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Must-Have Power Tools

Name a job and there's likely a tool just for the task. Indeed, innovative, fresh designs seem to roll out every year.

Taking advantage, whether a handyman at home or small ranch owner keeping things running, means choosing the specialty tools used often enough to justify the expense, says Tim Carter, a syndicated columnist and owner of askthebuilder.com.

Carter suggests four must-have tools for around the house or on the farm.

  • Circular Saw
  • Power Drill / Hammer Drill
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Sander
  • Portable Air Compressor

Circular Saws

Carter's first choice for a specialty tool - the circular saw - once claimed the place as a jack-of-all-trades. People even attempted to use this tool for delicate miter cuts. Now with a range of specialty saws designed to make unique cuts, the circular saw carves out its own unique niche. A saw with a 5 1/2-inch cutting blade can handle 98 percent of all common cuts.

Power Drill or Hammer Drill

Next, look for a power drill and choose one that can double as a hammer drill. While handling all the tasks of a traditional drill, a flip of a switch can activate the hammer function and allow light-duty drilling through concrete, Carter says. Anyone needing the hammer function more than a half-dozen times a year, though, should buy a specialty hammer drill, but for most people the two-in-one drill should work, Carter says.

Reciprocating Saw

A specialty tool such as a reciprocating saw can have many uses. Carter also attaches a special blade to his reciprocating saw, traditionally used as a power hacksaw for thin metals or pipes, to create a perfect tree pruner each spring. When choosing a reciprocating saw, select one with two speeds and a mechanism to easily change blades. New models should no longer require an Allen wrench to make a blade switch, Carter says.

Power Sanders

Don't shy away from sanders. The rotating sandpaper offers far more power than using sandpaper. With variable speeds and the ability to use a variety of types of sandpaper, power sanders make quick work of many tasks.

"People often just think of sanders as a clumsy-type tool because they don't realize what you can do with it," Carter says.

By Noble Sprayberry