Of course, the downside of having so many tools is the weight. This kit weighs in just shy of 25 pounds, so you need to be cautious. The tools are made of heat-treated chrome vanadium steel, and they are sturdy and high quality for the price.

Black and Decker 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Drill & Kit: Best for New Homeowners 

The Black and Decker 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Drill and Project Kit has several handy must-haves for homeowners. It also has one big bonus over most other ready-made kits: a 20-volt, rechargeable power drill.

Tools include a hammer, two screwdrivers, two sets of pliers, an adjustable wrench, a utility knife, a ratcheting screwdriver, 32 bits, four nut drivers, and a magnetic bit tip holder, ten general drill bits, five spade bits, four-hole saws, and a mandrel.

The kit can also be purchased with a screwdriver bit set and a 109-piece drill bit.

People love having a power drill in their kit, which is powerful enough for most common household jobs. Though some reviewers say, it’s not powerful enough for heavy-duty use.

To help guard against stripping screws, this drill has an 11-position clutch. It’s very helpful for users who don’t have much power-tool experience.

The tools are fine for light household use, but most reviewers question the quality, saying they’re a bit flimsy. One feature missing would be the accompanying bag with some internal compartments or dividers to help keep everything organized.

Apollo Precision Tools DT9706 General Tool Set, 39-Piece: Best Budget 

This toolset is a great choice for a first apartment or even a dorm room. This is especially true if you just need the basics.

The 39-piece set includes a claw hammer, 6-inch slip joint pliers, a ratcheting bit driver, a utility knife, 12-foot tape measure, eight hex keys, 8-inch scissors, 20 bits, and four screwdrivers. And to keep things organized, it all comes in a plastic case.

While the Apollo Precision Set tools aren’t as strong as the ones in our best overall pick, they will be sufficient for occasional repairs or home improvement tasks.

This toolset will do the job, but you’ll get what you are paying for. Of course, in case anything breaks, the kit does come with a limited lifetime warranty.

Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set, 170 Piece: Best for Mechanics 

Mechanics usually have different needs than people who won’t be spending much time tinkering in the garage. The Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set does a good job addressing those needs, reviewers say.

The kit has 170 pieces, including three sizes of quick-release ratchets, a wide variety of sockets, a dozen combination wrenches, an adjustable wrench, a magnetic bit driver, and 44 bits, two sets of pliers, four screwdrivers, and more than two dozen hex keys.

Reviewers say the plastic blow-molded case on the Crescent set is sturdy, and they like the convenient folding door that opens from the center, allowing easy access to all the tools or just one side.

However, some reviewers point out that tools don’t always stay put in their slots. But they are complimentary of the heat-treated chrome vanadium steel tools, which they say are have a high-quality look and feel. 

WORKPRO 103-Piece Pink Tool Kit with Easy Carrying Round Pouch: Best for Women 

Who says your toolkit has to be basic black? Fans of pink will flock to this comprehensive kit that is great for the average DIYer with its basic tools the average person needs like a hammer, tape measure, level wrench, and more.

What’s more, the set is compact and lightweight, making it easy to store and pull out when needed. 

A great gift for any woman or perhaps a perfect housewarming gift, this toolset has 87% five-star reviews with customers saying it has everything you need and a great gift for everyone on their list. 

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Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Sports & Outdoors

5 Best Headlamps To Buy In 2021

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best headlamps

There once was a time when the only way you could use a flashlight and keep both your hands-free was to cram it into the crook of your neck.

While there is no evidence to suggest that this caused untold neck and spine injuries, it certainly was not OSHA approved.

Thankfully those days are behind us, and now all you need to go into the dark and still use both your opposable thumbs is a great headlamp.

The common misconception is that any decent headlamp will work for any purpose, but this is patently untrue.

Spelunkers need a narrower beam for exploring caves, while survivalists need a sturdier model that can stand up to adverse weather conditions.

Runners need something that will stay in place through every bump in the road, while trackers need something that won’t ruin their night vision.

Make sure you choose the right lamp for your needs.

LED LENSER H14

Jack of All Trades: The H14 is much more than just a headlamp.

It is a lighting system that can go almost anywhere and serve a multitude of purposes.

Unsurprisingly they are made by the Leatherman Tool Group, the biggest name in multi-purpose since the Swiss Army.

The beam is adjustable, so you can get a broad range for night biking or a narrow beam for cave diving. It has three output modes that range from the modest 25 lumens to nearly 200.

