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Three handywomen put popular kits to the test

  • Story Highlights
  • Companies offer women lightweight hammers, saws with ergonomic grips
  • New toolkits are aimed at handywomen
  • Reviewers find good design in some
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By Amy Hughes
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This Old House

(This Old House) -- If you're thinking about buying hand tools for that lucky lady in your life -- or if that lady is you -- the home-improvement industry is clamoring to sell the long-neglected do-it-herselfer lightweight hammers and hacksaws with ergonomic grips.

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Review: Barbara K Signature Tool Kit has a good selection of tools.

Curious to see how well the gender-specific tools performed, TOH asked three handywomen to put some popular kits to the test:

TOMBOY TRAVELER, $49.95

Source: TomboyTools.com

Tools: hammer, slip-joint pliers, utility knife, multi-bit ratchet screwdriver, tape measure, sanding block, level, hacksaw, carpenter's pencil, gloves, safety glasses

Tested by Alexandra Bandon, TOH senior editor

Pros: The gender-free bag and tool designs respect the idea that women don't want to be treated differently.

Cons: The 8-ounce hammer, 6-inch slip-joint pliers, and hacksaw are too small for many household projects. And the magnetic torpedo level isn't level in this kit.

What I'd change: I'd prefer larger locking pliers and a lightweight titanium 10-ounce hammer, which is both light and powerful. This Old House: Hammer Time

RUBBERMAID TOUGH TOOLS, $49.99

Source: Target.com

Don't Miss

Tools: hammer, crescent wrench, level, tape measure, tongue-and-groove pliers, long-nose pliers, multi-bit ratchet screwdriver, picture hooks, nails, screws.

Tested by Leslie Monthan, TOH copy chief

Pros: Overall, the quality is very good, and the rubberized grips are hand-friendly.

Cons: The 16-ounce hammer is overkill for hanging pictures and underpowered for serious framing. And the nail, screw, and hook selection is paltry.

What I'd change: The kit could use a pair of multipurpose electrician's pliers, with strippers sized for different gauges of wire. This Old House: Nailsets

BARBARA K SIGNATURE TOOL KIT, $45.99

Source: Amazon.com

Tools: hammer, slip-joint pliers, adjustable wrench, painter's tool, tape measure, multi-bit screwdriver, 16 hex keys, level, picture hooks, nails, screws, anchors, home repair guide

Tested by Keen Gat, carpenter and set designer

Cons: The molded plastic case makes it impossible to fit anything else in there if I wanted to expand the kit.

Cons: The 6-inch adjustable crescent wrench is toylike with a stubby grip. And the jaws are loose and could slip off a nut.

Pros: The tool selection is pretty good. The 6-inch slip joint pliers and 6-in-1 screwdriver are well designed.

What I'd change: A manual on how to use the tools would be more helpful than the repair guide. Who really knows how to use all the different blades on the 6-in-1 painter's tool? This Old House: Adjustable Wrenches E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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