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Essential power tools 101

By Flow Wall
October 20, 2014

You likely already have a smattering of power tools adorning your wall storage systems, but beginning a new do-it-yourself project only to realize that you're missing a crucial saw or sander halfway through can happen all too easily. While everyone - and every project - is different, there's a short list of power tools you should always have on hand to deal with simple repairs and home projects.

Cordless drill

Cordless drills have a great many purposes, but in a nutshell, help reduce the amount of work necessary to complete whatever you're working on. They can be outfitted with adapters like screwdriver attachments or small saws and do a fantastic job drilling pilot holes before inserting otherwise wood-splitting screws. These drills work well on materials ranging from wood to drywall to masonry.

Reciprocating saw

This is a smaller electric saw that can cut through almost anything in any spot, no matter how obscure or difficult to reach. It's flexibility and strength makes it a great choice for remodeling and demolition work, and in a pinch, is a great way to remove tree branches. Reciprocating saws will cut openings in drywall, metal, rubber, plastic, linoleum and more - so be extremely careful not to get it too close to any of your limbs!

Cat's paw

A cat's paw, though not a power tool by trade, is a small crowbar that pulls out nails buried deep in wood. It is relatively small and easy to store in a tool belt, and as a bonus, usually only costs about $15.

Oscillating multi-tool

This is the jack-of-all-tools, used for a multitude of home projects ranging from sanding to wood cutting to grout removal. A multi-tool oscillates whatever attachment you're using just enough to expedite the work without causing a mess or necessitating large and cumbersome gear. It won't take up much space in your garage cabinets and many would call the most versatile of all power tools.

Orbital sander

The spinning surface on an orbital sander will slow down as you increase the pressure that is applied to the surface of whatever you're working on, preventing you from overdoing it on more delicate pieces. These kinds of sanders are lightweight and easy to control, but won't do much on larger, more heavy-duty items such as a saw.

Speed square

Speed squares are primarily used to mark incredibly precise lines on lumber, but work as a variety of things, such as a protractor, a miter square or a saw guide. This is another affordable lightweight tool you can easily stash in the drawers of your garage storage system.

Small angle grinder

This tool grinds and smooths metal surfaces. The electric motor, when fitted properly, cuts tile, removes paint and cleans metal. Though not quite as versatile as the oscillating multi-tool, it comes in a close second.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of useful power tools, but it will cover what's needed for the majority of everyday repair and renovation jobs. Add to your power tool collection as you gain more insight into what you and your home specifically need.