s My Power Tool Reviews: Would I Buy Them Again? - The Kim Six Fix
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My Power Tool Reviews: Would I Buy Them Again?

Since a few of you have asked for specifics on what tools I am actually using on my building projects so I thought I’d share a resources list and my review of each major power tool in my workshop.  All the projects on this blog were done with these exact tools so these are my first hand opinions on each of these items.  I have purchased all these tools with my own money, so there is ZERO influence on my reviews by the brands themselves.  In fact, I realize I may be burning bridges by saying negative things about power tool companies, but I wouldn't want to buy a tool someone was using only to find out they didn't really like it!

I have rated each tool based on whether or not I would purchase the same model again if I had to replace it.  If I wouldn’t buy the same tool again, I have also included which tool I WISH I had bought originally and/or what I plan on eventually replacing it with.  Unless otherwise noted I have no personal experience with these replacement suggestions, but my recommendation is based on things I have heard or read about those tools.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I am NOT brand loyal, so many of the tools I have recommended below come with their own battery or charging system.  They are 'mix and match.' However, when trying to build an entire workshop's worth of tools it is a lot more convenient (and less expensive) to stick with one brand and a single battery or charging system so you can use it interchangeably between all your tools.  I have not found a single line of tools where I love everything, so my recommendations disregard the ability to interchange the batteries between all the tools.

Finally, some of the tools shown below are not EXACTLY the model I own (usually a color or style change) but the closest version currently available. My review reflects replacing my current piece of equipment with the model closest to it.


Miter Saw:

14 Amp 10 Inch Compound Miter Saw (Ryobi)
Rating: Skip It and Upgrade
Miter Saw RyobiI would NOT recommend this saw.  It is too small for many of the projects I do now, and the back fence is too low to cut things like crown molding. What I do love about it is the laser guide, the ease of use and the price.  But if I were to recommend one to a new woodworker, I would suggest the 10 Inch Sliding Arm (Ryobi) or if you have a bigger budget the Dewalt double compound sliding arm 12 inch saw.  (My father has the Dewalt and I have used it in his shop and I do really like it!)  The bigger cut area, the larger back fence and the more accurate mitering are the main reasons for upgrading.

Circular Saw:

15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Corded Circular Saw (Ryobi)
Rating: Skip It and Upgrade
Circular Saw
This was the first power tool I ever bought (even before my drills), and it gets the job done.  However, a circular saw with a cord is giant pain in the neck.  There is nothing wrong functionally with the saw, it cuts great and is plenty powerful, plus the price is right, but the cord would be a deal breaker for me in the future.  When I was buying this saw batteries weren’t strong enough to drive a circular saw, but nowadays you can get wonderful cordless saws. (Granted if you are framing a house, you may still want the mega power of a corded saw.. and in that case  I would go with the Bosch CS20 which is a Popular Mechanics top rated pick.) But for the DIY type of projects I use my circular saw for, I would go with its cordless counterpart the Bosch CCS180

Jig Saw:

Master Mechanic TV400 (Black and Decker)
Rating: No Longer Available (Skip It and Upgrade)
Jig Saw
I think I picked up this jig saw in a pinch when working on a project and I didn’t want to drive all the way to the big Home Improvement store otherwise I’m not sure why I have this tool in my stash.  This is a little work horse of a saw, but it has NO SAFETY FEATURES at all.  It scares me to ever have it plugged in since even slightly touching the button will kick the bad into gear.  (It looks like the newer version does have a safety switch, but there is not one on my model.)  Plus some other saws have a lot more features (and like the circular saw) you can now get a cordless jig saw which would make things a lot easier.  You cannot angle or adjust the blade on my saw, which is pretty much as standard feature on all new jig saws today.  I would replace it with the inexpensive Bosch 120 Volt 1590EVS (corded) or the pricier Dewalt 20-Volt Li-Ion (cordless).

Tile/Wet Saw:

Ryobi 7-inch tile saw with Stand
Rating: Probably Would Buy Again
tile saw with stand
I used this tile saw for quite a few tilling projects and found it easy to use, un-intimidating and cheaper than renting a tile saw. Having the stand was great since I used it the driveway (to keep the mess to a minimum) but you could buy it without the stand if you wanted to save a few bucks and had a place to set it.  However, if you were going to get HEAVILY into masonry, this saw wouldn’t stand the test of time.  It is great for the simple DIY project now and then, but it is not contractor grade. If I was going to start doing regular tile work, I would invest the money into a much more heavy duty saw, like the Dewalt 10 Inch Heavy Duty version.


