7 Power Tools Everyone Should Have

by MOTORHEAD Tools Team on September 15, 2020

Before getting started on any DIY job it’s important to know exactly what job you’re trying to complete.

Having a broad knowledge of the most essential power tools will help you immediately identify what proper power tool you need for your application.

It’s never fun to start a project, not knowing what tool to use, or worse yet using the wrong tool and having to fix your error in addition to completing the job at hand.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a high-level understanding of the 7 most essential power tools. 

With this understanding, you’ll know exactly what tool to use on your specific DIY projects from the moment you get started. 

This knowledge helps complete them more quickly, efficiently and with a much reduced learning curve.

 

1. Power Drill

This is by far the most common power tool you’ll use for most home DIY jobs. Drills come in numerous forms, most commonly corded and cordless. 

In the cordless variety, smaller drills come in 12V and 20V varieties. Both are great for common household tasks.

At their most basic level, drills are all designed to bore holes into surfaces or drive fasteners.

As you up in quality level, drills will have more settings – speeds, torque adjustments, added LED lights and more.  

 

Common Applications:

  • Hanging décor (drilling holes for wall anchors, hanging shelving, pictures, lighting)
  • Driving screws into various materials - wood, sheet metal, masonry, drywall
  • Cleaning (brush attachments allow a drill to be used as a scrubber)
  • Mixing paint

 

Pro Tips:

Since this is most often the first power tool you’ll purchase, it’s important to keep the tool’s platform in mind. 

Do you see yourself buying additional power tools in the future?

Since most cordless power tool brands share batteries across platforms, you can save money and optimize your tools’ value by buying power tools that share the same battery platform as your drill.

Don’t let an inferior quality drill or power tool platform drive your future power tool buying decisions just because you already have batteries for that platform.

 

2. Impact Driver

This tool is very similar to a drill, however it’s purposely tailored to drive screws and fasteners.

Unlike a drill, this power tool generally features a quick changing ¼” hex chuck that allows the user to quickly change between different screwdriver and nut driving bits

 

Common Applications:

  • Larger scale projects that require lots of repeated driving of screws or fasteners – i.e decks, patio covers, fences, framing
  • HVAC/Electrical – These can be used to remove and replace paneling, junction boxes and any space held together with a fastener. Makes quicker work of removing and replacing electrical faceplates.
  • Driving Screws in Tighter Places – Because their size is so much smaller in general (plus there are ultra-compact versions), they can get into places where drills can’t reach.

 

Pro Tips:

If you currently own a cordless drill and find yourself using it for projects where you’re mostly driving screws, do yourself a favor and grab an impact driver.

With an impact driver it’s much easier to switch between bits when you’re dealing with different screw sizes. Just pop them in and out, no fussing with tightening and loosening a chuck every time you want to change out a bit.

Additionally, you gain a lot more power over a traditional drill, plus you never have to worry about a drill chuck coming loose.

 

3. Hammer Drill

This drill is a bit less common than the standard drill driver, but there will be times when this style of drill is indispensable.

This drill works very similarly to your standard power drill, but it’s generally more powerful and includes a chiseling function to help drill though stone and masonry work.

These types of drills usually feature a side handle for better stabilization. 

 

Common Applications:

  • Fencing & Patio Post installation on concrete slabs – If you’re anchoring a fence or post into concrete, this drill is necessary.
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    Pro Tips:

    Hammer drills can vary greatly in cost and function. You can find high-end hammer drills with rotary functions and dust extraction, but these are primarily for commercial/contractor use in large concrete building construction.

     

    4. Reciprocating Saw

    When doing home renovations, you’ll likely need to remove old fixtures, cabinets, rotten beams, old plumbing and more.

    A reciprocating saw makes easy work of these jobs, helping you remove all the old hardware before installing all the new hardware.

    The saw works with a plunging saw blade that saws back and forth like a traditional hand saw.

    They fit into very tight spaces, which is convenient when working in attics, crawl spaces and cabinets.

     

    Common Applications:

    • Demolition Work – Whether it be wood, plumbing, particle board, wood embedded with screws, nails or anything else (besides stone), this is the tool to get all these materials removed.
    • Plumbing & Conduit Sizing – These are great for cutting lengths of pipe for plumbing jobs – PVC, copper, ABS and more can be cut with a reciprocating saw. 
    • Old Material Breakdown – When disposing of old hardware, lumber and remnants of home renovation projects, a reciprocating saw can help breakdown all the leftover waste making it easier to fit into trash bins.

