Power Tools

Power Tools Terms

Abrasive Attachments

There are a wide variety of attachments for drills that can be used for shaping or finishing metal. Others can be used for sanding and cleaning a variety of materials.

Buffers polish metal or furniture.

Abrasive discs can be used for grinding or sanding.

Wire wheels remove rust and paint, and some types can clean concrete, asphalt and plaster.

Disc and drum rasps quickly complete coarse sanding jobs.

Hole Saw

  • Cup-shaped blade with a bit in the middle, called a mandrel.
  • Used for cutting holes in wood, plastic, plaster and light metals.
  • Available in a range of diameters.

Sledgehammer

  • Used for jobs where great force is required such as breaking up concrete or driving heavy spikes.
  • Feature long handles from 14” to 36” and heavy heads weighing from 2 lbs. to 20 lbs.
  • Double-face sledgehammers feature two identical faces.
  • Single-face sledgehammers have one flat face for striking and one wedge-shaped face for splitting wood.

Hand Drilling Hammer

  • Has short handles and is used for pounding hardened nails into concrete or for using with tools that drive nails and pins into concrete or brick.
  • Only hammer to use with star drills, masonry nails, steel chisels and nail pullers.
  • Weighs between 2 lbs. and 4 lbs.
  • Larger striking surface, generous bevel and special heat-treating minimize chance of chipping the striking face.

 

Rotary Edger

  • Comes in single- or double-wheel models.
  • In the single-wheel model, a rubber-tired wheel moves along the walk or driveway and turns a cutting blade against a cutting edge.
  • Teeth float above the bottom trench to cut grass without being clogged by stones, sticks and other debris.

Power Drill

  • Available in different chuck capacities, such as 1/4″, 3/8″ or 1/2″. For example, 1/4″ means that is the largest diameter shank that will fit the chuck. The speed of the drill also increases with the size.
  • Motor load limit can be light-, medium- or heady-duty. The higher the amp rating, the more powerful the drill. Drills rated at 2 amps are generally considered light-duty drills, while 5-amp drills are considered heavy-duty.
  • Tighten the drill bit in place with a chuck. A keyed chuck uses a rotary key to tighten and loosen the chuck. A keyless chuck is operated by hand.
  • Another feature on some drills is variable speed. They allow the operator to control the drill’s revolutions per minute, usually by varying pressure on the trigger switch. Some models also allow the user to vary the torque. Higher torque is better for driving screws, and higher speed is better for drilling holes.
  • A good quality 1/4” drill can drill through concrete, metal, plastic and other materials. Better for high speed and not high torque. Better for sanding and buffing than 3/8” or 1/2” drill sizes.
  • A 3/8” drill has more speed, but less power than a 1/2” drill. They are usually built with a double-reduction gear system. Can perform most of the drilling jobs a 1/4” drill can, and can handle a larger range of drill bits.
  • A 1/2” drill has high torque and slow speed, which is ideal for making large holes in metal and wood. Best drill for use wtih hole saws.

 

Cordless Drill

  • Operates with a rechargeable battery, with sizes ranging from 9.6 volts to 24 volts.
  • Most portable drill and popular among DIYers and professionals alike.
  • Lower-voltage drills cannot handle more heavy-duty drilling jobs.
  • An important feature is an adjustable clutch. This lets the user select the degree of force applied to the drill. This helps prevent the motor from stalling and overheating, which can damage the battery.

 

Hammer Drill

  • Used to drill quickly through concrete, stone, block and brick.
  • While the drill turns, the drill vibrates the chuck back and forth or side-to-side to help the bit chip the material while it is drilling.
  • Many models have a mode selector, allowing the operator to choose rotation only, like a conventional drill, and hammer drill, which combines the drill and hammer action. Better models might offer a hammer only option for chisel and scraper attachments.
  • Do not confuse with a rotary hammer, which can accommodate core bits up to 6” in diameter. These tools have unique bit drive and retention methods rather than the conventional geared chuck.
  • Manufacturers will measure speed by rpm (revolutions per minute), and the hammer action by bpm (blows per minute).

 

Angle Drill

  • Has an angled head designed for tight fits and close-quarter drilling.
  • Available in 3/8” or 1/2” sizes.
  • Some models feature an angle attachment that rotates the drill into any position, while a side handle allows one-hand operation and easy control.

