Best Tools for DIYers: The Handyman’s Guide to Power Actuated Tools

A power tool is a regular tool for carpenters and those in the construction industry. It is a machine that makes cutting and drilling faster and easier.

Power tools fall into two categories: Handheld (portable) and stationary tools. Both categories have advantages.

Portable tools have an advantage in mobility, and you can move them from one workshop to another shop. While stationary power tools, though not movable, have an advantage in speed and accuracy.

For example, a typical table saw not only cuts faster than a handheld saw, but also produces a straighter, smoother, and more square product than portable power saws.

There are different types of power tools for different purposes, such as drilling, cutting, grinding, and sanding. The tool brand you choose will depend on your basic work needs.

Energy source for Machine Tools

Back in the olden days, stationary power tools used power from water wheels, windmills and steam. But as of 2021, they make use of electric motors.

Portable electrical tools use either corded electric or battery powered. Paint sprayers and nailers make use of compressed air as their source of power.

Other tools like chainsaws and string trimmers use gasoline to generate power. In automotive workshops and other places with the possibility of fuel or vapor ignition, compressed air is used.

Battery types

As there are different brands and models of power tools, so are their batteries. Batteries sometimes become an issue on machine tools because of incompatibility across brands.

To avoid this, always go for brands that are popular, and with replaceable parts. Always check the voltage rating on your tool to avoid using the battery with the wrong rating which may damage your tools.

Normally, a tool with a higher voltage rating delivers more power and as of 2021, new power tools use 18-volt battery packs as their standard.

Cordless or Corded?

There are two major types of power tools, cordless and corded tools. Cordless power tools work with batteries while corded use electricity.

Both tools have pros and cons to using them and can be ideal for similar or different projects.

Cordless tools are wireless and do not require power. You can take it to anywhere in your home or office and use them without cables. Corded tools, on the other hand, need the power to work. If you need to use it, make sure there is a source of power.

Types of Power Tools

Bandsaw

A bandsaw is a power saw used in lumbering, metalwork, and woodworking. It comes with a long sharp blade filled with uniform toothed metals.

These teeth make it easy for them to cut objects uniformly, and also cut irregular or curved shapes like a jigsaw.

Alligator shear

An alligator shear is a metal cutting tool with a hinged jaw, it is powered by a hydraulic cylinder or flywheel.

Air compressor

An air compressor is a pneumatic device that converts power into potential energy and stores it as compressed air.

The compressor has a container for storing air. When the tank pressure reaches the maximum limit, the compressor shuts off, and the air is stored for future use.

Angle grinder

An angle grinder, also called a disc or side grinder, is a handheld power tool that helps in cutting, grinding, and polishing materials.

You can power the tool with an electric motor, petrol engine, or compressed air.

The motor drives the geared head carrying the abrasive disc and depending on the speed range of the disc, it can serve as sanders and is also useful in smoothing of rough edges.

Chainsaw

A chainsaw is a handheld tool used in felling trees, pruning, limbing, and harvesting fireworks.

It works with battery, gas, or electricity. Chainsaws come with a guide bar and a toothed chain that revolves around the bar. This helps to cut materials.

Belt Sander

This tool helps to trim and shape woods and other materials. It can be handheld, or static. The handheld has an electric motor that drives the drums carrying sandpaper that sands materials.

While stationary belt sanders can be mounted on a workbench, resulting in the name bench sanders.

Belt sanders are most often used in the early stages of the sanding process because they are aggressive. You can also use it to remove paint from wood.

Biscuit or Plate joiner

This is a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. It comes with a small circular blade that helps to cut a curve-shaped hole on the opposite sides of the two wood you want to join.

A gum is then applied to the curve, and the two boards joined together.

Circular saw

A circular saw uses its toothed blade to cut materials such as metals, plastic, wood, and other things.

It can be stationary or portable. Electricity and gasoline engines can power this machine tool.

Diamond blade

This is a saw blade that has diamonds fixed on its edges for cutting abrasive or hard materials. There are various types of diamond blades for different uses such as in cutting bricks, stones, asphalt, concrete, glass, ceramics, and others. It is also useful in construction industries to cut semiconductors.

The power tools also include the following:

  • Ceramic tile cutter
  • Cold saw
  • Concrete saw
  • Crusher
  • Die grinder
  • Disc sander
  • Disc cutter
  • Drill
  • Food processor
  • Floor sander
  • Grinding machine
  • Hedge trimmer
  • Heat gun
  • Impact wrench
  • Impact driver
  • Jackhammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Jointer
  • Knitting machine
  • Lawn mower
  • Lathe
  • Leaf blower
  • Multi-tool
  • Miter saw
  • Needle gun scaler
  • Nail gun (battery operated, electric and powder actuated)
  • Pneumatic torque wrench
  • Power wrench
  • Powder-actuated tools
  • Pressure washer
  • Random orbital sander
  • Radial arm saw
  • Rotary saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Rotary Tiller
  • Rotary tool
  • Sabre saw
  • Scrollsaw
  • Sander
  • Sewing machine
  • Steel cut-off saw
  • Snow blower
  • String trimmer
  • Thickness Planner
  • Table saw
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Wall Chaser
  • Wood router
  • Washing machine

Brands to Consider

When going for a machine tool, always look for brands that are popular, and with years of experience. For example, tools from Bosch, 3M, Stanley Black & Decker, Techtronic, Makita, Milwaukee, Stihl, Chevron, and Apex tool groups are always of quality.

Always make sure that the brand is easy to use, and that the power accessories are not hard to replace in case of damaged parts.  

Safety Tips

Though handheld power tools make our work easier and faster, they also produce heavy noise and vibration that may cause hearing loss. Before working with a power tool, always put on your personal protective equipment (PPE) such as ear muff and goggles.

The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that no one should expose his or her self to noise above 85 decibels for a long period of time.

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