- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

CHICAGO The hardware industry is paying closer attention to the needs of women, based on some of the new products on display at the annual National Hardware Show this week, with everything from tools with smaller grips to gloves that accommodate long fingernails.

Although men purchase more than three-fifths of all do-it-yourself products, women made 37.6 percent of such purchases last year, according to Dianna Smoljan of the American Hardware Manufacturers Association. Manufacturers are redesigning tools to make the job easier for women.

At the hardware show, Wiscon-sin-based RotoZip Tool Corp. introduced the Solaris, a bright-red power saw that is a smaller version of the company's original black model.

RotoZip spokeswoman Nikki Krueger said many women found the original tool too big and heavy. The new model is a pound lighter and has less power, which gives the user more control.

Garden Pals, a Mira Loma, Calif.-based manufacturer of lawn and garden products, has designed a lightweight line of gardening tools for women. Victoria Addison of Garden Pals said she relied on women for design tips for trowels, weeders and pruners.

"They wanted reduced-grip widths, stainless-steel blades that won't rust and locking mechanisms that can be operated with one hand," she said.

Midwest Quality Gloves of Chillicothe, Mo., is marketing longer, narrower work gloves to fit the female hand. They feature reinforced fingertips to protect women's fingernails.

Ron Hazelton, author of "House Calls," a book about home improvement, said two factors are behind the rising number of women doing their own projects.

"Single women with children are uncomfortable with the idea of being at the mercy of a contractor," he said. "And married women doing home improvement have husbands who are not inclined to do such work."

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