A-Z Guide to Power Tools for Home Improvement Projects
Welcome to our A-Z guide to power tools for home improvement. Here you will find a complete list in alphabetical order, of all the power tools you may need when undertaking home improvements, to help you with whatever task is at hand.
It can be confusing with the huge number of power tools available to know what each tool does, so we have done the hard work for you. This handy guide lists all the different power tools you might need for home improvements, as well as telling you how they work, and what they are used for.
An air compressor is a machine that uses power from electricity, or a gas powered motor, to store pressurized air. Air is pushed into a storage tank creating a build-up of pressure until the tank is full, and this pressurized air can then be released when it is needed. Air compressors can be used to power pneumatic tools such as JackHammers and Nail Guns, and they also have other uses such as filling car tires. As the tank empties through use, the machine will turn on again and re-pressurize the tank, so you will have a constant supply of pressurized air.
An angle Grinder is a very versatile handheld power tool that uses a small circular disk to cut, grind and polish materials such as metals, ceramics, and brick. A variety of different attachments are available depending on the task at hand, and different motor sizes are available too depending on how much power you need. Angle grinders create a lot of sharp debris and dust so it’s important to make sure you have all the required safety equipment, especially protective gloves and glasses.
A Band Saw is a large stationery saw that uses a continuous blade to smoothly cut through a variety of materials such as wood. Band saws usually have a miter gauge and a fence to work against giving you a beautifully smooth cut. A band saw can also be used to cut curves like a jigsaw.
A belt sander uses a continuous circular moving belt of sandpaper to shape and smooth the surfaces of wood, plastic and other materials. Belt sanders available as both handheld and bench mounted machines. A handheld belt sander is perfect for sanding floorboards and other wooden surfaces such as doors, tables and cabinets, ready for waxing, varnishing or painting.
A biscuit joiner, sometimes known as a plate joiner, is a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. A small circular blade is used to cut a crescent shape out of the sides of two pieces of wood that will be joined together. A small ‘biscuit’ of compressed wood is then covered in glue and slotted into one of the crescent holes, and then the other piece of wood is pushed on top of it. The two pieces of wood are then clamped together to dry, and the ‘biscuit’ expands in the wet glue between the two pieces of wood, fusing them together.
Commonly know as a leaf blower, a blower tool propels air out of a nozzle to blow away leaves and other debris. A blower has a variety of other uses apart from blowing away leaves. Some of the other uses for a blower tool include:
- Blowing sawdust and debris away from where you have been cutting wood
- Cleaning the filter on your shop vacuum
- Removing cobwebs and debris from gutters and soffits
A Chainsaw is a powerful motor powered saw which uses an orbital chain with sharp ‘teeth’ to cut through large objects that would be too difficult for a regular saw, typically trees and other large lumber. Chainsaws are usually powered by a gasoline engine, but electric and battery powered models are also available.
A Chop Saw, also known as a Cut Off Saw is a table mounted circular saw, similar to a Miter Saw, except it only has a 90° downward motion. It has a large circular rotating blade which can quickly chop large items into smaller pieces.
A Circular Saw is a powerful tool that uses a very sharp, fast-spinning round blade to cut through materials such as wood. Circular Saws can be either handheld or mounted onto a table or workbench for more stability. Blades can be changed depending on the material that is being cut, and the tools can be either corded or cordless.
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A disk sander is a table mounted motor powered sanding machine, that uses a fast spinning disk of sandpaper to smooth surfaces. Since this tool is stationary, the item that is being sanded needs to be moved, which allows a greater amount of control over the process, perfect for smaller items that need corners sanding for example.
A drill is a powerful tool that uses a rotating cutting tip to drive holes into materials such as wood, brick, and plaster. It is probably one of the most useful power tools you will own! There are a few different types of drill available but the most commonly used drill is the ‘Drill-Driver’, which is a drill that will boreholes, and also work as a screwdriver with the use of different attachments.
Types of drill include:
- Drill Drivers.
Drill drivers are a commonly used and versatile type of drill, that can drive holes into various materials, and can also act as a driver to tighten and loosen screws.
A hammer drill uses short sharp punching motions, like a jackhammer, to drill holes in hard materials that a normal drill can’t manage such as brick or concrete. ‘Rotary Hammer’ drills, are another type of hammer drill that use a rotary motion as well as the hammer function. To see how powerful a hammer drill is, you should look at the) IPM (impacts per minute), or BPM (blows per minute)
A Drill Press is a powerful stationary drill, commonly used in workshops and factories. A drill press can be used to make multiple holes very quickly and precisely. The drill can also be tilted to create holes at different angles if required.
