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The Most Important Woodworking Tools That You Need

Once you decide to pursue woodworking, the first priority should be getting all the tools you will need. In most cases, you will already have most of the basic tools right in your home. However, it would still be a good idea to purchase some more pieces of equipment. You might also want to replace some old tools in your toolbox to be sure you have a good set before working.

In any case, there are two broad categories of tools to be familiar with: hand tools and power tools. We will look at each category, as well as some of essential tools to have from each. We will also take a look as some of the miscellaneous items that you can include in your shop tool chest.


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Hand Tools

1. Hammer

The claw hammer is perhaps the most recognizable of all woodworking tools. It not only lets you drive nails into wood pieces but also remove them using the clawed end. The clawed end also serves as a counterweight to keep the hammerhead balanced. It can also come in handy for a variety of other tasks.

Weight is an important consideration when purchasing hammers. A heavier head would mean a stronger force for every stroke of the hammer, which makes driving a nail easier. However, it might also prove a bit more difficult to control. Another important consideration when purchasing a hammer is the handle size: the longer the handle, the faster you can swing the hammer, increasing force. The most preferred weight for a claw hammer is around 450 grams.

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2. Hand saw

The hand saw is another hand tool that is almost universally associated with woodworking. And even with the advent of power tools like the jig saw and the circular saw, many experienced woodworkers find it a must to have at least two different hand saws included in their toolset.

While there are several different types of hand saws, the two essential kinds to have in a starter kit are the rip saw and the crosscut saw. The main difference between these two saws is how they cut into the wood: the ripsaw cuts along the grain while the cross cut cuts across the grain. Also, note that the number of teeth (denoted as teeth per inch/tpi) determines which saw should be used for cutting a particular size of wood stock. Saws with higher tpi are suited for smaller stock while a lower tpi is useful for doing more aggressive cuts on larger ones. In case you don’t want to have to deal with two separate tools, you can opt to get a saw with interchangeable blades.

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  • 15-inch blade, 8 TPI / 9 PPI ; limited lifetime warranty

3. Tape Measure

Accuracy is crucial when working on a wood project, as you want each piece to be exact to the specified dimensions to ensure correct fit. Here, a tape measure would be more preferred than a ruler, as it is a lot more compact and can be easily carried around where needed. A 25-foot retractable tape measure will be ideal, as anything longer than that can cause the retract mechanism to not work properly. When buying your tape measure, it is important to check the sturdiness of the hook at the end. When this hook becomes loose, it can slightly slide out of place, which can throw your measurements by as much as an eighth of an inch, which can screw up the accuracy a lot. Also, don’t let the tape roll back too hard, so as not to damage the tab.

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4. Screwdriver

Screws are useful when you want to easily disassemble joined pieces. However, they can be quite a pain in the neck when you down have the right sized screwdriver for the job. A good screwdriver set should come with the most common sizes for Philips and flat-head screws. Though less common, it would also be helpful to have some star drivers and Torx drivers for these types.

In deciding on what screwdriver set to buy, consider the scope of the job that you plan to undertake. In the case of woodworking, where most of the screws you will be likely using are standard Phillips and slotted head types, with the preference more towards the latter. Get a set that uses flared bit heads which are just about the exact width as the screws you plan on using to not to damage the wood when putting on and removing the screws.

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  • Lithium Ion Battery holds a charge for up to 18 months
  • Three-position handle lets you work in tight spaces
  • Spindle lock allows manual screw driving and greater control
  • Forward and reverse switch for easy screw driving and screw removal
  • Lithium Ion Battery holds a charge for up to 18 months

4. Chisel

The chisel is probably one of the more overlooked of the basic hand tools, as it is more often associated with wood carving. However, the chisel can actually be a versatile piece, as it can be used as clean out joints and saw cuts. Furthermore, it can be used for such novel tasks as prying two joined pieces from each other.

When buying chisels, it would be a good idea to grab several different sizes. Choose ones that are made from high-carbon alloy steel or chromiumvanadium alloy steel, as these will resist wear and tear much longer. Also get those that have hardwood grips with metal caps on the ends, since this can take hammer strikes well.

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  • Heat tempered steel blades, lacquer-coated to prevent rust
  • Blades uniformly hardened for full length use

5. Hand Plane

While the hand plane is sometimes overlooked by beginners, it is one of the essential tools that a woodworking starter kit should have, as it is used not only for smoothing wood but also for shaping it according to needs and trimming it to meet measurements. A block plane is a good starting plane for novices. You will probably be surprised to know that getting older block planes is actually a good idea, as the quality of the steel used for the parts is often higher.

