Adding artwork to bare walls is one of the easiest home design projects—if you know a few hanging hacks. The top-rated Go Hang It Pro combines leveling, screw storage and hanging all in one clever tool for DIYers. Amazon reviewers and TikTok users can’t stop raving about how easy it is to use and we have to agree.

With over 5,000 Amazon ratings and a nearly perfect 4.5-star average, it’s a home improvement item everyone should have on hand. Plus, it’s a brilliant budget-friendly gift for handy types.

What’s the Go Hang It Pro?

Gohangit Via Gohangit.com

The Go Hang It Pro is an all-in-one picture hanging and leveling tool. It comes with all the hardware and fasteners necessary to hang framed pictures quickly and easily. One of the best home improvement items for novice DIYers, this affordable gadget makes hanging just about anything a snap. The ergonomic handle also makes it simple for most hand sizes to grasp.

Though the device was designed with framed artwork and pictures in mind, it also works on quick-mounted shelving. Reviewers note that it also works on home office bulletin and dry-erase boards—consider hanging one next to your best standing desk to organize the home office.

How To Use a Go Hang It Pro

Using this genius hanging tool starts with attaching the included hangers to the back of the picture you want to hang. The instructions state you probably don’t need to measure, but we thing it’s always a good idea to make sure the hangers align properly.

To get started, remove the two magnetic keys. One of the Go Hang It Pro’s most popular features, the magnekeys attach magnetically to the hangers. Place the level on the frame’s upper edge while holding the picture up to the wall. This step ensures a level, even hang. Then press the top edge towards the wall so the magnekeys leave a little divot or mark indicating where to nail.

The process for wire hooks and D-hooks is pretty similar, making this nifty gadget one of the best basic tools for DIY projects.

Product Features

Back Of Gohangit Ecomm Via Gohangit.com

The massive 85-piece kit comes with everything you need to hang and level a variety of hooks. It’s compatible with sawtooth, wire and D-ring hardware and includes the following:

  • ‎Magnekeys
  • Detachable level
  • Hardware case with silicon strap
  • Six D-Ring hangers
  • Eight feet of picture-hanging wire
  • 10 nails (1.75 x 25)
  • 10 nails (2.0 x 30)
  • 12 single-notch precision hangers
  • 10 picture hooks (10-pound weight limit)
  • Eight picture hooks (20-pound weight limit)
  • Four picture hooks (30-pound weight limit)
  • 24 #6 3/8-inch self-taping screws

The Best Amazon User Reviews

One happy Amazon verified purchaser, AHutchinson says, “This product is genius. It saves so much time by not having to measure between hangers and haul out the big level. Just clip the ‘keys’ to the hangers and push gently into the wall. This forms a divot to guide where the picture hangers will go. It’s super easy to use to build a collage from a starting point.”

“This has been such an amazing purchase,” writes Amber McKee, another verified Amazon purchaser. “We love pictures and art on the wall, and hanging them with this get-up makes it a snap. It was a total impulse buy on my end, and there are no regrets here!”

“As someone who constantly moves (military family), hanging pictures up in every new house is a pain,” writes another verified Amazon purchaser, Erniegirl. “It’s usually the last thing I do. With my latest move, the Go Hang It took all of the frustration out of hanging things on the wall. The little kit in the back has come in handy several times to repair the back of some photos. I love it! My favorite purchase ever!”

Where To Buy It

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The Go Hang It Pro is available on Amazon for under $40, which is a deal, given the amount of use this brilliant gadget gets. With all the included hooks and parts, it’s an unbeatable steal that saves both time and money. If you want one for yourself, don’t hesitate. Is there anything more satisfying than hanging your picture properly on the first try?

Shop Now

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I never thought flood zones would apply to me. Turns out, my Minneapolis house is half a block away from a hazard flood zone due to a small creek, and the zone has grown larger in recent years. I haven’t had flooding and don’t have flood insurance, which wasn’t required when I took out a mortgage.

When the time comes to sell my house, closing could be a mess for buyers unaware of flood zones. They may learn flood insurance is required because the updated map shows my property in the flood zone. Flood insurance can cost the buyer up to $2,000 a year.

“That’s sticker shock in a stressful time,” says Ceil Strauss, flood plain manager for the state of Minnesota. “The more that people look at flood zones and flood insurance early in the process, the better.”

What Is a Flood Zone?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says everyone lives in an area with some flood risk. Therefore, FEMA has flood zones for each community, and each zone describes the risk for a particular area.

What Is a Flood Zone Map?

FEMA’s maps illustrate a community’s flood zone and floodplain boundaries, and thus its flooding risk. These maps help insurance agents and lenders determine flood insurance requirements and policy costs.

To find out if your home is in a flood zone, check the FEMA Flood Map Service Center. Enter your address and a map appears with a red pin marking your home’s location relative to flood hazard areas. These appear as color-coded overlays.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and FEMA work with communities to update maps by identifying land and water changes. But some FEMA maps haven’t been updated in decades. Plus, the maps may be too general.

“A corner of a property may be in a hazard flood zone, so the entire property is considered in the hazard zone,” Strauss says. “But the house and buildings may be on an elevated portion of the property and not at risk for flooding.”

For clarity, you can submit a letter to FEMA, detailing flood risk variables like flood frequency, river overflow, storm surge, coastal erosion, heavy rainfall and distance to a water source. “But settling this with FEMA can take up to 60 days, which doesn’t help people when they have a closing in a week,” says Strauss.

What Is Flood Insurance and Do You Need It?

Flood insurance is a separate policy that can cover a building, its contents, or both. Here are four potentially surprising truths about flood insurance.

  1. Not every homeowner insurance policy includes flood insurance: Policies usually don’t cover water damage from a source outside your home, like flooding.
  2. Hazard insurance doesn’t always cover flooding: The hazard insurance section of a standard homeowner policy doesn’t cover flooding from external natural causes like heavy rainstorms, or man-made ones like a dam break. Only separate flood insurance can protect against that sort of destruction or damage.
  3. Hurricane insurance is not another name for flood insurance: Flood insurance covers water coming into your home from off your property. Hurricane insurance is for wind damage, not flooding, from a storm with winds of more than 74 mph.
  4. Flood insurance isn’t available for all homes: Check the FEMA site for a list of flood insurance providers. Flood insurance is available to anyone living in the 23,000 communities participating in the NFIP. The program works with communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations that help mitigate flooding effects.

