What is your favorite power tool to use?

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  • What is your favorite power tool to use?

    While making sawdust and noise the other night, I was thinking how much I enjoy using a handheld router. Not sure why, but I get a lot of satisfaction when I’m using it. So my question for all of you:

    What is your favorite tool to use? Why? Not so much the brand or model, but what kind of tool, i.e. drill press, band saw, lathe, etc. Share your thoughts!
  • Answer selected by twistsol at 11-12-2022, 11:16 AM.

    My favorite stationary power tool would be my radial arm saw. I do have a BT3100 and enjoy having it, but it still gives me some apprehension. I own three routers and have a decent router table, and I have a stationary drill press which I enjoy immensely. I also have a little 9-inch band saw which is probably used more often than anything else, because it's handly, versatile, and quick. But, the tool that I most appreciate and love using, is my RAS!

    I bought my radial arm saw back in 1974, shortly after moving from Binghamton to Painted Post to take a new job with Ingersoll-Rand. My FIL was the hardware manager at the Binghamton Sears store and we often talked 'tools'. We hadn't been in Painted Post more than a few months when he called to tell me that he was at Sears Tower in Chicago for their annual tool review. He told me their RAS had been redesigned, "de-engineered" is how he described it. Gone was the cast-iron column and arm, and overall it was cheaper to manufacturer. With that announcement, he told me he had only three of the present models in stock, "they'll go quick, so if you want one, now is the time!" So, I took the following day off and drove the 150-mile roundtrip to make the purchase!

    The Craftsman 10" RAS was my only stationary power tool for almost three decades. I didn't get my table saw until 2005, and the BT3100 is the only table saw that I've ever owned. In 2003 I bought a Ridgid drill press and the Ryobi bench-top bandsaw as well as a few new power tools like 33-gal compressor, nailers, compound miter saw, bench sander and a couple of new routers. I had just been laid off after 30-plus years and needed to find something to focus on other than that loss. We had just gotten a new Home Depot in our area and the sales were fantastic in their first year.

    Even though I had a lot of new tools, I found myself still giving much of my attention to my RAS, completely tearing it down, cleaning and lubing everything, including tearing down the motor. Over those years between 1974 and 2005, I had moved twice, used it to build everything from our HO model train layout to bookcases in the old house, it's trim work, a couple of little work benchs for my son and son-in-law, etc. When we moved to out second house in Painted Post, the RAS was still my only stationary saw, and there I built the library, the pantry, all the remodel work and our 18 x 25 foot deck.

    Today the RAS is in my backyard shop (a 12 x 20 Amish-built Gambrel-roofed shed), located next to my drillpress, which also serves as an infeed support. Since I have the BT centralized in the shop, it now does all the ripping and cross-cuts, of any kind, go to the RAS. While I do have a CMS, it's not nearly as efficient, accurate, or as user-friendly as my RAS.

    CWS

    Comment


    • seahawk
      seahawk commented
      Editing a comment
      I too have an older craftsman RAS and love it. They are much maligned nowadays, but they are so handy, and like any other power tool, can be used safely with care.

    • cwsmith
      cwsmith commented
      Editing a comment
      SeaHawk,

      Back when I was in highschool, my shop teacher noticed I was staying away from the table saw and asked me why, and I explained how I saw my Dad loose a couple of fingers on one. With that he introduced me to a "safe saw"... the RAS. Of course it's not safe, but at least you can see the darn blade and exactly where it's cutting and how it's cutting. I used that big DeWalt for both our furniture mfg project and the fabricated-house project that year (we didn't make individual projects in that class). Several years later I bought the Craftsman that I described earlier.

      For the past few years, it's been dedicated to only cross-cut operations. I used to rip quite a bit with it, bur for sheet goods it's not practical. Harder to handle the stock and you're too far from the power switch. Back when I did that kind of thing, I jury-rigged a power cord with a switch that was right at the outer end of the sheet being fed. One of the things I like about my particular model is that the power switch is just to the left of the handle, where I can trigger it with my thumb when operating with my right hand. I think many of the later models had the switch out at the end of the arm.

      Thanks for the reply,

      CWS

  • #2
    I enjoy using the drill press a lot for some reason.
    A series of precisely drilled, perfectly perpendicular holes.
    Thinking about it, few tools have such a choice of cutting bits. Routers perhaps, but each one is different in shape.
    I must have 100's of drill bits, with few duplicates.
    • 118 Twist drill bits fractional
    • 135 Twist drill bits Fractional
    • 118 twist drill bits numbered and lettered
    • metric sized drill bits
    • Brad point drill bits
    • Augers
    • Hole saws
    • Forstners
    • Carbide tipped Forstners
    • Carbide tipped brad points
    • Spade bits
    • Ceramic/Brick masonry drill bits
    • diamond drill bits
    • self centering VIX type bits
    • Chamfer/countersinking
    • Countersinking/pilot bits
    • Hole plug making bits
    • Drilling and tapping sets
    • Handfuls of oversized (up to 3/4") and extra long bits (6 inch and 12 inch) twist bits.
    • Probably more I can't think of.

