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Maybe you’re starting a collection. Maybe you already have a collection, but you’re looking to get rid of the superfluous stuff and pare down to the essentials. Whatever your reasons for thinking about power tools, here are 10 that you’ll find yourself reaching for again and again.
A drill is one of the most versatile power tools that money can buy. Whether you’re hanging a shelf, building a fence, or installing new lighting, you’re going to need a drill that can get the job done.
Cordless drills are the most common variety, and thanks to their lithium-ion batteries, they can pack a lot of power even in a small, handheld design. However, corded drills are still regarded as stronger overall, so you might consider more power a worthy trade-off for less mobility.
Drill bits are another thing to consider. They come in many varieties, including:
- Brad point
- Hole saw
Different drill bits are designed for different environments. Brad-point drill bits, for example, are used in wood; they have spiral grooves on the sides that help to expel splintering wood grain from your hole as you drill. They’re great for any carpentry projects during your remodel.
2. Nail Gun
A good nailer can be your best friend for a renovation project. Not only do they eliminate the hassle and hazard of hammers, but they can also result in neater, higher-quality work.
Nail guns can be used on everything from cabinets and staircases to trimming and crown moldings. Their size is measured in gauges with higher gauges meaning thinner nails and smaller holes. For everyday projects and repairs, 16-18 gauges are the recommended range.
For specialty work, you might consider investing in different types of nail guns. A framing nailer, for example, is a heavy-duty construction tool used for things like decks, fences, and subflooring. A roofing nailer is designed specifically for applying shingles to roofs.
Another thing to think about is the firing method of your nail gun. For small projects, a single-sequential nailer or stapler will let you make one application at a time. For large projects, a contact-firing or bump-firing nailer will let you lay nails in rapid succession.
3. Angle Grinder
Angle grinders are extremely versatile, so if you’re looking to increase the utility of your tool collection, they can be a smart choice in multipurpose machinery. They’re capable of cutting, grinding, finishing, polishing, and even deburring, so they’re suitable for renovation and demolition projects alike.
Like power saws, angle grinders come in both corded and cordless versions. The latter is lighter and more portable, but you’ll need to stay on top of charging the batteries. However, cordless can be the better choice if you want something handheld that can reach small or hard-to-maneuver areas.
Another nice thing about angle grinders is that they’re easy to use. They don’t require high levels of technical knowledge, so even as a first-time home renovator, you can pick one up and learn as you go.
When choosing an angle grinder, you’ll want to consider size, speed, amperage, power source, battery life, and safety features. Generally speaking, home-based projects won’t require more than a 4.5-inch disc and 5 to 10 amps. Anything more than that, and you’re getting into professional-level quality, which will also increase the price.
Saws are another must-have for the modern garage. As with other power tools, they come in several different varieties, including:
For home repairs, your best bet is probably a chop saw, also known as a compound or miter saw. It’s a multipurpose tool that can cut everything from lumber to PVC pipe, so it’s suitable for a wide range of DIY projects. Many different models are available with assorted bells and whistles.
Other types of saws might be better suited for specific renovation or demolition projects. Table saws, for example, are a woodworking staple, and jigsaws are known for their flexibility in cutting metal, drywall, fiberglass, and more. A reciprocating saw’s back-and-forth motion is great for cutting shingles and steel in a demolition project.
Value can vary as well. Higher-end saws will cost more, but they’ll also come equipped with special features such as lights, scales, and brakes. On the other hand, if you don’t do a lot of sawing, your cost-benefit analysis might favor a more modest model.
5. Heat Gun
A heat gun can be used for both creation and destruction, so whether you’re building something new or tearing down something old, it’s a tool worth having.
Common uses for a heat gun include stripping paint, drying wood, prying up floors, and loosening old bolts and screws. These applications can help you prepare a home for a remodel or safely take it apart piece by piece.
As for buying a heat gun, there are a few recommended steps to take. The first is figuring out whether you need a gas, electric, infrared, or industrial model. The second is determining the kind of temperature range that you need for the heat. If you’re doing something related to plumbing, for example, you might need maximum temperatures of 800°F to 1000°F or even higher.
