Power Tools Guide: An Awesome Resource

It has long been speculated that along with our conscious, self-aware minds, it's humankind's ability to develop and wield tools that separate us from the animals. While we now know that numerous animals will use sticks and other items found in nature as rudimentary tools, they don't do so with anywhere near the complexity that humans do.

Of course, as continually evolving and endlessly curious creature, humans haven't been satisfied with merely creating a tool to help us accomplish a task and leave it at that. Oh no, instead we continue to refine our tools and improve upon them.

In doing so, we not only have developed a number of tools which may seem obvious at first glance, but we've also developed innumerable variations on those original designs.

This experimenting has led to further refining the process and developing whole new categories of power tools. Ultimately, we're left at a point in time where, if you have some task that requires a specific type of manual labor, chances are that someone has already developed a tool for it. If the task can competently be accomplished by a single person, then more than likely the tool can be used by just one person.

Of course, even if a tool can accomplish a specific task, it still requires some source of power. For the longest time, we had to look to our own hands or possibly the physical labor of animals to help us use tools.

However, around the turns of the 20th century, shortly after the discovery of electricity, men across the globe quickly recognized the value and potential work that electricity could accomplish. Before long, those men had directed that energy into modified hand tools that then used an automated action. Thus the power tool was born.

There are a tremendous amount of power tools manufactures on the market today. So we narrowed down the top 10 power tool brands for your convenience. While we consider these our favorites, other brands may suit your specific needs.

It's similar for what is considered power tools. While their are different power tools names, such as reciprocating saw and sawzall has the same common meaning, we created the power tools lists based on several common features.

If the tool you're looking for isn't listed, it just means we more than likely classified it under a different category. 

Power Tools Definition: What Are They?

While it may seem obvious, it bears stating that the power tools definition is similar to hand tools except they use an external power source to accomplish this task. Generally, power tools will use some form of electrical power source--whether from an outlet or a connected battery pack. However, some power tools are pneumatically driven an utilize compressed air to force the action of the power tool.

Regardless the power source, the point of a power tool is assist in the construction or demolition of some project. These projects can involve a wide range of materials from wood to masonry to metal. Moreover, the power tools themselves can be designed to accomplish a wide range of actions including cutting, drilling, sanding, or driving.

While each power tool will all function a little bit differently, there are a couple of factors that carry through every power tool. One of the most important is power. If the tool is not powerful enough, it will not be able to effectively accomplish its action and is then no better than a hand tool.

Power Tools Guide

Another important factor is durability. Quite simply power tools are expensive. Especially in comparison to their hand tool counterparts.

While certain tools may not necessarily break the bank, it still makes little sense to pay less for an ineffective tool that you will have to soon replace. Instead, it is better to invest a little more for a tool that will last a long time.

Speaking of investment, price is easily one of the most important qualities to consider, regardless the type of power tool. While some of the simpler power tools may be relatively cheap by comparison, many of the more powerful or specialized ones can get downright prohibitively expensive depending on your budget.

In this regard, a mixture of quality action, durability, price will combine to define the power tool’s value. Unless you are a longtime professional or require the highest degree of precision and accuracy, value will often weigh just as heavily as overall performance.

Finally, different power tools fall into 2 different grades: consumer grade and professional grade. Consumer grade power tools are of a lower quality and are not built to handle the rigors of a professional jobsite. These tools will often be less powerful and more cheaply made, but they will also cost far less.

Professional grade power tools on the other hand often carry a much heftier price tag, but they also provide a much better experience. They are more powerful, deliver a more effective action, and are generally more durable.


The Top 10 Power Tool Brands

Black & Decker

power tools names

Black & Decker is strictly a consumer grade brand of power tools. They have always been a consumer grade and, by all accounts, they will continue to always be a consumer grade power tool. While this does limit their ultimate utility, it often puts them in a prime position to offer some of the better budget options.

Circular Saws

Black & Decker should be grateful that Ryobi thinks so much of their circular saws or the market for a consumer grade circular saw would not even be close. As it stands, Black & Decker still produces a passable circular saw at a true consumer grade price.

Combo Kits

Unless you absolutely need a wide variety of tools immediately and have the bare minimum of a budget at your disposal, you are advised to steer clear of the Black & Decker combo kits. Even for a consumer grade product, these kits are not suitable for regular use--not even the avid weekend warrior.

Drills

This category may be the bane of Black & Decker’s existence and is certainly a prime suspect for where it gets such a poor reputation. While they offer a wide variety at incredibly low prices, you get what you pay for and their drills are too underpowered to seriously recommend for all but the lightest of workloads.

Grinders

This is one of those few power tool categories where Black & Decker shows up much bigger than expected. By that we do not mean that tool is physically larger than you would expect but that it is of a much higher quality than Black & Decker is known for. In fact, this is an ideal consumer grade category with solid performance at an incredibly low price point.

Jig Saws

When you take a precision based tool and combine it with a consumer grade manufacturer, the results can be hit or miss. With Black & Decker jigsaws, that result is a definitive whiff. If you purchase a Black & Decker jigsaw, do not expect precision or durability.

Miter Saws

I know what you are thinking: “Black & Decker makes a miter saw?” Yes they do and, assuming you do not need perfectly precise cuts, it actually pretty close to a steal. In fact, at this price point, it might be cheaper to buy the Black & Decker and pay someone to shave 1/16” of an inch off by hand.

Oscillating Tools

With only one entry in the oscillating category, you get what you pay for. This tool will not last nearly as long as a professional grade nor will it be able to handle the toughest jobs, but it is an adequate consumer grade oscillating tool.

Reciprocating Saws

No one ever expects a reciprocating saw’s action to be pretty. That is a good thing, because the Black & Decker’s action is anything but. Oddly, this is one of the few power tool categories where they do not seem all that concerned with putting forth the cheapest product available.

Tile Saws

Considering the specialized nature of the job and the difficulty with making a power tool that can function when wet, it should not at all surprise you to know that Black & Decker has not put out a wet tile. What might be more surprising is how many other brands have followed suit.


