Whether you just want to give Mom something practical this year or whether you’re tired of your tools slowly disappearing from the garage, you know you’ve thought about giving Mom the gift of tools. Well, Toolmonger is here to help, leading up to Mother’s Day (May 14th for those of you who may have forgotten) with a multi-part series covering some of the tool products targeted directly at women as well as their standard counterpart products.
Part 1 focuses on Barbara K!’s line of “tools for women.”
Barbara, a single working mother and self-professed “success in the male-dominated construction industry,” says that “most tools can be challenging for a woman to use. So I designed my own to better fit a woman’s size and strength. My tools weigh a little less and the grips are sized to better fit a woman’s hand.”
Ok, so what about the tools?
Barbara K! offers two power tools: A 4.8v Cordless Power Screwdriver ($19.99), which is relatively similar to most other $20 cordless screwdrivers, and the Power-Lite Cordless Drill ($49.99).
The Power-Lite seems to be a pretty average low-cost 12v unit, weighing in at 4 lbs. and offering 0-600 RPM no-load variable speed with 80 in-lbs. of torque and the ubiquitous keyless chuck. The drill’s most touted feature, however, is its removable battery which can reside in a hip-mounted pack to make the drill lighter (2 lbs. according to Barbara K!) during use.
This unit compares favorably to Chicago Electric and Drill Master cordless drills available from Harbor Freight in the same price range. These offer a bit more torque, but are in exchange larger and (at least without the removable/wearable battery) heavier. Light units, such as the Bosch PS20 10.8V Litheon Pocket Driver, which weighs under 2 lbs. with battery and is smaller and slightly more torquey than the Barbara K! Power-Lite, are available, but only at a much higher street price of around $120 — probably attributable to their use of new-tech Li-Ion batteries.
Specs aside, you’ll have to decide for yourself the utility of the wearable battery. Sure, it makes the drill a bit easier to guide — especially with smaller hands — but do Mom’s projects require quick, sporadic uses of the drill or constant use?
One thing we noticed about the Barbara K! power tools was the great instructions. For example, the Power-Lite’s instructions not only described in easy, friendly language information about general drill use but also included details such as how to fit all the components back into the included case. Compare that to the machine-language translations found with Chinese tools or the jargon-loaded overviews included with pro tools like the Bosch.
Where Barbara K! really hits their stride is in the area of toolkits. They offer a variety of kits ranging from a Dorm Survival Kit (pricing soon, including a hammer, tape measure, flashlight, screwdriver, scissors, and some dorm-specific stuff like a privacy door sign and reusable adhesive for hanging posters) to their 30-pc. toolkit ($39.99) and specialty kits for crafts, picture hanging, jewelry repair, etc. (also pricing available soon.)
For example, the 30-pc. toolkit includes:
- a 6-in-1 screwdriver
- a 16-pc. hex key set
- a 2-in-1 level
- a 7 oz. hammer
- a 6-in-1 putty knife
- a 6″ adjustable wrench
- a 6″ set of slip joint pliers
- a 10′ measuring tape
- assorted hardware (nails, screws, picture hooks, plastic anchors)
- an 84-page “How To” booklet
The kit comes in a friendly-looking, old-Apple-Macintosh-reminiscent translucent blue and white carry case. Though we haven’t laid hands on the actual toolkit to make a judgement (Barbara, are you listening?), the tools appear to have nice hand grips. The kit is obviously aimed at simple tasks like hanging pictures, swapping a shower head, or replacing a broken outlet cover, and should be fine for those purposes.
Barbara K! also offers most of the tools in the kits individually. However, like most tools, they’re a bit expensive once you depart kit purchases. For example, 8″ slip joint pliers go for $9.99, whereas there are a number of kits selling for under $40 that include them along with many other tools.
Where to Buy
Besides online/TV retailers such as Amazon.com and QVC, Barbara K! reports their tools are on sale at The Container Store, Ace Hardware Stores, New York City Home Depot locations, and Office Depot. Note, however, that most brick-and-mortar stores only carry some of Barbara K!’s line; You’ll have to look online (or to Barbara K!’s site itself) for the whole shebang.
Barbara K!’s Tools for Women [Barbara K!]