I'm new to home improvement and am looking to buy several power
tools to assist me. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on
what a good "base" set of tools would be. I have about $500 to spend. I
already have a good collection of screwdrivers, hammers, levels, etc. I
was thinking about the following items:
Hammer Drill with decent power (19 amps)
Compound miter saw (10 in)
Circular saw (7 3/4)
Air Nailers and compressor
Any subtractions or additions suggested would be appreciated. I was
thinking a jig saw might be better than the circular saw.
Home Depot currently has 3 air nailers and a 6 gallon compressor/tank
for $300. The nailers are finishing, brad, and crown. Would those
nailers be ok for light work, like building a dog house or
sheetrocking, or would I need a framing nailer for that? Also, would
the 6 gallon tank be enough to power the framing nailer?
Thanks alot for your time.
Hammer drill? They're mostly used for drilling masonry. Unless you have a
specific project in mind which requires that tool, it'll collect dust. You
should have a normal drill, either corded or cordless. I rarely have a need
for a cordless, so I bought a reasonably powerful corded model from Sears,
which has been trouble free for about 7 years now.
Nailers? I wouldn't spend that money just to have it around for a dog house.
And, for sheetrock, you use screws, which brings you back to the drill,
above, although cordless will be handier for this kind of work.
Circular saw: Useful sometimes, although lately, I've been having big sheets
of plywood cut to size at the store.
Miter saw: Those are fun.
For those kinds of project, you don't need a nailer at all--sheetrock
_should_ be hung w/ sheetrock screws for which you need a decent
cordless drill/driver. Even w/ nailing it you don't use a pneumatic
nailer. This is one of the most useful homeowner tools, but I wouldn't
make it _too_ big/heavy/cumbersome. Hammer drill option ok, but really
is a special-purpose option for things like masonry-drilling so unless
you foresee that in the near future, is probably a waste of initial
investment. I'm partial to the Milwaukee 19.2V jobbie I have, but for
some purposes it's pretty awkward. Would certainly not recommend
anything heavier as an initial purchase for general use.
Circular saw is good, jigsaw is less so in general, but if need inside
cuts or curved cuts is invaluable. Personally wouldn't take the jigsaw
first over the circular saw, though, they're two different purpose
tools and, at least for me, the circular saw gets at least 10x the
Miter saw is also a nicety for initial purchase unless intend to do
something like interior trim or similar that has a real need for
it--for small framing jobs it's mostly way overkill.
I'd rather recommend starting w/ the circular saw and cordless drill
and then going from there as you find a real need/purpose/use. You'll
know it when you get there... :)
BTW, if you're thinking of the jigsaw as somehow related to cutting
sheetrock, you don't saw sheetrock at all, you score a face and then
My f-i-l nearly died when I took a hammer to a piece of drywall for his
OP: don't buy anything until you have a need for it and then do research on
the item needed. Start saving and then buy quality tools as you have a
genuine need for them. Of all the specific tools listed, the circular saw
is the one I use most. I have a hammer drill, but rarely use the hammer
feature (once on removing a stubborn screw). Before I got it (a cordless) I
had a few occasions where the hammer feature would have been useful.
Get a very good cordless driver/drill. Adding the hammer feature is
worth doing IMHO. I like the 18v models by either Makita or Milwaukee. A
nice cordless drill will likely be the tool you use more than any other.
Your second choice would be my second as well. I recently invested in a
Makita LS1221. Very versatile tool, and being 12" allows for cutting a
little bigger stock than a 10". The unit is not really much bigger or
heavier than a 10", worth the upcharge, again IMO.
Like the previous poster, I don't see where your air tools will get that
much use. If I needed to shoot a bunch of nails, I'd probably go with a
Pasload (spelling?) nail gun. No inconvenient air hose to drag around.
How about an electric (corded or not, depending on power requirements)
impact gun. I had a bitch of a time removing the blades from my 60" ZTR
mower. A milwaukee corded impact paid for itself the first time I used
it in terms of ease of use, and elimination of skinned knuckles.
