Every man should try to build something from scratch at some point in his life, be that a dining room table, a car engine, some Ikea furniture, whatever. It is an excellent way to build character, increase one’s knowledge base, and – to some degree – reconnect with the world at large and one’s historical roots, whether those roots go back just a single generation or if they stretch back to the dawn of time. That being said, hand tools can be a frustrating and tedious means to accomplish such a task. And there’s no sense in denying all the mechanical progress we’ve made as a species. It should be embraced and utilized just the same.
What we mean to say is: get yourself some power tools. Without sacrificing the necessity for finesse and technical skills, power tools enable us to tackle greater and more complicated projects in smaller spans of time. Plus, in all honesty, they can be a hell of a lot of fun to use. And unless you are Pennsylvania Dutch and shun all things technological, you should embrace power tools in all their glory. But, as is the case with most things, there are some which are more worthy than others. You wouldn’t want to pick up a tool that can’t handle repeated use, after all. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to wrangle up 15 essential power tools that every man should have and some of the best examples of each.
Dremel 7300 Rotary Tool
Though not a device that generally comes to mind when people think ‘power tool,’ rotary tools are actually quite useful, especially for more detail-oriented work. And Dremel is a company who has built their reputation on the creation of rugged and reliable versions of this very tool. Whether you need to polish an intricate brass sculpture, cut and refit small-scale copper piping, engrave on some glass, or spot grind a messy weld, there’s not much better out there to do it with than the 7300 Rotary Tool. Between this wireless tool’s dual speeds and 8 included attachments, it can get the job done.
Black & Decker Jigsaw
Much in the same way that a rotary tool is an excellent detailing tool for minuscule metalwork, a jigsaw is a necessity for any small-scale woodwork. This 4.5 amp one from Black & Decker, which has a variable speed of up to 3,000 strokes per minute, is perfect for any detailed woodcutting. It also features a wire guard sightline channel for increased work visibility, a tilting baseplate for bevel cuts of up to 45 degrees, and a dust blower to keep any sawdust and trimmings out of your work flow.
Weller Soldering Station
A soldering iron is an absolute necessity for any project involving even the most basic electronic wiring, so long as you want that project to stay functional in the long-term. Let’s say you want to put a new sound system in your car, fuse some small pipes together, or put together a motherboard for a computer. Well, you’re going to need a soldering iron. And you can’t go wrong with this one from Weller. This cushion-gripped pencil iron, which has a variable power of anywhere between 5 and 40 watts, comes with a workstation that’s equipped with a power indicator light and a safety stand on which you can mount the iron when it isn’t in use. You know, so you don’t burn yourself or any of your stuff.
Makita Random Orbital Sander Kit
If you’ve ever done any woodworking, you probably understand that sanding can be a horribly tedious and exhaustive process when done by hand. But you can skip all that frustration simply by picking up a sander, like this one from Makita. Like a combination between a belt sander and a finish sander, this random orbital sander can be used for larger-scale wood removal as well as detail and finish work. It has a variable speed of 4,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute, operates on 3 amps of power, and has a comfortable ergonomic grip, so you wont find yourself struggling with it on larger or longer tasks.
Bosch Fixed Base Router
Helpful with the tasks of trimming, carving, and chambering of wood, routers are excellent tools which can make short work of an otherwise drawn-out or risky job. And this one, from Bosch, is perhaps the best for in-home use. With a variable speed of 15,000 to 35,000 RPM; its depth adjustment, soft start, and quick-lock systems; padded grip; and included edge guide, you can be certain your projects will be both stress-free and more professional looking. That is, if you pick up this 5.6 amp, 1-horsepower router tool.
DeWalt Cordless Reciprocating Saw
For larger woodworking tasks that are too much for your jigsaw, but not practical for either a circular or table saw, a reciprocating saw can be your saving grace. This DeWalt reciprocating saw ditches the wires for a more portable format that doesn’t require a tethered power source. It also has a rotating 4-position lever action clamp for flush trimming and quad-directional sawing. Which can be accomplished with its variable speed of 0-3,000 RPM. Just remember to pick up a battery for this bad boy.
Milwaukee Hammer Drill
Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when people think ‘power tools,’ a drill is widely considered the number one necessity for any man’s tool set. Whether you are drilling holes for wall anchors or driving in the screws on a large piece of furniture, there’s nothing that can do the job like a good electric drill. Take Milwaukee’s Hammer Drill, for instance. This 18 volt piece of machinery runs on lithium ion batteries, weighs just 3.4 pounds, and can last through just about any heavy duty job on a single charge. This may just be the last drill you ever buy.
