We've had several requests to put together a woodworking tools guide.
So here it is. We feel it truly adds value to you and our readers as this allows a 'one stop place' that has it all.
Whether you're looking for woodworking tools brands, a woodworking tools list, or even gain a better understand of the different types of woodworking tools we got you covered.
Just think how easy it'll be to have everything in one spot instead of hunting around on the net. Relax, sit back, and enjoy!
Types of Woodworking Tools
The Four Major Types
This first section on wood working tools will cover the four major types...
- Hand tools for woodworking
- Woodworking power tools
- Stationary woodshop tools
- Mobile woodworking tools
Each of these types of woodworking tools can be powered by hand, battery, electric, and pneumatic. Tools for working wood come in many sizes, shapes, uses, and so on.
We got a lot to cover, so let's get right to it!
Hand Tools for Woodworking
Hand tools are the most rudimentary type of tools. But for woodworking, they're still some of the most vital.
While the ease and convenience of power tools cannot be matched, power tools will often leave a bit to be desired in the way of precision. Aside from a computer controlled robot, there's simply no way of getting more precise actions from your tools than by using hand tools.
When it comes to smaller pieces or finer details, hand tools are often the only avenue a woodworker has to ensure that there isn't unintended damage done to the materials.
Even power tools which can be set with a computer carry with them the inherent risk of damaging the wooden materials due to the sheer force of power tools.
Of course, hand tools also serve as a benchmark for gauging a woodworker’s skill level. It's far easier to score an engraving into a bed frame with a power tool than it is to slowly chisel it out.
Removing one layer at a time until the finished product can honestly be called a work of art.
Still, when it comes to the highest levels of craftsmanship, few substitutes perform as reliably or produce work as beautifully as hand tools.
Most hand tools you'll use with woodworking are intimately familiar, even to those who have little experience with them. Chisels are one of the primary categories of hand tool used to carve fine details.
However, sanders, planers, hammers, and specialized saws are also common.
Plenty of hand tools which are often overlooked like clamps, measuring devices, and different types of fasteners are also common to any serious woodworking workshop.
Ultimately, hand tools are an often overlooked necessity for woodworking, but those who understand recognize their invaluable service.
Woodworking Power Tools
This is both the largest type of woodworking tool as well as the flashiest. Even the novice woodworker is often excited to put to use the raw power of power tools and wrought by their own hands some effect of the wood.
Of course, without the appropriate level of skill, all that effort goes to naught. Still, the lion’s share of rough work and even plenty of finishing work on woodworking projects are accomplished with power tools.
Power tools can often be broken down into further sets of categories. For instance, there are two primary sources of power for power tools: electricity and air.
Furthermore, even within the electric powered tool you have corded and cordless models. Understanding how each of these power sources function is vital in determining whether or not the power tool is suited to the purpose you require.
For instance, corded and cordless power tools each carry their own unique advantages and disadvantages in general.
But for woodworking, the situation is so specialized these qualities rarely play out much as they do in general construction or demolition situations.
Case in point, cordless power tools are often employed when you don't have access to an electrical outlet and don't wish to run a diesel generator.
Of course, little woodworking is done “out in the field,” and even then, you're more likely to employ the use of a hand tool over a cordless power tool.
There are always exceptions to the rule. And there are plenty of cordless power tools which have advanced to a point where their diminished power in comparison to their cordless cousins isn't an issue.
Cordless power drills are a primary example as they can be found in pretty much every construction field, including woodworking. And are more often to be cordless than corded at this point.
Stationary Woodworking Tools
Stationary woodworking tools are almost without exception power tools. These machines can range anywhere for under 100 pounds to well over 1,000.
Keep in mind, the term stationary in this context may often reflect the inherent inability to easily move these power tools. But this designation refers more to how the tool is used than its actual portability.
For example, there are plenty of mini lathes which are small enough in size and light enough in weight that they can be moved to a worksite and used for a day or two. Granted, this isn't to say that the mini lathe in question is easily moved, but it can be done.
However, even once you have moved the mini lathe and set it up, once you turn it on, it'll still require being stationary to function.
For a lot of stationary woodworking tools, it goes without saying that wherever you set them up they stay put. But the point still remains that what truly defines them as stationary is that the material or a separate tool will actually be used.
And the stationary tool’s action will remain in one spot. Another good example of this is a table saw.
Table saws are one of the few stationary tools that are actually designed to be taken to various job sites. Granted, this is rarely in the service of a woodworking project when done so.
But the fact remains that table saw can often be quickly and easily broken down, transported, and set back up at a different worksite.
However, once you do, the use of the tool will remain the same where the circular saw blade spins in its frame and you must feed the wood into it. Unlike a handheld circular saw where you actually move the tool itself and the wood remains stationary.
Mobile Woodworking Tools
If power tools are the most common type of tools used in woodworking in terms of how the tool is powered, whether by you or an external source, then mobile woodworking tools fill that bill in terms of what is moving around the other--the tool or the wood.
This isn't to say that there aren't a wealth of stationary woodworking tools.
However, even master woodworkers who have a legitimate need for light industrial, stationary power tools will still require the use of mobile tools.
For less skilled woodworkers, mobile tools are generally where they'll actually develop their skillset before investing the, often, hundreds of dollars into some of the more impressive and specialized stationary tools.
Keep in mind, all hand tools, by their very nature, are mobile tools, and even in the power tool category, mobile tools dominate in sheer breadth there too.
Regardless, mobile tools are the flip side of stationary tools. This expresses itself in a couple of different but important ways.
First, mobile tools will need to be far more aware in terms of design of the woodworker. For instance, a drill press doesn't truly need to worry much about ergonomics. It can be large, heavy, blocky, and even have relatively poor handle design, to a point.
Either way, if the tool is superior at its function, few woodworkers will complain that it doesn't “feel good” in their hands.
Conversely, since the woodworker will be directly controlling the mobile tool, holding and guiding it, the way these tools feel during use is vitally important.
While you may not want to pay a premium cost just for the most comfortable fit, neither do you want a tool that is so poorly designed it becomes difficult to control.
These woodshop tools are great for limited work spaces, such as garages and basements. Stationary tools are ideal for large dedicated work areas like an industrial park building or a dedicated garage just for woodworking.
The Top 12 Tool Brands
Woodworkers tools are made by a huge list of manufacturers. What we did was narrow that list down to the top twelve.
Just because you may like a wood workers tool brand and it's not listed doesn't mean that it's a bad brand. It's just not what we consider one of the most prominent.
To be fair, we review tools for woodworking that are in the top tiers, regardless of the manufacturer.
We don't receive any kickbacks or commissions for reviewing these woodworking tool manufacturers. Some might even dislike our opinions, but they're just that, our opinions.
With further rambling, let's take a look...
Black & Decker
A legacy brand that got its start making professional grade power tools, Black & Decker has shifted to a power tool conglomerate of sorts, acquiring numerous brands within the past 50 years.
At one point, this strategy simply removed competition from the marketplace. Black & Decker has recently begun to rebrand many of the other power tool brands acquired for different markets from the consumer grade to the professional grade.
However, the specific Black & Decker brand itself is a consumer grade brand of power tools.
