Whether you want to drill, hammer, sand, saw, polish or clean, a power tool can make all the difference, not only in saving time and effort but also in producing a better result than hand power alone often can. A quality brand can make all the difference too and to ensure you have the best, we have put together an exemplary choice of top names such as DeWalt, Bosch, Hitachi, Kobe and Makita. So no excuses about getting the job done - and getting it done right.
Simply put, the definition of a power tool is a device that is operated by an additional power source other than the manual force applied by the operator. Typically, power tools can be split into two types, stationary and portable.
Power tools are designed to be quicker and more efficient than manual hand tools. They reduce the amount of manual labour that would otherwise be involved in applications like sawing, drilling, and grinding. As well as this they can offer greater levels of power and precision that cannot be delivered by hand for example lathes are a stationary power tool and can create truly round objects, which without the use of the tool would not be possible.
As mentioned earlier, there are two distinct types of power tools, stationary and portable. Below we have outlined some of the most common types as well as some of their features and benefits.
• Stationary power tools - These types of tools are fixed into position once installed. They have the advantage of speed and precision, despite their lack of manoeuvrability.
• Milling machines - Sometimes referred to as drilling machines, these types of power tools use a cylindrical rotary tool to remove stock from metal workpieces. They are commonly found in the automotive and aerospace sector.
• Lathes - These rotating tools are used to hold and rotate workpieces around the lathe attachment to cut the workpiece to the desired shape.
• Bench grinders - A freestanding machine that uses abrasive wheels to remove stock from a workpiece.
• Table saws - A fixed tool used for woodworking. It consists of a worktable top with a circular saw protruding through, mounted on an arbour. They are primarily considered woodworking tools.
• Portable power tools - When most people think of power tools, portable power tools are usually the kind that spring to mind. These are usually handheld devices, powered either by an electrical cable or a lithium-ion battery.
• Handheld drills - These are portable devices, used to power at drill bit through material. The motor powers the chuck which rotates and drives the bit into the workpiece. They can be powered by a cable plugged into a mains socket, or via a battery pack.
• Reciprocating saws - Are designed to replicate the back-and-forth motion of a standard manual saw with the advantage of being powered by a motor. These can be mains powered, battery powered or pneumatic.
• Circular saws - These feature a serrated, circular cutting disc, and can be used to cut through a range of materials. They come in corded and cordless varieties.
• Handheld sanders - There are several types of handheld power sanders, belt, disc or orbital. They each excel at different applications and utilise abrasives to remove stock.
• Garden power tools - Items like lawn mowers, leaf blowers and strimmers all fall under power tools. Some of these tools utilise a petrol motor to power the device.
Choosing the right power tool for the job can be a bit of a minefield, however there are some key considerations to take into account that can make the overall process easier.
• The application - Power tools tent to be specialised to a specific application. For example, power drills are specialised for drilling holes and saws for cutting etc. This can be further broken down into more specialised applications regarding what power tool is best for more specific applications. For example, belt sanders are more adept at sanding large flat surfaces, than their disc using counterparts. Having an understating of the strengths and limitations of different power tools is an advantage in helping you select the right tool for the job.
• Power source - Another key consideration is the power supply. This mostly applies to portable power tools as stationary tooling is usually linked to a mains supply. The three options are corded, battery powered or in some cases a petrol motor. All three have their strengths and weaknesses. Corded tools, whilst having a constant supply of power are limited in their movement, battery powered has the advantage of movement but for limited periods of time as the battery need to be recharged and petrol motors provide freedom of movement but the emission of fumes.
• Other considerations - Alongside the above considerations there are various blades, bits, discs and accessories to consider for your chosen application. Selecting the correct accessories can be as vital as getting the right tool to power them.
What safety precautions should I take when using a power tool?
Much like standard manual tooling, power tools have the potential to cause injury if used inappropriately or haphazardly, however it doesn't always come down to misuse, even the most experienced power tool operator can have an accident, all it takes is a slip or trip and you could find yourself getting patched up in A&E. To avoid this there are a few precautions you can take.
• Wear PPE: Safety glasses, gloves coveralls and safety footwear can help protect you from serious injury. Whilst PPE cannot eliminate injury all together it can lessen the severity of them, should they occur.
• Check the positioning of cables etc: Ensuring that cords are kept to on side and not presenting a tripping hazard, can help reduce the risk of a fall when operating a power tool.
• Checking the power source for faults, regularly: Replace or repair frayed cables or damaged battery packs as these can result in electrical shocks or other serious injury if used.
• Be mindful of the work environment: Take care when working at height or in tight spaces. The recoil of some tools in these environments can be incredibly dangerous. Also, operating petrol motors in enclosed spaces can result in the intake of hazardous fumes which can cause a myriad of health problems. Remember if in doubt it's best not to risk it. If needs be talk to an experienced professional.
Where should I store my power tools?
Storing your power tools correctly can go a long way to ensuring that they are well maintained and performing at their optimum and, above all else, safely. Some common places to store power tools include garages and tool sheds, however, be sure that the environment is suitable before leaving them for any length of time. Ideally the environment should be cool and dry and well ventilated as this will help prevent corrosion.
If the tool has a storage case, then replacing it in said case (providing that it has been cleaned) after use, can help reduce the risk of damage and the gathering of dust and grime over periods of non- operation.