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Every toolbox should have this under-the-radar tool

It might not happen often, but once in a blue moon, you'll probably need to cut something--tile, linoleum, carpeting--into an odd shape to fit around an obstacle, like a piece of trim, or a pipe, or a toilet. When this oddly bedeviling task presents itself, you'll be glad to have a contour gauge in your toolbox.

A contour gauge is fundamentally a unitasker, but it's really the only appropriate tool for this job. All you have to do is simply press the comb side of the device against the object you're trying to trace, and let the blue plastic teeth take on the shape of whatever they're being pressed against. Then, carefully remove the gauge, and you'll have a perfect echo of whatever curve you're trying to navigate. Just trace the shape with a pen or pencil, and make your cut.

It's an ingeniously simple tool, and an inexpensive one at that. This one (which I own) is less than $20, and you can get one with a locking mechanism to secure the teeth in place for $30 (though I don't think it's really necessary). Even if you don't see an immediate project in mind for it, it's one of those things that's worth buying now, so you'll already have it during a Saturday morning DIY project when you suddenly realize you need it.


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