Power Tools 6 That Will Improve Your DIY Skills
So you’re the handy person around the house. You’re pretty good at it, but you want to get better. You want to put together some more power tools so you can do some of that neat stuff you saw on HG TV or something you saw Chip and Joanna do on ‘Fixer Upper.’ Or maybe you’re a homeowner, and you have some power tools that are just not getting the job done.
With this article, I want to help you with both of those situations.
With each Power Tools, description is a short summary of accessories and tips for using the device. I tried to list the most common uses and techniques. But this information is far from complete. If your project is different from those described here, further research on your part will be needed. Some of the tools discussed you may not need right now, but it’s always good to know their capabilities for possible use later on.
When thinking about power tools for your projects, one of your first consideration should be, do you want/need cordless or corded tools.
Corded tools, in general, tend to be a little less expensive than corded, while tools without cords are more maneuverable, not having a long cable to drag around your work area. Also, they are portable and can go anywhere without the need for electricity. But corded tools have some advantages over cordless.
A few of those are more consistent power and no batteries to recharge. Plus the corded tools tend to be lighter.
My personal preference is cordless power tools. I’m a little clumsy and not having a cable lying around is one less thing I have to trip over. But I do have some corded tools.
And in most homeowners garages, you will find a combination of both. In other words, you don’t have to buy all corded or cordless power tools. Just think about your current projects, and the ones you may be doing in the future.
Your decision should be based on these four things, 1. you’re budget, 2. how often you are going to use the tool, 3. what projects you will be doing and 4. will you be working in or near water… If the device is only for occasional use, then a corded tool would be an excellent choice.
For weekly use or big plans, I would suggest you go cordless unless it’s a project where you need a lot of power then a corded tool would be a better choice. It’s a simple choice, I hope I’m not making it sound too complicated.
If you are an infrequent user of power tools, you can get by with less expensive devices, while a no-nonsense DYI’er should only buy professional grade power tools. Whichever category you fall into, always looking for a quality power tools to purchase should be a priority.
When choosing a cordless tool always check the battery changing procedure. Replacing batteries is not too big of a concern, most just snap on and off, but it’s good to know the removal and installation process, so you are not struggling later on. Also, it’s a good idea to have an extra battery, so while one is in use, the other can be charging.
As far as cordless tool battery size, I prefer 18 volts or more. Lower voltage batteries are ok for light work, but I find they tend to need charging more often than higher voltage batteries. Also, higher voltage batteries will give you more power.
Here are six power tools that will get you through many of your DIY projects.
A Jigsaw is probably the safest of all power saws. But as with all power tools, be very familiar with all operating and safety instructions.
Using the correct blade, this saw will cut through wood up to 1-1/2 inches thick, sheet metal, ceramic tile, plastic and non-iron pipes. Most jigsaws have a bevel adjustment which allows you to cut up to a 45-degree angle. Blade replacement is a snap with a blade release latch that’s easy to operate.
As far as power, a 5 amp. Saw will handle most of your DIY projects.
Because of the versatility of a jigsaw and the crazy angles you can cut, a cordless saw may be your best option. When cutting sharp corners, bevels or delicate pieces, you don’t want a cord getting in your way.
Blades come in many different varieties. As a general rule, a large blade is used for straight cuts and a narrow one is used for curves.
Blades with large teeth cut faster, but make a rough cut. And as you guessed, blades with small teeth saw slower, but leave a more finished surface.
If you are cutting wood with nails, use a blade designed for metal. These have fewer teeth, usually 21 to 24 teeth per inch.
If you need to make a flush cut, you will need a unique blade designed for that purpose. For example, if you are cutting towards a wall, the blade guard will hit the wall before the blade. The flush cut blade is what does the trick here, it is much broader than the regular blade and extends out past the guard, so the blade would reach the wall before the guard does.
If you are still undecided which blade to use, just read the blade package, and it will tell you the type of material they are designed to cut.
