Power tools can be divided into two categories, portable and stationary. Sometimes portable power tools can also be considered as being stationary, i.e. routers-when mounted to a router table, some small table saws and portable planers.
In general, the following would be classified as portable tools (those that can be carried to the job site):
- Drill/drivers (corded and cordless)
- Routers and laminate trimmers
- Air impact wrenches
- Circular saws
- Jig saws
- Reciprocating saws
- Miter saws
Stationary power tools are those that are used mainly in a dedicated location (workshop/garage). They are heavy-duty machines for hard use and can perform tasks that the portable tools cannot. Examples of these tools would be:
- Table saws
- Radial arm saws
- Mortising machines
- Drill presses
An important thing to bear in mind when considering tool purchases is quality. There is a lot of junk in the marketplace. Stick with name brands. These companies have a quality reputation built up over the years. They also have local repair facilities for warranty and after warranty service should the need arise. Secondly, they offer many accessories and replacement parts for use with there own line of tools (try finding a NiCad battery for that off brand cordless drill at Home Depot or Lowe’s).
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Here are a several recommended brands:
- Delta Woodworking
- Milwaukee Electric Tools
- Hitachi Tools
- Makita Tools
Cordless Power Tools
Why choose a cordless power tool over a corded power tool? Cordless power tools are much safer than corded power tools since there is no cord to accidentally get cut, twisted, or tripped over. Cordless power tools also offer more accessability at the work site since they can be used in more remote places where an outlet is not readily available.
Torque, or general power need not be a concern for the cordless power tool. All major brand names design their products to deliver the highest torque and power ratios. More and more companies are producing cordless power tools due to new technology available. While the old standards are still the tool of choice, new twists on old items are rapidly becoming the mainstay.
Some of the top cordless power tools brands are:
There are three basic woodworking tools that are a must for any woodworking projects: a circular saw, a power drill, and a saber saw. The two saws will allow you to make straight or curved cuts quickly and in almost any material. The drill allows you to make holes and drill in screws quickly. Almost any woodworking job can be handled with these three basics.
Circular saws crosscut, angle-cut, rips, and bevels lumber easily and cleanly. Don’t worry about the plastic casing on some saws. They are molded in durable plastic that will last a lifetime. The baseplate, however, should be made of something more durable like extruded or cast metal. Thinner, stamped metal could warp over time.
A variable-speed, reversible power drill is the tool of choice when it comes to power drills. You won’t need a 1/2-inch chuck unless you are doing some heavy duty work. A 3/8-inch chuck will do almost any job. Some people prefer a keyed chuck for a better grip on the bit, but a keyless chuck makes for quick bit changing.
Examine the baseplate on a saber saw before purchasing. The cheaper saws are flimsy and wobble. Variable speed is also handy, but not necessary. Finally, choose a saw that handles 3 amps or more.
Depending on your type of work, chain saws can be a very powerful and useful tool. Despite its name, chain saws should not be used to cut anything other than wood. While they are extremely powerful, cutting metal or any other substance with a chain saw can be dangerous to you and the tool.
There are three sizes of chain saws to choose from depending on the work to be done. So, when selecting a chain saw (for either rental or purchase) consider the following types:
- Lightweight chain saws have an 8-12 inch guide bar. This size is best for light work such as cutting small branches and felling very small trees (6-10 inch diameter).
- Mid-weight chain saws have a 14-20 inch guide bar. This is a good size for frequent log cutting and felling small trees (12-18 inch diameter).
- Heavyweight chain saws have a guide bar of 20 inches or more. This size is for professional use and should not be used by the average consumer.
- Avoid making cuts with the saw between your legs. Always cut with the saw to the outside of your legs.
- Don’t stand on the log and cut between your feet.
- Always stand to the side of a limb and never straddle it.
- Never position yourself or other people in line with the chain in case the chain breaks.
- Keep the chain clean and free of debris to avoid damage.