     

    Pro Tips: 

    You might think this tool isn’t one of the first tools you should have, but as soon as you start ripping out old hardware you’ll see the value in this tool.

    Most DIY work will require removing existing, hardware, fixtures and beams. Having this saw ready will help prevent making those last minute, time consuming trips to the hardware store.

     

    5. Circular Saw

    When do anything related to wood working, a circular saw will come in handy.

    This saw functions by using a circular blade that’s designed to cut through flat materials, usually wood.

    Unlike a reciprocating saw, these make clean, straight and flush cuts due to the way the blade is fixed.

    Depending on the saw, you can even cut at angles if you need a beveled edge.

    If you’re cutting wood that will be visible in its finished form, this is the saw to use.

    Blades(link to PTA article) for these can vary between lower TPI and higher TPI (teeth per inch). The higher the TPI, the finer the cut.

     

    Common Applications:

    • Cutting Plywood & Lumber – This is the saw to cut 2x4s and plywood. Cutting wood beams for framing is super easy with this saw.
    • Cutting Drywall  - You can cut straight sections pretty easily with a circular saw

     

    Pro Tips:

    Think about the depth of the wood you’re cutting, circular saws vary by blade size. 

    Blade sizes can get as small as 3-3/8” and up to 7-1/4” on most consumer handheld circular saws.

    Be sure to get the size that best meets your application.

     

    6. Jig Saw

    This tool will really show its value when needing to cut curves or ornate detail work.

    These really shine when cutting counter, vanity tops and sink openings. 

    No two counters are the same and they all usually require some sort of customization to make them fit.

    Without this tool it would be impossible to cut holes into a countertop for a sink. 

    They can make perfectly circular holes into a flat surface.

    Jig saws function by using a small blade that plunges in and out of a surface, allowing for small precise cuts.

     

    Common Applications:

  • Countertop, Sink & Vanity Cutting – Perfect for cutting all the curves on these as described previously.
  • Molding & Tile – These can be very effective for cutting curves into molding and tile to fit them into those odd sized floor spaces.
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    Pro Tips:

    These saws can vary in cutting options. Higher-end jig saws include orbital functions and variable speeds that allow the consumer more precision cutting. 

    The orbital function provides cleaner and smoother cutting by leaning the blade into the material on the upstroke and backward on the down stroke to reduce vibration. 

    This can be particularly helpful when wanting to produce a cleaner, smoother edge. Some saws feature 4 or more orbital settings to adjust the blade angle to suit your needs.

     

    7. Oscillating Multi-Tool

    At first, it can be difficult to think of a use for this tool, but after seeing its applications you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

    This tool works by using oscillations to cut through materials, scrape or sand.

    It was first developed for the medical field to remove casts. The oscillations allowed the doctor to cut through the cast, but not cut the skin of the patient. Since skin is somewhat rubbery, the oscillations won’t cut through the skin.

    These tools feature a head that allows multiple types of blades and bits.

     

    Common Applications:

     

  • Sanding – There are attachments for these that allow the tool to be used as a corner and finishing sander. These can be really good for getting into corners.
  • Paint Scrapping – Removing paint can be a pain, but with a scrapper attachment removing paint is easy.
  • Flooring Removal – The same scrapping attachment works great to remove laminate flooring. Takes away the backbreaking job of chiseling away at old flooring by hand.
  • Cutting Molding – It can be difficult to cut notches and grooves into molding and flooring to fit around door jams, this tool makes it very easy. 
  • New Outlet Sockets – Makes easy work of adding a new outlet holes into drywall.
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    Pro Tips:

     

    Due to its oscillating action, this tool cuts differently than any other saw. 

    Most saws require the user to cut into the material from the side.

    With an oscillating tool, you can cut directly into the face of the surface, giving you more angles of approach to cut.

    This can be really convenient when cutting a material that’s already installed or for cutting through nails and fasteners connecting two pieces of wood.

     

    Conclusion

    After gaining the knowledge of what 7 essential power tools you should have and how they might be applied to your project, you’re now able to visualize what tool is right for the job at hand. 

    You can now spend less time making errors only to figure out the hard way what power tool was right for the job.

    Not only does knowing the 7 essential power tools to own allow you to apply them more efficiently, but it also lets you plan out your DIY projects better.

    Knowing your project lets you plan out all the tools you’ll need to finish the job, making DIY a more pleasurable, fulfilling experience.

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