Shop Vac 12 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
There are few things as frustrating as having to do an extensive clean-up after a long day of work. But that can be circumvented. Another device not widely considered when thinking of power tools, but an extremely useful one none the less, a shop vacuum can make the difference between a quick clean-up after a drawn-out project and an utterly tedious mess-reduction. Simply put, this vacuum makes life easier. Its wheels make transporting it to, from, and around your workspace simple and the numerous attachments can tackle any job from a filthy garage to a dingy attic to a drywall install. And you don’t have to worry about sucking up liquids, cause this Shop Vac is built for just such jobs.
Hitachi Finish Nailer
Hammering in a few nails by hand might not seem like that big a deal, but if you’re trying to get through any remotely complicated project – such as framing a new door or putting in new kitchen cabinetry – you will get very tired of it very quickly. That is, unless you get your hands on Hitachi’s Finish Nailer. This nail gun features an integrated duster to clear off your workspace, the ability to clear any nail jams without tools, 360 degree adjustable exhaust portal, and an angled magazine for more maneuverability in tight spaces.
Porter-Cable Pancake Compressor
Air-powered tools are some of the greatest power tools available today. Mechanics use them. Construction workers use them if they can. And, if you really want to make your life and workshop easier and more effective, you’ll probably end up wanting to use them too. In that case, you’re going to need a way to power them. And, while an air compressor isn’t exactly a power tool, it does give one the ability to use high-end air-powered tools. This pancake compressor – designed as such for its excellent stability – has a 6 gallon capacity, comes with 13 accessory attachments, can store air in its tank up to 150 psi for longer projects, and has a coupler and plug factory installed to save you labor, time, and reduce leakage.
Wen Gas Powered Portable Generator
Like an air compressor, a generator is not, strictly speaking, a power tool. But it can be a very helpful way to create power if you lose power to your house, you go camping, or you are working somewhere otherwise unreachable by normal power, like a construction site or a rural garage. This one is EPAIII and CARB compliant for operation in all 50 of the United States, produces 1500 watts and up to 1800 surge watts, can run for 7.5 hours at half load on just 1.45 gallons of gasoline, features two three-prong 12.5A outlets and one 12V DC outlet, and is lightweight for easy portability.
Aircat 1150 Impact Wrench
A classic garage tool, the air-powered torque wrench is an indispensable device for any kind of work involving automobiles. And Aircat’s 1150 is as good as they come. Offering 1,295 foot-pounds of loosening torque and 1,400 blows per minute, this is the strongest hard-hitting twin hammer 1/2 inch impact wrench available for purchase. And, in spite of its incredible power, it still only produces 86 decibels of sound, making it an impressively powerful tool in a shockingly quiet package. And it is assembled right here in the USA.
Skilsaw Worm Drive Circular Saw
A magnesium-constructed circular saw, this is tool was designed with house framers in mind. It is portable, lightweight, and offers a wide variety of different cutting options, thanks to its bevel capacity of up to 53 degrees. The weight wont get you down, but the 15 amp dual-field motor, which spins the blade at up to 5,300 RPM, has the torque to tackle even the toughest jobs, but will stay cool enough to be used throughout the day. And it has an easily adjustable depth system for extreme cutting accuracy and increased safety.
DeWalt Compact Job-Site Table Saw
We’ve reached a point in the evolution of tool systems where almost everything can be made portable to one degree or another. Historically, table saws were not amongst the easily ported tools, but that has since changed, thanks in part to companies like DeWalt. At just 48.5 pounds and with its optimized footprint, this is the most portable saw in its class. But it still offers the same stability and power one might expect from a shop saw. And it is designed to work on hard, wet, or even frozen woods. Along with the quick bevel lock for easy adjustments and the powerful 1850 watt motor, you might forget that this tool can be easily packed into your truck and taken to even the most remote job site.
Stihl MSE 170 C-BQ Electric Chainsaw
Eliminating the need to refuel and the high cost of maintenance, this chainsaw swaps a tank for a cord without sacrificing either power or performance. Weighing under 8.5 pounds, this chainsaw is easily carried to any part of the backyard, garage, or even indoors. It also features a simple trigger operation and a tool-less Quick Chain Adjuster for simple and versatile operation. And the coast-down function helps quickly stop the rotation of the chain for increased safety and ease of use. From Stihl, one of the top tooling brands in the world, this chainsaw is the best of the best.