How to Use Power Tools

Ryobi and DeWalt power tools laid on an outdoor table

Almost every home in America has at least one power tool, but many homeowners are not always sure how and when to use them.

Start by checking out our guide to power tools below. Read the instructions and follow the safety guidelines that came with your power tool before using it. You’ll finish your home project in no time!

Safety First

When working with any type of power tool, always practice safety. By following these simple guidelines, you will be able to use your power tools in the safest manner possible.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and directions
  • Wear eye protection and clothing that does not hang or dangle loosely
  • If wearing gloves, make sure they are leather
  • Confirm that safety guards are in place and working
  • Replace damaged parts or damaged tools before using them
  • Always firmly grip your tools
  • When sanding, wear a dust mask
  • Wear earplugs or earmuffs when operating a noisy power tool
  • If you have long hair, tie it back
  • When using tools outdoors, plug them into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet

Ryobi Jigsaw

Jigsaw (or Sabre Saw)

A jigsaw is a small, handheld saw that moves a narrow blade up and down. Because the blades are narrow and the cutting action is vertical, these saws are ideal for curved or intricate cuts.

Jigsaws are easy to use for more delicate woodcutting. Hobbyists and DIY home improvers frequently use this saw. A large variety of blades can be purchased for these devices.

Common Uses:

  • Cutting a radius in woodwork
  • Cutting notches in woodwork

Price range: $30 – $170

Ryobi Circular Saw

Circular Saw

Circular saws are one of the most versatile power saws. These saws enable you to cut boards, plywood, larger pieces of trim, etc.

Most circular saws are packaged with a standard blade; however, you may wish to purchase additional blades.

Circular saws are available in both corded and battery-operated models.

Common Uses:

  • Cutting 2 x 4s for framing
  • Cutting deck boards for decking
  • Cutting a full sheet of plywood into smaller sections

Price range: $39 – $200

Circular Saw Project: A circular saw came in handy during an episode of Today’s Homeowner when we decided to make a window box. Watch this video to see how it’s done. You can add curb appeal to your home with this simple project.

Ryobi Miter Saw

Miter Saw (or Chop Saw)

Miter saws are commonly used for smooth, accurate cuts of wood trim. However, these saws can also be used to cut 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s.

This saw has a number of pre-set angles that you can use, which is a great feature when you are making repetitive cuts.

Common Uses:

  • Making miter cuts on moldings
  • Multiple cuts on similar length stock

Price range: $99 – $600

Ryobi Electric Sander

Electric Sander

Sanders mechanically speed up the movement of sandpaper to more quickly smooth out a rough surface. The most basic sander is a 1/4-sheet pad sander that allows you to create a more finished look on your surface.

Common Uses:

  • Refinishing furniture
  • Preparation of new wood for finishing

Price range: $25 – $70

Electric Sander Project:

Sanding is the key to preparing any painting job. Watch this video to see how we prepared dozens of cabinet doors during a recent episode using a pad sander with 220-grit paper.

Ryobi Power Drill

Power Drill

A power drill is not only good for drilling various sized holes, but it also allows you to use other accessories such as driver bits, wire brush wheels, sanding drums and many other attachments.

Drills can either be corded or battery operated. Cordless models are available in various voltages including 9.6, 12, 14.4 and 18 volts.

Common Uses:

  • Drilling holes in wood, metal and masonry
  • Driving Screws
  • Hanging Heavy Objects

Clever Uses:

• Scrub brushes are a common tool for cleaning around the house, but they require plenty of elbow grease, especially when you’re using them to clean ceramic tile floors. That job also takes a lot of time! But when you attach a standard scrub brush to a power drill, you can finish the job in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the energy! Watch ‘How to Clean Tiles Faster Than Ever‘ for more information.

• Braided wire is much stronger than a single wire for hanging pictures, but did you know you can make your own at a fraction of the cost? That’s right! And you can do it with the help of a power drill to do the heavy lifting—or, that is, twisting. Watch ‘How to Make Braided Picture Wire‘ for more information.

Power Drill Project: To ensure something stays in place, use screws instead of nails. Recently we attached sliding barn doors to a multi-purpose room project on Today’s Homeowner. Watch this video to see how DIY-friendly this type of project is.

Price range: $25 – $270

Further Information

2 COMMENTS

  1. That’s a pretty good overview of basic power tools. One addition I’d suggest to the list of safety precautions is to regularly inspect cords. They are dragged along floors, sidewalks, along tailgates, and can wear out, leaving exposed wires.

    Cheers
    Garry A

  2. My husband is considering buying some used power tools for some DIY building projects he wants to try, and I think he’ll really appreciate your guide to what tool is used for what. It sounds like we’ll probably want a circular saw, as most of the projects will involve boards and plywood like you mentioned. We’ll be sure to keep in mind the price range you gave so that I know how much to budget for, as well.

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