Everything You Need to Know About Hand & Power Tools

by Caitlin McCormack | Last Updated Mar. 4th, 2016

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or beginner do-it-yourselfer looking to save on the cost of hiring a professional, using power and hand tools to do small (and large) jobs around the house is something the majority of Americans have done and will continue to do. Power tools make lighter work of difficult jobs and are essential to those in the skilled trades.

It’s important to keep in mind that many tools can be quite dangerous when used incorrectly or without the right amount of knowledge or skill. Even with proper training, even the most expert tradesmen can still have an accident.

Possible injuries that can be caused by tools include cuts, crush injuries, bruises, pinches, electrical injuries including electrocution and fires, and even death in extreme cases.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) estimates that there were more than 12,000 reported cases of injuries to children under the age of 18 caused by power tools such as sanders, joiners, drills, etc. that were treated in hospital in the United States in 2013.

The number of actual injuries caused by power tools is bound to be quite higher than this, as the data from the CPSC only looked at those injuries which resulted in medical treatment at a participating hospital, and minor injuries were likely treated at home or another medical treatment facility not included in the reporting data. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 400,000 injuries or hospitalizations occur every year as a result of power tools.

When purchasing

  • For the most part, safety standards for tools have been created by a mix of consumer groups, government agencies, producers, retailers, and suppliers and they’re completely voluntary on the part of manufacturers. Look for a sticker on your item that tells you it’s been approved by CSA, NSC, ANSI, IEC, UL, CPSC or some other such safety association. Be cautious of purchasing products that are made in China, as regulatory standards are much different there than in the United States.
  • Look for safety features such as automatic lockout, enclosed or covered blades, and/or a dust collection kit. Another key safety feature to look for in a power tool is whether or not it is double insulated, which will help protect the user from the risk of electrical shock.
  • If your tool came with a warranty or registration card, be sure to complete the form and mail it in to the manufacturer. This way, you’ll be notified of any recalls or other safety information in the event of a problem with your model. Surveys done by Consumer Reports National Research Center show that most people seldom or never take this essential safety step.

When operating

  • Do not operate tools when over tired or if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol as the risk of injury will increase.
  • Tie back any long hair and remove loose clothing or jewelry. If a tool calls for specific safety equipment, such as glasses or a hard hat to be worn when operating, do so. If you’re going to be using a loud tool for an extended period of time, consider using earplugs or noise muffling headphones in order t-o protect your hearing. You might also need a dust mask, depending on the tool you’re using.
  • Ensure the power is turned off to any tool before plugging it in or installing a battery pack.
  • Be aware of any safety symbols or warning icons on your tool and follow the recommendations for safe operation. Only use a tool for its intended job.
  • When using a saw, ensure you do not use your hands to push material through to the blade, but rather use another piece of ‘junk’ wood to push an item through.
  • If necessary, use clamps to hold material in place. Always wait for all moving components of a power tool to stop before removing clamps or changing any parts.
  • Keep all tools out of reach of children, and do not operate near wet or otherwise dangerous surfaces. A safe work area is essential.
  • If using an extension cord, ensure it is out of the way and not a trip hazard. Outdoor use of power tools calls for an outdoor-rated cord. And, don’t forget that 3-pronged (grounded) tools must be plugged into the proper outlet – never under any circumstances should you remove the third prong or modify a plug in any way.

When cleaning

  • Unplug your power tools before cleaning in order to prevent any nasty surprises. Take them to a professional if you are nervous or unsure about cleaning them yourself. Maintaining your tools properly can help prolong their life and keep them safe for many years to come.
  • Take extra care when cleaning or changing out the blades of cutting tools such as saws. They will be especially sharp and can easily cut you.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and cleaning of your tools, and don’t hesitate to contact them if you should have a question about something specific that isn’t covered in your user manual.

In case of accident

  • In all cases of injury or accident, stop using the tool immediately and when possible, disable the power source.
  • In case of a cut, pinch or other mild injury, immediately remove yourself from the area and seek first aid treatment when necessary.
  • If a more serious accident should occur, do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.

With the above tips in mind, in no particular order, here are 25 of the power tools we consider to be the safest, based on available features and average customer reviews and ratings.

Saws

1. SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 3-HP Professional Cabinet Saw Assembly with 52-Inch Professional T-Glide Fence System, Rails and Extension Table

This complete home cutting solution is a great choice for those new to DIY wood cutting as it features a number of top-of-the-line safety features, as well as a large work surface. SawStop saws are considered to be some of the safest on the market.

Key features:

  • Sure lockdown minimizes deflection
  • Saw Stop systems detects when someone touches running blade and stops operation
  • Left tilting blade
  • Optional dust collection kit

Cost: *Est. $3249

Ideal for a number of home use applications, this jig saw is able to cut both straight and curved lines on multiple materials including metal, wood and plastic. Plus, thanks to its Smart Select technology, you can adjust settings in a matter of seconds.

