Understanding Power Tools

Circular saw and jigsaw.

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, and be sure to read the instructions and follow the safety guidelines that came with your power tool before using it. You’ll be finishing up your own home project in no time.

Safety First!

When working with any type of power tool, always remember to put safety first. 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
  • Wear clothing that does not hang or dangle loosely
  • If wearing gloves, make sure they are leather
  • Make sure that the safety guards are in place and working
  • Replace damaged parts or damaged tools before using them
  • Always keep a firm grip on your tools
  • When sanding, wear a dust mask
  • Wear ear plugs or ear muffs 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 very 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

Ryobi Miter Saw

Miter Saw (or Chop Saw)

Miter saws are most 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

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

Price range: $25 – $270

Further Information


  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.

    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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