1895 marked the birth of modern power tools when German company C & E Fein introduced a big, mechanical hand-drill that revolutionized the tool industry. In the last century, power tools have seen rapid and exponential growth-producing newer tools that feature innovative design and are built for durability and efficiency.
True enough, power tools nowadays are a common sight in most homes and are vital pieces of any builder’s and DIY’er’s collection. Since there are so many power tools, it’s important to prioritize the ones that best fit your tool kit.
Why do you need power tools?
Power tools have one clear advantage over manual and hand tools – they allow you to work faster. Power tools are more capable and perform better; they reduce fatigue and allow you to take on a variety of materials that you would otherwise have difficulty handling.
Who uses power tools the most?
Because of their extreme versatility, power tools cater to a wide audience; professionals and non-professionals alike. Their ease of use and relatively high-octane performance makes them favored by:
Service & maintenance crew
Power tools are effective for use around the house and are vital to the operations of small businesses and startups. In fact, power tools have become so essential that they’re basically core components of major industries like engineering and aerospace.
Must-have features of a reliable power tool
Proper voltage. A reliable power tool must also be compatible with the local power source of your area. Avoid damage and the risk of running into accidents by making sure that you have the correct AC/DC outlet or consider buying a transformer.
Ergonomics. By ergonomics, we also mean a tool with the right feel, size, and handling. A reliable power tool is one that you can use for long periods without experiencing fatigue and allows you to make quick and easy adjustments.
Reach. A reliable power tool is one that lets you get to all the spots required in a job, be they hard to reach or not. This has something to do with the tool’s overall design and cord length; a good-lengthed cord allows you to maneuver more effectively.
Power tools for every type of job
Power tools that every builder should have
Reciprocating saw. The reciprocating saw is essential for both construction and demolition. It’s a powerful cutting tool that can pass through almost any material and is very effective for housework and/or remodeling.
Oscillating/ multi-tool. The multi-tool is just that – a very versatile device that cuts through the material via oscillation (vibration). With multiple head types, the multi-tool can be used to work on walls, flooring, and can even sand surfaces.
Angle-grinder. A grinding tool that makes use of a rotating disc that spins at an incredibly high rate to smoothen out material surfaces. An angle grinder can be also used to chip off or trim material, as well as can buff and polish metals.
Nail gun. Builders can use nail guns in a variety of ways; from framing to trim work, a nail gun does a hammer’s job 80% quicker.
Circular saw. Of course, you won’t find a builder without a full range of trusty power saws.
Power tools that every electrician should have
Power drill. A highly efficient and versatile tool, a power drill is an automatic choice for electricians as it allows them to easily boreholes and make anchor points if it comes with a hammer drill feature.
Heat gun. Overpowered hair dryers are an electrician’s best friend. They can dry, shrinkwrap, are handy for HVAC applications, and can even lightly solder.
Cordless light. A battery-powered light is useful for electricians for gazing in dark nooks and crannies.
Power tools that every plumber should have
Oscillating multi-tool. The multi-tool is just as effective for plumbers as it is for builders as they can be used to either cut pipes, cut out flooring to expand plumbing lines, and can remove bathroom grouts.
Power saw. Any form of power saw can benefit a plumber as they can help with quickly cutting pipes and tubes.
Power tools that every mechanic should have
Impact wrench. No mechanic’s arsenal is complete without an impact wrench. Operating with high amounts of torque, impact wrenches are essential in removing extremely fitted bolts and make automotive work way more manageable.
Impact driver. A lighter version of an impact wrench that’s ideal for working with smaller materials and applications, such as with bolts too small for an impact wrench or driving long screws.
Portable brazing kit. Oxy-acetylene torch kits are very useful in situations that require tactical welding. Invaluable in applications that involve metal fabrication and machining.
Power tools that every painter must have
Air tools. There are many air tools , but the fact that they need only compressed air to run makes them ideal for painters who have a very niche market. An air compressor can power all kinds of air brushes and sprays. An air nailer can be used to easily hang finishing work as well.
