Woodworking is an enormously rewarding hobby, whether you are semi-professional or a weekend warrior. However, setting up initially can be a daunting prospect. Making informed choices about the must-have woodworking tools can go a long way to easing the process.

The astounding selection of tools in well-stocked power tool outlets can leave the would-be carpenter confused and overawed. Don’t despair, though. Understanding the different types of woodworking tasks will make choosing your roll-out equipment a lot simpler.

As a beginner, it’s unlikely you will be tackling any overly ambitious projects. In fact, you may find that woodworking is not for you, after all. That said, breaking the bank initially on equipment is neither necessary or sensible.

Essentially, hobby woodworking processes fall into a couple of broad categories, namely cutting and trimming, joinery, and finishing. Your start-up list of must-have woodworking tools need only include seven items to cover all of these categories.

What Are the Must-Have Woodworking Tools When Setting up a New Workshop

When you start woodworking projects, you will probably be buying dimensional, or standard-sized, prepared timber. This means you won’t be doing much preparation of the wood outside of cutting or trimming it to length.

You will typically use your table saw to cut large sheets of plywood or particle board to size. Your circular saw is the ideal choice for cutting narrower timber sections and making angled cuts if required.

The jigsaw will usually be the smallest power saw in your collection. Jigsaws are light and portable and ideal for all your minor cutting and trimming work. They’re also the only saws that can cut curved or irregular profiles.

When you’re ready to prepare your project for assembly you’ll be reaching for your drill, compound miter saw, and router. You’ll use your drill and router to make the holes, slots, and joint profiles used to put everything together.

A lot of your joinery work will require you to cut timber at precise, consistent angles. This is the domain of your compound miter saw. Once you finish construction, you’ll need to sand all surfaces smooth to be ready for sealing, painting, or staining. You may do some sanding by hand, but most will be completed with your orbital sander.

Now let’s take a closer look at good examples of must-have woodworking tools.

Main power drill

DEWALT Hammer Drill, 1/2-Inch, 7.8-Amp (DW511)
  • 7.8 Amp motor provides high performance and overload protection
  • Variable speed allows for precise hole placement on work surface
  • Dual mode: hammerdrill/drill for wood, steel or masonry applications

The first on the list of must-have woodworking tools is your main power drive. Your workshop drill will most likely be one of the hardest working and versatile tools in your workshop. When choosing your drill, there are a couple of points you should consider.

Power rating

Power drills work hard, and it’s good practice for you to settle for power ratings on the high side. Choose a drill with a power rating of around 6 to 8 amps to minimize overheating.

Chuck capacity

You should try to buy a drill with a chuck that will accept at least 0.5-inch drill bits.

Hammer action

You won’t use hammer action for woodworking, but it’s handy to have, as you’ll almost certainly use the drill for other work.

Reverse switching

An important feature when you need to back-up bound or jammed drill bits. Reverse action also makes unlocking keyless chucks a little easier.

Speed control switching

Being able to control your drill speed is an essential feature for drilling precision. Particularly when starting to drill and just before the drill bit completely penetrates the material.

 Chuck locking

Keyless chucks are quick and convenient to use. On the other hand, keyed chucks tend to be more robust and reliable.

An excellent example of an ideal corded power drill is the DeWalt DW 511 corded hammer drill.

Circular saw

SKIL 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide -...
  • Powerful 15-amp motor delivers 5 300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
  • 7-1 4-inch carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
  • 51° bevel capacity with a positive stop at 45° for a wide variety of cuts

Next on our list of must-have woodworking tools is the circular saw. You’ll find that your circular saw will most likely become one of your best workshop buddies. These are some points to keep in mind when you choose a circular saw.

Drive type

Circular saws may be in-line or sidewind driven. For your start-up workshop, a corded sidewind saw will be the right choice.

Maximum blade size

You should be looking for a saw with a minimum of a 6-inch blade with 7.25-inch blades being the most common size.

Braking system

Many circular saws have electric or mechanical braking, which stops the blade quickly when you stop cutting. You should try to choose a saw that includes this feature.

Blade guards

Make sure your choice of saw includes a sturdy blade guard that is easy to remove for cleaning or replacement.

Angle adjustable foot piece

Part of the versatility of circular saws stems from their ability to cut miters or 45-degree angles. Make sure your choice includes an adjustable footplate.

Power rating

You should consider a power rating of 10 amps as a minimum with 12 to 15 amps being ideal.

Skil’s 5280-01 is a good choice of start-up circular saw, with an excellent feature set.


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The jigsaw will be your weapon of choice for most cutting of lighter material and for making curved or irregular cuts. Also, the broad range of material the jigsaw can cut makes it a very versatile part of your arsenal. This makes the jigsaw an integral part of our must-have woodworking tools list.

Let’s look at some of the essential features you should look for when choosing a jigsaw.

Speed control

Having control of cutting speed will help you yo make clean, accurate cuts. Speed control is also useful when starting or ending cuts, particularly in materials that are prone to chipping.

Orbital action control

Orbital action control allows you to control the blade’s range of motion. Higher settings make for quicker, rougher cuts, while cleaner cuts are possible with lower configurations.

Adjustable foot piece and guides

Most jigsaws have foot pieces that are adjustable for cutting angles and include guides to help to make straight cuts.