Bosch

power tools list

Bosch is definitively a professional grade power tool manufacturer, and is actually one of the top 3 brands available, along with Makita and Milwaukee. As each of the “big 3” does something a little bit different, Bosch hangs its hat on reliability of action and durability over time. However, even Bosch has some tools that are not the best.

Circular Saws

The Bosch circular saws are a bit underwhelming to be honest. While there is nothing wrong with them, they do not necessarily stand out above the competition either. Perhaps it is because Makita does not suffer any durability concerns in this category or that Milwaukee owns the cordless market, but Bosch simply keeps pace without standing out.

Combo Kits

Bosch combo kits are some of the best available. Because of their dedication to reliability and durability, these kits are often more than enough for a young professional who needs a wide range of high quality power tools on a budget. In fact, once that professional becomes more seasoned, a few pieces of a Bosch combo kit are liable to stick around due to their quality.

Drills

Like we see in a couple categories where power is paramount, Bosch seems to be able to provide an excellent quality, professional grade drill when it is cordless--and expected to be a bit underpowered--but falls short with their corded lines.

Grinders

Bosch makes an uncharacteristic misstep in the grinder category. In fairness, their grinders are not poor quality, but they are a bit underpowered--even for a Bosch. This quality goes so far as to occasionally push them out of the professional grade for certain disc sizes. Thankfully, the reliability and durability are still there.

Jig Saws

In a category of power tools that do not necessarily rely on the most powerful motor, Bosch is often king. This adage holds true in the jigsaw category where Bosch produces some of the better jigsaws available in a couple subcategories including both the orbital and pendulum cutting action.

Miter Saws

Stop the presses. We finally have a product that Bosch has produced which is simply not up to snuff. Considering how important it is for miter saws to be powerful--not to mention how costly they are--it is a big deal that Bosch missed so hard in this power tool category. Oddly enough, the actual cutting action is perfect. Unfortunately, the guides and settings are far from it, making a machine designed to be precise anything but.

Oscillating Tools

Considering the precision required and the delicate parts involved in oscillating tools, it should have been a foregone conclusion that Bosch would put forth one of the best lines in this category. Still, that did not prevent Makita from outdoing them, specifically in the cordless subcategory.

Reciprocating Saws

Bosch’s reciprocating saws are bit of feast or famine. If you look in the corded category, Makita is a far better product. However, if you move to the cordless category--where less power is to be expected--the Bosch performs quite well.

Tile Saws

With 2 of the big 3 sitting this one out, it is left to Bosch to put forth the only legitimate professional grade wet tile saw. Unfortunately, because Bosch takes such precise caution, that allows small chunks from cut tile to potentially jamb the sliding action.


DeWalt

what are power tools

DeWalt is a legacy manufacturer that was one of the earliest producers of professional grade power tools. However, after being bought out by Black & Decker, DeWalt saw their quality and reputation decline. Recently, DeWalt has been repurposed as Black & Decker’s professional grade line and seeks to regain its fallen reputation as a premier, professional grade power tool producer. However, DeWalt often uses cheaper parts that are not vital to the tool’s action.

Circular Saws

Even though the stain of Black & Decker has still not completely faded from the quality of some of DeWalt’s other power tool categories, DeWalt cut its teeth so to speak on making professional grade circular saws--especially worm drives. As such, it should come as no surprise they still hold this crown.

Combo Kits

DeWalt combo kits are a bit of a mixed bag--literally. Some of the tools will be superb, some of them will be merely adequate, and some of them will be subpar. However, DeWalt puts a hefty price tag compared to the competition which decreases the value of this category and makes it a hard pass.

Drills

As one of the primary power tools that all professionals require--regardless the specialty--DeWalt needed to deliver a professional grade tool across numerous drill subcategories. Thankfully, that have done so in both the corded and cordless versions. Be forewarned though, they are some of the pricier professional grade drills.

Grinders

This is one of the areas where DeWalt begins its ascension from the consumer grade back to the professional grade market. Their grinders are both powerful and durable. The only real issue with the DeWalts is that they are fairly heavy and some of their additional features either are absent or do not work as advertised.

Jig Saws

The DeWalt line of jigsaws is adequate if unimpressive. They are a tough underpowered and their cutting action is noted for not always being precise. Moreover, they are priced as a top tier jigsaw--which they truly are not. All in all, it is hard pass in this category.

Miter Saws

Considering the kind of investment you need to make in a single purchase, if any manufacturer that is nursing an ailing reputation, then they better get the miter saw right or just pack it in. Thankfully for DeWalt, they have done enough right to bear mention in the professional grade miter saw market--though their blade guards could use improvement.

Oscillating Tools

By all accounts, DeWalt has put forth a quality oscillating tool that meets the expected standards of professional grade quality while still being able to keep the price at a reasonable range--a bit of a rarity for DeWalt in general.

Reciprocating Saws

The DeWalt reciprocating saws are another example of the company beginning to right itself and get back on track. If they can simply make some of the auxiliary parts more durable, DeWalt has a real shot at regaining any face it lost following Black & Decker’s misuse of the company.

Tile Saws

For probably the only category other than worm drive circular saws, DeWalt puts out the best product available. Though Bosch is the only brand of the big 3 to even make a wet tile saw, the DeWalt even outperforms it.


Hitachi

top 10 power tools brands

Hitachi is also a legacy power tool manufacturer, getting its start by producing power tools before World War II. However, the brand eventually moved into the consumer grade market and soon lost its great reputation. However, they too have recently begun to try and reclaim the professional grade market and are making admirable strides. Though, they are a bit hit or miss.

Circular Saws

Hitachi’s circular saws are a situation of missed opportunities. They produce a great set of circular saws that are both powerful and can stand up to long periods of extended use. However, they also cut corners with plastic guards and flimsy shoes. That is not how you enter the professional grade.

Combo Kits

Hitachi does make a good showing in the combo kit power tool category. However, the reason is not what one would think. Quite simply, the Hitachi combo kit offerings are slim, and they generally only feature their cordless drills--not one of their better power tools. As such, you should pass on this maker’s product category.

Drills

Hitachi understands that drills are a ubiquitous part of every professional’s tool belt. As such, any manufacturer serious about entering the professional grade power tool market better produce a high quality drill. In this regard, Hitachi definitely hits the mark at a reasonable price--assuming you purchase one of their corded models.

