3 Essential Woodworking Power Tools for Beginner Maker

Essential woodworking power tools

With modern day advances in technology and demands of the industry, the field of the woodworking has changed. Nowadays woodworking power tools are essential in any workshop, because they produce products faster and with less waste. Furthermore, it is a lot easier to make complex designs and shapes.

While many woodworkers worry about budget and a number of tools needed to get started, it is possible to start making things with 3 essential woodworking power tools – circular saw, power drill and random orbit sander. With these 3 tools, its is possible to make just about any basic piece of furniture you can think of.

Circular saw

A circular saw is a power tool that uses a toothed disc or an abrasive blade to cut through various objects like wood, masonry, plastic, metal etc. It uses a rotatory motion and spins around an arbor.

Circular saw is one of the most versatile and basic power tools for any woodworker. It can be used as a suitable substitute for various other tools. Though some people consider it to be a carpentry tool it is also a very useful woodworking tool. When the circular saw is used with a clamp-on straight edge, it can be accurate as a table saw and perform few tasks as a table saw like cutting plywoods or medium density fiberboard. A quality circular saw can be used on both job sites and in the wood shop because it can cross cut and at the same time rip boards both square to the face and levels up to 45 degrees.

Circular saw
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A circular saw cuts a lot faster and it is easy to make clean cuts with it.It is also very handy for rough dimensioning, especially for long rip cuts.With special blades, a circular saw can also be used to cut curved shapes. There are a variety of blades specially designed for cutting specific wood. Combination blades are the most commonly used blades and it does a good job for most tasks. For better results, it is advisable to choose the right specific blade suited for the task.When on a budget a quality circular saw is the first useful power tool that helps to get started.

Circular saws are available in two styles. The worm drive saw are short and long and have blade located on the left with handle behind the blade. They are heavier and have more torque. In a sidewinder saw the handle is set higher over the blade and the blade is located on the right side. They are lighter, less expensive and spin faster.

When buying circular saws it is advisable to buy saws with all purpose wood cutting blade. A 7-¼ inch blade is useful and cuts through materials that are more than 3 inches thick. Buy a circular saw that fits correctly, feels comfortable and is well balanced. Get a circular saw of a right weight and adjustable components. A good quality circular saw lasts for about 15 to 20 years.

Power drill

A power drill is a drill that uses electric power for boring holes in various materials or for fastening various objects together. It is either fitted with attachments like a cutting tool or a driving tool according to the work that needs to be done. The attachment is held by a chuck at one end and rotated while pressing against the target material. The commonly used power tools are cordless drills and corded drills.

Cordless drill
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In power drills, cordless drills are more popular because of their portability. One of the convenient and popular power drills are the cordless drills. It has a ½ hour charge and comes with 2 batteries. Usually, the batteries take only 10 to 15 minutes to recharge. The 18v battery is the most common one, while higher volt batteries like 24v, 28v, and 36v are also available. Cordless drills are very useful for drilling into hard surfaces like concrete, cinder blocks or dense stock brick. It is the best tool for heavy drilling tasks. They have a clutch that helps in driving screws on various substrates without damaging them. Cordless drills have two-speed controls which are very useful when tasks require slow drilling. It is advisable to use a good quality 18v cordless drill because it does not become too heavy over time and is sufficient for most tasks.

While cordless drills are popular, corded drills are more versatile, less expensive and a more powerful tool that can do a lot more than a cordless drill. Corded drills help to drill, screw, and hammer and have torque settings. Corded drills are the best for performing tasks like drilling numerous holes of large diameter, particularly large paddle bits. These tasks require high power that would drain the battery of cordless drills, hence for such tasks corded drills are recommended. As for corded drills, it is best to use a good quality ⅜ corded drill. Corded drills often use a universal motor which has a high power to weight ratio. The best 3 companies that make reliable drills are Bosch, Makita, and Dewalt. They have different models and types to suit different drilling requirements.

For a basic drill type description check out our article on 4 Drill Types That are Used Most Commonly

Orbital sander

An orbital sander is a handheld power tool that helps in sanding various surfaces using orbital motions. It is mostly used for fine sanding or when little material needs to be removed.

Random orbit sander
Photo credit: Charles & Hudson via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Random orbital sander is the commonly used power sander in modern woodworking. In these sanders the angle of rotation of the head and the disk is variable. It is easy to set them up and it sands very quickly and smoothly. It creates a fine finish because of the simultaneous spinning in eclipse motion. The important feature of these sanders is the ability to sand the wood in a completely random orbit in a speed up to 25,000 RPM. This motion gives a smooth finish without any marks that other sanders may leave.

Some high end random orbital sanders have various speed controls that come handy when sanding heat sensitive materials. Most random orbit sanders use sanding disks 5 inches wide, that attach to a foam rubber pad by hook and loop connections. Sanding disks typically have 8 holes that match up with dust collection hole pattern on the machine and they are available in various grits –  from low 60 for a coarse finish to 220 grits for a very fine finish.

It is advisable to use a sander with dust collection that makes sanding cleaner and creates only minimum dust. Choose a sander with a trigger lock to lock the power on when in use. Also, the sander should have minimal vibrations and should feel well balanced and comfortable.

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