Another thing that's real handy to have is an Amprobe tester. Great for
checking volts, amps, Ohms, etc on multiple things around the home & shop.
Funny how a jig saw is better for cutting a circle than a circular
saw. Do not buy a left handed monkey wrench.
"Well, it doesn't happen all the time, but when it happens, it happens
Cordless sawzall, before I had it I didn't realize how badly I needed
it. Wit a good selection of blades, it will cut metal, wood, & even
prune trees. Nothing says; you're coming out, no matter what, like a
As to the drill, I bought 2 new ones a year or so ago, first came a
Dewalt 3/8" 2 speed 18volt, nice drill, but I needed 2 so a help would
have one on some jobs. I picked up a Dewalt 1/2" 3 speed 18volt hammer
drill. Frankly the 3/8 gets little use, the 3 speed feature along with
a sturdier feel makes it the first one anyone picks up. Driving screws
is infinitely easier in 1st speed, drilling and mixing paint fall to
speed 2, speed 3 has its uses, I know I've used it, but don't remember
Amen to that! Amazing how well 45 year old doug fir holds 16d nails- much
easier just to take that closet stub wall trapping the furnace and water
heater out in 3-foot sections. Burns just as well.
You'll use a good old regular corded drill more than all the rest of
the items combined. You can use it with wire brush attachments,
abrasive attachements, all types of driver bits, spinning a coat hanger
wire bent into a zig-zag to mix paint.... and, oh yeah...drilling! :)
Pilot holes are good practice just about any time you use a screw.
What projects do you have planned? That would determine what you need.
Some of the saws you list are somewhat interchangeable, but all do one
particular function better.
The miter saw is very good if you plan to do a wood floor, crown molding, or
a lot of framing where cutting to length accurately is required. It is not
good for building a bookcase, closet shelves. Circular was can do the
cutting to length but takes a bit more practice to get square. Same with a
jig saw, but don't waste your money on the cheap ones as they don't cut
accurately and are a PITA to handle.
Drills are a subject that can be debated for a long time. I have a
Panasonic 15.6 volt that has a lot of power, yet is reasonably light and
small to handle. Small is good for using as a power screw driver. Heavy is
good for drilling into masonry. Corded tools are good in that they are less
expensive and batteries don't go dead. If you plant to use it more as a
driver, consider a 12V, but it you have 100 anchors to put in concrete, get
an 18V or 24V. I've never found the need to buy a hammer drill.
Small compressor is always handy to have. If I had to choose one nailer, I'd
get the finish nailer. Brands are good for taking stuff, same with staples.
None are good for sheetrock.
I'll add this: If he foresees molding work being a rarity, there's nothing
wrong with a good mitre box and saw.
There's something funny about the way wives view tool purchases. Because so
many comedians have focused on our love for power tools, many women see a
non-power tool purchase as almost invisible, which can make it a lot easier
to buy yet another tool just a week later.
NONSENSE!!!!!!!!! My son has a very cheap (Harbor Freight) sliding compound
miter saw. It is EXCELLENT for straight, square (in both directions) cuts
necessary for good fitting corners in shelves and bookcases. It would be
foolish to use anything else other than a radial arm saw to make the
precision cuts necessary on shelves and bookcases!
All good advice. I'd get a good jigsaw, for sure. (The new Bosh will set
you back, but it's really versatile.)
Forget the air nailer for now.
Get a good circular saw, which can be fitted with a variety of blades for
The miter saw is useful if you have to do a bunch of trim or flooring.
All of that said, however: If you're going to build anything from scratch
(like furniture), make a serious hobby out of woodworking, and have some
space, most woodworkers will tell you that a table saw is the one tool to
have. It can do miters and crosscuts like a miter saw, rips much better
than a circular saw, and even joinery using a thick dado blade, or a
home-made tenoning jig. It seems like a luxury (even a low-level
"contractor" saw can do the job, but it might cost $300).
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