There are many reasons for a person to get into woodworking and carpentry. Whether as a career or merely a weekend hobby, woodworking is a skill that pays to know. Not only does carpentry knowledge come in handy around the house or office -- it is one of the cornerstones of DIY projects -- but there is an indefinable quality about creating something out of wood, with your own hands, that feeds the soul.
For anyone who has never put saw, nail, or glue to a piece of well-sanded wood, there is no time like the present to give it a try! However, as every experienced carpenter knows, motivation and materials are only half the equation for any successful woodworking endeavour. The second half of success is the tools. For most serious wood warriors, power tools are the name of the game. While it is completely possible to undertake any task without the use of powered tools, and some people prefer to work exclusively with hand-powered tools, the right power tools can greatly decrease the time it takes to complete a project, and save you from using up all of that elbow grease you might have saved up.
Since power tools are the equipment of choice for most, here are six of the “must have” items to have in any well-stocked workshop.
● Circular Saw: This is one of the quintessential tools for any project that involves wood. From the simplest fence to the most elegant coffee table, a circular saw will be used often. Both portable and powerful, this saw allows the carpenter to cut just about any type of wood (most offer a range of blade sizes), at just about any angle.
● Power Drill: For this a corded or cordless version will do. Although the cordless version doesn’t give you the same consistent power and reliability as a corded, cordless models provide more flexibility on where they can be used. Even for projects that don’t require screws per se, a power drill is extremely useful for pre-drilling nail holes.
● Jigsaw: Not to be confused with a circular saw for the novice carpenters out there, the jigsaw is its close cousin. While a circular saw brings brute mobile cutting power to bear, a jigsaw gives a craftsman the ability to design. Used for cutting angles and patterns, this saw is all about finesse.
● Random Orbital Sander: Constructing a project is only three quarters of the way to done in woodworking. Finishing also plays a key role in the overall quality of a finished piece, which is where sanding comes in. Whether the wood is going to be sat on, ate off of, painted, or merely put up in the yard, a rough splintery grain is not ideal. The advantage to a random sander as opposed to a belt or hand sanding, is that there is no risk of leaving patterns on the wood.
● Router: Not all woodworking projects are sheds and counter tops, and sometimes a project is all in the details. No tool is more important for really giving an added level of personalization and detail than the router. This tool is perfect for carving designs without making a through cut, as with a jigsaw. More skilled craftsman can put these tools to wood like a pen to paper.
● Table Saw: At the polar opposite end of the spectrum to the router is the table saw. A circular saw on steroids, the table saw can handle just about anything. They can vary in size, with the largest models used in lumber processing plants, but by and large the household variety can handle even the most presumptuous DIY projects.
Power tools in any field demand respect, but the ones used in woodworking even more so. Each of these tools is designed with the express purpose of cutting, gouging, and manipulating wood, which is a material that is far more dense than human skin or muscle. Before working with any of these tools, every craftsman should be well versed on their operation and safety guidelines.