It's far easier to mention the select categories of woodworking tools that Black & Decker does provide, rather than exhaustively listing the ones which it doesn't.
Of the woodworking power tools covered in this article, Black & Decker produces products within four categories: planers, routers, sanders, and saws. However, for two of the categories, planers and routers, Black & Decker only manufactures a single option.
The single planer made by Black & Decker is a powered consumer grade model. It is handheld and has a 5.2 amp motor. Moreover, the parts themselves are not known for their durability, and this planer is not at all rated to be used for long term, extended use.
Ultimately, if you're a beginning woodworker who would prefer a less expensive set of power tools while you learn the finer points of the craft, then this may be a decent starting planer for you.
However, any woodworker who may find themselves working on larger projects or working for hours on end would be better served with a higher grade planer.
Because routers are more complex power tools, consumer grade models rarely live up to the demands placed on them. In this instance, the single Black & Decker router, a plunge router, fits that bill perfectly.
Even for a beginning woodworker, this isn't an adequate tool as the action isn't consistent or precise enough to actually refine your skills. Pretty much the only effective use of this router is for simple roundovers.
And you'll most likely have to modify the product aftermarket as the plunge setting will strip and require the addition of an external socket for stability.
This is the first category where Black & Decker not only produces a number of different options, often within the same category, but does so at a high enough quality level that beginning woodworkers can get some legitimate value in a less expensive power tool that'll still allow them to develop their skillset.
Of course, the sanders produced are still of the mobile variety, so mostly random orbital, detail, and belt sanders, but the options are robust. Keep in mind, as a consumer grade product, one of the primary issues will be the sanding paper not remaining fastened after extended use.
While this article focuses primarily on the different stationary saws used in woodworking, there are many other types employed. Moreover, while Black & Decker as a consumer grade manufacturer doesn't produce the larger, stationary saw. They do make many mobile power saws.
The saws which require the simplest actions or least precision, generally circular saws and reciprocating saws, are the only ones suited for woodworking at any level.
The jigsaws, while made both orbital and pendulum, aren't precise enough for anything but the roughest of cut work.
Though this too is another legacy brand, that's about the only thing Bosch has in common with Black & Decker. As a professional grade power tool manufacturer, woodworkers with higher levels of skill will find plenty to love about the Bosch brand.
Advanced woodworkers will still likely look elsewhere for some of the more specialized stationary power tools.
Bosch only offers a single biscuit joiner. But it's at least a professional grade power tool that adheres to its high quality of standards.
It cuts at a solid 9,000 rpms and has a maximum cutting depth of 22 mm. This is also one of the better biscuit joiners for cutting at the miter.
As a manufacturer of primarily mobile power tools, Bosch only has a single drill press. While it 's adequate for many basic uses, it doesn't actually provide the same degree of quality one generally expects from the brand.
For instance, the locking mechanism is made from plastic which doesn't speak well to longevity. This drill press has numerous limitations in regards to size from the drilling depth to the chuck size to the actual presses profile.
Bosch dust collectors have a bit of a rocky reputation, though they are ultimately high quality machines.
In terms of vacuuming, the Bosch is actually quite good. Though that may not come as much of a surprise considering the brand.
The various attachments, including the hose itself, aren't made to high standards one comes to expect from Bosch. As such, the actual vacuuming unit is great while the auxiliary components are merely average or substandard.
Bosch offers mobile planers in both the corded and cordless variety. These tools are fairly high quality, though they aren't necessarily the most powerful.
This is generally a given for the brand. However, they're exceptionally precise which makes them ideal for even advanced level woodworkers.
The only two product categories Bosch offers pneumatic tools for are drills and nail guns. While this may be a bit limiting, the products themselves are exceptional.
Of course, only the nail gun will be called for woodworking projects as the pneumatic drills are either SDS or impact hammers.
This is one of the woodworking tool categories where Bosch truly shines. Their products are both powerful enough for the jobs required while precise enough for most skill levels.
At the master level, you may want to opt for a higher grade which will set you back a much higher investment. Bosch also offers a benchtop router that can employ their full suite of routing features and add-ons.
Sadly, when it comes to sanders, Bosch only offers handheld models. However, the products they do make are excellent quality.
They offer both rough and finishing sanders. However, they only make sanders that use an orbital action. So you'll have to look elsewhere for a belt sander.
Within the saw category, Bosch sticks with the basics used for more general purposes. They do offer a table saw, however it's designed to be taken onsite for construction work.
It's not quite as precise as highly skilled woodworker may prefer. Interestingly, Bosch also manufactures a portable bandsaw, though again, a stationary bandsaw is prefered.
DeWalt, while a legacy brand, is one of the first on our list that is now a Black & Decker property. This has led to a decrease in the brand’s reputation, though Black & Decker is attempting to use DeWalt as its professional grade lineup.
In this regard, the results are a bit mixed. DeWalt is definitely one of the higher performing brands under the Black & Decker umbrella, but it's definitely not what it once was often using plastic for various components.
A Biscuit joiner relies of mostly metal components in the relevant parts of the tool that come in contact with the wood. This is one of the products DeWalt offers that can legitimately be said to have achieved the desired level of professional grade.
In fairness, they only offer one type, but it's high quality and worth the investment from various levels of woodworking skillsets.
DeWalt does offer a couple of options in the suction category of woodworking tools. Unlike the biscuit joiner, this category isn't so clear cut in terms of quality.
First, DeWalt suffers a similar issue as Bosch in that the hose and other attachments aren't known for durability. Still, the cordless, handheld wet vacuum is one of the better models available, regardless the brand.
Surprisingly, this is one of the tool categories where DeWalt outperforms even some of the more respected professional grade manufacturers.
For handheld models, DeWalt offers both corded and cordless models, while it also offers a benchtop product. However, it should be noted that the DeWalt benchtop planer is rather limited by its size.
Also, it's not truly up to precision standards for the more skilled woodworkers. As such, if you get a DeWalt planer, stick with the handheld models.
For pneumatic power tools, DeWalt offers a wide selection of options including power drills beyond merely the SDS or impact hammer variety. This alone makes the brand a bit more attractive.
However, DeWalt isn't truly known for providing a nail gun without the more frequent than desired misfire. In addition, DeWalt nail guns will require various internal parts to be replaced more often than some of the other professional grade brands.
Oddly, their cordless models don't seem to have the same issues. So it seems more likely to be caused by the components’ inability to handle the more powerful pneumatic action than a genuine architectural design flaw.
Much like the biscuit joiner or the planer categories, routers are another area where DeWalt shines. These tools are not quite at the level of a Bosch in terms of precision but they're still fairly reliable and precise.
As such, DeWalt routers can serve well all the way up to the later stages of an intermediate skillset. DeWalt offers one of the wider varieties of different router models on our list, although a table router is notably absent.
Therefore, you'll only be able to purchase handheld routers from DeWalt. But you'll not be limited within that, the larger router category.
Sanders are another category where DeWalt mostly shines, though there are some notable flaws.
First, almost all DeWalt sanders come equipped with a dust collection attachment. This feature is prone to failure and, when it does, will actually make the dust problem worse by regularly kicking it up into your face.
