7 Essential Power Tools
7 Essential Power Tools Standard
Home renovations and projects are serious business and can require some serious tools to get the job done. Power tools provide users with increased power and precision while lightening the workload on most jobs considerably. That being said, these are dangerous machines that, if handled incorrectly, can maim or kill a careless or inexperienced user. A healthy respect for these machines and their potential to inflict damage is essential before you ever plug-in or turn on your first device. The below guide will hopefully shed some light on the various uses, techniques and safety procedures associated with some of these indispensable tools and be of use to both the novice home renovator and the eternally curious. Enjoy.
1. Jig Saw Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com
The Jigsaw is one of the most versatile cutting tools available and gets it’s name from the up and down reciprocating cutting action that makes the saw such a multi-use tool. The jigsaw is basically just an electric motor embedded in a plastic handle that allows a thin steel blade to make a variety of cuts that would be far more difficult or even impossible with a traditional or circular saw. A large number of specialized blades in various formats, allow for the saw to cut through wood, tile, plastic and metal with ease. The orientation of the blade also allows for plunge cuts (cuts that go directly downward into a material), though you should try to drill and entry point for your cut if you can. The saw is commonly used to make curved cuts and reduces the risk of kick back found in other power saw options. Be careful of blade drift though. The thin blade is prone to moving off of it’s cutting path and with the delicate types of jobs these saws can be used for, that could be a very disappointing set back.
2. Drill Press
The power drill is one of the most popular and common power tools available and offers users the ability to take their drill anywhere they need to, but sometimes it is far easier and beneficial to bring the project to your drill. For situations like this, a drill press is a great option. Available either as a free standing unit or bench top model, these stationary drills are especially useful when making furniture or other smaller projects and generally offer more power than your average hand drill. The drill consists of a base, support column, drill and table that are all adjustable and allow for precise control and a perfect ninety-degree drilling angle. The table also allows for clamps to hold the material in place, creating a far more stable drilling environment. Drills are classed by throat size, or the distance between the support column and the drill’s center, are generally considered to be very safe machines. Keep your hands out from under the drill bit and don’t tip one of the big ones over onto anybody and you should be able to accurately drill without incident.
3. Impact Driver
Another hand drill alternative, the impact driver is essentially a power drill on steroids. While most drills connect the motor and chuck via a set of gears that strain as resistance grows, an impact driver allows the motor to disengage from the chuck, building momentum and then transferring it violently to the chuck at an insane rate of fifty times per second to increase torque power far beyond what you Black and Decker drill could even dream of. This force allows for larger holes to bored, but for the user to need less force to push the driver into the material being worked on thus avoiding the chewing of screw heads by the bit. Speaking of bits, special hexagonal bits will need to be used since the driver does not accept other styles of drill bit. These things are relatively safe if you keep the drill bit pointed away from you and make sure you are driving into a stable material/location. Ear protection is required though; these things are loud as hell.
4. Oscillating Tool
My personal second favorite, the oscillating tool is an excellent example of how a simple design with a lot of customization options can become one of the most useful tools in your arsenal. When I did home renovations in Nashville I kept one of these in arms reach at all times. If you aren’t sure which tools will get an odd job done, start here. An oscillating tool is no more than a handle with a motor that will send one of the many varieties of head in a very fast side to side motion (around 20,000 reps a minute). The diversity of the tool’s uses come from the many different accessories that can be fashioned to the motor. Some round, saw-like heads are perfect for removing grout while flatter, toothed heads can be used to scrape tile. Other common uses are cutting, sanding and grinding. The narrow angle of oscillation allows for user control far beyond more larger power tools and they come in both battery powered and corded varieties. These things aren’t super expensive and are a great starter tool for light, cosmetic project.
5. Wood Lathe
Ever wonder how a rectangular piece of wood turns into a table leg? The answer is probably a lathe. A wood lathe consists of a stand, a bed and two stocks, the head stock and the tail stock. A piece of raw wood, known as a blank, is clamped between these two stocks before a quiet, low power motor begins spinning the piece of wood. At this point a variety of wood working tools can be used to take the wood from it’s rough shape to a cylindrical piece that can vary in artistry and complexion. Precise parting tools can leave deep, consistent grooves in the wood as it turns while rough gouging tools can be used to hack of corners and quickly reduce the raw material to the rough shape of the finished product. Lathes in and of themselves aren’t too dangerous to work with, but using sharp metal tools on easily splintered wood without any training or guidance could make for a very painful afternoon.
A router is an essential part of accurate detail and finish work. The router itself is a height-adjustable motor inside of a base with handles on either side and a place to insert a bit. By using any number of interestingly shaped bits, users can add detail to frames, molding and other cosmetic projects with a high degree of precision. The router simply spins the bit as the user applies pressure and guides the bit. Best results occur when the bit is moved in the opposite direction of it’s rotation so that edges in front of you should be ground from left to right, outsides of projects should be done in a counter clockwise route while the insides should be done in a clockwise rotation. The increase accuracy and efficiency, especially when repeating a design, the router can be embedded in a table, providing a more stationary environment to work in. Routers are great when working on larger surfaces, but they can become hard to manage on smaller, thinner projects. Using a disposable backing board to keep the router stable is advised.
7. Reciprocating Saw
Easily my favorite power tool, the reciprocating saw, loving called the ‘saw-zaw’ in many circles, is a demolition guy’s dream and one of the best tools to have in your collection. The saw gets it’s name from it’s back and forth cutting action which allows it to cut through almost anything. Saw blades come in a variety of lengths, ranging from two and a half inches to a full foot, and with a variety of teeth patterns. Coupled with a ten to fifteen amp motor and these guys can cut through just about anything. Walls, pipes, plaster and nails stand no chance with the right blades and a high degree of customization makes this one of the most versatile saws around. Reversible blades, the ability to do an angled plunge cut, variable speed, orbital cutting capabilities and a compact model mean that this saw can be used in almost any space and at almost any angle. This thing is built to destroy and is best for projects and tasks where speed takes priority over looks. This thing is such a beast that you need to be careful you know what your cutting before you get going. Chewing through your electrical could be costly and dangerous while running the saw into a hard surface will send you jolting backwards and hoping your saw isn’t coming after you.
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