AÂ power toolÂ is aÂ toolÂ that isÂ actuatedÂ by an additionalÂ power sourceÂ andÂ mechanismÂ other than the solelyÂ manual laborÂ used withÂ hand tools. The most common types of power tools useÂ electric motors.Â Internal combustion enginesÂ andÂ compressed airÂ are also commonly used. Other power sources includeÂ steam engines, direct burning of fuels and propellants, such as inÂ powder-actuated tools, or even natural power sources such asÂ windÂ orÂ moving water. Tools directly driven byÂ animal powerÂ are not generally considered power tools.
Power tools are used in industry, inÂ construction, in theÂ garden, forÂ houseworkÂ tasks such asÂ cooking,Â cleaning, andÂ around the houseÂ for purposes of driving (fasteners),Â drilling,Â cutting, shaping,Â sanding, grinding,Â routing, polishing, painting, heating and more.
Power tools are classified as either stationary or portable, where portable means hand-held. Portable power tools have obvious advantages in mobility. Stationary power tools, however, often have advantages in speed and precision. A typical table saw, for instance, not only cuts faster than a regular hand saw, but the cuts are smoother, straighter, and more square than what is normally achievable with a hand-held power saw. Some stationary power tools can produce objects that cannot be made in any other way.Â Lathes, for example, produce truly round objects.
Stationary power tools forÂ metalworkingÂ are usually calledÂ machine tools. The termÂ machine toolÂ is not usually applied to stationary power tools forÂ woodworking, although such usage is occasionally heard, and in some cases, such asÂ drill pressesÂ andÂ bench grinders, exactly the same tool is used for both woodworking and metalworking.