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Gift of Gadgets

Do-it-yourselfers give their time and talents all year long. When it comes to giving back, there's no better time in home improvement history than the present.

Advances in technology continue to deliver state-of-the-art tools and gadgets at prices more affordable than ever. Innovations range from something as simple as a knuckle-saving socket set to a waterproof micro inspection camera, for under $200.

This year's On The House DIY Gift Guide could easily have rivaled "War and Peace." With space limitations we offer our Cliff Notes version. Happy Christmas shopping!

Black & Decker VPX Inflator

Black & Decker scores this year with its nifty new portable mini inflator, slightly larger than a small portable radio. Powered by one 7V lithium-ion battery (sold separately), the VPX Inflator is perfect for pumping up wheelbarrow tires, bicycle tires, sports and exercise balls and pool toys.

It includes on-board storage for a hose, gauge, needle, raft nozzle and presta valve adapter.

Suggested retail: About $30. Visit www.blackanddecker.com.

Grip-Tite Super Sockets

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? The socket wrench has been around for years — and busting knuckles just as long. Many sockets are known as knuckle-busters because they can round off the nut or bolt, which causes the wrench to slip. Thanks to Grip-Tite Super Socket sets, there can be no more busted knuckles. Grip-Tite Sockets use Advanced Camming Technology, which consists of six cams that expand over and onto the bolt or nut and gently grab it — enough to hold it in place but light enough to easily remove the bolt or nut by hand. They're guaranteed never to round out a nut or bolt.

Suggested retail: $24.99 for a 7-piece set and $64.99 for a 17-piece set. Visit www.mygriptite.com.

Black & Decker 3.6-Volt Cordless Power Scissors

We can remember how thrilled our mom was when we presented her with a pair of electric scissors for Christmas many years ago. Those scissors must have cut literally miles of fabric.

Now, the same idea is available for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to make cutting through building materials a breeze. Black and Decker's Cordless Power Scissors make cutting through a variety of materials fast and easy. You can use them to cut through cardboard, plastic, tarps, canvas, vinyl flooring, paper, window screening and, oh yes, fabric. The Power Scissors are light and have a soft, ergonomically designed grip.

Suggested retail: Just under $20.

SquareOne Tape Measure & Level with Writing Surface

No respectable do-it-yourselfer would be caught dead without a retractable tape measure, a square, a level, a pencil and something to write on.

Now, the investment, clutter and organization associated with these tools have been simplified thanks to the folks at Generation Tools. Their new SquareONE is an all-in-one measuring system that features a tape measure, a square, a level, a pencil (including an on-board holder and sharpener) and an erasable surface onto which one can jot down measurements.

SquareONE comes in five full-size models (10', 12', 16', 18', and 25') and, though slightly larger than conventional retractable metal tape measures, appears to be lighter. In addition to the standard issue belt clip, SquareONE has a tough rubber coating for easy gripping and durability.

Suggested retail: $7.99 for the 10' model to $19.99 for the 25' model. For more information, visit www.generationtools.com.

Rigid SeaSnake Micro Inspection Camera

While this one might first appear to be a tool designed more for a pro than a DIYer, you might just be surprised how useful it can be when you discover some of its common uses. Small cameras have been used for many years by pros inspecting hard-to-access spaces like sewers and chimneys.

Rigid Tool Company brings that same technology to mainstream use with its SeaSnake Micro Inspection Camera — a waterproof camera, light, cable and LCD monitor. Some of the reported uses include finding electrical wires, plumbing pipes and gas lines in closed walls and attics; exploring the inside of a VCR; checking air ducts for debris; checking sink connections in a crowded sink space, and checking the grinding lugs on a garbage disposer.

Suggested retail: Under $200.00 For more information visit www.rigid.com.


For more home improvement tips and information visit our Web site at www.onthehouse.com.

Gift of Gadgets