There’s a common misconception among beginner home improvement enthusiasts that big projects require massive tool collections. The reality is that you only need a limited selection of tools to complete most common home renovations. Any homeowner can easily handle nearly any home improvement task if they have the following basic power tools on hand.
A Reciprocating Saw
While it might not be the most precise instrument, a reciprocating saw is one of the most versatile. It’s perfect for cutting studs, plywood and even metal pipes if you have the right blades. A quality Milwaukee or Porter Cable reciprocating saw rated at 12 amps will cut through anything with the greatest of ease.
A Quality Circular Saw
In many ways, the circular saw is the Swiss Army knife of power tools. It’ll make reasonably precise cross cuts, rip cuts and bevel cuts all day long without skipping a beat. For less than $100, you can get a sturdy construction-grade 7 1/4″ circular saw that’s practically indestructible.
A Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Whether you’re working with 6″ cedar siding or 12″ pressure-treated boards, the sliding compound miter saw is a godsend. It can make extremely accurate miter and bevel cuts while allowing you to handle wider lumber for bigger projects. While a reliable sliding compound miter saw costs at least $150, it’s worth every penny.
An All-Purpose Jig Saw
If you need to make arcing cuts that a circular saw can’t handle, a jigsaw is the obvious solution. It can trace patterns, make bevel cuts and fit into tight spaces that most saws can’t negotiate. A decent jigsaw from a respected manufacturer like DeWalt or Makita only costs about $40.
An Impact Driver
Unlike traditional drivers, an impact driver can install screws and lag bolts quickly without straining the user. Impact drivers use a hammering action to pound fasteners into place. They’re especially helpful if you’re working with pressure-treated wood and other hard materials. Nowadays, a good impact driver costs the same as a driver.
A Random Orbital Sander
For sheer flexibility, belt and finish sanders can’t hold a candle to random orbital sanders. These robust dynamos can blast the rough edges off of any material and produce smooth surfaces in a jiffy. If you have to choose just one sander, the random orbital sander is the way to go.
A Topnotch Rotary Tool
Known as a “Dremel” by many home owners, the humble rotary tool can do more with less than most other tools on the market. Thanks to a slew of available attachments, a rotary tool can handle everything from polishing metal to coping crown molding. Good rotary tools cost as little as $50 including accessories.
Building a Collection That You Can Count On
If you want to get the most from your tools, you shouldn’t rush the buying process. Read online reviews of prospective tools to get a feel for quality and value before making any purchase. If you choose your tools wisely, they’ll reward you with decades of service.