Best Woodworking Tools To Buy: 2021 Guide
In this article, we will be looking at some of the best woodworking tools of 2023 that you can have in your workshop.
Some say that only a poor workman blames his tools. Others say that a worker is only as good as his tools are.
I say that having a good set of woodworking tools can make our time spent in the workshop way more enjoyable.
If you are on a mission to equip your woodshop with the best woodworking tools, then you are in the right place. In this article, we will discuss which woodworking tools are worth buying in 2023. We will discuss power saws, sanders, routers, lathes, thickness planers, jointers, traditional hand tools, and more!
Table of Contents
Speed matters and the circular saw provides this in your shop. The tool is marketed for construction, requiring the features to offer quick adjustments for repetitive cutting. A circular saw is an affordable alternative to the miter or table saw, making it the first saw beginners will purchase.
Circular saws are a mainstay for carpenters, and many of the products you see on the market cater towards use on construction sites or for DIYers doing home repairs/remodeling.
Blade size is an important consideration when buying a circular saw, with 7.25-inches being the most popular. That allows you to cut through most 2 x framing lumber as well as sheet goods. A good blade guard and other safety features are a must. Cutline markers and cutting guides help prevent drifting.
The table saw is by far the most versatile tool you can have in the shop. When you finally buy one, you will notice that much of your woodworking time will be spent somewhere in close vicinity to it.
You can achieve virtually any type of cut with a table saw. Woodworkers with enough skill can even use the table saw to square boards.
There are so many different table saw options to choose from that simply looking at the selection can make you feel dizzy. Some can cost an arm and a leg. Others try to lure buyers in with low price tags in exchange for tools that are extremely low quality.
On this site, we have broken down the most popular table saw models that offer the best performance for woodworkers of every level of skill.
A miter saw is The Saw for making accurate cross and miter cuts quickly. Buy this tool if you want to save a lot of time in the shop.
The main types of miter saws are:
- Sliding miter saws – these can slide front to back which is excellent for cutting large pieces of material.
- Compound miter saws – allows you to make diagonal crosscuts and beveled cuts.
- Compound sliding miter saws – these combine the best features of sliding and compound miter saws in one saw.
- Dual compound miter saws – these saws feature beveling on both sides. Usually more expensive but can save you time since you don’t have to flip the board to make the same cut on the opposite side.
Considering the different types and the sheer amount of options available, making a buying decision can be tough. Which ones are worth buying? We provide an answer:
If you are looking to make cuts on large pieces of timber or breaking down planks for use on your next project, no other saw will offer you the cutting depth a bad saw can. The cutting depth on saws that use circular saw blades is limited to its radius for total reach. A band also cuts curves because it is thin and flexible.
Throat capacity is an important detail when shopping for band saws. The throat capacity indicates the width of cut you can make with the power tool. As a side note, it is usually the same size as the wheel width the bandsaw blade rotates around.
Consider the table size, as this supports the wood as you cut. A quality fence is easy to adjust and is flat.
If you are looking to make curved cuts with a power tool that takes up little space, you want a jigsaw. The reciprocating blade is safer than a circular design, making it a comfortable option for beginners and young hobbyists.
When you shop for your jigsaw, keep in mind electric motor ratings. If a product lists as five amps or less, it will be less effective in dense wood grains and thicker pieces of framing lumber. Manufacturers make variable speed a stand-out feature, but for most woodworking, it is not a necessity.
The shoe design is an important consideration, so the flatter, the better. Easy-to-use adjustments for bevel angles on the shoe are advantageous but not as necessary as laser cutting guides or tool-less blade changes.
Routers make life in the woodshop simple. Producing a quality edge or decorative markings on the face of lumber requires minimal passes with this tool. As a bonus, almost endless amounts of bit shapes are available to use.
The two types of router bases are fixed-based and plunge. A plunge router’s bit moves up and down, while a fixed-base design keeps the bit at the same height. Plunge routers versatile, but fixed-base are often preferred for a router table.
Compact, palm, and trim routers are smaller light-duty products. They are not powerful enough for large router bits though.
If you plan to use bits that remove lots of wood, you need more horsepower to drive them. Variable speed control and bit change features are worth paying attention to also.
Random Orbital Sanders
Can one sanding tool provide both aggressive removal and smooth finishing across flat surface areas quickly? The random orbital sander removes wood quickly but less aggressively than a belt sander. Switch abrasives, and the sander gives lumber a smooth-to-the-touch feel that is ready to accept stains, paints, or protective topcoats.
The base of these sanders spin in a similar way to orbital sanders. Random orbital sanders add ellipses movements to this. That allows you to use it in any direction to the wood grain and eliminates swirl marks that orbital sanders leave.
The most important feature on any sander is one that often gets overlooked. Dust collection is a necessity. Many products come with canisters or bags, but the best collection will come from a shop vac, so look for hose adaptors.
No other electric sander removes wood as quickly as the belt sander. If you need aggressive sanding across wide and flat surfaces, this is the tool to consider. The key to the tool’s effectiveness is the sanding belt, which moves in one direction at a high rate of speed.
The two belt sander designs most commonly encountered are the stationary and the hand-held. Stationary products take up more room but are safer to use, while portable designs are faster to use and store easily.
For many woodworkers the portable bench sander often makes more sense. It can sand larger projects that would be difficult to control on a stationary sander. They are also easier to store.
