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Power Tools For Every Woodworker’s Needs

The woodworking power tool collection discussed here is relatively inexpensive and capable of tackling a wide variety of projects.

The tools are referred to as power tools because they add power to a woodworker’s skills. Completed woodworking projects done in a fast, efficient way with impeccable precision are possible.

These are the essential power tools to have in a workshop. Having the right tools makes beginners into experts with a little practice. Woodworking is like any craft.

The right tools are critical in manufacturing quality products. Quality woodworking is a personal endeavor. The choice of tools depends on the skills and methods the woodworker possesses and uses. Availability of funds, time, and space are also considerations.

One woodworker created a list of tools felt to be in the order of importance when purchasing power tools. The list consists of planers, saws, sanders, routers, and lathes.

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Rob Porcaro contributed some advice on the Fine Wood Working website. His reason for choosing a portable thickness planer as the first major power tool is its ability to accomplish difficult, essential tasks with relatively little shop space and expense. Planers are investments that pay dividends in the form of lumber saving.

Using them to surface rough sawn wood is less costly than buying pre-surfaced lumber. Benchtop planer motors are universal. They typically work best by removing 1/16” or less with each pass. Benchtop models are excellent for home shops. A production-like schedule requires a different kind of planer. When shopping for a planer, features to look for include self-indexing knives, gauges that help avoid taking too big of a bite, adjustable preset depth stops, and a dust collection system.

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Circular saws are sometimes considered more of a carpenter’s tool than a woodworking tool. The handheld circular saw is very versatile. When using a clamp-on straight edge, a circular saw is nearly as accurate as a table saw. It handles numerous tasks sometimes performed with a table saw. An example is cutting sheet goods like medium-density fiberboard or plywood.

If the budget allows more than one power saw, a jigsaw is the next recommend poser tool to have. The user makes circular and curved patterns in stock, particularly in thin materials. An orbital action jigsaw angles the blade forward slightly. An adjustment for different types of material is possible. Often the adjustment makes a smoother cut.


An orbital sander is another woodworking power tool every workshop needs. The same spot is never sanded twice with an orbital sander. The circular motion of the sander prevents a swirling effect. There are corded and cordless varieties. Orbital sanders get sanding done quickly. They make an excruciating job more pleasant.

Belt sanders and orbital finishing sanders are also useful. Having all three means virtually any edge or surface becomes smoother. Belt sanders
have the brute strength and high speed needed to smooth large, flat surfaces. The orbital finishing sander knocks down dried coats of varnish and paint, rounds sharp edges, and sands ultra-smooth wood.


Quality routers have two different bases, a plunge router base, and a stationary base. Having just a stationary base takes care of many tasks. Routers need a 2-HP minimum. Variable speed controls are necessary. Large cutting bits use speeds that are slower. Look for routers where the start mechanism and the bit changing process are easy to use.

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Plunge routers allow the router bit to plunge into the stock, to make a desired cut. They lift back out of the material. Base routers have a set depth that is consistent when the tool is in use. A router that uses the same motor for two different bases is an option that offers the best of both types.


Lathes are useful to grind, bore, drill or shape woodworking projects. They replicate themselves and help in the manufacture of other tools. Lathes have been evolving since their discovery in King Tut’s tomb in 1350 B.C. Twentieth Century lathes have integral motors that make woodturning more accessible than older models.

Today’s models have variable-speed motors that no longer require manual moving of the drive belt onto an alternative pulley. Computer-controlled lathes are capable of producing thousands of identical products with extreme precision. Despite the technological advancement, the technique to shape wood remains the same.

For those who enjoy doing jobs themselves, having the five tools for working wood presented here makes the work even more enjoyable. Selecting a brand built to last reaps years of use from the tools. The latest technology provides more power for longer periods of time than previous versions. Batteries charge faster than they have in the past.

Cordless power tools provide freedom to move around in the workplace. There are no cords to trip over. Power tools maximize work performance. Handles, torque, weight, shape, adjustments, and switches are design components that receive consideration when developing the power tools of today.

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