In the age of pandemic lockdowns, DIY projects at home are at an all time high. Many of these workshop projects require power tools, but if you look at the hardware section in any store, you’ll quickly realise that there are countless types of power tools available on the market. Each power tool has a unique set of advantages and uses, but the process of choosing which to buy can be confusing, especially for beginner DIYers.
In this article, we’ll be discussing 15 common power tools that every DIYer should have. We’ll be helping you decide what tools you need by explaining their benefits and potential applications.
1. Power Drills
Also known as cordless drills, power drills are electric drills powered by rechargeable batteries with enough strength to drill into thick wood planks and drive screws. This is usually the first tool every DIYer gets and the most common one you can find in any workshop, garage, or construction site.
You can use a power drill to put holes into hard surfaces such as wood and walls. Power drills are also excellent for fixing screws and all sorts of fasteners onto surfaces.
Being cord-free, power drills are rather easy to handle and manipulate. So if you’re a beginner, you should get the hand of using this tool in no time. There’s no cord to limit your movement or get in your way.
Power drills come in high-voltage models, light-duty models, as well as medium-voltage versions for general work. Besides voltage, you also need to check the torque of your cordless drill. Torque indicates the ability of your power drill to twist through tough surfaces.
Featuring a reciprocating blade, jigsaws are small tools that cut curved lines in a variety of materials including wood and drywall.
With most saws out there, you can only make straight cuts. But when you need to do more detailed work on a certain project, a jigsaw will save the day.
As a fine-toothed portable power tool, jigsaws are the go-to solution for cutting shapes and complex patterns. It can also produce bevel and compound cuts on boards and other surfaces.
Depending on the type of blade in your jigsaw, you can complete different types of tasks. For example, you can use a jigsaw to cut into a countertop, install a sink, or cut into materials that other saws can’t handle (such as metal and thin-tile).
If it’s intricate work, then jigsaws got you covered. However, jigsaws are not what you need if you want to make quick, straight-line cuts. Such types of cuts are the specialty of circular saws.
3. Circular Saws
A circular saw is a motorised tool that houses a blade with teeth. The blade has a rotary motion, spinning around an arbor to cut into a range of materials including wood, metal, plastic, and Mansory.
Circular saws produce cross cuts, rip cuts, or a combination of both. The blade design differs according to the material you plan on cutting.
Each tooth in the blade makes a small chip in the surface, expelling the chip out of the material at the same time. To allow the circular saw to slowly run across the material, the item is held by a clamp or secured in a vise.
Circular saws produce narrow cuts with a somewhat smooth finish. The cuts are also precise and straight.
You can use circular saws either in hand-held format or machine-mounted format. In fact, the word “circular” refers specifically to the hand-held models.
Most circular saws are electrically-powered, but some models utilise the engines or hydraulic motors found on the heavy equipment they get mounted on.
4. Mitre Saws
Also known as the drop saw, a mitre saw can make accurate angled crosscuts. It’s the best tool for molding and the cutting of trim, with a relatively compact and portable design.
Mitre saws work by slowly pulling a circular blade onto the target material in a controlled motion. The blade sizes range from 8 to 12 inches.
To help you achieve a precise angle between the plane of the blade and that of the longest workpiece, the project is typically secured against a fence. This angle is standardly set to 90 degrees.
Unlike other types of saws, the mitre saw carries a mitre index, which lets you adjust the blade’s angle relative to the fence. Most mitre saws allow accurate 1-degree changes to their index, while some models offer common angles such as 45, 30, and 15 degrees.
Mitre saws are available in several types including mitre box and saw, standard/power mitre saw, compound mitre saw, dual-compound mitre saw, and LED/laser mitre saw.
5. Band Saw
Another common power tool is the band saw. This fixed tool features a long, sharp blade with a continuous toothed metal band.
The blade is stretched between two wheels and operates to cut a variety of materials in woodworking, metalworking, and lumbering. The wheels rotate in the same plane, where one is powered and the other isn’t.
