Boater Power Tools

By Chris Landers
Published: December 2012

It can take decades to build a proper tool collection, but the gadgets here, chosen with the help of some of our BoatUS experts, can give you — or someone on your list — a great head start.

Photo of a DeWALT 4.5-Inch Angle Grinder

DeWALT 4.5-Inch Angle Grinder | $59

This is the real workhorse of boat maintenance. Small enough to keep under control, this baby will find a purpose no matter what your boat's built of. Sanding disks for shaping wood or metal, grinding wheels (try not to lose the safety guard, which is usually the first thing to disappear), wire brushes (stop putting those on your drill, please); there's even a chainsaw-blade disk, if you feel you currently have too many fingers.

Makita 18V Cordless Impact Driver | $189

Photo of a Makita 18V Cordless Impact Driver

Cordless drills have been a necessary part of the tool kit for decades for just about any drilling or fastening task. The current crop adds the functionality of an impact driver, to take care of any stubborn holdouts you might find in, say, the engine compartment. The Makita is particularly compact, which should help a little in getting to that one fastener that won't come out, usually located as far as possible from any decent access point. Who the heck designs engine compartments, anyway? Seriously, why would you put that there?

Blue Sea Systems' Mini Clamp Multimeter With True RMS | $172.99

Photo of a Blue Sea Systems' Mini Clamp Multimeter With True RMS

You know that instrument light that goes on and off every once in a while, depending on what the waves are doing? Yeah, the one that fixes itself when you hit the bulkhead with the heel of your hand. You should really take care of that. Loose connections can be incredibly annoying to track down, but without a good multimeter, you might as well rip out all that spaghetti and start over. This one from Blue Sea allows you to read current without disconnecting anything, and easily check for potentially deadly shore-power current leaks.

Photo of a Rigger's bag

Rigger's Bag | $29.99

Unfortunately,, suppliers of the rigging bag we mentioned in our Holiday Gift Guide, seems to have gone out of business. There is a similar bag available from the Shelter Institute (, in Woolrich, Maine.

So now you've got all your fancy-shmancy tools, are you really going to just let them sit in a plastic toolbox where they'll collect water and rust? No, what you want is a classic rigger's bag. It has enough side pockets to hold all your smaller tools where you can see them, and the center pocket fits your drill and larger hand tools.

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