Time and again we get asked what our must-have power tools are, so we made a list of the top ten tools that every diy-er should own. Whether you’re doing a home renovation or doing some hobby woodworking and building some furniture for your home or garden, our list of power tools has got you covered. There’s pretty much nothing you can’t tackle with the tools below.
Pro-tip: If you’re buying cordless tools, try to buy as many items as you can from the same brand so you can use the batteries in multiple tools. Having multiple different battery families in your collection is expensive and impractical. So for example, if you buy a Dewalt cordless drill/driver kit and you want to buy a cordless jigsaw – stick to Dewalt so you can use the same 20volt battery packs in both.
In no particular order, here’s our 10 must-have tools every DIY-er should have.
A cordless circular saw is worth its weight in gold, you’ll use it more than you think. Perfect for cutting down full-size boards quickly and easily, or shortening deck boards without having to lug out the miter saw. The choice of which saw should be determined by the tool ‘family’ you buy your drill/driver combo from. Stick to the same brand and you can use the same batteries.
This is probably the biggest must-have on the list, if you own anything on this list it should be a drill and driver combo. Drill pilot holes with the drill, and run screws in fast and securely with the impact driver. Need to get a stubborn, rusty old screw out? The impact driver has got your back. Buy a good quality set, and they’ll last you for years. Probably the best place to start in terms of cordless tool ‘families’ – whichever brand of drill/driver you decide to go for, will determine which other cordless tools you invest into. Stick to bigger, proven brands like Dewalt, Milwaukee, Ridgid or Makita that also offer a good range of other tools using the same battery.
3: Table saw
A table saw will prove itself invaluable time and again in a variety of woodworking projects. Want to make a beautiful table using cheap 2×4 studs or ratty furring strips? Run them through your table saw and cut a 1/4″ off each edge and you’ve got beautiful, square-edged lumber to work with for a fraction of the cost of planed pine. A good table saw is also what you need for making nice square cuts on larger boards like plywood. Our choice would be one of the Dewalt 10 inch compact table saws – simply because the fence adjustment is on a nice, precise rack and pinion wheel, it’s better than anything else without spending thousands. Anything you need to cut length-ways, you need a table saw to do the job properly.
4: Miter saw
Nothing beats the precision of being able to cut a nice square edge, or a perfect miter and bevel cut on your weekend building project. To get that precision, you need a good quality miter saw. For that reason we recommend forgoing a standard old chop saw and buy a 10 inch blade compound sliding miter saw. The sliding feature allows you to cut lumber that is much wider than the actual blade width. We highly recommend saving up for a quality miter saw. You will get what you pay for on this power tool.
Whether you buy a corded or cordless jigsaw, you’ll be able to tackle the types of cuts other saws just can’t do – want a nice smooth curve in a table edge? No problem. Need to cut out a hole in the middle of a piece of board? You got it. The jigsaw is a lifesaver on these types of cuts. For best results, make sure you invest in a good quality set of blades – stick to brand names such as Bosch for nice sharp, clean cuts.
Having a cordless nailer is the way to go when you are working on small projects or installing trim. This battery powered 18 gauge nail gun from Porter-Cable doesn’t require a compressor. In my book, this is a huge plus for anyone who hates to haul out a big, heavy, and loud compressor and be tied down with air hoses. Not to mention dealing with the maintenance and initial cost on a compressor. Check out our full review of the Porter Cable nailer here.
The oscillating multi-tool is one of those tools that you don’t realise how useful it can be until you own one. Cut through wood and screws or nails in weird places, or switch out the head for a sanding pad and you’ve got a low-profile detail sander you can get to places other sanders can’t reach. Notch out your framing lumber; cut detail areas; sand in tight corners; scrape up tiles; and even cut nails with this tool using a metal-cutting blade. The scrapes this tool will get you out of are endless.
Pro-tip: Unless you have a specific need for a cordless one, we’d go for a corded oscillating tool for the sake of a little extra power, and the fact the price is cheaper for corded tools.
Your projects, especially things like furniture need to be finished nice and smooth to avoid splinters. Unlike other tools on our list, with a sander you can get away with buying a ‘lesser’ brand to a large extent. A Black & Decker sander will do you just as well as an expensive Bosch one. Make sure you buy a standard sized sander that takes the normal 5″ hook and loop sanding discs, and buy yourself some in a few different grits – 80,120 and 220 are pretty good grades to keep on hand. Use 80 grit first, then 120 and then finish with 220.
A good rotary tool such as the Dremel is a valuable addition to your power tool shelf. Very useful for getting into small places, with a huge variety of cutting, sanding, polishing and sharpening bits available. With the right bit, you can cut your way through pretty much anything, sand out or enlarge tiny holes or impossible-to-reach edges. We’d go for a corded tool for the sake of having a bit extra power if you need it.
Having a router lets you into the world of giving your projects an extra ‘polish’ with fancy decorative edges and cut-outs. Buy yourself a good quality router and a set of bits and with a little practice you can start producing things like your own decorative baseboards! Our pick of the bunch is the Dewalt DWP611 kit as its high-quality and great value price-wise. Check out our full review of the Dewalt DWP611pk router here.