With a band saw, you get the advantage of making uniform cuts thanks to the even distribution of tooth load. This allows you to easily cut irregular shapes and curved patterns.
The blades of this saw come in a range of sizes and pitches of teeth. This means you can make your band saw as versatile as you need.
Band saws are practically a staple power tool in garages and workshops. They’re used to cut through metal, wood, or plastic.
Additionally, most models nowadays are electrically-powered. Consequently, earlier models that utilise line shafts are considered antiques.
6. Oscillating Multi-tools
, or the power multi-tool, is simply a base with an oscillating accessory mount that can receive a number of different attachments. This means that with one purchase only, you get several tools to perform various tasks without having to buy each tool separately.
Not does this work brilliantly for DIYers on a budget, but it also saves lots of space making it suitable for smaller workshops and garages.
The oscillating multi-tool comes with attachments for sawing, sanding, scraping, polishing, and cutting. The availability of a wide range of attachments is where this tool gets its name from.
The point of attachment on the multi-tool base is offset to enable you to mount the attachment flush with the workpiece. This can make your life easier when making edge cuts, plunge cuts, polishing corners, or cutting nails in wood.
7. Scroll Saws
A scroll saw is a handy power tool designed to make highly intricate cuts on wood. The work of a scroll saw can be often seen on finely carved wooden art pieces or sculptures that “wow” spectators with their detailing.
Similar to band saws, scroll saws require you to move your project against the blade to create the cut. The main difference in the operation, however, is that scroll saws utilise reciprocating blades while band saws rely on a continuous loop blade.
This is why scroll saws can cut internal profiles easily. You just drill a hole in the workpiece, insert the scroll saw blade through it, then fix the blade on the arm.
Woodworkers, craftsmen, and artisans use scroll saws to cut intricate patterns and joints on wood, metal, and plastic. You can make wood or ivory carving, scrolls, lettered signs, marquetry, and intarsia.
Additionally, you can craft wooden toys and jigsaw puzzles. If you want to make dovetail joints for small furniture or a jewelry box, a scroll saw can definitely help.
8. Ear Defenders/ Ear Muffs
Not all the power tools a DIYer needs have a purpose in completing a certain project. Sometimes, the tool is there to help keep you safe.
One important safety tool is ear defenders, also known as earmuffs. These are PPE (personal protective equipment) meant to protect your ears from loud machine noises when you put them on.
Generally speaking, the headband and the external covering of ear defenders are made out of metal or tough thermoplastic. The inner side of an ear defender is usually padded with acoustic foam, which is responsible for noise protection.
The foam absorbs sound waves by increasing air resistance, leading to a reduction in the amplitude of the waves. If you want to boost the attenuation effect of your ear defenders, pair them with earplugs while operating your loud equipment.
Moreover, some earmuffs feature built-in radio and music systems to keep you entertained as you work. There are also thermal earmuff models that you can wear on colder to warm your ears using cloth or fur padding.
9. Table Saw
One of the best power tools to own if you’re into crafts and DIY projects is a table saw. Also referred to as a sawbench or a bench saw, a table saw is a fixed power tool that features a circular blade mounted on an arbor.
The blade pokes out through the top of the table and you can move it up and down to adjust the depth of the cut. The higher the position of the blade, the deeper the cut it’ll produce.
As for the angle of your cut, you can change it by adjusting the angle of your blade.
Table saws are available in several types including:
- Bench-type table saws: these are commonly used by homeowners and designed to be placed on a table for support.
- Jobsite model table saws: these are bigger than bench-type table saws and are set on a stationary or folding stand.
- Compact table saws: larger than portable saws, compact table saws sit on a stationary stand. They’re similar to saws used by contractors, only a bit smaller and lighter.
- Contractor model table saws: these are much larger and heavier models of table saws that may be mounted onto a base or a stand. This type often includes wheels attached to the base for easier moving from one place to another.
- Cabinet style table saws: these are heavy and usually built using steel and cast iron.