How To Know If You Need Flood Insurance

Many homeowners live in arid or elevated areas and don’t need flood insurance. But don’t dismiss flood insurance out of hand. These factors determine if you need or should strongly consider flood insurance.

  • Homes in high-risk flood areas with government-backed mortgages are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live outside of the high-risk area, your lender may still require it.
  • Federal disaster assistance comes as a loan, which must be paid back with interest, or as a FEMA disaster grant, which averages about $5,000 per household. The average flood insurance claim in 2018 was more than $40,000.
  • Poor drainage systems, summer storms, melting snow, neighborhood construction and broken water mains can result in flooding. In high-risk areas, there’s at least a one-in-four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage, FEMA says. From 2014 to 2018, policyholders outside of high-risk flood areas filed more than 40 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and required one-third of federal disaster flooding assistance.
  • It’s likely landlords have flood insurance covering their buildings, but not the contents.

What Are Flood Zone Categories?

Insurers use the following flood zone categories to help determine flood risk.

  • Zone A: Property is in a flood hazard area that’s not coastal.
  • Zone B: Moderate flood hazard risk.
  • Zone C: Minimal flood hazard risk.
  • Zone D: Possible risk of flooding, but hazard level is undetermined.
  • Zone V: High risk for floods in coastal areas.
  • Zone X: With newer maps, Zones B and C are identified as Zone X.

This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.

Ally Childress loves to learn. In her 20s, she had a blast earning her degree in English literature. Twenty years later, she equally enjoyed going back to school to study electricity.

Between those two major education stints, she worked in an entirely different field: science. She monitored water quality for a government agency, then tested food for pathogens at a multinational food safety company.

After a decade, she didn’t see herself moving up since her degree didn’t match her position. She decided instead to pursue a career in the trades, where she could use her more technical inclinations, and started researching possibilities. “Electrician just jumped out at me, so I signed up,” she says.

Childress completed the five-year International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program in Minnesota in 2020. The program features one day of school and four days of work weekly, a model she loved.

“I learned that I’m a bit of a code nerd,” she says. “There are rules that must be followed to make electricity safe for the people using it, and they can be pretty dense and difficult to parse. Learning the code turned out to be my favorite part of the process.”

After completing her apprenticeship she became a journeyworker, which Childress truly enjoys. But in the summer of 2021, an nagging ankle injury forced her off the jobsite. She’s currently healing in Texas, where she and her wife recently moved to be closer to family.

We caught up with Childress for her thoughts on the state of the electric industry.

Q: Which projects stand out to you?

A: My first job was the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which I worked on for a year. The scale was enormous, with a couple hundred electricians. I got paired with this abrasive foreman who was about to retire. He’d spit tobacco and yell at everybody, but he ended up being great. I stuck with him and learned so much.

First I worked on the major switchgear, which controls the big power coming in, and then up on the catwalk for nine months, which is like 300 feet in the air. I felt very privileged to start on such a monumental project. It was so fun. And now to watch it on TV and know I helped build that, that’s just the neatest feeling in the world.

Q: What changes have you seen in the electric field?

A: I’ve only been in the trades about seven years, so it’s not like I have a vast opinion. But even in that time I’ve seen a major change in how the folks in charge relate to the workers on their crews.

For example, my foreman on the U.S. Bank Stadium’s approach was to yell at people, whereas my other bosses have taken a more collaborate approach. This generational shift from old school to the younger generations is completely obvious to me.

Q: Moving forward, what changes do you hope to see?

Ally Childress working on an electrical outlet in a hard hat

A: It’s nice to see more women working as foreman in the field. But I would also like to see more women in company hierarchies, in the boardrooms. Because any time there’s diversity in leadership, you’re going to see different perspectives come down the chain.

I would also like to see more outreach to young women. The trades are something that need to be un-stigmatized. College is wonderful, but a lot of kids can benefit from trade school and apprenticeships, too. They don’t need to take on $100,000 of debt to make a really good living as an electrician.

Q: Any pros or cons to being a woman in the electric trade?

A: I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because I tend to defuse situations, but I haven’t had a whole lot of consternation about being a woman in the trades.

There are a few jerks, where I’ve thought, “I can’t believe he just said that sexist nonsense.” But I’ve found that if I’m good at my job and work hard, most men are amenable to having me around. I can’t say enough positive things about the guys I’ve worked with.

One observation I’ve had is that people have their eyes on women, because we can be a novelty. If you make up only 10 percent of the jobsite, you stand out, good or bad. And if you’re the one woman on the site, you become all of the women on the site. That makes you hyperconscious of yourself, because if you stand out in a bad way, you’re going to give all women a bad name.

That being said, companies have really made strides in being welcoming. There’s a huge untapped potential of women, and I think companies are understanding that.

Q: How can bosses and coworkers be more inclusive?

A: I want to be thought of as a good electrician, not a good woman electrician. I’ve had a few coworkers say stuff like, “You’re really good at this for a girl.” Guys, that’s not a compliment.

Q: Any advice for young women looking to get into electricity or other trades?

A: Besides going through a union apprenticeship program, just keep your mind open. A lot of young women don’t consider the trades because they’ve been kind of stigmatized, but they’re a great option.

The trades are filled with smart, motivated people who have it going on. They’re happy, make a great living, take vacations and have excellent health care. Then, more practically, show up on time. Don’t look at your phone. Ask questions, but also listen and be observant. And wear your hair up so it’s not a safety issue.

Q: Any advice for staying healthy while working such a physical job?

A: Don’t ignore pain. I wouldn’t have been sidelined for nearly a year if I had gotten my ankle looked at first, rather than worked in pain for months.

I don’t like to complain, or let people down by making them pick up the slack for me not being there, but now I realize it’s okay to take time off. We have great health care. Go to the doctor. Take time to rest your body. You have to keep yourself healthy or you won’t be able to do it very long, because it’s an extremely labor-intensive job.

Q: What are your pro-specific tools?

A: First and foremost, a non-contact voltage tester to make sure circuits are dead before working on them. Fluke is a great brand. Then, obviously, wire strippers, because you use them a thousand times a day. I like Ideal Reflex Super-T because they’re comfortable and they always work.

You’ll never see anybody without lineman’s pliers, which we call Kleins after the brand name. They’re for cutting, twisting, pulling and straightening wire, plus hammering, prying, cutting screws, etc.

You also need a screwdriver. Klein makes the best six-inch square shank slotted one. It’s incredibly sturdy and the square shank means you can use a wrench on it to gain torque.

