Pow­er­ing up the tool­box

Northern Outlook - - LOCAL -

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.

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