The 9 Best Essential Woodworking Tools (Beginner’s Guide)

If you’re looking to start woodworking or looking for a new addition to your workshop, you’re in the right place! My workshop has almost every woodworking tool you can think of (I like to come prepared), so let me tell you about the nine best essential woodworking tools.

best essential woodworking tools

Now that you have clarification on what’s important, let’s delve into why these tools are essential so that you understand the importance of each tool and why you’ll need them for your projects.

Drill 

drilling screw in wood

If you plan on a lot of assembling, then a cordless drill will prove most useful in almost every situation. A drill is a piece of machinery with a chuck on its end, which allows you to put any size or shape bits in it that you require for your project. It usually comes with varying speeds and options for drilling or hammer drilling. 

Ensure that you get a drill with a half-inch chuck and not a 3/8 inch chuck, or you may regret it later because you’ll be severely limited in what bits you can use. You’ll want at least an 18-volt drill if you’re planning on doing a lot of heavy-duty work, such as working on concrete or drilling the entire day – this is generally the choice for professionals. 

If you want to complete your backyard, house, or small shop projects, consider getting a 12-volt drill. Additionally, it is worth your while to get a hammer drill rather than a standard drill because it gives you the option to drill into concrete should you need it. 

Nevertheless, there are many brands, models, and options available to match the power for your next job, and knowing what you want is the first step to making the right choice. DeWalt, Makita, and Ryobi are all at the top of their game when it comes to quality and reliability, and picking any one of them will guarantee a solid piece of equipment. 

That being the case, it’s best to stick to one brand only. You don’t want a handful of different brands, each with its own set of batteries, size batteries, brand batteries, and chargers – it’s a logistical nightmare that you would soon rather avoid than deal with! Do some research and find one that fits your budget and does what you need it to do.

Cordless Circular Saw

circular saw on the table

If you’re starting, it may be well worth your while to pick up a combo set that contains a circular saw, jigsaw, drill, impact driver, etc., and they usually come with a couple of batteries and a charger, too. This way, when you’re working with one tool, you can have another battery charging, ready to replace the current one as soon as its energy depletes. 

Cordless tools and batteries have come a long way in the last decade, making them highly comparable to corded tools yet much more convenient because you don’t have to drag around a cord. Cordless circular saws boast great versatility in the shop and work well for ripping sheet goods, standard lumber, crosscutting, and even circles with the right jig. 

Additionally, a cordless circular saw offers enough mobility to allow you to bring the tool to the workstation rather than the other way around; this can save you a lot of time when you need to meet deadlines. When considering a circular saw, there are some crucial features that you’ll want to make sure it has before making any purchases. 

You must be able to set the depth of your blade to do half-lap joinery and dados. Furthermore, you must be able to set a bevel angle to cut angled edges, especially if you were planning on making a tabletop and you wanted to lighten up the look at the top or cut a bevel on the underside. 

When it comes to accessories for a circular saw, you may want to consider a straight line cutting jig, whether you buy it or make it (they’re pretty simple to make). It will allow you to cut sheet goods very accurately and squarely, making your life a whole lot easier when it comes to assembly. 

Impact Driver

impact driver in use

An impact driver is a great tool to have when your drill doesn’t have enough power to see the job through. Within its body exists a hammer and an anvil that spins furiously to surpass the resistance that a drill cannot. An impact driver isn’t used to drill holes but rather for driving screws. However, it does work particularly well with socket adapters. 

It’s common to see drills and impact drivers sold as a combo, and you can save a lot of money by getting one of these combos. Thus, keep a lookout for sales because you can almost get the impact driver for free many times! 

Random Orbital Sander

random orbital sander

Random orbital sanders are fantastic because they minimize the sanding marks left when you finish whatever you’re building. The effectiveness of the sander can vary substantially depending on which model you use, and unsurprisingly, the more expensive the sander, the better it is at removing sanding marks. 

Nevertheless, it’s hard to go wrong with well-known brands like Makita, Bosch, and Dewalt. Furthermore, consider going with the five-inch hook-and-loop pad, not peel-and-stick. The sander will have a port at the back where you can hook a vacuum up to it, or they may also come with a bag for collecting the debris. 

You also get two kinds of pads: those without holes and those with holes. Those with holes help the attached vacuum to more easily suck up any of the dirt or debris from sanding.  

Miter Saw

hand-miter-saw

A miter saw is one of the most significant investments for any woodworker. The miter saw gives you superior repeatability because if you have it on a fence, you can set up stop blocks. Additionally, it allows you to miter and bevel, depending on which model you get. 

It would be best if you refrained from going any lower than a 10-inch blade because you’ll find that you’ll be severely limited by what you would like to use it for but can’t. As such, if you have the budget and the room for it, it is well worth going for at least a 12-inch miter saw. 