I always have a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers, commonly called channel-locks because the best and most ubiquitous brand is Channel Lock. Small-sized ones, which we call baby channel locks, are handy to carry around, give plenty of torque and are good for tightening locknuts in small boxes.

Finally, you can’t put up pipe, panels or boxes without a torpedo level, or you’ll look like a hack and nothing will fit. It’s also a must for bending pipe, drawing straight lines and measuring slope.

Ally Childress Bio

After two fulfilling careers in the science industry, Ally Childress joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a first-year apprentice. She’s now a journeyworker and freelance writer whose work appears frequently on FamilyHandyman.com. Childress grew up in Oklahoma and lives near family in Texas but calls Minnesota home. She and her spouse hope to one day get out of the I-35 corridor.

Writer Karuna Eberl Bio

Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to FamilyHandyman.com. She’s spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary The Guerrero Project.

This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.

Ally Childress loves to learn. In her 20s, she had a blast earning her degree in English literature. Twenty years later, she equally enjoyed going back to school to study electricity.

Between those two major education stints, she worked in an entirely different field: science. She monitored water quality for a government agency, then tested food for pathogens at a multinational food safety company.

After a decade, she didn’t see herself moving up since her degree didn’t match her position. She decided instead to pursue a career in the trades, where she could use her more technical inclinations, and started researching possibilities. “Electrician just jumped out at me, so I signed up,” she says.

Childress completed the five-year International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program in Minnesota in 2020. The program features one day of school and four days of work weekly, a model she loved.

“I learned that I’m a bit of a code nerd,” she says. “There are rules that must be followed to make electricity safe for the people using it, and they can be pretty dense and difficult to parse. Learning the code turned out to be my favorite part of the process.”

After completing her apprenticeship she became a journeyworker, which Childress truly enjoys. But in the summer of 2021, an nagging ankle injury forced her off the jobsite. She’s currently healing in Texas, where she and her wife recently moved to be closer to family.

We caught up with Childress for her thoughts on the state of the electric industry.

Q: Which projects stand out to you?

A: My first job was the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which I worked on for a year. The scale was enormous, with a couple hundred electricians. I got paired with this abrasive foreman who was about to retire. He’d spit tobacco and yell at everybody, but he ended up being great. I stuck with him and learned so much.

First I worked on the major switchgear, which controls the big power coming in, and then up on the catwalk for nine months, which is like 300 feet in the air. I felt very privileged to start on such a monumental project. It was so fun. And now to watch it on TV and know I helped build that, that’s just the neatest feeling in the world.

Q: What changes have you seen in the electric field?

A: I’ve only been in the trades about seven years, so it’s not like I have a vast opinion. But even in that time I’ve seen a major change in how the folks in charge relate to the workers on their crews.

For example, my foreman on the U.S. Bank Stadium’s approach was to yell at people, whereas my other bosses have taken a more collaborate approach. This generational shift from old school to the younger generations is completely obvious to me.

Q: Moving forward, what changes do you hope to see?

Ally Childress working on an electrical outlet in a hard hat

A: It’s nice to see more women working as foreman in the field. But I would also like to see more women in company hierarchies, in the boardrooms. Because any time there’s diversity in leadership, you’re going to see different perspectives come down the chain.

I would also like to see more outreach to young women. The trades are something that need to be un-stigmatized. College is wonderful, but a lot of kids can benefit from trade school and apprenticeships, too. They don’t need to take on $100,000 of debt to make a really good living as an electrician.

Q: Any pros or cons to being a woman in the electric trade?

A: I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because I tend to defuse situations, but I haven’t had a whole lot of consternation about being a woman in the trades.

There are a few jerks, where I’ve thought, “I can’t believe he just said that sexist nonsense.” But I’ve found that if I’m good at my job and work hard, most men are amenable to having me around. I can’t say enough positive things about the guys I’ve worked with.

One observation I’ve had is that people have their eyes on women, because we can be a novelty. If you make up only 10 percent of the jobsite, you stand out, good or bad. And if you’re the one woman on the site, you become all of the women on the site. That makes you hyperconscious of yourself, because if you stand out in a bad way, you’re going to give all women a bad name.

That being said, companies have really made strides in being welcoming. There’s a huge untapped potential of women, and I think companies are understanding that.

Q: How can bosses and coworkers be more inclusive?

A: I want to be thought of as a good electrician, not a good woman electrician. I’ve had a few coworkers say stuff like, “You’re really good at this for a girl.” Guys, that’s not a compliment.

Q: Any advice for young women looking to get into electricity or other trades?

A: Besides going through a union apprenticeship program, just keep your mind open. A lot of young women don’t consider the trades because they’ve been kind of stigmatized, but they’re a great option.

The trades are filled with smart, motivated people who have it going on. They’re happy, make a great living, take vacations and have excellent health care. Then, more practically, show up on time. Don’t look at your phone. Ask questions, but also listen and be observant. And wear your hair up so it’s not a safety issue.

Q: Any advice for staying healthy while working such a physical job?

A: Don’t ignore pain. I wouldn’t have been sidelined for nearly a year if I had gotten my ankle looked at first, rather than worked in pain for months.

I don’t like to complain, or let people down by making them pick up the slack for me not being there, but now I realize it’s okay to take time off. We have great health care. Go to the doctor. Take time to rest your body. You have to keep yourself healthy or you won’t be able to do it very long, because it’s an extremely labor-intensive job.

Q: What are your pro-specific tools?

A: First and foremost, a non-contact voltage tester to make sure circuits are dead before working on them. Fluke is a great brand. Then, obviously, wire strippers, because you use them a thousand times a day. I like Ideal Reflex Super-T because they’re comfortable and they always work.

You’ll never see anybody without lineman’s pliers, which we call Kleins after the brand name. They’re for cutting, twisting, pulling and straightening wire, plus hammering, prying, cutting screws, etc.

You also need a screwdriver. Klein makes the best six-inch square shank slotted one. It’s incredibly sturdy and the square shank means you can use a wrench on it to gain torque.

I always have a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers, commonly called channel-locks because the best and most ubiquitous brand is Channel Lock. Small-sized ones, which we call baby channel locks, are handy to carry around, give plenty of torque and are good for tightening locknuts in small boxes.

Finally, you can’t put up pipe, panels or boxes without a torpedo level, or you’ll look like a hack and nothing will fit. It’s also a must for bending pipe, drawing straight lines and measuring slope.

