Budget DIY Power Tools

A shop vac against a white car.

As most DIYers do, I love home improvement TV shows. I don’t care if houses are flipped, barns are built, or patios refurbished -- I simply enjoy getting to learn a new skill that can be potentially incorporated into my future projects. What often bothers me, however, is that no matter how simple a task may be in reality, most shows require a multitude of specialized tools just to realize one idea. The truth is, the majority of us only have basic power tools to get the job done, and haven’t got a lot of wiggle room in our budgets for unnecessary tools. In reaction, I devised a list of the best power tools for budget-conscious DIYers, which offer both great bang for your buck and versatility of use.

Circular Saw

As a project can not get off of its feet without being able to cut materials to size, first on our list of must-have power tools is a circular saw. True to its name, this piece of machinery offers a rounded, toothed blade on an axel that, when set to varying degrees of power, can effortlessly cut through wood, plastic, and even metals at the touch of a button. Unlike its well-known relative the table saw, this instrument is completely handheld, which also increases its ability to cause potential harm to its user. Still, with careful planning and strict adherence to all recommended protocols, this handy saw is a great one for the everyday DIYer.

Cost: Depending on the intention of use for a circular saw, the tool’s cost can range from $40 for a basic edition to $700 for a top-of-the-line model. Most come with a few “start-up” blades, but for more specialized use, additional blades tend to begin at the $20 to $30 dollar range.

Cordless Drill

A cordless screwdriver.

Once at Boy Scout camp, I attempted to build a shelter with only screws and a handheld screwdriver; it was the first and last time I tried such a task. A cordless drill has many positive features, but the main thing of importance is its ability to both screw and unscrew fasteners from nearly every surface imaginable. Such a tool has become a vital and irreplaceable aspect of modern construction.

Cost: Cordless drills come in a variety of price points, ranging anywhere from $30 to $150. A very common power tool, they are carried in most home improvement and department stores.

Shop Vacuum

This tool is an incredible aid in the cleanup of any post-DIY mess. Playing off of a standard home vacuum, a shop vacuum has the ability to consume both dry and wet matter, and also hard-to-pick-up things such as saw dust, nails, and chunks of debris. Coming in a variety of sizes and price points, this product is a luxury that can be made to fit anyone’s budget.

Cost: Though it would seem a shop vacuum would be extravagantly priced, a small device can actually begin around $50.

In conclusion, when building a toolbox for your own DIY projects, focus should not be placed on attaining the greatest or most expensive tools money can buy, but instead should be on what said product can help you do. All of the above products come in a number of price points; some are often quite high, yet each tool can do a number of things, potentially replacing other tools that would be bought separately. Remember that before beginning a project, research is key to ensuring you fall between a proper budget, and the same is true for buying your next power tool. Allow this guide to be a great place for you to start.

Rotary Sander

A rotary sander working on a wood deck.

Have you ever tried to sand down a chair or a railing by hand? It not only takes a very long time, but the process, if not done by expert hands, can leave a surface still jagged and uneven despite the sanders’ greatest attempts. The next must-have power tool for the handy DIYer is what is known as a rotary sander, which takes the grind out of getting a finely sanded surface finish.

The reason for this instrument's inclusion is for the versatility it holds. Through the use of removable discs offering varying degrees of sanding textures, a user can remove paint or old wood finish, create texture or fine edges on railings and book shelves, chip off rust and outside debris, and even provide spot treatment to counters and floors. In short, this electric alternative to old fashioned sandpaper can save a lot of time and energy and bring a polished and professional look to any DIY project.

Cost: A basic handheld rotary sander commonly begins around the $30 price point. Like circular saws, additional discs for specialized grains can be purchased separately, often in multi packs.