A jigsaw blade faces forward and works with an up and down motion. The blade cuts during the upward stroke, so you should always cut your material with the finished side facing down to avoid splintering.
If this is not possible, such as cutting out a countertop, or doors, there is a unique blade called a”reverse tooth blade.” This blade cuts on the downward stroke rather than the upward stroke giving you a finished cut on the top rather than the bottom.
For a better cut, you should also hold the tool firmly against your work and start the saw before you make contact with the material you are cutting.
If you want to cut perfect circles, a “circle cutting guide” is what you need. One end of the guide gets secured to the center of your work, and the saw gets secured to the other end of the guide. It also allows you to adjust the diameter of the circle to make it larger or smaller to suit your purpose.
.If the circle is in the center of the material drill a hole at the edge slightly larger than the blades width. Insert the blade into this hole and start cutting.
If you are cutting a straight line, all you have to do is clamp a piece of wood close to the border to guide the saw, no special tools required. You can use this same technique when cutting vertical surfaces. Instead of clamps, you will have to secure your guide to the surface with wood screws.
One final word of caution doesn’t use any side pressure on the tool as you are cutting. Side pressure will have these three unintended consequences. A beveled edge, burn marks on your work caused by binding and excessive friction and a shorter blade life due to overheating. Always use a steady forward motion.
2. Reciprocating Saw (Sawzall®)
A reciprocating saw is always a useful tool to have. This kind of saw is one of those power tools that will require some skill to use. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t easy for you to learn to use it.
It’s not for finishing work. It’s a demo teams right hand saw.
Your demolition and remolding projects will go smoother with a Recip Saw. It makes it easy for you to cut metal and wood, (even with nails) and can also be used to trim old tree branches.
This saw is also commonly called a Sawsall®, that’s the Milwaukee Tool Companies brand name.
The number of teeth per inch (TPI) and the composition of the blade determine where you use it.
Blades come 6 inches or 12 inches. TPI range from 3 to 24
Wide blades are more stable than thin blades and less likely to bend.
For cutting pipes and nails use a fine tooth blade.
When cutting through wood or plaster use a coarse or very coarse blade.
Cutting stone, ceramic tile or cast iron will require a toothless blade. These blades have been coated with a tungsten carbide abrasive grit.
For cutting tree limbs or getting at hard to reach places the 12-inch blade should be used. For all other work, the 6 inch should work fine.
For massive demolition go for the demo blade. Broader and thicker than a standard blade, it’s made for demolishing.
When starting your cut, hold the base of the saw against the material with firm pressure and then start you cut. This is the right way to start you cut, but in real life sometimes this is not possible. But have no fear the saw will still cut without the base against what you are cutting. Just be careful of kickback if the blade jams or the tip of the blade hits something, the saw will jump.
This saw can get out of control very quickly so be careful when using it. Hold it tight with two hands.
If the blade bends, just remove it and use a hammer or vice to straighten it out.
3. Circular Saw
Among other tools, you also want to have a circular saw. A Circular Saw can help to get many of your projects underway faster; It’s ten times quicker than cutting with a hand saw.
A good all around saw is 7-1/2′.
Also, make sure the saw has a working blade guard. The guard covers the edge of the blade as soon as the tool is taken off the material you are cutting.
Be very careful with this piece of equipment. Make sure you are very familiar with all operating and safety instructions.
A blade with 24 teeth works excellent for rough cuts, such as a 2×4 where a clean cut is not too significant
For more delicate cuts a blade with more teeth is desirable.
To cut down on splintering when cutting plywood, 100 teeth or more will work fine.
If the material you are cutting starts to get burn marks, it’s usually caused by a dull blade, but sometimes it’s nothing more then a blade that needs to be cleaned.
When changing the blade, make sure the teeth face in the direction of rotation. An arrow on the blade guard will tell you the rotation direction. Or you can just note the position of the old blade before it is removed. And always unplug the saw before attempting to change the blade.
If you are cutting plywood, there is a blade made especially for that purpose.
For extra smooth cuts use a fine-tooth finish blade.
Dado blades are used for making rabbit cuts grooves and dadoes. A dado is a groove cut into a piece of wood so another piece of wood can fit into it. A rabbet cut is a rectangular cut in the end or along the edge of the material.
One essential safety feature on a circular saw is an “electric brake. The brake stops the blade as soon as the trigger is released. Another good feature is a “lock off switch,” this will keep the saw from starting if you accidentally pull the trigger.
Adjust the blade, so it extends 1/4″ below the material you are cutting.
Hold the saw firmly and start the blade at full power before you contact the material.
Adequately support the material you are cutting and let what you are cutting fall off, except if you are cutting long sheets of plywood. Then both sides should be supported.
Try to have the motor facing the piece of material that is not falling off. That way the weight of the saw will be supported by the material that didn’t fall off.
A square placed against the saw base plate will help when making crosscuts.
A saw cuts from the bottom up, so the finished side should always be facing down to avoid splintering.
If both sides need a finished cut, such as a door, place the most visible side down. Then use a utility knife to score along the cut line. As you cut the wood will break at this line leaving a finished cut.
To do stack or gang cutting on plywood, place the sheets on top of each other. Align all the edges, clamp them together and adjust the blade to max depth. This is a great time saver.
When cutting vertical surfaces, such as a wall, start the cut at the top. This allows the weight of the saw to help move it down the wall.
4. Oscillating Multi-Tool
A good quality oscillating multi-tool is a must for your toolbox. You can use it for a variety of different things, and it proves to be one of the power tools that have a lot of uses.
The tool works by moving the blade from side to side about 3 degrees. This makes it feels like it’s vibrating because it oscillating at 20,000 strokes per minute. Which makes it great for removing grout, sanding, grinding, cutting wood, drywall, and metal. It can even be used to make “plunge cuts.” A plunge cut is how you cut into a material without making a hole first.
For plunge cuts use a straight blade.
For long straight, more finished cuts use a round blade.
For cutting metal in hard to reach places use a high-quality metal cutting blade.
To make blade selection easier, blade kits are a great choice. By buying your blades in a kit, you will have a variety of blades cutting down on unnecessary trips to the hardware store.
One of the hardest moldings to remove without damaging something is chair rail. Here’s an easy way to get it removed with the least amount a damage. Use a straight metal cutting blade, so when you find a nail, you can cut right through it. A flat piece of metal placed against the wall will prevent damage there. Just set the blade behind the molding and oscillate away.
A sander is the least liked power tool. Why? It’s not the tool itself; it’s what you do with it that puts it at the bottom of the power tool popularity chart. Most sanding jobs are tedious and dusty.
To make sanding less painful, here is what you can do. First, you must use the right kind and size sander and the right sandpaper.
There are three basic types of sanders, belt sanders, orbital sanders, and random-orbit sanders.
Belt Sanders can handle those large, tough sanding jobs with power and high speed. This sander uses a continuous belt of abrasive material which helps get large areas sanded quickly.
Orbital Sanders or sometimes called quarter sheet sanders. The foot of the sander orbits in tiny circles to create the sanding effect.
Best for light finishing work and removing paint. They are great for getting into corners and along edges. Orbital sanders will leave sanding marks, but this is not a problem is the surface you are sanding will be painted. They don’t remove a lot of material, so they are not a good choice for heavy sanding.
Random Orbital Sanders have two significant advantage over Orbital Sanders, and that is they will virtually eliminate swirl marks that Orbital Sanders sometimes leave. How do they do that? First, unlike Orbital Sanders, which uses a square sanding pad, they use round sanding pads.
And secondly, the sanding motion is a little more sophisticated. It vibrates in tiny circles, (randomly) and it also spins. A little harder to control and a little slower, but the better choice of the two for final finishing. But be careful, they can remove a lot of material
Available with a 5 or 6-inch pad, but the 5 inch will handle any job you have. Peel and stick or velcro discs are available.
