You’ll see a few brand-names cropping up again and again in my builds. The most noticeable are DeWalt, Kreg, Evolution and more recently Ryobi have joined the party. Unless I call it out loud and clear, NOTHING is sponsored. Everything you see, I bought with my own money through ordinary retail channels (typically Amazon).
There are no reviews in this article! Just a quick introduction to the major ranges I use.
If you’re about to begin building your tool collection, I only really have two bits of
advice experience to share:
- Do your research! Use the “what problem are you trying to solve?” method to help guide you.
- Invest in quality! I can’t tell you how many “cheap” tools I’ve thrown away, but I’ve never regretted buying a quality tool.
I’ve never regretted buying a quality tool.FatBastard
So why did I make the choices I did? Well, when I was getting started I quickly saw the need for a few tools that shared a common battery platform. And at the time I was shopping around, DeWalt had some good offers out there. Had it have been a different week, it might have ended up being Makita, or Ryobi, or whoever. But that week, DeWalt managed to put the right things in front of me at the right price. And I’ve generally been happy with that choice. Over the course of a few years I’ve built quite a collection of DeWalt XR tools, and they remain my primary go-to for most requirements.
The one criticism I had of DeWalt was the limited range. I had in fact considered switching to another brand so that I could grab a battery-driven router and sander (which DeWalt didn’t offer), when they promptly released them! Bonus.
Kreg first caught my attention with the Pocket Hole system, and after a little research, I settled on the K5 Master. Then I discovered their awesome Automaxx clamps – amazing self-adjusting grab-it=and-use-it clamps that work just the way you want them to. They’ve since expanded out into track-saws and some really fancy clamping/cutting/worktable solutions, which I salivate over but haven’t yet acquired any of.
I work with reclaimed wood (mostly deconstructed pallets), which is wonderful as it’s mostly free! But it does come with a catch… it’s dirty, and has a real talent for hiding nails, screws and stones in the grain. You don’t want to hit these with your expensive high-performance saw-blade. Or your planer knives either, but that’s another sad story. Anyway, Evolution decided they had to solve for this, and have released a range of saws with “cuts anything” blades. This is no substitute for checking your wood before introducing it to a fast-spinning wheel of death, and I’d never recommend doing what you’ll see all over the place on YouTube – intentionally sawing through a nail-embedded plank. Having said that, I do enjoy the peace of mind it brings that if I missed a little nail, it’s not likely to ruin my day. Or my saw-blade.
I started my Evolution relationship with the table-saw, a major upgrade over my first budget entry-level one. Then I added a sliding compound miter saw and finally a track saw. They’ve all seen a lot of use except the track saw, mostly because it’s mains-powered and therefore more of a pain to use than I’d like.
A home fencing project called for the use of a highly portable nail-gun (I’d just never get an air-hose out to a pneumatic one all around the property) in the heaviest gauge possible. Unfortunately the really big framing nailers were a few hundred pounds outside my budget, and even the 16ga options from DeWalt were eye-wateringly expensive. By this point in my DIY career, I’d accumulated quite a lot of DeWalt tools along with plenty of batteries and chargers, so I explored some silly ideas and settled on one that turned out not being all that silly! I found a battery adapter that allows you to use a DeWalt XR battery in a Ryobi ONE+ tool, wheee! So I had a look at Ryobi’s range, and there was a 16ga 18v nailer for about half the price of the DeWalt equivalent.
I’ve since acquired a few more Ryobi tools, notably the tyre inflator (a great help when your car has a slow leak you can’t find), hot-melt glue-gun (if you’ve only ever used a plug-in one, and use it more than once a month: get one of these), chainsaw (yes, really), and paint-sprayer (not yet used). Oh, and about half-way through this collection, one of the sellers had a special offer on a double-pack of 5AH batteries and a charger, so I nabbed that too and no longer rely exclusively on the adapters.
Ryobi, if you’re reading this: I’ll shortly be starting a construction project where a proper framing-nailer would come in incredible useful. Please make one soon! I’ll help you beta-test it if you like :). And while we’re talking: when is the P318 (23ga pin nailer) coming to the UK?