Let’s start this guide with a simple statement: power tools are great. Not only can they help you to finish a job faster with outstanding results, but also by channelling so much power into your simple, human hand they open up a whole world of jobs and actions that can only be completed thanks to power tools.
A well-equipped home garage is set up to tackle anything, and a good collection of power tools is key to that. Not only can they help you out with a wide variety of tasks when maintaining your car, they can have useful applications all over the home.
Today there is wide range of power tools sets from a number of manufacturers with wildly differing price tags. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate this crowded market place and select the tools that are right for you.
The Best Power Tools
We’re going to kick off the list with this Dewalt cordless drill that is packing a range of very useful looking features and design points, starting with the battery.
Lithium-Ion is pretty much the cutting edge of battery tech right now, so it’s great to see they’ve included them here. The bundled batteries are the smallest in the DeWALT range, but you do get two of them, and each one generates 20V max, with 1.5AH (Amp Hours). Bigger batteries are available, but if you keep one on charge as you use the other, you’ll never run out of juice.
High Grade Lithium-Ion Battery
Built in LED for Extra Visibility
Ergonomic and Lightweight Design
Includes 2x Batteries
- Weight2.5 lbs
This is a frankly enormous power tool set, with a comprehensive selection of tools making it the biggest on the list today. If you’re looking to build a solid base of power tools with everything delivered in one convenient shipment this could be the one for you.
What do we have in here? Well we have an Impact Driver that packs 1,600 inch pounds of torque, a cordless circular saw, a very useful multi-tool, a 1.2-inch power drill/driver, a reciprocating saw and an incandescent work light.
Huge Selection of Tools
Includes 2x Batteries
All Compatible with Same Battery
- Weight25.3 lbs
We haven’t seen Black & Decker round these parts for a while, so it’s nice to welcome them back here with a multi power tool set that’s packing some very useful features.
To the battery first then. Whilst you only get the one in this set, it is a high quality item capable of delivering a maximum of 20 volts. The drill uses that power to convert into a very useful 310 inch-pounds of torque and max 1400 RPM spin speed. That’s a very useful level of power that will allow you to tackle a wide range of jobs.
High Torque Drill Motor
5.25 Inch Power Circular Saw
Holds Charge for a Long Time
Decent Storage Bag
- BrandBlack & Decker
- Weight20.58 lbs
Our next power tool set is from Porter-Cable, who have a reputation for producing decent if somewhat simple power tools that come with decent price tags. This set is no different, and so whilst we have a decent range of tools here they are missing some of the bells and whistles that are standard issue on more premium (but also more expensive) tools.
The power drill, for example, delivers up to 1500 rep max which is a decent spin rate backed up by a 20V max battery that is pushing out decent power. But it doesn’t have the same level of control over that power that you would find with, for example, DeWalt or Bosch power tools.
High Performance Motors
3 Year Limited Warranty
3x Tools, 1x Flashlight
- Weight15.5 lbs
Very basically, a drill is a pretty versatile power tool, whilst an impact driver is built with laser focus on just one task – to power-drive screws. That means that this tool is all about generating (and deploying) phenomenal power, with up to 2,900 RPM and 3,500 IPM of torque. That is more than you will get in pretty much any cordless drill.
To deliver that power, Makita have included a very high quality battery here. Of Lithium-Ion construction, it is rated at 3.0 Amps per Hour and 18 Volt max. Yes there are more powerful batteries out there but few are as small and compact as this one.
Superb 18 Volt, 3 Amp Hour Battery
Variable Speed and over 1,400 Inch Pounds of Torque
Durable, Long Lasting Construction
Compact, Lightweight and Ergonomic
- Weight9.7 lbs
Well, just as we explained that there is a battle between drills and impact drivers going on in the world of power tools, with our very next product it seems they have declared peace and joined forces. No stubborn screw will now be safe!
Joking aside, this is a pretty interesting power tool set from Milwaukee. We have one cordless drill with a max 1,500-rpm and which can generate up to 325 inches per pound of torque. Compared to some other drills on this list that is a little underpowered, but it doesn’t rely matter in the instance.
