Key Power Tools for Woodworking 101

NH Recreation Articles: Woodworking 101


Woodworking 101: Key Power Tools
Start Tooling Up For Woodworking.

Woodworking is a pastime that allows you to cultivate some terrific do-it-yourself skills. Although it overlaps somewhat with carpentry, woodworking is more concerned with creating beautiful finished pieces including furniture, cabinetry, and artwork. Thus, it requires some specialized tools.

If you're looking to get into woodworking yourself, this rundown of essential power tools will help you stock your workshop. The list below is presented in rough order of importance. Remember, hand tools are an entirely separate issue: Leave some room in your budget for chisels, clamps, and hand saws!

1. Power Drill

This is a very important tool in the shop, and you may already own one. You can go corded or cordless, depending on how much you have to spend. Corded drills are cheaper than battery operated. True, you see cordless sometimes at dirt cheap prices, but don't let this fool you. They usually are cheap for a reason. Many will be low on power and the battery doesn't last long. Consider investing in a drill with a half-inch chuck which will give you more power and allow you to fit larger bits. And if you can only afford one, it is best to just get one with a cord.

2. Jigsaw And Bandsaw

Getting a good jigsaw is the cheapest, easiest way to equip yourself for making smooth curved cuts. Band saws perform a similar function, but they're a lot more expensive and require much more room. Get a jigsaw that has orbital action and a convenient system for changing blades. Now if you can afford both a bandsaw and a jigsaw, then I recommend getting both. The bandsaw usually will have more power and is used with that in mind.

3. Circular Saw

Another tool you might well have sitting in your garage already, the circular saw is often associated more with carpentry than woodworking. This powerful tool for cutting stock shouldn't be ignored, though! If you add a straight-edge to it and use it with care, it can rival a table saw for accuracy. I have known of woodworkers that don't own a table saw but use the circular saw with a straight edge. Though most would prefer a table saw, if you can't afford one then you can still use the circular saw until you get one.

4. Random Orbital Sander

This is definitely a must when it comes to woodworking. You need a random orbital sander rather than a palm sander if you cannot afford both because you don't want to leave sanding marks in your stock. Orbital sanders require specialized sanding disks; make sure you buy a model for which you can find a good selection of different grits. Sanding is key to any woodworking project, so the sander is key as well!

5. Table Saw

A workshop really isn't ready for proper woodworking until it features a table saw. This is going to be where the vast majority of your projects start, and virtually all of them will benefit from this precise and powerful machine. Study your options carefully and assess which features are going to be most important for the work you intend to do. If there's one place in your tool budget you want to splurge, it's here. Be sure to get a few blades for the table saw as well. One for crosscutting, another for ripping, and if possible, one for finer cuts.

6. Compound Miter Saw

This is the benchtop version of a circular saw. Some call it a chopsaw. Essential to any woodworking shop, the miter saw will give a variety of cuts, and does so quickly. It will make compound miter cuts as well, and these angles help when you need certain precision. This saw makes for quick straight cuts too. So it speeds up the work, especially if you have a lot of the same cuts over and over. And you don't have to worry about the angle of the cut as you do with a circular saw. Just place and cut and you are done.

7. Stationary Router

The router is another example of a tool that's designed expressly for woodworking. It uses sharp bits to cut into the face of a workpiece, leaving behind a variety of different profiles. While there are handheld routers out there, at the start of your woodworking career you'll find a model with a stationary base to be both more useful and safer. Spend enough to get a router with a decent motor (at least 2 HP) and make sure it has variable-speed controls. (Larger bits need slower speeds to work properly.)

While this is by no means a complete list of the power tools you'll find useful in woodworking, these basic essentials are virtually necessary to learn the craft. Take the time to study the available models carefully and invest in tools that will serve you well throughout your woodworking career.

About The Author:
Ted Leger is a woodworking enthusiast who turned his hobby into a passion. You can find more woodworking tips and advice from him at his woodworking blog,

Posted 5/30/16


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