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Power Tool Definitions

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A power tool circular sawis a tool powered either by an electric or battery powered motor, a compressed air motor, or a gasoline engine. Power tools are classified as either stationary or portable. Below is a definition and history of certain power tool types.

A belt sander Belt Sanderis a machine used to quickly sand down wood and other materials for finishing purposes. It consists of an electrical motor that turns a pair of drums on which a seamless loop of sandpaper is mounted. Belt sanders can be either hand-held, where the sander is moved over the material, or stationary (fixed), where the material is moved to the sanding belt. Stationary belt sanders are sometimes mounted on a work bench, in which case they are called bench sanders. Stationary belt sanders are often combined with a disc sander. Belt sanders can have a very aggressive action on wood and are normally used only for the beginning stages of the sanding process, or used to rapidly remove material. Sometimes they are also used to for removing paints or finishes from wood. Fitted with fine grit sand paper, a belt sander can be used to assure a completely smooth surface.

A biscuit joiner Biscuit joineror sometimes plate joiner is a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. A biscuit joiner uses a small 100mm (4") diameter tungsten carbide tipped circular saw blade to cut a crescent shaped hole (called the mouth) in the opposite edges of two pieces of wood or wood composite panels. An oval-shaped, highly-dried and compressed wooden biscuit (usually beech) is covered with glue, or glue is applied in the slot. The biscuit is immediately placed in the slot, and the two boards are clamped together. The wet glue expands the biscuit, further improving a bond that is often stronger than the wood itself.

Biscuits Biscuits are predominantly used in joining sheet goods such as plywood, particle board and medium-density fiberboard. They are sometimes used with solid wood, replacing mortise and ten on joints as they are easier to make and almost as strong. They are also used to align pieces of wood when joined edge-to-edge in making wider panels.

The circular saw circular sawis a metal disc or blade with saw teeth on the edge as well as the machine that causes the disk to spin. It is a tool for cutting wood or other materials and it usually hand-held or table-mounted. Most circular saws are designed to cut wood but may be equipped with blades designed to cut masonry, plastics or metal although there are purpose-made circular saws specially designed for particular materials. The most popular size blade used for cutting wood and framing is 7 ¼".

Random orbit sanders random orbit sander  are hand-held power sanders where the action is a random orbit. Random orbit sanders combine almost the speed and aggressiveness of a belt sander, with the ability to produce a finer finish than that available from a standard, slow speed, orbital finishing sander. The random orbit is produced by simultaneously spinning the sanding disk and moving it in an ellipse, which ensures that no single part of the abrasive material travels the same path twice. Because of this unique random sanding action, the tool does not leave swirl marks, and it is not sensitive to the direction of the wood grain. This makes it work very well when sanding two pieces of wood that meet at right angles. Random-orbit sanders use sandpaper disks and many random-orbit sanders now come with dust collectors. Disks are attached using either pressure sensitive adhesives or a hook and loop system. On models equipped with a dust collection feature, a vacuum effect sucks sanding dust through holes in the paper and pad, feeding it to a bag or canister.

A drill electric drillis a tool with a rotating drill bit used for drilling holes in various materials. Drills are commonly used in woodworking, metalworking, and construction and DIY. The drill bit is gripped by a chuck at one end of the drill, and is pressed against the target material and rotated. The tip of the drill bit does the work of cutting into the target material, either slicing off thin shavings (twist drills or auger bits), grinding off small particles (oil drilling), or crushing and removing pieces of the work piece (SDS masonry drill). There are many types of drills; some powered manually, others using electricity or compressed air as the motive power (eg earth drilling augers). Drills with a percussive action (such as hammer drills, jackhammers or pneumatic drills) are usually used in hard materials such as masonry (brick, concrete and stone) or rock. Some types of hand-held drills are also used to drive screws.

Drill Types

The rotary hammer rotary hammerdrill (also known as roto hammer drill or masonry drill) is an electric drill type dedicated to drilling holes in masonry. The rotary hammer drill is a percussion drill that uses a weight to create the impact force on the masonry bit. Generally, the drill chuck of the rotary hammer drill is designed to hold SDS drill bits . Some styles of this drill are intended for masonry drilling only and the hammer action cannot be disengaged. Other styles allow the drill to be used without the hammer action for normal drilling, or hammering to be used without rotation for chiseling.