3/8 Inch Drill/Driver
¼ Inch Impact Driver
Contains 2x 12 Volt Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Weight9.05 lbs
Probably the first thing to note with this product – and you no doubt noted it too if you checked out the image of it already – is it is certainly an innovative design. What we have here is a powered ratchet wrench, the only tool of its type to make it’s way onto the list.
This is a really interesting little tool for anyone who has struggled with tough bolts when working on a vehicle. Instead of tugging away with a traditional ratchet, simply grab this bad boy out of your tool chest and let it do the hard work for you.
Decent 12-Volt Motor
Includes 2x Battery Packs
- Weight2.65 lbs
Bosch have such a formidable reputation as a premium power tool manufacturer it was inevitable they would make our list at some point – after all, we only deal in the best products and Bosch are right up there as one of the best in the world.
This combo kit represents a chance to invest in some seriously well designed and well built machinery to stock out your garage. The drill is the stand out here, a hammer style drill/driver powered by an 18 Volt battery (of which you get two bundled in the kit). It’s so powerful in fact in has built in active response technology, designed to cut power in an instant if the drill snags.
Bosch Quality Construction
Includes 2x Batteries, 4 Amp Hour Rated
- Weight29.4 lbs
Compared to some of the power tool sets we’ve looked at today, this one from Ridgid is a little… well, sparse. In fact, you can’t even really call it a kit, as all we have here is a single cordless drill. So when a company puts out a single tool product, especially when it has a relatively high price point just a shade under 100 bucks, it better be delivering the goods.
Luckily for Ridgid (that’s their spelling error by the way) they are bringing a drill to market here that is packed with outstanding features. The standout has to be the motor, which is a Brushless design, and can generate up 500 pounds per inch of torque – an excellent level of power.
2x Speed Gearbox
24 Position Clutch for Accurate Drilling
Ergonomic, Rubberized Grip
1.4 Amp Hour Lithium-Ion Battery
- Weight6.55 lbs
From a single cordless drill, we are ending our list with another full fat power tool set. This option comes from Craftsman, a company with a well-earned reputation for crafting (get it?) top quality power tools.
This is a four tool set, incorporating a power drill, reciprocating saw, circular saw and a very useful (and very powerful) work light. As we said these are Craftsman tools, so you are getting top quality. The drill in particular has a number of useful features such as a two-speed gearbox.
3x Power Tools, 1x Light
Comes with 2x Lithium–Ion Batteries
Craftsman Build Construction
Excellent 1 Hour Battery Charge Time
- Weight20 lbs
Best Power Tools Buying Guide & FAQ
A power tool – or even a power tool set – can be a solid investment for any home garage. They can help you to perform a wide range of tasks both when working on your car and also, if you’re so inclined, throughout the home too.
They can also be a big financial investment, with individual tools often priced around the 100 Dollar mark, and large kits of multiple items carrying a price several times bigger.
The point of our buying guide here is to help identify the features you need – and the ones you can do without – so that you can select the right tool(s) to suit your needs and your budget.
Features to Consider When Buying Power Tools
Battery – You can’t have a power tool without the power, so the battery is a key element of the whole set up. Lithium-Ion batteries are the best on the market right now, and they aren’t even that much more expensive than the old style Nickel-Cadmium models. Look for both Voltage and Amp Hours – we’ve explained below what each one means.
Size/Weight – A good power tool will work to combine useful power into a small package. Bear in mind how long you’ll be holding the tool, often with only one hand and sometimes cramped into small or uncomfortable positions under the car or bent over the engine. A smaller tool will also be able to access confined parts of the vehicle that bit better.
Item Count – Do you need a whole kit or just a cordless drill? Right now you may only need a drill, but do you think you might need a multi-tool or a circular saw later down the line? If so, it kind of makes sense to buy a kit now, as the you’ll get a bit of a discount by essentially buying power tools in bulk. If you definitely only need a drill, buy one without the additional tools found in a kit and you know that all of your money is being put toward the drill.