When shopping, belt size is critical to your decision between products. The width and length determine the amount of surface contact and how much abrasive is available. You need to consider a product’s dust extraction capabilities, as belt sanders generate lots of debris.
These power tools round or sand irregular edges on lumber. They also allow you to work on small pieces that would be hard to secure for hand-held sanders. Its table and tilt help you to create consistent edges at various mitered angles.
If you are looking to get one of these versatile tools, keep an eye out for the amp rating. Higher is better, so look for motors that rate well in this category to prevent bogging as you work.
Belt width and disc size will determine the overall size of projects you can work on, so wide abrasives belts and discs are advantageous. A flat table that locks in place is needed, especially if it tilts to sand bevels. Like any other type of sander, dust extraction helps to keep the air clean.
A drum sander helps you smooth projects more evenly than working with hand-held sanders. They can be safer on thin strips or joints on assembled components where cutting blades can cause damage.
A drum sander works on any wood it can hold, but it stands out for smoothing glue-up panels and wide boards. Designs include closed and open. Closed drum sanders have the drums mounted on pillars while open designs suspend the drums.
Dimensions are your concern when buying a drum sander. A wider drum will sand more surface at one time. Also, consider the adjustable height of the drum as it limits the lumber thickness you can work. Spend the extra money on a sander that automatically adjusts the feed rate for the best results.
Why bother with a traditional hand plane in today’s power tool world? Control.
Planers, while adjustable, are more aggressive with cuts. A quality hand plane allows you to shave paper-thin across the wood. You can also feel the interaction between blade and wood grain, which is impossible to do when an electric motor and spinning blades vibrate.
As you shop for hand planes, keep in mind that a flat sole is necessary to remove irregular surfaces or smooth them. You will also want a tool that is easy to adjust the depth and angle of the blade. Plane blades need to be easy to insert and remove for sharpening the cutting edge.
While a surface can hold lumber in place, it is also handy for shaping wood accurately. The key to a woodworking jointer is the precision its tables and fence offer to create a flat face and a perpendicular edge. Those two surfaces then become the reference point for everything else.
Jointers also make use of a fence that allows you to support wood on its edge. That lets you create a flat edge that is perpendicular to the face of the timber. These tools come as a stationary floor model or as a benchtop design.
Electric motor strength is important. A stronger motor tends to leave a smoother finish in dense woods. Wider cutting heads need more power to cut through wood, with one horsepower a good choice for a six-inch-wide cutter.
Your cutting-head size determines the maximum board width. Cutter heads use blades, spiral heads, or helical cutting designs.
Unlike a drum sander that flattens and smoothes incrementally, the thickness planer removes lots of surface material to get a uniform board thickness. It creates a parallel surface to your reference face.
Unlike hand-held or traditional planers, this tool is stationary. It comes as a full-sized cabinet model or benchtop version.
Capacity is the limiting feature you need to consider. The cutting head rests upon pillars that limit the width of the material you can feed, and you need to make sure it can adjust to handle the thickness of your typical project pieces.
Build materials influence rigidity, with cast-iron preferred. The cutting head, table design, and control features affect the performance and price of a thickness planer.
Once your interests move beyond blocky surfaces and simple curves, you might consider the lathe. Chairs, posts, and other decorative pieces quickly round over with chisels and abrasives. Uniformity on interior and exterior shaping happens quickly and with far less effort.
Before shopping, ask yourself what types of projects you plan to build. While future-proofing your shop is good, you might waste space (and money) if you buy the largest lathe and only turn pens. The tool comes in full-size, midi, and mini designs.
Vibration can be an issue with turning, so the more it weighs, the better. Cast-iron is your friend. The distance between head and tailstock, bed swing, and swing over the tool rest will limit the size of wood you can turn.
Beginning woodworkers benefit from power tools that perform many tasks, and the rotary tool is the king of versatility. If you are starting your tool collection, it can help you finish smaller projects all by itself.
Compact rotary tool designs offer services for simple projects around the home or hobby shop. Heavy-duty designs are also available that are useful for construction-oriented applications that smaller designs can not handle. The other design consideration falls between corded tools and battery-operated rotary tools.
Speed is the top feature that manufacturers and customers consider when selecting a rotary tool. For woodworkers, the lower RPM range is important, as the high-end speeds can burn the wood. Outside of that, grip design and available accessories are what make or break a rotary tool.
Drilling and cutting are the two ways that woodworkers shape their projects, and the power drill covers the drilling of holes and the driving of fasteners. When used correctly, it performs these tasks without damaging the wood. You can work away from the edges, creating more intricate shapes and holds for joinery on the lumber’s face.
Collets ranges include 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2-inch. A larger collet offers access to more drill bits.
Higher motor ratings provide increased speeds and torque, with most models providing enough for DIY and woodworking projects. A brushless motor design has fewer parts to break down, and they also tend to run cooler. Keyless chucks are usually standard now, but a traditional chuck provides a tighter hold on drill bits that tend to stick.
Round up the Power Tools You Need
The tool round-up above offers you several devices to examine in more detail. I have selected these particular tools for their ability to fill gaps within a woodworker’s shop.
There are plenty of power tools for beginners to shop for, and clicking the links I have provided will help us continue our woodworking journey together