Grinders

If you take a look at Hitachi’s grinder market, it immediately becomes apparent they are confident at least this power tool has fully reentered the professional grade class. In fairness, grinders seem to be a category that is much easier for a wide variety of manufacturers to put out a good product. That being said, the Hitachi is actually more expensive than even other professional grade grinders and thus a lower value--if quality product.

Jig Saws

This is arguably one of Hitachi’s worst power tool categories. They make a poor showing on all fronts. The quality is not up to professional standards, though their selection is priced as such. Moreover, the selection itself is surprisingly narrow without many options to choose from.

Miter Saws

Considering Hitachi got their start focusing on some of the more powerful and larger power tools, you would expect them to produce a quality miter saw. Not only have they done so, but they did it at a price point other manufacturers can only dream of.

However, the precision is not where you would want it to be. As such, it is more like a less expensive Makita miter saw--which is still pretty good for the Hitachi brand.

Oscillating Tools

While your options are somewhat limited, you do not necessarily need to go far, since the Hitachi cordless oscillating tool is actually quite good. Unfortunately, it may not be quite as good as its price suggests, but you will not regret the purchase.

Reciprocating Saws

If all we looked at were cordless models, Hitachi could hold its head high as one of the best reciprocating saw lines on the market. As it is, they should still feel a bit of pride and simply go back to work to improve their corded models.

Tile Saws

Much like the oscillating tool, Hitachi does not have a large catalog to choose from for tile saws. However, unlike the oscillating tool category, the Hitachi dry masonry saw is not even close to a professional grade product, though it is exceptionally good in the consumer grade category.


Makita

power tools are used for

Makita is the second of the top 3 power tool manufacturers, though its reputation is a bit muddled. Originating as a manufacturer of electric motors in general, Makita can often boast the most powerful tools across numerous classes. However, due to less overall experience making tools compared to Milwaukee and Bosch, a number of their designs are less than optimal and not quite as durable or reliable.

Circular Saws

This is a category that Makita more or less owns--at least if you are looking for a sidewinder model. None of the others can hope to compete with the Makita in terms of power--a quality that is perhaps more highly prized with circular saws than with some other types of tools. Moreover, Makita has not been bitten by the malfunction bug in this category.

Combo Kits

Makita should thank goodness that combo kits are arranged they way they are, because the wrong tool here or there could make them an untenable category for the brand who occasionally has durability issues. Thankfully, combo kits generally come with products that Makita is known for making powerful and reasonably durable.

Drills

It should come as little surprise that the Makita does so well in the drill category. AS a power tool that often places a premium of power, Makita drills provide more than enough and come in a wide enough variety to provide something for everyone--that is of course assuming you need a cordless model.

Grinders

Makita actually shows up a bit small in this category. As expected, their tools still put out some of the best power for their motor. However, the tools themselves are not especially durable--even for a Makita. In this regard, you will either want to do plenty of homework ahead of time, or pass for a more reliable maker.

Jig Saws

It seems that Makita’s focus on power has finally caught up with them. Considering the best jigsaws favor precision over raw power, Makita is having difficulty making that transition. As such, their jigsaws do not generally lead in the power department but also do not make up for it with precision.

Miter Saws

With Bosch and Milwaukee turning in such a poor showing in the miter saw category, all Makita had to do was not mess up to take the race. Instead, they put forth not only a product category which far surpasses the competition, it might be even be better than a number of older saws in their prime.

Oscillating Tools

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but the Makita easily tops Bosch in the oscillating tool category. Though, on second thought, it may seem perfectly natural considering the durability of an oscillating tool is often tied to the effectiveness and power of its action.

Reciprocating Saws

Again, when the product’s main quality and the factor that often determines its longevity is power, Makita always puts on a clinic. In this regard, the Makita is the best in every subcategory whether based on power source or power level.

Tile Saws

Considering the occasional issue Makita has producing a truly durable power tool--depending on the category of course--it should come as no surprise that they have all but skipped the wet tile saw category. However, they do offer an excellent handheld hybrid wet/dry tile saw.


Milwaukee

power tools brands

Milwaukee is the final of the top 3 power tool manufacturers and is also a legacy brand which got its start before World War II. Thankfully, Milwaukee never made the transition to consumer grade, though it does now serve as the professional grade of power tools to Ryobi. Milwaukee is a bit of a goldilocks brand providing solid power, durability, and reliability without regularly leading in any category.

Circular Saws

Milwaukee puts up excellent products across the various subclasses of circular saw, much as one would expect. However, they do not usurp Makita in the corded category, nor do they produce the best worm drive. However, Milwaukee makes a surprisingly powerful impact in the cordless category where they provide the best option.

Combo Kits

Milwaukee may be the best all-around brand to buy a combo kit from. First, the tool selection features many of their strongest tool categories. Moreover, their prices are on par with their competitors. However, it is the sheer number of options available that make these combo kits the best around.

Drills

This is one of the few categories where Milwaukee shines the brightest. Keep in mind, there are few instances when this manufacturer falls flat on its face but few where it rises to the top. Thankfully, Milwaukee puts their best foot forward in the most purchased power tool category and does so for numerous subcategories as well.

Grinders

If you are in the market for a professional grade grinder, this likely where you should look. This is one of those rare instances where Milwaukee’s goldilocks approach to power tools really pays off, as it is more powerful than the Bosch and more durable than the Makita. In fact, it is not even close in either quality with the competition.

Jig Saws

Milwaukee has made a serious misstep in the jigsaw category, and as such, they do not put out a professional grade product with any of their many offerings. Do not tell them that though, because they still demand a professional grade payment for a substandard tool that lacks in precision--though the orbitals are decent.

Miter Saws

It is rare that Milwaukee puts forth a poor showing in a major power tool category. It is even more rare that the issue has to do with the motor’s design. Unfortunately, that is the issue with Milwaukee’s miter saws--though the issues seems to occur in batches.

Oscillating Tools

If it is not Makita, then Milwaukee is the only other game in the professional grade oscillating tool game. In fairness, which you find better will matter more on secondary and tertiary considerations than the primary factors as both tools provide excellent power--though Milwaukee is more durable.