The hammer drill hammer drillis similar to a standard electric drill, with the exception that it is provided with a hammer action for drilling masonry. The hammer action may be engaged or disengaged as required.

A cordless drill cordless drillis a type of electric drill which uses rechargeable batteries. These drills are available with similar features to an AC mains-powered drill. They are available in the hammer drill configuration and most also have a clutch setting which allows them to be used for driving screws.

A drill press drill pressis a fixed style of drill that may be mounted on a stand or bolted to the floor or workbench. A drill press consists of a base, column (or pillar), table, spindle (or quill), and drill head. The head has a set of handles (usually 3) radiating from a central hub that, when turned, move the spindle and chuck vertically, parallel to the axis of the column. The table can be adjusted vertically and is generally moved by a rack and pinion; however, some older models rely on the operator to lift and re-clamp the table in position. The table may also be offset from the spindle's axis and in some cases rotated to a position perpendicular to the column. The size of a drill press is typically measured in terms of swing. Swing is defined as twice the throat distance, which is the distance from the center of the spindle to the closest edge of the pillar. For example, a 16-inch drill press will have an 8-inch throat distance.


A Heat gun Heat gunis a device used to emit a stream of hot air. They are superficially similar in shape and construction to a hair dryer, though they run at much higher temperatures. Heat guns can be used to dry and strip paint, apply heat shrink tubing, dry out damp wood, bend and weld plastic, soften adhesives, and thaw frozen pipes. They are also used in electronics to soder circuit board components. They typically output air at temperatures ranging from 100-550°C (200-1000°F) with some hotter models running around 760°C (1400°F).

An impact wrench impact wrenchis a socket wrench power tool designed to deliver high torque output with minimal exertion by the user, by storing energy in a rotating mass, then delivering it suddenly to the output shaft.

Compressed air is the most common power source, although electric or hydraulic power is also used, with cordless electric devices becoming increasingly popular in recent times. Impact wrenches are widely used in many industries, such as automotive repair, heavy equipment maintenance, product assembly (often called "pulse tools" and designed for precise torque output), major construction projects, and any other instance where a high torque output is needed. Impact wrenches are available in every standard socket wrench drive size, from small 1/4" drive tools for small assembly and dis-assembly, up to 3.5" and larger square drives for major construction. Impact wrenches are one of the most commonly used air tools, and are found in virtually every mechanic's shop.

A jointer jointer(also known in the UK and Australia as a planer or surface planer, and sometimes also as a buzzer or flat top) is a woodworking machine used in woodworking to produce a flat surface on a board.
The joint-er derives its name from its primary function of producing flat edges on boards prior to joining them edge-to-edge to produce wider boards. The use of this term probably arises from the name of a type of hand plane, the jointer plane, which is also used primarily for this purpose.

A jigsaw jigsawis a tool used for cutting arbitrary curves, such as stenciled designs or other custom shapes, into a piece of wood or similar material. It is usually used in a more artistic fashion than other saws, which only cut in straight lines and exist mainly to cut pieces of wood to length for building structure. Modern jigsaws are power tools, made up of an electric motor and a reciprocating saw blade. Most carpenters would have a jigsaw as part of their tool kit. A jigsaw can be used to cut a variety of materials; Man made boards like MDF and Ply, and also metal and plastic. Each material has a specific blade type. The most useful feature of the modern jigsaw is "stroke" which is used to alternate between fine cutting and rough cutting. Most jigsaws have variable speed control which will aid the cutting of the chosen material. There are two main blade types, standard and Bosch or (Tang). A standard blade has a hole in it. Bosch brand blades have bumps along the edges. Starrett brand produces a unified blade the fits into either Bosch or standard jigsaws.

