Workshop Series – 5 must have power tools

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Funky Junk Interiors and Mustard Seed Creations!

Miss Mustard Seed will be bringing you a new edition after her Luckette’s gig. She’s going to be talking about her biz and how she runs it from home, so stay tuned for that very cool series! 

And I haven’t forgotten about the onging photo series. I’ll get back to it very soon. Promise!

For today, let’s talk power tools!

~ 5 Must-have Power Tools ~

If you are a DIYer and not yet using power tools, you are SOOOO missing out.

Before I had any working knowledge of these scary buzzy things, I was soooo frustrated. I’d have these visions in my head but couldn’t implement a thing because I didn’t have the tools nor the knowledge.

Those days are slowly changing as my own tool stock and knowledge grows.
I’m going to show you my 5 must have power tools I could never do without ever ever again.

Palm Sander

Scary factor – 0/5 – just dusty

Used for – sanding rough surfaces

You totally need a palm sander if you work with any kind of wood projects. If you’re still using those sanding sponges (well, I use them too but for small stuff), you need this guy. It truly does the work for you. Some come with fancy bags attached  but I just use mine outside if possible and all is well. I tend to have poor luck with the velcro type (sandpaper keeps coming off) but better luck with this latch it on type.

Compound Miter Saw

Scary factor – 3/5 – they’re LOUD. But pretty safe.

Used for – straight cuts on thin boards, and miter cuts for moldings

A compound miter saw is your best friend. It cuts wood like a knife does through butter. The cuts are perfect each and every time.  I never put my miter saw away.  

If I were to ever buy another one of these, I’d get the one where they slide towards you more so you can cut larger pieces of wood. Without a doubt. Because I want it ALL. :) If a compound miter saw comes that way that is.

Cordless drills

Scary factor – 0/5. These are FUN!

Used for – predrilling holes in metal or wood, screwing in stuff, making bigger round holes, etc etc.

Oh my word, I could not breathe one day without my cordless drill. I personally love the Makita brand as it’s a power house with the lithium batteries that last a long time. The big bonus is this unit is light enough for women to handle. Trust me, that’s a big deal if you are a woman.

If you buy this thing in a set, it’s MUCH cheaper. My set came with two drills as well as two batteries. Always have two batteries!  Oh oh! And this one has a little LED light that comes on when you use it too. 

I also like all the doodads in the matching case. But they are not the best of quality. Most of the bits in mine are terribly stripped, but we renovated my house HARD for a good 2 years or so, so I’m due to toss this one and buy new.

Nail Gun

Scary factor – 3/5 at first, but now, 1/5.

Used for – carefree nailing for molding, and thinner boards.

My newest discovered toy (I’ve had it for awhile) is the nail gun, in the picture above, located at the bottom left. Ptchoo! Ptchoo! Yes, it’s that easy to nail in stuff. LOVE it, but you need an air compressor to run it. Go ahead. Ask Santa/Hubby for this little combo and I’m most certain you’ll get it if Santa/Hubby can use it too. (wink!)

Jigsaw

Scary factor – 1/5, but raises to 3/5 if you have a dull or bent blade or flimsy surface.

I just turn mine off and rethink it. :) 

Used for – freehand cutting wood

The jigsaw is a finicky thing if you don’t hold it just so, and as cuts are freehand, so are your not-so-straight-lines, so curve them on purpose like the above photo and you’re good to go!

Useful but scary tools are:

- Tablesaw. But I’m scared to use mine so there it sits. I want one that mounts onto the wall. I can’t remember what they’re called, but they appear to be so much safer to use. Used for cutting nice straight lines in long boards. 

- Circular saws are good for cutting bigger longer stuff, but I’m scared to use this one too. They can really kick back on you. So rude! I generally have someone in the know around me when I use mine.

- Grinders scare me too and are pretty dangerous if not used with caution, but man, can they cut metal!

- Chop Saw – I don’t have this and they totally scare the crap outta me, but I like to use my friend Dan’s under his supervision. These cut big chunks of metal, making fireworks of sparks.

Don’t forget to tie long hair back, wear safety glasses, long tight fitting sleeves and hearing protection with the more dangerous tools as well!

Me ~ “Yo, Miss Mustard Seed! It’s been awhile! Do tell, what are your fav power tools you use yourself and on your wish list?”

