In my first Beginner Power Tools blog, I described the first three woodworking power tools I believe beginners should purchase. Now I’m on to the next three tools I recommend for beginners to purchase.
You may think of this as more of a jobsite tool for carpenters framing houses, or weekend warriers building sheds or framing out remodels, but circular saws come in handy expecially with sheet goods (plywood, mdf).
With a straight edge guide, you can do most things that can be done with a table saw, which is why I think it’s a good tool from which to transition to a table saw. However, it’s often intimidating to folks, because of the volume of noise it produces, and because of the exposed blade. Modern circular saws have a blade cover that stays in place if the saw were to be turned on when not cutting. The cover is forced out of the way as a cut is being made (or if the user physically moves it out of the way). It has a spring tensioner, so the cover will swing back in place.
A circular saw will save you some money in the long term, as you begin making projects out of plywood, which is cheaper than solid wood in most cases.
I recommend a quality corded model at first before picking up a cordless option. It’ll be less expensive as well. You’ll find in your research references to the drive system in these saws. No need to pay too much attention to that for your first saw. Just go with a solid mid-range saw in your price range.
Not only can it give your work an expert-looking detail, it can also help you in your joinery. With a straight cutting bit, you can create grooves and dadoes, which are essentially channels where a mating part meets or rests. Look at a few solid wood bookcases – see any notches where the shelves rest in the side? There’s your dado. There are plenty of other joinery methods as well, including the dovetail, but that’s for another discussion.
With a good range of router bits, you can create tons of distinct profiles and edges to your work, or even mill your own trim and moulding.
A router will take some getting used to – it’s a lot of power in your hands – but with enough practice and attention to safety, you’ll be able to master it in a short time.
If you’re looking to create edge details primarily, then a trim router might be your best bet. It’s smaller and lighter than a standard router and can be slightly cheaper.
This saw may intimidate more than a circular saw in that the blade is very exposed during the cut. You’re generally safe in keeping your hands at least six inches away from the blade as you hold a board in place while cutting, but every situation varies. That being said, be sure to clamp your work piece in place as you learn to cut on the miter saw. Most models include some sort of clamping mechanism on the saw itself.
The magic is in the miter cuts (angles). Sure, you could use a miter box and hand saw, but you’ll be limited to the angles you cut, and you’ll exhaust yourself cutting anything larger then trim.
You’ll do fine with a 10-inch compound model (cuts angles on two planes). No need to worry with a sliding model for your first one – you can save some money there. Sure, you’d have a wider capacity cut, but you can crosscut wide pieces with a circular saw when you need to.
Before you purchase any tool, make sure you research them thoroughly by looking for reviews and asking user opinions on social networks.