Updated: Mar 15
Top 10 Tools Every Woodworker Should Have
For those looking to get into woodworking and have enough experience to justify opening a workshop, there are 10 essential tools which create the foundation of a working shop. Here is a list of these 10 tools, in no particular order. Perhaps number 10, safety, is the most important because woodworking can be a dangerous and hazardous hobby/profession if the proper precautions are not made. Always read your owner's manual and take all the recommended safety precautions seriously.
1. Chisels: Handwork in woodworking tends to be the line where craftsman and factory worker split. Working by hand enables one to create joinery which most machining cannot. The preciseness of the chisel in removing waste enables for a tight and perfect fit in joinery. Chisels come in every shape and size as well as different materials. The harder the material, the less one would need to sharpen, enabling more time to work. Chisels are used in creating dovetails, mortise and tendons, and much more. 2. Japanese Saw: The Japanese saw is a favorite. A much smarter, efficient and exact cut can be made using this saw as opposed to a European saw. The difference between the two is simple: tooth direction. European saws cut when pushing the saw as opposed to Japanese saws which cut on the pull. One uses much less energy when pulling - perhaps that is why the horse was put in front of the cart. A Japanese saw is a must have in any shop. 3. Circular Saw: The circular saw is a hand held or table mounted saw. Circular saws come with the ability to set the depth of the blade, which enables one to create cut offs, dados and narrow slots. There are upsides and downsides to all saws, and the one down side to the circular saw that its light weight sometimes causes it to move when cutting, and stability in the machine is important for the cut and for safety. On the other hand, this is also its advantage. The versatility and the mobility of this saw gives one the freedom to work anywhere. 4. Power Drill: Power drills are something most people have in their homes, and something every father in law should buy for their kids’ wedding. Therefore, this is probably not something one would need to go out and buy. As you can see, there is no drill press on this list; perhaps it would be number 11, 12, or 13. The point is that starters should buy what they can get away with to achieve similar results. With that being said, there are ways to convert your hand held drill into a drill press, if necessary. Additionally, the versatility comes with options of other accessories. 5. Jigsaw: The jigsaw, another hand held and versatile saw, is used for cutting curves. One has a lot of freedom with a jig saw because it can cut curves, circles and straight. Depending on the width of the blade, the curves can be very fine. The down side to the jigsaw is that straight lines can be difficult depending on the wood you are cutting. No matter, it is important to make sure to always have sharp blades. 6. Random Orbital Sander: This hand held sander is a great finish sander. When sanding, grain directions should be the first thing one looks at when deciding which direction to move the sand paper. With the random orbital sander, because of its circular movements, one does not need to take too much notice in the grain direction. Plus, with a velcro pad, switching sandpaper discs only takes a few seconds. Most sanders allow for speed control as well. This is an important feature because you do not want to over or under sand your work since what you leave behind after you finish sanding is going to exist. 7. Table Saw: The table saw is the center of most workshops; it is the largest and most imposing tool in the shop. While it is an important tool, one could claim that table saw need not be on this list. However, it is an important tool and shows that creating a shop is not a matter of just collecting hand tools. There are jobs that hand tools cannot do as well as tools like the table saw, especially when there is such a wide variety of blades which can be set up and changed for so many different applications. Table saws create straight and consistent cuts. When setting up a table saw for a cut, one needs to set the depth of the blade and adjust the fence according to the width desired. 8. Compound Miter Saw: Although a mobile tool, it is recommended to set the compound miter saw in place with extended tables on both ends. This saw makes very quick and accurate cuts, allowing for compound cuts. In addition to the rotating table, the compound milter saw has a rotating vertical pivot which lets the cutter head and blade to be tilted sideways, allowing both vertical and horizontal cuts to be angled on both planes. 9. Router: The router is a hand held tool which is often mounted upside down and is used to hollow out an area in the face of a work piece. It is also used to cut profiles for moldings and adding decorative edges to any piece enhances its beauty and dimension. Routers are also used to cut joinery, such as dovetails and dados. The beauty of a router is that one can purchase an unlimited number of profiles to best suit the many requirements which arise with woodworking. 10. Safety: Last but not least, every shop needs safety measures. Reading all safely requirements for tools is important, but there are also other issues one needs to deal with. First, it is important to use proper eye protection. Accidents do happen, blades crack and wood does go air born. Therefore, if you value your eye sight it is important to wear safely glasses. Second, you also need ear protection. Since many power tools give off a high decibel noise, the ears become damaged over time, which can cause tinnitus. There are many different ear protections on the market so choose the one that works best for you. The final safety measure is dust collection. Dust collection is often overlooked because it tends to be invisible, but it can enter the lungs and, over time, inhibit the air capacity of your lungs. Opening a shop is an exciting time; I know because I have done it a few times. Going shopping can be a bit overwhelming so it is important to do the best with the basics. When you are ready, you can upgrade and invest at the right time.