A beginner who is interested in getting involved with woodworking will quickly find that getting every power tool you want might be financially prohibitive. The plus to this is that most people do not need every tool on the market. There are no more than ten tools that are a must for someone who is beginning. Thankfully, most of these tools aren’t overly expensive and you can tackle all sorts of project with them. Let’s take a look at the list and what you need to know about each of these tools.
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Miter Saw and/or Table Saw
Our first suggestion is to make sure you have access to a miter saw or a table saw. The reason we recommend one or the other is because buying both might kill your budget when you’re just beginning to build a collection of tools. A table saw can do almost everything that a miter saw can, but the miter saw is typically capable of doing those things more quickly. It is also capable of doing more precise angled cuts. This isn’t to say that that a table saw can’t do these things, but it may not be done as precisely.
If you know what you plan to do with your miter or table saw, that can help you decide which tool is best for you. Plan to rip a lot of long boards? You want a table saw for that. Will you be cutting small sheets or crosscutting small pieces? The table saw is pretty excellent for that too. However, if you plan to crosscut longer boards, the miter saw will do a better job of it. If you still aren’t sure which is right for you, it’s not a bad idea to go with a table saw first. It will be more versatile and capable of all your boarding cutting requirements.
It’s no real surprise that a drill is on the list, and we recommend one that is cordless. This could end up being one of the most versatile tools in your garage or workshop. You already know that you can drill holes with it, but you can also turn screws and bolts. Even if that doesn’t sound that exciting, it can be very useful. Think about how often you have to put up a shelf, remove a cover from an appliance, or hand up a painting. Your cordless drill is what will facilitate that. You will likely use it a whole lot more than you ever expected to.
When purchasing a cordless drill or driver, keep in mind that there are two major types. One is a hammer drill and the other is a brushless drill or driver. A hammer drill is characterized by being able to spin but also hammer. This type of drill is excellent for situations where you need to drill into masonry or bricks. That said, the brushless drill works well when you need to drill into drywall, wood, or other soft materials. This type of drill is less expensive and works just as well for those types of needs.
Reciprocating Saw (aka Sawzall)
A reciprocating saw is one of the most powerful tools that you can have in your arsenal. This type of saw can cut through wood or even some metals in seconds. Those who are going to be doing demolishing, plumbing, electrical work, or remodeling, will quickly find a use for a reciprocating saw. This tool can saw through tons of material in no time and it’s also a lot of fun to use. It removes the need for hacksaws and crowbars and makes the process of teardown efficient and straightforward. As a plus, there are plenty of budget priced reciprocating saws to purchase when starting out.
Your reciprocating saw will help with cutting through nails and metal pipe, cutting through thick wood, hacking through plastic, and even for cutting ceramic tile, stone, and cast iron. However, the type of blade matters. The good thing is that these blades are disposable, so you can have different blade types for whatever your next project is. Pop on a fine-tooth blade for metals, a coarse one for wood, and a tungsten grit for stone. It’s an excellent tool in terms of sheer ability and versatility. It’s also something that every woodworker should have on hand for various applications.
While someone who only needs to cut a board once or twice a year might be capable of dealing with a handsaw, having a circular saw is essential for anything more than that. Rather than putting time and muscle into your handsaw, a circular saw is easily able to cut through a large stack of wood in only a few minutes. However, be aware that the large amounts of power mean the blade can also cut through skin and bone. Be safe at all times when using your power tools, but especially where your circular saw is concerned.
There are circular saws that are corded and cordless. A cordless saw might be okay if you are doing minor repairs and projects, but most people are going to prefer the corded option. If you do choose a corded saw, you can choose between a traditional or a heavy-duty model. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you likely will be happy with a traditional saw and its level of power. The more heavy-duty model is often favored in specialized careers, such as that of a carpenter or framer. It is capable of cutting through anything, but it can also be heavier and more difficult to manage with a single hand.
Any workshop or garage housing tools needs to include a jigsaw. What a jigsaw does is offer you the chance to cut circular and curved patterns into wood and metal. This is the only power tool in a portable package that provides efficient cutting of curves. There are numerous blades available for jigsaws which can cut through things like fiberglass, steel, and drywall. A jigsaw is also capable of making bevel cuts and many of them offer the option to angle the jigsaw just for that purpose. This is a great way to handle angled cuts when getting access to a table saw is difficult or impossible due to needed portability.
The jigsaw comes in corded or cordless varieties and which is right for you will depend on your preference. There is certainly a level of convenience with the cordless jigsaw since you can turn and twist in any direction you like to make the perfect patterns without worrying about cutting your cord. This adds a new life to a tool that was once considered unwieldy. Nowadays, many jigsaws are slim, lightweight, and simple to use. All you have to do is put in a battery or plug it in and you can start cutting immediately.
