I’ve been doing some early Christmas shopping, specifically for unique but useful gadgets—stocking stuffers for the adults in my family, some who can be hard-to-buy-for.

That’s a task I usually leave until the last minute, which sends me scrambling. But not this year. I’m way ahead of the game since I found the perfect gifts—these super cool, unique and useful, pocket-size tools and gadgets.

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Leatherman Micro Tool



Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multitool, the quintessential gadget, is a mere 2-1/4 inches in length when closed, and 2 oz. in weight—pocket size! Its spring-action clip easily attaches to a key ring or backpack or slides easily into small pocket in a handbag.

With its three screwdrivers, wire cutter, scissors, knife blade, file, tweezers and bottle opener, you’ll have 9 tools powerful enough to keep you going when things fall apart. And did I say practical? This little Squirt PS4 requires only one hand to open and to use all the tools, too. Remarkable! The Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multitool is super cool, available in three colors and comes with 25-year warranty.

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Maintenance and home repair are a never-ending reality for just about everyone—homeowners and renters alike. But it doesn’t have to be painful or necessarily expensive. The secret to making it easy is to fix stuff as it happens—right away, not next month or sometime in the future when you decide to sell.

The best way to insure you’ll actually perform quick home repairs is to make sure you have top-notch repair products on hand—in a handy place you will remember.

Check out my collection of favorite home repair products, some of which you may have already. And if you have favorites not listed below, please do share in the comments area!

Scratch Fix Pens

Miller Scratch Fix pens are the absolute best for hiding scratches on furniture, floors, cabinets, doors, and moldings—even antiques. Makes scratches, stains and imperfections invisible. Dries in seconds making multiple coats, if necessary, super simple. Contains waterproof wood stain instead of ink, which means that once dry, even wax and polish won’t smudge it. Follow the directions exactly for the best result. Keep a set of these stain markers in the house to touch up nicks and scratches on all your wood surfaces to keep maintenance easy and manageable.

Weldbond Adhesive Glue

Weldbond Adhesive Glue is amazing for most applications. This adhesive cleans up with water, is non-toxic, nearly odorless and dries clear while remaining flexible. This is the glue you want if your repair will remain visible. Works on porous and non-porous surfaces. Best if you scuff the materials to be glued with something like a nail file. This stuff is great on most plastics, wood, metal, tile, porcelain, fabric—items all of us have around our homes that need to be repaired from time to time. Cures fully in only 24 hours.

Original Gorilla Glue


Gorilla Glue comes in a number of varieties, many of which I can live without. It’s the Original Gorilla Glue that has saved my bacon more than a few times and occupies a permanent location in my repair products drawer. It will stick anything together and hold it there for dear life and quite possibly through eternity! However, the repair may remain very visible so plan your strategy carefully.

I love Original Gorilla Glue because it takes a while to dry, which means I have time to reposition and get things just right. Original Gorilla Glue is perfect for situations where you just don’t have a clear, clean break with two like surfaces to join together.

Example: The wire frame on one of my lampshades broke leaving the thing hanging cockeyed. There was no apparent way that I could reattach it because, well, you’d have to see it to understand. But that was not an impossible challenge for Original Gorilla Glue.

It worked beautifully to attach the severed wire frame—delicately—to the lampshade fabric on the inside where it is not readily visible! That repair is now the strongest point on the entire lampshade. Yep, good forever.

Now you can understand why I don’t want to live without my trusty bottle of Original Gorilla Glue. Read more

According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 a year on home utility bills of which almost half goes for heating and cooling.

If your home has a fireplace with a flue that is not adequately “weatherstripped,” it’s like leaving a door or window open. You’re losing expensive warmed air in the winter and cooled air in the summer. Today’s first reader has a terrific recommendation for how you can easily take care of this problem and pocket some serious energy savings in the process.

man inserting inflatable draft dodger in fireplace

DRAFT DODGER. Last year I bought two Battic Fireplace Plugs. They look a lot like little life rafts. You insert them up against the flue (when the fireplace is not in use) and inflate them to keep warm air from escaping through your leaky chimney damper, sealing out the draft. The difference in our heating bill the month after installing them was astounding. Flues rarely fit snugly and so much heat is lost up the chimney. I have no affiliation with the company, but I certainly have not been shy about recommending them to my friends. Chris

AUTOMATIC SOCK MATCHER. You need: A box of safety pins and a container to keep them where you take your socks off. Remove socks and join together with a safety pin. Socks will remain together in washer and dryer. Remove from dryer and your socks are ready to go into the sock drawer already matched and they don’t get lost or attached to other items. Think of all the time you’ve wasted matching socks!  Jeanne

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You’re worried that the washing machine may be on its last spin cycle. It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. It’s not like it’s still under warranty. You’ve had it for a long time and it wasn’t new when you got it.