Reciprocating Saws

Milwaukee has a similar problem as the Bosch, only in the opposite direction. Rather than having an issue with the higher powered reciprocating saws, Milwaukee finds itself struggling to produce a top quality, professional grade, low powered reciprocating, definitively giving Makita the crown.

Tile Saws

While you might expect an absence from a somewhat difficult power tool category like a tile saw from Makita, the absence of a Milwaukee wet tile saw is positively perplexing. In fairness, they do offer some masonry saws, but that is not really the same.


Porter Cable

definition of power tools

Porter Cable is much like DeWalt in that it is both a legacy and a manufacturer that was once known as a producer of top quality professional grade power tools. Again, like DeWalt, Porter Cable lost its prominence after its quality slipped following a purchase by Black & Decker. Though it is not being marketed as Black & Decker’s professional grade line, Porter Cable is also trying to get back into the professional grade market with mixed results.

Circular Saws

If Porter Cable intends to reenter the professional grade power tool market, they really need to consider how many different types of tools within a given category are preferred rather simply producing a good quality version of the most popular ones. Still, their saws are solid.

Combo Kits

Porter Cable should breathe a sigh of relief when they look back over their combo kits, because they are both reasonably priced and adequate quality--though some are better than others, depending on the tools included. However, it is the sheer wealth combo kits options available that truly stands out.

Drills

Porter Cable not only makes a splash in the professional grade drill market, it does a veritable cannonball as this is one of the few brands that produces top quality drills at reasonable prices in pretty much every category, whether cordless, corded, impact, or hammer.

Grinders

The Porter Cable grinder market is somewhat limited, but true to form. The tools themselves are moderately priced but still pack a solid amount of power and durability. Moreover, while not as large as some manufacturers, there is plenty of variety to ensure that you get the grinder you need.

Jig Saws

Porter Cable jigsaws are good but not great. They falter from some of the same issues the DeWalt does, though they are better priced. However, with a cutting action that is not as precise as you would want and a variety that is paltry, it is better to look elsewhere.

Miter Saws

With Porter Cable trying to become a serious contender in the professional grade power tools market once again, this is a great product category for them to do it on. It is a good thing that they nailed the execution and produced a top quality product at a more than reasonable price.

Oscillating Tools

Another comeback story that seeks to climb the ladder back into the professional grade power tool arena, Porter Cable offers plenty of value, though some of their models are a bit overpriced. Still, the cheaper end of their line provides excellent value.

Reciprocating Saws

While it may not be the most comfortable nor the most advanced reciprocating saw manufacturer, Porter Cable has done itself a favor and given a much needed boost towards its goal of entering the professional grade markets once again.

Tile Saws

It is a shame that porter cable did not make a wet tile saw. Considering they focus more on effective action and strong, sealed housings, this seems like the perfect brand to take a crack at an undersaturated power tool category.


Ridgid

power tool names

While Ridgid may not have ever dipped into the consumer grade market, neither was it ever fully considered professional grade. Instead, Ridgid has comfortably remained in between the two grades, skirting both price and quality. In fairness, the action and durability of Ridgid power tools is comparable with the top brands. However, Ridgid tools often have fewer features--even the truly meaningful ones--and are generally less ergonomic.

Circular Saws

Combo Kits

Ridgid’s combo kits leave a lot to be desired. First, they are more of a high-quality consumer grade power tool manufacturer but price their combo kits like a professional grade maker. However, one of the bigger issues is the quality of tools. Individually, they are adequate, but it seems like Ridgid uses the “irregular” ones for their combo kits.

Drills

While Ridgid generally sits between professional grade and consumer grade, a more accurate way to phrase it is that half of their tools are really good while the other half are not worth the cost. Thankfully, their drills are quality, if a bit pricey.

Grinders

Ridgid grinders are about what you would expect: decent but not great. Thankfully, they are one of the more reasonably priced power tool categories in the maker’s lineup. Unfortunately, the cordless model does not live up to standards.

Jig Saws

It seems Ridgid understands which categories they can hope to compete in and which ones they cannot. As such, the precise demands of a worthy jigsaw remain out of reach of the middling manufacturer. In fact, they only have offering in this category which is overpriced at that.

Miter Saws

Sometimes when you walk on a tightrope between 2 different grades of a product, you accomplish an amazing feat. Other times, you tumble back down to reality. The latter is what happens with Ridgid’s miter saws which are priced relatively low, but do not provide even that much value.

Oscillating Tools

For the most part, Ridgid has an awful line of oscillating tools that do not even qualify as consumer grade and should be avoided at all costs. Then they make a truly amazing product in the category that almost makes up for it. At a good price and an amazing action, the ZRR28600 might just be the best value regardless the grade.

Reciprocating Saws

At this point, we really think Ridgid should just call it a day and accept that they are a consumer grade power tool manufacturer. If only their prices matched the quality of their tools, they might be seen as a much better value. As it is, there are better values in this category with other brands.

Tile Saws

For a power tool category that is often difficult to get right, it sure is surprising that so many consumer grade and those who are looking to ascend to the professional grade markets are the manufacturers who take up that task. Sadly, they do not always succeed--the Ridgid is a case in point.


Ryobi

list of power tools

Ryobi can be seen as the Japanese counterpart to Black & Decker. Though, both companies have changed hands many times, so that comparison may not be as apt as one might suspect. Regardless, Ryobi too is strictly a consumer grade power tool manufacturer and often trades blows with Black & Decker over price or quality, winning some of each category.

Circular Saws

Ryobi’s circular saws do not impress--even in the consumer grade power tool market. While they are not truly terrible considering their class, they are not appreciably better than many of the other consumer grade circular saw manufacturers.

Combo Kits

If only Ryobi took their pricing guidelines for their combo kits and applied it to all the other power tool categories, they might have a real shot at being the king of the consumer grade power tool market. As such, if you are a consistent weekend warrior on a budget, this maker’s combo kits are some of your best value options.

Drills

There really is not much you can say to Ryobi about their drill lines except “well done.” When numerous consumer grade power tool manufacturers fall short, Ryobi at least produces a decent value, though they are not up to professional standards.

