91% of People Can't Name All of These Power Tools! Can You?

By: Maria Trimarchi
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

So, you know power tools. Are you the consummate DIYer or weekend warrior? If you need a new table or bed, you don't run out to IKEA, you hit Home Depot. But, how much do you really know about your power tools and can you identify all of these power tools by their image?  

The history of power tools begins in 1895, when engineers combined an electric motor with a manual drill. Not a big deal, right? Well, keep in mind this was only about 16 years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent electric lamp. Now, this wasn't the easiest tool to use. It weighed nearly twenty pounds and required the operator to use two hands to hold it down while multi-tasking the device. In addition, it didn't go very fast. In fact, it was possibly so slow that it may have been ineffective. But, it was a start. By 1916, two- now-famous men, Black and Decker took the original concept electric drill and modified it using the Colt .45 handgun as an example to deliver a trigger-switch electric drill, essentially the granddaddy of all modern power tools. 

The trip from the first power tool to the sander, drill and saws you now use is a long one built upon trial and error, lost fingers, and plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. Do you think you have what it takes to figure out all these modern power tools? There's no doubt you've seen them before and you've probably used many of them. But can you name them? Take this quiz to see if you are as handy as you think. 

An angle grinder, which is also called a disc grinder or a side grinder, is used for, yes, grinding, as well as polishing. Some can be used as sanders, too. This tool is essential in any machine shop or metal fabrication shop, as well as in auto repair shops.

A bandsaw is a stationary saw that's used in woodworking and metalworking. It cuts curves and irregular shapes in wood -- and with the right blade, in metal or plastic.

They're a staple among carpenters and in woodworking shops, but they're not for carving fine detail. This handheld power tool works quickly removing wood to make a board smooth and level -- in fact, those inexperienced with the belt sander can easily trim too much if not careful.

Reach for a biscuit joiner when you need to make perpendicular joints or edge-to-edge joints. Biscuit joiners, which are also sometimes called plate joiners, are used to join two pieces of wood together, and are a staple in woodworking shops.

The circular saw, nicknamed the buzz-saw because of its sound, was invented to convert logs into lumber in sawmills. Most commonly used with lumber today, too, with the right blade you could also cut metal, plastic, tile or other material.

The disc sander is used to smooth wooden, metal or plastic surfaces through abrasion -- it uses sandpaper, called a sanding disc, to get the job done. Disc sanders can be handheld or attached to a workbench, and while they're most commonly powered electronically, auto body and repair shops often use pneumatic types (which work on compressed air).

Sure, there are safety switches and alternate tips, torque adjustment and the chuck (to hold the bit in place) -- but at its basics, a drill has an electrically-powered motor that spins a drill bit that's used to bore a hole in something. The pistol-grip corded drill is the most common type of drill used today.

Sanding a floor requires a lot of preparation, including addressing any protruding nails, staples or tacks, as well as any adhesive covering the floor may have. The first pass of the sander is typically with a coarse-grit, such as 40-grit, sandpaper to ensure the floor is level before proceeding.

Need to dry paint, varnish, or damp wood in a hurry? Shape a plastic pipe? Or maybe desolder surface-mounted circuit board components? Reach for your heat gun. While it's most commonly a go-to for stripping paint, this hair dryer look-a-like is used for a long list of things.

Hedge trimmers do pretty much as their name suggests -- they're used to prune your hedges and shrubs. While they come in a manual version, called pruning shears, motorized (electric or gasoline-powered) trimmers are more efficient.

The lathe is used in many situations, from metalworking and woodturning to metal spinning and glasswork. These versatile tools are practically used to shape everything including pottery, candlestick holders, woodwind instruments, gun barrels, baseball bats, and the crankshafts and camshafts in cars -- to name only a few.

Used to make crown molding, window casings and other things that require angled cuts in wood or plastic, the compound miter saw is important to not only a professional but a home workshop. There are three types, but the compound miter saw is the one able to cut many angles including a bevel.

If you're into DIY projects, you'll probably come across the need to sand some wood at some point. And that's where sanders come into play, specifically here, the random orbital sander. This type of sander is handheld, and combines the strength of a belt sander with the finesse of an orbital sander -- except the random orbital sander's round sanding pad spins while also moving in small ellipses.

Also known as a Sawzall or a hognose, this saw, the reciprocating saw, cuts through a back-and-forth blade motion -- hence, reciprocating. In addition to its uses in construction and demolition work, powered reciprocating tools are also commonly used in general and oral surgeries where bone needs to be cut.

