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Changing the landscape of home lawn care

Tested: Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment

The Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment ($149-$399) lineup is Lowe’s new family of cordless yard care products. With two lawnmowers, a string trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower, pole saw and chainsaw available at launch at affordable price points, their comprehensive collection seems aimed at homeowners who are ready to wholeheartedly embrace the cordless revolution. With a full selection charged, ready and waiting just outside of Jacksonville, we ditched our parkas and went to work.

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Portable, with Power to Spare

No Strings Attached: Best Cordless Power Tool Combo Kits

We tackled a variety of chores, from the simplest deck demolition to re-framing the interior of a house, to help you choose the right path for your cordless cash. Here are our picks for the cordless power tool kits — including a drill/driver of some sort, a circular saw and a reciprocating saw — that do it best, along with notes on each individual tool.

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Righty-tighty

Tested: DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Screwdriver

Though it was a “must-have” item when it hit the market decades ago, the cordless screwdriver’s charms wound down faster than the AA batteries stacked in its tail. To maintain shelf space on impulse item peg-boards, tool manufacturers did what they do best: they added power, shed weight and extended run times. While noble in effort, their improvements just weren’t reason enough for tradesmen to sacrifice space in their tool bags…until now. To see if the DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Screwdriver ($89) delivers the right balance of intuitive tech and commonplace comfort, we took it out for an involved spin.

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The right tools for any of his many jobs

12 Guys of Christmas: The Do-It-Yourselfer

Handyman, craftsman, mister-fix-it, Dad. Call him what you like, but the Do-It-Yourselfer on your list gives his all for you, no matter the task. Be honest: that beautiful new deck that causes envy in the eyes of all your friends would’ve been a creaking pile of splinters were it not for him, and you’d probably be sharing space with Fido out in the yard — in the K9 condo he designed and built no less — had he not stepped in to save your recent en suite experiment. Like most men of his ilk, your handyman rarely receives anything more than a hot coffee to start his day and a cold brew to finish it, which is fine by him. Isn’t it about time you gave him something more? Here are a few gift ideas that should ensure your calls for help continue to get answered.

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More than just a hammer

10 Best Tools for the Home Auto Mechanic

You brought your ’69 Camaro back from the dead, and now you’re finally brave enough to wrangle with your wife’s very modern automobile. Of course you’ve got the basic home mechanic’s tool kit: end wrenches, assorted screwdrivers, a hammer or two, various pliers, a roll of duct tape and a beer fridge. But when it comes to getting a dirty job done, you’ll need a bit more than your resolve and the rudimentary stuff. It’s time to modernize and upgrade.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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Not a buzzkill among them

Trimming the Hedges: Best Home Landscaping Tools

One of the “luxuries” of being a home owner is having a yard — having the space to grill, garden, and maybe even build a moat (it is your castle, after all). Sadly, that yard is just waiting for you to turn your back so it can start creeping and growing past its carefully manicured boundaries. You need an arsenal to fight back; luckily, the weapons are a lot of fun, one of the many stress-relieving, get-it-done perks of being a man. Below are just the tools to help your yard from turning into a Discovery Channel episode of “Life after People”.

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Time to get hammered

Nailed It: 5 Best Hammers

Of all the tools in a man’s workshop, his hammer is perhaps the most personal. Chances are you still have your first forged striker, but we’ll forgive you an upgrade; it really is time. You’d be surprised how much hammer tech has come, but in the end, it’s still all about hitting the nail on the head. Here are five of our favorites for beginners to the most hardened steel swingers out there — whether you loop it, or let it hang from a belt is entirely up to you.

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Honey-hued for Honey-do's

Tested: Gladiator Garageworks 48-inch Adjustable Workbench

A workbench is a simple structure. Even the best of them don’t need much to be effective: sturdy legs and a solid top are the only absolutes. It helps if it’s level too, but shims and sugar packets have long served man well in this regard. So why would any handyman worth his circular saw ever dream of buying one? Gladiator Garageworks believes they have the answer. We recently put their 48-inch bamboo-topped adjustable model ($500) together — and to the test.

