I want to start off by wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. As the month comes to a close it can only mean one thing…the end of No-Shave November. (I can guarantee my wife will be handing me a razor on December 1st and kindly reminding me that I promised to shave it off.) In addition to the loss of my beard, the end of November also marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
For the second straight year, we’ve put together a list of gift ideas that hopefully includes something to make the construction professional in your life happy. If you need additional ideas, you can always check out last year’s list here.
1. The Milwaukee M12 Cordless Heated Jacket is a much better option duct-taping a bunch of those disposable hand warmers across your body to keep you warm on the jobsite. These jackets are powered by Milwaukee’s M12 REDLITHIUM batteries, which also power their entire line M12 cordless power tools, and provide up to 6 hours of continuous heat per battery charge.
The jackets are water and wind resistant, have heating zones in the chest, back and pockets and are washer and dryer safe. They feature a thermal fleece lining and include a USB port in the pocket so you can charge your electronic devices. They are now available in men’s and women’s styles and Milwaukee also makes a cordless heated hoodie. These jackets are great for keeping you warm at the construction site all winter long.
2. We’ve talked in the past about how drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are going to have a big impact on the construction industry once the FAA finally gets them approved for commercial use. (You can read more about that here.)If you are looking for a good entry-level model to test out at your next jobsite try the DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter paired with a GoPro Hero4 Silver.
The Phantom has an operational line-of-sight distance of 3,280 feet and the battery supports flight times of 25 minutes. Shooting video is made simple with the GPS mode which keeps the Phantom hovering in a fixed position when you release the controls. The GoPro camera can capture video in 1080p60 and 720p120 and take 12MP photos at 30 frames per second. The camera can be controlled using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and the Smart Remote can control the camera from 600 feet away. Even if you decide not to use a UAV in your construction business, the Phantom is a lot of fun to fly.
3. Looking for a great headlamp for your hard hat? The Halo Light by Illumagear is hands-down your best option. Unlike typical headlamps, the Halo Light is imbedded with LEDs that provides 360 degrees of illumination and fits snugly on virtually any hard hat. The Halo Light is billed as a Personal Active Safety System™ that allows the wearer to “see and be seen” from all directions and in all directions in order for them to safely do their job.The Halo Light four lighting modes, Halo, HI-Alert, Task and Dim and the battery last up to 12 hours and can be seen from ¼ mile away. You can check out our full review of the Halo Light here.
4. Smartphones and tablets are being used more and more at the construction site every day. Whether you are viewing plans and specs, documenting construction progress or just calling in to the office, you need hardware rugged enough to survive the construction site. The CAT S50 Smartphone is dustproof, drop-proof and waterproof.
The phone has pretty solid specs, running the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system on a Quad-core 1.2 GHz processor and 4G LTE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. The phone features a 4.7-in. screen, 8MP rear-facing camera and 8GB of storage with a microSD slot to support an additional 64GB of storage. One of the best features of the phone is the wet finger tracking which means the touchscreen will operate normally even if you finger is covered in sweat.
If you are looking for something with a larger screen or want to step up to a tablet try the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-B2. The Toughpad has a 7-in. screen and runs the Android 4.4 operating system on a Quad-core Intel Celeron processor. The tablet can withstand a 5-foot drop and is dust and water resistant. For connectivity, the Toughpad features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and optional 4G LTE. This tablet has a ton of features including user-replaceable batteries and a 3-year warranty.
5. With all this new gear, you’re going to need a durable tool bag to carry it all. The Milwaukee Jobsite Backpack is made of ballistic material and features an impact and water resistant molded base. There are 35 pockets for organizing all your tools as well as a laptop sleeve to stow your laptop or tablet. The front pocket is large enough to hold bigger items such as drills and extension cords. The backpack style is a nice alternative to the typical handheld tool bags.
My grandfather stopped carrying a traditional pocketknife years ago in favor of a folding utility knife. His reasoning? You never have to waste time sharpening the blade, once it gets dull you just put in a new one. The DeWalt Folding Retractable Utility Knife is a great choice. In addition to folding so you can easily carry it in your pocket, the blade is retractable so you can use as much or as little of the blade as you need. You can easily open and close the blade with one hand. The knife includes a space to store extra blades and changing blades doesn’t require any additional tools.
If you need a tool to help you unwind at the end of the day check out the Klein Tools Beverage Tool or the Craftsman Cap Wrench Bottle Opener. The Klein features a Cushion-Grip handle and a bottle cap Tip-Ident so you can quickly ID it in a drawer of tools. The Craftsman is styled to look like one of their wrenches and comes with a forever guarantee. These are both great tools for popping the top on your favorite cold beverage at the end of a long day on the job.
For The Kids
Of course you don’t want to forget that future AEC professional in your life. We talked about Legos last year and this year isn’t going to be any different. This year we suggest the Lego Architecture Studio which has been endorsed by a number of big-name architecture firms including SOM and MAD Architects. The set features white and transparent blocks but no instructions. The set does include a guidebook with tips and techniques to teach the “fundamentals of architectural design in a LEGO context.” Don’t let the 16+ age range dissuade you from giving this to any age child who loves Legos.
The next two toys GoldieBlox and Roominate were created to inspire girls to build and create and get them interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The GoldieBlox and the Builder’s Survival Kit has over 190 pieces and will keep them entertained for hours as they invent and build new things. The Basic Roominate set includes wall/floor panels, modular building pieces and a motor and switch so they can learn basic circuitry and design and build structures.