7 Power Tools you need to get started in woodworking
While some people consider the circular saw to be more of a carpentry tool than a fine woodworking tool, we 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 fiber board. 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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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, Hardware Centre has sanding disks readily available in many 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.
Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you’ve had time to get comfortable with using them, it’s 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 centre piece around which all the other tools are used and organised, 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.
After you have chosen the perfect table saw for your wood shop, the next major purchase one should consider would be a compound mitre saw. While not as expensive as a quality table saw, a compound mitre saw is invaluable for cutting compound angles (bevelled, mitred and combination cuts) on the ends of a piece of stock. Once you develop your ability to make precise cuts with a compound mitre saw, you’ll find that your circular saw spends a little more time in the drawer than it used to.
The last tool we recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router. For most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite many 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).