MMS ~ “Well, you hit the nail on the head.  My top five power tools are exactly the same as yours.  I am blessed to have a great hubby who likes woodworking, so we also own a table saw, band saw, circular saw, planer, jointer, a drill press and a few other things.  We would like to add a panel saw and a dust collection system down the road, but we have a great set-up.  I talk about power tools without commenting on my paint sprayer.  That is obviously the power tool I use the most, but it’s not cost effective or necessary for an average DIYer.”

Let’s talk tools! Love power tools? Scared of them? What do you use most? What’s on your wish list? Are you interested in learning how to use any of the above?

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  1. I’m in the scared category when it comes to saws. I can handle a sander, drill and nail gun. I really have not had to learn to use a saw because I have a very talented husband who can use them all and build me anything. I just have to find a photo of furniture I like and he builds it for me. I’m so blessed!

  2. I was scared just reading this! I know I need to just do it…. but I have this thing called a HUSBAND. I can’t seem to make myself just learn it.. he’s all for it, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for the interesting post. Now I need a project.

  3. I have those tools and the nail gun is scarier to me than then the miter saw. Not sure why. I think I could use a new jig saw as ours is pretty old and a bit on the wonky side. Now, what about a router? I have always wanted to get one but not sure how much I would use it. Do you have one of them?

  4. Oooo, I could talk power tools any time! Love them — and for exactly the reason you suggested, it allows so many more possibilities of things you can do! I do speaking engagements and always do a sander demonstration to show how safe it is (I actually sand my face — it usually gets a reaction!) So wanting a welder! But love the sawzall, drill(I like corded), nailer(rough), cut-off wheel, tile saw and dremel. I just have a basic miter/chop saw but I used my friends compound miter the other day — boy was that thing SWEET! The table saw does scare me a little bit too, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

    Midge

  5. I’ve really just gotten around to start using power tools, other than a drill, in the past year. I use my drill, sander and a compound miter saw the most. I have a jigsaw but cant work it very well and the skill saw scares me to death.. i’m starting to use the nail gun a little more but it still makes me a little nervous too.

  6. I wonder why women in general are so afraid of this stuff and men aren’t? I think loud noisy things were simply invented moreso for guys… ya think?!?

    Excellent point on having a man around the house to do this stuff for you. I don’t have one so I don’t ‘think like that’ any longer. :)

    And then there are those of you that ‘get to wait’ for him to have time, yes? If so, pick up that tool and just do it! If I can, so can you!

    FJ Donna

  7. Sub an electric stapler/brad nailer for the nail gun and I have all of the above and love them one and all. Also have a table saw and a circular saw.

    My Dad never pulled the “You are a girl, you can’t do this” sort of thing when he was building stuff around the house. So I learned a lot from him. My table saw intimidates me a little bit but thanks to my compound miter saw (one that slides) I don’t have to worry too much about cranking up the table saw.

  8. I like tools, but they do scare me. Couldn’t live w/o my palm sander. My dad and I were making a wine holder for my sister once and I was cutting the wood with a scroll saw. I wasn’t wearing safety goggles and the blade flew off and hit me in the eye. Fortunatley my eye happened to be closed at that second, but I’m scared to use a scroll saw now.

  9. I just love how you dive right in to everything you do. You’re fearless!! As for me…my prince finally showed up when we were age 50. When I want something done, he always cheerfully says, “I HAVE the technology!” My hero!!

  10. Didn’t read this yet. You know I will…just saw the title. Does my vacuum cleaner count? I’m in love with it!!! Going to use the sweet heart right now!!!

    xoxo

  11. I expanding my power tool repertoire today with the purchase of a power paint sprayer, which I’m totally stoked about!

    I regularly use the power drill, palm sander, jig saw, and circular saw. I’m still doing the miters with a handsaw and box, but a compound miter saw sounds fun. I’d also LOVE a brad nail gun and power stapler. Santa, are you listening?!?!?

    I think the reason women are afraid of power tools is a strength issue. You really have to be in control of the tool to feel safe, and sometimes were just not.

  12. My dad was a carpenter and I was *still* intimidated by bigger power tools. Our wonderful high school shop teacher teaches an adult woodworking class for free every winter and I took it last winter. I’m less scared now, and will use most power tools by myself. I still “let” my hubby help sometimes, though. ;)

  13. Ok first things first. I think a sewing machine is a power tool too!
    Second. I have a compound miter saw! One that slides. And I really mean I have it, I bought it, it is mine! But my Love can borrow just as I borrow his tools :-) Have used it in my first project and I am no longer scared.
    I am getting to know power tools, one by one!