The mounting bracket attached to the light can easily fit on bike handlebars or clamp-on almost anywhere, so it can switch from headlamp to work light with the turn of a screw.

PETZL NAO

Runnin’ Down a Dream: You know what’s more expensive than the Petzl NAO?

A twisted or broken ankle. If you like the peacefulness and tranquility of doing a little jogging at night, the Petzl NAO should be your only choice.

The cost is a little steeper than some, but if you’ve ever done a little roadwork with a cheaper alternative, the difference will be apparent immediately.

The NAO headlamp uses reactive lighting that uses a sensor to automatically detect ambient light and adjust accordingly.

If a cloud suddenly blocks the moon or twilight gives way to pitch blackness, your light won’t fail you, and you won’t miss a stride.

If you prefer more control, you can even customize your settings to help you avoid night runner’s tunnel vision.

The lightweight is easy to adjust to, and it won’t hop out of place as you move. Output ranges from 25 to approximately 150 lumens.

PRINCETON TEC APEX

Thunder Underground: Caving adventures are not for the faint of heart, and these sturdy people need an equally sturdy light to ensure their exploration into the tunnels of the world don’t leave them stranded in the dark.

The Apex line is a little heavier than most, so hopefully, you don’t need to run from any Morlocks during your subterranean excursions.

The reason for the additional heft is the 5 light system that the Apex uses.

It has a single primary LED light surrounded by 4 secondary lights to help give you a panoramic view, as well as a redundant lighting system that will ensure that even if one light breaks, you will still be able to reach the surface safely—a maximum of 200 lumens.

BLACK DIAMOND SPOT

Apocalyptic: When the dead rise and you’re trying to get your ragtag group of survivors across town to the mall, this is the headlamp that will make the difference between living to fight another day and becoming zombie chow.

It comes with three power settings that can be changed with just a tap to the side of the lamp and includes red LEDs for illumination that won’t hurt your night vision so you can remain battle-ready.

The Spot can take a severe beating without breaking, though this makes it one of the heaviest choices out there.

It illuminates nearly 250 feet in front of you with 130 lumens so you can see a threat or trouble from a distance.

The tap technology is ideal for operation with gloves, so it works well in any kind of extreme conditions. The low output gives it the longest battery life of any option.

COAST HL8

Industrial Light: If you’ve ever asked yourself what Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell wears on the weekends, this is the answer.

It looks like the headgear you would want if you were about to do some serious wet work against an entrenched terrorist camp, but really it is better suited to doing any heavy or detailed labor.

The head strap is one of the best and won’t budge while you are under a car or rappelling down the side of a building.

It maxes out at 344 lumens, making it bright enough that you can easily clean and reassemble your AR-15 without missing a single grease spot.

The simple twist focus on the side can narrow your beam so you can see for nearly 700 feet or broaden it so you can watch for mines at your feet.

ZEBRALIGHT H600F MKIV

Hunter’s Helper: We first looked at Zebralight for their H600 model during our LED flashlight roundup.

The H600F model is slightly different from that one because it is geared much more toward hunters, while the other was for the average home user.

It is light enough for hunting down prey if you prefer doing your killing at night while also simple enough to operate that it won’t interfere with your hands whether you prefer a gun or a bow.

The beam gives enough distance to make your shot while also offering sufficient flood capacity for skinning and cleaning.

It is also removable for work that requires a standing or hand-held light. The LED is much warmer than most other headlamp options, so it makes following a blood trail significantly simpler.

Ranges from less than 1 lumen up to more than 1000 if you choose the right model.

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Tools & Home Improvement

Best Smart Thermostat 2021

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If you’re looking to spend over $100 on a “smart” thermostat, know that the $250 Nest is the only one worth your money.

Not only does it have the internet remote controllability and data visualization offered by other products in this price range, it goes one step further by actually making adjustments for you.

(If you just want a cheap, programmable thermostat with no bells and whistles that just works, skip to the end.)

First, if Nest doesn’t work with your home heating and cooling system, you probably don’t want it.

Considering Nest 3rd generation is compatible with 95% of low voltage heating and cooling systems (and a number of HVAC systems as well), you’re probably in the clear–unless you have some kind of specialty HVAC system.

If your house is compatible, read on. If not, skip to the competition section, where we outline some alternatives that may fit your needs.