This handheld saw is used to cut through wood and other soft material. Although its blade moves like a jigsaw, the sabre saw doesn't have a base, known as the sole plate, as the jigsaw does -- and that means this reciprocating saw can be hard to control.

The scroll saw, named for how it's used to make scrollwork, is popular among woodworkers. These small saws cut more delicately than jigsaws, and are used to cut scrollwork and other intricate designs, such as intarsia, in wood, metal, and depending on the blade, other materials.

Whichever you call it, the string trimmer -- or weed-whacker, weed-eater, line-trimmer, weed-whip or whipper-snipper -- this tool is an edge trimmer for your yard. Depending on your yard and trimming needs, there are corded, cordless and gas-powered versions.

A table saw is basically a movable circular saw blade mounted to a mandrel (also called an "arbor"), all mounted to a stationary table. Table saws are primarily a tool for cutting wood, but with the right blade these saws can also be used to cut sheet aluminum, sheet brass and sheet plastic. In addition to more than one kind of blade, there's more than one kind of table saw, including, benchtop, cabinet, contractor and a hybrid.

Plunge routers, the preferred tool of woodworkers, allow you to plunge the bit in and out of a hard material, such as wood or plastic, unlike a fixed base style -- and if you happen to need the fixed base style, you can lock the plunge router to act like it.

When you need more power and accuracy than what a handheld drill can provide, there's the drill press -- either bench-mounted or floor-mounted. In addition to its primary use, boring holes in metal, wood, or other material, the drill press can be used to tap large or small holes, for countersinking, counterboring and reaming holes to enlarge them.

A plane tool, or hand plane, is used to shape wood using elbow grease to get the job done. It's not the only option, though. Power planes are the motorized version, best used for large, not fine, tasks, such as flattening, smoothing and otherwise making lumber uniform on all sides.

Soldering permanently connects two, or more, metal items by first melting and then flowing metal, a tin and copper metal alloy called solder, into the joint or joints between pieces -- like glue for metal. Soldering irons are often the tools used to attach metal components to circuit boards in electronics, but they're also put to use in any other way two metal ends need joining.

Rotary tools, such as the popular Dremel brand, are best used for metal grinding, such as when you need to cut off broken nails or bolts, or for other cutting and grinding tasks. It's especially useful where an angle grinder is too big and too powerful or a hand file isn't enough.

A variable speed polisher is, traditionally, a high-speed rotary, or circular, polisher -- this is the style that's been around the longest, and has the biggest variety of features. Using your buffer at too high a speed can cause friction and heat, which is good or bad depending on what you're trying to accomplish.

Nibblers are used for cutting sheet metal with minimal distortion, and there are two basic types: one that works similar to tin snips or shears, and the other that removes bits of metal, as a punch and die set does. They come either hand-powered or powered, most commonly by compressed air (making it a pneumatic tool).

These scissors, metal shears, are for cutting aluminum, plastic and sheet metal, such as for metal roofing or flashing. There are a few different types of metal shears, including alligator, bench, guillotine and throatless. And as an alternative to the manual shear is the electrically or pneumatically powered version, which can, typically, cut sheet metal up to 12 gauge size.

The narrow blade of the jigsaw is reciprocating, and moves in an up-and-down motion. And with the right blade, your jigsaw is capable of cutting not only different materials, but also intricate shapes and for making both bevel and compound cuts.

Often called a cement mixer, this device is actually a concrete mixer -- you use it to combine cement, sand (or gravel or another aggregate), and water to form concrete. Depending on your need, there's more than one type, including pedestal, portable and wheelbarrow styles.

The bench grinder is a grinding machine that's pretty much what its name implies: It's designed to be permanently mounted to your workbench. It's a common tool in machine shops and in metal fabrication too, depending upon which type of abrasive wheels you attach, buff, polish, shape, or sharpen metal. Similarly, a pedestal grinder is a larger version, usually bolted to the floor, instead.

Hand-held electric buffers and polishers are most commonly used for buffing, polishing and waxing cars, trucks and other vehicles. Larger buffers, called rotary floor machines, are also popular for polishing at high speeds hardwood, tile and other non-carpeted floors.

Milling machines carve materials -- usually metal or wood -- based on a pre-existing design. Many modern versions are automated, and many are CAD-directed. Its tool head can be changed to other machining needs, such as ball-end mills, rounding mills, or cutters.