 

Power Screwdriver

  • A common type is a variable-speed, reversible drywall screwdriver. It is designed for driving drywall, decking and other self-drilling screws. They offer higher speeds than a power drill.
  • A cordless, in-line screwdriver is handy for light-duty household applications. They have less power and speed than a power drill, but are easier to handle.

 

Palm Sander

  • Also known as a finish sander.
  • Sandpaper attaches to a rectangular pad on the bottom of the sander. The motor moves the pad in small, circular orbits.
  • Easy to handle.
  • Can use regular sandpaper, and measures its size by the portion of a standard 9”x11” sheet of sandpaper it uses. A 1/4 size uses a 1/4 of a regular sheet, a 1/3 uses a 1/3 sheet and a 1/2 uses a 1/2 sheet.
  • The holes on the bottom of the sander help to remove the dust from the material as you are sanding.
  • Some models have a sandpaper piercing plate that allows you to transform a standard sheet of sandpaper into one with holes designed to fit on the bottom of the sander.
  • Good for sanding corners and finish work. However, it may leave some scratches as is sands both with and against the grain.
  • Some models incorporate a triangular pad extension for sanding in tight corners.

Detail Sander

  • Used for sanding detail work and in tight spots.
  • Easy to handle.
  • Can accept a variety of attachments for particular applications.
  • Some models have orbital action sanding, while others use a pivot drive that moves the pad in a small arc.

Profile Sander

  • Used for sanding details and profiles, not general sanding tasks.
  • The head can accept a variety of attachments for a variety of tasks.
  • Good for sanding moldings, shaped wood edges and panels.

Rotary Tool

  • Often called a Dremel, after a manufacturer of a popular version of the tool.
  • Available in corded or cordless versions. Some have variable speed settings.
  • Small tool that is highly versatile and can be used with a variety of attachments.
  • Attachments can be used to sand, drill, grind, cut and carve on a small scale.
  • Bits used with these tools include a variety of grinders, sanders, cutters, routers, cleaners and polishers.

Sanding Belt

  • Used with belt sanders.
  • Available in a variety of grits and weights.
  • Good quality belts should resist tearing and stretching.

Fixed Base Router

  • Used for beading, routing, grooving, fluting and many types of decorative carving that could take hours to do by hand. Achieve different shapes of cuts by using different shaped bits.
  • Has a motor that raises and lowers with a rack and pinion and a bit that protrudes at a set depth.
  • Most economical type of router and highly portable.
  • Standard and light-duty routers have 1/3 to 1/2 hp motors; commercial heavy-duty routers are 3/4 hp and higher.

Plunge Router

  • Similar to a fixed-base router, but the motor is mounted on two posts and can be retracted from and lowered into the workpiece.
  • Required depth of cut can be set so it’s the same every time.
  • Versatile and good for use in joinery.
  • Plunge depth is the deepest cut that can be made by a router.

Production Router

  • High horsepower router for heavy-duty work or hours of router table work.
  • Available in fixed base and plunge models.
  • Somewhat heavy and awkward for topside routing.
  • Adjustable speed is a common feature.

Laminate Trimmer

  • A lightweight mini router.
  • Designed for trimming thin plastic countertop materials, but also useful for small routing jobs.
  • Highly portable and can be used with one hand.

Router Bit

  • Attaches to a router to create a variety of shapes and cuts.
  • Use carbide bits for cutting laminates and harder composite materials.
  • Use high speed steel bits for general purpose cutting in wood and aluminum.
  • Generally grouped into three types: grooving bits, edging bits and specialty bits.
  • The standard d-i-y bit uses a 1/4” shank.
  • Available in an anti-kick-back or chip-limiting design that helps protect the piece of work where the router is being used by preventing the bit from lurching forward and biting into the material.

Router Table

  • A table built to accommodate a router mounted underneath.
  • Provides a smooth surface for routing, and a fence for guiding the material.
  • Another version is a horizontal table that holds the router horizontally.

Plate Joiner

  • Also called a biscuit joiner.
  • Used for making strong plate joints, or biscuit joints, that join separate pieces of wood together.
  • The tool is plunged into the workpiece to cut a slot that accepts various size biscuits. Most models come with different blades to create various slot sizes. The slots of one piece of wood are then aligned with the slots of the other peice being joined. These slots share the same biscuit.
  • Has top-mounted or side-mounted sliding switches and comes with a dust bag or an adapter for hook-up to a shop vacuum.
  • Good joiners will have adjustable fences for making a joint at a variety of angles.

