7 Best Do-It-Yourself Home Power Tools
Shop Tools and Power Tools
Choose Do-it-Yourself Home Power Tools that will Last
With major tool manufacturers entering the do-it-yourself home power tool market, the quality of consumer power tools now rivals the performance of the tools used by the big boys in the construction industry.
As an avid building enthusiast, I’ve completed projects ranging in size from small shelves to the construction of a 3-car garage, with large Dutch-hip roof and a 2-bedroom apartment. I’ve remodeled my own historic Colonial house and I built numerous outbuildings.
Construction tools marketed to the pros, come with a high price tag, and if you’re not going to be using the power tools on a daily basis, there’s really no need to fork out $400-$800 for contractor-quality shop tools and power tools.
For my purposes, these 7 power tools provide all the DIY power I need, at a price I can afford. They’re not the cheapest tools, but they’re much more affordable than contractor tools and many of them have served me well for years, when used on a near-weekly basis.
If I could only have one power tool – I’d choose a cordless drill. And if I could only choose one cordless drill (I have 6), I’d pick the DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Drill/Driver Kit. This baby is a 1/2-inch compact drill/driver that reaches into tight spots where I can get with my bigger drills. It’s relatively lightweight at about 5-pounds, but it packs a punch. I don’t see any power reduction at all with this DeWALT darling.
It’s easy to carry, I usually tuck it into my tool belt when I’m climbing or need my hands free to do other tasks. It’s right at my fingertips when I need it.
I’ve had this drill for almost a year now and I think I’ve used it more than I’ve any other power tool in my collection…, which is quite large.
I have a number of circular saws, but the Milwaukee 6390-21 7-1/4-Inch 15-Amp Tilt-Lok Circular Saw is by far my favorite. This isn’t a huge contractor saw, but as far as do-it-yourself home power tools go – this bad boy cuts up the competition!
The Milwaukee 6390 is corded, but in my experience, corded skill saws outperform their cordless cousins time after time, if you’re going to be using the saw longer than 15 minutes.
What makes the 6390 stand out is its ability to cut bevels up to 50-degrees and the way it’s made, you have a clear line of sight on all your cuts. The saw weighs about 10 pounds, making it easy to maneuver while giving it enough weight to stabilize the cuts.
I’ve had this saw for a little over 6 months, but it totally kicks!
Paslode Framing Nailer
I know some do-it-yourself home builders will disagree with me, but when it comes to cordless framing nailers, my choice – hands down – is the Paslode 900420 Cordless IMCT Framing Nailer. If you’re not familiar with the Paslode line of power tools, you’ll be interested to discover that these tools operate by the use of disposable fuel cells.
When I’m framing, I’m moving. I’m on the roof, I’m under the deck, I’m climbing on scaffolding…and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten air hoses or electrical cords tangled up. With the Paslode 900420, there’s no chance that you’ll run out of cord and have to drag your compressor to the roof. Just insert a fuel cartridge and you’re ready to go.
And the best part is – the Paslode isn’t as expensive as some of the other framing nailers in its category. I love this baby.
Using a Palm Nailer
You might be surprised that I picked a palm nailer for one of the 7 best do-it-yourself home power tools, but if you haven’t used one of these little babies yet – you don’t know what you’re missing. A couple years ago, I replaced the rafters on a shed that had some water damage from a roof leak. Before I removed the old rafters, I installed new ones right beside them. But the problem was that there was very little room to maneuver where the bottom part of the rafter sat on the top wall plate. I couldn’t get a bit nailer in there and swinging a hammer was also out of the question. A contractor friend told let me borrow his palm nailer and I installed the rafters with ease.
My recommendation is the Porter-Cable PN650. It fits right in your palm and it comes with a cover and strap that secures it to your hand. All you have to do is position the head and fire the nail. For tight spots – this little baby will save you time and will keep you from turning gray overnight.
When it comes to picking the best tools for the job, a chop saw can’t be beat for cutting repetitive angles for siding gables or just making short straight cuts. The Milwaukee 6180-20 isn’t the most expensive chop saw out there, but it’s definitely a powerhouse and I’ve had great luck with it.
You can adjust the back fence without having to use special tools, which is a major plus for me, since I tend to forget where I last put the tools. Big 14-inch wheel and 8-inch opening. For small projects, I’ll set the saw on the ground, table or on a sheet of plywood, but if I’m going to be doing a lot of cutting, I like to bolt it down on a sturdy boards between sawhorses.
In the past two years, I’ve used the Milwaukee 6180-20 to cut cement-fiber siding, aluminum and a vast assortment of wood. I’ve changed blades probably 30 times, but this chop saw just keeps cutting away.
If you only buy one sander in your life, make it a random orbital sander. There are hundreds of sanders on the market and many will leave you upset due to gouges and scratches in the wood. I hate sanding by hand, but I’ll only use a random orbital sander on any wood I’m going to paint or finish.
I’m very happy with my current sander, which is the DEWALT D26451K 3 Amp 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander with Cloth Dust Bag. My dog ate the carry bag, but this is a great hand sander.
Random orbital sanders work by rotating at high rates of speed while the entire head of the sander revolves in a random motion. Hold on tight the first time you turn one of these on, because it has a mind of its own. In a few seconds, you’ll get the hang of it. This DeWALT sander smoothed the wood on my deck railings and I removed the top surface of my friend’s redwood spa to reveal the fresh-looking wood beneath. Not a scratch or gouge anywhere. If you don’t get his sander, get a different random orbit sander and you’ll be very happy.
Clean Up Time
Although this isn’t specifically a power tool, it ought to be. If you’re like me – you can generate a pretty decent-size mess of wood shaving, dry joint compound, plaster and lath debris and dozens of other messes. I used to have a large canister wet/dry vac with an attachable hose. It was okay, but the hose kept coming off and eventually the motor seized.
I’ve owned the Milwaukee 0880-20 18-Volt Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum for almost 2 years and it’s been a real trooper. Because it’s cordless, I can take it anywhere, and the batteries are interchangeable with my other Milwaukee power tools.
It all stores compactly so I have a bit more room in the shop, and, like most wet/dry vacs, you can switch from suction to blowing. Powerful, a real workhorse. I added the Milwaukee Cordless vacuum because it’s been the best vacuum I’ve ever owned and it’s already outlasted canister vacuums that shelled after about a year.