The hammer drill is a rotary drill that uses a hammering action to pulverize whatever material you lay before it -- such as concrete blocks, as well as brick, mortar and other masonry work. Rotary hammers, which are larger but work similarly, are used to remove rust and weld splatter, to pull up ceramic tile, and start holes in hardened concrete.

Demolition hammers are just what you think they are: heavy-duty power tools used to break up hard materials such as a concrete foundation or asphalt. It works not by boring holes, but by hammering away at the surface until the surface cracks and breaks.

Described as a belt sander, a hand plane and a jointer mixed into one tool, you can expect a lot from the electric planer -- including quick work of flattening, smoothing and uniformly shaping (finishing) lumber. Thickness planers, which are electrical, are designed to do similar work on larger surfaces.

A hot knife is a tool that's, basically, a hot knife -- it has a heated blade that's used to cut through certain materials. They're often used to get a clean, sealed edge to prevent fraying on materials such as carpet or rope, and some can heat up to about 1,000 degrees F.

Call it a flatiron, a clothes iron or just "iron," this power tool is more versatile than you might think. It can remove most types of veneer from old furniture, heat stains from wood, and it can even help you remove dents in your hardwood or wood furniture.

A vacuum former allows you to turn sheet plastics into 3D shapes. It can handle large, industrial-sized projects, such as molding an ATM, or those more on par with a hobbyist or prop artist.

A multimeter, which is also known as a VOM (that's short for volt-ohm-milliammeter), typically measures voltage (in volts), current (in amperes), and resistance (in ohms). There are both analog and digital versions.

It's said that the first chainsaw-like tool was developed for those in the medical field, to cut through bone. Today, these portable, mechanical saws -- easily recognized by their cutting chain, are often seen breaking down fallen trees or felling standing trees. And they also perform well in ice sculpting, if that's your thing.

All glue guns are hot enough to melt adhesive, but some are low temperature (heating 248 degrees F) for delicate materials while others are high-temperature (heating between 374 and 410 degrees F) for sturdier surfaces. Hot-melt adhesives, dispensed by the gun, typically bond well with many materials, including ceramic, glass, metal, plastic and wood.

The brad nailer is smaller than its cousin, the finish nailer, and is typically used for more delicate project such as attaching small or thin moldings and trim. It's designed to use 18 gauge, fine wire brad nails, which are too thin to be hammered by hand.

Similar to an endoscope, which your doctor uses to view deep inside your digestive tract, an inspection camera is a thin, flexible tube with an LED light and a camera attached to it. But this isn't for doctors -- it's popular among mechanics, who use it to see into hard-to-reach areas deep inside an engine, among other tasks.

Sometimes called laser thermometers or temperature guns, the infrared thermometer is able to infer temperature from the thermal radiation that's emitted by an object -- that's right, you don't have to make contact with an object to take its temperature when you use this. It has endless uses, from checking if your steak is rare or well-done to checking the temperature of a car's exhaust manifold.

The laser distance measurer is used to take accurate measurements at a distance. They work by sending pulses of laser light to what you've chosen as a target, and measure the time it takes for the light to reflect back -- and they're accurate up to about 3 millimeters.

Corded or cordless, the oscillating multi-tool does everything from cutting through drywall to removing tile grout. Its accessories typically include interchangeable parts for grinding, polishing, sanding, and scraping in addition to cutting -- and it's capable of cutting through most materials, from metal, plastic, and wood, to fiberglass, mortar and many more.

The impact driver loosens and tightens screws like a screwdriver, except with way more power and force -- and much quicker, too. It's often used by mechanics to loosen bolts and nuts that have been over-torqued.

Tile nippers are good for snipping off small edges. But the powered ceramic tile cutter is named for exactly what it does: it's used to cut ceramic tiles to the needed size and shape -- and with a diamond blade if required (such as for stone or vitrified porcelain tiles).

If the radial arm saw looks familiar but you just can't place why, it's because it's just a circular saw -- but mounted on a sliding horizontal arm. It's used to make long cuts, and with the right blade, can also make cuts for dado, rabbet or half lap joints.

Wall chasers are able to cut grooves in materials including masonry and stone as well as in concrete. They often used to cut cable ducts, or when laying electrical cable in a wall.

Air compressors are used for everything from inflating low tires to powering pneumatic tools. They work by first pumping air into the machine's tank, and then shutting off when ready to use -- just squeeze the trigger and you're good to go.

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