The Future We Were Promised

nest thermostat

The concept of a smart thermostat isn’t new, but the actual product has evaded us for years. Before Nest, companies’ perception of a “smart” thermostat was one that was easier for users to program.

As a result, we got these contraptions with color touchscreens that have pop up keyboards, pretty menus, cloud-accessible controls, and data visualization.

But for all their fancy features, they all shared the same flaw: they ultimately rely on humans to make the decisions.

The nest was the first company to realize that programming itself was the problem and that the only solution was to get rid of it entirely.

The Nest is the only thermostat that actually simplifies your life and improves your happiness by making decisions for you.

It does this by learning how you use your home’s climate control system over a one week period and then setting itself accordingly from there on out.

It’s also got a motion sensor in it that automatically sets it into power-saving mode when you’re not around.

And, thanks to its internet connection, it can also factor in the weather when setting the temperature. Now that’s smart.

Why We Like it

nest thermostat

The original Nest debuted a couple of years ago, but it was so far ahead of its time that no companies have even come close to matching its functionality.

Meanwhile, Nest has released a 20% slimmer, more widely compatible version 2.0 already. It’s often called the iPod of thermostats, an apt comparison considering the fact that Nest was started by Tony Fadell, the head of the team that created the original iPod. But the similarities don’t stop there.

In addition to its designers, the Nest also borrows its user interface from the once-ubiquitous click wheel found on every iPod.

Grab and rotate the entire body to navigate through lists, click it down to select.

Lest there be any skeptics among you, CNet’s Lindsey Turrentine writes that “[her] kids can’t stop touching the thermostat to explore the menus, and they instantly understand how Nest works.”

The GUI is similarly intuitive. The display background glows red when the heat is on, blue when the air conditioning is running and stays black when it’s off.

Once it’s installed, setup is a breeze.

nest thermostat

Installing it is almost as simple — assuming you know your way around a screwdriver. It comes with all the necessary tools, parts, and hardware.

All you need is about 15 minutes to take down your old thermostat and match the right wires to the right holes. There’s even a dedicated website to aid you in the setup process.

All the reviews we read indicated that everyone but the most tool-averse among should be able to install it without outside help, but should you need it, installation service is available for $120.

Once it’s installed, setup is a breeze. By all accounts, it shouldn’t take more than a week of preliminary manual adjustments for the Nest to learn your usage habits.

From there on out, it’s pretty much a set it and forget it product. You can still make occasional manual adjustments on the thermostat itself or remotely through its smartphone apps/web app if you so desire.

If the Nest determines those adjustments are truly random, the Nest will ignore them, but if you make them with any sort of regularity, Nest will take that into account and do them for you.

For example, if it notices you’ve been turning up the heat a couple of extra degrees the last several times it rained, Nest will automatically raise the heat for you whenever rain is in the forecast.

Another parameter Nest learns is how long it takes for your house’s furnace/air conditioner to go from setting the desired temperature to actually achieving said temperature.

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Tools & Home Improvement

The 5 Best Wire Strippers In 2021

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Best Wire Strippers

Everyone knows that you can’t beat a really good stripper. Sadly, if you’re doing electrical work, rewiring, or just trying to add an outlet to your home, you might be forced to settle for a wire stripper rather than the curvaceous kind that accepts dollar bills and unwrap themselves.

Wire strippers aren’t as fun and will suck all the joy out of a bachelor party, but they’re much better for DIY projects.

Choosing a quality wire stripper is about finding one that is comfortable on your hands, strips wires without fraying them or pulling them apart, and get all the way through the insulation without extra pulling or second cuts.

They need to be able to handle multiple wire sizes since different gauges abound, and changing tools over and over is tiresome.

You can choose between those that are adjustable or those that have multiple pre-sets for quicker work.

Whether you’re dealing with the littlest lines or colossal cables, one of our five best wire strippers will cut them down to size.

IDEAL INDUSTRIES STRIPMASTER

Pro: Easy on hands

Con: Awkward in tight spaces

Reduced Fatigue: Unless you constantly pump your fists to strengthen them or have forearms like Popeye, grippin’ and strippin’ wires will wear your hands out with a quickness.

For old dogs who suffer from arthritis, this problem is compounded many times.

Rather than sucking down painkillers all day, investing in these wire strippers will reduce a lot of the strain.

