Awesome gifts for the dedicated DIYer in your home
Cordless snow blower
Unless you have a driveway the length of a runway or the size of sports stadium, a cordless snow blower might be a fabulous alternative to a noisy, heavy, gas-powered blower. Advances in high-capacity lithium-ion battery technology and digital electronics, along with the advent of brushless motors, mean more large-scale power tools are cutting the power cord and ditching the fuel tank.
While not as powerful or durable as gas or electric models, cordless units are typically much lighter in weight, quieter to operate, start instantly and are compact and easy to store. Cordless machines called “snow throwers” are typically single-stage (they use an auger to discharge the snow) while those called “snow blowers” are usually two stage (use both an auger and impeller). You can expect to get from 45 to 60 minutes of run time.
Snow Joe has both 18″ ($458) and 20″ snow blowers powered by two 4Ah 24V batteries that clear snow up to 10″ deep. Greenworks has 20″ ($279) and 22″ snow throwers with either 40V, 60V or 80V 4AH batteries that clear snow up to a foot deep. You’ll also find snow blowers from Ego (egopowerplus.com) and Ryobi (www.ryobitools.com).
Sources: snowjoe.com; greenworkstools.ca
Snow Joe Snow Blower
Powered by two 4Ah 24V batteries, Snow Joe can clear snow up to 10" deep. Available in 18" and 20" versions.
Very Solid Lineup
The Milwaukee cordless combo kit includes a hammer drill/driver, impact driver, reciprocating saw, circular saw, grinder, two extended capacity batteries and a charger.
The King Canada 20V kit comes with a drill/driver, an impact driver, two batteries and a charger. This basic kit is good value for any woodworker or DIYer.
Small But Mighty
The lightweight design of Bosch’s drill/driver and impact driver kit offers a lot of bang for the buck, and provides powerful drivers that are very easy to handle.
A Quality Selection
Festool offers many kits, including this one with a cordless track saw, driver, two batteries, Systainer, blade, charger and more. It sells for $1,139 CAN.
Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, this smart lock even connects to Wi-Fi. It also has a built-in alarm and low-battery indicator.
Also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, this smart lock connects to Wi-Fi as well. It features SmartKey Security technology, further protecting you against break-ins.
Ego Nexus Power Station
Delivering 1,680 watt-hours of power, the Ego Nexus Power Station is one powerful tool.
DeWALT Power Station
Converting the power from four 20V MAX batteries, the DeWALT Power Station delivers 960 watt-hours of power.
Power tool combo kit
You can’t go wrong giving your favourite handy person a power tool combo kit – that is, unless you don’t want to earn their undying affection. It’s the gift they’ll keep on using. There are combo kits for every skill level, from the person who just likes to tinker around the home to the fanatical hobbyist or DIYer. The advantage of a combo kit is that it’s much more economical than buying tools separately. Don’t choose a kit based solely on price, though. It’s performance, durability and features that count.
Combo kits can be had with two to 10 tools and in both 12V and 18V (20V max) formats. There are six key differences between tools that run on 12V versus 18V batteries. Tools rated 12V tend to be lighter in weight, more compact and cost less. Tools rated 18V have more power, deliver more torque and have a longer run-time before the batteries need to be recharged.
Kits with two to four tools are a good choice for those who aren’t likely to undertake large-scale projects or major renovations. Two-piece kits usually consist of a drill/driver and impact driver. Four-tool kits often have a drill/driver, impact driver, circular saw and reciprocating saw, though some kits contain a work light in place of one of the saws. There are also kits designed for specialty tradespeople, such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters and cabinet installers. While all combo kits come with a battery charger, some will have only one battery. Once that battery runs out of power, there will be downtime while the battery recharges – an inconvenience for some, but not everyone. Larger kits with 10 or 12 tools may contain specialty tools, such as a right-angle drill, impact wrench or cut-off/grinder, that may be rarely used.
All the major brands have combo kits. The King Canada 20V kit (#8020L/8022LK) comes with a 1.5Ah battery, quick battery charger, a two-year warranty and can usually be found on sale for around $150 ($75 per tool). The Bosch 12V Max kit (#CLPK22-120) comes with two 2Ah batteries, a one-year warranty and can be had on sale for around $100 ($50 per tool). The more extensive six-tool Milwaukee M18 kit (#2696-26) has two 3Ah batteries, a five-year warranty and costs $529 (or $88 per tool). Festool has a range of combo kits including a selection of drill/drivers, track saws, jigsaws, batteries, blades and more.
Sources: kingcanada.com; boschtools.com; festoolcanada.com; milwaukeetool.ca
Smart house lock
According to Statistics Canada, 88% of Canadians own a smartphone. So, buying someone a smart device to use with their smartphone isn’t such a bad idea. Given our penchant for security and safety, a smart digital house lock makes a unique gift.
Smart locks are convenient, secure and highly configurable with no keys to lose. You can give out digital “lock code” keys to family members, guests and even service providers, change the keys at a moment’s notice, and keep a record of everyone’s comings and goings. Just in case you mislay your smartphone, or the battery powers out, most smart locks can also be opened from a numeric keypad or with a physical key. And you don’t need to be an engineer to install one of these devices; it’s well within the skill set of the average DIYer.
They’re available for Bluetooth-only, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and Zigbee technologies. You can also get locks that work with your favourite voice assistant as well, such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.
There are quite a few models on the market. The Schlage Encode and the Weiser Halo are both compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant and have built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to your front door from just about anywhere in the world. The Schlage Encode also has a built-in alarm and a low-battery indicator that warns you ahead of time when the internal battery needs to be replaced. The Weiser Halo features SmartKey Security technology that prevents advanced break-in techniques. Both models come in a couple of different styles and finishes, and retail for just under $300.
Sources: schlage.com; ca.weiserlock.com
Portable power station
Also called “battery-powered inverter generators,” these are a good choice when you need occasional power around the home or cottage, on camping trips, at the beach, on the job site or for short-duration power outages. They’re compact, portable and quiet, and output power for both AC and DC appliances. And while they don’t deliver as much power and have shorter run-times than petroleum-powered generators, they can be used safely in confined spaces.
There are both modified and pure sine wave inverters. A major difference between the two is that pure sine wave inverters will let variable-speed motors run cooler and more efficiently and are less likely to interfere with more sophisticated electronic equipment such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and LED lighting. You’ll get longer run time from any of these inverters using batteries with more amp hours. For comparison purposes, if an inverter delivers 1,600 watt-hours of power and you use it to power a laptop that consumes 50 watts per hour, you could run the laptop for 32 hours. For an 800-watt microwave oven you could run it continuously for two hours. Better yet, you could brew around 18,000 cups of coffee.
For the DIYer who has already invested in the DeWALT power tool platform, there is the modified sine wave output DeWALT 1800-Watt Portable Power Station (#DCB1800B). It runs on four 20V MAX batteries (from 3Ah to 12Ah) and provides continuous power output of 1800W with a peak output of 3600W. It features a temperature-controlled cooling fan, has a single 15A 120V outlet and also serves as a battery charger. With four 12Ah batteries installed, it delivers 960 watt-hours of power. $529
Sources: dewalt.ca; egopowerplus.com
MX Fuel Carry-On
Anyone who’s big on the Milwaukee power tool platform will have to wait until early 2021 for the new MXF002, a pure sine wave inverter that runs on one or two of the new MX FUEL batteries. Like the DeWALT power station, it will deliver 3600W of peak and 1800W of continuous power. It has two 15A 120V outlets. milwaukeetool.ca
Carl Duguay - [email protected]
Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.