    At one time I owned 3 drill presses but now just have 2. A Delta benchtop and a Hitachi Floor-standing one.

    A very satisfying tool to use.
    Last edited by LCHIEN; 11-11-2022, 03:15 AM.
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

    Comment


    • #3
      Bandsaw or lathe... it's a toss-up. I think I lean towards the bandsaw when I'm working in the shop by myself. It simply does things no other tool does as well and on such large workpieces. I have both of my bandsaws (a small 10 inch Craftsman model and Rikon's 14 inch that is souped-up a bit) tuned really well so getting straight, drift-free cuts and making veneer-thin panels quickly and easily is very satisfying - each time I use them I'm reminded of how much improvement my tuning made. But if I just want to "do something in the shop for a few hours" the lathe is the clear winner. I can turn out (haha) useful little projects quickly - new handles for a batch of files I acquired, knobs for the storage drawers in the shop, handles for kitchen tools, etc.

      But when the 3 youngsters that call me "Uncle Mike" are in town (I worked with their grandfather and am good friends with him, their mother is a close friend too) the lathe easily wins. We have the most fun with the lathe - they get to use their imaginations a bit, see results fairly quickly, and it is something I do with them and they do with Uncle Mike. In Uncle Mike's shop which they really like. A few years ago Mom asked "what will we do tomorrow - do you want a day at Disney California Adventure or a day in Uncle Mike's shop?" All 3 quickly voted for a shop day.

      mpc

      Comment


      • atgcpaul
        atgcpaul commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow! You beat out Disney. That's high praise.

    • #4
      Interesting.

      I think it depends on the project, but generally, I really like using my table saw for furniture projects. Set the fence, cut once or cut a thousand times.

      For my shed, it's a toss-up between the (Ridgid) cordless circular saw or my hammer. The hammer was my FIL's and he sent it to my wife with many of his handyman tools before we got married. It's not a sentimental connection to my FIL; it's just a good hammer. (I also prefer the red handled pliers and bench brush he included in the same shipment) The hammer has good weight and has a so far indestructible composite handle. It would have been easier to use screws for the wall, floor, and roof panels, but I decided to use spiral nails for all those just so I could get some hammer time in. Yes, I've smashed my thumb a couple times and got in some good cussin', but it's still fun.

      Comment


      • #5
        The lathe barely wins in a single tool enjoyment for me. But beyond that, the combination of tools in making something is where I get the greatest feeling of accomplishment. Using them in making a table, or book cases, or hutch or beds, I use TS for ripping and cross cut and occasional miters, the Sliding compound miter saw for long end cut-offs and miters; router table and router for edges; BS for curved parts; drill press for certain holes when needed, thickness planer to get certain boards the right thickness where less than normal boards is necessary.

        It is the combination and ability of the individual tools to make a complete project - for me.

        ( I don't usually use the lathe in the above situations. I recently had to make some capitals for the top and bottom of two twelve inch diameter columns that were 10ft long. And I had to make them out of pressure treated 2x4s segmented into 16" diameter by 3 inches thick with 10.5" diameter holes in the top and 11.75 holes on the bottom ones. Using segmented pressure treated pine from HD or Lowes to turn in that size is not easy. I was EXTREMELY happy with the outcome of those. I rarely have that kind of feeling from any other single tool, although a few specially shaped pieces I made with my router table have come close.)

        Overall enjoyment of single tools on a regular basis for me are 2 battery powered impact drivers. I have two 18V impact drivers (larger and smaller). Every time I use them, I come away with - "Wow, I couldn't have done that 20 years ago." With two impact drivers, the smaller one is lighter and handles 75% of what I need and is light weight enough not to feel cumbersome; the heavier one will handle 3" and 4" screws all day long but will make my wrists tired. I get the feeling that I can accomplish with the impact drivers the kind of jobs that an otherwise 75 year old could not accomplish easily. For that, I am most appreciative of that tool over all others.
        Last edited by leehljp; 11-11-2022, 12:09 PM.
        Hank Lee

        Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

        Comment


        • capncarl
          capncarl commented
          Editing a comment
          I have to agree with your choice of impact drivers. The name brand battery powered drivers seem to last forever. I actually melted down my Dewalt 14.4 driver while installing a large deck. It was threatening rain and I couldn’t stop and let it cool off, it still works but has a funny odor so I retired it. Any time I’m helping someone else and they drag out their drill/driver to install screws I cringe and ask them If they think they might have to ever remove those screws? With all the popping and jumping with the Phillips bit there couldn’t possibly be any screw head left. If you are going to install screws with a drill you might as well just drive the screws in with a hammer!