Quick-change blade system

Venting directs air from the motors fan to clear sawdust from the cut line, helping you make accurate cuts.

The TACKLIFE PJS02A is an excellent choice of starter jigsaw.

Table saw

DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw, 16-Inch Rip Capacity (DW745)
  • 22 kilograms unit weight and optimized footprint make this the most portable saw in its class. Shoe bevels 0 to 45 for...
  • Steel roll cage protects saw against jobsite drops and impacts, rack and pinion fence system, front and rear fence lock...
  • Powerful 1850 Watt motor for high performance in all applications. Max Rip To Left Of Blade 12 inch. Max Rip To Right Of...

The large support area of the table saw allows you to accurately and safely cut large sheets of timber. You want to check out the following when choosing a table saw.


Your table saw is almost certainly going to be the largest piece of equipment in your workshop. You may choose a portable table-top saw over a more permanent stand table saw to save space.

Extendable tables

Many table saws feature slide-out extensions, giving you a boost in work area without permanently sacrificing floor space.

Blade sizes

Bigger definitely is better! Bigger blades mean more flexibility. It’s also a good idea to find table and miter saws that use the same blades.

Riving knife

If you are considering smaller, portable table saws, look for ones that include riving knife safety devices. Having them installed on your saw makes cutting far safer.

Robust blade guards

The blade guards on your table saw are essential safety features, and unfortunately, many saws have flimsy, poorly fitting guards.

Dust control

Table saws generate a lot of dust. So, make sure the saw you choose has a vacuum dust extraction point or a dust bag.

DeWALT power tools are top drawer, and their DW745 10-inch table saw is an excellent choice for a start-up workshop.

Compound miter saw

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Cutting framing and box sections require you to cut accurate 45-degree angles to get the sections to line up square. So, on this list of must-have woodworking tools is the compound miter saw. Although you can do this with your circular saw, a compound miter saw is more accurate. Look out for these features when you choose yours.

Smooth operation

Make sure the rotary table and slides work smoothly and feel solid. These parts of the miter saw work hard and won’t last long if they’re not precision machined.

Clear angle markings

The angle indicators on the table need to be clear and crisp with solid detents to allow for accurate, consistent settings.

Solid fittings

Guards and material fences are critical safety devices and should be robust and well fitted. Machine guards are often all that stands between you and serious injuries.

Dust control

As is the case with the table saw, miter saws are dust demons. For your health and safety, ensure your miter saw has, at the very least, a dust bag.

Power rating

A 10-amp power rating should be your minimum choice with 12 to 15 amps being ideal.

The TACKLIFE PMS03A is an outstanding, versatile choice of a compound miter saw.


Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router
  • Variable speed control dial (10,000 to 30,000 RPM) enables user to match the speed to the application
  • Smooth rack and pinion fine depth adjustment system for more precise settings
  • Slim and ergonomically designed body for increased comfort and control

Don’t overlook routers when setting up, as they are indispensable joining and finishing tools. Used for precision cutting slots, rebates, mortices, and decorative moldings, they are an essential addition to your list.

Here are some important considerations when selecting your router.

Power rating

For beginners, 12- to 15-amp routers are good options for beginners. However, considering the workloads routers are routinely subjected to, its good practice to choose the highest rated tool possible.

Soft start feature

Routers are high-speed tools with normal operating speeds exceeding 30,000 rpm. A soft start feature ensures the router slowly develops maximum speed to make controlling the tool easier.

Variable speed control

A variable speed control switch allows you to tailor the tool speed to the material and type of cut you’re making.

Interchangeable base

Routers with Interchangeable bases are very versatile, allowing you to quickly set the tool up for plunge, offset, or tilt cutting.

Power rating

An outstanding choice of router for a start-up workshop is the Makita RT0701C.

Orbital sander

Bosch 3725DEVSN 5 In. Rear-Handle Random Orbit Sander
  • Sander/polisher design – with pad that both orbits and rotates, delivering a smooth, well-blended surface finish
  • Integral pad-dampening system – helps prevent swirl marks for consistent fine finish
  • Micro filter dust system – Filters fine dust as small as a 1/2 micron in diameter

The last item on our must-have woodworking tools list is also the last tool you’ll typically use on any project. Sanding, or smoothing, your workpiece in preparation for painting or varnishing is usually the final step in most projects. An orbital sander can make light work of what would generally be an arduous hand-sanding process.

Consider these pointers when choosing your orbital sander.

Speed control

A variable speed control makes your orbital sanders action easier to match to the materials you’re sanding. Controlling the speed also makes the sander easier to apply accurately.

Disc pad dampening

This feature cushions the sanding disc effectively, reducing the sanding swirl marks typical of orbital sanders.

Sanding and polishing feature

A good, versatile sander makes provision for the use of polishing mops as well as sanding discs.

Dust control

Sanders generate a lot of dust and, at a minimum, should have a good dust filtration system.

The Bosch 3725 DEVSN is a robust, efficient, and a reasonably priced entry-level orbital sander.

Time to Go Shopping

Hopefully, this must-have woodworking tools list will make the tool purchase decisions for your new workshop a little easier to make. Good luck!If you found this article to be useful or have suggestions of your own, please leave a comment below.

Featured Image: Unsplash License, by George Pastushok, via Unsplash

Last update on 2023-03-31 at 23:26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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