Furthermore, the type of miter saw you would be a personal preference, but consider getting a sliding miter saw and not a stationary one because it’s much more flexible to use.

Table Saw

portable table saw

The table saw will probably be the most expensive investment as far as woodworking tools go. Depending on which model you use, they will vary in size and horsepower. The job site-size table saw is the smallest kind of table saw, and it has a one-and-a-half horsepower. 

After that, you’ll work up to the contractor size, hybrid, and finally, the cabinet saw. 

A hybrid table saw is a nice blend between a contractor and a cabinet saw, making it a great pick if you’re unsure. Cabinet saws are the biggest and heaviest in the bunch and typically have three to five horsepower. Most table saws use a 10-inch blade, and although some use smaller, definitely stick with a 10-inch blade that works best for most tasks.

There are a few crucial factors to consider to help you determine the best type of table saw for you. Firstly, consider your available space; is your shop your garage, and if so, how much space do you have available? If you’re short on space, consider a job site saw so that you can move it out onto the driveway to do your cutting. 

Secondly, you should consider your budget carefully. Compare budget and space availability to reach the most optimal outcome; go with the biggest and most powerful saw you can afford. If you decide on a job site, note the mobile base it comes with to ensure it will be convenient to move elsewhere.  

Table saws can be exceptionally versatile because you can use different jigs on them. You can use crosscut sleds, tapering jigs, specific jigs for cutting outdoors, mortise, and tenon cuts – there are all kinds of jigs that you can get for table saws that will let you do far more than just crosscutting and ripping sheet goods or rough lumber.  

Clamps

clamp

Clamps are one of the most valuable tools for ensuring you get the most accurate cuts. You get different clamp styles, such as “F-style” clamps that come in the shape of the letter “F. These clamps are highly versatile and popular among woodworkers. Additionally, they’re pretty affordable and can be easily attained even by beginners. 

You also get clamps known as “parallel clamps,” which will probably be the most expensive option for clamps. These clamps are particular to woodworking and do an exceptional job on every project. They give what’s called “parallel clamping pressure” and work well for panel glue-ups. 

Furthermore, “i-beam clamps,” which is a slight step-up from pipe clamps. They can apply more pressure than regular pipe clamps because they have a turning mechanism to help tighten and seal a piece of wood firmly in place. 

A squeeze clamp is another excellent addition to any woodworking workshop. Squeeze clamps are great because they’re easy to use with just one hand. You operate them by squeezing a trigger, similar to what you would do when spraying a water bottle. Although their pressure is formidable, they’re better suited to “quick jobs” rather than panels. 

Jigsaw

Jigsaw

Jigsaws, despite their importance, can be one of the most aggravating tools to have due to their many quirks. You get different kinds of jigsaws, such as top-handle jigsaws with the handle at the top of the tool or barrel handle jigsaws that are more akin to a drill. 

If you ever find yourself wanting a curved cut, you’re going to need a jigsaw, but it can be convenient for other tasks as well. You can insert a hacksaw blade into a jigsaw that transforms it into an excellent metal-cutting tool compared to a traditional hacksaw. 

Furthermore, there is a wide variety of blades that you can get for a jigsaw; there’s a fine finish, general-purpose, and scroll saw blades for doing very tight turns. Generally, jigsaw cuts point up, but you can get a reverse cut. Reverse cuts are handy for when you’re cutting on the surface of the wood, and you don’t want any tear-out on the back. 

Whatever jigsaw you decide to go with, ensure they accept t-shank quick-release blades. A corded jigsaw will work fine for getting the job done, but it is far better to go with a cordless jigsaw when given the option. You’re going to move a lot when using a jigsaw, especially when you’re cutting something large that’s round, or that has a lot of curves. 

In this case, the cord will often get in your way, get snagged, tangled, or hung up, and you don’t want to find yourself constantly reaching back to adjust the cord. Thus, it is worthwhile to opt for a cordless jigsaw whenever possible. 

Router

wood router advantages

Compared to the other tools in a woodworker’s workshop, a router has fantastic flexibility that allows you to do much more than you’d expect. Big routers work well for flattening material, whereas general routers are acceptable for your everyday tasks. 

Furthermore, their versatility allows you to cut joinery, whether you’re doing flattening or straight edges – it can do it all because there are so many different kinds of bits available.  

If you’re in the market for a router, remember that you can generally pick them up in bundles or pairs during the holidays. For woodworking specifically, it’s well worth getting a plunge router base and a fixed router base, which will enable you to complete a broader range of tasks. 

Conclusion 

Carefully examine each cutting or drilling task ahead of you to ensure you find every tool that will help you accomplish your goal of completing your project effectively.  

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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