Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 power and hand tools for the new woodworker

After a few of the obvious basics (tape measure, screw drivers, pencil, eye protection, etc.) these are the tools you'll need next if you're just getting into woodworking.

1. Drill / Driver – One of the most used items in any workshop. Boring holes and driving screws are the main tasks of a drill / driver. One may seem like enough, but you’ll quickly wish you had both, so buying a combo kit with one drill and one driver is a great idea. Shop carefully and you’ll find a kit with a few more of the power tools on this list.

2. Random Orbital Sander or Belt Sander – Depending on your preference for sheet goods (ROS) or solid wood (belt sander), a sander will get lots of use and save you loads of time. Make sure you have a wide range of disks or belts on hand so you can work through the grits as needed. A belt sander will get you close to finish-ready, but a bit of extra time spent hand sanding will still be needed. A belt sander has the advantage of being much more aggres­sive than a ROS with the use of a coarse belt.

3. Router Combo Kit – A router is one of the most flexible and adaptive power tools a woodworker can own. From creating joinery to cutting curves and arcs, to adding decorative elements to fur­niture, a router can do it all. A bit of advice: a router works best when it’s asked to remove only a small amount of material at once.

4. Circular Saw – A circular saw can make rough and finished cuts in lumber and sheet goods (and work especially well with the help of the next item on my list). Ensure a sharp blade is on the saw at all times.

5. Circular Saw Guide – A guide will help you cut sheet goods to size and on any angle. It will also help when ripping solid wood and can even create straight edges on solid wood ready for laminating larger panels.

6. Jack Plane – For flattening rough lumber, fine tuning an edge joint, flushing a solid wood joint or chamfering an edge, a jack plane has your back. If I could add two more tools to this list, they would be a sharpening stone and a honing guide. Mind you, they would both compete with a thickness planer, another item to put on a longer list.

7. Japanese Ryoba Saw – Whether you’re rough cutting undressed lumber or fine joints, a ryoba saw will get a lot of use. These saws have rip teeth on one side and crosscut teeth on the other, making them especially useful.

8. Combination Square – Laying out joinery and checking for square are both important aspects of woodworking. A combo square will likely last you a lifetime.

9. Set of Small Clamps – Small (about 4″ to 12″) “C” and “F” clamps will go a long way to help hold workpieces while working on them. They’ll also secure both workpieces and accessories while machining joinery or assembling projects. Trigger clamps are also great.

10. More Clamps – Longer bar clamps (4′ to 6′ long) will assist with laminating larger solid wood pan­els and assembling cabinets and furniture of all sizes. A few medium length “F” clamps (say 36″ long) will regularly come in handy, too. A woodworker’s warn­ing: You’ll run out of wall space well before you have too many clamps.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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