10. Heat Gun
As the name implies, a heat gun is a handheld power tool that produces hot air for a wide variety of applications. You can use your heat gun to shrink different materials (such as film and tubing), bend hard plastic, and strip old paint.
Heat guns require electric energy to generate heat. The temperature of the produced hot air ranges between 212°F and 932°F (100°Cand 550°C).
Heat guns are equipped with fans that distribute the hot air pushed through the nozzle.
11. Nail Gun
Yes, there’s another gun-type tool that’s very common among DIYers – the nail gun. This power tool, also known as a nailer, is meant for driving nails into wood and other materials.
Granted, there are quite a few tools that get the job done for you, a hand-held hammer for example, so why is a nail gun so special?
Well, nail guns are designed to be used in situations where simpler tools fail to drive nails into a material.
Nail guns may be powered by pneumatic compressed air, electromagnetism, or flammable gases (propane or butane). They’re used by both amateurs and professionals in flooring, roofing, and finishing.
The fasteners used for nail guns are usually sold in long clips, similar to clips of staples. Nail gun clips are available in many sizes, starting from 23-gauge nails and finishing with 15-gauge nails.
12. Belt Sander
Also called a strip sander, a belt sander help in finishing woodworking projects by smoothing the rough parts and sharp edges of your project. It operates via an electric motor that turns a pair of drums on which a loop of sandpaper is attached.
Belt sanders may be portable or stationary machines, in the latter case you’ll need to bring the material to the sander to get its finishing touches.
These machines can also be stationary in which case you have to move the material to the sander for its finishing touches. Keep in mind, though, that the action of a belt sander is rather aggressive when applied to wood, so use this machine only in the early stages of sanding.
You can also use your belt sander to remove paint or finish from wooden surfaces. Stationary models can even remove non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, but these metals tend to clog the grinding wheels. This will lower the efficiency of soft material grinding.
13. Impact Driver
An impact driver looks a lot like a cordless drill and can even be used for some similar tasks. However, there are a few key factors that set the two power tools apart. For one, an impact driver utilizes a powerful hammering action to get the job done.
While both an impact driver and a cordless drill offer good control with a range of speed and clutch setting, your impact driver delivers violent blows with a slight rotation to drive screws with much more force.
This machine applies constant torque, has a generous range of applications, and features a keyless chuck to accommodate various attachments. Not only do impact drivers work well in smaller projects, but they also shine in larger projects where driving larger screws into harder surfaces is necessary.
Accordingly, you can use your impact driver for everything from tightening nuts to driving 3-inch screws into a decking plank. Make sure you check the power, torque, speed, and hammer action of the impact driver before making a purchase.
14. Impact Wrench
If your projects often require a high torque output, buying an impact wrench can be a wise investment. Also known as an impact gun, an impact wrench is meant to deliver high torque using minimal physical effort.
This power tool is generally powered by compressed air, but there are also models that run on electricity, hydraulics, and rechargeable batteries. Thanks to its incredible force, the impact wrench is used in many industries including automotive repair and product assembly.
When you use an impact wrench, the rotating mass inside is accelerated by a motor to store energy. Then, when the rotating mass comes in contact with the output shaft, the machine quickly releases this energy in the form of a high-torque impact.
Impact wrenches are available in several styles and sizes. The choice depends on the application you intend to use it for. There are also designs specific uses such as removing a vehicle radiator or a crankshaft pulley.
15. Angle Grinder
Last but not least, an angle grinder is used for grinding and polishing. Also known as a disc grinder and side grinder, an angle grinder may utilise compressed air, electric motor, or fuel engine as a source of power.
The motor of an angle grinder houses a right-angled gear hear with an abrasive disc or a thin cut-off disc. You can replace both discs once they wear out.
Normally, an angle grinder will feature an adjustable guard and a side-handle to give you the option of a 2-handed operation.
When shopping for an angle grinder, be sure you get the proper disc size for your intended use. Also, check the power source, arbor size, and RPMs.
There you have it, 15 types of power tools along with their uses and advantages to help you fulfill your DIY dreams!