Grinders

Considering that Ryobi is a consumer grade power tool manufacturer, their offerings in the grinder category are not bad. However, they are not good enough to demand the professional grade price they have either. As such, while this would not be a poor tool to purchase, you are better off either getting a true professional grade grinder or a cheaper consumer grade.

Jig Saws

Some instances of Ryobi thinking so highly of their quality are more egregious than others. This is one of the worst instances. The jigsaws are only mildly better than the Black & Deckers--if that. However, you would not be able to tell just by looking at the prices.

Miter Saws

If you need the absolute cheapest miter saw available, go get a Black & Decker. However, if you are willing to spend a modest amount more while staying within the consumer grade market, get a Ryobi. They feature numerous models and are surprisingly capable and accurate tools.

Oscillating Tools

Ryobi’s oscillating tools are a bit pricey for the consumer grade market, but they do provide decent value. However, avoid the absolute cheapest products in this category by the maker as they are not a good value at all.

Reciprocating Saws

While just barely more expensive than the Black & Decker, Ryobi offers far more options and is generally a better tool across pretty much every subcategory of the reciprocating saw consumer grade compared to Black & Decker. That said, it is still definitely consumer grade.

Tile Saws

Yet another non-professional grade power tool manufacturer that decided to take a stab at the wet tile saw category. The DeWalt performed admirably, exceptionally even. The Ryobi did not and is not even the best consumer grade tile saw.


Skil

guide to power tools

Skil began as the consumer grade power tool manufacturer to compliment the professional grade SkilSaw. However, that separation has recently been dropped and Skil is making its long slog to the professional grade category. However, as it was one of the few consumer grade manufacturers who did not initially start as a professional grade manufacturer, the transition is a bit smoother--if time consuming.

Circular Saws

It seems this is one of the categories where Skil is content to still remain as a consumer grade power tool. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this decision, it will force professionals to question Skil power tools in other categories as a matter of guilt by association.

Combo Kits

In terms of consumer grade quality, Skil is right up there with Ryobi. Moreover, Skil offers a much more attractive price point for their combo kits than Ryobi, with only Black & Decker going lower. However, Skil has a dearth of options available, so you better not need non-standard combo kits. Otherwise they are probably the best consumer grade combo kit option.

Drills

Despite performing adequately in numerous categories, Skil is one of the few brands that does not produce an adequate drill--even in the consumer grade market. However, they do offer a wide variety of subpar drills that are overpriced.

Grinders

If SKIL intends to climb out of the consumer grade power tool market, then they are going to have to put up a better showing than this. The grinders they offer are actually not poor quality. However, they are severely limited in what they can do. As such, this is a power tool category where the entrants are solid, but we need to see more options and variety.

Jig Saws

This is another power tool category that Skil seems content to stay within the consumer grade market. However, they are priced appropriately and a fairly good improvement over the Black & Deckers while still maintaining a lower cost than the Ryobi. This is likely where you go for a consumer grade jigsaw.

Miter Saws

If you are in the market for a consumer grade miter saw, the Skil is right up there with Ryobi. Both manufacturers produce a fair quality tool at an incredibly low price. Be forewarned, if you are looking for 10” consumer grade, go with Ryobi. The Skil 10” is disappointing, though the 12” is solid.

Oscillating Tools

The Skil oscillating tool is nothing to brag about but neither is it a complete waste. Honestly, there are better products at this price range, and Skil would be better off going back to the drawing board to take another crack at it.

Reciprocating Saws

In a bit of a surprise, Skil hit the nail on the head with product. It seems their climb to the professional grade market will be longer than for some others, but their line of reciprocating saws is sure to give them a much needed boost.

Tile Saws

With a dearth of manufacturers will to try and produce a wet tile saw, it's a bit surprising that Skil not only makes one but makes several. What is more, they're actually not bad tools, though they are not professional grade and still belong in the consumer grade market.


Power Tools Names and Their Uses

Circular Saws

Outside of drills and sanders, circular saw might be the most common type of power tool you are liable to find on a professional jobsite. Powerful and portable, circular saws are appropriate for a wide range of applications.

And this versatility makes them a prized possession--and necessity--for any serious professional. However, circular saw can come in a surprising number of of types, each with their own particular niches.

Still, the standard circular is the most versatile and the most likely to be found wherever you work. All the same, there are also compact circular saws. These saws are even smaller than the standard circular saw, though their appropriate application is also far more limited.

circular saws

The standard circular saw comes primarily in two forms: the worm drive and the sidewinder. A worm drive circular saw will see the saw’s motor located behind the blade. While worm drives are often heavier and less wieldy, they generally provide far more power and especially more torque than any other kind of circular saw.

As such, these saws can be more difficult to use properly and generally require a higher skill level to do so efficiently. These saws are ideal for framing work and plunge cuts, where the saw’s raw cutting power needs to be higher.

Sidewinder circular saws are far more common, but they are also more versatile. A high-quality sidewinder will not be able to perform plunge cuts quite as well as a comparably powered worm drive nor will it be as well-suited for framing.

But a quality sidewinder can still accomplish moth tasks fairly well. However, due to its shape and construction, this saw is far easier to handle and is generally better for long rip cuts or extended use.

Compact circular saws, or trim saws, on the other hand, are nothing like either sidewinder or worm drives. These saw are generally held with a single hand and feature a much smaller blade.

While these saws can technically perform rips and plunges, their reduced power and cut depth place much more severe limits on their ability to accomplish these tasks. However, compact circular saws are excellent when cutting thinner materials in hard to reach spaces. It should go without saying, but compact circular saws have business on a framing jobsite.

Another factor to consider when choosing a circular saw is its power source. All circular saws are either corded or cordless.

Cordless circular saws are able to be used on a wider variety of jobsites without the potential need for a power generator. But corded saws are able to cut with greater power for longer periods of time.


Combo Kits

As the name might suggest, combo kits are not actually a single type of tool. Instead, combo kits bundle many of the more common types of tools into an easy to purchase--and often less expensive package--than it would take to purchase each tool individually.

However, combo kits have some unique features which require additional consideration that individual tools do not.

