the last person we ever buy for is FIL. DH always does the shopping but he was so discouraged last night thinking about it. 3 years ago we got him a tool bench. He needed it, but hates handyman work so really DH is the one who uses it at his house. 2 years ago we bought him nice work boots. He's a surveyor like DH and although he doesn't go out in the field often, he needs good boots to go out. He won't wear them because the leather needs stretched out and not only does he not wear them he keeps trying to give them to DH (forgetting they were a gift). Last year we got him a new drill and he outright told us he doesn't need one, he got a cheap one without all the parts at an auction. He's the least greatful person I have ever met, and although I don't care if we give him a gift or not, it's really hurting Chris' feelings that he's not recieving them well. DH is horrible to buy gifts for as well (apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) I just feel bad for him because he wants to do something nice and can't.
Is there a place he shops at alot (like Ace Hardware or something) or a place he likes to eat at???? Maybe, even though they are impersonal, a gift card is just the way to go with him so he can get what he wants. Either that or cash. If he isn't greatful with what you pick out then he can get his own gift.
my fil loves coffee so he's getting one of those travel mugs that look like to go cups (i found the most awesome ones at the dollar tree) a few of the smaller bags of coffee and a nice mug for home. If your fil likes coffee that may be a way to go.