Rotary Cutting Tool

  • Uses a blade that looks similar to a drill bit. It rotates and cuts through material without the ripping motion of the sabre or jigsaw blade.
  • Allows user to plunge directly into the center of material and eliminates the need for pilot holes.
  • Can cut material up to 1” thick.
  • Many different bits are available for cutting in a variety of materials.
  • Lightweight and easy to control. The spinning motion of the blade reduces the ripping, binding and potential jumping of the tool.
  • Typically used to cut sink openings in countertops, for cutting and replacing ceramic wall tiles and cutting openings in drywall.

Power Planer

  • Smooths and reduces the surface of wood to achieve a flat surface.
  • Operates with a pair of replaceable knives that can adjust to various depths.
  • Features include an edge fence for edge trimming.
  • Another feature on most models is a safety foot that prevents damaging a surface if the user sets down the tool before the cutter has stopped spinning. A safety foot drops down to raise the plate and keep the blade from cutting into the surface.

Vacuums

  • For picking up dirt, sawdust, metal shavings and other materials an ordinary vacuum cannot.
  • Wet/dry vacuums are designed for use anywhere and can suck up water as well as dirt.
  • Sizes range from 1 gal. to 50 gal., and motors can be 1 hp to 5 hp.
  • Many models incorporate a blower feature by attaching the hose to a separate blower port on the motor.
  • Newer designs include a backpack vacuum that is battery operated.

Generator

  • A portable source for electricity that runs on gasoline, diesel fuel, LP gas or natural gas.
  • Wattage outputs range from 1,850 to 8,000 watts.
  • To select the right generator for your needs, total the wattage of the items you need to run at the same time. This will be the minimum wattage needed in a generator.
  • Most models usually include two or three different outlets or receptacles to operate 12V DC and 115V AC current as well as 240V AC current.

Welder

  • For the d-i-yer who wants to experiment with welding, there are several consumer-level welding setups available.
  • Arc welders are for welding iron to thin metals up to 1/4”.
  • Wire feed welders, also known as Mig welders, are used for hobby, workshop, home and farm repairs.

Air Compressors

  • Used to power pneumatic tools such as nailers, sprayers and pressure washers.
  • Rated on cubic feet per minute of air volume output (cfm), pounds per square inch of air pressure input (psi) and horsepower (hp). The higher the ratings on any of these, the more versatile the compressor.
  • The most important rating is the cfm, because it indicates the amount of air volume needed to operate various tools. Match the cfm rating on the compressor to the cfm rating on the tool when buying a compressor.
  • Compact or portable compressors use a diaphragm-type compression pump powered by an electric motor. They are best used for light applications such as inflation or light spray painting.
  • Piston-type compressors use an electric or gasoline motor to drive the pump unit. They offer durability and high work capacity.

Nailer

  • Available in different types according to the type of application, such as roofing, drywall, concrete, finish and framing.
  • Framing nailers can use stick nails or coil nails. Nail sizes range from 1-1/2” to 3-1/2”.
  • Roofing nailers can be used to fasten asphalt and fiberglass shingles, siding or insulation board.
  • Finish nailers can be used to install molding, trim, paneling, door and window casings and cabinets.
  • Brad nailers are for firing brads, which is a tapered nail with a small head or a slight side projection instead of a head. They range in size from 5/8” to 2”.
  • Palm nailers are for work in tight spaces. Instead of firing nails, it operates like a pneumatic hammer to drive conventional nails with a repetitive series of blows.
  • Available in pneumatic, electric and cordless versions.

Carbide-Tipped Saw Blade

  • Circular blade used for working with plywood or hardwood.
  • Lasts up to 10 times longer than regular blades.
  • Do not use on masonry or material with nails.

Combination Blade

  • Most commonly used circular blade.
  • Used for cross-cutting, ripping and mitering in hardwood, softwood, veneer and plywood.
  • Does not leave a smooth finish.

Abrasive Cut-Off Wheel

  • Circular blade used for cutting ferrous metals, masonry, glazed materials and ceramic tile.
  • Must match the type of wheel to the type of material being cut.
  • Only use with saws that have an aluminum or magnesium guard.

Diamond Blade

  • Circular steel disc with a diamond-bearing edge.
  • Used to cut tile, marble, slate, quarry tile, granite, stone, limestone and porcelain tile.
  • Can have either a segmented, continuous rim or turbo rim configuration.