Unfortunately, DeWalt has also made it impossible to hook their sanders up to generic vac systems, so you'll either have to modify it aftermarket or keep buying costly replacement attachments.
Saws within the DeWalt brand are a bit of a mixed bag. Considering this article focuses mostly on the stationary saws, woodworkers will immediately see the primary flaw with DeWalt stationary saws, precision.
Ultimately, the guides themselves are made from inferior materials and rarely straight. Or, if they are, rarely stay straight all that long.
The actual surface of their saws are also regularly uneven. Sometimes this is due to the way it was set in the factory which can be corrected by remounting.
But sometimes the surface is simply warped. Another issue is that the saw is fairly small and isn't suited for rips longer than 20”.
Delta is our first brand which eschews handheld power tools entirely and focuses exclusively on stationary power tools.
They've earned a reputation in the industry as a relatively high quality manufacturer or professional grade stationary power tools that can see some use for light industrial purposes.
However, Delta is currently battling growing discontent with the inconsistent quality of their products. Some of which are vastly superior to the same models depending on which factory manufactured which.
Delta is the first brand on our list to offer a full-sized drill press designed for a true woodworker’s workshop. However, as alluded to earlier, this product is one of the worst when it comes to the product performing wildly different depending on the factory.
Unfortunately, to maintain the lowest prices, the Amazon drill press orders the cheapest Delta drill press which is known for poor quality.
Delta only offer one type of dust collector in two different models. Essentially, both dust collectors are of the general air filtering variety.
Delta doesn't offer any kind of vac--either dry or wet. In fairness, the dust collector can be used as a vac, but you have to purchase the necessary hose and attachments separately.
Considering it's one of the more expensive vacuum systems that's also unwieldy and difficult to move around you may not necessarily need something of this grade unless you're working for hours on end.
Delta only offers a single jointer in the standard 6” variety. In this regard, it is a bit of a mixed bag. The actual straightening action of the jointer is adequate for many woodworking jobs.
Although the advertised light industrial use may be pushing it a bit far. However, this machine is regularly put together poorly.
As such, you may well have to take various sections apart and reset them for it to align properly. The exhaust system is poorly designed and will force you to disassemble the machine for regular cleaning if used often.
Delta offers a single lathe that is 12”. This is a medium-sized lathe, though it does offer a decent minimum rpm speed range for larger, heavier project pieces.
If you get a product that was manufactured in Taiwan, you should be good to go. If the lathe was manufactured in China, this is a crapshoot. T
hankfully, there are only a couple components that generally fail. Unfortunately, they're not easily replaced with a simple modification.
It seems as though Delta might be transitioning from the light industrial market fully into the hobbyist woodworking market as this makes the third woodworking product out of five that doesn't have a model suitable for larger products.
For planers, Delta offers two different benchtop models, but both are portable and only 13”.
This is a category where Delta offers a number of options, though some are more reliable than others.
For instance, the edge sander is noted for being a consistently well-made tool, while the disc sander will either be adequate or often feature a concave disc, bed, or both.
It seems the truly stationary models are generally better quality than the smaller models, which are often marketed to hobbyists.
Delta saws are one of the categories that has seen the biggest hit in quality. Whether a table saw, bandsaw, or scroll saw, all of the models have one thing in common... vibration.
It seems in an effort to save money, Delta has done away with the heavier frames they once used in favor of a lighter steel and aluminum construction.
Unfortunately, this allows their tools to vibrate to the point that you either have to modify it aftermarket or your precision will suffer more than the cost of the saw is worth.
Hitachi is a relatively old brand that got its start manufacturing electric motors and equipment for copper mining.
They've been trying to rebrand themselves as a professional grade power tool manufacturer following the vacuum left by other brands acquired by Black & Decker.
This reception has met with mixed results, and Hitachi is best seen as a mid-tier power tool manufacturer.
At one time, Hitachi did sell a drill press, but it has since been discontinued.
Due to the high standards required for a drill press to succeed in the woodworking power tool market and Hitachi’s spotty record, it's unlikely they will produce another before their ascent is complete.
Hitachi offers a few solutions for this category, though they're all relegated to the shop vac category.
However, their shop vacs are decent. This shouldn't come as a surprise since most important part of a shop vac is the motor, an area where they excel.
Once again, Hitachi used to sell a jointer which was also a planer as well.
This combination likely prevented either action from being as effective as the people who use these tools demand.
Surprisingly, Hitachi offers a wide range of products in the pneumatic categories powered by a number of sources.
From framing to finishing to brad nailers, Hitachi provides an option. Moreover, you can get them in air, gas, or cordless power options.
If you want a product which does its purported action and care little for the ancillary factors, Hitachi will perform admirably.
However, if dust collection and ease of use are important to you, then you may want to look elsewhere. Changing drill bits also seems to be difficult.
While Hitachi provides many sanders for different tasks, this is one of the categories where the brand definitely needs to polish their products before they can be considered professional grade.
The dust collection system is poor, and the sanding pads are non-standard which requires you to purchase exclusively through Hitachi for replacements.
This is another category where Hitachi either has a product which doesn't quite meet the exacting precision standards of woodworkers or had products which were discontinued for failing to do so.
The table saw Hitachi sells is powerful enough, but the fences and base plates are not level. The band and scroll saws have been discontinued.
Grizzly is our second brand which focuses almost exclusively on stationary power tools. However, Grizzly also offers plenty of tools for metalworking as well.
The brand has a solid reputation for a hobbyist and even some light industrial work. It also suffers from some of the same manufacturing issues as Delta.
The numerous regional centers are much better at either catching the problems before the tools hit the floor or fixing them once they do.
Grizzly offers a wide range of options for drill presses from the smaller models that need to be fastened to a workbench to the full-sized models that stand on their own and must be installed into the floor.
One word of caution. Ensure that you are ordering a drill press made in Taiwan as opposed to China, or you'll very likely end up with a drill press that spends more time getting repaired than in your workshop.
This is one of Grizzly’s strongest areas as they offer numerous options that all perform fairly well. There's everything from the standard shop vac to fume removal to the larger, stationary dust collection systems.
These products aren't known for suffering nearly the same degree of failure or needing as much repair as some of the more complex tools Grizzly sells.
For Grizzly jointers, there is a bit of a cutoff. Essentially, if you purchase one of their smaller jointers designed for hobbyists, you're likely to see fewer problems.
If you get a jointer designed for light industrial work, the irregularity of the finish and guides or bases which aren't level will make them less than ideal.
The assembly of the product often requires tools that aren't suggested in the instructions and freighted models are more likely to arrive damaged.
This is one of Grizzly’s bell cow product categories where they offer a number of products for various woodworking project needs which generally perform as advertised.
If there's one major complaint with Grizzly lathes it'll be that adjusting them can be rather difficult as the screws do not turn easily. However, this is better than some product categories whose screw strip easily.
It seems to be a trend that if the stationary power tool requires a high degree of precision. More so than is even generally standard for woodworking tools.
Grizzly tools often don't meet that standard. This holds true for stationary planers as well which can have a range of issues from uneven fences and base plates to the motors overheating quickly and capacitors blowing.
