George Vondriska

Top 5 Stationary Woodworking Power Tools for Beginners

George Vondriska
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Duration:   3:42   mins

Whether they’re just getting started or have been involved with woodworking for a while, many woodworkers wonder what power tools they should add to their shop. The answer to this question can be subjective and depend on what types of woodworking projects you commonly build, but George Vondriska is ready to provide you with his opinion on which five woodworking power tools should be considered top-tier tools for your shop.

1. Table saw

I don’t think there will be much argument here. A table saw is at the heart of most shops, and can’t be beat for ripping, crosscutting, and a gazillion types of joinery. The only real question is what type of saw is best for you. In large part, that’s a question only your checkbook can answer.

2. Router table

This might be where the fist-to-cuffs start. Why a router table as my second choice? It’s so versatile. With the right fence setup, I can edge joint boards, like I could on a jointer. (No, you can’t face joint, but I’ll live with that for now.) I can make any number of joints, create doors, and profile edges. I can remove the router and use it handheld for work at my bench. A good router table simply provides lots of bang for the buck.

3. Planer

Planers are used to clean up rough sawn stock and get material to a precise thickness. A planer also guarantees that every piece you machine comes out at exactly the same thickness. Need thin stock for a smaller scale project? A planer is the go-to machine for that.

4. Jointer

A jointer makes the edges of your material smooth, straight, and square. This creates what’s commonly called a reference edge that you need for additional steps like ripping or crosscutting. In addition to perfecting the edges of your stock, you can also straighten faces, called face jointing. Like edges, you’ll end up with faces that are nice and smooth and dead flat—a precursor to other machining steps.

5. Band Saw

I use my band saw a lot. I’ve got a sled I use for crosscutting tiny pieces, like I’d use for pen turning. Big blades go on when I’m cutting fireplace logs into usable lumber for my woodworking. The band saw is a great way to cut tenons, and I’ve even mastered cutting through dovetails on the band saw. Another extremely versatile tool.

Tool buying advice

Once you’ve determined what tools you’ll be getting, be sure to get good tool buying advice before making your purchases. WoodWorkers Guild of America works hard to provide you with tool education and tool reviews. Have a look at what we offer.

Projects to build

With your tools set up and ready to go, you’re ready to get started on woodworking projects. If you’re looking for beginner woodworking projects, we’ve got you covered. Projects range from birdhouses to jewelry boxes; there’s something for everyone. You’re sure to find a project that’s a good fit for your skills and tools and that you’ll enjoy creating.

WWGOA is here to help

If you’re just getting started in woodworking, Woodworkers Guild of America is here to help you wherever we can. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. We produce lots of articles and videos designed to make woodworking for beginners go more smoothly, with fewer errors along the way.

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30 Responses to “Top 5 Stationary Woodworking Power Tools for Beginners”

  1. Allen

    Buying a first home and interested in building some book shelves and storage cabinets.

  2. Gary

    Question about the router table. I’m a mechanic by trade and just recently started woodworking and getting tooling as I need.I’ve been wanting a router and table for a while now just don’t know much about them. I’ve seen what they can do and really want to start experimenting but there are so many choices and types it seems when I go look and am unsure what I should get. What would you suggest for a beginner/ home shop, that’s not super expensive, in terms of routers? Thanks Ticket 23231

    • Customer Service

      Dear Gary,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      George built a base for his router table and purchased thetop: His router lift, which is the important mechanism that you need to makeadjustments above the table, is an older version of this:

      If you want to buy a turnkey router table setup, I wouldsuggest considering the following:

      Freestanding router tables: or

      Benchtop router table:

      As far as routers, I’ve had good luck withPorter Cable and Bosch, and my current favorites are my DeWalts. I have a1-1/4 HP compact router ( as wellas a 2-1/4 HP router with two different bases, fixed and plunge . If I had to have only one router, it would be the DeWalt 2-1/4 HP unit. I’d install the fixed base in a router table, and use the plunge base forfree-hand routing. The 2-1/4 HP size is light enough to use for hand heldwork, and powerful enough for raised panels. It doesn’t have the muscleof a 3HP router, but if you are not running a production shop, then theadditional power from a 3 HP machine might not be necessary (it is notnecessary for me anyway). DeWalt has an option in the 3 HP category but I would say that Porter Cable is thetime-honored champion in the 3 HP world:

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.


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  3. Steve

    Good points George, but I don’t have a table saw (space constraint). I do my sheet breakdown with a circular saw, stock ripping with a bandsaw. My stationary tools include 6″ jointer, 13″ planer, 10″ sliding miter saw, router table, 14″ bandsaw, 20″ scrollsaw and 17″ drill press. Throw in a Dust Deputy on a shop vac for cleanup. I’ve been ablt to do cabinetry as large as an 8 foot tall bank ATM enclosure.

  4. andrew.darren

    I am a newbie to woodworking. When I bought my mitre saw, I was already yearning for a table saw due to the accuracy of cuts and the ability to do long rips. It’s on my wish list. :)

  5. Jocko

    I agree with a lot of other responses:
    A well set up router can get a great edge for joining wood much more economically than a joiner, which is a single purpose item that would take up way too much floor space in my small workshop.
    I felt dust control was more important, especially with a planer or router, and set up a shop vacuum as a mobile vacuum cart from an article in a woodworking magazine.

    Also, I realize ads are a fact of life, but the DeVry add that came up before the video was much louder than the video’s volume itself, and unlike the video, the ad had no “in screen” volume control. Quick reflexes killed my master volume before it woke up my son.

