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Five killer iPhone apps for your tool belt

Calling all mechanics, craftsmen, handymen, and do-it-yourselfers: These awesome apps (four of which are free) give you the tools and know-how to get the job done.

Free apps like Howcast provide video tutorials anytime, anywhere.

I'm not the handiest person in the world, which is why I tend to reach for the telephone more often than the toolbox. (The plumber's on speed-dial.)

It's not that I don't want to drill, cut, measure, and fix things myself--it's that I usually lack the tools and/or know-how.

All together, now: there are apps for that! Here's a roundup of five excellent iPhone apps that cater to handymen, home improvers, and other DIY fans.

  • Bolt & Nut Need to figure out the wrench size for a particular nut or bolt? Just lay it (gently) on your iPhone screen and drag the calipers until they "fit." This clever app also provides a thread gauge, ruler, and reference guide. Price: free.
  • Dimensions It's an entire iPhone toolbox devoted to measuring. In addition to a ruler and caliper, Dimensions provides virtual tape measures--including a clever camera-based "Long Tape" that can measure distances up to 82 feet. Price: $1.99.
  • Hole Spacer When you finally get around to hanging those snazzy album-cover frames, you'll want to make sure they're evenly spaced. Hole Spacer does the math so you know exactly how far apart to drill each hole. Where has this app been all my life?! Price: free.
  • Howcast Forget YouTube. If you want to learn how to do something, watch the professionally produced, often-humorous videos available in Howcast. It's got everything from changing tires to fixing leaky toilets. Price: free.
  • wikiHow Kind of like Howcast's wiki kid brother, wikiHow provides a huge selection of tutorials on just about any project you can imagine--along with a survival guide in case you're ever, um, treed by a bear. (It could happen!) Price: free.

Well, did I miss any must-have DIY apps? I didn't include any "level" tools, as they've been around forever, but do you have a favorite? Share your iPhone-as-toolbox thoughts in the comments.

In the meantime, check out these other "killer app" roundups: