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If you’ve committed yourself to cultivating some DIY skills that enable you to create useful and aesthetically appealing items for your home without having to hire outside help, you’re going to need more than just ordinary hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches. I’m talking about power tools that make short work of tasks that would otherwise take hours to complete with manual tools.
Here are a few essential power tools that I would recommend:
A corded power drill is an absolute essential if you’re going to be making holes to fit screws and nails into wood, drywall or even cement walls. The reason for recommending corded over cordless is that the former is a lot more powerful because it runs off mains electricity as opposed to a DC battery (which has an obvious upper limit to the amount of juice it can provide to the drill’s motor).
When buying a power drill, you’ll have to choose between the hammer and straight variety, keyless and keyed chuck, 0.5” and 3/8” chuck size, and some other stuff, so, be sure to do your homework. If you want to be really covered, I would advise you to purchase a power drill that comes with an entire kit of bits and chucks, so it can be utilized to the fullest extent in your projects.
If you’re planning on doing carpentry – or even fine woodwork – a circular saw can be one of the most versatile tools for the job. Of course, in the latter case, you would need to combine it with a clamp-on straight-edge, but the results are going to be on par with the accuracy of any table saw out there. You can use a circular saw to cut fiberboard as well as plywood, just as well as you could with a fully-fledged table saw, with the difference being that it would be much less expensive – perfect for a beginner who is looking for a versatile cutting tool without breaking the bank.
A jigsaw lets you create circular and curved patterns in stock by giving you more control over the motion of the tool, similar to how a bandsaw does. The latter may enjoy higher accuracy and enable you to cut your way through thicker wood stock, but it is also tougher to handle, particularly for rookies. A jigsaw, on the other hand, is much easier to handle – and, after all, as a beginner, you will probably be taking on projects that don’t require handling thicker pieces of wood.
For the best results, go for a corded, orbital action jigsaw with a simple blade switching mechanism, that you are comfortable holding in your hand.
Random Orbital Sander
Once you’ve made a woodwork article, you’ll need to sand it properly to remove any milling marks and give the wooden surface a nice texture. While palm sanders (that utilize ordinary sandpaper) are an option for those limited by an extremely small budget, I would advise getting a random orbital sander for optimum results. The random motion of the sander minimize the appearance of sanding marks, giving the stock a cleaner finish.
Naturally, be sure that the model you choose is compatible with the sanding disks (with different grit sizes) available at your local woodworking store since you’ll be sanding with grit sizes that get progressively smaller to remove sanding marks as much as possible.
If your project involves slicing large blocks/slabs of timber or trimming thick hedge growth and tree branches, there is no better tool to use than a trusty chainsaw. Available in electric and gas powered varieties, these power tools make short work of tough wood, although they do require a steady, powerful hand holding them.
If you won’t be dealing with especially thick wood, an electric chainsaw could be used for easier handling – but personally, a gas powered chainsaw may be a better choice because of its versatility and reliability. Here are some cool wood sculpting projects that you can try with your chainsaw.
Some tips before you buy
Here are few tips that could save you time and money:
- Buy a popular brand: Some stores tend to sell only a single local power tool manufacturer (or they may favor that particular brand over others through special deals and discounts). You can save quite a bit of money if you get tools through these deals, but bear in mind that you’ll be limiting yourself if you later move to a place that does not sell spare parts for that brand.
To make sure that your initial investment continues to serve you faithfully for many years, go for a brand that is supported nationwide.
- Get tools that have an identical battery: If you’ve decided to purchase DC power tools, try to get tools that have the same power source. This will let you swap out batteries between these tools in case of an emergency where you forgot to keep one or the other charge. Also, you’ll be able to buy a single spare that will work with all of them instead of having to buy separate spare batteries for each!
- Don’t spend beyond your limit: The flashy marketing on many of these products may tempt you to buy them on credit or expend your budget by compromising on other essential household tools. This isn’t a good idea – before you invest in these power tools, be certain that you have already acquired essential home maintenance items such as grass cutters, weed eaters, and snow blowers (otherwise, you could end up feeling guilty no matter how cool your project is, from personal experience!). Here is an in-depth review of Troy Bilt snow blowers if you’re interested in one.
- Holiday thrift: For maximum savings, I would advise you shop around holidays such as Black Friday, Memorial Day, Labor Day and so forth – stores tend to have large discounts around these times. Also, if you’re budget-bound, don’t go for models that have just appeared on the market immediately – wait a few months for their prices to go down.
Setting up your own home workshop does take some expenditure of time and finances, but if you do your homework and carefully consider every purchase, you’ll minimize both expenses and soon be getting on with all manners of cool DIY projects.