Essential powertools to get started

Submitted by Kjunmomma on Sat, 06/15/2013 - 06:27

What are some of the essential power tools to get started? Space is pretty limited in the garage (project #1 is clearing space out) and budget is medium-tight (just went to 1 income). I'd like to get some quality tools to be able to build bookshelves to start and maybe a bed for my kids later on. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!


Tue, 12/02/2014 - 07:57

I don't quite understand the responses you've gotten.   I'm new here, too.  So far, I have a cordless drill/driver, a circular saw, and an orbital sander.   I thought I could get away without the sander, but, it's an investment you want to make, and it's not really that expensive.   I'd love to add a compound miter saw to the mix, but they're pricey, and I've been able to either use my circular saw, a miter box and had saw, or the big boxes to cut my wood so far.


Tue, 12/02/2014 - 11:44

If you look on the left side of this website, there's "Tools & Tips For Newbies" under the title "Getting Started".  That will give you a wealth of information.


Sat, 04/11/2015 - 18:27

Circular Saw

While some people consider the circular saw to be more of a carpentry tool than a fine woodworking tool, I would tend to disagree. There may be no more versatile basic handheld power tool than a circular saw. When used with a clamp-on straight-edge, the circular saw can be just about as accurate as a table saw and handle quite a few of the tasks that one would attempt with a table saw, particularly cutting sheet goods such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard.

Power Drill

Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill.


The third tool for the beginner is the Jigsaw. A jigsaw allows the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock. Sure, a band saw will likely be more accurate and can cut thicker stock, but for the beginner, the jigsaw (sometimes also referred to as a Sabre Saw) can be perfectly effective. For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded jigsaw that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system

Random Orbital Sander

The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion.

Table Saw

Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you've had time to get comfortable with using them, its time to make your first (and likely most important) major tool purchase. The table saw is the heart and soul of every woodworking shop, the centerpiece around which all of the other tools are used and organized, so you'll want to buy the best table saw that your budget can comfortably afford.

Compound Miter Saw

After you have chosen the perfect table saw for your wood shop, the next major purchase one should consider would be a compound miter saw. While not as expensive as a quality table saw, a compound miter saw is invaluable for cutting compound angles (beveled, mitered and combination cuts) on the ends of a piece of stock. Once you develop your ability to make precise cuts with a compound miter saw, you'll find that your circular saw spends a little more time in the drawer than it used to.


The last tool I recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router. While many routers available today offer two different bases (a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and can also be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in (or even build one) one down the line. Choose a router model that is at least 2-HP and has electronic variable speed controls (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds), a soft start mechanism and is easy to make bit changes (preferably with the ability to use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch shank router bits).

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Noob Builder

Sun, 04/12/2015 - 11:36

Hi Ana, I went to chapters and bought your book 2 days ago, it was a real pleasure reading it!
I have a question: I'm trying to buy a compound miter saw, and I know that you recommend that I get the best one I can afford, do you have a recommendation? I think I will buy exactly the same tools as you! Do you have a list of tools (with makes and models) that you are currently using? Thanks!

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