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A drywall sander is a large circular sander, often on an extendable handle, that is used to smooth the plaster compound used in drywall installation. This tool can make the process of drywall sanding incredibly quick, saving you hours of time compared to using a manual sanding block, and the large sanding head ensures a perfectly smooth finish so it’s well worth the investment.
Drywall sanding can create a lot of dust, so most drywall sanders these days are ‘dustless’- they attach to a shop vacuum with a hose, which draws away around 90% of the dust created. The extendable handle ensures you can reach the top of high walls and ceilings with ease.
A heat gun is a handheld tool that emits very hot air, usually between 100°C and 550°C (212°F – 1022°F). This hot air can be used for a variety of different things, but during a home renovation, it is a very useful tool for melting and stripping off old paint from the woodwork, and removing stubborn wallpaper, such as woodchip. Other uses for a heat gun include drying out damp wood, softening adhesives, and bonding or shrinking plastic.
An impact driver looks like a drill, but is shorter and more compact than a regular drill driver, and usually has more torque. Its main purpose is to drive long screws and other large fasteners. On an Impact Driver there is no chuck like there is on a drill, instead, the driver bit is inserted into a quick change clamp called a ‘Hex Collet’ which can accommodate both drill and driver bits. Although this power tool can accept drill bits, it is not recommended for drilling holes, as it is not as precise as a drill, however, it can be useful for drilling through harder materials such as metal, as long as precision is not a priority for you.
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An impact wrench acts as a powered socket wrench, it provides a high amount of torque with little exertion from the user making it very easy to tighten or loosen hard to turn nuts and bolts. Impact wrenches are typically pneumatic (air powered) but are now also available in cordless battery powered versions.
A jointer is used to flatten wooden surfaces in preparation for being joined together. A plank is fed into the machine, and a cutter head removes the required amount of wood, creating a perfectly flat surface. A jointer is primarily used to produce flat edges on boards, enabling them to be joined edge-to-edge to other boards to create a larger board.
A Jigsaw is a handheld power tool with a reciprocating blade that is used to cut curves and irregular shapes into materials, primarily woods and plastics. Because a jigsaw has a smaller blade it can fit into tight spaces, and it is well suited to take on more delicate jobs that larger saws can’t manage. It is an ideal tool for cutting out holes in kitchen worktops for sinks, or cutting a hole in a door for a letterbox.
A Lathe is a machine that rotates an item such as a piece of wood at high speed on an axis, so it can be sanded or shaped into an even shape all the way around with a cutting tool. Some wooden items that can be made with a lathe are table legs, bannisters for stairs, baseball bats, handles for tools and much more.
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A Miter saw is a mounted circular saw that allows you to make quick repeated cross cuts into piece of wood. The Mitre saw can be set to very precise angles, and is commonly used for creating 45° cuts on molding, trim and frames.
A Nail Gun or ‘Nailer’ is a tool used to quickly drive nails into another material. A nail gun can speed up any job that requires nailing, such as roofing, flooring, and joinery, so it’s a very worthy purchase for your power tool collection. Nail guns can be powered by air, using an air compressor (pneumatic) or by electricity or a battery.
Pneumatic nail guns are by far the most popular, as they are powerful, lightweight and easy to use. As they are powered by an air compressor there is unlimited power available with no need to stop and change batteries, however you have to consider that you will need to purchase an additional air compressor if you don’t already have one, which may be an additional expense. Battery-powered nail guns are just as powerful and are suitable for smaller jobs, but they are slightly heavier, and you will need to keep a spare battery on charge as they use a lot of power.
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Orbital Finishing Sander
An Orbital Finishing Sander is a lightweight handheld sander that vibrates in small circles, which is commonly used for finishing fine surfaces, or for sanding painted wood between coats. This smaller type of sander isn’t powerful enough for heavier jobs such as sanding floorboards but is suitable for finishing the joinery and other smaller tasks.
