Having these basic power tools in your home wood shop will allow you to build most basic projects. Once you have the chance to master these types of power tools, you can start adding to your collection.
Circular saws are one of the basic power tools that are also very inexpensive. You can get a decent circular saw for around $40 or spend a little over $100 for a really good one. This is one of the types of power tools that is also extremely versatile.
Circular saws are often used to make quick cuts by carpenters. However, if you use a clamp-on straight edge as a guide you can make cuts almost as straight as you would with a table saw.
When used properly, a circular saw will allow you to make long rip cuts on plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). You can also use them to make cross cuts on any type of board. Again, if you want to ensure a straight cut, you will need to use a guide or jig for the best result.
Circular saws are:
• Easy to use
• Require less expensive blades than most other power saws
Circular saws alone are difficult to control. They require a steady hand to keep a straight cut unless you clamp a guide onto the wood you are cutting.
For beginning woodworkers, we recommend the SKIL 15-Amp circular saw with laser guide and a 7 ¼ inch blade. For just under $60 this saw includes a laser guide to help you keep cuts as straight as possible. If you need to make beveled cuts, you have the ability to go up to 51 degrees maximum.
Before you paint or finish your project you are going to need to sand everything down. Even if you didn’t have to use putty to fill in any holes or cracks in the wood, you still need to smooth out any rough spots from cutting.
For sanding wood you have two options. You can use a hand sander, which could take you quite a while. The option is to use a power sander. These types of power tools allow you to quickly, and evenly sand down your wood.
Orbital sanders, as opposed to palm sanders, are a better choice because they sand in a random motion instead of a pattern. This helps reduce any marks left in the wood by your sander. These marks may be amplified if you are applying a finish to the wood.
Orbital sanders are used to smooth out rough spots in your wood and also to remove any paint, wood filler or marks left on your wood.
Orbital sanders are:
• Easy to use
• Less likely to leave sanding marks on your wood
Orbital sanders are more expensive than palm sanders and do require specific sand paper to match their hook and loop fasteners.
For beginning woodworkers, we recommend Black & Decker 1/4 sheet orbital sander that includes a dust collection bag and provides five inches of sanding surface.
You may have a cordless drill lying around the house. However, these types of power tools are not as versatile, or as powerful, as their corded counterparts. Corded drills are also less expensive so you can get a far better drill for the same amount of money you would spend on a lower quality cordless model.
A power drill is used to drive screws into your projects, drill guide holes and even sink screws into concrete if you use a masonry bit.
If you are looking to buy a power drill, you will have a number of options to choose from. You can choose the size of the chuck used to tighten the drill or go with a keyless chuck. You can also opt for a hammer drill if you plan to do a lot of heavy duty projects with concrete, brick or stucco.
Corded power drills are:
• More powerful than cordless options
• Available with many different options
You are bound by a cord and that can be cumbersome. However, if you use a good, heavy-duty extension cord you can use a corded drill just about anywhere you would take a cordless one.
For beginning woodworkers, we recommend the DEWALT 8 Amp 3/8-Inch Mid-Handle grip drill with keyless chuck. At $65 this drill provides you with a great deal of power that delivers speeds up to 2,500 RPMs. At only 4.1lbs this drill is lightweight and even comes with a clip so you can attach it to your tool belt for easy access.
One of the most often overlooked tools for beginners is a good router. A router is actually a specialized hand plan that makes precision, decorative cuts in the wood. This tool is called on when you start getting tired of 90-degree angles on all of your projects you may want to start rounding out the corners or adding a bit of flair.
Routers may seem expensive for what they do, however they are well worth the money as you start to move into some of the more intricate projects.
Using different bits you are able to make specialized cuts into your wood such as:
• Round overs
• Roman Ogees
and many others.
Routers are an easy way to add a professional look to the edges or face of your woodworking projects.
Mastering a router takes practice. Cheap routers can often be difficult to handle and can ruin a project rather quickly.
For beginning woodworkers, we recommend the DEWALT compact router with dual LEDs that offers a 1.25hp motor and variable speed control to help you learn how to use the tool.
Not all of your projects are going to call for straight cuts. Sometimes, you are going to want to cut curved or circular patterns. Jigsaws allow you to do that because they use a small, thin blade.
Jigsaws are also reasonably priced. These types of power tools will only cost you between $30 – $100. More expensive ones will offer more features; however, you may find that saws in this price range will do everything you need.
Jigsaws are used to make circular cuts, beveled cuts and even short cross cuts. Generally, you want to use a jigsaw on wood that is on the thinner side because the blade is not long.
Jigsaws are also used to cut ceramic, fiberglass, steel and drywall if you use the right blade.
Circular saws are:
• Easy to use
Jigsaws are limited in what they can do. You wouldn’t want to rely on one of these as your only power saw.
For beginning woodworkers, we recommend the DEWALT 5.5 Amp Top Handle Jig Saw Kit which features a keyless blade clamp so you never have to touch the blade when making a change. With a 5.5 Amp motor, this saw will handle just about any material you throw at it.
Types of Power Tools – The Checklist
Just to recap, if you are starting out in woodworking these are the basic power tools you should have in your workshop.
• A circular saw
• A power drill (corded)
• An orbital sander
• A router
• A jigsaw
Don’t forget, with any of these tools you will need accessories such as bits and blades. Also, make sure that you use the right safety gear when using any of these tools. Eye protection, ear protection and a mask to filter out dust should all be worn whenever working with your power tools.