“Essential” power tools

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    I think that I remember Paul saying that power tools are best at dimensioning wood. To that end I offer what works for me and what I have found to be the best bang for the buck. Would love to hear what others use! I own all of these. The prices are for new (mostly) on Amazon. I use these power tools to get close to the needed dimensions then use hand tools to get it exact.

    Dewalt dw734 thickness planer ~$400 (this works excellent!)
    Porter-Cable (many other brands as well) 6” Jointer $270 (bought mine on Craigs list for $75)
    WEN 10 in. Band Saw with 6 inch resaw $230 (I love it)
    Delta Drill Press: Bench, 10 in $225 (bought mine used for $80)
    40 year old Craftsman 12 inch table saw with sled (Craigs list for $75)


    I wouldn’t say anything is essential. If you have time, chisel and hammer you can make anything basically.

    With that said, A band saw and a lathe is on my wish list.

    Philipp J.

    Ok I’m in the commercial sector so all I’m used to are proffesional Machines that said, the absolut barebones essential ones in my opinion are:
    Jointer, Planer and Bandsaw
    Takes care of preparing stock quickly, accurately, efficiently and lets you get to the actual part of building a project (joinery etc.).

    If you want better cut quality and ton more accuracy you want a Tablesaw, with the right blade you can get amazing cut quality absolutely no need to sand or plane Endgrain. Besides that you can cut just about any Material, provided you got the right blade ofc, from Aluminium, Plastics, Laminates, Sheetgoods to solid woods.

    as for things nice to have,
    Drillpress, should be obvious why.
    Router(table), just a very versatile thing to have around. Theres more then enough jigs, material etc around on the web what you can do with one.
    And maybe a Jigsaw if you wanna cut out complex shapes out of sheetgoods or pieces to big for the Bandsaw.

    Can you do most things with Handtools? absolutely, but especially on Stock preparation you cant beat powertools. But thats just my Opinion, curious what others will say.


    I’m with rodrat, but if I had the available space and the noise tolerance, a thicknesser would seem to be a nice thing to own.

    One thing I don’t understand, what do you folks who own thicknessers do when the board / panel is wider than your thicknesser’s capacity? It seems for a paltry 15″ of capacity, you’re spending thousands of dollars, and require a big chunk of floor space…lots of panels in lots of projects are wider than 15″, so are you still doing a lot of preparation by hand, or do you just thickness them, do the panel glue-up, and then pretend that the glue-up was perfect?


    If you’re thinking about machines, learn about dust management, especially if your shop is in your home. Decide what is needed, and make sure to include it in your budget.

    Philipp J.

    I’d be curious myself on what the homeshop guys do with stuff to wide for their Planer.
    At work we got i think round about 62cm or 25″ max width Planer and for stuff bigger then that we have a Broadband Sander easily big enough to put entire Tabletops through.

    Dust collection is absolutely essential for Powertools as Ed says, if you want to get machines plan the Dust Collecting into your Budget. On planers its not too bad but once you get into Sanding oh boy you’re gonna regret not having proper dust collection very fast.

    As for the Noise its really not to bad, i mean ofc you need Earguards, Plugs or whatever is comfortable for you, but the days when a Planer sounded like its gonna liftoff and fly into space are gone. Unless you have one from the 50’s or Prior..
    Same goes for most machines actually they arent nearly as loud as they used to be, Special Tablesawblades with inbuilt noise-reduction, new Cutter spindles, better bearings and all that have made them actually pretty quiet compared to what it used to be.

    Again keep in mind I’m used to proffessional Machines, not really sure about the Homegamer type stuff so take it for what its worth.


    I think the only machine I would like to have is a pillar drill.

    As for pro vs home use. Even as an amateur I would almost always buy pro machines because I like to buy once.

    David B

    I bought a benchtop planer a couple of years ago. It was the last power tool I ever bought and it continues to gather dust today for the most part.

    Dave Ring

    For me, the only “essential” woodworking tool is a 6″ pedestal grinder which, of course, is really a metalworking machine. It’s only essential because rusty old tools have a way of following me home.

    Having said that, I confess to regularly using a bandsaw and occasionally a drill press and a cheap 1″ belt sander while my tablesaw, jointer and thickness planer gather dust.

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Having no space for the so longed for planer and thicknesser, a Tormek wet-grinder/sharpening machine has become essential to me.

    To minimise split-sawing and, worse, re-sawing I try to lay out the pieces on the rough stock in a way that allows cross-cutting to shortest possible lengths. This, unfortunately, often ends with one surface and one edge having to be prepared over the length of the entire stock. Labouring in the sweat of my brow, one plane blade after another goes dull as I flatten and square. At the end of the ordeal all the blades get sharpened, while I first dwell darkly upon obstreperous wood, but later think about the tree it came from: where did it grew, what were the conditions that gave it its grain, and then I always realise that this “donkey work” has actually taught me a lot that will be very useful in making this piece of whatever I fool myself to believe I’m shaping.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Paul Dallender

    Difficult one this as I can be torn with wanting to stay true to woodworking using only hand tools, but at the same time just wanting to crack on and make something half decent. However, even Mr Sellers as shown in some of his videos is not adverse to using a band saw; as for a thickenesser I wouldn’t know.

    Mind you, the speed and skill Paul also shows in cutting wood with a handsaw and then getting it down to the required thickness using just a marking gauge, winding sticks, combination square and hand plane still amazes me. He makes it look easy, but then after 50 years of doing it you wouldn’t expect anything else.

    Starting woodworking at 57 I don’t have 50 years to practice left, also I don’t have either the space to accommodate (which many of our friends across the pond seem to have) or the money to purchase luxuries such as decent thicknessers, band saws or table saws. Having said that, the satisfaction of doing it all by hand is something money just can’t buy.

    So, for me the only essential ‘power tool’ I can afford, have space for in my man cave and gets quite a lot of use when I’m toiling away for hours at a time, is the one that boils the water for my cuppa tea…..the electric kettle.

    Paul - A southern lad living up north - Nr York England


    haha, great post Paul 🙂


    ..the electric kettle – I will put it now as my #1!

    Thomas Angle

    I thought the tea/coffee was a requirement for any kind of work.

    Arbovale, WV

    Proverbs 18:13
    13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.


    Regarding the thicknesser, if it doesn’t fit you can build a sled and use a straight bit on a router. Just wedge up the bottom to get it flat, router one side, flip it over and get the other side. Of you can just cut your stuff to 12″ wide strips and laminate. Sure there is a chance it might not line up perfectly but the hand planer should be able to take care of that. Unless it’s thick I would worry about using really wide panels anyway, they are probably going to be through and through and prone to warping.

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