Gearing Up for DIY Season: Tips and Products for Your summer To-Do List

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Now that it's high season for home improvement projects, you may be revising your winter wish list to match a quickly crowding summer calendar. Before you scratch out any more to-dos, consider these smart solutions featured at this year's National Hardware Show in Orlando, Fla.
These time-saving products can make your projects more efficient and help add value to your home over the long haul.
Photo Gallery: Hot Home Enhancements

Now that it's high season for home improvement projects, you may be revising your winter wish list to match a quickly crowding summer calendar. Before you scratch out any more to-dos, consider these smart solutions featured at this year's National Hardware Show in Orlando, Fla.

These time-saving products can make your projects more efficient and help add value to your home over the long haul.

Photo Gallery: Hot Home Enhancements

Gearing Up in the Garden

  • CORD-FREE CULTIVATOR --
  • If visions of a beautiful, bountiful vegetable or flower garden start to fade when you think about the prep work involved, add a few smart tools to your arsenal. A good one to start with is with Black & Decker's 18-Volt Rechargeable Cultivator, which prevents soil-prep slowdowns by cordlessly traveling with you to any corner of your garden plot. A nice alternative to hoes, shovels and heavy tillers, the Cultivator's hardened steel tines dig into soil to pull up weeds or loosen dirt for planting and better aeration. Its lightweight design adds ease to an otherwise dirty job, and the telescoping shaft allows you to set the Cultivator at just the right height for maximum comfort. Whether you've got a few small beds or up to 325 square feet of garden space to prepare, the Cultivator's rechargeable battery will see you through the task.

  • SHOVEL IN STYLE --
  • When you're ready to plant, True Temper's 7-in-1 Planter's Buddy gives you a speedy, professionally styled edge. The multi-tasking garden tool features a durable six-inch stainless steel blade and combination straight and serrated edges that can be used for a variety of tasks, including planting, opening bags, weeding and cutting. The curve of the blade is the pro-styled secret here, as it allows you to use the quick “stab and separate” motion they do when planting bulbs, annuals, and other small plants. An integrated tamper on the end of the Planter's Buddy's handle makes it easy to tamp down wood stakes, markers, or fertilizer spikes, and 12-inch measurement markings on the front and side are a help for your planting plan. Look for the Planter's Buddy at Lowe's, The Home Depot, True Value, and other fine retailers.

    High-Tech Tools That Rule

  • SHARP START --
  • With every home improvement project, preparation is the key--something many of us have found out the hard way at one time or another. If you're fortunate enough to have all the tools you need for your next endeavor, make sure to give them a little attention before you begin. A range of woodworking and shop tools will benefit from the attention of the Work Sharp 3000. Fast and easy to use, this air-cooled, dry-sharpening system has a port enabling precise and repeatable angles of 20, 25, 30 and 35 degrees for chisels and plane irons up to two inches wide. What's more, the always-flat, true grinding surface is maintenance-free, so the upkeep attention stays on the other tools in your collection.

  • SMART SCANNER --
  • Another project time-waster is going on guesswork to locate studs and other metal hidden behind the walls you're working on. Most metal detectors developed for this task are either expensive or imprecise, so the Zircon MetalliScanner is a welcome addition in the do-it-yourself realm. Priced under $50, this wonder is the first dedicated metal scanner that can actually pinpoint the exact location of metal up to four inches deep. It's a great tool for finding metal in walls, ceilings and floors, and whether set for pinpoint or broad applications, its translucent blue coil, green LED and audio tone alert you to metal fields. Add a MetalliScanner to your shopping list if you'll be zoning in on tricky remodeling projects this summer.

    Ensuring Home Comfort for the Long Haul

  • SAFETY & STYLE --
  • Looking back at your project list, what updates do you have in mind for long-term comfort and safety? These are pretty important considerations, especially if you're a member of the Baby Boom generation and planning to stay put in your present abode. AARP research shows that this is now the norm among homeowners in the 50-plus population, with roughly 90 percent reporting that they want to remain in their current home or community close to family and friends.

    If that's your personal goal, it's never too early to start planning and improving for the future. Begin by doing a home assessment to identify potential safety problems and hazards, as well as areas where comfort and convenience can be increased. Some modifications will be on a small scale, such as improving interior lighting levels or switching to easy-to-grasp lever door handles. For bigger projects, you can now get specialized help from a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) contractor who has been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically pleasing, easy living environments. For more information on CAPS and helpful home assessment guides, visit www.aarp.org/homedesign.

  • SPAS & SHOWERS --
  • One improvement you might like to consider making for both comfort and convenience is a spa-worthy fixture for your bath, and that's just what Moen offers with its Inspire multifunctional showerhead. Available in both fixed and handheld models, it features a spray selector that allows you to switch among seven unique settings. The range includes a “Relaxing” wide spray, “Invigorating” concentrated spray, “Refreshing” combination spray, energizing massage, targeted massage, massaging rinse and hydrating spray. Inspire also has a spiral-patterned spray face that provides full body coverage, enveloping the user in invigorating water sprays no matter what the setting. This fixture falls into the easy-to-install category, and is available in chrome and brushed nickel finishes at Lowe's.

    Photo Gallery: Hot Home Enhancements

    Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's Web site.

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