When I first started woodworking and DIY around the home my power tool kit was very limited as was my budget. So by necessity, I began to accumulate woodworking power tools basically as I needed them for a particular job or project. Back then buying all my power tools at once simply wasn’t an option.
- 1 No 1 – The Miter Saw – Can’t Live Without One
- 2 Cordless Woodworking Power Tools – Buying Smart
- 3 No 2 – Cordless Drill – Cordless Screwdriver.
- 4 No 3 – Table Saws
- 5 No 4 – Circular Saw – Portable and Efficient
- 6 No 5 – Drill Press, Drill Straight.
- 7 No 6 – Routers For Unlimited Creativity
- 8 No 7 – Sanders, fast finishes.
- 9 No 8 – Jig Saws
- 10 Handy But Not Essential Woodworking Power Tools
- 11 Conclusion
When I started out I was in the process of having a new home built. While I left the main construction to the experts I did choose to finish the interior molding and trim work. Also to build a new deck and timber balustrades, and some furniture. Likewise for the exterior and landscaping where some retaining walls needed to be built along with a set of stairs up to the balcony area.
So with a limited budget, I set about buying woodworking power tools as the jobs came up. The list below gives all the power tools and accessories that you would ever need if you are into DIY, home building or home maintenance. The list is in the order I purchased them and not necessarily the way you should buy. The first woodworking power tool to buy is;
No 1 – The Miter Saw – Can’t Live Without One
The compound miter saw is an absolute must woodworking power tool in all home workshops. The need to cut accurate square cuts and miters will drastically reduce rework and frustration if you are cutting by hand. I know, I learned the hard way. For DIY you don’t necessarily need the biggest and best, just something that will get the job done cleanly and efficiently. But do look at buying the best you can afford.
Models And Brands
Look for the well-known brands, DeWalt and Makita are two of the top sellers in this bracket. I started out with a ten inch Makita mitre saw that I still use today. Recently I’ve upgraded with a newer DeWalt 12-inch compound sliding miter saw that is amazing. There are also cordless miter saws now on the market, needless to say, the cordless revolution is getting bigger!
As I said I’ve used a 10-inch miter saw for years. The saw has been able to handle the cutting of trim moldings and many different furniture projects. Also, I’ve built many decks using this saw but there have been some limitations. Wider 6-inch bearers need to be finished cutting using a hand saw as the 10inch blade is too small. Also, the move to using wider 6″ decking boards also restricts the smaller saws capability. If I were building decks today I would Definitely go for a compound sliding 12-inch miter saw.
Cordless Woodworking Power Tools – Buying Smart
Before you rush out to purchase that new cordless tool, take a minute to consider what other woodworking power tools you are likely to buy in the future. The reason for this is that nearly all good quality cordless tools nowadays take the same batteries.
Your first cordless tool is likely to be a cordless screwdriver /drill. These generally come standard in a boxed set that contains your drill, two batteries, and a battery charger. With this set up you are able to buy other woodworking power tools that are compatible with the batteries you already have.
These add on woodworking power tools are often called ‘skins’. This is a great way to buy new power tools as they are relatively inexpensive. The most expensive part of your tools set up is the batteries that power them. You already own these with your cordless drill set.
At this point its worth considering what brands you are looking at what ‘skins’ are available for that brand that you may like to add at a later date. For example, Dewalt and Milwaukee have circular saws, renovators, impact tools, saw tables. grinders, blowers, jigsaws, job site radios, and more tools coming on stream every year. Cordless tools now have powerful batteries and are more reliable. It is the best way to go!
No 2 – Cordless Drill – Cordless Screwdriver.
An absolute must-have. This would be the most used woodworking power tool I have. In fact, these are so awesome these days I have two. Having two allows you to work on a lot of projects where you have to pre-drill a hole before setting in the bolt or screw. If the project is considerable, say as in deck building, having two cordless drills will save hours of changing drill bits for driver bits.
Best Models And Brands Of Cordless Drills.
This can be a matter of personal choice but I would still prefer to see people buying better quality brands. In this area, I would go for the best I could afford. For years I’ve used Hitachi cordless drills. While they were good at the time the newer types are far better.
Entry level cordless screwdrivers and drills you are looking at Bocsh, Black and Decker and Ryobi brands. Better quality cordless drills are Dewalt, Makita, Porter Cable, Ridgid and my current model Milwaukee.
No 3 – Table Saws
The table saw is the third Item I purchased and It would be a toss up between numbers 3, 4 and five as to what you may go for next. Depends on what DIY projects you are into. Table saws are great if you tend to do a lot of panel cutting or furniture building.
For example, this desk required a lot of panels to be cut to size, plus the ‘styles’ that hold the panels needed to be grooved to accommodate the black panels. A perfect job for a table saw. The desk plans were found in Teds Woodworking Plans, however, I’ve made my own spin on the style. Which I highly recommend if you are building anything from ready-made plans, put your own mark on it.
