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Work Smarter, Not Harder, With Smart Tools Like These

I’m a pretty handy guy, but two things above all else limit my true DIY potential: A lack of free time and a lack of patience. If I had hours to while away on home improvement projects or a furniture build, I’d gladly put in many a long afternoon carefully planning out my project, sourcing the tools and materials with care, measuring once, twice, and three times, moving slowly through each step of the process, and generally enjoying both the time spent at work as well as the anticipation of a job well done.

But I don’t have that kind of time, and again, being frank, I’m pretty impatient. So when I need to fix a faulty light switch, repair a hole in the drywall (kids …), or hang a new door, it’s measure once, good enough, start sawing and hammering and just get it done! Which is not the smartest approach. So I’ve enlisted some smart tools to help protect my DIY projects from myself.

Semi-kidding aside, with a good suite of smart tools, even the most amateur handyman can make perfectly adequate home repairs, undertake varied building projects, and generally DIY better. Smart tools can remove the guesswork that, when it goes wrong, can turn that little do it yourself repair project into a major problem that requires professional assistance. Plus, they just speed things up, and that’s enough for me. In fact, enough talk, let’s get to the tools!

Smart Measuring Tools

If you measure wrong at the start, the whole project is doomed to failure. Ditch the old school analog measuring tapes and rulers, then get two smart devices: the Plott Cubit Virtual Reality Measuring Tool and PIE by Bagel Labs smart tape measure.

Plott Cubit Virtual Reality Measuring Tool Lifestyle
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The former is a measurement tool perfect for planning out wall hangings, room layout, cabinetry projects, and anything else where there will be a highly visual element. Cubit uses lasers, a roller wheel, and input from an AR (augmented reality) app on your phone to make highly precise measurements, helping you pinpoint exactly where to hang that picture, align that carpet, or start sawing through your lumber.

The PIE by Bagel Labs smart tape measure was actually designed as a fitness and weight loss tool, helping users to measure their stomachs to within 1 mm accuracy and use a paired app to calculate and track body fat. But that same accuracy is amazingly useful when you need to measure circular or irregularly shaped objects. You can wrap the tape measure around the object in question, from a drainpipe to a banister, cinch the tape tight, then use the LED screen to note precise measurements.

Digital Level  

Here’s the thing about using a level: the person using it? It’s a person. Humans make mistakes, see. So even if it looks to you like that bubble floating there in the tube of your old spirit level is centered, you might be off a degree or two. And in some projects, that’s a sizable error.

Shefio Digital Magnetic Level 1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Shefio Digital Magnetic Level has two bubble vials, but you won’t use them. Instead, rely on its large LCD display that tells you your measurements and trust the device to be accurate to within 0.1 degrees. The level can also tell you when you’ve hit level (or 90º) with an audio indicator, helpful especially when you’re working alone and can’t move to check the screen.

Digital Caliper

Sorry, ruler, you’re no longer needed here. Not when a $16 digital caliper can create measurements accurate to within 0.001 inches. (AKA 0.02mm.) For any object six inches or under in size, this tool can tell you the exact size. That’s helpful for basic things like measuring a screw you need to buy more of at the hardware store but also great for detail work like repairing electronics or making charming little furniture.

Digital Caliper closeup
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Bluetooth-Enable Saw

For starters, to clear the air, the term “sawzall” (thought of and said as “saws all”) is used generally for reciprocating saws all the time, but it’s not actually a term at all, it’s a copyrighted name held by toolmaker Milwaukee. The good news is that that’s the brand we’re talking about today. The Bluetooth-enabled Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall works with Milwaukee’s One-Key app, which allows you to customize the way the saw works.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall lifestyle

You can enter in the material you’re cutting and set the ideal blade speed for the project, you can program slower blade speeds at the start of the cut to allow for smoother, safer entry into the materials, and you can set the saw to stop cutting as soon as it detects that it has exited a material. The result is cutting that’s more efficient, safer, and that reduces wear on the tool and keeps it working better longer.

Self-Leveling Laser

Laser beams are about as perfectly straight as anything to be found anywhere in the universe, but if the laser you’re using as your guide when planning a tile floor, marking your spots for molding along the ceiling, or the holes you’re drilling to hang those pictures is off-kilter based on human error, then there’s trouble ahead. The Tavool Self-Leveling Laser Level can create a beam visible for 50 feet even in normal light conditions, and it’s a beam you can trust to be perfectly aligned because the tool corrects itself. The laser can project vertically, horizontally, or in a cross pattern.

Tavool Self-Leveling Laser Level lifestyle
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Smart Wall Scanner

Your stud finder better be ready to collect some dust. The Walabot DIY Plus Wall Scanner can find and identify wooden and metal studs, electrical wires, water pipes, and can even locate pests behind the drywall. It allows for superbly accurate centerline stud finding, critical when you’re about to affix some heavy hardware to the walls, but even more of note, it ensures you will never cut through a hot wire or a water pipe, both of which can be massive problems. (Actually, it doesn’t ensure you won’t do that, it just removes any excuse you have if you do.)

Walabot DIY Plus Wall Scanner lifestyle
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The compact, easy-to-use Walabot pairs with an Android app (no iOS compatibility yet) and reveals everything going on behind that wall so don’t have to guess at it … or make a mess of things.

Bluetooth Hearing Protection

If you’re working with loud power tools or in an environment with lots of noise caused by vehicles, construction, and so forth, you’re not working smart if you’re not protecting your ears. Extended exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing damage, and a noisy vacuum is about that loud, so your chainsaw or lawnmower? Yeah, those can hurt your ears.

3M WorkTunes Safety Hearing Protector lifestyle
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Protect your hearing with a great hearing protector that can connect to your phone and stream music and podcasts, and that has a built-in mic for taking calls. The 3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector means seamless connection to media or calls without the need to expose your ears to the din of the worksite or your own mower or hobbyist’s power tools.

Steven John
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
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