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12 Essential Woodworking Power Tools Beginners Can’t Begin Without

Updated on October 16, 2017

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

saving up.

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 (, Home Depot (, Harbor Freight

Tools (, Sears (, and Amazon (

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

replacing blades.

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,

unsurfaced lumber.

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.


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