First, combo kits might be the only type or tool purchase where the brand can outright tell you whether or not you should buy the kit. Specifically, tools sold in combo kits will more often than not be a reflection of the brand itself.

These tools will rarely be the best tool in its category that the brand has to offer, though it need not necessarily be the worst either.

As such, you need to understand the different brands we discussed above and their different markets. For instance, if you are a professional, there is literally no reason to purchase a consumer grade tool kit.

tool combo kits

Even the best of a consumer grade tool will generally be insufficient for professional jobs. However, the tools found in a consumer grade combo kit do not even come close to professional grade unlike how some specific consumer grade power tools may on occasion.

Likewise, if you are a weekend warrior and do not use a wide variety of tools for numerous projects each day or week, the additional expense of a professional grade combo kit will likely go to waste.

Of course, getting better quality tools can often be seen as a worthy investment regardless how often you use them, but professional grade combo kits will often be 2 to 3 times the cost of a consumer grade combo kit--or more.

Another consideration for combo kits is the number of pieces. Combo kits will generally come in anywhere from 2 to 7 pieces. Thankfully, combo kits generally add pieces based on the regularity of their use. However, some combo kits are designed for specialized fields, so you need to know what tools you require beforehand.

For instance, a 2 piece kit will generally include a drill and an impact driver. Considering how ubiquitous these 2 tools are on professional sites, this makes sense.

However, most 3 piece combo kits will include a drill, a sander, and a jigsaw. For general purposes, a circular saw would make more sense than a jigsaw in a 3 piece kit.

However, 3 piece kits are actually designed more for woodworking than general construction use. As such, the jigsaw makes more sense here.

It is not until you get to 4 piece kits or larger that you are liable to find a circular saw included. Of course, 4 piece kits often include a flashlight or torch as one of its pieces, so a professional would be better off simply getting a 5 piece kit or larger.


Drills

This is easily the most common type of tool you will find on a jobsite. Every professional that does some form of maintenance or construction will employ the use of a drill sooner or later.

In fact, drills are so useful, every homeowner should also have one at their disposal. Of course, there are a variety of different drills, and each are suited to different situations.

drills

The standard power drill is generally what people think of when they hear the word drill. It is a medium-sized tool that can comfortably be held and used with only one hand. This drill will generally feature a chuck that holds the drill bit.

Also the chuck will usually be able to use either the standard drill bit for drilling a hole in some material or a screwdriver bit for driving screws either into the drilled hole or directly into the material itself. This type of drill most commonly features a pistol grip with an easy to use trigger.

A drill similar to the standard drill is the right angle drill. However, this drill may not necessarily look look a standard drill at all. In fact, one of the first differences between the right angle and the standard drill is its head.

The right angle drill will feature a drill head that is cocked at a 90 degree angle. This allows the drill to be more easily maneuvered in tight spaces and be able to drill in areas where the standard drill’s profile is simply too large to fit.

Another primary difference will be the grip. Right angle drills generally feature either a barrel grip or a d-grip--though, some barrel grip right angle drills may employ a hybrid pistol trigger for easier use.

Two types that are somewhat similar but still different enough to occupy separate categories are SDS drills and hammer drills. Both of the drills generally find their services used primarily for drilling into masonry or rock. Both drills allow you to employ a hammering action to the drilling action. This allows the drill to generate more torque and more easily tear through harder or denser materials.

However, only the SDS drills allow you to drill without the impact action. Likewise, SDS drills also allow you to use the hammer action without the drill function. In this regard, SDS drills can be used to chip away at materials as well a drill into them.

While far less common than any of the aforementioned drills, drill presses are still common enough that they are liable to be employed by professionals with regularity. However, due to their massive size, compared to other power tools, drill presses are less likely to be moved from jobsite to jobsite. Though there are plenty of smaller profile drill presses available explicitly for this purpose.

Like SDS or hammer drills, drill presses do not drive screws. However, drill presses are able to be far more precise with their drilling action than either SDS or hammer drills. In fact, drill presses are generally used to drill, or bore, holes into materials to a specific depth.

Drill presses can also often be used on a wide variety of materials from wood to masonry to metal. However, drill presses that function on materials other than wood will often employ different drill bits and perhaps additional features, like a water jet, to better drill without the risk of ruining the materials.


Grinders

While they may not necessarily be as common as some of the other tools on this list, grinders are incredibly versatile and should be found in any professional’s tool belt. In fact, due to their extreme versatility, grinders can find a home with most weekend warriors as well.

However, grinders do require a bit more skill to use with precision than some of the other tools on this list, so keep that in mind.

grinders

Grinders come in 5 general types, though only 2 of them are commonly found on a jobsite. Still the different types of grinders are angle grinders, die grinders, bench grinders, belt grinders, and floor grinders.

Floor grinders are used almost exclusively to smooth floors made out of concrete or some other stone-like material. As such, they are most readily employed by municipal crews and are far less likely to found among a private construction crew unless they specialize in concrete flooring.

Similarly, bench grinders are rather large and do not easily travel to jobsites. These are stationary machines that use two discs. The central motor is able to generate a massive amount of power though, so these grinders may be employed from time to time depending on the job’s needs.

In addition, the ability to use 2 discs simultaneously can make doing 2 different grinding tasks much quicker and more convenient. For instance, you can use one disc to slice through a metal pipe and use the other disc to polish it smooth.

Belt grinders are found more often at a professional jobsite than the previous 2 but are still far less common than either angle grinders or die grinders. This grinder works similarly to a belt sander. As such, this grinder is not suited for cutting through materials.

However, a belt grinder is far more appropriate for finishing surfaces and deburring materials. Moreover, belt grinders can come in handheld designs.

Die grinders are the second most likely type of grinder you may find on a professional jobsite. However, die grinders are generally used for far more refined grinding work. Die grinders will not be necessary for every job and may not even be necessary for every professional, depending on how varied the types of job one gets contracted for.

Still, die grinders carry the same degree of impressive versatility that angle grinders do and can find a surprising number of uses if you are observant. Regardless, they are most commonly used on metal.

Angle grinders are the most common type of grinders you will see. Other than perhaps a bench grinder, this is what you are likely to think of when you hear the word grinder. These are handheld devices like die grinders, but angle grinders provide far more torque and a much lower speed.

