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Woodworking Tools You NEED to Know About!

Makers Central Team

Makers Central Team

April 28, 2019

Below you will find a comprehensive list of basic but vital tools you will need if you are looking to take up woodworking or woodturning as a serious hobby or profession. The following tools are not listed in a specific order, but really do form the basis of any decent workshop.

Boring, but so important, please read our advice at the end of the article on basic safety measures you should take. We would always advise that you read any safety advice provided with all tools you purchase and that you research the best equipment such as goggles, ear protection or gloves, among other things, for your own safety.

Now for the fun stuff…….

  1. Jigsaw – A must for any tool collection! These bad boys are so versatile. They can cut straight lines or curved lines in many different materials. With one of these, you can satisfy all your cutting needs. Hand held and light-weight you can use them to cut really intricate shapes. These can be fitted with blades of different widths to allow for all types of jobs. The only issue with a jigsaw is that depending on the type of wood, straight lines can be tricky. Which is why we would also recommend getting your hands on a….
  2. Japanese Saw – Differing from a European saw in tooth direction, these saws cut on the pull rather than the push allowing for a cleaner cut. There is a large variety of Japanese saws, but 3 main categories. These are; Ryoba, a double-edged saw with a differing tooth pattern on each side. Dozuki, a back saw with a very fine blade, and Kataba, a backless saw for making deeper cuts. These can often be purchased in sets of all 3. If you are doing precision work, these are the saws for you.
  3. Circular Saw – These power saws can be hand held or bench mounted, a key item for every workshop. As the name suggests, the blades spin in a rotary motion and use either a toothed or abrasive disc or blade to cut. The big plus to a circular saw is that they can be moved about and are pretty versatile. However, the fact that the saw is fairly lightweight, means it can move a little when cutting so you need to make sure both the saw and the material you are cutting are stable. If you are using a hand held circular saw, clamps can be used to keep the wood still. With one of these, you can cut your material, usually wood or metal, efficiently, quickly and accurately.
  4. Table Saw – These can be big and expensive, so they wouldn’t make everyone’s must have list. However, they are so versatile and have so many different uses, we would recommend that if you can fit one in, you should have one! As the name suggests, they feature a fixed blade sticking out of the top of the table, usually an integrated stand. The rigid stand or base and powerful motor mean they are capable of making straight or angled/mitred cuts, normally through wood, but they can also be used for other soft materials such as plastic or resin. The blades are adjustable and interchangeable to allow cuts at different widths or angles and have the capacity to even be used on large sheets of wood.
  5. Compound Mitre Saw – These power tools can be used to make fast and accurate crosscuts in your material at selected angles. It is recommended that you bench mount these saws, but if you need to move it between workspaces, remember to look at lighter models. There are different types of mitre saw but the compound is our favourite. It has blades which can be pivoted left or right for any angled cuts you require, can tilt for bevelled cuts and has a rotating table. The combined pivot and tilt movement gives a compound mitre cut, hence the name! These saws are great for mouldings and frames for example, basically, any job requiring angled cuts on 2 planes.
  6. Routers – These nifty little hand power tools are used to hollow out, shape or trim areas of materials like wood or plastic. Cabinetmakers use them in a lot of their work and they can also be used in decorative woodworking. They would usually be hand held, but if you wanted to, you could fix them cutting end pointing upwards to a router table. These tools are an absolute must if you are looking to create bespoke designs in your work or for cutting precise joints.
  7. Chisels – Perfect for hand working with wood, such as in joinery. They can be used to cut and carve or shape wood with ease. They can also be used on metal or stone. There are many different types of chisel with fancy names such as fishtail, swans’ neck or tang, but these wouldn’t normally form part of a standard chisel set. We would recommend a standard set for anyone starting out in woodworking and there are many out there at really reasonable prices. Basic chisels include deep, medium and narrow gouge, wide and narrow straight chisels, rounded chisels and angled knives. Larger chisels in woodworking can be used to remove large sections of wood, smaller chisels would be used for finer details. Each chisel suits the intended use it was designed for, so if you have a project in mind, there will be a chisel out there for you!
  8. Random Orbital Sander – A great little hand held sander which is so easy to use. They stand out from other sanders as you don’t need to pay too much attention to the grain of the wood due to the fact that the sanding plates both oscillate and rotate. They remove material from and smooth down the surface of wood enabling you to create a blemish free finish. The sanding pads are usually affixed with Velcro pads which allow for easy changing. A random orbital sander can make a tedious chore quick, simple and enjoyable!
  9. Power Drill – We can almost guarantee you already have one of these in your home. Part of any basic household DIY kit, they have many uses and assist in speeding up most woodworking projects. If, however, you need to go out and top up your tools, you can get corded or cordless rechargeable power drills and should choose the most appropriate for your projects or workspace. They are used for making holes in wood, but also plastic or metal. You can also fit them with screwdriver bits so you can turn screws. If you are going to be using your power drill for masonry like brick or concrete a hammer drill would be better suited for the job, but for woodworking a regular power drill should be sufficient – you can buy drills which can switch between the 2.


We would recommend eye protection is your first priority when working with wood or any tools. Tools can be faulty and you never know when something may break or snap. Wood is an unpredictable material and can splinter or crack and bits can fly off. Safety goggles are a must at all times. Dust particles are created in abundance when working with wood and protecting your lungs should be high up your priority list. We would recommend wearing dust masks when working with wood to avoid breathing in any dust created. There are many options for this so please choose the mask most appropriate for your task. When working with power tools, the noise can become extremely loud so ear protection is also really important to avoid damage to your hearing over time. We would recommend you research ear protection options as there are many different types and you should try to find one that works best for you and your projects.

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