You get an estimate for repair and discover it will cost $319 to get it back into tip-top shape.

Should you give this old, inefficient machine the heave-ho in favor of a new model that will use less electricity and water?

A new name-brand front-loader is on sale for $899 plus tax and delivery. Should you basically throw away $319 now for a temporary fix, or bite the bullet and buy the new one?

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It was Christmas Eve. Company would be arriving in a matter of hours. I opened the refrigerator only to discover everything inside had reached a balmy 70 F. This could not have happened at a worse time.

Away to my computer I flew like a flash, straight to RepairClinic.com, where I entered the make and model of our refrigerator and read all the possibilities for why it was running but not cooling.

By following the suggestions and detailed instructions, we performed eight years’ worth of maintenance by looking under the darned thing for the coils that had become hopelessly covered in refrigerator gunk. We were back up and cooling in no time at all.

One thing I learned from my holiday refrigerator crash is that, like cars, major appliances require routine maintenance to keep them working at the peak of efficiency and to guarantee a long and useful life.

Here are five simple appliance maintenance jobs all home dwellers should do—each of which takes only minutes and can be tackled by anyone.

DISHWASHER RACKS

Inspect the dish rack tines for rusting. Rust particles can ruin the pump and seals, causing a hidden leak or pump failure.

A tine repair kit, available at manufacturer websites or Amazon, can save you the cost of a new dish rack. The kits come in various colors to match yours. If the dish rack is beyond salvation, it should be replaced. Read more

It took me a ridiculously long time to recognize the obvious connection between holidays, dinner parties and emergency calls to the plumber due to hopelessly clogged drains. Why was it always on a holiday, always embarrassing with a houseful of company, always after hours and always extra expensive?

I’ll tell you why: Because that’s when I would do stupid things like peel ten pounds of potatoes, cram all of the peels into the garbage disposal and expect it to all magically disappear. Dittos with prepping artichokes. Or I’d throw a couple of whole lemons in there, thinking that would freshen the thing up before company arrives.

I’ve learned the hard way that there is a proper way to care for and feed a garbage disposal—rules that when followed will keep your garbage disposal in tip-top shape, functioning as a reliable member of your household team.

Learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself. Clogged drains are a major inconvenience and garbage disposal repair can be a costly proposition.

DO THESE THINGS

Run your garbage disposal regularly. Frequent use prevents rust and corrosion, makes sure that all parts stay moving and prevents small obstructions from accumulating.

Always run a strong flow of cold water before you turn it on to grind food waste. Cold water will cause any grease or oils that may get into the unit to solidify, so that they can be chopped up before reaching the trap.

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If you’ve ever called a plumber to unclog a drain, you know it’s not cheap. Certainly there are times when the clogged drain is beyond a quick do-it-yourself solution, requiring the skills of a professional. But many times, according to my inbox, a simple gadget and a modicum of know-how can avoid an expensive house call.

DRAIN CLEANING TOOL. I read the tip from the reader who used a bamboo skewer to remove hair from the drain. Sounds OK, but there is actually a tool made just for this task. It’s very cheap—about $3. It has a little handle at the top, is about 18-inches long and has a fish-hook type of end. You simply push it into the drain, snag the tangled hair and fish it right back out. My granddaughter was constantly calling her apartment manager to get her bathroom drains unplugged, plus using lots of drain cleaner. I sent her one of these little gadgets and she has been drain-clear ever since. Diana

Note: The tool Diana refers to is a Zip-it Drain Snake Cleaner. Check the plumbing aisle of your local hardware store. Or get a pack of three for about $7 online. I did, used it to check every drain in the house and wow, this thing is amazing.  -mh   Read more

Figuring out how to install a new tile floor in her family room paid off big for my friend, Mary Brock, who lives in South Carolina. A close-out sale of 25-cents each for twelve-inch ceramic tile, basic installation tools and a simple how-to-book gave her the confidence she needed to give it a try.

“I got a serious physical workout, great results and still enjoy the bragging rights of a do-it-yourselfer. Plus, with the money I didn’t spend on materials, we got new furniture for the room.”

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