Schlage Keypad Deadbolt

I have had this lock on my front door for three years. The advantages are numerous: one less key on the key ring, illuminated keypad, never lock myself out, easy to give the code to relatives, friends, dog walkers or anyone needing access to your house without you present. But, most importantly, when my wife has to run back in the house to get one last thing, I don’t have to turn the car off so she can use my key.

When the 9-volt battery start to go the keypad blinks, so you don’t end up getting locked out with a dead battery. (It will also accept a key).

-- Steve Haslet  

Schlage Camelot Keypad Deadbolt

Available from Amazon

Kwikset Smartkey

I installed this lockset system on my last property, and love it so much, I’ll never use another. You can re-key an entire house literally as fast as you can walk from door to door! For landlords, this is dream: a tenant moves out, you “change the locks” and the next folks feel secure because they have a new key. The system works with both knobs and deadbolts, so there’s only a single key to the entire house. You pay a bit more up front, but you never have to change the hardware or call a locksmith for an expensive house call!

To re-key, you put in the existing key and give it a quarter-turn. Then, stick the special Kwikset Smart Key tool into the little hole next to the lock’s keyhole. Remove the first key and stick in the new key, remove the tool, and you’re golden! You have to have the working key to re-key, so security is maintained.

Here’s a hint: When you buy a quantity of these locksets, be sure that the lock serial numbers on top of the box DO NOT match. You pick a key from one of the sets, and have dupes made from that. Match the rest of the sets to this key. File the rest away — that way, you have your next master key ready when you want to change the locks.

-- Doug Barnard  

Kwikset Smart Security System
Juno Entry Knob and Single Cylinder Deadbolt

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Kwikset

Metal Weather-Stripping

Unlike the plastic, foam or rubber weather-stripping one mostly finds at the big box stores, metal weather-stripping lasts for decades and truly keeps out the wind and weather. I live in NJ about 5 miles from the ocean and we encounter typical northeastern freezing-to-steamy yearly variations. Very nearly every old (80-100 years) house I know of in my town has some of this installed on the doors or windows (that haven’t been ripped out since in a hasty renovation). I recommend this specifically for retrofitting and sealing old homes’ doors & windows to keep out drafts & winds. Even an old drafty window can keep the rain & snow out, but the air infiltration is tougher to seal against. These weather strips do this every bit as well as newer plastic strips, but last longer and add the advantage of smoothing out the travel of the sash as compared to the wood-wood sliding surfaces of old sash windows. I’ve seen metal weather-stripping described as “carpenter’s weather strip” because it does require someone with some skills & tools to install, but an investment in a day’s effort and a few dollars’ worth of materials has allowed me to refit & tune up 100 year-old sash windows, inswinging casement attic windows, and doors that have clearly already outlasted those with new, more expensive vinyl stuff. I obtain mine straight from a manufacturer in Mt. Vernon, NY (est. in 1898!). They offer a vast selection in zinc, bronze and brass for all types of doors and windows. I usually choose zinc because it’s less expensive and the old stuff I see around town is zinc also, so I figure it must have lasted some time already.

-- Michael Barrett  

Metal Weather-Stripping
Free catalogue available from Accurate Metal Strip Co. Inc.

Or call (800) 536-6043

Combi-Bolt Sliding Bolt Lock

The Combi-Bolt is a traditional sliding bolt, but it has a 4-dial, 10,000 number possible combination lock for keyless security. I used to have a Hasp and padlock on my backyard shed and had to cut the padlock off more than once because one of my kids lost the key. I’ve now had this lock on my shed for over a year and I love it. I keep my garden tools, the dog toys, basketballs and even a spare house key in my shed, and I no longer have to worry about my kids losing yet another key or myself having to destroy another padlock! Everyone has access when they need it and if for some reason I want to change the combination, it’s easy to do. It’s constructed of solid metal and has held up well over our snowy, rainy, windy winter and works just as well as it did the day I installed it. It also came with “one way” screws so that once it’s installed, you’d have a tough time getting them out (luckily I positioned it correctly the first time). You can even use this lock as a child safety device to keep the kids out of the cupboards in your home or workshop.

-- Mary Freeorn  

Comi-Bolt Sliding Bolt Lock
Manufactured by Combi-Bolt

Available from Amazon

Touch n’ Hold

If you have a storm door or screen door, you probably have a pneumatic device that closes it. And the device has a little washer thing that will hold the door open if you put down your bags, and the baby, and let the dog go free while you fiddle it down the bar, so it can jam against the piston. It’s a hassle.

The Touch n’ Hold is a device that makes this a happier moment. The Touch n’ Hold door closer lets you set the door open with a simple tap of your toe or elbow. Then once you’ve got all your stuff inside, just nudge the door (not the thing) open a little more and it will go back into closing mode.

I use it every day, and it always makes me think of Cool Tools.

-- Thomas T. Ballantine  

Touch n’ Hold

Available from Amazon

Additional colors available from Touch 'n Hold