Understanding Power Tools
By: Danny Lipford
Almost every home in America has at least one power tool, but many homeowners are not always sure how and when to use them. Start by checking out our guide to power tools below, and be sure to read the instructions and follow the safety guidelines that came with your power tool before using it. You’ll be finishing up your own home project in no time.
When working with any type of power tool, always remember to put safety first. By following these simple guidelines, you will be able to use your power tools in the safest manner possible.
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and directions
- Wear eye protection
- Wear clothing that does not hang or dangle loosely
- If wearing gloves, make sure they are leather
- Make sure that the safety guards are in place and working
- Replace damaged parts or damaged tools before using them
- Always keep a firm grip on your tools
- When sanding, wear a dust mask
- Wear ear plugs or ear muffs when operating a noisy power tool
- If you have long hair, tie it back
- When using tools outdoors, plug them into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet
Jigsaw (or Sabre Saw)
A jigsaw is a small, handheld saw that moves a narrow blade up and down. Because the blades are narrow and the cutting action is vertical, these saws are ideal for curved or intricate cuts. Jigsaws are very easy to use for more delicate woodcutting. Hobbyists and DIY home improvers frequently use this saw. A large variety of blades can be purchased for these devices.
- Cutting a radius in woodwork
- Cutting notches in woodwork
Price range: $30 – $170
Circular saws are one of the most versatile power saws. These saws enable you to cut boards, plywood, larger pieces of trim, etc. Most circular saws are packaged with a standard blade; however you may wish to purchase additional blades. Circular saws are available in both corded and battery operated models.
- Cutting 2 x 4s for framing
- Cutting deck boards for decking
- Cutting a full sheet of plywood into smaller sections
Price range: $39 – $200
Miter Saw (or Chop Saw)
Miter saws are most commonly used for smooth, accurate cuts of wood trim. However these saws can also be used to cut 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s. This saw has a number of pre-set angles that you can use, which is a great feature when you are making repetitive cuts.
- Making miter cuts on moldings
- Multiple cuts on similar length stock
Price range: $99 – $600
Sanders mechanically speed up the movement of sandpaper to more quickly smooth out a rough surface. The most basic sander is a 1/4-sheet pad sander that allows you to create a more finished look on your surface.
- Refinishing furniture
- Preparation of new wood for finishing
Price range: $25 – $70
A power drill is not only good for drilling various sized holes, but it also allows you to use other accessories such as driver bits, wire brush wheels, sanding drums and many other attachments. Drills can either be corded or battery operated. Cordless models are available in various voltages including 9.6, 12, 14.4 and 18 volts.
- Drilling holes in wood, metal and masonry
- Driving Screws
Price range: $25 – $270
- How to Choose the Right Power Saw for the Job (video)
- How to Choose the Right Drill for Driving Screws (video)
- Power Sanders 101 (article)