There are a lot of table saws on the market that are battery powered. These are great if you require some portability and are just as capable as their powered counterparts. My preference in the workshop is to go for a corded version, especially if you are ripping down heavy timber planks from time to time. Table saws are woodworking power tools that need a lot of power when doing heavy work.
As for best table saw brands, I would look at Skillsaw, DeWalt, Bocsh, Wen and Makita.
No 4 – Circular Saw – Portable and Efficient
Diy and woodworking require a lot of cutting timber. And although you will still use the trusty old handsaw and power tool capable of cutting timber is worth it. Generally, a 7 1/4 inch saw is all that’s required for DIY and you have the option of going corded or cordless. I have both and use both often.
Best brands that you can expect to last are again DeWalt, Skill, and Makita. Hitachi and Evolution are also good tools with the budget models being Black and Decker and Ryobi.
No 5 – Drill Press, Drill Straight.
Drill presses are where you can scrimp a little on woodworking power tools. Unless to are working on jobs that require an exceptional accuracy a mid-range drill press should be fine. Obviously, you don’t want crap but you don’t need to spend a lot of money for a reasonable machine.
Great for cutting larger holes using hole saws and spade bits. Drilling repetitive and straight holes through thicker timber makes life easier. Look to buy one that has an adjustable height table and also a table that can be angled for drilling angled holes. Always clamp your work.
Brands worth considering for value for money are Wen and Skill. If you want to go top of the line check out the Delta 18-Inch Laser Drill Press.
No 6 – Routers For Unlimited Creativity
Routers are something you turn to when you’ve got some experience behind you. This is where you can get creative and start making some really cool stuff. There are two types of router, plunge routers, and trim routers. With plunge Routers you can;
- Cut mortises ( slots in timber)
- Machine circles
- Cut rounded corners
- Make signs
- Machine inlays
- Cut grooves, flutes, and dados (trench or slot)
- Create decorative flutes and edges, There are many styles of router bits
As well as being a versatile tool, their efficiency can be further increased with the addition of a router table. You can either get a standalone router table or make your own. Mine I have adapted to my workbench.
Brands and Models. The new style of routers is more compact than ever. Their arent many cordless routers available as the power demands on these machines is big. Therefore I would opt for a corded model, although with the advantages in battery power I would expect this to change very soon. Top selling brands are DeWalt, Bocsh, Makita and Porter Cable.
No 7 – Sanders, fast finishes.
I have three different sanders in my workshop. The first and most used is a sanding belt attached to a bench grinder. I use this all the time and is an attachment tool for fitting to bench grinders. Some call these linishers. At this point, I would say I have two or more interchangeable belts that I use for sanding Steel, Aluminium and wood. This is a great tool for taking the edge of wooden and metallic parts.
The next best sander would be the random orbital sander followed by belt sanders. The random orbital sander is used mostly on finishing furniture. Here you would typically start with heavy grit sandpaper such as p80 and work your way up to say p240 grit or even p400 for a super fine finish.
To be honest I don’t use the belt sander all that often so my overall suggestion is to start with the random orbital. Size wise you can get away with a palm sander as they are most versatile.
Best brands, I would go cordless here and choose the one that matches your cordless drill battery.
No 8 – Jig Saws
Jigsaws are handy critters, good for cutting timber, plywood, MDF. And when using the appropriate cutting blade you can cut other materials such as plexiglass, plastics, sheet steel, and aluminum. Brands, again go for a cordless battery model based on the cordless drill you have purchased.
Handy But Not Essential Woodworking Power Tools
Planers / Jointers and Thicknessers
Planers / Jointers are flatbed power tools that are great for machining boards to have straight edges and removing bumps and warps. Thicknessers Are for machining boards to a specific size. These can be expensive tools to add
Renovator power tools
These guys are quite new to the market as far as power tools go, but have been around for a few years. These work on superfast vibration as the cutting technique. They have many uses but the ones I find best are for getting into hard to cut places when doing home renovations. For instance, cutting skirting boards in place, cutting nails under boards, and chopping holes in plasterboard. This handy tool is great if you want to replace something without ripping everything else apart to get at it.
Hammer Drills and Impact Wrenches
I have both of these in my workshop, the rotary hammer drill is amazing if you need to drill into concrete to install fasteners. The impact driver I use a lot for landscape work when I need to drive long screws into heavy timbers.
Setting up your own workshop will give you hours of enjoyment as will the woodworking power tools you have. There are other machines that I’ve not covered, mainly due to the specialized jobs they perform. This includes Bandsaws, scrollsaws, and wood lathes. All are a great asset to the workshop, but not something you would necessarily buy unless they serve a specific purpose in your workshop.
The main thing about buying woodworking power tools is that you do some homework. Read reviews to get an insight into what you are buying. Always try to purchase the best quality you can afford. This will keep you in good stead for many years to come.
When I was 18 years old I purchased a Hitachi electric chainsaw as I lived on a farm. It was expensive at the time and the top brand but I went for the quality. 45 years later that chainsaw still works and has never broken down. A good lesson learned.