A lathe latheis a machine tool which spins a block of material to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the work piece to create an object which has symmetry about an rotation. Lathes are used in wood turning, metalworking, metal spinning, and glass working. Lathes can be used to shape pottery, the best-known design being the potter's wheel. Most suitably equipped metalworking lathes can also be used to produce most solids of revolution, plane surfaces and screw threads or helices. Ornamental lathes can produce three-dimensional solids of incredible complexity. The material is held in place by either one or two centers, at least one of which can be moved horizontally to accommodate varying material lengths. Examples of objects that can be produced on a lathe include candlestick holders, cue sticks, table legs, bowls, baseball bats.

A nail gun nail gunis a type of tool used to drive nails into wood or some other kind of material. It is usually driven by electromagnetism, compressed air (pneumatic), highly flammable gases such as butane or propane, or, for powder-actuated tools, a small explosive charge. Nail guns have in many ways replaced hammers as tools of choice amongst builders.

Nail guns often do not use individual nails. Instead, the nails are mounted in long strips (similar to a stick of staples) or in a plastic carrier coilnails, depending on the design of the nail gun. Some strip nailers use a clipped head so the nails can be placed closer together, which necessitates less frequent reloading. Industrial nailers designed for use against steel or concrete may have a self-loading action for the explosive caps, but require nails to be loaded by hand. Nail guns vary in the length and gauge (thickness) of nails they can drive. Smaller nail guns are often called brad nailers, bradders, or pin nailers, and drive nails with no head. Finish nailers drive smaller gauge nails, over a wide range of lengths, with very small heads. Strap nailers drive 1.5" to 2.5" (38.1mm to 63.5mm) nails for metal connectors used to increase structural strength on wood framed buildings. Framing nailers typically drive 8d to 16d nails, and timber nailers drive spikes up to 6.25 inches long. Roofing nailers, almost always coil-loaded, drive large headed nails that decrease the risk of the nail tearing through the material being secured. Nail guns also have many advantages over hammers as they quickly and repeatedly drive the fastener and consistently set the nail head at, or below, the surface.

A reciprocating saw reciprocating saw sawzallis a type of saw in which the cutting action is achieved through a push and pulls reciprocating motion of the blade .
The term reciprocating saw is commonly assigned to a type of saw used in construction and demolition work. This type of saw, also known as a recipro saw, Saber Saw, or Sawzall (a trademark of the Milwaukee Electric Tool Company) has a large blade resembling that of a jigsaw and a handle oriented to allow the saw to be used comfortably on vertical surfaces. The typical style of this saw has a foot at the base of the blade, also similar to a jigsaw. The user rests this foot against the surface being cut so that the tendency of the blade to push away from or pull towards the cut as the blade travels through its cycle can be countered. Designs range widely in power, speed, and features, from less powerful portable, handheld models that are usually shaped like a cordless drill, to high-power, high-speed, corded models. Modern reciprocating saws almost all have variable speed, either through trigger sensitivity or through a dial. Another feature that has become important to the way these saws are used is the inclusion of an orbital action. The action consists of oscillating the traversed reciprocation in up and down fashion (perpendicular to the motion of cut) causing the tip of the blade to move in an oval pattern, up and down as well as back and forth. This feature is primarily for wood, allowing quick cuts.

A Rotary tool rotary toolis a handheld power tool with a variety of rotating accessory bits and attachments that can be used for cutting, carving, sanding, polishing and many other applications. Popular brands include Dremel and Foredom.

The smaller rotary tools use high RPMs to maintain the correct cutting conditions for the tool bits. They have low torque which makes them safer, for freehand use, than the larger higher powered models or similar power tools. A wide variety of accessories are available for applications such as cutting, carving, sanding, polishing, and grinding. The carving (or cutting) bits are referred to as burrs and are similar to those used by dentists.

A table saw bench top sawor saw bench is the most common piece of large woodworking equipment. Because of its versatility, when only one piece of large woodworking machinery is owned, it will often be a table saw. The saw consists of a circular saw blade, mounted on an arbor, that is driven by an electric motor (directly, by belt, or by gears). The blade protrudes through the surface of a table, which provides support for the material (usually wood) being cut.

