Last Updated on 2022-04-11 by Harry Masterton
For serious woodworkers there is a list of essential woodworking power tools that you must own. We take the pain out of putting this tool collection together.
There are several reasons people believe their woodworking must-have power tools are vital to the woodworking hobby and DIY including:
Essential Woodworking Power Tools Provide Accuracy
The power tool market is highly competitive, which provides us with a chance to get highly accurate woodworking tools. Benchtop, hand-held, and floor designs often come with clearly marked gauges that let you dial in a particular depth or width while using the power tool.
There are cheap woodworking tool designs with inaccuracies due to poor markings, materials, or craftsmanship. I find the new bargain power tools have improved, and they provide beginners with enough accuracy to start an essential power tool collection that will build most shop projects.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools Provide Speed
Another reason people feel woodworking must have power tools is the time power tools save them in the shop. If you have switched from a sanding block to an electric sander, you understand the time you saved performing surface cleanup.
Time is a precious commodity for the professional and amateur alike. Collecting the necessary woodworking power tools will allow tradespersons to stay on schedule and let the hobbyist finish a project over the weekend. My power tools let me explore more builds each month as they cut down the time to perform specific tasks.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools Provide Convenience
Once you get used to adjusting a particular power tool, it makes woodworking easy. You can work through potential issues with building materials that might prove more difficult with a hand tool. Power tools are less labor-intensive (usually), so you can enjoy power tool woodworking more.
A big step for convenience has been the introduction of battery-powered tools. These power tools are mobile, going where corded designs can not. Battery-powered equipment also includes the latest features and technology, benefiting us all.
Why Use Anything but Essential Woodworking Power Tools?
Does anyone not use the necessary woodworking power tools to complete a job? Yes.
Traditional woodworkers enjoy hand-powered tools, and their shops have few (if any) power tools. Beginning woodworkers and DIYers might lack power tools because they are intimidated about using them. Finally, remote locations might exclude using a power tool.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools List
Essential woodworking power tools must include a power drill. You can cut and shape lumber by hand, but making holes by hand requires a power drill. A half-inch chuck is more versatile. A corded drill will be cheaper but really a cordless drill is a basic woodworking tool around the woodworking shop and home even if you're a beginner woodworker.
You will appreciate these indispensable woodworking power tools if you have been cutting wood with a handsaw up to this point. You can use several blade material types and sawblade tooth configurations to make clean cuts through anything.
See our full in-depth review of the best corded circular saw <—- Here
The jigsaw is one of the first woodworking must have power tools most hobbyists and DIYers get. Unlike circular saws, they can cut curves. You will find that they are safer to use than other tools in your collection.
Random Orbital Sander
You will thank yourself for getting one of these essential woodworking electric power tools. It saves a lot of time, and it will not wear you out like a sanding block. Also, random orbitals leave a cleaner surface.
Sometimes overlooked, the wood router is one of the necessary woodworking tools you will use more as time goes by. They help round or shape edges, and plunge routers can cut into the wood away from edges.
Electric Hand Planer
See our full in-depth review of the best electric hand planer <—- Here
The electric hand planer is one of the woodworking must have power tools that I discovered later on in the woodworking hobby. If you get one sooner, you will find that you can use more types of timber with smoother edges and faces.
The detail sander joins this list of essential woodworking power tools because it fits in places that a random orbital sander can not. That includes the inside of corners on your boxes and spokes on furniture. A good quality palm sander is one of those essential power tools for your next diy project or finishing a furniture upcycling project.
A powered drill makes small and medium holes just fine, but the impact driver becomes one of the necessary shop power tools because of its additional torque. You use it to drive long fasteners or other high-torque tasks.
These are woodworking must-have power tools, especially for DIYers. It cuts, sands, grinds, and scraps projects that would damage your other power tools. It also has applications outside of the woodshop.
These are the forgotten essential woodworking power tools. Get one to help keep your shop clean and substitute for a dust collector.
Which Woodworking Power Tools To Buy First
Knowing that there are essential woodworking power tools is one thing, but if you are just starting your collection, you might wonder what the first power tools to buy should be. Over the years, I have learned which power tools are essential in my shop.
I think the following order to buy woodworking tools will serve your needs well:
- Circular Saw;
- Power Drill; Corded or Cordless Drill
- Palm/Orbital Sander;
- Electric planer.
Why should you start your power tool collection with the circular saw? All wood used on projects needs to be cross or rip-cut, and this saw does these tasks with ease. A corded version should be available for a reasonable price near you, and you can find deals on battery-powered models on occasion.
I have to mention safety with this power tool. It is potentially dangerous as the spinning blade is large enough to cut through your hand or fingers. Use the blade guard and other safety features, and you will be fine.
My order to buy woodworking tools proceeds to the powered drill. It is one of the essential woodworking power tools because it can create holes on the edges and faces of lumber. None of the other tools can do what it does.