Palm Sander:

Rating: Possibly Would Buy Again
Palm Sander Review
This was the first sander I bought and it has been great.  It has held up to hundreds of hours of sanding, and I've never even had to replace the foam pad.  The only thing I wish it had was speed control, but it is a great sander otherwise.

Random Orbit Sander:

Rating: DEFINITELY BUY AGAINRandom Orbit sander
I have an extensive post on why I have both a palm and random orbit sander, so I made a very informed choice when buying this sander.  I have some other choices listed in that post, if this mid range version is out of your budget, but I would buy this guy again.. in a heartbeat.


Drill/Driver set:

18-Volt Litium Ion Cordless Combo Kit (Makita)
I really love this set and I am not the only one who things Makita drills have what it takes to be your one and only drill set.  I have had it about 3 years and recently had to replace one of the rechargeable batteries.  The battery life, torque and keyless chuck make them winners.

Nail Gun/Air Compressor:

1/3 HP Air Compressor and Brad Nailer Combo Kit (Professional Woodworker)
Rating: No Longer Available (Would Buy Again)Nail gun combo kitI bought this air compressor and no-name brad nailer for myself a few years ago.  Mostly to get my feet wet with pneumatic tools. I would compare it to the quality of Central Pneumatic nailers from Harbor Freight (and at about the same price point).  I haven’t had any issues with the air compressor or the nailers.  They work fine, I haven’t had an issues with jamming or depth control, although I have heard from other people that they have. I may have just gotten lucky with my set.  I have purchased some additional nailers, including a 2 inch nailer from Husky, and a Campbell Hausfield pneumatic stapler and they all work fine with my compressor.  I have been buying them on a budget, so none of them have a lot of bells and whistles, but for the types of projects I’ve been working on, it hasn’t mattered much.   I am not sure I would drop hundreds of dollars on Bostitch or Dewalt unless I have a really specific justification for it.

Instead of pneumatic (air driven) nailers, I could go with electric cordless like the 18-Volt Ryobi Airstrike as an alternative, but I haven’t heard the most glowing reviews about them. I have used one a few times in workshops and at Ryobi demos and I didn’t have a strong opinion on them either way. Maybe one day I’ll purchase one and do my own side by side tests..Some of the things I dislike about pneumatic tools (the loud, heavy compressor and the fact you are tethered by both the air cord and the power cord) are reasons Brittany at Pretty Handy Girl prefers the Airstrike, but he reservations (price and reports of frequent misfirings) are also my misgivings.

Drill Press: 

8 Inch 5 Speed Benchtop Drill Press (Central Machinery)
Rating: Probably Would Buy Again
Drill press inexpensive review
This drill press is a lot like the tile saw; a specialized tool that I don’t use THAT frequently to justify a really expensive contractor grade version. And just like the tile saw, I would probably buy this inexpensive Harbor Freight tool again if mine needed to be replaced.  If I had a couple hundred extra bucks to spend I may get the 13 inch floor model instead of the bench top version, but I don’t think I would bother upgrading to a super expensive name brand drill press.. not when the one I have is considered a ’top rated compact’ drill press.


1-1/2 HP Variable Speed Plunge Router (Chicago Electric)
Rating: Probably Would Buy Again (*)
I bought this router for less than $40 at Harbor Freight Tools so my review will be slightly biased by the fact it was so darn cheap. I didn't have super high expectations, and so I have been pretty happy.  I haven't used it on a ton of projects yet (it is one of my newer tools) but so far it hasn't let me down. It is easy to use, although changing the bits is slightly tedious.  My one regret with this model was not buying a router with a table, since I have learned that many of the things I want to make with it would be much easier on a router table.   However, you can buy just the router table or you can actually build you own, which may be a fun project as well.   (*) The asterisk on my review is because I am not sure I would buy the Harbor Freight (Chicago Electric) Router with Table if I was going to upgrade since the reviews are not stellar. But as a stand alone plunge router I would buy this specific model again.   For a router/table combo I would get this highly rated Triton Router kit with the Kreg Router Table since fixed base routers are just easier to use in tables.

You may have noticed there are a lot of power tool types that are missing from this list:Planer, Table Saw, Jointer, Lathe, Reciprocating Saw etc.

I don't own any of those, and with the exception of the table saw, they tend to be a little more specialized tools, so I have been able to get buy without them.  When/if I do buy them, I will definitely be adding them here and telling you what I think.

I'd love your feedback on which power tools you have and if you love them or hate them.   Since real life user opinions are always so much better than unknown reviews.  

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