7 Power Tools Every Woodworker Should Have
While the circular saw is often classified more as a carpentry tool than one for woodworking, it is extremely versatile and invaluable to the woodworker. If used with a straight edge, it can handle many of the tasks for which a table saw would be used and can perform them with similar accuracy. Circular saws are powerful can be used to rip and to cut a variety of materials other than wood.
When choosing a circular saw, keep size in mind and remember that bigger tends to be better. Circular saw blades range from 4 inches up to 7-1/4 inches, which is the most common size. RPMs are another important factor and it is a good idea to choose a circular saw that has the most horsepower for the size. Consider the adjustments as well. The angle and depth of the cut should be easy to adjust and the controls should allow for firm tightening so that it holds the angle and depth. Look for safety features such as a safety switch and a blade guard.
These tools enable you to easily cut curved patterns and are especially effective for cutting plywood and other thin stock. While band saws are more accurate, the jigsaw is fine for most jobs. In most cases, jigsaws allow you to cut wood that is up to two inches thick. The ability to cut deeper is not necessarily a good thing as this can increase the likelihood of blades breaking.
Features that you will want to consider when choosing a jigsaw include orbital action and variable speed. Orbital action allows for the saw blade to be angled forward which can keep it from wearing out as quickly and can make the cut smoother. Variable speed is not essential for woodwork, but can be useful if you also use your jigsaw to cut metal. Since a variable speed jigsaw allows you to slow the blade-speed, it can also be helpful when you are making intricate cuts.
Unlike palm sanders, these sanders do not sand in patterns and therefore will not leave marks in your finishes. You can set them up to sand quickly or to sand smoothly. They sand in a random orbit at high speeds (up to 25,000 RPM). This random orbit is what allows the sander to sand without leaving the patterns that are left behind by palm sanders. Note that random orbital sanders use 5-inch sanding disks instead of regular sandpaper, unlike palm sanders. Make sure that you are able to find the right disks in the grits that you need. Grits usually range from 60 to the much finer 220 grit.
You should look for sanders that have a dust collection bag. Additionally, it should have a portable vacuum unit. These features will make sanding cleaner and reduce the amount of dust produced. Consider a model with a sealed switch as dust can get into the switch and may cause problems with its operation. If you can, test the sander to make sure that it does not vibrate excessively as this can result in fatigue when using it on larger projects.
While cordless drills can be more convenient, corded drills are more powerful; the additional power makes them very useful for woodworking. They are ideal when using larger paddle bits to drill holes. Another reason to choose corded over cordless is that corded drills are typically variable speed while you will be limited to two speeds with most cordless models.
When choosing a corded drill look for features like reversible action, a keyless chuck and a grip that is comfortable in the hand. For most woodworking applications, a drill with a 3/8 chuck will suffice; however, consider 1/2-inch if you want more power or if most of your projects require larger bits. If you plan on using your drill for more than just woodworking, look for features like a hammer action.
This is one of the most important tools you will purchase; therefore, it is recommended that you get one only after you have had some experience woodworking with more basic tools. As one of the tools around which a woodworking shop is based, you will want to get the best that you can afford. A good table saw will be useful for the vast majority of woodworking projects.
The work surface on a table saw should be smooth and heavy, and you should be able to raise and lower the saw blade with a handle. There should also be another handle so that you can adjust the blade angle in addition to dust collection connections. There is the potential for injury from the exposed saw blade, so a table saw should be equipped with a blade guard as a safety feature. The saw’s on/off switch should be easy to access. A rip fence is one of the most important features to consider when buying a table saw. Make sure that the fence is parallel to the saw blade and that there are fine tuning controls for adjusting it.
If you want to make accurate and precise crosscuts in wood, this is the tool you need. A compound miter saw is a circular saw on the end of a lever. Many of these saws can be adjusted to bevel up to 45 degrees and the angle can be adjusted 60 degrees in either direction. Blade sizes are 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch. For most projects, a 10-inch blade will be sufficient. The “compound” in the name comes from the fact that it is possible to tilt the saw as well as set the miter angle.
A miter saw should come with a miter gauge that is easy to adjust. It should also allow you to lock the saw at the angle you need. Some miter saws have a sliding feature that allows you to push or pull the blade through the stock. This allows you to cut larger pieces than you would be able to otherwise. While this can be useful, it can also make the saw considerably more expensive.
There are generally two options when it comes to routers: routers with a fixed or stationary base and those with a plunge router base. While it is recommended that you get both, it is possible to make do with one and routers with a fixed base can handle a large number of jobs. It is also possible to mount these in a router table. The difference between the two router types is that fixed base routers allow you to set a depth that will remain constant as you use the tool. Plunge routers allow you to vary the depth.
The main feature to consider is the motor’s horsepower. Your router should have a 2-horsepower motor at least. That power will be necessary to move larger bits through wood. Variable speed control is another useful feature that you will need when using larger bits. It is important to remember that larger bits must be used at lower speeds. The third important feature is the diameter of the collet. Routers can fit 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch diameter shaft bits. Routers that can fit 1/2-inch bits can be made to work with 1/4-inch bits but 1/2-inch bits cannot be made to work with 1/4-inch routers.