Key features:

  • Automatically set to multiple cut settings
  • Choose from 7 speed settings
  • Tool-free blade changes
  • Built-in dust blower

Cost: *Est. $38.99

3. Sawstop CNS175-TGP36 1-3/4 HP Contractor Saw with 36-Inch Professional T-Glide Fence System including Rails and Extension Table

This contractor saw is tough enough to stand up to the demands of a professional construction job site and also safe enough and easy to use for the weekend warrior looking to tackle jobs around the house.

Key features:

  • Saw Stop systems detects when someone touches running blade and stops operation
  • Ideal for areas with limited space
  • Left tilting blade
  • Professional T-Glide fence system for increased precision cuts

Cost: *Est. $1949

4. Hitachi C10FCE2 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw

With a large table that’s perfect for supporting a wide variety of materials and a powerful, 15-amp motor, this compound miter saw can handle even the toughest job you throw at it. Thanks to flexible miter angles, you can make the precision cuts you need with ease.

Key features:

  • Laser marking system ensures precise alignment
  • Built-in dust collecting system
  • Vibration-reducing grip system
  • Built-in clamps keep saw stabilized

Cost: *Est. $119

5. SawStop PCS175-TGP236 1.75-HP Professional Cabinet Saw Assembly with 36-Inch Professional T-Glide Fence System, Rails and Extension Table

With unmatched attention to detail, this professional grade cabinet saw features the brand’s T-Glide fence system for increased precision cuts and smoother operation, making it an ideal choice for DIY-ers.

Key features:

  • Saw Stop systems detects when someone touches running blade and stops operation
  • Left tilting blade
  • Riving knife minimizes kickback
  • Optional mobility base
  • 110 or 220 volt compatible

Cost: *Est. $2719

6. DEWALT DW745 10-Inch Compact Job-Site Table Saw with 20-Inch Max Rip Capacity

This compact table saw is ideal for both job sites and at-home construction work as well. Plus, thanks to its metal roll cage base, it boasts a more durable construction for longer life with less maintenance.

Key features:

  • Modular guarding system
  • Built-in dust collection system
  • Blade guard
  • Telescopic fence rails for quick adjustments

Cost: *Est. $299.99

7. SawStop PCS31230-TGP236 3-HP Professional Cabinet Saw Assembly with 36-Inch Professional T-Glide Fence System, Rails and Extension Table

This professional grade cabinet saw boasts 3 horsepowers of power to handle even the toughest of jobs. Ideal for professionals and avid hobbyists, this unit comes with rails and an extension table to handle nearly any task you can throw at it.

Key features:

  • Saw Stop systems detects when someone touches running blade and stops operation
  • Left tilting blade
  • Cabinet is fully enclosed
  • 99 per cent dust collection
  • 220 volt requirement

Cost: *Est. $3149

8. Rockwell RK3441K Compact Circular Saw Kit

This lightweight compact circular saw kit is ideal for tackling jobs in those hard-to-reach places without sacrificing on performance. Quickly and easily adjust cutting depth up to 2 inches with a quick adjust lever.

Key features:

  • Comfortable slim grip handle
  • 120 volt compatible
  • 10 foot long power cord
  • 3 year warranty

Cost: *Est. $90.63

9. Sawstop CNS175-SFA30 1-3/4 HP Contractor Saw with 30-Inch Aluminum Extrusion Fence and Rail Kit

Boasting 1.75 horsepower, this professional grade contractor saw is ideal for small spaces such as home workshops and garages but packs enough power to handle even the most demanding job. Thanks to more than 100 configurations, you can customize this model to fit any job you need done.

Key features:

  • Saw Stop systems detects when someone touches running blade and stops operation
  • Left tilting blade
  • Optional mobility solutions
  • System to reduce tear-out and chip-out
  • Shrouded blade for improved dust collection

Cost: *Est. $1749

Drills

Thanks to its lithium ion battery, this cordless power drill and driver is lighter than other models and offers longer use life. Compatible for drilling into wood, metal and plastic, this model can handle nearly all your home renovation tasks.

Key features:

  • 11 position clutch provides precise control
  • Variable speed settings
  • Built-in LED work light
  • Anti-slip grip

Cost: *Est. $54.88

11. DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Drill/Driver Kit

Thanks to its compact size and its lightweight design, this cordless drill and driver can fit into even the tightest of places, making it an ideal choice for the weekend warrior looking to tackle some chores around the house.

Key features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Choose from two speeds
  • A speedy, one-hour charger
  • Ideal for wood, metal or plastic
  • One year of free service included

Cost: *Est. $106.99

12. 

This is the ultimate all-in-one set for any at-home handyman looking to build their tool collection. With 66 hand tools and accessories included – not to mention the powerful cordless drill and driver – this kit contains everything necessary for the weekend warrior to tackle a variety of home maintenance tasks.

Key features:

  • Long-lasting lithium ion battery holds a charge up to 18 months
  • 11 position clutch
  • Carrying bag included
  • Made in the USA

Cost: *Est. $79.88

13. Dewalt DCD771C2 20V MAX Cordless Lithium-Ion 1/2 inch Compact Drill Driver Kit

Now you can tackle jobs in the tightest of areas with ease thanks to the compact and lightweight design of this cordless drill and driver. With two speeds to choose from and an included carry case, it’s up for any job you need it for.