Motor – As we said above, you need power to have a power tool. A motor turns that power into useful applications, so the motor is also a key element. Check out the power output and the Torque per Inch rating to see what the motor can handle and deliver. A brushless design represents the cutting edge of motor tech today, providing a motor that adapts its power output to match the resistance it meets, a very useful feature.
Power Tools Maintenance
Power tools, generally speaking, are pretty tough little beasts. They are usually designed to give a long life of useful service, and often built of high-grade materials by companies that know their stuff.
Everything however has a lifespan, and with just a little occasional maintenance that life span can often be greatly extended. That helps you get the most out of your tools, and the most out of your investment.
Each tool has a slightly different maintenance regime, and we simply don’t have the space to go into them all here. Luckily our pals over ay HowStuffWorks.com do have both the space and the time, because they are huge nerds.
Power Tools Calibration
Power tools will be delivered to you calibrated to deliver the correct torque levels. This calibration can, over time, become less accurate. This can make the tool less efficient; it can also make performing smaller, intricate tasks that bit harder.
Professional companies keep calibration certificates for many of their tools. In your home garage though, there’s really not much need. A big part of the calibration requirement relates to health and safety – the knowledge that a worker can pick up a tool and it will do exactly what they expect it to, and not accidently rip their arm off.
You will have a much closer knowledge with your own tools, and won’t necessarily need full on calibration certificates to know when a power drill is working out of the ordinary and needs a tune up.
If you really care, you can send your tools away to labs all over the country for a calibration check up. In our opinion though, that’s probably a bit of overkill for an at home mechanic.
Best Power Tools FAQ:
Lets take a look at our Inbox to see some of the questions we get asked the most about power tools.
Q: What is the difference between a spare part and an accessory?
A: A spare part directly replaces a pre-existing element of the tool. An accessory is an added extra. A new gearbox is a spare part. A set of diamond tipped drill bits is an accessory.
Q: How do I find the right spare part for my power tool?
A: If you have a manufacturer code or part number on the item you’re trying to find, throwing that into Google can often be enough to find someone who stocks it. The second option is to go direct to the manufacturer, and contact their customer service team for help.
Q: Is cordless better than corded?
A: It’s not really a matter of better – there are just pros and cons to each system. Corded will deliver a solid state of power with no battery fade and no need to charge batteries.
Cordless on the other hand offers true mobility, as it doesn’t tether you to a power cord. Plus today’s batteries are better than ever, and can deliver hours of power.
Q: What is the best way to care for batteries?
A: If you’re going to get the most out of them, you do need to look after your batteries. They are probably the most fragile part of the power tool set up. Yes, it is a little strange to describe essentially a box of acid as fragile.
Q: Why all the fuss about amp hours? Is this more important than the voltage of a cordless tool?
A: The Amp Hour rating is not more important than voltage – but it is as important. Very simply, you can look at it as Amp Hours representing the run time of the device, whilst Voltage refers to the power it can deliver. So the best tools will have high amp hours and high voltage – i.e. it is delivering a lot of power for a long time. Naturally, these are typically going to be the more premium, expensive models!
Q: Why is it important to always have the guard fitted to my grinder?
A: Because they stop sparks and flecks of burning hot metal hitting you in the face. Why would you not want to stop that happening?
Our Top Pick for Best Power Tool
As ever, the sheer volume of excellent products on this list makes choosing a top pick difficult. That’s not to pat ourselves on the back – or not too much anyway. It’s more a recognition that there are a higher number of top quality power tools on the market today than at possibly any other time.
That said though, when we weigh up all the options and look at them more from a primarily car maintenance point of view, that makes it easier to select a top pick which is the DeWALT DCD777C2.
Firstly it’s just an overall very well designed and put together tool. But it has a number of features that make it perfect for use on cars too – it’s small and lightweight ergonomic design is perfect for the often cramped working conditions with cars. It’s small battery still packs plenty of punch and that brushless motor is powerful enough to tackle just about any job you can throw at it. It really is a fantastic drill, which is why, against some tough competition, it’s our top pick.