Random Orbital Sander
With a random orbital sander, you get a sander that does not cause a pattern to form on the surface of whatever you are sanding. This means that there is no need to worry about the direction of the grain. Compared to a traditional orbital sander using the same sandpaper, the random orbital is going to remove more than the orbital sander would. This is a must-have in terms of power tools that was first common in the automotive field. However, it has now become common in woodworking as well. Rather than having a single axis to spin on, the shaft of the device spins and moves in order to provide a scratch pattern that is unique.
There are tons of reasons to add a random orbital sander to your toolbox. For one, the constantly moving pattern builds a design that has less cross-grain scratching visually available. It is also capable of removing more material than the orbital sander. In fact, many of the major companies offering random orbital sanders offer various speeds so you can select how aggressively you want the sanding to be done. On top of that, rather than the quarter sheets needed for regular orbital sanders, the random orbital usually uses a small disk that is straightforward and quick to install.
Everyone who does woodworking or other tasks in their workshop can benefit from having a paint sprayer. Sure, you can do painting by hand with a brush or roller, but that can eat up a ton of time. With a paint sprayer, you have an easy option to apply stains, paints, and finishes very quickly. But what really sets the paint sprayer apart is the ability to coat uneven surfaces such as shutters or stair balusters. In addition, a sprayer is capable of providing a fine mist, which is aesthetically appealing on cabinets or other furniture where brush marks aren’t acceptable.
There are various types of paint sprayers available including the inexpensive cup gun, diaphragm pump, piston pump, air compressor gun, and high volume/low volume. What is the best choice for you will depend on your needs. The cup gun is inexpensive but may not have the power for a large job. The diaphragm is a bit more expensive and handles large areas but can cause overspray. With the piston pump, the price goes up quite a bit, but you can expect to be able to spray large amount of nearly any coating. With the air compressor, the price is relatively low, and you can use your existing air compressor to operate it. The high volume/low volume is a priced somewhere in the middle and is great for all applications other than extremely thick paints.
Maybe you’re wondering why an air compressor is on the list of ten essential power tools. If that is the case, you may be surprised to find out exactly what tasks the compressor is able to help with. An air compressor can power a spray gun, so you can paint cabinets, furniture, and any small projects you do. It can also work as a nail gun combination. This makes tasks like framing doorways, installing baseboards, and placing crown molding much simpler and easier than they would with a hammer and nails. You’ll be impressed by how much time you save using an air compressor and nail gun for simple and more complex project needs.
An air compressor is a versatile tool that is cost-effective to boot. It can help with many tiny tasks you may not immediately think of. This ranges from cleaning up sawdust on the floor to repainting an old bicycle for your kids or installing new baseboards. What makes this an even better option is the fact that air tools are known for being long-lasting and durable. There are fewer moving parts to worry about so these tools often last longer than you would think.
The hammer drill is the right tool for nearly everything your traditional drill cannot handle. You can buy a drill that is specifically a hammer drill or go with a corded or cordless drill with a hammer setting available. The most common use of the specialty hammer drill is for masonry drilling jobs. The hammer action makes it easy to bust up concrete and your bit will have better success driving into the harder material. When the lever on the drill is disengaged, it can also work as a traditional drill. When you use it and it is engaged, it feels similar to a hammer that is quickly beating down on hard material.
While both corded and cordless options exist, the cordless is the best option for most people out there. The first reason for that is because this sort of drill tends to weight less. It’s also simple to take from place to place and use anywhere it is needed. There’s no searching for an electrical outlet or moving a project into a new space to facilitate the cord. There is also the fact that with a cordless hammer drill, no cord is able to get in the way while you are working. Be sure to look at how powerful the drill is before purchase, as some cordless drills are not as powerful as others.
While this is the final tool on the list, it’s still one that should be considered important. A wood router is a tool that comes in various types, but the two basic bases are a plunge or a stationary. If you are a beginner with woodworking, the stationary will likely handle all of the tasks you can throw at it. This type of router is exceptional as an all-purpose router and is considered simple to maneuver for any edge shaping needs you might have. A plunge router, on the other hand, is best at making deep grooves, through cuts, and patterns. It also allows for vertical movement that is largely controlled to avoid mistakes.
There are a few routers which offers the option to swap between stationary and plunge bases, which may be worth considering depending on your budget. However, even if you go with a stationery model, you can mount it on a table later on. When purchasing a router, look for one that has at least two horsepower and speed controls for easy use. It’s also worth looking into ability to change out bits quickly and choosing a model that offers a soft start.
And there you have it, the top 10 most essential power tools on the market today. If you’re looking to outfit your workshop ASAP, you can take the list and go for it. Even if you plan to take it slow, you can prioritize the tools that you will use the most often and go from there. Either way, once you have all ten of these power tools available, you’ll have the means to do nearly any project you would like.
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