5 Must Have Tools for Your Shop


Okay, you finally bought all the hammers, screwdrivers and other essential elements that make up your first toolbox. Now there isn’t a drain you can’t fix, a picture you can’t hang, or a piece of wood you can’t cut. You feel it’s time to graduated from the “puttering around the house” to the “I’m ready to have my own remodeling show.”

There are two unmistakable signs you’re ready to add power tools to your collection. The first sign is that you begin making more and more space in your house for tools; the other is when you start contemplating the purchase of a workbench. At the root of these two acts is a growing confidence in your skills as a do-it-yourselfer. The more self-assured you become, the more apt you are to move up to power tools. As your skills develop, so does your desire to tackle more difficult projects. So, it’s only natural to add power tools to your set.

For those who are making their first foray into power tools, I suggest the following “must-haves” for any tool-toting handyman/handywoman:

• Circular saw
• Cordless drill
• Variable speed jig saw
• Palm sander
• Electric miter saw

I believe the circular saw is the most important power tool you can own. And, with a standard combination blade, you can cut everything from plywood to pressure treated lumber. Also, don’t be tempted to throw away old blades, dull ones can be re-sharpened for as little as $6.

To a carpenter, not having a cordless drill is like not having a telephone. Everyday I use my cordless drill – in fact, I have a variety of drills with different voltage for different tasks. For my household chores I have an 8-volt drill that will tackle small tasks and on my work bench I grab my 14-volt for more torque and power. Go to the local home improvement store and try a bunch of models out, most stores have a display where you can drive a few screws in to give you hands-on knowledge. While you’re there, buy a tool belt with a holster for your drill. The old west is still alive when you strap on your 14-volt drill.

Additions to Your Charged-up Toolbox:

Make sure you have two batteries with your cordless drill; one is always charging while the other one is in use. And try to buy a drill with a keyless chuck. It makes changing bits easier.

For convenience, buy a palm sander that enables you to affix adhesive-backed sandpaper directly to a rubber pad on the sander.

When selecting an electric miter saw, choose a 10″ compound saw because it’s faster and easier than the traditional ones.

I caution that one should avoid temptation of buying tools for the sake of having them. Often it makes more sense to rent than to buy. The more gadgets you buy, the less you use them. And using them is what it’s all about. You want to own tools that provide you with enjoyment and help you get the job done. Always ask yourself, “do I really need this?” If the answer is “yes” then go ahead, plug in, and put it to work!


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