Woodworking & Carpentry Tools

tools scattered on table

As you walk through the tool aisles of any well-stocked home center or hardware store, the choices will seem overwhelming. The following pointers will help you purchase the best tools for your purposes without spending more money than necessary.

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Quality Counts
Never buy a tool before you need it. A tool purchased because you think you might need it someday is destined to years of collecting dust.

When you need a tool, purchase the best quality you can afford, especially when it comes to edge tools, such as chisels and planes. Any chisel or plane will last a lifetime, but lower-cost, lower-quality tools cost you in time, convenience, and precision -- cheap chisels don't stay sharp, and cheap planes don't cut flat and don't adjust smoothly. The metal on all hand tools should be flawlessly machined, and handles should be tight-fitting, hefty, and comfortable.

Power tools
When it comes to power tools, the shopping strategy is a little different. Consider whether you need to buy the tool at all. If, for example, you don't expect to do much trimwork after you remodel the den, consider renting a power miter box instead of buying one.

If you do decide to purchase a power tool, you probably don't need the top-of-the-line contractor's model. These tools are worth the money to pros who use them day after day. For your purposes, a lighter-duty saber saw will do a fine job, for example, of notching wainscot boards around electrical boxes.

Although you don't need the most heavy-duty power tools, you do need tools that are well made. Check that parts are well finished. Look for knobs that are hefty enough to tighten and loosen easily -- stamped-steel wing nuts are a sign of a cheap tool. Inevitably you will dangle a power tool by its cord as you lower it from a ladder to the ground, so make sure the cord is sturdy and reinforced where it enters the housing.

The horsepower rating of a tool means little; amperage rating is a truer measure of power. Finally, before you buy a tool, pick it up and make sure it feels comfortable in your hands.

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