Another good plane to acquire is the jack plane. This particular type of plane is useful when dealing with boards that are wider than what your block plane. Jack planes are also useful when smoothing the face of a warped board that is too large to be handled by a face jointer (a tool used for cleaning such wood defects).

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Power Tools

Power tools are designed to get common woodworking tasks done a lot quicker and easier. These tools come in two different varieties: corded tools, where you need to plug them to a power outlet, and cordless tools that have their own battery pack. Almost all power tools come packed with an assortment of attachments, letting them do the work of several different tools.

1. Circular Saw

While the circular saw is sometimes considered to be more of a carpentry tool, it has also become indispensable for the woodworker’s craft. The circular saw lets the woodworker do cuts that can be difficult to get with an ordinary hand saw. It can also be made to cut accurately by using clamps to hold the piece, which is ideal for dealing with plywood or fiberboard.

As is with the hand saw, the number of teeth is important when getting a circular saw and saw blade. A blade with more teeth in it produces finer cuts, which is ideal for making accurate slices. A coarser wheel with fewer teeth, meanwhile, is good for quickly cutting larger pieces down to size. Height is another point to consider when choosing circular saws. Get one that has a height range that will allow you to comfortably cut pieces for projects.

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2. Jig Saw

Cutting curves into wood pieces is often a difficult task to accomplish when using regular saws. A jig saw makes the work easier by giving you better control to guide the direction of the cut. One feature you would want to get with a jig saw is orbital action. Unlike standard jig saws, which simply move the blade up and down, orbital action jig saws angle the blade forward driving it into the wood in the upswing to produce a smoother cut. Do keep in mind that this feature is usually more common in pricier units, but you still find it

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You also need to take note of the cutting depth of the jig saw. For woodworking applications, the recommended cut depth would be around 2 inches. While you can get a unit which can provide higher cut depth for other purposes, be aware that such blades would be more prone to bending and breaking.

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3. Table Saw

For many beginners, the table saw would be their first major acquisition for the shop. As it is where much of the work will be centered. A table saw lets you cut large pieces of wood, as well as accurately trim smaller pieces to size. Many table saws also come with components that let you cut varying thickness of wood at desired angles.

When picking your first table saw, it’s important to consider the feature you want to have, as well as those you expect to actually use. From there, you can narrow down your selection to those models that fit your budget while still providing most, if not all, of these.

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  • Instant, tool-free blade changes and compatible with any 4" t-shank jigsaw blades, change the blade in 3 seconds
  • Includes a vacuum port, a large, steel rip fence, miter gauge, 5-piece starter blade set, and manufacturer's 3-year warranty

4. Power Drill

Going from cutting, drilling holes will be another common task you will encounter. Here, you will probably be surprised to know that a corded power drill will be a better recommendation than a cordless one. This is mainly because corded drills are less expensive and will be able to provide constant power much longer.

When going through the available power drills, look for one which has a comfortable grip for easier handling. Getting one that has a reverse action feature will add versatility to the tool. Make sure that your drill bits are compatible with your other tools, like screwdrivers and wrenches.

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5. Router

The router is a versatile power tool that beginners will find handy for a variety of tasks. A stationary model is a good option for beginners, as it will get most tasks done easily. Choose a unit that is at least 2 HP up, which has enough power to handle larger bits.

Another feature that you want to check more closely is the router’s collet diameter. A ¼ inch diameter collet would be a good pick for beginners, as bits for this are a lot easier to find and cheaper. Once you get more experienced with the router, you can switch to the ½ inch variant, which are more stable and create less chatter.

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  • 1-3/4-hp, 11-amp motor provides the power to rout smoothly through the toughest hardwoods
  • Micro-fine depth adjustment ring provides precise depth adjustments in 1/64-inch increments
  • Adjustable, tool-free steel motor cam lock makes depth adjustment and base changes quick and solid-locking
  • Quick-release motor latches for fast and easy motor pack removal for bit and base changes
  • Sub-base concentricity gauge included to ensure bit concentricity for best-in-class accuracy

6. Random Orbital Sander

Of all the woodworking tasks, sanding is definitely one of the most laborious, as you will likely be spending hours to achieve the desired smoothness of the wood surface. The random orbital sander makes this task less tedious while freeing your hands from all the pain of having to vigorously rub sandpaper onto the wood. Another great thing about the random orbital sander is that it lessens the appearance of noticeable sanding marks, as it moves in a random motion instead of a definite pattern.

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