Not everyone needs a sander, but they can really come in handy if you work with certain materials.
A common misconception about sanders is that they’re only used on wood. In reality, they can be used on wood, metal, plastic, paint, and many types of hybrid flooring. You can also use sanders for a lot more than just smoothing out rough edges, including finishing, stripping, and removing debris from various materials.
A random orbital sander is the most common model. It gets its name from the circular or “orbital” movement of its sanding disc as well as the randomness of its oscillation, which is good for creating a smooth, high-quality surface. Regular orbital sanders can sometimes leave patterns or scratch marks behind.
Other types of sanders include belt sanders, rotary sanders, drum sanders, and spindle sanders. Each has its own unique functions in addition to general pros and cons. For example, a drum sander can be a heavy, hard-to-use machine, but it’s extremely powerful at ripping up floors, so it could cut your remodeling time in half.
7. Impact Driver
Impact drivers are a lot like drills, but they have some key differences in terms of utility, so it’s worth looking at them as separate purchases for the well-stocked toolbox.
For starters, impact drivers are both smaller and lighter than drills. They’re a true handheld power tool that you can maneuver around tricky sills and baseboards as needed.
Impact drivers also supply more torque than drills. They’re built differently on the inside, so they can provide a greater amount of force with less effort expended by the user. This is also why impact drivers are recommended for repetitive jobs like hanging drywall: They won’t wear you out as quickly.
One potential downside of impact drivers is that they aren’t as easily customized as drills. Drills can be outfitted with a number of specialty bits for particular projects, but impact drivers can’t.
All things considered, impact drivers can be a wise choice for someone looking for compact, lightweight power tools that will reduce fatigue, but they might come up short in terms of specialized DIY projects.
8. Air Compressor
Air compressors can be a power source for many pneumatic tools, including:
Depending on the specifics of your project, certain types of air compressors might be better for you. For example, a stationary air compressor that stays in the garage might be fine for home repairs or small renovation projects, but if you’re in the demo business, you’ll want a portable air compressor that you can wheel to different locations.
Another thing to think about is the type of energy that powers the air compressor. While electric models are the most common, gas models are also available, and they might be more suited for outdoor work where electricity is limited. Gas models are also known to offer more pounds per square inch (PSI) since they operate with higher horsepower.
Jackhammers are used to break up concrete, brick, tile, asphalt, and other hard materials. They can save you a lot of back-breaking labor if you’re remodeling or landscaping.
The first thing to know about jackhammers is that they aren’t all loud and cumbersome machines like the ones used by city construction workers. Jackhammers for home use are generally smaller, quieter, and easier to control, and they draw power from electricity rather than compressed air.
In terms of features, jackhammers can come with everything from swiveling handles and adjustable grips to electronic speed control and built-in vibration absorption. You can also customize them with different chisels and bits. Depending on whether you’re trenching outdoors or demolishing an old bathroom inside your home, you might need flat, narrow, or pointed bits.
Similar tools to jackhammers are rotary hammers and hammer drills. They’re all used to blast through hard materials in masonry work, and they’re all crafted with similar designs, though they differ in the exact mechanics of their applied force.
10. Shop Vacuum
Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to keep the area clear while renovating or demolishing. A little effort as you go can save you an extended cleanup job when you’re finished.
This is where a shop vacuum comes in handy. Also called a wet/dry vacuum, it’s a heavy-duty machine that works in the same way as a household vacuum, but it can handle a lot more. You can suck up nails or wood chips without breaking your hose. You can suck up sawdust without ruining your filters. You can also suck up water, including spilled or standing water from tubs, ponds, aquariums, and water tanks.
Just like regular vacuums, shop vacs have different volume capacities, so you’ll want to choose your gallon size accordingly. You can also choose from models with extra attachments such as hoses, wands, and nozzles.
These are just a few power tools that are worth adding to your collection. Whether you’re installing beams for a home renovation or busting up drywall for demolition, it pays to have the right tools of the trade.