Chances are, someone in your family is a tool junkie. The vast collection I inherited, which filled my first of many toolboxes, was given to me by my grandfather. A lifelong handyman and builder, he possessed a treasure trove of oddly shaped saws covered in rust, wood-handled gadgets of indecipherable purpose, and metal machines with frayed electrical cords; they stirred equal parts fear and amazement in me. He could build his own furniture, repair his own plumbing, and fix his own car—in short, live more independently—all because of the powerful instruments of home improvement contained in the garage.
That independence has expanded over the years as the dark, heavy machines of my grandfather’s day have slowly evolved into today’s rubber-gripped, ergonomically correct multitools. And designers have finally realized that the thrill of independence from hired-gun repairs isn’t gender-specific. The gift-giving season is near; it’s the perfect time to assemble a beginner’s tool kit for yourself or a tool-curious friend. (Prices are approximate.)