Ally Childress Bio

After two fulfilling careers in the science industry, Ally Childress joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a first-year apprentice. She’s now a journeyworker and freelance writer whose work appears frequently on FamilyHandyman.com. Childress grew up in Oklahoma and lives near family in Texas but calls Minnesota home. She and her spouse hope to one day get out of the I-35 corridor.

Writer Karuna Eberl Bio

Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to FamilyHandyman.com. She’s spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary The Guerrero Project.

This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.

Ally Childress loves to learn. In her 20s, she had a blast earning her degree in English literature. Twenty years later, she equally enjoyed going back to school to study electricity.

Between those two major education stints, she worked in an entirely different field: science. She monitored water quality for a government agency, then tested food for pathogens at a multinational food safety company.

After a decade, she didn’t see herself moving up since her degree didn’t match her position. She decided instead to pursue a career in the trades, where she could use her more technical inclinations, and started researching possibilities. “Electrician just jumped out at me, so I signed up,” she says.

Childress completed the five-year International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program in Minnesota in 2020. The program features one day of school and four days of work weekly, a model she loved.

“I learned that I’m a bit of a code nerd,” she says. “There are rules that must be followed to make electricity safe for the people using it, and they can be pretty dense and difficult to parse. Learning the code turned out to be my favorite part of the process.”

After completing her apprenticeship she became a journeyworker, which Childress truly enjoys. But in the summer of 2021, an nagging ankle injury forced her off the jobsite. She’s currently healing in Texas, where she and her wife recently moved to be closer to family.

We caught up with Childress for her thoughts on the state of the electric industry.

Q: Which projects stand out to you?

A: My first job was the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which I worked on for a year. The scale was enormous, with a couple hundred electricians. I got paired with this abrasive foreman who was about to retire. He’d spit tobacco and yell at everybody, but he ended up being great. I stuck with him and learned so much.

First I worked on the major switchgear, which controls the big power coming in, and then up on the catwalk for nine months, which is like 300 feet in the air. I felt very privileged to start on such a monumental project. It was so fun. And now to watch it on TV and know I helped build that, that’s just the neatest feeling in the world.

Q: What changes have you seen in the electric field?

A: I’ve only been in the trades about seven years, so it’s not like I have a vast opinion. But even in that time I’ve seen a major change in how the folks in charge relate to the workers on their crews.

For example, my foreman on the U.S. Bank Stadium’s approach was to yell at people, whereas my other bosses have taken a more collaborate approach. This generational shift from old school to the younger generations is completely obvious to me.

Q: Moving forward, what changes do you hope to see?

Ally Childress working on an electrical outlet in a hard hat

A: It’s nice to see more women working as foreman in the field. But I would also like to see more women in company hierarchies, in the boardrooms. Because any time there’s diversity in leadership, you’re going to see different perspectives come down the chain.

I would also like to see more outreach to young women. The trades are something that need to be un-stigmatized. College is wonderful, but a lot of kids can benefit from trade school and apprenticeships, too. They don’t need to take on $100,000 of debt to make a really good living as an electrician.

Q: Any pros or cons to being a woman in the electric trade?

A: I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because I tend to defuse situations, but I haven’t had a whole lot of consternation about being a woman in the trades.

There are a few jerks, where I’ve thought, “I can’t believe he just said that sexist nonsense.” But I’ve found that if I’m good at my job and work hard, most men are amenable to having me around. I can’t say enough positive things about the guys I’ve worked with.

One observation I’ve had is that people have their eyes on women, because we can be a novelty. If you make up only 10 percent of the jobsite, you stand out, good or bad. And if you’re the one woman on the site, you become all of the women on the site. That makes you hyperconscious of yourself, because if you stand out in a bad way, you’re going to give all women a bad name.

That being said, companies have really made strides in being welcoming. There’s a huge untapped potential of women, and I think companies are understanding that.

Q: How can bosses and coworkers be more inclusive?

A: I want to be thought of as a good electrician, not a good woman electrician. I’ve had a few coworkers say stuff like, “You’re really good at this for a girl.” Guys, that’s not a compliment.

Q: Any advice for young women looking to get into electricity or other trades?

A: Besides going through a union apprenticeship program, just keep your mind open. A lot of young women don’t consider the trades because they’ve been kind of stigmatized, but they’re a great option.

The trades are filled with smart, motivated people who have it going on. They’re happy, make a great living, take vacations and have excellent health care. Then, more practically, show up on time. Don’t look at your phone. Ask questions, but also listen and be observant. And wear your hair up so it’s not a safety issue.

Q: Any advice for staying healthy while working such a physical job?

A: Don’t ignore pain. I wouldn’t have been sidelined for nearly a year if I had gotten my ankle looked at first, rather than worked in pain for months.

I don’t like to complain, or let people down by making them pick up the slack for me not being there, but now I realize it’s okay to take time off. We have great health care. Go to the doctor. Take time to rest your body. You have to keep yourself healthy or you won’t be able to do it very long, because it’s an extremely labor-intensive job.

Q: What are your pro-specific tools?

A: First and foremost, a non-contact voltage tester to make sure circuits are dead before working on them. Fluke is a great brand. Then, obviously, wire strippers, because you use them a thousand times a day. I like Ideal Reflex Super-T because they’re comfortable and they always work.

You’ll never see anybody without lineman’s pliers, which we call Kleins after the brand name. They’re for cutting, twisting, pulling and straightening wire, plus hammering, prying, cutting screws, etc.

You also need a screwdriver. Klein makes the best six-inch square shank slotted one. It’s incredibly sturdy and the square shank means you can use a wrench on it to gain torque.

I always have a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers, commonly called channel-locks because the best and most ubiquitous brand is Channel Lock. Small-sized ones, which we call baby channel locks, are handy to carry around, give plenty of torque and are good for tightening locknuts in small boxes.

Finally, you can’t put up pipe, panels or boxes without a torpedo level, or you’ll look like a hack and nothing will fit. It’s also a must for bending pipe, drawing straight lines and measuring slope.

Ally Childress Bio

After two fulfilling careers in the science industry, Ally Childress joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a first-year apprentice. She’s now a journeyworker and freelance writer whose work appears frequently on FamilyHandyman.com. Childress grew up in Oklahoma and lives near family in Texas but calls Minnesota home. She and her spouse hope to one day get out of the I-35 corridor.

Writer Karuna Eberl Bio

Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to FamilyHandyman.com. She’s spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary The Guerrero Project.

This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.

