Power Tools 101 – The First Tools You Should Buy

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

Last week, we dove deep into the basics of building a homeowner’s toolbox. It was awesome to hear that so many of you already have most of those tools and you’re planning to add the few you’re missing to round out your arsenal. There’s nothing like a well-stocked garage full of tools! If you’re itching to try a few bigger projects around your house, you’ll want to add some power tools to the mix.Basic tools 101

Today, I thought it would be helpful to dive into Power Tools 101. We’ve slowly accumulated tools as we’ve tackled projects around the house. We certainly didn’t go out one day and buy them all at once. Instead, we have accumulated them slowly as we’ve needed them. That way, we could do our research, learn how to safely use each tool, and practice with each one as we go.Power tools 101

I thought it might be helpful to share our power tools in the order that we acquired each one of them. We started with our miter saw and the last tool we bought was our circular saw. I’ll also include DIY projects we’ve done with each tool so you can get some ideas on how to use those new gadgets!

Power Tools 101

When it comes to power tools, safety is the name of the game. Please, please, please be safe when using these. Whenever we get a new power tool, we both thoroughly read the manual so we know we’re setting up and using it correctly. To be honest, I find that the “scariest” times using a tool are when you’re super comfortable with it and you don’t follow the same safety steps as you did when you were first learning. That’s when mistakes can happen! So just be vigilant, wear your safety gear, and set up a good work environment.Power tools 101

Not to throw Finn under the bus, but I need to mention that I used all of these tools long before he ever did. Besides the circular saw, (which we bought together), I’ve taught him how to use all of our power tools. I know a lot of you ladies think that you have to have a handy husband in order to use power tools, but that’s just not the case. My best friend, Bridget, and I learned how to use these tools together and tackled tons of DIY projects side-by-side. So, don’t let the “lack of a handy hubby excuse” stop you from accomplishing things around the house.

Miter Saw

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The One We Own: Dewalt 10-inch 15-amp Compound Miter Saw

Using a miter saw to cut pieces of lattice

Why Buy It?: This was the first power tool I bought and it was the coolest feeling ever using this bad boy for the first time. The miter saw is great for straight or angled cuts on long thin boards. It’s a must for just about any woodworking project (in fact, I think I used it for just about every woodworking project on this list). Cutting on the miter saw

Tips: You’ll need a spot to place your miter saw. We use two sawhorses and a piece of plywood to make a work station in our garage. Oh, and always wear eye protection when using this (and really any saw!).  Add a wood wall treatment behind your bed

DIY Projects:

Pneumatic Air Compressor with Nail GunNail gun

The One We Own: Bostitch 6-gallon Air Compressor (it looks like they don’t sell the exact one we bought anymore, but this one seems better because it has three tools in it!) Power tools 101: buy an air compressor and nail gun

Why Buy It?: When you’re cutting all of that wood, you need to attach it to the wall somehow. A pneumatic air compressor with a nail gun is the easiest way to do just that! The air compressor provides the pressure to shoot the nail out with enough force to pierce a wood board and attach it to the wall. We also recently used this same air compressor with a staple gun for our stair runner installation and it worked beautifully. Using a nail gun

Tips: Finn was scared of this one in the beginning, but it’s really not that scary. A nail doesn’t just fly out if you pull the trigger…the nose of the gun has to be depressed for it to shoot. So, that means it has to be pushed against a wall (or a stair) for it to work. Also, make sure you buy the correct length and size of nails for your project. Our bathroom after

DIY Projects: 


Using a jigsaw to cut out the back of a cabinet

The One We Own: Dewalt Corded JigsawJigsaw

Why Buy It?: While the miter saw can cut straight lines, a jigsaw has the ability to create curved cuts (along with straight ones!). For us, it has really come in handy for projects where we needed to cut a strange shape out of a piece of cabinet or wood (like cutting out the shape of an outlet in the back of our laundry room cabinets!). This tool is relatively inexpensive, so it’s a great addition to your toolbox.

Tips: Make sure you buy additional blades that fit your jigsaw. Laundry room organization

DIY Projects: 

Wet SawFinn cutting on the wet saw

The One We Own: Kobalt 7-inch Tabletop Tile Saw

Using a wet saw for tilingWhy Buy It?: You’ll need a wet saw for any tiling project. Yes, you can rent a wet saw at Lowe’s Home Improvement. And if you can get your tiling project done in one to two days and you don’t have another tiling project planned, then renting is probably the way to go! However, if you have a big tiling job or want to tackle multiple spaces, you’re probably better off buying a wet saw.Finn using the wet saw

Tips: At first, the spinning blade is super scary when you’re pushing tile through. But you quickly realize that the blade is actually pretty dull (it won’t chop a finger off!). Yes, you need to be careful, but it’s okay if your fingers get close (because oftentimes they’ll have to get very close when cutting small bits of tile). Oh, and be prepared to be wet! These tools are aptly named and our shirts usually end up soaked.

Adding green tile over a washer and dryerDIY Projects: 

Circular SawFinn cutting with the circular saw

The One We Own: Dewalt Corded Circular SawUsing a miter saw to cut wood

Why Buy It?: We bought our circular saw last year when we were working on our DIY fireplace project. Our miter saw couldn’t cut boards with a long width, and we needed a way to make those cuts. We ended up getting a circular saw and it has come in handy so many times since then! It’s great for making long cuts, angled line cuts, and it works to trim down thicker boards. We even used it for our garage flooring project! Using a circular saw to cut IKEA butcher block countertop

Tips: You’ll want to use a straight edge when cutting with the circular saw to make sure you get a straight cut. We usually clamp down a long level and it works like a charm. Our fireplace makeover

DIY Projects: 

Power Tools On Our Wishlist

With the DIY office built-ins underway, we need to add a few more tools to our garage. Here are two we are planning to buy to help us with that big project!

Table Saw

Dewalt table saw

I’m a bit intimidated by the table saw because I’ve never used it before and it can be very dangerous. But, there truly is no better tool to cut wood and rip large boards. We’ll need this as we build the shelves on top of the built-in cabinets in the office.

Orbital Sander

Dewalt orbital sander

Here’s a basic power tool that would be good to add to the mix..a sander! I used to own one, but it got lost in a move at some point and I never replaced it. Since we’re painting the built-ins ourselves, we’ll need to sand them down so the primer and paint sticks to the unfinished wood. An orbital sander will save so much time as opposed to just using sandpaper or a sanding block. And I love that this one is cordless.

Other Supplies to Have On HandSafety glasses

I mentioned a few other items you should have on hand when using the above power tools. Make sure you grab some of these…

Power tools 101

So there you have it…Power Tools 101. I hope this list leaves you motivated and excited to try out a new project this year. As I always say, if I can do it…anyone can! Don’t be intimidated by the world of power tools. Start small and build up your collection as you go. Soon you’ll have everything you need to tackle any DIY project you want around the house!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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