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10 Best, Must-Have Power Tools

Essential Equipment for the Handy Homeowner


From the moment ancient man first wielded tools to aid in mastery over his environment, their use has been embedded in the DNA of humankind. Men, in particular, have an innate sense of the crucial need for having the proper tool for whatever job is at hand. Granted, we’ve come a long way from roasting rodents on a hand-cranked spit, yet still we rely on the best implements that our day can muster, in order to get the job done. And we get the job done.

Granted, these tools might apply more directly to homeowners than to apartment dwellers, there’s likely something here for everyone. At the least, you can surely appreciate the ridiculous model numbers with which these tools are tagged. It’s in that spirit that Gear Patrol now salutes the power tool and suggests a list of our favorites.

Learn more about our picks on the next page.

Makita BDF452HW 18-Volt Cordless Drill-Driver

Must-Have Power Tool: Cordless Drill


There’s little doubt that every man needs a cordless drill. It just might prove to be the most versatile member of your proverbial toolbox. Delivering up to 450 in.lbs. of max torque yet weighing only 3.5 pounds, the Makita BDF452HW can keep you from stripping screws and gives you the oomph to power through any reasonable material. Its all metal transmission is built for durability, and this kit includes two batteries and a rapid charger that can juice you up in only 15 minutes.

Cost: $184

Hitachi C10FCH2 10″ Miter Saw with Laser

Must-Have Power Tool: Saw (Compound Miter)


If you’re hoping to put up crown molding or chair rail, redo your deck, or maybe frame up a wall, you’ll need a miter saw at your disposal. Hitachi makes a great one, and we like the C10FCh2 for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the lightest in it’s class at 26.5 lbs. Second, it features Hitachi’s exclusive laser marking system, which aids you in achieving the old adage “measure twice, cut once.”

Cost: $172

Porter-Cable 342 1/4-Sheet Palm Sander

Must-Have Power Tool: Power Sander


Hand sanding sucks. Make it easier by employing the powered version, like the Porter-Cable 342. Your next refinishing project will go much smoother, no pun intended. Unique to this sander is its POREX dust canister that traps dust better than standard cloth bags found on other models. Your allergies will thank you.

Cost: $39

Milwaukee 6509-22 11 Amp Sawzall

Must-Have Power Tool: Reciprocating Saw


Milwaukee makes the original Sawzall which, in case you are unfamiliar, is the ultimate demolition tool. With a dizzying array of available blades, this bad boy can be equipped to cut pretty much anything. Cordless models are available, but in the case of a Sawzall, we recommend sticking with the constant juice. Just keep the cord away from the business end of the saw. Neither studs, nor pipes, nor sheets of metal dare stand in your way when you unsheathe this tool of reciprocating destruction.

Cost: $98

Shop-Vac 962-16-00 16-Gallon Vac

Must-Have Power Tool: Wet/Dry Vacuum


Because pretty much anything you do with any of these other tools is going to make a mess, a powerful way to clean up said mess is a must. The right Shop-Vac can help you keep your garage, car, or work area spiffy clean. At 6.25 horsepower, this vacuum won’t lack for power, and the included accessories such as extension wands and various nozzles will optimize your clean up scheme.

Cost: $130

Paslode 902000 16 Gauge Straight Finish Nailer

Must-Have Power Tool: Finish Nailer


Paslode’s cordless nailers are basically this editor’s dream tools. Typical framing and finish nailers are air-powered, which typically necessitates lugging around a compressor and hose. Not so with Paslode’s fuel powered nailers. With this finish nailer, you can drive nails ranging from 3/4″ to 2.5″ with all the power you need. This is perfect for trim work like door frames, moldings, and cabinet assembly.

Cost: $253

Bosch PS40-2A 12-Volt Lithium-Ion Impact Driver

Must-Have Power Tool: Impact Driver


If you’ve never used an impact driver before, this type of tool varies from a typical drill-driver in that it combines a hammering action with the rotation of the chuck. Bascially, this eliminates the need for pushing the tool ahead, as you work with it. The Bosch PS40-2A is a real standout, weigh just over 2 lbs, yet able to perform 80% of all impact driver applications. This model delivers up to 800 in.lbs. of max torque and may convert you to the impact driver for good.

Cost: $141

SawStop Contractor Table Saw

Must-Have Power Tool: Table Saw


We featured this the SawStop a while back, due to its jaw-dropping ability to not cut your fingers off. Beyond that, it’s just a top-notch table saw. Offered in a variety of sizes and configurations, the SawStop is as versatile as it is safe. This is just the sort of tool you’ll need for any serious wood working projects, owing to its ability to make long straight cuts.

Cost: $1600

Dewalt DW366 7.25″ Heavy Duty Circular Saw with Electric Brake

Must-Have Power Tool: Circular Saw


For a wide range of carpentry projects, the good old circular saw can be your best friend. Choosing one like the Dewalt DW364 is a good call, in that it has both the power you’ll definitely need and the feature you’ll be thankful for, particularly if you get into making some more advanced cuts. The saw is capable of making bevel cuts of up to 50 degrees and its aluminum alloy base means enough durability to make a lot of said cuts. For safety’s sake, this saw is equipped with an electric brake for quick blade halts and features a handle layout that keeps you behind the blade. Yay for fingers!

Cost: $160

Wobble Light WL500H Self-Righting Work Light

Must-Have Power Tool: Lighting


Though many of your favorite activities might be best performed in the dark, home improvement is not amongst them. Of course, you wouldn’t think of operating the other power tools we’ve recommended here without ample visibility, but other household jobs like painting and demolition need light to and, if you’re a DIYer, you’re likely pulling some long nights after work. The Wobble Light is truly a unique product. Providing tons of illumination, it’s virtually indestructible and rights itself like a land-buoy should clumsiness get the better of you. Daisy-chain several together to bring simulated daylight to your dingiest basement project.

Cost: $192

There you have it, another 10 Best for the GP books. If you haven’t figured it out, our Top 10’s have become somewhat of a regular feature here at Gear Patrol. As always, we appreciate/want your feedback. We’re also happy to take suggestions for topics and products to be included in future 10 Best Features. If you’ve got one, just give us a shout.

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