12 Essential Woodworking Power Tools Beginners Can’t Begin Without
You’ve tried some basic woodworking projects, and now you’re looking to
sink your teeth a bit deeper.
But where do you go from here?
What tools should you be looking for to start building a well-rounded home shop?
The objective of this article is to help answer those very same questions.
Just as with hand tools, essential woodworking power tools can be
bought piece-by-piece to build the collection; due to the higher cost in
investment, that’s the rule more than the exception, unless you’ve been
The price range given in the following list runs from entry level to more
sophisticated tools. There are a huge number of brands out there, but
I won’t mention any names here. Most of the pricing in this article comes
from Lowe’s (lowes.com), Home Depot (homedepot.com), Harbor Freight
Tools (harborfreight.com), Sears (sears.com), and Amazon (amazon.com).
Also it’s not within the scope of this article to go into the high-end,
professional-grade tools at the moment. Most of these are priced high
enough to give the average woodworker heartburn. Take the Powermatic
table saw averaging $3,300.00, or the Jet band saw coming in right around
I’ve arranged the tools in this writing in two groups: Round One is the first
group of (generally) less expensive, but no less important tools a novice
should start with. These allow a little more sophistication in the
woodworker’s projects, as well as an increase in efficiency.
For instance, the cordless drill now allows for much faster drilling, and less
energy needed on the part of the user. It can also be used for larger bits, as
well driving screws and fasteners. A power sander helps the practitioner
achieve a smooth finish in much less time.
Group Two’s tools can bring the woodworker to yet another level, but
they sometimes come with a higher price tag. There’s nothing to say you
have to buy all the tools in the first group before moving on to the second.
This is simply a basic plan of action. There are lots of theories out there.
As always, I will mention safety considerations, namely wearing eye, ear,
and respiratory protection, as well as always following tools’ instructions.
This is even more important in the world of power tools.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools: Round One
Cordless drill: $25.00 to $225.00 – Generally, cordless drill come in
18 to 20 volts, with a number of different battery options. Be careful paying
too little for one of these, as you might have to buy one again sooner than
you would expect!
Jig saw: $30.00 to $160.00 - These versatile saws are great for cutting
curves and doing a wide variety of work. Their blades are classified by
T-shank or U-shank, so pay close attention to which one you buy when
Circular saw: $40.00 to $120.00 – Circular saws come corded or cordless,
and generally have blades ranging from 5-1/2″ to 7-1/4″. Specialty blades
can be bought to cut most any material, from masonry to plastic to metal.
Router: $52.00 to $175.00 – Routers range from small 1/4″ trim routers to
the more sophisticated, variable-speed plunge routers. It just depends on
what you’re looking to do, from edging on cabinetry, shaping trimwork, or
other special jobs. Routers can be combined with router tables to give a
much greater variety of uses.
Palm sander, random orbit sander: $25.00 to $100.00 – Sanders give
the craftsman a leg up on creating that perfect finish. Why would you put in
the time building something only to have an inferior surface?
Table saw: $125.00 to $600.00 – This saw is versatile, ripping, cross-cutting,
tapering, even mitering in a pinch. Beware of buying too inexpensively.
Look for features like a securely locking fence, and a smooth-running miter gauge.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools : Round Two
Compound miter saw: $125.00 to $750.00 – This saw is indispensable for
many projects, including crown moldings, picture framing, or any project
with a need for precision cross-cutting. Sliding miter saws are useful when
cutting wider pieces of lumber.
Band saw: $125.00 to $450.00 – These saws are a step up from jigsaws,
allowing for much more complex curves and cutting of thicker stock. They
range from small, benchtop models, to rather large floor models. Keep in
mind what projects you can see yourself working on.
Drill press: $70.00 to $1,100.00 – If you’re going to be building cabinetwork
or other projects that will require a large number of perfectly vertical holes,
this is your tool. Drill presses can also be equipped with a spindle sander
for sanding inside curves.
Scroll saw: $70.00 to $550.00 – This specialty saw is at the top of the food
chain for creating delicate, intricate fretwork and curves in wood. Imagine
items like clock parts or small toy components, and you understand what
scroll saws are good for.
Thickness planer: $250.00 to $450.00 – This is an important machine to
have if you decide you’re going to start buying wood from the specialty
lumber and millwork suppliers. If you have a desire to work in more of the
exotic wood species, you’ll have to, as they almost always sell rough-cut,
Jointer: $250.00 to $700.00 – Another specialty tool, this device goes
hand-in-hand with the thickness planer. Once the rough lumber has been
surfaced to the desired thickness, you’ll have to square up one edge to
begin working from.
As you can see, there is a world of choice in front of you. You don’t have to
burn through excruciating amounts of cash to achieve some very
satisfying results in woodworking. Take it one step at a time.
These essential woodworking power tools can impart a higher level of
refinement to almost every project you can dream up.