Bench top table saws bench top saware lightweight and are designed to operate while sitting on a table or other support. They commonly have direct drive (no v-belt or pulleys) from a universal type motor. They can be lifted by one person and carried to the job location. These saws often have parts made of steel, aluminum and plastic and are designed to be compact and light. Bench top table saws are the least expensive and least capable of the three major types; however, they can offer adequate capacity and precision for many tasks. The universal motor is not as durable or as quiet as a brush less AC motor, but it offers more power relative to its size and weight.

Contractor table saws contractor table saware heavier, larger and have an attached stand or base, often with wheels. The motor hinges off the rear of the saw and drives the blade via a single belt using a 1 to 2 hp (750 to 1500 W) induction type motor. This is the type often used by hobbyists and homeowners because standard electrical circuits provide adequate power to run it, and due to its low cost. Because the motor hangs off the rear of the saw on a pivot, though dust collection can be problematic in comparison with a cabinet saw.

Cabinet table saws Cabinet table saware heavy (using large amounts of cast iron and steel) to minimize vibration and increase accuracy. A cabinet saw is characterized by having a closed (cabinet) base. Cabinet saws usually have induction motors in the 3 to 5 hp (2 to 4 kW) range. For home use, this type of motor typically requires that a heavy-duty circuit be installed (in the US, this requires a 220V outlet). The motor is enclosed within the cabinet and drives the blade with three parallel v-belts. Cabinet saws are heavier and offer the following advantages over contractor saws: heavier construction for lower vibration and increased durability; a cabinet-mounted trunnions (the mechanism that incorporates the saw blade mount and allows for height and tilt adjustment); improved dust collection due to the totally enclosed cabinet and common incorporation of a dust collection port. In general, cabinet-mounted trunnions are easier to adjust than table-mounted trunnions.

A thickness planer thickness planneris a woodworking machine which is used to create boards that are of an even thickness throughout their length and plane on the upper surface. Industrial thickness planers are capable of accepting very wide boards and removing large amounts of material in a single pass. These machines are driven by powerful induction motors and are of very heavy construction. In recent times, a range of light-weight portable thickness planers have become available which use universal motors and are much cheaper than the industrial versions.

A router routeris a woodworking tool used to route out (hollow out) an area in the face of a piece of wood. There are two standard types of router - plunge and fixed. When using a plunge-base router, the sole of the base is placed on the face of the work with the cutting bit raised above the work, then the motor is turned on and the cutter is lowered into the work. With a fixed-base router, the cut depth is set before the tool is turned on. The sole plate is then either rested flat on the work piece overhanging the edge so that the cutting bit is not contacting the work (and then entering the work from the side once the motor is turned on), or the sole plate is placed at an angle with the bit above the work and the bit is "rocked" over into the work once the motor is turned on. In each case, the bit cuts its way in, but the plunge router does it in a more refined way, although the bit used must be shaped so it bores into the wood when lowered. The base plate (sole plate) is generally circular (though this, too, varies by individual models) and may be used in conjunction with a fence attached to the base, which then braces the router against the edge of the work, or via a straightedge clamped across the work to obtain a straight cut. Other means of guiding the machine include the template guide bushing secured in the base around the router cutter, or router cutters with built-in guide bearings. Both of these run against a straight edge or shaped template. Without this, the varying reaction of the wood against the torque of the tool makes it impossible to control with the precision normally required. As an alternative, the tool can also be mounted in an inverted orientation below router tables and used as a miniature spindle shaper. The machine is mounted below the table in the manner akin to a circular saw mounted like a table saw. With such a set-up, it is often advisable that the work be passed over it along a fence. With some router table arrangements it is possible to adjust the bench to give the effect of tilting a saw bench so as to cut with the axis of the tool at an angle other than 90° to the face of the work.

Router bits router bitscome in hundreds of varieties to create either decorative effects or joinery aids. Generally, they are classified as either high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide-tipped, however some recent innovations such as solid carbide bits provide even more variety for specialized tasks.

A grinding machine angle grinderis a machine tool used for producing very fine finishes or making very light cuts, using an abrasive wheel as the cutting device. This wheel can be made up of various sizes and types of stones, diamonds or of inorganic materials. For machines used to reduce particle size in materials processing see grinding.