Still, the actual action is generally powerful.
For stationary sanders, Grizzly provides a full suite of options. The sander itself will perform admirably.
Though, this category of Grizzly products requires aftermarket tinkering to get right. Specifically, you'll want to lubricate the shaft and check, if not outright replace, the bearings for any Grizzly sander you purchase.
If you do so, you can get a solid light industrial sander at a cheaper cost than Powermatic.
To close out this brand, Grizzly saws are about what you should expect from the brand.
The cutting action is generally fairly good. This goes across the board for table, band, and scroll saws. However, the fences and base plates are liable to be uneven or warped.
For the bandsaws and scroll saws, the motors will struggle if you push them.
Jet is another stationary power tool manufacturer and is often seen as comparable with Delta or Grizzly. Jet does have a distinct advantage in this market.
First, it's seen as the hobbyist stationary woodworking power tools to Powermatic’s light industrial grade. Second, Jet makes it a point to manufacture their tools more in Taiwan than in China.
Like the other stationary power tool brands, Jet offers a wide array of drill presses from the full-sized models down to the benchtops.
Thankfully, the issues seen in the Grizzly and Delta brands models are limited strictly to non-essential components. For instance, some of the parts that don't affect the drilling action are made out of cheap plastic.
Jet offers three different dust collectors. They're simply different power variations and an occasional feature addition on the same premise.
Basically, these dust collectors are near-commercial grade and will work well for both large particulate and wet vac purposes. They will not filter fumes.
Sadly, Jet’s jointers generally follow the same mold as Grizzly. Specifically, the benchtop jointers are inadequate for any serious woodworking project.
The light industrial models are likewise imprecise and suffer from numerous manufacturing issues. However, the smaller full-sized jointers of less than 12” are generally adequate, if not great.
Thankfully, where Jet missteps in jointers, it more than makes up for in lathes. Regardless the size needed or rpm range required, Jet has a product to fit the bill.
These lathes are durable as well as reliable. This likely has to do with the fact that this tool category is generally manufactured in Taiwan.
Jet’s planers are many and not without their caveats. While the actual cutting action itself is solid, you'll likely want to disassemble it and change out the bearings while lubricating the necessary components.
One issue is that they'll quickly burn through belts. This doesn't actually affect their performance so long as the belts are replaced.
The good news is that Jet offers a number of different stationary sanders that all generally perform well enough. The bad news that each one generally comes with a design flaw that will limit the versatility of the machine.
This is one of the power tool categories Jet offers that do a lot of their manufacturing in China. As such, expect any guides, guards, or fences to be uneven.
Unlike Delta and Grizzly, Jet not only offers a full range of stationary saws, they do so without the caveats that the other two brands carry with them.
Specifically, Jet saws all provide a solid cutting action and will not suffer the same unevenness of bases and guards. If you could not tell, these power tools are often manufactured in Taiwan.
Makita is an older Japanese power tool manufacturer that's generally seen as one of the better professional grade manufacturers for general construction and demolition purposes.
Within the world of woodworking, this brand has a bit of a spottier reputation. This is because Makita got its start as a maker of electric motors and focuses on providing more power than their competitors.
For woodworking projects, precision is far more desirable than superior power.
Makita is one of the few brands that offers a biscuit joiner in both a corded and cordless model. Both of these tools work exceptionally well.
Unfortunately, the additional power compared to the competitors will limit these tool’s uses when trying to cut directly into the mitered edge. Specifically, they'll often break the tip.
Makita offers a surprising number of shop vacs. First, they make both wet and dry vacs, though most people opt for a wet vac just in case.
This is one of the few brands that offers a full size cordless vac. Plenty of brands make cordless hand vacs, but few make standup cordless vacs. T
he only problem is the wet vac has an automatic cleaning system that can take a while to run through its cycle.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that handheld planers which generally rely more on power than precision are superb in the Makita brand.
It might be a bit more surprising that their benchtop planer is also fairly good. Granted, this is still a hobbyist grade benchtop planer, but the precision is admirable all things considered.
In terms of pneumatic nail guns, Makita offers a wide array. They also make cordless nail guns.
A word of advice is to skip the electric models. Despite the fact that Makita makes amazing battery powered motors, you're either not going to be satisfied with the power, especially for framing nailers, or you'll not enjoy waiting for the spring to recoil, like with the finish or brad nailers.
This is where Makita’s overreliance on maximum power can get them in trouble. It's not quite as bad as it could be and creates more of a push-pull situation.
Essentially, if you're exceptionally skilled and can control the router’s power, you may appreciate the ease with which the action functions. If you're not quite as skilled or strong enough to control the routers, your work will suffer.
Much like planers, Makita’s power really comes into play here and allows this product category to shine. Makita only offers handheld models, outside of their single hobbyist planer.
The only real downside to the variety of Makita sanders is the fastening of the sheet, pad, etc. It could be more firm.
Keeping in line with their handheld preference, unless it's a general power tool like a table saw, Makita doesn't offer a standard bandsaw or scroll saw.
They do make two handheld bandsaws. The more expensive model is notably better. Still, as a handheld Makita saw, expect the power to jump out if you're not prepared.
While not quite as old as some of the “true” legacy brands, Powermatic still has a storied history steeped in professional grade power tool manufacturing.
This brand has always focused on industrial and light industrial power with the highest level of quality giving them a distinct advantage over the competition.
In fact, Jet is actually the hobbyist grade stationary power tool manufacturer to Powermatic’s true professional grade.
Powermatic only offers a single drill press, and it's full sized meaning there are no Powermatic benchtop presses. If you have a smaller workshop, you might want to go with a different brand.
Powermatic’s floor drill press isn't overly large. This drill press is exceptionally accurate as the bearings and plates are all high quality.
Powermatic does not offer any standard shop vacs, though they do have a number of dust collectors. Even the lower end of their dust collector models are borderline commercial grade.
You need to be sure that is what you require or you could end up overspending for a vac you do not truly need. As a bonus, this is one of the few brands that manufactures a fume removing air cleaner.
In a market saturated with subpar jointers that are either uneven of features knives with subpar cutting actions, the Powermatic lineup is a breath of fresh air.
There are two complaints with this power tool category.
First, Powermatic doesn't offer a jointer larger than 8”, which is surprising since 12” is a fairly common size. Second, the “quick set knives” model is generally seen as inferior to the helical head models.
The Powermatic lathes are excellent machines that provide a number of additional features that set them above the pack
In fairness, lathes are rather easy to get right, so this is more out of necessity than goodwill. Still, they provide some of the largest lathes on our list and features a built-in faceplate.
Following their general modus operandi, Powermatic planers come in a variety of styles and sizes. They're also exceedingly large and not at all suited for smaller workshops.
There's no benchtop planer model available. They do offer models which features anywhere from 3 hp all the way up to 15 hp making them perfect for commercial use.
The closest thing that Powermatic offers in the router department is a CNC machine with a router attachment.
While this can be a godsend for light industrial work, it definitely takes some of the fun out of woodworking projects.
You're not allowed to enter woodworking competitions with projects that have used CNC machines. 😉
If there's one complaint you can make about Powermatic sanders it's that they don't offer any benchtop models outside of a disc sander.