The body of the Stripmaster requires 1/3 less pressure than most other strippers, so you can go longer and cut easier.

The head can take wires as large as 7/8″ and has a special holding mechanism that keeps smaller gauges centered in place.

They have some adjustment features, but the head is built with pre-sets to offer you the best of both worlds.

The only real problem is the side opening makes stripping in cramped quarters difficult, though it does offer excellent leverage.

The handles are fairly well padded, though if you have bony digits, you might want to slip a little extra rubber or silicone onto them.

KLEIN TOOLS KURVE

Pro: Reaches into small spaces

Con: Slick handles

Perfect Reach: Frankly, we’re not sure what to say besides, “It’s a Klein, why haven’t you bought it yet?”

The Kurve is largely considered the flagship of the Klein wire stripper family, though the same could be said about almost anything Klein creates.

If the curved handles aren’t for you, or you need a different size, Klein is really all you need to know.

These are great for getting into the tight spaces to clip, strip, pull, loop, and move wires already stuck into your wall with ease.

The tilted handle lets you get the leverage you need at just about any angle while retaining visibility to see what you are doing.

These can handle your standard 10-18 American Wire Gauge (AWG) sized solid wires as well as stranded wires between 12-20 AWG.

They’re built strictly for home use and not able to do much with larger wires or cables. They can shear screws, but not always well.

The handles are also a little on the slippery side, making a tight grip tough to accomplish.

IRWIN INDUSTRIAL TOOLS SELF-ADJUSTING

Pro: Affordable for self-adjusting

Con: Takes trial and error to use correctly

Best Bargain: Self-adjusting wire strippers are very hit or miss. Claims that they will never over or under-strip your wires are often exaggerated.

Such is not the case with these babies from Irwin.

Unlike pre-sets, you don’t have to hunt for the proper hole – we all know how troublesome it is when you get the wrong one – nor do you have to be concerned that it will chop up the copper in the wires.

The micro-adjustment capability helps you to get as close as you can to perfect.

Can handle wires between 10 and 24 AWG, though when you get below 20, expect to take some extra time finding the right setting. Even then, you’ll have some troubles.

These do suffer from some of the flaws that always plague self-adjusting strippers. Vinyl or nylon-coated wires will frustrate it.

The automatic stop is plastic and not great for going through lots and lots of wire since it tends to shift.

The crimpers can handle 10-22 AWG and ignition terminals between 7-9mm but expect to strain your hands, getting them to collapse.

To get the most out of these, you’ll need to learn a few tricks, so don’t expect to grab them and go to town.

Both Kronus and Neiko make a similar product that you might prefer. Try all three before you buy.

XCELITE SAS3210 SELF-ADJUSTING

Pro: Strips very small gauges

Con: Uncomfortable handle

Professional Grade: If you’re ready to get serious about self-adjusting wire strippers, then prepare to cough up nearly three times what the amateurs are paying.

That kick in the wallet is well worth it if you intend on taking on larger projects like rewiring a boat, a house, or your mad scientist laboratory.

These take wires between 10 and 32 AWG making them perfect for the tiniest projects. The grip is textured fiberglass, which gives you strength but very little comfort.

The ergonomic design helps with that, as well as reaching wires in difficult locations, but you’ll still need to take breaks when using it, so your hands don’t cramp into unusable claws.

It has interchangeable cassettes for stripping that help make your job smoother, and the cutting feature works quickly and easily.

Best of all, these can take on any and every kind of insulation all the way up to PVC and PTFE.

FLUKE NETWORKS CABLE STRIPPER

Pro: Compact

Con: Blade cannot be replaced

Cuts the Cord: The bright yellow wire stripper from fluke looks more like a really tacky cigar cutter rather than a decent tool.

The extremely compact design fits in your hand like a set of brass knuckles, which can make it just as useful for dealing with loud drunks after your workday is done.

This is built for dealing mostly with UTP/STP telephone and data cables, CAT5 ethernet and data cables, and coax. It can take some smaller wires but isn’t designed for too much delicacy.

The large, round finger hole and palpable build are for pulling heavy-duty insulation off of serious cords.

The blade depth is adjusted via a simple screw that allows you to get the perfect depth for cutting or just scoring without doing damage to shielding or conductors.

It can flip just as easily from stripping to slicing and works very well in ducts or crawlspaces when working on the fly.

The two drawbacks are the non-replaceable blade and the reinforced plastic construction.

Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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