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Machine Design

6 Smart Tools for DIY Projects

George Mallory was asked, “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" He responded, “Because it’s there." Oftentimes, when new technology comes out, people may wonder, “Why does this exist?” or “Who would use such a thing?” For those who would reply with Mallory’s answer, here is a list of gifts that might be right up your alley.


By Black & Decker

If you like tools with all the bells and whistles for DIY home projects, the Smartech connected battery might be for you. Have you ever lost a battery or had a cordless tool stolen? In my past experience on a construction team, we’d hear about this almost once a year. Once kids reach a certain age, parents also find that tools may disappear quite often. How do you get people to ask your permission before taking your tools? Black & Decker’s Smartech gives you the ability to pick up your phone and disable the batteries to all your tools.



Remember, the new technology is Bluetooth-connected. So once outside of Bluetooth range, users are not able to lock a battery or locate the Smartech battery by triggering it to emit a sound. Still, it’s great if it’s in your kid’s car, lost on a small job, or you are on a big job with many workers and you want to make sure you get your batteries back—not some battery that’s older or more damaged.

Black & Decker’s technology and app (Android and iOS) also let users see the charge on multiple batteries. Say you have two batteries charging and one is almost fully charged, while the other is only half-charged. In such a scenario, a monitoring feature would certainly be handy. SmarTech also added a USB to the battery to make sure that your cellphone, tablet, or laptop are able to charge anywhere.

Tool Connect

By DeWalt

Because DeWalt is a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, it might be safe to assume that some of the same features will be available with DeWalt tools. However, a news release about DeWalt’s Tool Connect offers a couple features I didn’t see on the Black & Decker site. According to, DeWalt monitoring offers temperature notifications in case the battery get too hot. While both this tool and SmarTech enable and disable the battery pack, the DeWalt tool reportedly has a notification that can alarm the user if a battery goes outside of Bluetooth range.

Tool ConnectTool Connect


One Key

By Milwaukee    

Many drills on the market have speed and torque settings. The Milwaukee One Key is connected to the drill, not the battery. As a result, users can control the speed and torque with their phones. At first, this might sound inconvenient. Why would you reach for your phone when there is an adjustment right on the drill in your hand? One reason is, “because it’s there.” Another reason is there is a preloaded library in the app that includes common fasteners. If you don’t know the torque or speed to use on a wood screw or a concrete anchor, the app will set the drill automatically. According to the company, the end result is reduced fastener stripping, breaking, and material damage. I think it’s just fun to play with.

One KeyOne Key


Phone Works

By Ryobi

As phones become more popular and increasingly contain expensive sensors, more companies are using them in coordination with tools. Ryobi Phone Works are a group of tools that attach to your phone to use its hardware and software to add features without adding cost. Users can take pictures, write notes, or even e-mail information without having to have the features on the device itself, reducing the cost of the devices. These phone accessories can make a phone measure distance and moisture, project a laser for alignment, act as a stud finder, and more.

Phone WorksPhone Works



By Black & Decker

Many tools involve a battery, motor, and the tool itself. While it is easy to see why having an interchangeable battery is handy, how often is the same true of an interchangeable tool? Oftentimes, the motor is the longest-lasting part of the tool. By having multiple tools fit onto a single motor, the Matrix Quick Connect System can reduce the cost of a new attachment. In addition, when the motor stops working, the user can simply replace it versus the entire product.




Once you have all these cool tools, you might need a place to keep them. The 22-in. long, 12-in. deep, and 9 ½-in. tall CoolBox is a successful indiegogo campaign that offers a built-in rechargeable battery to charge electronics. The battery is connected to a 11.1-V, 3-Ah plug, so it may not power anything serious. However, the rechargeable battery is good enough to charge smaller electronics that might house your instructions. There are also two wireless Bluetooth speakers. Depending on usage, they can last up to five hours on the rechargeable battery. It does offer wheels to help move it as its empty weight is 14.4 lb., according to There are some features that I like, such as the magnetic lid and built-in bottle opener. Overall, I’d say this is more for small techy projects or putting together some Ikea furniture.



The trend in using rechargeable batteries for everything these days seems to be growing. Speaking as someone who once made a living with tools, battery-powered tools can be convenient. However, they still don’t provide the same power as the plug-ins. Other than my cordless drill, I use corded tools. That doesn’t mean these tool aren’t cool, though. If you have a techy do-it-yourselfer on your shopping list, they may love one of these gadgets. 

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