        • leehljp
          leehljp commented
          Editing a comment
          Capncarl: "If you are going to install screws with a drill you might as well just drive the screws in with a hammer!"
          LOL, :-) and I agree 100%.

      • #6
        I would have to go with routers also, from trim routers for small job - to larger 'in table' workhorses.
        And the jigs, countless jigs for various tasks.
        From the NW corner of Montana.
        http://www.elksigndesigns.com

        Comment


        • #7
          My favorite stationary power tool would be my radial arm saw. I do have a BT3100 and enjoy having it, but it still gives me some apprehension. I own three routers and have a decent router table, and I have a stationary drill press which I enjoy immensely. I also have a little 9-inch band saw which is probably used more often than anything else, because it's handly, versatile, and quick. But, the tool that I most appreciate and love using, is my RAS!

          I bought my radial arm saw back in 1974, shortly after moving from Binghamton to Painted Post to take a new job with Ingersoll-Rand. My FIL was the hardware manager at the Binghamton Sears store and we often talked 'tools'. We hadn't been in Painted Post more than a few months when he called to tell me that he was at Sears Tower in Chicago for their annual tool review. He told me their RAS had been redesigned, "de-engineered" is how he described it. Gone was the cast-iron column and arm, and overall it was cheaper to manufacturer. With that announcement, he told me he had only three of the present models in stock, "they'll go quick, so if you want one, now is the time!" So, I took the following day off and drove the 150-mile roundtrip to make the purchase!

          The Craftsman 10" RAS was my only stationary power tool for almost three decades. I didn't get my table saw until 2005, and the BT3100 is the only table saw that I've ever owned. In 2003 I bought a Ridgid drill press and the Ryobi bench-top bandsaw as well as a few new power tools like 33-gal compressor, nailers, compound miter saw, bench sander and a couple of new routers. I had just been laid off after 30-plus years and needed to find something to focus on other than that loss. We had just gotten a new Home Depot in our area and the sales were fantastic in their first year.

          Even though I had a lot of new tools, I found myself still giving much of my attention to my RAS, completely tearing it down, cleaning and lubing everything, including tearing down the motor. Over those years between 1974 and 2005, I had moved twice, used it to build everything from our HO model train layout to bookcases in the old house, it's trim work, a couple of little work benchs for my son and son-in-law, etc. When we moved to out second house in Painted Post, the RAS was still my only stationary saw, and there I built the library, the pantry, all the remodel work and our 18 x 25 foot deck.

          Today the RAS is in my backyard shop (a 12 x 20 Amish-built Gambrel-roofed shed), located next to my drillpress, which also serves as an infeed support. Since I have the BT centralized in the shop, it now does all the ripping and cross-cuts, of any kind, go to the RAS. While I do have a CMS, it's not nearly as efficient, accurate, or as user-friendly as my RAS.

          CWS
          Think it Through Before You Do!

          Comment


          • seahawk
            seahawk commented
            Editing a comment
            I too have an older craftsman RAS and love it. They are much maligned nowadays, but they are so handy, and like any other power tool, can be used safely with care.

          • cwsmith
            cwsmith commented
            Editing a comment
            SeaHawk,

            Back when I was in highschool, my shop teacher noticed I was staying away from the table saw and asked me why, and I explained how I saw my Dad loose a couple of fingers on one. With that he introduced me to a "safe saw"... the RAS. Of course it's not safe, but at least you can see the darn blade and exactly where it's cutting and how it's cutting. I used that big DeWalt for both our furniture mfg project and the fabricated-house project that year (we didn't make individual projects in that class). Several years later I bought the Craftsman that I described earlier.

            For the past few years, it's been dedicated to only cross-cut operations. I used to rip quite a bit with it, bur for sheet goods it's not practical. Harder to handle the stock and you're too far from the power switch. Back when I did that kind of thing, I jury-rigged a power cord with a switch that was right at the outer end of the sheet being fed. One of the things I like about my particular model is that the power switch is just to the left of the handle, where I can trigger it with my thumb when operating with my right hand. I think many of the later models had the switch out at the end of the arm.

            Thanks for the reply,

            CWS

        • #8
          Power tool would have to be my Ryobi 40v steel blade law edger. I just love seeing that perfectly straight vertical edge along the sidewalk.

          if we are limiting it t woodworking tools, I’d have to go with my early sixties DeWalt Black and Decker RAS. It is so much more flexible than a CMS. My sister has had it for the past couple of years and hopefully I can liberate it from her garage at thanksgiving.
          Chr's
          __________
          An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
          A moral man does it.

          Comment

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