Ally Childress loves to learn. In her 20s, she had a blast earning her degree in English literature. Twenty years later, she equally enjoyed going back to school to study electricity.

Between those two major education stints, she worked in an entirely different field: science. She monitored water quality for a government agency, then tested food for pathogens at a multinational food safety company.

After a decade, she didn’t see herself moving up since her degree didn’t match her position. She decided instead to pursue a career in the trades, where she could use her more technical inclinations, and started researching possibilities. “Electrician just jumped out at me, so I signed up,” she says.

Childress completed the five-year International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program in Minnesota in 2020. The program features one day of school and four days of work weekly, a model she loved.

“I learned that I’m a bit of a code nerd,” she says. “There are rules that must be followed to make electricity safe for the people using it, and they can be pretty dense and difficult to parse. Learning the code turned out to be my favorite part of the process.”

After completing her apprenticeship she became a journeyworker, which Childress truly enjoys. But in the summer of 2021, an nagging ankle injury forced her off the jobsite. She’s currently healing in Texas, where she and her wife recently moved to be closer to family.

We caught up with Childress for her thoughts on the state of the electric industry.

Q: Which projects stand out to you?

A: My first job was the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which I worked on for a year. The scale was enormous, with a couple hundred electricians. I got paired with this abrasive foreman who was about to retire. He’d spit tobacco and yell at everybody, but he ended up being great. I stuck with him and learned so much.

First I worked on the major switchgear, which controls the big power coming in, and then up on the catwalk for nine months, which is like 300 feet in the air. I felt very privileged to start on such a monumental project. It was so fun. And now to watch it on TV and know I helped build that, that’s just the neatest feeling in the world.

Q: What changes have you seen in the electric field?

A: I’ve only been in the trades about seven years, so it’s not like I have a vast opinion. But even in that time I’ve seen a major change in how the folks in charge relate to the workers on their crews.

For example, my foreman on the U.S. Bank Stadium’s approach was to yell at people, whereas my other bosses have taken a more collaborate approach. This generational shift from old school to the younger generations is completely obvious to me.

Q: Moving forward, what changes do you hope to see?

Ally Childress working on an electrical outlet in a hard hat

A: It’s nice to see more women working as foreman in the field. But I would also like to see more women in company hierarchies, in the boardrooms. Because any time there’s diversity in leadership, you’re going to see different perspectives come down the chain.

I would also like to see more outreach to young women. The trades are something that need to be un-stigmatized. College is wonderful, but a lot of kids can benefit from trade school and apprenticeships, too. They don’t need to take on $100,000 of debt to make a really good living as an electrician.

Q: Any pros or cons to being a woman in the electric trade?

A: I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because I tend to defuse situations, but I haven’t had a whole lot of consternation about being a woman in the trades.

There are a few jerks, where I’ve thought, “I can’t believe he just said that sexist nonsense.” But I’ve found that if I’m good at my job and work hard, most men are amenable to having me around. I can’t say enough positive things about the guys I’ve worked with.

One observation I’ve had is that people have their eyes on women, because we can be a novelty. If you make up only 10 percent of the jobsite, you stand out, good or bad. And if you’re the one woman on the site, you become all of the women on the site. That makes you hyperconscious of yourself, because if you stand out in a bad way, you’re going to give all women a bad name.

That being said, companies have really made strides in being welcoming. There’s a huge untapped potential of women, and I think companies are understanding that.

Q: How can bosses and coworkers be more inclusive?

A: I want to be thought of as a good electrician, not a good woman electrician. I’ve had a few coworkers say stuff like, “You’re really good at this for a girl.” Guys, that’s not a compliment.

Q: Any advice for young women looking to get into electricity or other trades?

A: Besides going through a union apprenticeship program, just keep your mind open. A lot of young women don’t consider the trades because they’ve been kind of stigmatized, but they’re a great option.

The trades are filled with smart, motivated people who have it going on. They’re happy, make a great living, take vacations and have excellent health care. Then, more practically, show up on time. Don’t look at your phone. Ask questions, but also listen and be observant. And wear your hair up so it’s not a safety issue.

Q: Any advice for staying healthy while working such a physical job?

A: Don’t ignore pain. I wouldn’t have been sidelined for nearly a year if I had gotten my ankle looked at first, rather than worked in pain for months.

I don’t like to complain, or let people down by making them pick up the slack for me not being there, but now I realize it’s okay to take time off. We have great health care. Go to the doctor. Take time to rest your body. You have to keep yourself healthy or you won’t be able to do it very long, because it’s an extremely labor-intensive job.

Q: What are your pro-specific tools?

A: First and foremost, a non-contact voltage tester to make sure circuits are dead before working on them. Fluke is a great brand. Then, obviously, wire strippers, because you use them a thousand times a day. I like Ideal Reflex Super-T because they’re comfortable and they always work.

You’ll never see anybody without lineman’s pliers, which we call Kleins after the brand name. They’re for cutting, twisting, pulling and straightening wire, plus hammering, prying, cutting screws, etc.

You also need a screwdriver. Klein makes the best six-inch square shank slotted one. It’s incredibly sturdy and the square shank means you can use a wrench on it to gain torque.

I always have a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers, commonly called channel-locks because the best and most ubiquitous brand is Channel Lock. Small-sized ones, which we call baby channel locks, are handy to carry around, give plenty of torque and are good for tightening locknuts in small boxes.

Finally, you can’t put up pipe, panels or boxes without a torpedo level, or you’ll look like a hack and nothing will fit. It’s also a must for bending pipe, drawing straight lines and measuring slope.

Ally Childress Bio

After two fulfilling careers in the science industry, Ally Childress joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a first-year apprentice. She’s now a journeyworker and freelance writer whose work appears frequently on FamilyHandyman.com. Childress grew up in Oklahoma and lives near family in Texas but calls Minnesota home. She and her spouse hope to one day get out of the I-35 corridor.

Writer Karuna Eberl Bio

Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to FamilyHandyman.com. She’s spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary The Guerrero Project.

This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.

Ally Childress loves to learn. In her 20s, she had a blast earning her degree in English literature. Twenty years later, she equally enjoyed going back to school to study electricity.

Between those two major education stints, she worked in an entirely different field: science. She monitored water quality for a government agency, then tested food for pathogens at a multinational food safety company.

After a decade, she didn’t see herself moving up since her degree didn’t match her position. She decided instead to pursue a career in the trades, where she could use her more technical inclinations, and started researching possibilities. “Electrician just jumped out at me, so I signed up,” she says.