Power sanders. Both a wall sander and an orbital palm sander are essential for prepping any surface before painting.
Best power tools for DIY
The best thing about power tools for home DIY is they can encompass pretty much anything. DIY-ing is basically bringing an otherwise large-scale project down to a personal level, making it less complicated and more manageable. As such, it is safe to assume that all power tools are best for DIY and women, as well as men but here are the few that really stand out for the majority:
Reciprocating saw / Sawzall
Oscillating / Multi-tool
These are among the most versatile of power tools and can perform tasks such as boring holes, cutting, buffing, heating, and more across multiple types of materials including metals.
Top power tool brands
The power tools industry spans far and wide, with many notable names. When considering which is the best brand, it’s important to take into account the overall quality of the product as well as the quality of service and track record of a particular company. With that, let’s take a look at who we believe is the best of the best.
Black + Decker
Industry giant Black + Decker is known to have set the foundations for portable power tools in the US when it patented a portable electric drill in 1916. In 1946, Black + Decker would again revolutionize the industry as it introduced the 1st portable electric drill for consumers, signaling the rise of DIY.
Founded in 1915, Makita rose to fame by starting out as a company that sells electric motors. For over 100 years, Makita has been renowned in the power tool industry for delivering products of outstanding quality, performance, and durability in the USA. Makita is now found in over 40 countries.
Founded in the 1920s, DeWalt rose to stardom and is credited for perfecting the 1st woodworking machine. Today, it’s often a stalemate between DeWalt and Makita on who makes the better tools, it often comes down to specific tools or the competition of niche tool manufacturers.
Not much difference in terms of functionality, so when choosing cordless over corded variants, keep these points in mind:
Compact and more portable.
Freer range of motion and control.
Does not need a power outlet.
Better for more mobile users.
Better for light to medium applications.
Batteries need charging.
The batteries can make it a bit heavier.
The limitations of battery power and motor size make cordless tools less efficient for larger and more work-intensive projects. The higher costs also make them a less practical option for intermittent or occasional use.
Check out our full guide stricktly on cordless tools for more information.
Safety and personal protective equipment
Safety goggles. Power tools are strong and can experience malfunctions or jams every now and then. Regardless of what you’re working on and what power tool you’re using, it’s always important to wear protective goggles to shield your eyes from material debris.
Gloves. Especially in the case of heat guns and oscillating tools, wearing gloves protects your hands from excessive fatigue by dampening vibrations and possible thermal discharge. Gloves can also protect you from gear-pinching, lacerations, and electrocution.
Mask. A mask is especially useful when working with large amounts of debris such as with sanding or from wood, concrete, or metal grinding. Masks protect you from inhaling harmful fumes and small materials like dust.
When to use hand tools?
As a general rule, we suggest using hand tools in situations that only require a split second to do. Hand tools give you more control and are more precise, but are also slower and rely on the user in order to maintain consistent results.
If you are in no hurry or if your project is not on a strict schedule, then you can bide your time and use hand tools. Otherwise, anything else is better off with a power tool.
Power tools allow you to work at a faster pace and make it relatively easy to maintain consistency. They’re also more convenient and are less tiring to use even on longer and larger projects.
They can also help you from RSI – “Repetitive strain injury” that can occur from too many repetitive hand movements.
Power tools are great to have as they can spell the difference between the success and failure of your projects. Power tools are definitely quality-of-life items and make work both easier and more enjoyable.
As a long-term investment, they are definitely worth it and have been proven and tested, across various industries and professions, to increase productivity and timeliness.
There are too many power tools to list, so take your time and carefully read up on the ones that strike your fancy here. While these times can be hard to personally look at power tools DIY shop, you can check out some of our dedicated power tool reviews to familiarize yourself with DIY and see how you can get power tools for DIY home maintenance.