8 Essential Power Tools for Beginning Woodworkers
Everybody has their own reason for doing woodworking projects. For some people, it’s a test of patience and creativity, while for others it can be a great relaxing activity to do over the weekend.
However, woodworking can only be enjoyable if you have the right tools. There’s almost nothing more frustrating than building furniture just to find that you don’t have a specific tool.
Even though the “right” tool is subjective based on what sort of project you’re working on, there are generally eight power tools that you should have in your workshop. Having these tools will make your woodworking endeavors run much more smoothly and more satisfying.
The first tool that’s essential for any DIY home renovator or carpenter is a power drill. A power drill has an electric motor which rotates a bit to make holes through plastic, wood, drywall, and even metal. It replaces the functions of a standard screwdriver which can be a pain in the hand and forearm to use.
The best thing about power drills is that you can swap out the drill bits whenever necessary. Drill bits come in an assortment of sizes and shapes, so depending on how large and deep a hole you want to produce, simply replace the currently mounted bit with another.
Power drills aren’t just handy for woodworking. If you need to make cake batter in bulk – we’re talking gallons at a time – then this tool can make simplify the whisking and mixing processes. Another area where a power drill can come in handy is mixing concrete. Just purchase a mixer attachment for your drill, and you can make batches of concrete in no time at all.
A circular saw is an awesome cutting tool. Its compact size and light weight allows you to take the tool to the material to cut it down to size. No more lifting large boards and risk throwing out your back if you have one of these babies.
This saw can perform both straight cuts (with the grain) and crosscuts (across the grain) with maximum efficiency. However, the produced edges after the cut will be pretty splintery so make sure you have some sanding paper on hand. Alternatively, you could use a table saw for your board-dimensioning purposes.
Many would argue that a table saw is a must-have tool for any woodworking shop, and we are inclined to agree. Even though many of its functions can be taken over by a circular saw, there’s no replacing the extreme efficiency and accuracy of a table saw.
This is one of the largest tools that you should invest in. Its large, metal table allows for maximum support of long, wide, and thick boards. With right blade size and depth adjustment, you can cut through thick blocks in a single pass – something that a circular saw is incapable of doing.
Table saws are generally large, but there are various types of table saws that prioritize portability, functionality, and even have a little bit of the best of both worlds. If you plan on taking a table saw to a job site, then you should check out contractor table saws. However, if you want something just for the home workshop, consider investing in a stationary or cabinet table saw.
Compound Miter Saw
A compound miter saw may not be the most comprehensive miter saw regarding cutting capacities, but it does more than enough, especially if you have other saws in your workshop.
A miter saw is a stationary saw which is mounted onto a bench. Its main purpose is to cut stock – large or small – into the proper size for further processing. The saw head can swing left and right to produce angled (mitered) cuts.
The way this tool is used is you put your board onto the saw’s worktable located below the head and neck of the saw, pull the trigger and plunge the blade into the board. After cutting cleanly through the board, you simply need to return the head to its original position and release the trigger.
A compound miter saw, on the other hand, lets you cut on two different planes. First, you can turn the saw left and right to make the miter cut, and the head can also tilt in a single direction to produce a beveled cut. Admittedly, you won’t need to cut on two planes very often, but it beats having to make your own bevel/miter jig for your table saw when the need arises.
A sliding miter saw with an extendable neck is great if you need to crosscut wider boards. However, if you already have a table saw then the sliding feature isn’t necessary. A compound miter saw will suit you just fine.
A jigsaw can be used to make any cut of any shape in almost any place. This handheld cutting tool has an oscillating downward-facing blade. However, this blade is completely exposed so exercise extreme caution when handling one of these.
What makes this tool so great is that with the right blade, you can cut through plastic, wood, drywall, and metal. A jigsaw doesn’t have any rails or fences so to make long, straight cuts will have to go by eye. However, a straightedge guide can be a helpful tool to ensure that your jigsaw doesn’t deviate from the intended path.
This tool can be used to cut holes in the center of your board. Since the tool isn’t tied down by tables, depth adjustments, or fences, you can make intricate cuts and designs. You will need to practice often to get the feel of how to use a jigsaw to make freehand cuts.
A wood router is a versatile tool that uses a quick-spinning cutterhead to remove material. There are two main functions of a wood router – first, it can rout or hollow wood boards and plastic. If you’re wondering how wooden serving trays are made, a router is used to remove the center of the board, leaving heightened edges for easy grip. The second thing a wood router can do is make the edges of your boards flawless and splinter-free. To beautify the edges of a board after cutting it with a circular saw or table saw, give the newly formed edges a quick shave using a router.
A wood router can either be a handheld tool or stationary tool. We recommend getting a handheld wood router since you can construct your own casing to turn it into a stationary router when necessary.
Random Orbital Sander
From the large variety of power sanders out there – belt sander, orbital sander, palm sander, disc sander, oscillating drum sander, and so on – the best multi-purpose sander to get is a random orbital sander.
A random orbital sander sands in two paths – it rotates, and it orbits. This two-pronged attack is beneficial for removing a lot of material per second (treating rough lumber) as well as performing final, scratchless sanding. The only thing you need to do is attach the right grit sandpaper – coarser for initial sanding and finer for final sanding.
What’s more is that this tool excels in worlds outside of woodworking. A random orbital sander is compatible with a wide range of different pads. Apart from the standard sandpaper pads, you can use a buffing attachment to polish wood, metal, and even buff your vehicle.
One way you can save money on woodworking projects is by purchasing rough lumber from a lumber yard. However, boards straight from the mill aren’t as pampered as the ones for sale in retail stores; they have rough edges, uneven surfaces, and maybe a few blemishes here or there. One tool to help make the surfaces of your board perfectly flat and the edges straight and true is by running it over a power jointer.
A power jointer’s main job is to make a board lay completely flat. The alternative to using a jointer is a hand planer. However, this is manual work and can leave you feeling like you went 12 rounds against Tyson. A jointer effortlessly flattens the faces and straightens the edges of a board.
However, a jointer alone won’t be able to process rough lumber fully. To make the two faces parallel to each other, you’ll need a planer. The good thing is that you can use a hand planer to adjust the thickness of the board after running it over a jointer.
Woodworking requires having the right tools, whether you’re a weekend furniture-builder or a full-time carpenter. The “right” tools depend on what you’re doing. For instance, if you want to make wooden pens, bowls, or spherical pieces, you’re going to have a hard time doing it without a lathing machine.
However, for most beginner woodworkers, the eight tools we mentioned above should help them with basic, intermediate, and even advanced woodworking projects. Even though you may not need all of these tools at once in the beginning, they collectively make a great starting point for any aspiring woodworker.