Most homeowners have a small workshop or closet stocked with essential tools like a tape measure, hammer, screwdriver set, and handsaw. But if you’re ready to tackle larger projects like building a new deck for the cottage or converting the old boathouse into a bunkie, you’ll want a few power tools to help you get the job done as efficiently as possible. Stocking your workshop with power tools is never cheap, but when you find yourself at the end of the dock enjoying a drink after a job well done, you’ll quickly realize that these eight tools are well worth the investment.
Because it’s so adaptable, a jigsaw is one of the first power tools many DIYers will buy. The jigsaw is best known for its ability to cut curves, and because it’s slower and less powerful than a bandsaw, it’s particularly good at cutting intricate shapes. It can also be used to cut wood of varying thickness and density, make bevel cuts, and—given the right blade—slice through steel, fibreglass, and drywall.
The speed that comes with a finish nailer is a godsend for many contractors, which is why they’re as common on today’s jobsites as a cordless drill or circular saw. Because they’re becoming less expensive, they’re an equally coveted tool for DIYers, especially the time-starved ones who only have the weekend to get a project done. A good finish nailer will help with jobs like tacking up trim, assembling window casings, and finishing furniture. Some models still require lugging around a cumbersome air compressor, but there are now cordless options available as well.
This tool’s versatility makes it a must-have for cabinet makers and finishing carpenters. Although you can find other tools to do many of the same jobs, when given an appropriate guide, a router can cut mortises and dovetails faster and more accurately than any hand chisel. It’s also one of the few tools you can find to trim plastic-laminate edges for countertops. If you want to stick to just one, we suggest the plunge router, which will perform any task the fixed-based design will, but can also handle a range of internal cuts in a safe and effective way.
Compound mitre saw
With a saw blade that pivots on an axis, the compound mitre saw is designed to make cuts at a variety of angles. It’s the ideal tool for quickly cutting crown moulding, door frames, window casings, and picture frames, but it works just as well for making straight cuts. A 10-inch sliding compound mitre saw is a good choice for most DIYers, since the sliding feature allows the saw to move forward and back to cut larger pieces of wood. Those interested in something a little more portable will want to look into a cordless model, which can pack a surprising amount of power.
Power hand plane
A power hand plane does a lot of the same work that a jack plane does, except it tends to be a lot more efficient and accurate. It also requires a lot less effort to use—instead of driving the plane, you merely guide it along the path you want to shave down. Once you’re comfortable using it, you can smooth a freshly sawn surface, fit a door that’s too wide for its opening, or even straighten sagging and uneven ceiling joists in minutes. For the smoothest results, make sure you balance your body correctly and push the tool slowly.
Random orbital sander
The proper sanding can make or break a woodworking project, which is why every diehard DIYer should have a power sander in their workshop. A random orbital sander can round edges, finely sand, and even remove multiple coats of paint and varnish without gouging the wood’s surface. But the most satisfying thing about working with this tool might be the fact that you can move it in any direction—even against the grain of the wood.
With this versatile tool in hand, the project possibilities are endless. Cordless drills don’t just drill holes and drive screws—those with keyless chucks will also accept hole saws, rotary sanders, wire-wheel brushes, and other accessories. Cordless drills range in size and power, but if you’re planning to undertake more serious projects, the extended run time that comes with a contractor-grade drill will make the additional weight worth it.
If you consider yourself a serious DIYer (or would like to be) it’s time you gave your elbow a rest and picked up a circular saw. These saws are typically used for tasks like cutting framing lumber, but that’s not all they can do—given the right blade they can also cut concrete forms, sheet goods, roofing, metal, and masonry. Although there are lots of cordless options available, you’ll likely have to compromise some power and performance for portability. If you do decide to go for a more powerful model, this saw can also come in handy during demolition work.