They often say that the garage is Dad’s temple, and for good reason. There any man of the house can fix that hole in the fence their wife has been complaining about or build that birdhouse they’ve been dreaming of. This means having the right kind of tools in that shiny new steel toolbox your family got you for your birthday last year. But this involves more than having both a Philips head and flat head screwdriver at your disposal. There are power tools that no do-it-yourself handy man should be without. Here are five must-have power tools to ensure your home shop isn’t missing those familiar sounds of drills being powered and wood being sawed away.
1. Jig Saw
First on this list is a great tool for making curved or multi-angle cuts in wood or drywall. Often, a hand-powered saw might offer you more control to cut curved holes but might not have enough power to do so in thicker material. A jigsaw is lightweight when compared to most power tools, but it’s small and maneuverable enough to cut as detailed a curved cut as you need. This is vital for anyone who wants to cut accurate, precise hole is tough material like wood, fiberglass, and ceramic sinks and is the best friend of wood workers who like to make intricate designs in this medium.
When trying to find the right jigsaw, make sure you look for one that has a good handle position and isn’t awkward to manage while cutting. Also, make sure that the blade is easy to change when it’s time to replace it on the job site.
2. Compound Miter Saw
This is pretty much essential for those who have to work with long or wide pieces of wood and need to cut angles with precise measurements. A compound miter saw is a requirement for those who intend to cut lumber across the grain. This is great for cutting baseboards, trim or even crown molding and 2 x 4 cuts of wood without having to supply your own weight to make these cuts. Anyone trying to make cross buts, bevel cuts or angle cuts needs to have one of these on there cutting table waiting for them on a Saturday morning.
When shopping for compound miter saws, decide if you want a stationary version that best for cutting down or if you want one with a slider extension for deeper cuts. Also, make sure you understand that the bigger your blade is (10″, 11″ or 12″), the more heavier pieces of wood it can cut – so don’t get more than you think you need as this often makes the saw unit heavier as well. This might lead to you needed a worktable with wheels if you need to be more mobile than a heavier unit might allow.
3. Palm Sander
If you want to make your work free from splinter’s that will get stuck in your crying kid’s thumbs that you’ll spend all afternoon trying to squeeze out with a pair of painful tweezers, you want to make sure that you have adequately sanding any wood work thoroughly. A palm sander is much easier and faster than using sandpaper and doing it by hand and tires you our much less as well. Many come with a bag to catch any excess dust, so getting one doesn’t necessarily mean more mess to clean up afterwards. In any case, being able to sand large cuts of wood work in a fraction of the time you might normally need is a significant benefit to owning a palm sander.
For those looking for just the right type, make sure the one you get isn’t too heavy and won’t strain your arms of shoulders after an extended period of use. Whether you get an orbital sander (one that rotates around the center axis) or a clamp-on version (that sands back and forth), make sure you get one with a variable speed option, as some cuts of wood require a more delicate touch than others.
4. Electric/Cordless Drill and Drill Bit Set
This is a power tool that is easily the most important item on this list. An electric or battery powered drill is essential for drilling holes, makes apertures to pass wire or other piece of material through or to fasten screws in place into tough materials. Depending on the length of extension cord you have, a plug-in version may be the only type you need. But if you need to be able to use a drill while mobile or in locations away from your shop, you probably need to get a battery-powered cordless drill. There are drawbacks to this type, as drilling screws or holes in tough surfaces can drain your batter faster. But the increase mobility such a drill offers makes this concern not at urgent as first believed.
Those looking for a drill need to make sure the drill bit set that comes with it is comprehensive and can do virtually anything from fastening screws with Allen wrenche bits to cutting a 1 1/2 hole in drywall to drilling a whole though multiple 2 x 4s.
A sawzall is similar to a jigsaw but is more appropriate for making straight cuts and angles rather than curved cuts. This is due to it’s much larger and longer blade that primarily cuts up and down and side-to-side. A bit more bulkier and harder to handle because of it’s raw power and larger size, this power tool is excellent for cutting up wood, metal and drywall when taking down entire wall. It can even cut through nails, though you might want to make sure there are no wire behind the wall your taking down with this beast.
Those looking for the ideal sawzall want to look at the horsepower each one they’re considering offers, ensuring that they get exactly the type of power they need. But also make sure than any sawzall you get is easy enough for you to handle and cut with, as one that’s too big might be harder to control and cut straight and true with.