Top 5 Must Have Power Tools

By Todd Fratzel on Power Tools, Tools & Products

This is a popular post that we’ve run here several times and thought it was worth updating. Enjoy!

Must Have Power Tools

I’ve had a couple of people ask me what basic power tools should they buy for basic home improvement projects or a new workshop. I’ve listed my Top 5 Must Have Power Tools that I think every home improvement do it yourself person should own. They are listed in order based on how versatile they are.

Delta Table Saw1. Table Saw

It is my opinion that if you’re going to buy one expensive power tool then go buy yourself a decent table saw. A table saw can do almost any cutting task you have and most likely give you the best results. I own a Delta table saw and I can honestly say it’s my most used power tool that I own and one I couldn’t live without. I will warn you that I think the table saw is also the most dangerous tool you can use. Make sure you respect the power and danger of this tool and understand how to properly use it. You can buy a Delta Contractor Table Saw at Amazon if you like this one.

Bosch 10-inch duel bevel sliding miter saw2. Sliding Compound Miter Saw

I own a Bosch Sliding Compound Miter Saw and it’s a close second to the table saw when it comes to how often I use it. I use my miter saw for everything from cutting dimensional framing lumber to intricate trim stock. You can get away with a basic miter saw but if you plan on doing any crown molding or complicated compound cuts then I highly recommend you buy a sliding compound miter saw. You can purchase the Bosch Sliding Compound Miter Saw at Amazon, that’s where I got mine.

DeWalt circular saw3. Circular Saw

Everyone that wants to do home improvement projects around the house should own a circular saw. In fact, you’ll most likely buy one of these before you buy the table saw or miter saw because it’s much cheaper and it can do quite a few of the tasks those power tools can do. I recommend you buy a nice heavy one with a strong motor. Quite a few people will also suggest that you buy a worm gear version. They are much more expensive but they will certainly do the trick. Again I purchased my Dewalt Circular Saw from Amazon. I belong to their tool crib and I find most tools are cheaper on their site.

4. Power Drill

makita-drill1Even if you own a cordless drill you’ll want to have a corded 3/8″ power drill. I use a Makita drill and I love it. You may also want to invest in a 1/2″ drill as your second drill for doing larger projects. I like drills that have a quick “chuck” so you can change the bits quickly without having a chuck key that will end up lost after a short time. You can get your Makita 3/8 Reversable Drill here.

5. Orbital Sander

dewalt-orbital-sanderGet yourself a nice small orbital sander. Orbital sanders are really handy to have and they aren’t very expensive. I have a Dewalt sander and it’s worked great. Changing the sanding pads is really easy these little sanders do a great job on finish work. You can find the Dewalt Orbital Sander here as well.

There you have it, my Top 5 List of Must have power tools for basic home improvement projects and fixing things around the house. Just make sure you buy a decent brand and you’ll be able to use it for years to come. I’ve mentioned Amazon for these tools and it’s true that I’ve bought most of my power tools there. The reason is they always seem to have the best price on tools, even large heavy ones that require special shipping.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. fred@opc says:


    I just spent about 30 seconds trying to refute your list in my mind and I wasn’t able to. I might trade the circular saw for a hand-held grinder and try to get by with just the compound mitre… Picking just 5 is REALLY hard. I also think a cordless drill-driver is high on my list, but if I were limited to 5, I’d go ahead and get the 1/2″ electric and deal with the cord. (Again, if I were limited to 5, I just can’t see getting a 3/8″ … there WILL come a time when a 1/2″ will be valuable (like when I just drilled out the studs in the basement for electric).

  2. Todd says:


    Picking 5 must haves is HARD! I had to change my list about 10 times, but I wanted to limit it to 5 because I think it was able to come up with a list that will be extremely valuable to people buying their first power tools. I own a 1/2″ drill as well but it doesn’t get used as often as the 3/8″ drill.

  3. Anonymous says:


    First let me say, “Great page and thank you for hosting it.”

    The idea of picking 5 and only 5 power tools is a fun intellectual exercise. I think the underlying assumption you used creating your list is that this was a starter set and more tools would be purchased when needed. I chose to approach the problem from a slightly different prospective: that of a home owner with a bunch of diverse projects and whose budget will preclude the purchase of other power tools for 5 years. My intent is to optimize versatility on a set budget.

    Here is the list I came up with. I will give you the sliding compound miter saw and the random orbit sander uncontested. I would replace the drill with a ½ inch cordless to increase versatility. I do not want to run power cords if I am working in the attic and I do not own the 600 feet of extension cord that would have been required to do the work I did on the mailbox last week had I been limited to a corded drill.

    That leaves me with the table saw and the circular saw. I would replace both with a Festool TS75 with a 32 inch extension rail. This tool will do everything that the circular saw would do and cover so many of the gaps left by the lack of a table saw that most home owners would probably be happy. When compared to the table saw, the Festool is easier to store has a smaller working footprint.

    That leaves me with room for one more tool. I would opt for either a router or a jig saw and I would probably opt for the router. The router will do much of what a jig saw will, although I would have to square up some corners by hand which would not make me happy. But there are some jobs for which a router is the only option.

    Anyway, thanks for the intellectual exercise.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Where would you put the Radial Arm Saw on a list of let’s say 10 instead of five – or would you?

  5. Todd says:

    The radial arm saw is a really great tool. However, for me, the only way I’d buy one is if I had a huge woodworking shop. My dad had one growing up and most great shops do but I can’t see the investment unless I had plenty of room and the luxury of buying all the tools I wanted.

  6. Being a fence contractor, the circular saw and miter saws are a must. I would have included a band saw (for cutting aluminum and chain link fence materials, and a cordless kit ( I have the DeWalt 4 piece with a 1/2″ hammer drill. Also a compressor with a framing gun would be a necessity for me.

    Nice list!


  7. tony says:

    Nice job of making a list of five, don’t think I could limit myself. Speaking of which, just found a new tool at Amazon called the NailJack. The only tool designed to pull nails from wood with no damage. Tools like this one are the reason my list is well over 50 must have tools.

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