The variety of not just models but subcategories of sander, combined with the exceptional quality, do make Powermatic sanders shine a little brighter. Especially for specialized or large project needs.
Considering the general quality of the brand, it's a bit disappointing that Powermatic doesn't make a scroll saw. However, they do make table saws and bandsaws.
This is the only brand that makes a dedicated rip saw. Granted, most woodworkers will not need this tool, but it shows the dedication to the light industrial market.
Porter Cable is another brand that was once considered professional grade before being purchased by Black & Decker and seeing their tool quality drop below that line.
However, Porter Cable’s reputation and quality level hasn't suffered as much as some Black & Decker acquisitions, like DeWalt.
Still, this is more a mid-tier power tool brand. More so because it offers far fewer features while providing a professional action.
Porter Cable offers a single biscuit joiner, but one is all it takes.
Considering this type of tool doesn't generally comes with bells and whistles, the superior design to ensure the miter edge does not snap when cutting into it puts this model a step above the Makita.
The only issue if the dust extraction is poor, but you can hook it up to a vac.
Porter Cable manufactures a single floor drill press, though it's not truly in service any longer.
Specifically, it's difficult to find and they don't manufacture them often. It hasn't been officially discontinued either.
As such, it sits in a bit of a limbo and may not provide replacement parts.
For dust collection, Porter Cable makes a wide variety of wet/dry shop vacs. They don't manufacture any commercial grade or air filtration products.
In fact, the only difference between their different wet/dry vacs is the gallon size of the receptacle drum. The only issue is that you must purchase disposable filters to use with this vac.
Porter Cable makes a single 6” jointer. In fairness, this is the most widely used size and will work perfectly for all but light industrial purposes.
However, the Porter Cable suffers from an issue that most other full size jointer manufacturers do, poor fences. They uses plastic fences which makes this problem even worse.
For planers, Porter Cable offers both a hand planer and a benchtop planer. They don't make a light industrial planer as both of their other products in this category are veritable steals at the quality to price point.
However, the benchtop planer does feature a significant snipe, so plan accordingly if you purchase it.
This is a bit of a mixed bag, but by no means a weakness of the brand. Essentially, Porter Cable pneumatic tools, which includes various nail guns and staplers, perform remarkably well with few misfires.
The absence of ergonomic designs and additional features shows up a bit more in this category than some others.
As is fairly standard for Porter Cable by this point, this category of tool is noted for providing a quality action and a durable tool.
Since routers are improved more by some of the additional features than other types of tools, Porter Cable routers can feel a bit barebones.
Still, they're an excellent value for the intermediate skill woodworker.
As if you needed us to tell you, Porter Cable sanders are solid in terms of their actions.
This might be one of the few instances where the manufacturer makes a better benchtop model than handheld.
This isn't to say the handheld Porter Cable sanders are poor quality, but they're heavy and without features. Something the benchtop model doesn't suffer from.
Surprisingly, Porter Cable makes some decent woodworking saws considering they have a tendency to focus more on handheld power tools.
The bandsaw is an amazing value, while the scroll saw is good with the exception of high vibration at higher speeds.
The table is the only area that needs improvement as the brand only offers portable models and the fences aren't great.
Ridgid is an older brand, but it has only recently become known for making power tools. In fact, the brand started as plumbing tool manufacturer and even made the iconic pipe wrench that's still used today.
In terms of their power tools, they are more in line with Porter Cable than it's with Bosch.
By that, we mean that Ridgid power tools provide a solid action, but they're often lacking in the feature department.
As a legitimately new brand of power tools, the variety of products is also a bit on the smaller end.
In a true Ridgid fashion, this brand only offers a single floor drill press. The drill press itself is impressive in terms of its precision for its price.
However, the features are lacking as the attached light is rather dim and the handle isn't at all ergonomic. Also, the machine will need more frequent upkeep and cleaning than most.
Still, the assembly is easy and the price is right.
In terms of dust collection, Ridgid features a fairly wide range of products of differing grades from the consumer to the industrial grade.
All models are either handheld or wet and dry vacs. There are no larger dust collection unit or air filtration systems.
This is one of the few areas where Ridgid is a bit subpar as the vacs will clog easier than others.
The only jointer that Ridgid produces is actually a jointer planer combo. This product has had a rocky history, short though it may be.
First, it was discontinued, then it was brought back at a highly inflated price. Ultimately, this spells a short running time for the tool and should dissuade you from purchasing it.
The actual action is solid though.
Aside from the overpriced jointer/planer combo, Ridgid does offer a benchtop planer. All things considered, this is a quality product.
Much like many of Ridgid’s other benchtop power tools, the line isn't doing well which makes getting replacement parts exceedingly difficult.
While it works, it works well, and there is no reason to assume it will not work for a while.
Ridgid nail guns are fairly impressive all things considered. First, they're one of the only companies to offer a palm-sized nail gun and certainly one of the higher quality brands to do so.
Regardless, whether it is framing, finishing, or brad nailing, Ridgid has you covered. Even better, they avoid the heaviness that can drag Porter Cable nail guns down.
If you're looking for a router that offers an excellent combination of power and precision, this is a solid brand to find it.
In fact, Ridgid is close to comparable with Bosch in terms of professional grade routers. The only downside to Ridgid routers is the design.
Unless you're using the fixed base router, they can be awkward to hold.
For the most part, Ridgid contents itself to provide an excellent quality hand sander. They offer a range of handheld sanders including random orbital, sheet, and belt.
Even better, these products actually are ergonomically designed. To top it all off, Ridgid even offers a benchtop edge sander. Although it's not their best showing.
For saws, Ridgid only offers table saws and only 10” table saws at that. Like a number of their other larger tools, the replacement parts can be difficult to come by.
In an odd twist, Ridgid’s table saw isn't truly professional grade with uneven plates and fences. Still, the cutting action is solid.
Ryobi power tools often find themselves in a similar boat as Black & Decker. This is squarely a consumer grade brand of power tools and will not necessarily perform at the levels needed for highly skilled woodworkers.
This is especially relevant for some of their non-handheld models, of which they're one of the few consumer grade manufacturers.
For their cordless models, they're surprisingly good. Even when compared to professional grades like Makita, though not that good.
Ryobi offers a biscuit joiner that may work for some consumers. But if you're a regular and dedicated woodworker, you'll definitely want to look elsewhere.
The plates aren't fastened securely and the cut will often be either misaligned or missized. However, if you just need a quick and dirty fix, this tool will do.
Surprisingly, Ryobi does in fact make a drill press. However, there are actually a number of consumer grade power tool manufacturers which do the same including Skil and Wen.
With any consumer grade product, expect the power to give. That's exactly this tool’s issue as resistance, speed, and materials will all cause issues.
Getting back to what you would expect, the only planer Ryobi makes is a handheld model.
While this tool isn't that bad and priced at the consumer grade, you'll not want to use it for extended durations or the motor is liable to give out.
Also, you would do better taking the vac bag off and attaching a hose as it cuts deep in a single pass.
Ryobi makes a number of nail guns, though the quality from one to another can shift drastically.
