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Gifts for Builders, Craftsmen, and Handymen – $10 and up

Everyone needs help buying gifts for men.  Here’s my list of Matt Risinger approved items for your Builder, Craftsman, Handyman, Engineer, Geek, Woodworker, or just plain Dad in your life.  I’ll start with the Cheap and end with the Pricey$$$

1.  FastCap Tape Measure. $10-15

My crew and I LOVE this tape measure!  You can write measurements on the side with a pencil and erase it with your thumb, the measurements read left/right, and it has a pencil sharpener built in!  This is the best tape I’ve ever owned and it’s cheap!  These run $10-15.  I prefer the 16′ model because the size doesn’t weigh down my belt, but they make a 25′ model too if you need the longer length. 

2.  Tajima Chalk Line Snap Box. $15

Chalk lines are mainly used in rough carpentry, but my guys use them when building decks and doing layouts.  Most chalk boxes are clunky, this one is silky smooth!  Crisp lines, fast rewind, great hook.  Another great gift so your craftsman can replace his old junky model.  Again about $15 with Amazon Prime free shipping!  I also highly recommend the white chalk by Tajima if you’re doing finish work like a deck.  The blue chalk can be hard to remove and that’s the last thing you need when framing an Ipe deck. 

3.  Building Science Builder Guide to YOUR Climate $45

My copy of the Builders Guide to Hot-Humid Climates by Dr Joe Lstiburek. 

This is the best $45 you will spend in education about Building Science.  This book is my go-to Bible on how to build a house in my climate.  Consult this map to ensure you buy the correct guide for your part of the country.  If you are in Austin, TX you are in the Hot-Humid climate. 

4.  Leatherman Skeletool Multitool  $35

So many tools in such a compact space.  This is a builders friend!

This Skeletool is the main knife clipped to my jeans on any given day.

Bottle opener doubles as a lanyard attachment for a pack.

This $35 Leatherman is the only one I’ve carried consistently over the years.  I love my larger Leatherman Wave, but it’s nearly $60 and it’s too bulky for everyday carry (that one lives in my truck door compartment).  This Skeletool is my everyday carry knife.  It has a great belt clip and the bottle opener is important when you have so many Aggie friends.  

5.  Extech Temperature / Humidity Pen  $60

As a building science geek, I’ve loved having this in my glove box to pull out randomly throughout the years.  Mine is almost 10 years old and still works perfectly.  I use it to verify humidity levels in a house during construction, to see how a humidity is doing in my house (or a clients house), and to verify temperature throughout a house to see if rooms are staying within 2 degrees of each other.  If you ever work on HVAC systems this is the model to own!  Runs about $60. 

6.  Lie-Nielsen Block Plane $165

My wife got this for my Christmas present last year.  It’s pricey at $165, but this is a heirloom quality tool that I will pass down to my kids.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to use this block plane!  It’s weighted perfectly and the wood shavings are so crisp.  This tool will be a delight for any woodworker, finish carpenter, or home handyman on your list.  It has more uses than any other plane I own, and I absolutely love to use it. 

7.  Canon 70d DSLR with Advanced Video capability $$$$

My new best friend!  Canon 70d

Ok, so this is a bit expensive but everybody needs a stretch gift right?  This Canon 70d is $1200 with the kit lens but it has really taken my blog and video shoot up about three notches!  This is the first digital SLR to have true autofocus while shooting video.  Any cheap camcorder can do this, but until now every DSLR has had terrible autofocus while in Liveview (with the mirror up).  I’ve had mine for about 3 months now and it’s been fantastic.  I came from an older Nikon D90 and I shot video with a $300 Panasonic camcorder, so this is quite a step up for me.  The beauty of video through a DSLR is the amazing lenses.  A small camcorder can’t produce the wide angle shots that my Canon 70d can.  I have alot to learn, but this was my Christmas gift to myself this year. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years! 
Matt Risinger

Risinger Homes in Austin, TX

Risinger Homes is a custom builder and whole house remodeling contractor that specializes in Architect driven and fine craftsmanship work. We utilize an in-house carpentry staff and the latest building science research to build dramatically more efficient, healthy and durable homes.
Be sure to check out my video blog on YouTube, and follow me on Twitter @MattRisinger