Plywood Blade

  • Circular blade used for cutting plywood.
  • Has small teeth to resist splintering and resist the abrasion of plywood glue.

Dado Head Blade

  • Consists of two kinds of blades in one assembly: two small and thicker-than-normal circular blades on the outside and blades called cutters on the inside.
  • Use to cut grooves or slots across boards.
  • Used on a table saw.
  • An alternative type is an adjustable dado, which consists of a single blade.

Sabre Saw Blade

  • A carbon steel blade used for cutting most woods and some plastics.
  • The high-speed steel blade is used for cutting metal, fiberglass and abrasives and thin plastics.

Reciprocating Saw Blade

  • Carbon steel blade used for soft woods and plastics. Do not use for material with nails.
  • Carbon-tipped blades are best for nail-free wood, nonferrous metal, plastic and fiberglass.
  • High speed steel blade is used for most metals, plastics and fiberglass. Blades are brittle and easily broken.
  • Bimetal blades combine carbon steel and high speed steel. They last as much as three times longer than other blades.

Rip Fence

  • Provides a guide for a circular saw that allows it to rip large sheets of plywood.
  • Usually made to fit a specific brand and model of saw.

Beam-Saw Attachment

  • An attachment for a circular saw that looks like a chain saw and gives the standard circular saw a 12” cutting capacity.
  • Used to rip, crosscut or notch heavy girders or planks.

Edge Cutting Guide

  • Attaches to a jigsaw.
  • Used as a guide to making straight cuts.
  • Some models come with a pivot knob that guides the saw in a circular cut.

Miter Saw

  • Chop SawAlso known as a chopsaw.
  • Used for making repeated straight or miter cuts.
  • Uses a circular blade that is pivoted to the correct angle, then dropped onto the material, which is clamped stationary on a turntable.
  • The turntable has a large compass scale that is marked in degrees to show the degree of the cut.
  • The simplest miter saw available.

Compound Miter Saw

  • Uses a circular blade that is pivoted to the correct angle then dropped onto the material, which is clamped stationary on a plate.
  • In addition to a simple pivot action, the blade tilts to make compound cuts.
  • Good for cutting moldings and trim.
  • The turntable has a large compass scale that is marked in degrees to show the degree of the cut.
  • Most models tilt in only one direction, but better models tilt both to the left and to the right.

Sliding Compound Miter Saw

  • Uses a circular blade that is pivoted and/or tilted to the correct angle, then dropped onto the material, which is clamped stationary on a plate.
  • Also has a sliding action that allows it to cut wider material than a standard miter saw.
  • Good for cutting complex trim and moldings.
  • Most models tilt in only one direction, but better models tilts both to the left and to the right.

Bench Band Saw

  • Has a band or loop-like blade that comes in various widths and strengths for different cutting purposes.
  • Used for making irregular cuts in thick material (6” or more).
  • Best for light tasks, not thick hardwoods.
  • Uses blades up to 1/2” wide.
  • Some models have tables that can be tilted for angled cutting.
  • Sanding attachments and sanding loops are available for sanding on irregular or curved surfaces.

Floor Band Saw

  • Has a band or loop-like blade that comes in various widths and strengths for different cutting purposes.
  • Mounts on the floor and usually has wheels sized from 12” to 36” in the industrial models.
  • For sawing heavier and thicker materials.
  • Some models have tables that can be tilted for angled cutting.
  • Sanding attachments and sanding loops are available for sanding on irregular or curved surfaces.

Scroll Saw

  • Has a small, thin blade activated by a far-reaching arm that permits handling wide material.
  • Operated by an up-and-down motion of the blade at more than 1,000 cutting strokes per minute.
  • Cuts intricate patterns in wood, plywood, light metal and plastic.
  • Table can tilt for angled cuts.
  • Safe, inexpensive and lightweight.

Contractor Table Saw

  • More portable than a cabinet table saw, but bulky and originally intended for temporary use at a jobsite.
  • Has a circular saw blade extending up through a slot on a flat table. Motor and drive mechanism is located under the table.
  • Blade can be raised, lowered or tilted depending on the cut needed.
  • Used for ripping large pieces of wood.
  • Power of the saw’s motor determines the thickness of material that can be cut and how efficiently the saw will perform.
  • To operate, the material is fed onto the blade, unlike the miter saw where the blade moves across the material.
  • Rip fence capacity is important for determining a saw’s quality. The rip fence mounts on the table and adjusts to guide the material being cut.
  • A common accessory is a miter gauge that allows angled cuts.
  • Typical sizes are 1-1/2 to 3 hp.