Angle grinders can be used to grind, cut, polish, finish, and sharpen. Moreover, angle grinders often feature a wide variety of disks that make them suitable for use on a diverse range of materials.


Jig Saws

A jigsaw is kind of like a mix between a reciprocating saw and a circular saw, though not necessarily for reasons that are readily apparent. The jigsaw utilizes a similar action as the reciprocating saw. Moreover, jigsaws can be used on a wide variety of materials like reciprocating saws.

However, unlike reciprocating saws, jigsaws are far more precise in their cutting action, more like a circular saw.

In this regard, jigsaws offer the best of both worlds and can technically be used for accomplishing virtually all of the same tasks as either saw. However, jigsaws come with their own bundle of limitations.

jigsaws

Much like the oscillating tool in comparison to the grinder, a jigsaw is far less powerful than either a reciprocating saw or a circular saw. As such, even though the jigsaw can technically accomplish all of the tasks of the other 2, you would not want to substitute a jigsaw for either on a jobsite that will see heavy use of either a circular or a reciprocating saw.

Still, similar to the oscillating tool and grinder divide, this lower level of power offers its own advantages. While jigsaws can be used to make solid rips like a circular saw or agile plunges--with a starter drilling--neither of those tools can offer the same type of precision a jigsaw can.

In this regard, the jigsaw may very well have a greater diversity than either a circular or reciprocating saw, because it can be used in fine woodworking.

Of course, a jigsaws effectiveness in this field will have to do with its specific cutting action. In this regard, not all jigsaws are created equally. In particular, fine woodworking and precise cuts require a straight or pendulum cutting action to make a smooth, thin cut.

However, it is far more common to find a jigsaw with numerous orbital cutting actions or a pendulum action alone. Still, there are plenty of jigsaws available which feature both types of cutting action, though the pendulum action of a dual cutting jigsaw is rarely as precise as the action of a dedicated straight jigsaw.

Another consideration for jigsaws is the power source. For the power source, jigsaws will generally come in either a corded or cordless model. However, jigsaws that are most appropriate for fine woodworking will often be pneumatically powered.

Here, an air compressor will power the jigsaw’s cutting action. This allows the jigsaw to maintain the high level of power that a corded model provides, while still keeping the lightweight profile of a cordless.


Miter Saws

Miter saws can be thought of as stationary circular saws. Both saws use a similar type of cutting action, and the blades will look similar as well--though you cannot use the blade for a circular saw in a miter saw or vice versa.

This saw is mounted on a stabilizing platform which is then either held aloft by a stand or stabilized further by being mounted on a workbench. Still, despite the fact that a miter saw has given up its mobility, it still offers numerous advantages over the circular saw for precision cutting needs.

miter saws

Regardless, there are 4 primary types of miter saw: the standard miter saw, the compound miter saw, the dual compound miter saw, and the sliding miter saw. In fairness, these different “types” can be seen more as an evolution of the miter saw’s technology.

Each type still remains viable today because they all offer something slightly different--a difference that can be a much bigger deal when considering the precision generally expected of its application.

The standard miter saw is fairly straightforward. In fact, that is about all it can do. This saw allows you to drop the blade precisely and make a perfect cut every time. It features an incredibly powerful cutting action that can be applied to numerous materials.

Be careful, because the cutting action is liable to be too powerful for brittle or fragile materials.

The compound miter saw and dual compound miter saw both perform the same function--making precise cuts at an angle--only the dual compound miter saw can do it from either a left or right precision while the single compound miter saw can only cut at a single angle.

Functionally, both saws can accomplish pretty much the same cuts with the primary advantage of a dual compound miter being the convenience and ability to quickly change the blade’s position. However, the dual angle ability can also come in handy depending on your workspace and the length of the material being cut.

The sliding compound miter saw can actually use either the single or dual compound function, depending on the saw. However, the distinction between the sliding compound miter and either of the others is its radial arm.

The radial arm allows you to slide the blade forward and backwards after you have brought it down. Essentially, this feature allows you to perform a plunge cut followed by a short rip cut and dramatically increases the total maximum length of the cut--often by more than double.

Miter saws are generally judged on the power they can provide, their miter capacity, and their bevel capacity. Keep in mind, a miter saw which may not be quite as powerful as the most powerful but has a much larger miter and bevel capacity is actually far more versatile and likely a better saw--so long as it meets the minimum standards for cutting power.


Oscillating Tools

Oscillating tools are a bit like grinders in some regards. Both tools have a wide range of applications and can be especially effective for cutting harder materials than is generally appropriate for most saw blades.

Oscillating tools function by moving an attachment back and forth at high speeds. Often, this attachment is used for cutting, but there are also attachments for polishing as well.

oscillating tools

Often confused for rotary tools due to similar uses and an apparently similar action, oscillating tools find their primary purpose in the cutting department. Because the cutting accessory is often exceptionally thin, oscillating tools can be incredibly effective for cleaning out the grooves of stonework construction.

These tools can also sand and grind. Keep in mind, if you intend to use an oscillating tool to sand, polish, or grind, one of 2 things should be the case. Either the area where you need to accomplish these tasks is limited in free space and requires a smaller profile tool.

Or the area or material being worked on is itself fairly small and requires more precision than an angle grinder can manage. If either of these prerequisites apply, then an oscillating tool is exactly what you need.

For the cutting action, oscillating tools do have some serious restrictions. The primary limitation for an oscillating tool’s cutting action is depth. The longer the attachment, the more liable it is to break if it becomes stuck during the cut. This is especially relevant if you are using the oscillating tool to cut between 2 pieces of stonework.

For instance, if you are cutting out a deep groove in the mortar between two large stone blocks, a longer attachment that becomes snagged or is handled by an unskilled laborer is far more liable to snap off than would be the disk of an angle grinder.

Still, due the the fairly easy to control nature of an oscillating tool compared to an angle grinder, this is often a preferable option. For example, if you need to sand down some thinner pieces of wood, an oscillating tool might be a better option than either a dedicated sander or an angle grinder.