  6. gale

    My trusty old radial arm saw is much preferred and the “go to” tool over a table saw. Yes, I realize many question why anyone would ever need a radial arm saw, much less prefer one over a table saw, but I grew up using one and use it for all sorts of projects. I do have a table saw but only use it when I have to when ripping large stock that I can’t get with my radial. Of course all woodworking tools demand respect to avoid serious injury, but my experience is that a table saw demands far more than my good ole reliable, supremely versatile, radial arm saw. Given a choice between one or the other, I’d pick the radial every time.

  7. Dennis Romano

    I agree with your list. My table (cabinet) saw has a router mount built into the table to the right of the blade and it works great. The table is flat cast iron and I can use the table saw fence. I’ve also built an auxiliary fence with dust collection and more features. The only downside is I can’t use a router lift and have to make depth adjustments under the table. To avoid frequent band saw blade changes, I have two: a big one (17″, 2HP, 12″ thick capacity) for typical work and a 9″ bench-top unit that I keep a narrow blade in. I also build radio control airplanes and the small one works great on small stock.

  8. Adam Smith

    oscillating tool is not a stationary power tool but I love this tool as an wood working tool during home repairing work and so on.

  9. Patrick

    Can a Makita or Festool Track Saw be a good substitute for a table saw? I’m new to woodworking and have a small shop space in the basement of my home. Doing some reading on several forums, many seem to prefer the track saw over a table saw. Will I be able to do cabinetry such as closets, bathroom vanities, etc with a track saw and track saw table setup?

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Patrick. In a space constrained scenario, a good track saw can enable you to do some very high quality work, and you can perform many of the tasks that are commonly performed on a table saw. You could definitely build closets, vanities, and a great variety of other comparable projects with a good track saw. The advantages that a table saw can bring are efficiency, repeatability with a single fence setup, and support for a dado blade. If you get a larger shop space someday and decide to add a table saw, you’ll still get plenty of use out of your track saw. Even though I have a large cabinet saw I still use a circular saw and guide for a lot of cuts on sheet goods, mainly because a 4×8 sheet can be unwieldy to handle on a table saw.

      • Patrick

        Thank you for that info. Is there any recommended size for crosscutting? Lets say I purchase a 4×8 sheet of plywood or MDF at my local home center. I have them cut it down to strips of 18×8 (for example). When I get home, if I need to crosscut the 18×8 piece, is that possible on a cabinet saw with a crosscut sled or better with a track saw? Reason I ask, that will most likely be my scenario when I purchase lumber. I would rarely bring home a full 4×8 sheet from the store because it’s easier to transport it in smaller widths. I’m at the point to make some tool purchases, and seeing if I should go solely with a track saw for my scenario or get both? I do have a 12 inch compound miter saw but cutting to size on that with 18 inch depth panels is hard in one pass.

        • Customer Service

          Hi, Patrick. “When I get home, if I need to crosscut the 18×8 piece, is that possible on a cabinet saw with a crosscut sled or better with a track saw?” That is possible to do on either a cabinet saw or a track saw, and you can end up with the same result. If I were doing this in my shop I would do it on my table saw because I have one and it would be a quicker setup, but if I didn’t have a table saw I would use a track saw. I have a friend who builds beautiful furniture and cabinetry with a track saw, and he doesn’t feel that it limits what he can build.

  10. Thomas

    I’ve been looking through multiple lists by different wood workers because i’m trying to decide what piece to add to my shop (i have table saw, mitre saw, router w/table, plunger router, circular saw, several sanders, kregg jig). I think next purchase should be planer or joiner or band saw? any thoughts?

    Side note: I’ve been looking through a bunch of these lists and find it odd that no one puts a mitre saw on their top 5 tools. i realize you can perform those tasks on a table saw but there’s nothing like the inconvenience of trying to cut an inch off an 8′ board at 45deg using a table saw. any thoughts?

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Thomas. Your next tool purchase should be based on the projects that you build. For my needs I would buy a jointer then a bandsaw, but I’d hate to give up either one. Miter saws are great and I agree with your assessment. You can make many of those cuts on a table saw, but you are more efficient if you have a miter saw set up.

  11. electronwriter

    I still like bringing the saw to bear on the work rather than pushing the work through the saw. Therefore, I use my radial arm saw most often and the table saw only when I have to.

  12. Bruce

    What stationary power tool would you spend the most money on? Or, which of the 5 would you go out and try to buy the best you could afford?

    • WWGOA Team

      In my shop the table saw is the most heavily used stationary power tool, and I’d prioritize getting the best one that you can afford in this category. (ZD: 3630)

  13. tenshotelk

    you mentioned when talking about the router table, using it to do edge jointing rather than with a jointer. I have accumulated all of the top 5 but have yet to purchase a jointer due to costs. have been getting buy with hand planeing, router table, and table saw. have found a few used jointers but am leary about buying one.

    • WWGOA Team

      Thanks for the input. There might become a time when you decide that you can’t hold off any longer, but in the meantime you are able to accomplish a lot by using a router table. Also, hand planes can be a great help for face jointing boards.

    • William

      If all you do is edge joint then stick with the router. I do all my edges with a router and it works great. You only really need a jointer if you are doing faces. How I helped.

  14. Tomm

    I’ve got 4 out of 5, although unfortunately, my bandsaw is the benchtop type, still versitile, but not much when it comes to resawing. I might add a stationary sanding unit, which I do have, and find it nearly indispensible.

  15. joew

    You might push it six and include a dust collector, especially with the bench top planer.

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