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Your 7 Most Important Woodworking Power Tools

Your 7 Most Important Woodworking Power Tools

Many beginners trying to get started in woodworking take one look at their budget and worry how they can ever afford to buy a whole shop full of power tools to get started.

Fortunately, one doesn’t have to spend a fortune to get started.

There are really only seven woodworking tools that I would recommend any beginning woodworker have on hand from the start, and most are relatively inexpensive.
However, with these seven tools, a beginner can tackle quite a number of projects.

The following woodworking tools are listed in order of importance.

1. Circular Saw
While some people consider the circular saw to be more of a carpentry tool than a fine woodworking tool, I would tend to disagree. There may be no more versatile basic handheld power tool than a circular saw.

When used with a clamp-on straight-edge, the circular saw can be just about as accurate as a table saw and handle
quite a few of the tasks that one would attempt with a table saw, particularly cutting sheet goods such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard.

When woodworking on a budget, a quality circular saw should be the first handheld power tool purchased, as it is the one that will likely be the most useful as you get started.

2. Power Drill
Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we’re talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill.

There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on.

3. Jigsaw
The third tool for the beginner is the Jigsaw. A jigsaw allows  the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock. Sure, a band saw will likely be more accurate and can cut thicker stock, but for the beginner, the jigsaw (sometimes also referred to as a Sabre Saw) can
be perfectly effective.

For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded jigsaw that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system.

4. Random Orbital Sander

The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander.

While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened
sanding disks, and doesn’t sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding.

Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.

5. Table Saw
Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you’ve had time to get comfortable with using them, its time to make your first (and likely most important) major tool purchase.

The table saw is the heart and soul of every woodworking shop, the centerpiece around which all of the other tools are used and organized, so you’ll want to buy the best table saw that your budget can comfortably afford.

Take the time to learn which features you really want and the table saw that best fits your budget and your needs.


6. Compound Miter Saw
After you have chosen the perfect table saw for your wood shop, the next major purchase one should consider would be a compound miter saw. While not as expensive as a quality table saw, a compound miter saw is invaluable for cutting compound angles (beveled, mitered and combination cuts) on the ends of a piece of stock. Once you develop your ability to make precise cuts with a compound miter saw, you’ll find that your circular saw spends a little more time in the drawer than it used to.

7. Router
The last tool I recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router.

While many routers available today offer two different bases
(a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and can also be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in (or even build one) one down the line.

Choose a router model that is at least 2-HP and has electronic variable speed controls (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds), a soft start mechanism and is easy to make bit changes (preferably with the ability to use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch shank router bits).

Finally, Don’t Neglect this one…

So now you are well equipped to take on all but the most extreme projects, certainly anything around the house. You will also need to ensure that other aspects of your woodworking are also in place.

Click here to see how to set yourself up to get consistent and satisfying woodworking results.