Next in order of first power tools to buy would be an orbital or palm sander. If you want to build projects that look nice, you need to create smooth surfaces. These are essential woodshop power tools because they do just that.
The only place you really can not reach with the sandpaper on these power tools is in corners. A larger flat base plate makes them impossible to use on spokes also.
I also include the jigsaw in my order to buy woodworking tools list. Why add a second saw to the list? It has a reciprocating blade that allows it to cut curves.
You can also work inside the face of a piece of wood, as long as you drilled a hole to start the reciprocating saw blade in.
Additional essential woodworking power tools would include the electric planer. I often reduce the thickness of boards that I am working with, and this should be one of the first power tools to buy so you can dimension building lumber and rough timber (creating surfaces for sanding).
Woodworking Stationary Power Tools
What is the most popular woodworking machine in a woodshop? I'll give you a hint: It is not a hand-held power tool. Your list of essential woodworking power tools will change as you gain skill and knowledge, and eventually, stationary woodworking tools will join your collection.
What are the advantages of stationary woodworking tools?
Essential Woodworking Power Tools: Stationary Tools Improve Accuracy
Your woodworking cutting, drilling, and shaping become more accurate when using benchtop or full-sized power tools. These models offer material support and hold blades or woodworking bits at desired angles.
The best woodworking machinery brands will include precise readings and micro-adjustments that are difficult (or impossible) to make with hand-held power tools.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools: Stationary Tools Have More Capacity
Stationary tools can handle thicker, deeper, and longer boards. You can perform a task with a single move instead of making multiple passes.
The best woodworking machinery brands provide larger blades and woodworking bits that a hand-held power tool could not safely handle.
Essential Woodworking Power Tools: Stationary Tools Can Be Safer
Stationary tools have platform surfaces that material can rest on, supporting it while you work. You can operate them without holding them, keeping your body away from dangerous edges.
The best woodworking machinery brands will include several safety features on each model to keep you safe as you work.
What Is the Most Popular Machine in a Woodworking Shop?
- Table Saw: The most popular stationary woodworking tools are table saws. It produces the most accurate cuts on boards and panels, and shop jigs make it highly versatile;
- Miter Saw and Compound Miter Saw: Another stationary tool found in many woodshops is the miter saw, especially for those who work with framing lumber. Of the two the compound miter saw is the most versatile. You can make a precise cross, miter cuts, and a compound cut which will with this tool;
- Router Table: I have used a router table for a while now, and I find it easy to use. You will not need to balance your router on edges using a router table for support for support;
- Benchtop Thickness Planer: The advantage here is more capacity. That means fewer passes and faster results. Once you start setting your sites on a larger woodworking project then this becomes an essential woodworking tool;
- Bench Grinder: Keeping cutting edges sharp or working with metal components is a breeze using a bench grinder.
See our full in-depth review of the best sliding compound miter saw <—- Here
See our full in-depth review of the best bench grinder for woodworking <—- Here
Professional Woodworking Power Tools
I have been fortunate enough to gain extra space in my woodshop, allowing me to modify and expand my essential woodworking power tools list. You will likely reach a point in your woodworking journey where you will begin to look for high end woodworking power tools made by the best woodworking power tools brand available.
What do I mean by high quality woodworking power tools? Professional-grade power tools provide the ultimate in accuracy, capacity, and speed. Some of my essential woodworking power tools at this level would include the following:
- Professional Table Saw – Larger projects can be challenging to work with on a benchtop table saw, so upgrading to contractor or cabinet designs will prove beneficial particularly for larger rip cuts. These high end woodworking power tools have accurate adjustments across the fence, tabletop, and saw blade. The best woodworking power tools brand provides additional motor power as well;
- Full-sized Woodworking Jointer – You will get better results in a shorter time by using one of these high quality woodworking power tools. These will hold a wider rotating blade, allowing you to work on larger pieces of lumber. The best brands will include solid table designs, adjustments, and options for attaching an adequate dust collection system;
- Full-sized Band Saw – I reached a point where I started to mill my timber, and I recommend that you try it yourself. Full-sized band saws are the only high end woodworking power tools that can do this quickly. The best woodworking power tools brand provides plenty of fence space and miter gauge room to use accessories with;
- Full-sized Drill Press – Upgrading to one of these high quality woodworking power tools eliminated drill bit tilting issues that plagued my woodworking with a hand drill. The drill press will turn large diameter bits also, holding them firmly and providing the increased power and torque needed to spin them. Top brands include larger motors, adjustable heights that can handle pressure, and plenty of tabletop space for material support.
As your workshop grows and your skill in the woodshop improves along with you ambitions to take on larger and more complex projects then you should also consider adding a belt sander and scroll saw to your collection of essential woodworking tools
Are There Drawbacks to Starting My Essential Woodworking Power Tools Collection With Professional-Grade Equipment?
If you are a new woodworker, I suggest avoiding professional-grade equipment for your first essential woodworking power tools. The price is higher, and you will need more room. Start with hand-held or benchtop designs until your skills and needs justify upgrades.