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I, Growbot

Breakdown: RoboReel

You know those videos from the 50s promising a future of flying cars and robo-butlers by the year 2010? Well say hello to what we’ve managed to conjure up in those 60 years: the RoboReel ($649). We break down the “water” iteration of this spherical helper.

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The Tale of the Tape

Stanley PowerLock: An Icon Turns 50

Since 1963, we’ve enjoyed six generations of the Corvette and five versions of the Mustang. Nine different Presidents have called the White House home and we have listened to vinyl give way to tape, CDs and eventually the digital download. We’ve also had 50 years of the Stanley PowerLock tape measure, a product that has clearly stood the test of time and continues to enjoy its reign at the top.

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Bank Tank

Husqvarna 1830EXLT Track Drive Snow Blower

Nature’s been an insufferable ______ as of late. Get in some haymakers of your own in the final round this year and be ready before the bell next season with the Husqvarna 1830EXLT ($2,500) 414cc Track Drive Hydrostatic Snow Blower.

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Better, faster, stronger

Grip-N-Go: 5 Best Multi-Tools

You’re not the guy who has a frequent buyer card at Sears, so you can’t always find the perfect tool in your less-than-organized garage. Perhaps a versatile multi-tool would be your best ally. Multi-tools have been around for twenty years, and they’re not going away anytime soon. Today’s multi-tools are better than ever, with innovative designs that are only limited by the imagination. If you’re wondering what all-around multi-tool to purchase, we have five of the best full-sized multi-tools on the market today.

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Fix-ated

USAG 3LV 3 Compartment Tool Box

Know an aesthete who dabbles in handy work? Italian company USAG has been in the tool biz since 1926, and their USAG 3LV 3 Compartment Tool Box ($127) has all the durable chops you’d expect from, well, a metal box.

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Drill baby drill

5 Best 12-Volt Cordless Drills

The cordless drill is the most useful tool in any man’s bag. Untethered power and portability combined with the ability to go from drill to drive in mere seconds make it the go-to grab for most projects around the house. While the 18V and 20V bit-twisters of the world have homes on the belts of contractors and semi-pro weekend warriors alike, breaking out the big guns just to hang a picture or tighten some screws is well, overkill — plus every now and then things can get a little tight. Whether you’re just beginning your collection or adding to the fleet, the torque and twist-time offered by today’s 12V versions rivals many of their corded counterparts, minus the heft; that can often be the difference between completing a job and cursing til the cows come home.

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Not-so-large, but in charge

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator

As mother nature continues to channel Tony Danza — reminding us of who’s the boss of this marble — on an increasing basis, proper emergency preparedness is more important than ever. The Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator is a breadbox-sized lifeline for powering both critical gadgets like lights and radios along with all of the touchscreen comforts of an upper middle class home.

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Stop cutting corners

Festool CMS Router Table

With over 300 patents and almost ninety years of experience under their belts, the toolmakers at Festool have a reputation for Über-engineered innovations for the discerning craftsman. The Festool CMS Router Table ($1,200+) is their latest piece of all-aluminum handiwork for cabinetmakers looking to soften some edges without cutting any corners. Seamless integration of either…

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Coils to spoil

Dramm ColorStorm Hoses

Feeling hosed by your current big box hose? Dramm ColorStorm Hoses ($53) are the Rolls Royces of the home watering world, built with professional nurseries in mind. Made in the U.S.A from molded EPDM rubber and crush-proof nickel-plated couplings, they’re designed to resist kinking and maintain flexibility even in temperatures as low as -25 degrees…

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12 gifts for the handyman

12 Guys of Christmas: The Do-It-Yourselfer

You lean on him all year-round to assist, assemble and install everything from kitchen cabinetry to those amazing Patagonian rosewood floors you love so much. He tirelessly tackles the disparate demands of Honey-Do lists and familial fixes without so much as a peep. And yet, of all the men featured in our 12 Guys of…

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Stay on the straight and narrow

Black & Decker EasyEdge Powered Paint Edger

If you’ve ever tried to free-hand paint a straight edge after a four-shot Americano, you’ve most likely failed. But even without the caffeine hit, you know it’s no easy task; painter’s tape sometimes makes things even worse. With the Black & Decker EasyEdge Powered Paint Edger ($35), your molding, windows and door edges will be…

