George Vondriska

Top 5 Stationary Woodworking Power Tools for Beginners

George Vondriska
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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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17 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<strong> Ticket 23231

  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. Jim Lestina

    Without having a jointer, can you use one of the other tools in it's stead?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

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