Key features:

  • Ergonomically-designed handle
  • Made in the USA
  • High performance motor is ideal for long use
  • Built-in LED light

Cost: *Est. $133.99

With an affordable price tag, this corded drill and driver boasts a quick connect system that allows for speedy tool-free bit and attachment changes to help you tackle even more jobs in less time.

Key features:

  • Lightweight, compact design
  • Choose from 11 clutch positions
  • 120 volt compatible
  • Ideal for use in tight spaces

Cost: *Est. $35.99

15. Genesis GCD18BK 18v Cordless Drill/Driver Kit, Grey

This cordless drill and driver system comes complete with a wide variety of bits and tips to help you tackle a variety of jobs and a handy carry case that makes it conveniently portable as well. Choose from various speeds in order to get the job done.

Key features:

  • Built-in LED work light
  • Non-slip rubberized handle
  • Choose from 16 clutch positions
  • Made in the USA
  • Magnetic bit holder tray

Cost: *Est. $39.99

Other

16. IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper, 8-Inch

A wire stripping hand tool is a must for any DIY electrical work you want to tackle around the house. Install lights, fans and more with ease thanks to this handy, lightweight wire stripper.

Key features:

  • Comfort grips ideal for extended use
  • Durable nickel, chromium and steel design
  • Stripper, crimper and cutter in one tool
  • Quickly and easily adjust to any gauge wire

Cost: *Est. $19.98

17. WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit with Flex Shaft

This powerful rotary tool kit boasts speeds from 8,000 to 30,000 RPMs and can handle home reno tasks such as cutting, sanding, polishing, drilling, burr removal and more. Thanks to a flexible shaft, it can also handle precision detailed tasks.

Key features:

  • 80 pieces of accessories and carry case included
  • Double insulated
  • Compatible with Dremel bits
  • Lightweight, no batteries required

Cost: *Est. $23.99

18. Hakko CHP-170 Micro Soft Wire Cutter

This heavy duty wire cutter is ideal for tackling any number of jobs around your home and can easily cut through copper and other soft wires up to 18 gauge in thickness.

Key features:

  • Carbon steel design for maximum durability
  • Built-in spring return reduces hand fatigue
  • Anti-glare surface
  • Comfort designed handles

Cost: *Est. $4.37

19. Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

This heavy duty shop vac is able to clean up both wet and dry messes, making it an ideal solution for cleaning up DIY jobs. Thanks to its stainless steel tank, it’s built to last and can handle even the toughest of messes with ease.

Key features:

  • Built-in cord and tool storage
  • Made in the USA
  • 3 year warranty
  • HEPA filter for fine dust collection

Cost: *Est. $58.99

This cordless screwdriver is ideal for a number of home applications and can easily be switched from power to manual mode and back again, for precision control when necessary. Adjust from forward to reverse with the flick of a switch.

Key features:

  • Built-in peg hole for easy storage
  • Batteries included
  • Double-ended bit included
  • 2 year warranty

Cost: *Est. $9.73

21. Stanley 66-344 4-in-1 Pocket Screwdriver

This 4-in-1 pocket screwdriver is a must-have for any home DIY-er and comes at a price that can’t be beat. It allows users to work on precision tasks such as changing batteries and installing electronics but with pocket-sized convenience.

Key features:

  • Comes with 2 double-ended bits
  • Comfort designed handle
  • Magnetic bits ideal for holding onto even the smallest of screws
  • Conveniently store bits in the handle

Cost: *Est. $2.79

This easily portable inflation unit can inflate a number of home items including lawnmower, bike, and vehicle tires, as well as sports balls and other items with ease. Plus, thanks to its space-saving design, it won’t take up valuable storage space in your garage or shed.

Key features:

  • Auto-off feature for when ideal pressure is met
  • Up to 160 PSI
  • Illuminated, easy-to-read gauge
  • Plugs into any standard outlet or even your car’s lighter socket

Cost: *Est. $49.98

23. AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener

Keep all the blades around your home at their sharpest quickly and easily with this handy little knife sharpening tool. In just seconds you can give new life to your knives, scissors and even utility knives.

Key features:

  • Safety grip handle
  • Will not rust
  • Cleans up easily in your dishwasher
  • Built-in full length finger guard

Cost: *Est. $8.85

24. PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor

Weighing in at just 26 pounds, this compressor is a portable solution that’s ideal for tackling a number of household jobs with ease including air-powered nail guns for roofing jobs and insulation blowing for topping up attic insulation.

Key features:

  • Oil-free pump means less upkeep
  • Up to 135 PSI of power
  • Made in the USA
  • Easily starts even in cold weather

Cost: *Est. $99.88

Thanks to its compact design, this power sheet sander can reach into even the tightest of spaces without compromising on performance and features a built-in dust collection system to help keep your workspace and lungs clean.

Key features:

  • Comfortable soft grip body
  • Powerful 2 amp motor
  • 120 volt compatible
  • 2 year warranty

Cost: *Est. $28.47

 
 
   
  • 1 comment

     
  • Sumathi Roshan . 1 year ago

    This blog is so Great, What all are the things have to be done while purchasing the hand power tools is a useful. Your are the key to your Safety

     
 
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