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Bug-out-Baton

The Cell Survival Kit

If we hear one more story about an impending zombie apocalypse, we’re packing up our stuff and humping it to the upper reaches of Canada. Our supplies? A crapload of MREs, an accompanying supply of Pepto, several crates of whisky and The Cell Machined Survival Kit ($75+). The minds behind this baton-like kit are looking…

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A sapling's worst nightmare

Bahco Swedish Brush Axe

Standing in your front yard with a severe case of bed head while wearing stained overalls and whacking away at your rather overgrown landscaping with a machete just might scare the neighbors. Clean yourself up and then break out the rather benign-looking but highly effective Bahco Swedish Brush Axe ($54). Designed to clear both brush…

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Be the fall guy

Fiskars Leaf Rake

Though the thought of jumping in a pile of leaves brings back fond childhood memories, the adult reality is that raking is a royal pain. Not too many technological advancements have been bestowed upon the humble garden rake (it’s not even exciting enough for witches to ride), but the Fiskars Leaf Rake ($25) has the…

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Sweatshop Chic

Gant Rugger Denim Apron

You’re a man who likes to work around the house, taking on everything from home repair and tinkering under the hood to even more personal projects like building your own furniture once in a while. Pat yourself on the back for your self-sufficient ways. Then, use the moment of reflection to understand just how much…

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Fire Distinguishers

Fire Extinguishing Device By Tusch und Egon

From time to time we like to check in on what’s going on across the pond. The Queendom, if you will, never disappoints us with its take on art and design — a skew that can seem a bit wonky to our Yankee eyes. The Fire Extinguishing Device (~$123) from Tusch und Egon (sounds German,…

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Clean up like a, well, you know

Grime Boss Hand Wipes

Whether it’s installing brake pads or inhaling barbecue ribs, things we love involve messes. And until there’s a sink or shower in every single garage, garden or BBQ shack in the country, we’re left to our own devices to get clean. Grime Boss Hand Wipes ($20+) work hard to get you (at least somewhat) presentable….

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That's sir mix-a-lot to you

Kenwood Cooking Chef

Previously only sold abroad, the Kenwood Cooking Chef ($2,000) has finally whirled its way stateside. This culinary version of the Jetsons’ Rosie one-ups the traditional stand mixer by not only whisking, hooking and mixing (at variable speeds), but by heating and cooking as well. A safe, energy efficient induction cooking plate attached to the Cooking…

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Survivalist Bedfellows

TNT Emergency Survival Tool

Sitting Bull used his hands, your grandfather used a crowbar, and if you use either of those items today you’re being silly. Appreciation of the past doesn’t mean we need to suffer its inefficiencies. When seconds count, lives are at stake, or a nasty camp job needs an ass-kickin, the TNT Emergency Survival Tool ($215+)…

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The Nest is yet to come

Nest 2.0

The most innovative thermostat not on the USS Enterprise is now 20% thinner and encased by a premium solid stainless steel ring — designed to reflect the wall colors around it. The Nest 2.0′s ($249) display also ditches the old sensor grill for a smooth lens. Those obvious cosmetic changes are nothing compared to the…

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The ultimate squirrel blaster

Briggs & Stratton Amplifi

Dribbling water pressure and kinked garden hoses can make outdoor chores as sluggish as a back-ordered iPhone 5. Fortunately, the Briggs & Stratton Amplifi Hose Powering and Storage System ($200) changes the way you clean and water, providing an all-in-one hose, maintenance-free amplifying pump, multi-spray wand and storage container in one portable, compact unit. The…

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TSA might have an issue with it

Worx SD Semi-Automatic Power Screwdriver

Studies show that we spend between 16 and 31 minutes a day (that’s between one and two years over a lifespan) searching for things like keys, remote controls, eyeglasses, dry shotgun shells and clean underwear. Pretty depressing, eh? The Worx SD Semi-Automatic Power Screwdriver ($50) aims to chop off a few minutes by providing a…