Most of the nail guns offered are battery operated and generally insufficient for woodworking except smaller product.
However, they do make a finish and brad pneumatic nail gun but no framer.
Ryobi makes three different routers, one of each standard type. Fixed base, plunge, and trim.
The trim router is cordless, which is okay considering its job, while the fixed base and plunge are corded, as they likely should be.
There's nothing great to say about these routers, though only the plunge routers will struggle with its action.
Ryobi offers a wide variety of sanders and even makes a benchtop belt/disc sander combo. Half of the sander models they make are cordless, which will likely not give you enough power.
Even the models which are corded shouldn't be run for extended periods of time or sanded with heavy resistance or the motor will quickly wear out.
This should come as a surprise, but Ryobi makes both a bandsaw and a scroll saw. The first is rather surprising but the second if flabbergasting.
Many professional grade power tool manufacturers don't make a scrol saw, yet Ryobi does. Of course, you get what you pay for.
And you should probably purchase a better grade benchtop saw, regardless the type.
Woodworking Tools List
The Main 10
Biscuit joiners may be fairly specialized tools. But their action is a godsend to so many different types of woodworking projects that it's foolish to go without one.
Interestingly, this is one of the few handheld power tools which sees more use during woodworking projects than general construction jobs.
Because of this specialization, it's important to ensure that your biscuit joiner demonstrates the same level of precision and accuracy during its action as many of your other more impressive and expensive woodworking tools.
The action of a biscuit joiner is actually not to “join” anything.
Instead, biscuit joiners cut into workpieces of a project at the edges which will be joined together.
These cuts will then be inserted with glue or some other adhesive and a “biscuit,” a piece of wood cut into a thin, ovular shape, is then inserted into the cut hole.
Once the adhesive has set, the biscuit acts a suitable point of leverage to ensure the bond remains firm.
When selecting a biscuit joiner, like with most specialized woodworking tools, precision is the most important factor. Granted, power will play a bit in the decision process as well.
But biscuit joiners are more than most handheld power tools used in woodworking need to be precise. Perhaps only the pendulum jigsaw can stake a greater claim for this quality.
The precision of a biscuit joiner is determined primarily by three factors: the cutting action, the plate and its associated adjustments, and the biscuit joiner’s design.
This last factor is actually the most specialized and will only come into play when you're attempting to cut into the angled edge of a mitered workpiece.
For the cutting action, the important point is for the blade to cut as deeply as it should. Some lower quality biscuit joiners will either cut too shallow or too deeply.
The former can be worked with, though it does increase the total amount of time on the project.
However, a biscuit joiner that cuts too deep can ruin that part of the workpiece and require you to fashion a new component of the project.
Essentially, if the cut is too deep, the biscuit will not sit in the joined pieces of wood evenly. This may increase the risk that it'll either break after the pieces of wood are joined or that the bond will not hold in the first place.
The base plate and the precision and stability of the adjustments are arguably more important when selecting a biscuit joiner than the accuracy of the cutting action.
While you can often learn how the tool works well enough to account for an imprecise cutting action, if the plate and adjustments are inconsistent, you'll often have to simply hope the tool performs as intended that time.
Some more mechanically inclined woodworkers may be able to modify their biscuit joiner aftermarket. That's hardly a standard for excellence when selecting a power tool.
Like many types of tools on this list, the drill press is simply a larger, mounted version of a handheld power tool. Though, to be more accurate, the handheld versions are actually the modified power tools of the stationary models.
Regardless, a drill press functions similarly to the power drill with a number of important differences.
First, the drill is not operated by a trigger as is common with most power drills. Generally, there is a switch which simply turns the drill on.
The drill will turn the spindle which is connected to the chuck holding the drill bit. Then, with a lever or crank or some other mechanism, you lower the spinning drill onto the workpiece.
Keep in mind, because drill press actions are continuous and don't have the common “dead man’s” action of a handheld trigger started power drill, these machines are far more dangerous than their smaller cousins.
It's import to make sure you're not wearing loose or baggy clothing that can get pulled into the drill and spindle. This could potentially cause serious injury.
Because a drill press is a woodworking tool, its function requires precision and is usually not simply used to holes through a piece wood. Instead, the drill press will bore a hole into wood up to a certain depth that is either determined by adjustments to various parts of the machine.
Or, if you're skilled or require less precision, eyeballed.
When selecting a drill press, one of the most important factors will actually be its size. This is not as common among power tools, though more so with woodworking tools.
Regardless, the distance between the drill bit and the table, the part of the drill press where the wood sits, will heavily impact the types of tasks the tool can accomplish.
Drilling into flat, standard sized pieces of wood is generally something that all drill presses can do with relative ease. The ability to drill into non-standard size workpieces will play heavily on the distance between the table and the bit.
This also makes the method of clamping the workpiece to the table a vital quality.
One of the other more important factors when choosing a drill press is the range of rpms. Different materials will require different rotation speeds.
In fact, different types of wood, depending on their hardness, will require different rotation speeds. This is also relevant depending on the thickness of the wood. Especially for more delicate pieces.
The bane of pretty much every woodworking project is dust and other wood shavings.
Whether it may potentially jam your power tools, create a difficult or hazardous breathing environment, or simply add unnecessary time to your cleanup, few things are as important, or overlooked, as an effective dust collection system.
There are a variety of systems out there and knowing which one to choose requires understanding exactly what it is you're going to do and what type of waste that creates.
There are three primary types of dust collection systems. Air filtration, wet/dry vacs, and dust collectors.
Easily the most common type of dust collection is the wet/dry shop vac. Pretty much every manufacturer makes at least one model. And they're by far the most versatile method of cleanup if for no other reason than because they are rated to clean up wet messes.
Granted, that should be a less common use for pure woodworking projects. But it is always handy to have around.
Especially if you find yourself working on numerous types of projects that aren't necessarily within the exclusive purview of “woodworking.”
Dust collectors are probably the next most common type of cleaning system. They're generally much larger than the humble shop vac.
Plenty of manufacturers make dust collectors that are the same size as a shop vac, but at that point, why would you not just purchase the more versatile option?
Dedicated dust collectors are often large machines that utilize a similar vacuuming suction action as wet/dry vacs.
These machines will generally provide more suctioning power to allow for the vacuuming of larger wood shavings. The hose and attachments of dust collectors are also larger in diameter to allow for a quicker cleanup of more mess.
If you're a dedicated woodworker or have a workshop dedicated almost exclusively to woodworking, a dust collector is actually a better option than a wet/dry vac.
Your woodworking projects will rarely call for liquids. Or the liquids used, if spilled, will need to be disposed of in a more careful manner, like spilled stains or varnish.
The bulk of your cleanup will consist of piles and piles of sawdust and wood shavings.
Air filters can be useful if you're generating a large amount of incredibly fine sawdust. Planers and jointers are primary culprits for this type of mess.
However, some air filters can also be effective at removing harmful fumes from various wood treatments from the air as well.
Jointers are similar to planers, both the handheld and the stationary models. But they're less focused on the “big picture” dimensions of the piece of wood and more focused on the individual sides or faces of the workpiece.
In fact, a jointers explicit purpose is to ensure that a single side or face of the workpiece is straight and even all the way across without dips, bows, or bumps.