Childress completed the five-year International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program in Minnesota in 2020. The program features one day of school and four days of work weekly, a model she loved.

“I learned that I’m a bit of a code nerd,” she says. “There are rules that must be followed to make electricity safe for the people using it, and they can be pretty dense and difficult to parse. Learning the code turned out to be my favorite part of the process.”

After completing her apprenticeship she became a journeyworker, which Childress truly enjoys. But in the summer of 2021, an nagging ankle injury forced her off the jobsite. She’s currently healing in Texas, where she and her wife recently moved to be closer to family.

We caught up with Childress for her thoughts on the state of the electric industry.

Q: Which projects stand out to you?

A: My first job was the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which I worked on for a year. The scale was enormous, with a couple hundred electricians. I got paired with this abrasive foreman who was about to retire. He’d spit tobacco and yell at everybody, but he ended up being great. I stuck with him and learned so much.

First I worked on the major switchgear, which controls the big power coming in, and then up on the catwalk for nine months, which is like 300 feet in the air. I felt very privileged to start on such a monumental project. It was so fun. And now to watch it on TV and know I helped build that, that’s just the neatest feeling in the world.

Q: What changes have you seen in the electric field?

A: I’ve only been in the trades about seven years, so it’s not like I have a vast opinion. But even in that time I’ve seen a major change in how the folks in charge relate to the workers on their crews.

For example, my foreman on the U.S. Bank Stadium’s approach was to yell at people, whereas my other bosses have taken a more collaborate approach. This generational shift from old school to the younger generations is completely obvious to me.

Q: Moving forward, what changes do you hope to see?

Ally Childress working on an electrical outlet in a hard hat

A: It’s nice to see more women working as foreman in the field. But I would also like to see more women in company hierarchies, in the boardrooms. Because any time there’s diversity in leadership, you’re going to see different perspectives come down the chain.

I would also like to see more outreach to young women. The trades are something that need to be un-stigmatized. College is wonderful, but a lot of kids can benefit from trade school and apprenticeships, too. They don’t need to take on $100,000 of debt to make a really good living as an electrician.

Q: Any pros or cons to being a woman in the electric trade?

A: I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because I tend to defuse situations, but I haven’t had a whole lot of consternation about being a woman in the trades.

There are a few jerks, where I’ve thought, “I can’t believe he just said that sexist nonsense.” But I’ve found that if I’m good at my job and work hard, most men are amenable to having me around. I can’t say enough positive things about the guys I’ve worked with.

One observation I’ve had is that people have their eyes on women, because we can be a novelty. If you make up only 10 percent of the jobsite, you stand out, good or bad. And if you’re the one woman on the site, you become all of the women on the site. That makes you hyperconscious of yourself, because if you stand out in a bad way, you’re going to give all women a bad name.

That being said, companies have really made strides in being welcoming. There’s a huge untapped potential of women, and I think companies are understanding that.

Q: How can bosses and coworkers be more inclusive?

A: I want to be thought of as a good electrician, not a good woman electrician. I’ve had a few coworkers say stuff like, “You’re really good at this for a girl.” Guys, that’s not a compliment.

Q: Any advice for young women looking to get into electricity or other trades?

A: Besides going through a union apprenticeship program, just keep your mind open. A lot of young women don’t consider the trades because they’ve been kind of stigmatized, but they’re a great option.

The trades are filled with smart, motivated people who have it going on. They’re happy, make a great living, take vacations and have excellent health care. Then, more practically, show up on time. Don’t look at your phone. Ask questions, but also listen and be observant. And wear your hair up so it’s not a safety issue.

Q: Any advice for staying healthy while working such a physical job?

A: Don’t ignore pain. I wouldn’t have been sidelined for nearly a year if I had gotten my ankle looked at first, rather than worked in pain for months.

I don’t like to complain, or let people down by making them pick up the slack for me not being there, but now I realize it’s okay to take time off. We have great health care. Go to the doctor. Take time to rest your body. You have to keep yourself healthy or you won’t be able to do it very long, because it’s an extremely labor-intensive job.

Q: What are your pro-specific tools?

A: First and foremost, a non-contact voltage tester to make sure circuits are dead before working on them. Fluke is a great brand. Then, obviously, wire strippers, because you use them a thousand times a day. I like Ideal Reflex Super-T because they’re comfortable and they always work.

You’ll never see anybody without lineman’s pliers, which we call Kleins after the brand name. They’re for cutting, twisting, pulling and straightening wire, plus hammering, prying, cutting screws, etc.

You also need a screwdriver. Klein makes the best six-inch square shank slotted one. It’s incredibly sturdy and the square shank means you can use a wrench on it to gain torque.

I always have a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers, commonly called channel-locks because the best and most ubiquitous brand is Channel Lock. Small-sized ones, which we call baby channel locks, are handy to carry around, give plenty of torque and are good for tightening locknuts in small boxes.

Finally, you can’t put up pipe, panels or boxes without a torpedo level, or you’ll look like a hack and nothing will fit. It’s also a must for bending pipe, drawing straight lines and measuring slope.

Ally Childress Bio

After two fulfilling careers in the science industry, Ally Childress joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a first-year apprentice. She’s now a journeyworker and freelance writer whose work appears frequently on FamilyHandyman.com. Childress grew up in Oklahoma and lives near family in Texas but calls Minnesota home. She and her spouse hope to one day get out of the I-35 corridor.

Writer Karuna Eberl Bio

Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to FamilyHandyman.com. She’s spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary The Guerrero Project.

A perfectly striped baseball field holds promise. The first glimpse of a bright green field beneath a blue sky on Opening Day is magical. That memory carries fans and players through the season’s slumps, streaks and everything in between.

Professional groundskeepers keep that magic alive all season, and it’s a lot of work. We asked Marcus Campbell, director of field operations with baseball’s Class AAA St. Paul Saints, how his crew keeps its award-winning home field in top shape.

“Two of us are here from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on game days,” says Campbell. Four work during the day to take care of all the sod that needs attention, and six more come in for games to handle the tarp during the rain delays. Also, they mow.

What if fans wanted to recreate the look of a professionally-striped baseball field in their front or back yard? Could they do it?

“Absolutely,” says Campbell. Striping a lawn is no different than striping a baseball field, he says. You just need a mower and a way to flatten the grass blades.

Equipment Needed To Create Lawn Stripes

You can stripe a lawn with your regular mower. But for a big-league look, get or make a striping kit.

