Starrett has a new plastic version ($25) of its Pro Site Miter Saw Protractor that's half the size and price of the aluminum model – and less than an eighth of the weight. In addition to true angle markings it shows angles as represented on the scales of miter saws, so you don't need to figure any conversions. Another scale shows the angle to set your saw at to bisect the measured angle. By tightening the pivot screw on the back of the protractor with a coin, you can get the joint to hold tight enough to pivot the saw blade against the arm of the tool, which is handy for times when you don't need to measure the angle you're cutting.
¦ 843-746-3578,


Craftsman wrenches are synonymous with lifetime-warranty quality. The new seven-piece Universal Design Ratcheting Wrench set ($50) contains special 12-tooth ratcheting ends that fit four-, six-, and 12-sided bolts as well as external Torx and spline heads. The teeth even grip partially rounded-off bolt heads. The tools' open ends have a stout reinforced design sturdier than most we've seen. The set contains wrenches from 5/16- to 11/16-inch sizes.
¦ 800-832-7494,

Green Grass Group

Green Grass Group's DoubleVsquare ($25) – which consists of two triangular-type aluminum squares hinged down the center – makes it easier to transfer marks around corners, from the sharpest acute angles to nearly flat facets. Open, it works well for jobs like marking out siding across outside or inside corners or as a saddle square to mark two sides of a deck post. Closed, it works just like a standard triangular square. The slight play in the hinge keeps it from being a high-precision tool, but it's fine for most construction purposes. Other good uses include marking square across waney 2-bys that don't have sharply defined edges and guiding a long drill bit along the open hinge to drill straighter into concrete or thick timbers.
¦ 800-951-9541,


Like many multi-tools on the market, SOG's PowerLock pliers ($110) have a knife blade, screwdrivers, and a 1/4-inch hex-bit driver adapter. Unlike most other multi-tools, this product also has flat plates that fit over the handles to make squeezing more comfortable. In addition, it has sharp bypassing cutters that shear – scissors-style – rather than making a crushing cut, the way wire cutters do. All the implements lock open with a sturdy steel latch.
¦ 888-764-2378,


Irwin's newest Vise-Grip pliers have a "self-energizing" jaw design that shifts under load and self-tightens, similar to the action of a pipe wrench. This means that the grip strength of the tool isn't determined solely by the crushing force of the jaws, which may prevent the deformation of some materials the pliers are used on. The 10CR Fast Release 10-inch pliers ($14) have curved jaws that are more V-shaped than standard curved jaws, to better lock on round shapes and hex nuts. The rubber-gripped handles feel nice on your hands, and the easy release mechanism works without a separate lever. Standard model Vise-Grips are also available with the new curved jaws. The brand's GrooveLock adjustable pliers have a similar jaw design added to their smooth and toothed straight-jaw configurations.
¦ 800-464-7946,

Nail Jack

Nail Jack extraction pliers have an "anvil" behind the head that you pound on to drive the tips into the wood surrounding a nail. To lift the nail, you squeeze and pry with either the tips or the thicker jaw at the back of the pliers' head. The latest heavy-duty model features longer handles and forged construction designed to take a real beating. Pounding directly on the bent arms of the Pro Model ($35) – instead of on a flat anvil surface, as with the smaller models – lets you better control the angle of attack. The company also has Nail Hunter and Staple Jack pliers with finer tips to remove thin nails and staples. We were impressed by the ability of the tools to lift a countersunk brad-nailer brad – a very tricky task. It might have taken more than one bite, but we managed to skillfully extract these troublesome fasteners after a few tries. A second-generation version of the original cast-steel Nail Jack is under development.
¦ 877-785-5624,


Jackson has a new demolition tool called the Pulverizer ($43). At 3-1/2 pounds and just under 12 inches long, it's easy to handle with one hand. It has a 1-1/2-inch-wide hammer face and sturdy claws with serrations for better gripping. The gap in between is for prying and snapping concrete form ties. Just above the rubberized grip is a short wedge-shaped handle section that can't quite split 2-bys but will tear through drywall – just watch your fingers. The thick prying edge at the end of the tool doubles as a sturdy scraper and provides knuckle protection when pounding on a flat surface. An identical RazorBack branded version of the tool is also available.
¦ 800-807-2589,