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Power Tool Basics

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 24 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Power Tools Cordless Drill Screwdriver

Even if you are a DIY novice it's likely that you will already have some power tools in your tool kit. We'll cover some of the most basic power tools, giving buying tips and usage hints.

Cheaper Power Tools

Prices of power tools have come down in real terms in recent years to the point where electric drills and screwdrivers can be picked up for as little as a tenner, so price is no longer a barrier to owning these tools.

If you're building up a toolkit to do basic DIY around the home then a combined drill and screwdriver makes a good starting point. The effort and time it takes to drill holes around the home manually, particularly an older house, makes a power drill a good investment.

Cordless and Mains Drills

Cordless drills are very handy and almost certainly enough to do most lightweight domestic jobs such as putting up shelves, picture hooks and cupboards. But cheaper cordless drills will not have the power to do heavyweight or long-winded jobs so you should consider a mains drill or a more expensive cordless if this is what you will be doing.

It's also worth considering a separate cordless screwdriver, particularly if it has a tubular body as opposed to the traditional drill shape with a large chunky handle. Having a separate screwdriver avoids having to change from a drill bit to a screwdriver bit every time you move on to a new hole. And the tubular format can get into awkward corners better than a larger one.

Consider drill and screwdriver bits carefully too. It's often a false economy to buy very cheap bits as some of them don't last two minutes. As well as the waste of money, this can be a real inconvenience when a bit fails in the middle of a job, unless you have a DIY store right on your doorstep.

Jigsaws and Sanders

Other power tools that are likely to appeal to the novice DIY person are jigsaws and sanders. If you're doing jobs like putting shelves up, laying laminate flooring or change a kitchen layout, a jigsaw will be very useful.

Cordless jigsaws are available but they are still very expensive compared to mains powered versions so they are currently out of range for a DIY novice. But usually you would use a jigsaw at a workbench so once you've plugged it in near to that the cord shouldn't present too many problems.

Power sanders are a godsend to the DIY fanatic as they take hours of mind-numbing toil away. Cordless versions are available but they are currently a lot smaller than mains powered ones. Have a look at both in a DIY store to decide which is right for you. Cordless sanders are more expensive than mains powered ones but not to the same extent as jigsaws.

Cordless Batteries

If you're going cordless as much as possible, try and get the same brand of power tool every time. Although this does tie you in to one manufacturer, it means you can swap batteries between the tools so that when one runs out you can use one from another tool while it recharges.

You can usually buy extra batteries for your power tools although this is not possible with some of the real bargain basement tools.

Health and Safety with Power Tools

Remember health and safety which is of paramount importance with power tools. Unplug mains powered power tools as much as possible and watch where you lay cords as they may trip the unwary.

Always wear goggles with power tools and a mask for sanding and sawing. And it’s worth wearing a pair of decent boot too, so that you don’t do any damage when you drop a power tool. Everyone does it at least once.

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