Here’s all you need:

  • Lawn mower — push, riding, reel or rotary;
  • Lawn striping kit or lawn roller — rent, buy or DIY;
  • Sand or water to fill the roller.

Striping kits or lawn rollers attach to your mower behind the cutting blades, flattening the grass after it’s cut. Each pass of the mower and roller bends the grass in the opposite direction from the grass in the pass next to it.

“Striping is visible because sunlight hits the grass blades at different angles,” says Campbell. With each pass of the mower, you’re bending the grass blades toward or away from the light source.

Looking to stripe on the cheap? DIY a striping kit with stuff you have in your garage. Try a 2×4, weighted piece of pipe, even an old rubber mat — anything that can flatten grass and be safely attached behind your mower is a potential striping kit. Just be careful on the turns so you don’t run over any DIY attachments.

How To Stripe a Lawn

Start with grass that’s pretty long (three to four inches). Don’t cut off more than a one-third of the length.

“Longer, cool-season grasses like fescue work better than short, warm-season grass like Bermuda,” says Campbell. Bermuda just doesn’t bend as well. “That’s why you don’t see dramatic striping in Southern ball fields,” he says.

Also, cut grass when it’s dry. It’s better for grass health, says Campbell. Cutting wet grass promotes fungal disease, and it’s harder to get an even cut when water weighs down the grass blades.

Follow these steps to make stripes like the pros:

  1. Decide where you want to start. Making your first pass next to a driveway or sidewalk gives you a nice straight line to follow for subsequent passes. Or make a run around the perimeter of your yard and go parallel to either side. Starting in a corner and making diagonal lines is an option, too.
  2. Make your first parallel pass, looking out in front of you to follow the previous stripe. At the end of the row, turn toward your next pass, lift up the front wheels and turn. Bring down the mower right next to the previous pass. If you can run up on a sidewalk to turn, even better.
  3. Mow around obstacles like trees and flowerbeds by turning into the un-mowed lawn, never back into your already-cut and striped side. Meet up with the previous pass on the other side of the obstacle and continue.
  4. Continue making parallel passes until you’ve finished the lawn.
  5. Go around the perimeter to cover any turn marks, if desired.
  6. Change up the direction every week or two so your whole lawn gets some sunshine and fresh air.

Beyond Stripes

Once you’ve mastered parallel lines, mix it up a bit. Create a checkerboard by striping your lawn again at a 90-degree angle to the first stripes. Or create a diagonal effect with a 45-degree offset. Circles could be in your future as well — start in the middle and work outward for those.

If you really want the best stripes on your block, use a reel mower, says Campbell. That’s what the pros use to get those well-defined ballpark stripes.

“Reel mowers, like the ones from the 1940s with the rotating blades, make the best stripes,” says Campbell, who uses a power reel mower at CHS Field. Well-maintained reels are extremely sharp and cut the grass like scissors. Rotary mowers, by contrast, forcefully rip the grass, dulling the effect of the sunlight on the blades.

As for his lawn? Does a professional groundskeeper stripe his lawn at home?

“Nope,” Campbell says. “This stadium is my home.”

A perfectly striped baseball field holds promise. The first glimpse of a bright green field beneath a blue sky on Opening Day is magical. That memory carries fans and players through the season’s slumps, streaks and everything in between.

Professional groundskeepers keep that magic alive all season, and it’s a lot of work. We asked Marcus Campbell, director of field operations with baseball’s Class AAA St. Paul Saints, how his crew keeps its award-winning home field in top shape.

“Two of us are here from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on game days,” says Campbell. Four work during the day to take care of all the sod that needs attention, and six more come in for games to handle the tarp during the rain delays. Also, they mow.

What if fans wanted to recreate the look of a professionally-striped baseball field in their front or back yard? Could they do it?

“Absolutely,” says Campbell. Striping a lawn is no different than striping a baseball field, he says. You just need a mower and a way to flatten the grass blades.

Equipment Needed To Create Lawn Stripes

You can stripe a lawn with your regular mower. But for a big-league look, get or make a striping kit.

Here’s all you need:

  • Lawn mower — push, riding, reel or rotary;
  • Lawn striping kit or lawn roller — rent, buy or DIY;
  • Sand or water to fill the roller.

Striping kits or lawn rollers attach to your mower behind the cutting blades, flattening the grass after it’s cut. Each pass of the mower and roller bends the grass in the opposite direction from the grass in the pass next to it.

“Striping is visible because sunlight hits the grass blades at different angles,” says Campbell. With each pass of the mower, you’re bending the grass blades toward or away from the light source.

Looking to stripe on the cheap? DIY a striping kit with stuff you have in your garage. Try a 2×4, weighted piece of pipe, even an old rubber mat — anything that can flatten grass and be safely attached behind your mower is a potential striping kit. Just be careful on the turns so you don’t run over any DIY attachments.

How To Stripe a Lawn

Start with grass that’s pretty long (three to four inches). Don’t cut off more than a one-third of the length.

“Longer, cool-season grasses like fescue work better than short, warm-season grass like Bermuda,” says Campbell. Bermuda just doesn’t bend as well. “That’s why you don’t see dramatic striping in Southern ball fields,” he says.

Also, cut grass when it’s dry. It’s better for grass health, says Campbell. Cutting wet grass promotes fungal disease, and it’s harder to get an even cut when water weighs down the grass blades.

Follow these steps to make stripes like the pros:

  1. Decide where you want to start. Making your first pass next to a driveway or sidewalk gives you a nice straight line to follow for subsequent passes. Or make a run around the perimeter of your yard and go parallel to either side. Starting in a corner and making diagonal lines is an option, too.
  2. Make your first parallel pass, looking out in front of you to follow the previous stripe. At the end of the row, turn toward your next pass, lift up the front wheels and turn. Bring down the mower right next to the previous pass. If you can run up on a sidewalk to turn, even better.
  3. Mow around obstacles like trees and flowerbeds by turning into the un-mowed lawn, never back into your already-cut and striped side. Meet up with the previous pass on the other side of the obstacle and continue.
  4. Continue making parallel passes until you’ve finished the lawn.
  5. Go around the perimeter to cover any turn marks, if desired.
  6. Change up the direction every week or two so your whole lawn gets some sunshine and fresh air.

Beyond Stripes

Once you’ve mastered parallel lines, mix it up a bit. Create a checkerboard by striping your lawn again at a 90-degree angle to the first stripes. Or create a diagonal effect with a 45-degree offset. Circles could be in your future as well — start in the middle and work outward for those.