Cabinet Table Saw

  • A professional-grade table saw where the saw motor is housed in a cabinet.
  • Has a circular saw blade extending up through a slot on a flat table. Motor and drive mechanism are located under the table.
  • Used for ripping large pieces of wood.
  • Blade can be raised, lowered or tilted depending on the cut needed.
  • A heavier, bulkier machine reduces vibration from the saw.
  • Power of the saw’s motor determines the thickness of material that can be cut and how efficiently the saw will perform.
  • To operate, the material is fed onto the blade, unlike the miter saw where the blade moves across the material.
  • The rip fence mounts on the table and adjusts to guide the material being cut. Best used for permanent placement in a workshop.
  • A common accessory is a miter gauge that allows angled cuts.
  • Sizes can range from 2 to 5 hp.

Benchtop Table Saw

  • Most portable and lightweight table saw.
  • Used for ripping wood.
  • Has a circular saw blade extending up through a slot on a flat table. Motor and drive mechanism are located under the table.
  • Blade can be raised, lowered or tilted depending on the cut needed.
  • Power of the saw’s motor determines the thickness of material that can be cut and how efficiently the saw will perform.
  • To operate, the material is fed onto the blade, unlike the miter saw where the blade moves across the material.
  • The rip fence mounts on the table and adjusts to guide the material being cut.
  • A common accessory is a miter gauge that allows angled cuts.
  • Most models use a 10” saw blade.

Tile Saw

  • Wet SawAlso known as a wet saw.
  • Used for cutting tile and stone.
  • Uses a diamond-tipped circular saw blade cooled by a continuous stream of water contained in a reservoir.
  • Some saws operate similar to a radial arm saw, while others are set up like a table saw.

Planer

  • Used to square up, resize or smooth wood in width or thickness. Best for larger flat surfaces.
  • Performs the job of a hand plane, but faster and better.
  • A variation is a planer-jointer, which performs additional operations such as tapering, beveling and grooving. The planer finishes edges.

Jointer

  • Used to smooth the edges of wood and help remove warps.
  • Can cut flat surfaces.
  • Size is determined by length of the tool’s knives. Most common size is 6”.
  • Often combined with a planer.

Lathe

  • Used for wood turning applications to create spindles, miniatures, bowls and plates.
  • Consists of a track or bed, headstock, tailstock and a tool support or rest.
  • The tool locks in a piece of wood, with the headstock turning the piece and the tailstock supporting the other end.
  • Different types of tools shape the wood as it is spinning.

Grinder

  • Used to cut and grind metal, concrete and masonry, for sharpening all tools, cutting into corners and tight spots, polishing, buffing and wire brushing.
  • Consists of a motor powering one or two grinding wheels, often mounted on a workbench.

Drywall Hopper Gun

  • Pneumatic tool used for texturing and spraying joint compound on walls and ceilings. Generally has a multitude of spray settings and patterns for a variety of finishes.

Chipper

  • Can use gasoline or electric power.
  • Chips and sheds branches up to 3” in diameter into small pieces that can be used as organic mulch.
  • Uses a bag to collect chipped materials.
  • Most types allow the user to rake leaves directly into the machine or feed branches into the top. Some models offer both a drop-in hopper and a dedicated chipper chute.

Seam Roller

  • Roller used to flatten seams between wallpaper strips.
  • Roller is generally 1-1/4” to 2” in width and has a smooth plastic roller surface.

Twist Drill Bit

  • Used in both wood and unhardened metals to make clearance holes for bolts, screws, etc., and to make holes for tapping.
  • Bits marked HS (high speed) or HSS (high speed steel) are suitable for drilling in metals or wood,
  • Bits made of carbon steel should be used only in wood and not in metal as they are more brittle and less flexible than HSS bits.

Hole Saw

  • Cup-shaped blade with a bit in the middle, called a mandrel.
  • Used for cutting holes in wood, plastic, plaster and light metals.
  • Available in a range of diameters.

