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Tools help users see their work


SOME ITEMS from the mailbag:

* The latest word in tools is light -- as in on-the-job illumination that's built into the tool. Craftsman has introduced a line of lighted tools: the Driver Light, a magnetic-tipped screwdriver with a push-button light in the handle; the Illuminator Socket Light, which lights up when in contact with a 3/8-inch ratchet; a screwdriver light attachment, which slides onto the shank of a round or hex screwdriver; the Oscillite flashlight, with a beam that sweeps every 20 seconds; and lighted air-powered tools that have internal generators to power incandescent lights.

The tools are designed to make it easier to work in tight spaces; the hand tools cost from $4.99 to $39.99 and are available at Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores.

Top people

This month's issue of Remodeling magazine features a look at 10 people who seem likely to remake the remodeling industry. They include Bill Hamlin, executive vice president of Home Depot, credited with the home-improvement chain's plans for growth (he's aiming for the professional retail market); Mark Richardson of Case Design/Remodeling in Bethesda, who developed the Case Handyman Services franchise; and Martha Stewart, the home decor, home gardening, home improvement and home entertaining maven who, Remodeling says, "has changed the way Americans feel about and live in their houses."

The article is accompanied by a time line marking a near-century of home-improvement milestones. They include:

* The first issue of House & Garden magazine comes out, 1901.

* Experiments in residential central heating with natural gas by the Laclede Gas Light Co. of St. Louis, 1906.

* The first pistol-grip electric hand drill is introduced by Black & Decker, 1916.

* The process that makes 4-by-8-foot sheets of gypsum wall board gets a patent, 1922.

* Subdivision construction -- and the decline of many urban centers -- is encouraged by the $60 billion Highway Act of 1956.

* Black & Decker introduces the first cordless power drill, 1961.

* Americans spend more than $118 billion on home remodeling, 1997.

On the Web

If you're looking for a home inspector, the American Society of Home Inspectors has introduced a Web site at that lists members of the group by state or local area; answers common questions on heating and cooling and roofs; and other material on the process of buying a house.

BuildingBlocks, a company based in Newton, Mass., has introduced a Web site at that can help people identify hard-to-find, top-of-the-line home products such as bath and kitchen fixtures, cabinets and other items. It can also help with how and where to buy them. Viking (commercial-style kitchen equipment), Plain & Fancy (cabinetwork) and Fisher & Paykel (innovative home appliances) are among the sponsors.

Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and current president of the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.

If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, e-mail Ron at or Karol at Or write c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

Pub Date: 1/24/99

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