My Renovation Tools Top 10: Timothy Dahl

My Renovation Tools Top 10: Timothy Dahl

Gregory Han
Jan 31, 2012

When it comes to power tools, new ones are released each year and the product cycle of power tools is very similar to tech and rightly so. Improved technology contributes to major changes in tool design. The number one consideration in a power tool (cordless) is the battery. Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized power tools and as they continue to get smaller and lighter the tools begin to evolve into extensions of your hand instead of brutish instruments.

With so many tools to choose from it was difficult to nail down (no pun intended) my top ten but these are the tools that I reach for most often and have become a staple in my workshop.

1. DeWALT 12V MAX Cordless Screwdriver
This tool might get the most use out of any. It's a powered screwdriver strictly made for driving screws, not drilling. Without the need for power to drill, this screwdriver uses a lighter motor and compact 12V lithium-ion battery. It's got 3 super bright LED's located right in the collar so you won't have any shadows. If you pull the trigger slightly only the light will come on and I've used it plenty of times as just a flashlight. The one-handed loading chuck is easy to use and perfect for quick bit swaps and the flat battery pack makes it stable enough to stand upright.

2. Dremel Multi-Max Cordless Oscillating Tool
Oscillating tools are the fastest growing segment of power tools and for good reason. Their versatility is unmatched and I think everyone should own one of these. You can cut, sand, grind and scrape very effectively with this tool. Just switch out the attachments and turn it on. For a cordless oscillating tool, the Dremel has a lot of power and I like the battery fuel gauge and variable speed. I've used mine to sand woodworking project, scrape paint off my car bumper and trim drywall.

3. Bosch PS-41 Compact Impact Driver
Bosch is one of my favorite brands of power tools as they make no nonsense tools that are skewed towards the professional user. Every tool feels solid in your hand and they are extremely durable. Right behind the oscillating tool in terms of new tool popularity, is the impact driver.

These look like drills but they are made specifically to drive bolts and are the perfect tool for building flat-pack furniture or working on your car. They deliver rotational and downward force, which is what you need to tighten stubborn bolts.

This model from Bosch is compact and has the battery fuel gauge and LED light ring and the highest speed in it's class at 2600 RPM. It's small but delivers a big punch which is what you need from an impact driver.

4. Craftsman C3 19.2V Drill/Driver
Craftsman is one of those iconic brands and their hand tools are second to none. They've also got the deepest selection of power tools that are specifically geared towards the DIYer. Their C3 line of tools are awesome and if you are looking for a great all-around drill/driver then the Craftsman model will make you smile. It's got the battery fuel gauge, onboard bit holders and a ½" keyless chuck that has 24 settings.

5. Ryobi Tek4 Stud Sensor
Having a stud sensor takes the guess work out of hanging heavy items and this one is very easy to use and most importantly is accurate. It's also part of the Tek4 family of tools from Ryobi, which includes a lot of other helpful lifestyle power tools such as laser distance, multimeter and flashlight.

6. Milwaukee M12 Cordless Jigsaw
The jigsaw is a must-have for any DIYer unless you enjoy the manual labor of working with a coping saw or hand saw. Jigsaws make quick work of plywood or pine boards and this next generation cordless version is just as powerful and even more maneuverable since you don't have to worry about a cord getting in the way. Milwaukee's main focus is the trades so you know you are getting a quality power tool when you buy red.

7. Bosch RS428 Reciprocating Saw
The recip saw is a luxury item for most homeowners but indispensible for contractors. Nothing cuts through 2x4's or nails like a recip saw and they are necessary for any demo job and can also be used outdoors to trim tree branches or clear wood limbs or posts. As I mentioned before, Bosch tools are all considered contractor grade so they are built to last.

8. STIHL BGA 85 Blower
I recently reviewed this blower and came away very impressed. STIHL is a leader in outdoor power equipment (OPE) and like many other tools on this list they make equipment built to withstand commercial application36s. This next generation blower is powered by a 36V lithium-ion battery and has some serious power. The noise level is low and the convenience of not dealing with oil and gas is a huge bonus. Look for many more OPE products to be run on batteries in the near future as sound and environmental ordinances continue to get more strict.

9. Sog Flash II Folding Knife
This is the only non-power tool on my list but I never leave home without it. Multi-tools are great but 90% of the time I just need a good sharp blade and the Flash II works perfectly and keeps a sharp edge. It feels great in your hand and flips open with a flick of your wrist. It's got a good strong safety button and a clip so it will stay on your belt or in your pocket.

10. Porter-Cable PC18CSL Circular Saw
When you need quick ripping power and don't have the space for a table saw, a circular saw is what you need. They can seem intimidating and you should definitely know what you are doing when operating one but they can be used for everything from building homes, decks or sheds and they will cut through lumber with precision needed to build shelves or other home projects.

Porter-Cable has been making saws since 1929 and this cordless version has a great history to draw from. It's got advanced features such as a laser sight and electric brake so you know you are getting accurate cuts.

• Thanks to Timothy of Charles & Hudson for sharing his Renovation Tools Top 10!

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