General Purpose Tools

Cool Tools 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Best Tools $10 or less


Best inexpensive gift tools

The editors of Cool Tools have curated a number of gift suggestions selected from the pages of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities (which itself makes a great gift), and from the website. This week: tools for $10 or less.

“I’ve owned the earlier model of Panasonic’s nose hair and ear hair trimmer ($10) for over ten years, and it still works perfectly. I’ve never had the sharpen the blades.”– Mark Frauenfelder

“After losing two (expensive) Fisher Bullet Space Pens, I stumbled across their significantly less expensive Stowaway ($10). They’re small, available in three styles, with or without a clip on the cap, and with a stylus on the opposite end of the tip. Three colors, too: black, red and blue.” — Eric Rosenberg

“The Kuru Toga ($5) is a self-sharpening mechanical pencil that solves a problem that’s inherent with normal mechanical pencils. After just a couple of lines of writing with a typical mechanical pencil, the lead becomes a blunt irregular chisel shape, leading to clumsier and more smeary writing. Experienced pencil users try to counteract this by rotating their pencil every few words, a tactic that works very imperfectly.” — Jonathan Coupe

“The 2.5-inch Teeny Turner fits easily in a pocket; it’s made of aircraft alloy shank, has a magnetic bit holder and the included bits (Phillips 00, Phillips 0, Torx 5,6 & 8, Flat 2mm and 3mm) are generally smaller and much easier to change out than my Craftsman.” — Chris Jacobs

“I bought this cheap LED headlamp ($8) in 2015 and I use it a lot: walks at night, barbecuing, reading, fixing stuff, going under the crawl space and attic. It’s basically a flashlight that you don’t have to hold. It’s comfortable and lightweight enough that it doesn’t bother me when I wear it for extended periods. It’s got plenty of light on the brightest setting.” — Mark Frauenfelder

“This is the tool kit ($8) I reach for first whenever I need to take apart some piece of consumer electronics. It has a handle, a shaft extender, tweezers, and 42 different driver bits, including ones for torx, hex, flathead, cross, triangle, star, and circle screws.” — MF

“Natural peanut butter is delicious, but the initial stirring causes a mess. The minute you put in a spatula, the oil on top overflows everywhere. Instead, try this stirrer integrated into a screw-on lid ($10). With a few quick turns, the peanut butter is completely mixed with zero spillage.” — Sessalee Hensley

“Simple games are the best. Tangrams are an old puzzle based on a set of elemental shapes that can be arranged in thousands of different patterns. To recreate a given picture is challenging, yet not too daunting even for kids. Playing gently encourages lateral thinking. It exercises a geometrical logic, rather than words or numbers. The puzzles are almost like peanuts; you keep wanting just one more.” — KK

“Leave it to the Japanese to create a brush pen. This pocketable brush pen with 2 refills ($8) has a super fine brush tip of actual bristles, perfect for tiny Kanji characters, or of course, doodling in your journal, or sketching in your Moleskine.” — KK

“This yellow plastic caliper ($8) is lightweight, reasonably durable (I lose it before it wears out) and pocket-friendly (only 4 inches long). I use it frequently during house or auto repairs to ensure the right size replacement part (such as nuts and bolts, or o-rings and sealing washers) comes home with me from the store or junkyard. I find this easier, quicker, and more accurate in many cases than using a small rule.” — Ken Johnson

Want more? Check out our 2017 Gift Guide picks, as well as our 2016 Gift Guide, 2015 Gift Guide, 2014 Gift Guide and our 2103 Gift Guide