The jointer is composed of two long tables separated by spinning blade mounted underneath. It works by feeding a workpiece through the in-feed table where it passes over the blade which shaves workpiece that then exits the out-feed table.
This process generally requires multiple passes.
Keep in mind, this process is use exclusively to ensure the sides of a workpiece a straight and even. While there are jointer/planer combos, the jointer shouldn't be used for the planer’s purpose which is to determine the thickness of the workpiece.
You'll likely use the planer first since it inevitably cut deeper at the ends of the wood.
When selecting a jointer, the cutting depth, table width, and beds and fences are the primary considerations. Of these three, the beds and fences are arguably the most important part.
Unfortunately, these are often the parts of a jointer that seem to be the most difficult for manufacturers to get right. Ultimately, if your jointer’s beds and fences are not accurate, your cuts will either be too deep or they will not actually create the straight edge desired.
Which makes the tool more or less useless for its intended purpose.
For cutting depth, this is mostly an issue of convenience, since it's expected that you'll need to make multiple passes with your workpiece to achieve the straight edge. The power of the jointer can improve this quality, requiring fewer passes.
Of course, if the adjustments are inconsistent, this can also lead to you cutting too deeply into the wood and ruining that specific workpiece.
The table width is arguably the least important factor, since most of the time 6” is all you'll need. However, for woodworkers who commonly make non-standard projects, the 8” jointer will work wonders.
In fact, it might not be a bad idea to get an 8” jointer to start with as you'll likely grow into a woodworker who requires one.
Of the jointers available, the two profiles are benchtop and stationary.
Stationary jointers are far more stable. But they're also more expensive and much larger.
While a benchtop jointer may be less expensive and fit in smaller workshops, it'll also generate more vibration which can lead to uneven cuts.
There are a surprising number of lathes, though the wealth of this variation has to do with the materials used with the tool rather than the function of tool itself.
Lathes are a fairly standard tool and are in fact one of the older power tools in existence with some early models being powered by steam. In fact, primitive lathes that used foot powered pedals to spin the lathe have been discovered from the ancient Egyptian era.
Unless you are using a CNC model, pretty much every lathe you come across will be designed almost identically. The lathe will be constructed of a base called the bed with spindle on the left and an inboard where you rest the accessory used during its action.
The spindle will spin the pieces of wood at incredibly high speeds allowing your, often handheld, accessory to remove wood from all sides.
The primary purpose of a lathe is to either round the edges of a piece of wood into a circular shape or to allow the spinning wood and accessory tool to carve patterns into the wood.
When selecting a lathe there are a couple factors that stand out above the others.
The stability of the workpiece’s mounts is one while the range of rotation speeds is another. Together, these two factors will determine more than most other qualities the versatility of the lathe and how precise the lathe can be.
Of course, the skill of the woodworker will heavily influence the latter. But even a master woodworker will have difficulty making precise cuts if the mounts are not stable.
If the lathe can not spin within a wide enough range, you'll be limited with the types of projects you can complete. For instance, working on a bowl at too high of speeds can tear out the wood unevenly. Likewise, working on a table or chair leg at too low of a speed will often result in an uneven cut.
Lathes also come in different sizes, and each has their advantages. While larger lathes are able to keep the workpiece more securely in place, they're also far more expensive and occupy a much greater amount of room. Small workshops would struggle to accommodate a large lathe.
Benchtop and mini lathes are easier to fit into smaller work spaces, but they also run the risk of vibration. The more the lathe vibrates in general and when gouging in particular, the more difficult it's to precisely cut into the workpiece or control the regularity of the cut.
Much like the jointer, the planer is a large machine that is used for evening out the surfaces of a piece of wood. However, the two machines are actually fairly different in their purpose, if not their action.
Beginning woodworkers often get the two machines confused. An event that is in no way helped by the fact that there are many jointer/planer combos in the light industrial power tool market.
However, a planer’s specific function is to shave off an entire side of a piece of wood to get the lumber to a desired thickness. While you can use the planer to achieve an even face, that's not its purpose.
Based off of this simple description, you should already be able to guess that when selecting a planer, one of the most important factors is how precisely it cuts. Like most woodworking power tools, the precision of its action rests along a couple factors.
First, and most importantly, a planer’s precision will hinge on the evenness of the machines surfaces and guides. One of the biggest issues with modern day planers is that the manufacturers of numerous brands regularly produce planers that have either an uneven surface or uneven guides.
The quality of these two parts of the planer can often be identified simply by where the machine was made. It's a bit of a sad state of affairs, but planers made in China are, on average, less precisely constructed than those made in Taiwan.
While there are many planers that are made in Europe or Mexico, those two Far East regions manufacture the majority of new planers sold on the market for hobbyists today.
Sometimes, fixing the problem of an uneven surface or guide can be as simple as disassembling the surface or guide and reassembling it with more time and care. Often the screws or bolts were simply not driven in straight.
All too often the problem lies with the actual components themselves. And they'll need to be replaced to achieve a high degree of precision.
The other factor to consider when selecting a planer is how large of a “snipe” it takes out of the wood fed into it. The snipe occurs when the planer removes more wood at the very beginning and end of the pass than it does in between.
Pretty much all planers have some degree of snipe, but depending on how they're constructed will have more or less.
The primary thing to consider with snipe is how close the rubber rollers are to the cutting action. The closer the rubber rollers are, the better they'll hold down the wood as it passes through.
There are various tricks you can use to reduce snipe. But they're all nonstandard uses of a planer and should be employed with care.
While there are plenty of tools that function based off a pneumatic power source, for woodworking, you'll generally concern yourself primarily with fastening tools.
These are primarily different types of nailers, though for woodworker, a pneumatic brad nailer may often come into play. Especially for upholstering handmade furniture.
Pneumatic tools have the advantage of being light like a cordless model while also providing a similar amount of raw force when compared to corded models. Together, this makes pneumatic nail guns a virtual no-brainer.
There are electric and even gas-powered version of nail guns.
However, electric nail guns often suffer from one of two problems. Either the nail gun’s action isn't powerful enough to regularly accomplish its task, or the nail gun becomes too cumbersome to use quickly and comfortably.
The former issue happen often with cordless nail guns. Plenty of corded models will suffer from the same problem if not professional grade as well.
This becomes especially troublesome when the wood being nailed is delicate. While a misfire can be frustrating and time-consuming, a nail that's not shot with the necessary force presents a different issue.
Either, you remove the nail and try again. This time with it having already been partially driven, or you drive the nail in with a hammer. In either instance, a fragile strip of wood is liable to be damaged during the second attempt or driving action.
Most people who use nail guns for any serious work, whether professionals or avid and skilled hobbyists, prefer a pneumatic nail gun over other power sources.
When selecting a nail gun for woodworking, the release mechanism is vital. Many professionals in general construction work will opt for a bump-fire nail gun.
This is where you hit the tip of the nail gun onto the material and the tip depresses, flipping a switch, and firing the nail. This is one of the worst type of firing mechanisms for a woodworking nailgun.
Numerous issues can arise from this. First, because there's a movement of the actual nail gun, your accuracy will be diminished unless you're exceptionally well practiced.