  14. I’m dying for a nail gun! I’m being greedy and asking for a cordless one! watch out! My hubby got me a compound miter saw for mother’s day . some people think that’s sad, i think it’s fab!!!!

  15. You’d think that I’d be doing the real tool thing…my dad built our house himself with his workshop tools. I stood by and handed him nails, cords, etc. when I was just 6 yo.

    OK, I don’t really belong here. But I like reading about this and think that you are off-the-chart amazing and I’m starting to think that you’re really Bob Villa and you’ve stolen pictures of some woman and named her Donna.

    My favorite tools are kitchen tools. Sorry. Not scary, very boring, I realize.

    However, I got scared reading about the nail gun, circular/table saws too. Must be a past memory or something….like nervous scared…hmmm.

  16. I love, love, love power tools. At the end of the day, though I always say a little thank you prayer that it was a safe day.
    I am aware of how dangerous they can be. I wish you wouldn’t be afraid of your table saw! It’s one of my favorites. I rarely use mine without the guard in place. I see people do that all the time, and it can be very, very, very dangerous. (kickback) I watched a video online when I first got mine, and it shows a piece of lumber being hurled across the room at the force of a tornado! But with the guard and pawls (sp) that won’t happen!
    Miter saw, love it! Nail gun… I have an 18 gauge battery operated one. I love, love, love that I don’t have to be tied down with an air compressor. Would I love to have a 16 gauge with an air compressor, sure I would. But don’t have a hubby or good fairy to buy me one.
    Drills, all I have to add is that it’s great to have more than one, so you can drill a pilot hole, sink, then screw all without changing 3 bits!
    Cool post! makes me want to run out and start sawing something right now!
    gail

  17. I too “Love my Power Tools”… could not live without them.. My hubby is afraid of them…lol
    What I’d love to have is a “Panel Saw” but no room for it!
    The only sadness here, “I have a pacer/defib implanted and can not use “Battery Tools” so I must have cords! bummer!
    Good Post!
    sandy

  18. OOOOH! Power tools!
    Now we are talking.
    Having cut my own wood for painting classes for 26 years, I think I have just about all of them.

    My fave tools: nail gun, band saw, cordless drill.
    I used to run the table saw, no prob. But, since a drunk driver hit my car and wrecked my shoulder, I am less eager to use it. Kickback, as you said, I save that tool for my sweet fella most of the time. He also uses the scroll saw. I don’t like it. Have to keep Constant pressure on wood in order to cut it.

    Love the router, but again, careful now with it.

    Could go on, but enough said.

    Oh, Donna, I got the coolest ‘thing’ out of the back of someones pickup going to dump. (asked of course)
    When I get it made up I’ll show you! =)
    You got me started with all the cool stuff you do out of finds.

    blessings

    barbara jean

  19. I can use many different power tools most of which you mentioned– although I’m not proficient with them.
    My biggest problem is– my age! I used to use these tools more when I was younger, but now I’m out of practice, Donna. I am a little bit intimidated by them now, and not very confident.
    I’ve begun using the drill, jig-saw, saws-all, and sander more lately. But, am finding I need supervision.

    the spirit is willing ,…but the flesh is weak, I tell ya!

  20. It’s not that I’m dying to use power tools or anything, but sometimes if you want something done you just gotta get in there and do it yourself. I have all but the nailer and the miter saw. I’ve been hoping to come across a miter saw at a garage sale soon, and the nailer has not really been on my radar although maybe I need to rethink that. Many years ago I had a ditsy moment with a nailer and I was holding it backwards with the nail thingy pointing right at my head, fortunately my little brother stopped me before I did any damage. I’ve been a little “gun shy” ever since. Like I said many years have passed and I don’t think I’d do that again! I’ll think about it…..

  21. #20 Kim, brand of jigsaw question:

    I personally don’t go by any particular brand when I shop for tools. First and foremost, I assess:

    - will it do the job I need it to do for my projects?
    - does it feel comfortable when I hold it?
    - what can I afford?

    Go into a store that specializes in only tools if you can. They are knowledgeable and will walk you through the different brands and types, based on your needs.

    One brand can be good in one tool and not so good in another, so it pays to look at every brand available.

    Another thing I ALWAYS ask is, “Which one do YOU have? Why?” Lots of good info generates from that question. :)

    And really make sure, the tool isn’t too heavy for you to lift. That’s so important. If it’s too bulky and heavy, you won’t want to use it. I detest overweight cordless drills, so for that reason, the smaller scale Makitas are my choice.