An Oscillating Multi-tool is an extremely useful power tool that can grind, scrape, saw and sand all in one! It’s really small and compact, so perfect for getting into small spaces that other larger power tools can’t reach. There are also a variety of different attachments available for cutting different materials such as metal, carpet, wood, tiles, and plastic, making it a truly versatile tool. It’s an essential tool for anyone undertaking a home renovation since it has so many uses, such as:
- Trimming the bottom off doors while attached
- Removing grout
- Flush Cuts
- Paint preperation
- Small or narrow sanding jobs
- Drywall Cutouts
- Removing Caulk
- Removing thin set mortar from a wall when a tile falls off
A paint sprayer is an electric powered spray gun that sprays paint evenly onto surfaces. This tool is perfect for painting almost anything with a large surface area such as walls, cabinets, stairs and more. The benefit of using a paint sprayer is that you get a completely flawless smooth finish with no streaks, drips, brush hairs or brush strokes. Apart from giving you a perfectly smooth finish, a paint sprayer can save you hours of time, a job that would take an hour with a brush might only take 10 minutes using a paint sprayer.
Paint sprayers normally have a few settings that can be adjusted depending on what it is that you are painting. A wide spray setting can be used for walls, and a narrower setting can be used for smaller pieces of furniture such as wooden chairs. Paint sprayers are usually powered by mains electricity, and are small and lightweight to use.
Random Orbital Sander
A Random Orbital Sander is a type of handheld sander that uses fast random orbital movements as well as a spinning motion to sand and finishes surfaces. This type of sander is suitable for very smooth finishes, because of these unique movements, so it’s possible to get an ultra fine finish with no swirl marks.
A reciprocating saw is a handheld machine powered saw that uses a ‘push-pull’ motion on the blade to cut through materials such as drywall and soft wood. The cuts made by this type of saw are a bit rougher than those made by a jigsaw, so it is not suitable for any finishing work. A variety of blades are available to enable the saw to cut through other materials such as stone and tile.
A rotary saw is a small saw that can cut holes into materials such as drywall without the need for a pilot hole. This type of saw is ideal for cutting holes in drywall for electrical outlets, and other small tasks.
A rotary tool is a small but very versatile handheld power tool with a variety of different uses. The tool itself has a rotary mechanism, and different heads can be added for different uses, such as sanding, etching, carving, polishing, and the list goes on. Hundreds of different heads are available for rotary tools, so it’s a useful tool to have in your collection.
A Router is a small tool that is used to carve different shapes and patterns into wood, metal, and plastic. A metal tip spins at high speeds to cut through the material, and it can be moved around easily making it ideal for more intricate work. It can be used for trimming and edging, joint making, cabinetry, and other DIY tasks.
A scroll saw is a small electric saw that is perfect for making precise cuts and curves in materials such as wood. It gives you more control than a jigsaw so is ideal for more intricate work. The blade uses a reciprocating motion (up and down) to make the cuts, and is generally mounted to a work bench or table for stability. Since this type of saw is stationary, the item being cut is moved as required.
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A shop vacuum is a powerful vacuum cleaner with a large motor and a very large capacity for storing dust and dirt, making it an ideal companion for home renovations. It can be used to attach to certain tools such as drywall sanders to vacuum up the dust as you are working. This is an invaluable tool to have when you are undertaking a home renovation as a regular household vacuum cleaner wouldn’t be able to handle all the dirt and debris, and would need emptying too frequently.
A Table Saw or ‘Sawbench’ is a circular saw blade mounted on an arbor. The blade protrudes through a gap in the table, so the wood can rest on the table for support while it’s being cut. Table saw are ideal for making long straight cuts in materials such as wood, as the support of the table as well as a fence for guidance ensures a perfectly straight cut every time.
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A thickness planer is a powerful tool used by carpenters and hobbyists alike, which is used to trim wooden boards to a precise thickness. It can produce a consistent thickness every time and so is ideal for items in home renovation such as floorboards. This is a great item to have as you can produce your own cuts of wood at exactly the size you require without having to worry if it’s in stock at your local DIY store.
A tile cutter is used for cutting ceramic or porcelain tiles into smaller pieces or cutting shapes out of them to help them fit a specific area. A tile cutter is made up of a circular diamond blade mounted to a surface, similar to a table saw. A reservoir of water sits below the blade to stop it overheating from the friction, and the tile is moved towards the blade to be cut as needed.
A wall chaser is an electric motor powered tool that uses a pair of abrasive disks to cut deep narrow grooves or ‘Channels’ into walls, typically for laying electrical cables and pipes. It is a hand-held tool, making it easy to cut into hard to reach places. A wall chaser creates a lot of dust, which could potentially be dangerous, so we recommend using a safety mask as well as a dust extraction system, which can be attached to the tool itself.
We hope you have found our A-Z guide to power tools for home improvement useful. Hopefully these tools will help you successfully complete your home renovation project. If you have any questions about any of the power tools listed here don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.