If you really want the best stripes on your block, use a reel mower, says Campbell. That’s what the pros use to get those well-defined ballpark stripes.

“Reel mowers, like the ones from the 1940s with the rotating blades, make the best stripes,” says Campbell, who uses a power reel mower at CHS Field. Well-maintained reels are extremely sharp and cut the grass like scissors. Rotary mowers, by contrast, forcefully rip the grass, dulling the effect of the sunlight on the blades.

As for his lawn? Does a professional groundskeeper stripe his lawn at home?

“Nope,” Campbell says. “This stadium is my home.”

Perhaps I’m a tinkerer at heart. I may also be a bit frugal. But whenever something mechanical I own needs a repair, I try to do it myself.

If it’s a big job like replacing the rear differential in my truck. I don’t have the time, space or confidence to tackle it. But for smaller issues with my bicycle, lawn mower, snowblower, boat, motorcycle or family vehicles, I try to fix them myself.

It usually doesn’t take many tools. An adjustable wrench, socket set, breaker bar, mallet, torque wrench and a willingness to get grease under your fingers is all you need.

Of those tools, a torque wrench is the least common, but it’s essential. It lets you apply the right amount of torque to a bolt without over- or under-tightening it.

Torque wrenches come in various styles and ratings. Some are best for ultralight carbon fiber bicycle components, others for heavy-duty farm or construction equipment.

While visiting a friend, I came across his Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter, a torque tool attachment with a scale that would be just right for my needs. So I ordered one up and gave it a try.

What is the Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter?

The Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter is a small, lime-shaped attachment that converts your standard 1/2-inch socket handle or breaker bar into a torque wrench with a rotating digital readout.

It measures between 30- and 150-ft/lb of torque and provides an accurate measurement of within 2%, with five units (kg/cm, kg/m, ft/lb, in/lb, N/m) to choose from. Any 1/2-in. socket can work with the digital torque adapter. It also includes adapters for 3/8-in. and 1/4-in. sockets.

The adapter features a programmable interface with ten adjustable pre-set values, and informs you audibly and visually when those values have been reached. The kit comes nicely packaged in a durable storage case.

How We Tested It

using a Performance Tool Digital Torque Adapter on a tire

The Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter came at the right time. Our cars needed their tires rotated, and my motorcycle was almost ready for end-of-summer routine maintenance. I was eager to play around with its programmable interface, and see how well it worked with different drive sockets and their adapters.

Accuracy

First, I tested the Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter’s accuracy. The manufacturer claims the torque wrench is accurate to +/-2%, which would be astonishing, since my much older click torque wrench is only accurate to +/-4%.

It was a relatively simple test. I clamped an old, inexpensive, deep well socket to the table in a pipe wrench so it couldn’t rotate. Then I attached the Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter to the secured socket and my breaker bar to its end.

From the end of the breaker bar I hung 36 lbs. worth of dumbbells and a lightweight bag, which came out to exactly 36.16 lbs. The Performance Tool Digital Torque Adapter read 39.9 ft./lb. of torque.

Then I had to remember some high school physics and pulled out a calculator.

Torque = Lever Length 13-3/8-inches (from pivot point to the bottom knob of my 14-inch breaker bar) x Force 36.16-lbs. (weights and bag).

So 13.375 x 36.16 = 483.64 in/lb of torque. Calculate the ft./lb. by dividing the in./lb. number by 12 and BOOM!!! 40.3 ft./lb. of torque, accurate by 1%. Quite impressive, I must say.

I repeated experiment several times with other heavy objects like brake rotors and bricks. In every case, the Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter was accurate +/-2%.

Performance

Then it was out to the garage to work on the vehicles.

Rotating the tires on our cars was a breeze. Once I programmed the torque settings for my wife’s Subaru and my truck, I removed the lug nuts and switched the wheels. Then I realized the Digital Torque Adapter could read torque in clockwise and counterclockwise directions — a handy feature, though I’m not sure how often it’ll get used.

Using the Digital Torque Adapter, we rotated both sets of tires quickly and hassle-free. Now we have the torque settings saved for future rotations.

On my motorcycle I had to change the oil and access the valves, which meant removing some covers and guards attached with delicate screws and bolts. In this instance, I freehanded it without presetting any of torque settings because the document I found online laid out the torque values I needed. This was slightly more challenging due to the erratic behavior of the digital gauge when I applied torque.

After a bit of patience and feathering each bolt, the Digital Torque Adapter handled all the tasks we asked of it with ease. The smaller 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch drive sockets and adapters were especially useful for these tasks.

Ease of use

While I wouldn’t describe the Digital Torque Adapter as difficult to use, I also wouldn’t describe it as user-friendly, either.

Although there are only five buttons, a quick glance at the readout reveals a lot of programmable data such as torque, units and more. Let’s just say I won’t be discarding the owner’s manual anytime soon, because I’m sure I’ll have to re-reference it at some point.

Pros

  • Compact;
  • Works with 1/2-, 3/8-, and 1/4-inch drive sockets;
  • Really accurate;
  • Programmable presets;
  • Storage case and adapters included.

Cons

  • A lot of programmable info to process;
  • Readout seems erratic when presets aren’t used.

FAQ

Q : This Digital Torque Adapter is only compatible with 1/2-inch drive sockets and breaker bars. Are they made for 3/8-inch drive?

A: No.

Q: Do your saved torque presets disappear when you replace the battery?

A: No, battery changes do not affect their programming.

What Others Had To Say

In a five-star Amazon review, MWD writes, “Handy and accurate … Understanding the buttons to get to the features is a bit tricky but once understood this is a nice unit. … I checked its readings against two other torque wrenches and they are all either accurate to my needs or all off the same amount across the usable scale. I call it a win-win.” 

Amazon verified purchaser WVUFAN4LIFE gets right to the point, writing, “Worth the money!” and “Great product for those hard to reach places.”

Final Verdict

If you’re just starting out with DIY mechanical maintenance, or you’re looking for a compact and precise substitute for traditional torque wrench, give the Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter a try.

It’s extremely accurate, works with all standard socket sizes, and can be programmed to save the exact torque settings required for your vehicle. Moreover, the durable plastic storage case ensures it will last for years to come.

Where to Buy

Performance Tool Digital Torque Adapter

The Performance Tool M206 Digital Torque Adapter is available at Amazon.com.

Buy Now