    I personally own a Bosch jigsaw that was given to me. But if I needed a new one, I’d totally do all the steps above.

    FJ Donna

  22. I am lucky to have a husband whose job is repairing power tools, so I have access to any and all tools! I have a cordless drill for the home and the barn! I have asked him for a nail gun next so I don’t have to screw everything! (no pun intended) He said that there are battery operated nailers so I am waiting……………

  23. Tools as toys (heehee)–they are so fun to use and they make the job easier & faster :)love ‘em!

    Some are scary, though, especially the LOUD, buzzing, and heavy ones that are hand held (skill saw) vs. the stationary ones (compound miter saw).

    When I first bought my skill saw I was sooooo scared to use it! I procrastinated & procrastinated: read the instruction book fifty times; looked at the parts ID page and memorized it; practiced adjusting the blade-to-the plywood depth fifty times; read about adjusting the blade for beveling fifty times; cleaned my whole house. . .finally, I ran out of ways to procrastinate :( and had to don my goggles, earplugs and gloves and plug it in and I was so scared, holding my breath and praying. I did it and it was just as traumatic as I anticipated, but I do have SOME pride, so I made myself practice cutting several pieces of plywood, learned how to ease off and prevent bucking & kickback, so now I can do it if I have to, but the guys that design these things need to come up with a way to make them silent, yes, silent, or maybe, you know, just a soft hum–I think that would remove a huge part of the scare factor!

    Sorry this is getting so long, Donna, I love your blog and all your projects have me drooling!
    Blessings,
    Sindy

  24. #29 Sindy, great comment! And it gives out an important message. Get comfortable with a new tool before you put it to task if you can. I like your approach of experimenting with the skill saw until it did what you intended it to do.

    FJ Donna

  25. Power tools = empowerment!! I’m just about finished with my little chicken coop, 99% built w/ girl power (me). I can’t say when I’ve *ever* had a better time… and I was pretty much a complete novice. Power tools rock and I totally agree with your tops list. Miter saw is my fave!! Donna & Company – you’re some of my best inspiration for my current CAN do attitude.. thank ya very much! Keep those hits coming ♥ -Tammy

  26. when i bought my fixer upper house i set up the garage with every tool i could buy at sears.

    then i discovered i can’t stand anything loud. so there they sat unused until my family slowly carried each piece off to their house.

    i have a cordless screw driver. i can use it to! and a manual saw that belonged to my grandpa.

    i want a nail gun. it is on my list.

  27. Donna, I’ve been following you as I am growing as a blogger and I just wanted to say thanks for being a great inspiration. I know you probably get tons of these kinds of things, but I left you a blogger award at my blog. Thanks for everything! -Whitney

    lifesahighwaysurroundedbycorn.blogspot.com

  28. I have a funny tablesaw story: I went through a intro woodworking course (I was the only woman) and I had to rip some boards for the table that I was building. We’d had the safety lesson that morning. As I was pushing the wood through my instructor stood next to me making frantic slashing motions with his hand. I finished pushing my board through then turned off the saw. I looked up at all 300lbs and 6 1/2 feet of him. “What, What’d I do?!”
    At this point his face is purple and he roared, “ARE YOU TRYING TO LOSE A HAND IN MY CLASS?” Holding up his fist up to my face he says in a shaking voice, “Fist distance! Fist distance! Where is your push stick?” Holding up my much smaller hand I say, “It is fist distance.” He yelled, “MY fist not YOURS!” and stalked away. lol. I still think of that and use a push stick when the distance is “HIS fist distance” LOL

    I find it helps if you have a roller stand (probably not the correct name) to catch your wood as you slide it through that makes it WAY less scary.

  29. Ok so I have to tell you that I give the compound miter saw a 4 1/2 out of 5 rating, beacuse that is exactaly how many fingers I have left on my left hand after a miter saw accident I had 5 years ago. But I will say it was all my own fault, I was holding the board with my left hand and cutting trim, my pinky was right under the blade and I had no idea till I cut it in half! I have started using it again, it took me 3 years to do that though, and now I ALWAYS look before I cut! :)

  30. I have to agree with you on the favorites Donna…I have all of these too. My jigsaw has seen better days so I think it’s time for a new one. I just got an angle grinder for Christmas and I’m scared silly of it (sparks are for the 4th of July!)….but it really works slick. I would love a table saw too, but I do cherish my fingers so I’ll stick with my hand held circular! I could spend hours in those wonderful DIY stores, not to mention money. You are incredibly inspiring and have encouraged me more than you know…..thank you for that!