You run into a similar issue of damaging the materials or project when you “bump” the tip. Especially considering the bump often requires a bit more force than a simple bump.
The other common type of pneumatic tool for woodworking might be disc sanders. However, sanders powered like this are incredibly powerful and generally reserved for light industrial jobs or exceptionally experienced woodworkers.
Routers can be either a woodworker’s best friend or their worst enemy. On some level this will depend heavily on the woodworker’s skillset.
Routers are one of those tools that can have wider disparities in terms of quality than other types of tools.
For instance, while a professional grade circular saw will generally blow a consumer grade model out of the water. A consumer grade circular saw will often work adequately enough for a wide range of jobs.
This isn't always, or even necessarily, the case for routers.
A professional grade router will not only outperform a consumer grade, the consumer grade router may not even function well-enough to be used for highly skilled projects. This will generally depend on the two distinguishing factors of the different types of routers. The size and the base.
The size of the router will be fairly straight-forward and often maintain a semblance of a standard across brands. Essentially, the large the motor, the “larger” the router.
While a more powerful router will necessarily be a bit larger, the size is often felt more in control than actual bulk. It's the sheer force of the large router that makes it far more suited for a table mounting than handheld use.
Still, the three sizes are large, mid, and compact--commonly referred to as palm routers. Both large and mid-sized routers will feature handles on either side of the router.
Some mid-sized routers will also feature a d-handle with a pistol trigger grip. Large routers will not feature a d-handle as that would simply make them more difficult to maneuver.
Beyond the size of the router, the other important factor is the base plate. The base plate of a router will come in one of two styles, either a fixed base or a plunge base. Each of these has their advantages, but they both also carry their own caveats.
The fixed base router is the easiest to manage. There'll be knobs located on the router that allow you to adjust the depth of the router’s bit to suit your needs.
Fixed base routers can only be used for edge routing.
If you are wily enough, you can place an edge on the interior face of the wood, though you better be exceedingly skilled or creating an organic design for it to look well-done.
The other base plate style is also the most versatile. This is the plunge base, and it works by hanging the motor and router bit onto of two springs.
This router type can be used to start router work on an interior face of the wood as well as make far finer adjustments to the depth.
It's far harder to find a manufacturer that makes a truly high quality plunge base router than it is to find one that makes a solid fixed base router.
Sanders are easily one of the largest groups of woodworking tools. Depending on what you are sanding, when you are sanding, and how much you need sanded will determine a great deal of which type of sander you need.
This is one of the categories that'll feature both handheld and stationary models as well as both cordless and corded models.
Of course, for most woodworking needs, there are few instances when you would actually prefer a cordless sander. Still, if you're working on a large project with numerous crevices and angles, you might find a use for one.
It would almost certainly be better to sand what you could before assembling the pieces of such a project.
For the handheld models, you're mostly looking at random orbital sanders, sheet sanders, belt sanders, and detail or finishing sanders. For the roughest of sanding jobs that require you to remove a fair amount of material, you'll likely look to belt sanders.
These sanders are also especially effective at removing coatings like varnish or lacquer. You need to be careful when using a belt sander for this purpose as applying too much pressure can cause too much of the coating to be removed at once.
If the sander is moving at high enough speeds, it can actually cause the coating to turn sticky and viscous. Due to the way a belt sander functions, this sticky material can actually redeposit in between the loop of sandpaper and the base of the sander’s housing.
Belt sanders can also be stationary units, generally benchtop, and are often combined with disc sanders.
The other stationary sanders are spindle and drum sanders. As the name implies, drum sanders use a single large drum to spin the sandpaper. You then feed the wood onto the drum much like you would a planer.
Depending on the drum sander’s arrangement, you may actually have to treat it more like a jointer. The primary concern with the drum sander in ensuring it's adjusted appropriately as it will sand the would quickly with an aggressive action.
A spindle sander is actually fairly similar to a drum sander in action and design, except the drum is oriented vertically and often much smaller. Unlike a drum sander, a spindle sander is generally used more for shaping purposes rather than smoothing, leveling, or general sanding purposes like the drum sander.
While there are actually a great number of saws used in woodworking, both powered and hand tools, for this article we will focus on the stationary variety. For stationary saws, there are three in particular which find regular use in the woodworking field. Table saws, bandsaws, and scroll saws.
The most common and most widely known of the three is the table saw. This is essentially a flat surface with a circular saw sticking up through the bottom of the surface with the motor located underneath.
This is an incredibly powerful and dangerous type of saw. It's responsible for more accidents within any construction field than other stationary tools and most mobile tools.
Recent technological advances have dramatically improved these numbers by introducing a brake system whereby the blade immediately stops spinning when it comes in contact with skin. This is achieved by a sensor that identifies a much lighter resistance than wood.
This can actually cause unnecessary braking should the material you cut be significantly softer than wood.
While these saws can be used for relatively precise cuts, they're far more commonly used for longer, straight rips. When selecting a table saw, it may seem counter intuitive, but power is not generally one of the primary factors.
Circular saws, whether handheld or stationary, are easy enough to design with significant power and rarely suffer from a lack of such.
Instead, a far more better gauge of table saw quality is its precision of cut. This is often determined along two factors.
The evenness of the table and fences as well as the stability of the blade. While the former can often be modified aftermarket to fix any irregularities, the latter is far more difficult depending on the cause of the problem.
Band saws work entirely different than most power tool saws, though they do have a rough corollary. A band saws cuts by running a bladed chain along a track in a circular motion.
In this regard, it can almost be seen like miniature, mounted chainsaw. The housing of the band saw makes it anything but miniature.
Scroll saws work differently than either of the prior two, though again, they have an approximate action similar to a handheld saw.
The scroll saw uses a reciprocating blade mounted to a circular base with the motor once again underneath. In this way, a scroll saw can be seen as a larger jigsaw or reciprocating saw. Scroll saws need to be much more precise than either.
Wrapping It Up
As we can see, the world of woodworking is both broad and deep. Aside from the litany of woodworking tools, handheld and stationary powered in numerous ways, there's a smorgasbord of brands.
Each with their own market niches. It 's vital that you understand which tools you need ahead of time and at what skill level you'll be practicing woodworking.
For instance, if you don't plan to make larger projects, you can likely skip many of the stationary power tools. Planers, jointers, and even most lathes will not find enough uses to make their investment worthwhile.
However, even if you do intend to focus on smaller projects, every woodworker should have a solid drill press.
If you'll be making furniture or other large pieces, stationary power tools are a necessity. Of course, you'll also employ a full suite of handheld power tools as well as hand tools.
But creating a cabinet shouldn't be left to the capricious whims of handheld tools. Regardless of how they're powered.
Finally, make sure that the tools you purchase are consummate with your skill level.
While it can be nice to rush out and spend a great deal of money on the best tools, if you're a novice, chances are you will not see the kind of returns for a long while until you develop within your craft.
Granted, this can be seen as a good investment, assuming you maintain diligent upkeep.
It can be a good idea to purchase a lower grade of tool in the beginning and work your way up to the more impressive, and expensive models, once you have developed your skillset
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