There are four different configurations.
a. Palm grip, one hand operation and probably your best choice.
b. Pistol grip, great for tabletops, bookcases and larger jobs.
c. Right angle, for rough sanding and heavy duty work.
d. Pneumatic palm grip, mighty, but you’ll need an air compressor to operate this one.
6. A Drill
Everyone needs the most used power tool of them all, a drill. A power drill is by far one of the most versatile power tools you can have. Anyone can use one, and it makes the job so much more comfortable, whether you are building a deck or hanging things on your wall. And of course, it’s primary purpose, drilling holes.
Most cordless drills have two speeds, while corded are typically variable speed. Aside from that and the cord, both have similar features.
Sometimes you need to regulate the speed of the drill, particularly in woodworking. A corded drill may be a better option for that type of project
Another consideration is drill size. Either 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch. This refers to the chuck size. For regular everyday handyman projects, a 3/8 inch dill will do just fine.
Power drills even come with various attachments so that you can do almost anything with them. You can get a kit like the DEWALT 7-Tool Combo Kit which includes accessories for an Impact Drivers, Flashlight, Grinder, Circular Saw, Recip Saw, and a Bluetooth Speaker. With these attachments, it is by far one of the most versatile power tools you can have.
Purchase a good set of drill bits to go with your drill. With most projects, you will only be drilling through wood, so wood drills should be your first choice for your toolbox. If you need other types, metal or concrete bits, they are readily available.
As you can see, you may need to make some adjustments to your power tools collection. Your garage may already have some of these tools but, they may need updating or different accessories. The info here will get you started and keep you going on the right track.
And more help is on the way. I have reviewed some of the tools mentioned in this article. They are my favorites, some of them I already own or have used. They are all top quality.
I recently did a couple of projects in my daughter’s kitchen. Took down a half wall and opened up a pass-through in another partition. A pass-through is an opening in a wall between two rooms. Only do this on a non-load bearing wall. If you are not sure if it is load bearing wall, get a pro to take a look. If it is a load bearing wall you may need a pro to handle the job.
Anyway, my cordless 20-volt drill and corded Sawzall were my go-to power tools for these projects.(More on these two outstanding tools later) I also used a nail gun, but that’s another story.
A little side note. This was my first pass-through project, and as with any project, you will always learn something new. After you remove the drywall and are ready to cut the studs, start your cut in the middle of the stud. This will accomplish two things. First, you will be working with smaller pieces of the stud, making your bottom and top cut easier. And secondly, if while you are making your center cut the saw blade jams or binds, stop right there. You may be cutting a load bearing stud, and it’s time to call that pro I mentioned before.
Power Tool Safety
Jewelry, even rings, Long hair not under a hat, loose or baggy clothing. Sandals or flip-flops. Don’t work while impaired, save the beer for later, don’t misuse your tools, use them for their intended purpose, screwdrivers are not chisels or pry bars.Do not put tools in your pocket, use a tool belt. Don’t ignore safety codes, don’t carry power tools by the cord,
Wear safety glasses, work gloves, knee pads, dust mask. Steel toe shoes when working with bulky items, a hard hat when working overhead, ear protection when working with loud equipment, a face shield if there are a lot of flying chips, a tool belt. When using corded power tools, always be sure the circuit is grounded. It takes just 60 volts to stop your heart. Only works in an attic on a chilly day. Know where your A-B-C fire extinguisher is. A well-lighted work area. Store tools in safe place when not in use. Have a first aid kit handy.
Now that you know what type of power tools will make your projects more comfortable, what you do next is check out their reviews. I have reviewed some of the tools in this article to help you further help you decide what you need to complete all your DIY projects quickly and professionally.
Here’s a snapshot of the tools mentioned in this article.
This link will take you to the Gift page on our partner site… Shopbob5x5 where you can view these tools.
These are my favorite tools in each category.