Powering up the toolbox
Close to the heart of every tradesperson and home handyman is their tool collection, and it seems the more devoted the practitioner, the more heated the debate over hand tools versus power tools.
Without the assistance of a machine, much commercial work be a nonstarter. However, for the craftsperson, the tiny imperfections that come with manual work are part of the beauty. Besides which, there are few things are more satisfying than that first perfect curl from your plane – and machines often leave marks of their own anyway, which need to be removed by hand.
But power tools do make a huge variety of projects more accessible, and a quick scan of the home workshop will turn up a selection of the most essential tools, or at least provide ideas for shopping this Christmas.
King of power tools is the electric drill, preferably cordless and with a spare battery. The benefits of this device are twofold, for as well as making holes, a cordless drill doubles as a screwdriver. For many screws, such as drywall screws, you don’t even need to drill a pilot hole.
A mitre saw, for making angled and mitred cuts, also goes a long way to easing the rigours of renovations.
A sliding mitre saw will allow pieces of wood larger than the saw’s diameter to be worked on, although for making straight cuts on large pieces of wood, a power circular saw is the way to go. This can make cutting a board 100 times faster, and probably more accurate, too.
Cutting curved or circular patterns, meanwhile, is the domain of the power jigsaw. A few simple curves that would take 30 minutes with a coping saw can be cut with this tool in just a few seconds. And as with straight lines, the ability to move faster along the curve translates into greater control, allowing for a tidier overall finish.
For a smooth final touch, an electric sander can make the task a lot easier than blisterinducing hand power.
A five-inch orbital sander is the go-to tool for many. Variable speed controls help, as does finding a lightweight model, because with the right ergonomics the sander can be used with one hand.
Paint sprayers and an allpurpose rotary device of the kind made famous by Dremel are also good options for rounding out the workshop.
Nothing, however, is likely to stop the frustrated amateur blaming his tools for a blunder. In these cases, calling in a professional is the smartest choice of all.
A mitre saw is one of the most helpful tools for the home workshop, especially if it slides to accommodate larger pieces of wood.