Essential Power Tools for an Organized Home
One of the definitions of being “grown up” is the day you decide you really don’t want to spend your life surrounded by stuff you put together with Allen wrenches. It might coincide with the day you also decide you’d rather learn to tackle some DIY projects like building storage shelves without hiring a handyman. That’s swiftly followed by the realization that you can only do so much with a hammer and screwdriver . . . which is why power tools were invented! You don’t need to cash in your 401K or build a shop Norm Abrams would envy. The following is your guide to the essential power tools every home ought to have, plus some items that are not essential but really nice to have. And lest you think this is just guy stuff, think again. Increasingly, women are the heads of households, and single women have outnumbered single men in homeownership every year since 1982. If you’re one of them, you’ll appreciate the fact that power tools are a real equalizer when it comes to sawing, sanding, drilling and pounding.
Marc Lyman, editor of Home Fixated, a tool and home improvement site, says there are four power tools that you must have.
- Cordless Drill- According to Lyman, you can’t be a modern handyman without a quality cordless drill. Combined with an assortment of drill bits, a cordless drill will let you quickly bore everything from tiny pilot holes for nails to holes large enough to accommodate wiring. Lyman recommends an 18v model that won’t lose juice halfway through your job.
- Reciprocating Saw- Commonly known by the brand name Sawzall, this tool will cut through everything from drywall to wood and metal. Lyman recommends corded versions, along with an assortment of quality blades designed for different materials.
- Oscillating Multi-Tool- Dremel is probably the best known, but there are many other brands out there. What they all have in common is a body with a head that will accommodate a variety of attachments for doing different tasks. “It’s the surgical scalpel of your power tool arsenal,” according to Lyman. “While you may at first wonder what you’ll use the tool for, you’ll soon find yourself reaching for it regularly (and marveling at how you survived without it).”
- Circular Saw- Lyman’s final got-to-have-it power tool is essential if you plan to cut any 2x material, sheet materials, like plywood, or hardwood boards. While cordless varieties are available, Lyman says corded is preferred. You’ll also have your choice of heavy-duty worm-drive, but he cautions that these are heavier and harder to handle safely.
Nice to Have
If your needs and your budget permit, the folks at Gear Patrol magazine suggest you add these power tools to you wish list.
- Wet/Dry Vacuum- Save your expensive vacuum for cleaning the carpet. This tool is way better at cleaning up saw dust, liquid spills and the general crud that accumulates in garages. Look for a 16-gallon model with 6.25 horsepower.
- Power Sander- Sanding by hand is dirty, time-consuming and totally un-fun. For about forty bucks, you can get a power sander than does most of the grunt work for you. Most come with a dust bag, which eliminates a lot of clean up.
- Compound Miter Saw- If you plan to redo a deck, frame a wall, make picture frames or install crown molding, you’ll be glad you have one of these to create accurate angled cuts quickly and cleanly.
- A Work Light- Power tools can do a lot of damage to human flesh in moments. Next to common sense, your best protection is good lighting. Unless you want to work with a flashlight clamped between your teeth, invest in something that will simulate daylight. If its wobble-free, self-righting and easily portable, the better your chances of completing your project in one piece.
Storing Your Tools in Style—and Prolonging Their Use
Don’t let your new tools become another source of clutter. Even though power tools can be tough to store, Laura Leist, writing for RealEstate.com, has some tips to make it easier.
“Organizing your power tools should achieve three main goals: making the tools accessible, making the tools easy to lift and use, and ensuring that all the necessary components are organized and easy to find,” Leist says.
There are plenty of storage options on the market, ranging from fancy wall systems to compartmentalized chests on wheels to basic plastic storage bins. Or you can use your new tools to build your own on-site storage unit.