Due to the smaller profile and easier to control motor, oscillating tools are far less likely to put undue stress on more fragile materials and cause them to break.

Of course, this also carries some limitations. If you have a large work area that needs to be sanded--even if the materials are more fragile--an oscillating tool will make the job additionally tedious and take much longer than desired. For polishing metals, the oscillating tool is superb with the metal is softer or the design more ornate.

The smaller profile and easily controlled power prevent more risk of damaging or missing parts of the project. However, an oscillating tool would be a pain to use for large jobs.

Oscillating tools can be powered by either a cord or a battery. Just like with pretty much every tool that features these 2 power sourcing options, the cordless oscillating tools will generally be less powerful than their corded cousins.

If you have an exceptionally fragile material that require the most precise care, you might find yourself looking for a tool that does not produce as much power, and in this instance, a cordless oscillating tool is probably perfect for the job.


Reciprocating Saws

Reciprocating saws are unlike pretty much every saw on our list. In fact, reciprocating saws are not like really any other product on our list. The reason is simple: reciprocating saws saws find most of their use in demolition.

Unlike circular saws, jig saw, and miter saws--even unlike tile saws--the type of cut a reciprocating saw is expected to make is rarely precise. Generally, reciprocating saws need simply to make an adequately sized hole in something.

reciprocating saws

However, this requires a couple things from reciprocating saws that are less crucial to other types of saws. First, reciprocating saws place a premium on plunge cuts. While most saws will ideals be able to perform plunge cuts effectively, easily more than half of the jobs of a reciprocating saw will involve some form of plunge cut. Even if the cut is actually started with a drill or another tool.

Second, the reciprocating saw will often need to be able to cut through a much wider variety of materials than some of the other saws. For instance, the tile saw is obviously designed to cut tile. However, it’s blade is not at all suited for cutting softer materials.

Conversely, a circular saw has a blade that is specifically designed to dig into materials that are not quite as hard as stone. Though there are attachments for that purpose, the circular saw’s power is liable to destroy the material for anything but rough work and will overheat.

In this instance, a reciprocating saw’s blade must be able to cut a variety of materials without overheating. Granted, this may require using different types of blades for different materials, but even here, the reciprocating saw is more effective than a circular saw or tile saw would be on the materials they are not truly designed for.

Another primary quality of a reciprocating saw that is often more of a convenience factor for other tools is the ability to handle it easily. While nobody wants to have to struggle with a cumbersome tool.

Reciprocating saws often have to cut around installed hardware, like plumbing, electrical, or HVAC. In this instance, the maneuverability is paramount as one wrong move can require having to tear out a larger portion of the area than desired simply to fix the mistake.

As such, reciprocating saws are not only designed to be handled more easily--often with a d-grip and trigger with a position for your second hand to offer more stability and support along the barrel--but the blade itself is far more maneuverable for its size than many other saws.

In fact, the reciprocating saw is a bit like a more powerful jigsaw in how it functions, though the 2 toll’s uses are far from similar with the jigsaw generally being intended for far more precise or refined work.


Tile Saws

While there are many tools out there that can technically cut tile, if you're laying a large tile floor, you'll definitely prefer a saw designed to do that job specifically. Aside from the fact that laying a tile floor or a laborious and time-consuming job, cutting the numerous tiles required can be exceedingly tedious.

In this instance, you should be looking for a tile saw. Keep in mind, a tile saw is not simply the appropriate tool for tile. If you get a quality tile saw, you can use it to cut numerous types of stonework, like bricks. Of course, that really all depends on which kind of saw you get.

tile saws

Primarily, tile saws come in 2 different types: wet and a hybrid between wet and dry. Technically, grinder can also be used to cut tile, but since we have already covered them and they are not necessarily use specifically for cutting tile, we will omit them here.

The most common type of tile saw is a wet tile saw. This saw will features a large blade mounted mounted onto a platform like a miter saw.

Unlike a miter saw, the tile saw’s platform will have a hollow bottom. This bottom holds a reservoir of water while the saw’s motor works a pump to to spray the water along the saw blade’s edge while it is in action.

The reason a wet saw employs water is because the blade get’s so hot during the cutting action that it will otherwise damage the masonry being cut. However, the water serves other secondary purposes as well.

It acts as a lubricant, allowing the saw blade to more easily slice and fit into the porous surface of masonry. Finally, the water prevents the cutting action from generating dust--however, this means the saw will instead generate mud that must be regularly cleaned to keep the saw in good functioning order.

The second type of tile saw is the hybrid tile saw. This saw is generally handheld, though some may be mounted to a stand. This saw provides some advantages to the standard wet tile saw, but it requires far more care to effectively use.

Keep in mind, even if you are using the hybrid saw to make a wet cut, it is still a more difficult process that requires a higher degree of skill than a mounted wet tile saw.

The handheld tile saw is far more efficient at making rounded cuts in tile than a mounted table saw. However, because it lacks a stabilizing base, it is far easier to crack the masonry being cut. If you are making a dry cut, the saw will be prone to overheating if used for extended periods of time.

Finally, handheld hybrid tile saws generally do not generate the same power of cutting action as do the mounted wet tile saw, and as such, are not able to handle the same thickness of material as a mounted wet saw can.


Wrapping it Up

As we can see, there are truly a dizzying number of options to consider when selecting a power tool. Not only are there a wide variety of power tool categories to choose from, even those categories often have numerous subcategories to make things even more confusing.

On top of the sheer glut of power tool types available, there are also a host of manufacturers, each providing something a little bit different from their competitors within the same categories and subcategories. Moreover, you cannot even always count on the brand’s general power tool grade to tell you whether that specific tool in question is the best.

Ultimately, this means you have to first identify the particular power tool you or your job demands. Then, you have to carefully study the different tools that various manufacturers produce. If money is not an object or you cannot afford buyer’s regret, Bosch, Makita, and Milwaukee are for regularly producing professional grade tools--though each carries their own caveats.

Within the consumer grade category, however, it is a veritable free for fall. Even Black & Decker, a brand known for more its budget options than its quality, will occasionally rise to the top of the hill. Within the consumer grade, you must be extra careful as a poor tool simply will not be a bda buy, it might not even work for the job you need it to do.


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