Top Power Tools for a New Home
Since moving into our house I have been steadily building up a ‘stable’ of power tools. My approach has been to save up for good quality tools and buy them when I can, though borrowing (on permanent loan) from a generous dad has also proven fruitful. I’ve ranked the list of tools below by what I consider to be the most regularly used power tools new home owners will find useful.
1. 18v Cordless Combi-Drill
Head and shoulders above the rest is a decent cordless 18v combi-drill. This is the ultimate all-rounder. I bought mine about a week after moving in and I use it constantly. Combi-drills allow you to switch between multiple settings depending on the job (drilling, screwing, sawing) and the work surface (wood, metal, masonry). Most are powered by Lithium-Ion batteries that charge quickly and last for ages, so for this tool I would definately recommend going cordless for maximum flexibility.
People tend to develop brand loyalty around cordless tools, partly because the batteries are often interchangeable. There are plenty of top quality brands but I am increasingly wedded to Makita – I like the blue.
2. Multi-tool (Corded)
Number two on the list is an oscillating multi-tool. Multi-tools were originally invented to provide a safe way of removing plaster casts from broken limbs, but were adapted in the 1990’s into incredibly versatile power-tools that are invaluable for loads of DIY jobs. They come with a massive range of accessories, I have used mine for sanding wood, cutting pipes, chiselling a recess in a door frame, excising grout from tile, scraping away plaster, and removing paint. I went for a corded option as almost every job I do with this tool is within comfortable reach of a plug socket.
3. Hammer Drill (Corded)
A hammer drill is a rotary drill with a hammering action which breaks down brittle material. It is ideal for effortlessly drilling holes in masonry and concrete. Whilst cordless combi-drills come with a hammer setting, they do not have the raw and constant power of a hammer drill plugged into the mains. So for drilling serious holes in walls, like the ones needed for my super-strong floating shelf, a corded hammer drill is well worth adding to the collection. By the way, the one above is an exception to my ‘go-for-quality’ rule. It cost about £20 from a shop round the corner when I was in a hurry.
4. Circular Saw
If you are planning any sort of woodwork, particularly cutting sheet materials like mdf and plywood, your first port of call should be a circular saw. After repeatedly borrowing my dad’s he kindly agreed that we could have it on permanent loan, and it has been invaluable on jobs that require long straight cuts, like my bay window seat and alcove cupboard. This should be the first power saw in your collection.
5. Cordless Impact Driver
This is a recent addition to my tool cupboard and I can’t believe I went without one for so long. It’s great fun! The main purpose of an impact driver is to drive screws – and it does so with astonishing power and speed. I bought mine when my regular combi-drill was struggling to get a screw through a 2”4 and into a brick wall. The impact-driver smashed it in without blinking. It’s a beast and makes jobs with a lot of screwing, like my DIY sandpit, an absolute breeze. To save money I bought my drill-driver ‘bare’ (without a battery) as I can use the one from my Makita combi-drill; though it makes sense to have two batteries to rotate if you can afford it.
Jigsaws are ideal for loads of woodworking projects, especially ones that require cutting curves. I recently faffed around for ages with an old-fashioned coping saw trying to make an oval hole in my chalkboard baby stairgate, something a jigsaw would have done in seconds. The one above is on loan from my dad who, resourceful man that he is, uses the old cigar tubes to store different blades. The main decision here is whether to go corded or cordless. The bonus of cordless is the flexibility, but they are generally a bit heavier and less powerful than their corded counterparts. If I invest in my own I’ll probably go corded.
7. Dremel Rotary Tool
We’re beginning to get a little specialist, but this is a gem of a tool that you will find on many ‘top 10’ lists. It came into its own when we were re-tiling our kitchen. We fitted a small diamond edged rotary blade that easily cut through ceramic metro tiles and was particularly handy for cutting the odd shaped tiles to fit around plug sockets and light switches.
8. Random Orbital Sander
No picture here because this is yet to be added to the collection. I’ve done most sanding jobs the old fashioned way with good old sandpaper. However for bigger woodwork jobs an electric sander saves a tonne of time and effort. My dad’s belt-sander has now pretty much taken up permanent residence in my tool shed, but if I’m to buy my own it will be a random orbital sander as these give a finer finish to woodwork.
9. Electric Strimmer
When we moved in I bought an old-school push-powered garden lawn mower. Apart from the fact that it looks kind of quaint, I thought it would save the faff of extension leads and take up less room in the shed. I was also told that you can use them to create cool stripy effects on the grass (ha ha). Unfortunately, our grass is an uneven shambles of bumps, clover, stray clothes pegs, and ant nests – a sort of ‘off-road’ experience that the poor push-along struggles to handle. So I recently bought a strimmer. I mainly bought this for the edges, the lawn may be crap I thought, but at least I can have neat edges (one begins to care about these things at the age of 35). But I now use it to do the whole thing – sorry push-along.