When buying power tools for the home, you should buy the best you can afford and go to a specialist supplier. You need to be confident you are getting the right quality – and the right advice.
That’s why it’s best to go to a DIY outlet, like us at Wickes, that supplies both retail and trade customers. We offer guidance and advice as well as stocking professional quality power tools by manufacturers like Makita – a household name among professionals.
The more you spend on power tools, the more refined they are and the more tasks they can do. Therefore it pays to buy a few mid-price essentials, rather than wasting money on tools that have only one application, and will therefore end up collecting dust. The most essential tool in any DIY workshop is a power drill. These range from 6V to 24V or more, and come both corded and cordless. Cordless drills are more convenient than corded, but lose power quickly. They’re fine for light woodworking tasks, but if you’re planning on doing a lot of heavy duty drilling, e.g. into concrete, a corded drill will serve you better. In addition, the higher the voltage the higher the power output will be. In general, a 14.4V to 18V drill with variable speed and hammer/screwdriver/reverse function will cover most DIY jobs, including masonry.
Another essential among power tools is an electric jigsaw (also called a fretsaw), which will make effortless curved and straight cuts in a variety of materials, including ceramic tiles. Jigsaws are available as both corded and cordless. While the cordless is more convenient, and safer, than the corded version, it’s best kept just for soft wood, as if you try to saw through tough materials it will drain the battery quickly.
Jigsaws vary in power output. The higher the wattage, the faster and deeper the strokes will be. More expensive saws will have a variable rate output (measured in RPM). Different materials require different speeds, so it’s usually worth paying the extra for this feature. When buying blades, remember that the greater the teeth-per-inch (tpi) number, the smoother and faster the cut will be. However, the coarseness will vary depending on the material, so buy a variety of blades. Cobalt blades are better than steel for masonry board and other tough materials.
Many DIY experts invest in a circular saw, which is a great power tool for cutting through heavy wood. If this is a job you do regularly it may be worth the investment, although a high output, variable speed jigsaw with cobalt blades will tackle most jobs – and is a lot safer to use.
The third most useful item on a list of power tools is an angle grinder. Some people would say an orbital sander, but a grinder will sand wood and do much more besides. Traditionally, angle grinders have been used to cut metal and stone. However, they are a versatile tool that will cut, grind, sand and polish pretty much anything. Like all power tools, angle grinders are potentially dangerous, so obey all the relevant safety procedures and always ensure the guard is on. It’s one of those tools best left alone by the DIY novice.