Rick Schwolsky, Editor-in-Chief
Rick Schwolsky, Editor-in-Chief

Sorry. There are no spotlights, no celebrities, no revealing gowns, no bad jokes, and–thank god–no speeches. Not yet, anyway. It's time for our annual Editors' Choice Awards, our chance to honor the innovation and leadership we've seen in the tool industry over the last year, and to recognize the year's best new tools.

I'm not sure who's having more fun out there--tool users or tool designers. But one thing's for sure: Each year, it gets harder to keep up with this incredibly inventive industry and to keep track of its new tools and innovations. I say this every year, and it only becomes truer and truer. As a tool lover and somebody who's made a living with all kinds of tools, I look back at the last few years' developments in awe–and look ahead in wonder.

This is an incredible time for the tool industry and you are the benefactors. In fact, there's nothing short of an industrial war going on to gain your business and capture your brand loyalty. Tool manufacturers are launching new tools in record short time frames. In some cases, tool companies launch new models so quickly they end up competing with themselves for shelf space. And look at all the new categories born each year. Whether home-grown or Home Depot, tool distributors are selling tools at record low margins. And the tools themselves are getting more and more sophisticated, making them faster, easier, and safer to work with.

This is the environment that spawned this year's Editors' Choice Awards 2001 winners, which include diverse innovations like new battery systems for cordless tools, fail-safe safety features, and even the start of the computer age for pneumatic nailers. Heck, we even tip our hats to the World Wide Web for allowing so much information and convenience to flow into the tool world. But nothing beats new tools. And while it's hard to pick each year's winners, we're sure you'll agree that the Class of '01 deserves special recognition.

But watch out–the next generation is already in the starting blocks. And from what we've seen behind the curtains so far, 2001 is going to be a banner year for tools across the board.

Like I said, it's hard to tell who's having more fun. That's a nice balance. Let's keep it that way.

Rich Schwolsky