Brad Point Bit

  • Used for wood drilling only.
  • Tip has a screw-type point leading the drill flute that prevents drill walking.
  • Helps prevent splintering, as the brad point is the first part of the drill to emerge, allowing the user to back the drill out of the hole and finish from the other side of the material.

Spade Drill Bit

  • Used in electric drills and drill presses for fast drilling of holes in wood.
  • Bits have a forged, flat paddle with a point and cutting edges on one end.
  • Bits are heat treated and cutting angles finish ground.
  • Electricians use them for drilling clearance holes for wire in floor beams.

Countersink Bits

  • Used in electric drills and drill presses for fast drilling of holes in wood.
  • Bits have a forged, flat paddle with a point and cutting edges on one end.
  • Bits are heat treated and cutting angles finish ground.
  • Electricians use them for drilling clearance holes for wire in floor beams.

Auger Drill Bit

  • Most commonly used with a brace for drilling holes in wood.
  • Length varies from 7″ to 10″.
  • Dowel bits are short auger bits from 5″ long.
  • Long (ship) auger bits range from 12″ to 30″.

Expansion Bits

  • Takes the place of many larger bits.
  • It is adjusted by moving the cutting blade in or out by a geared dial or by a lockscrew to vary the size of the hole.

Masonry Bit

  • Also known as a carbide-tipped bit.
  • Used in electric drills, drill presses or hand drills for drilling holes in brick, tile, cement, marble and other soft masonry materials.
  • Some versions have a titanium nitride-coated tip.
  • Feature two machined in spiral threads, one for each cutting edge, to provide passageways for all dust and cuttings from the bottom of the hole.
  • Diameters of carbide tips are the same as the full diameter of the body.

Tile Bit

  • Used for drilling ceramic tile and glass.
  • Has a ground tungsten carbide tip.
  • Best if used with a variable speed power drill at a low speed.

Step Bits

  • Has a graduated design so that various sized holes can be cut without changing bits.
  • Designed for use with power drills and has self-starting tips eliminating the need for center punching. Can be used on all materials, but especially designed for use on metals.

Forstner Bit

  • Used for drilling flat bottom holes in wood. Helps avoid the danger of the bit wandering.
  • Available in sizes ranging from 3/8” to 2” and larger.
  • Great for drilling holes in cabinet doors with concealed hinges.

Abrasive Attachments

  • There are a wide variety of attachments for drills that can be used for shaping or finishing metal. Others can be used for sanding and cleaning a variety of materials.
  • Buffers polish metal or furniture.
  • Abrasive discs can be used for grinding or sanding.
  • Wire wheels remove rust and paint, and some types can clean concrete, asphalt and plaster.
  • Disc and drum rasps quickly complete coarse sanding jobs.

Circle Cutter

  • Also known as a fly cutter.
  • Has a cutting blade attached to a horizontal arm. It can cut holes up to 7” in diameter.
  • Primarily used on a drill press.

Drill Guide

  • Functions as a portable drill press.
  • Has a bracket to hold a portable drill and allows the user to drill perfectly angled or perpendicular holes.

Chuck Key

  • A small T- or L-shaped tool used to tighten and loosen the chuck on electric drills and drill presses.
  • Available in various sizes, as well as universal models.

Drill Bit Sharpener

  • Extends the life of drill bits and drills, since sharper bits put less strain on the drill.
  • Provides consistent sharpenings for a variety of drill bits, including standard, masonry, carbide, titanium nitride, cobalt and left-handed.

Sidewinder Circular Saw

  • Designed to make straight cuts on materials that are difficult to cut with a handsaw.
  • Can make cuts on a variety of materials, and different types of materials generally require different blades.
  • More compact than a worm drive saw. Has the motor mounted on the side of the blade.
  • Requires less maintenance than worm-drive saws and does not have an oil-filled crankcase.
  • The size of the saw tells you what is the largest size blade that you can use with it. Generally, blade sizes range from 5-1/2” to 10” in diameter. 5-1/2” and 7-1/4” are the most popular. The larger the blade, the thicker material it will cut.
  • Rated by amperage. Better tools have higher amp and rpm ratings.
  • Cordless models are popular, but offer less speed and power than corded models.
  • A popular feature is an ejector chute that directs dust away from the work and a tilt base that allows the user to cut a variety of angles.