  31. Thanks so much for this post! I want to do so many more DIY projects but the tools really do make me nervous, and even though my hubby has the know-how, he’s short on time! Great encouragement here.

  32. i have all of the above but as far as the sander i have a mouse sander its a ryobi best ever. the palm sander i had before [that i gave to the goodwill] vibrated so bad my hand would go numb.also it has velcro like that a lot ;)
    my hubby bought me a band saw few yrs back for christmas and i traded for my own router.
    great post good to know i’m not the only one a little or a lot scared of the big power saws

  33. I keep buying quality power tools…compound mitre saw, cordless drills, a circular saw, a orbital sander, and a lovely scroll saw, but they keep disappearing into my husbands dark corners. Apparently I’m more willing to part with the $ for a quality product. Guaranteed next time I have a project that appeals I have to search high and low, set them up or they’re used up and should be replaced. He gets lots done with them (I love a capable man!), but seldom the more decorative thing I would choose to do.

  34. Hello. I’m a tool freak who has purchased all the tools for our family over many years. I love the table saw, Dremel 4000 and sauder iron for woodburning. I want to do more but have filled garage with stuff which is a problem. You need these tools if you don’t have yet. Plan on learning to sauder next. I RESPECT not fear the tools. Susan

  35. can anyone tell me the details of this miter saw. I found the exact same one in a yard sale with no markings on it, and its missing pieces

  36. Regarding the table saw, you remind me of a DIY’er that could benefit from a bandsaw. I’ve looked at quite a bit of your site (love it) and I didn’t see much that a 14″ bandsaw couldn’t handle with ease, especially the long rip cuts. And on your 1 to 5 scale they are a 2 at first, going to a one after the first use. They are much safer than a table saw, and even a miter saw, but keep the miter saw for the cross cuts. Depending on where you live and local activity on Craig’s list, a well made, used, 14″ bandsaw can be had for $200 to $300, and you may find one for under $200. They are extremely simple to operate and maintain, you don’t need 220V power, they are more quite than your top 5 tools, have a very small footprint (about 2’x 3′) and such a joy to use, you will be hooked on your first cut. The 14″ refers to the diameter of the two wheels the blade runs on. Look for a Delta or Rockwell branded machine. The Craftsman (Sears) brand would also work for you, but the wheel diameter is different, but not by much. Literally hundreds of thousands of Delta and Craftsman bandsaws have been sold in the US, and there is always someone trying to sell theirs, for whatever reason. I can see your passion for repurposing found wood oozing from the pixels on my screen. A delightful mess for sure. YOU NEED A BAND SAW!!!!

  37. If a woman isn’t going to invest lots of time in home maintenance, repairs and/or building furniture, she shouldn’t spend the money on a compound miter saw & yikes, the nail gun is scary unless someone is going to take the time to learn how to use it safely.

    • Hey Tina! I actually respectfully disagree. A miter saw can be as little as $100ish and it is one of the safest saws to use. It sits on a table which gives you much more control. I find the miter saw a must to have, even for the smallest of cuts. A nail gun is only scary if you don’t understand how to use it, just like any tool. Being armed with tools is much like having a sewing machine at your disposal… it gives you the power to create whatever your heart desires!

      • Donna, I guess we’ll just disagree as I ran a handyman business for 8 years (up to 7 techs/vans on the road) and saw the downside of these tools with guys who used them every week, if not every day. Unless a woman is going to use them monthly, it’s unlikely the’ll build the habits to use them correctly & that scares me … and I got the same reaction from a woman who’s a builder.

        Too easy to get distracted by a phone, a kid crying or the call of nature & yes, you have to unplug all your tools if you walk away for even 5 minutes but most don’t learn this until someone gets hurt.

        • It’s been my own experience that if one has them on hand, they are more likely to use them because #1 they have it / #2 their experience builds the more they use it / #3 they’ll be MORE likely to use it because of all that. Having tools offers total empowerment to build whatever your heart desires, rather than relying on another to do it for you. It’s true, tools are dangerous, but shouldn’t be feared to the point of being afraid to own any due to that. Experience is needed for sure! Thanks for your insight on this topic, but it’s my hope that women will be encouraged to stock up and build their confidence and experience. Anything that doesn’t require great physical strength is indeed possible for anyone.