Worm Drive Circular Saw

  • Designed to make straight cuts on materials that are difficult to cut with a handsaw.
  • Can make cuts on a variety of materials, and different types of materials generally require different blades.
  • The motor is inline with the handle and at a right angle to the blade arbor. It also has an oil-filled crankcase.
  • The worm gear style of power transmission means this saw has plenty of torque, which keeps it from stalling in wet or pinched lumber.
  • Quieter operation than sidewinder saws, but heavier, usually 14 to 19 lbs.
  • It has better sightlines than a sidewinder style saw
  • Most common blade size is 7-1/4”. Also available are 6-1/2” and 8-1/4” blades.

Beam Saw

  • A circular saw with a high capacity, usually with blades 10” and larger. Can cut through 4” material.
  • Used for cutting heavy timbers or for crosscutting or mitering angles on large, thick stock.

Trim Saws

  • Small circular saw used to cut sheet goods, moldings and trim.
  • Designed to make straight cuts on materials that are difficult to cut with a handsaw.
  • Can make cuts on a variety of materials, and different types of materials generally require different blades.
  • Easy to handle and lightweight.
  • Some models can adapt to cut glass and ceramic tile.

Cordless Saws

  • Most portable of all saws. Cordless versions of circular, sabre and reciprocating saws are available. Very popular among both professionals and DIYers.
  • Operate off of a rechargeable battery, which is available in a wide range of voltages.
  • Used for finish work and the larger capacity batteries have sufficient power for large framing or carpentry jobs.
  • Usually feature an electronic brake to stop the brake instantly and avoid accidents.

Sabre Saws

  • Jig SawAlso known as a jig saw.
  • Cuts with an up and down motion and is ideal for cutting curves and irregular lines.
  • Usually can cut through 1” hardwood and 1-1/2” softwood. More powerful models can cut up to 2-3/4” thick in wood and 3/4” in aluminum and some can cut thin steel.
  • Quality machines operate at approximately 3,000 strokes per minute.
  • Generally, better machines also have longer strokes, often 1”.
  • The scrolling feature on some saws allows the user to turn the blade by means of a knob on the top of the tool instead of turning the whole tool.
  • Good quality jigsaws will also have features on the base that allow them to cut at an angle. An antisplintering insert is a removable plastic piece that sits in front of the blade and reduces the splintering of the material.
  • Another quality feature is a blade guide. This is a disk that sits behind the blade and supports it, keeping it on a straight path and resisting deflection. It provides for a more accurate cut and helps prevent blade bending and breaking.
  • Better models have orbital action for more aggressive cutting.

Bayonet Saw

  • Operates similar to a sabre saw.
  • Some models have a worm gear and a large blade orbit to make it suitable for metals, plastics, thin wood and laminate.

Reciprocating Saw

  • Commonly used for demolition, framing and rough-in work. Good for cutting in tight quarters.
  • Used on a variety of materials, depending on the type of blade used. Some blades can cut through wood and metal, which is ideal when cutting through wood that might have nails in it.
  • Uses a straight blade that operates with a back and forth motion. Some saws may have an orbital action, and some models may let you choose between orbital and linear action. A third option is a swing action, which offers a smoother and faster cutting action.
  • Blade action usually goes to about 2,000 strokes per minute, but some pro models go higher.

Narrow Belt Sander

  • Has a belt that is narrower than a typical belt sander, making it ideal for sanding in tight places.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • With a bench stand accessory, it can mount on a table top and is good for sanding smaller pieces.

Disc Sander

  • Used mostly for metal sanding or grinding, but also capable of removing stock in plastics, wood or concrete when used with the proper accessory stone, disc or wheel.
  • Aggressively removes stock but leaves scratches in the material.
  • Available in two styles: the angle head where the disc runs parallel to the motor, and the vertical style where the disc runs in a plane perpendicular to the motor.
  • Polishers are another variation of this sander, but they operate at much lower speeds than the sander. A sander should not be used for polishing as the high speed could burn the paint.

Random Orbit Sander

  • Uses a round disc of sandpaper to sand in both a circular and back-and-forth motion, which reduces swirl marks.
  • Common sizes are 5” and 6”, but smaller and larger sizes are available.
  • Sands in all directions, both against and with the grain.
  • One of the biggest differences in these sanders is the grip style a manufacturer may use. Some have grips at the front of the sander, while others have handlebars that can be attached at either side of the sander.
  • Another important feature is variable speed for slower, delicate work or faster, heavy work.
  • Most use a dust bag to collect sanding dust.