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So you decided to take the full-on plunge into woodworking. But now you have come to realize that you need some power tools to make it happen. Woodworking power tools are absolutely essential for any shop looking to make good use of their time.  

When I started my woodworking adventure I started with basic hand planes and hand saws. So in this article, I’m going to show you where and how to buy the best power working tools for your money.

Consider Buying Used

When it comes to buying woodworking power tools I always try to find used first. You might ask why would I want to buy another person’s junk. Well, that’s not always the case when it comes to buying used woodworking power tools. I’ve had tremendous success searching Facebook Marketplace and other platforms like Craigslist and Letgo. Soon I’ll be putting a guide together on how I pretty much set this up to be automated to find used equipment.

The value of buying used equipment is wonderful. So much money can be saved and giving you more money to buy things like material. There are a few things, however, to look out for.

Things To Look Out For Buying Using Woodworking Power Tools

Let’s get into some things that you need to be looking for when searching for used equipment on the sites like I mentioned above. I tend to look for older equipment stuff that’s made of full cast iron. Tools made in this era are extremely heavy though but very reliable.

I tend to stray away from the mass produce more modern equipment unless it’s a good quality brand name. Some of the older equipment you might run across might need a little bit of restoring or a couple coats of paint but is well worth the investment.

Key things to check are to make sure if applicable that fences are good condition and are not damaged. Of course, check to see that they run properly and that shafts are not bent or excessive vibrations. Older tools that have excisive pitting due to rust I tend to stray away from. These take a lot of work to get back into good condition.

Ask Questions

 Questions I like to ask the previous owner of the woodworking equipment are. How come you’re selling it? How often did you use it? Are you the original owner? Asking basic questions like this will get you more of a feel for what piece of equipment you might be buying or not buying. Start building a little bit of a relationship with the seller to make the both of you feel comfortable. Taking the time to build a little bit of rapport will make the transaction for both of you a little easier.

Order of Buying Woodworking Power Tools

When purchasing the woodworking power tools for my workshop money was tight. So with money being tight, I had to be smart about my purchases. So what this meant for me I had to buy my tools as needed. If money is tight for you I would suggest that you do the same.

Although it’s been my experience it’s probably best to start with a table saw. A table saw is the most versatile tool for your workshop. For this I find it to be the ideal purchase for your first woodworking power tool. I laid out the categories below of how I purchased my equipment.

I don’t think there is any right or wrong order to buy equipment. Just purchase it and become an expert in running your tools that’s what makes a true craftsman.

1. Table Saw

As I mentioned above a table saw was a great tool for a woodworking shop to get started.  The tasks that can be completed with a table saw is very long. From dados, rabbits, splines, mortise and tenon, lap joints and many more.

So what is a table saw? A table saw is very similar to a circular saw except for that the blade for protrudes from a table. The blade is mounted on Arbor which is either driven by a direct drive, belt drive and or gears.

On top of the table, there is whats called a fence that slides on a rail system. This gives you the ability to set the distance from the blade giving you a precise cut to a given width. 

Benchtop Table Saws

Benchtop table saws or also known as job site table saws are very lightweight table saws. That gives it great flexibility to be carried by one person job to job. Jobsite table saws commonly have direct drive Motors. This means no worry of belts or pulley for tension.


  • Lightweight
  • Direct drive motor
  • Affordable


  • Smaller cutting top
  • Shorter rip fence
  • Smaller size can cause more vibration over other options

Contractor Table Saw

Another style of woodworking power tool is a contractor table saw. The contractor table saw is a step up from the bench top model. But still offering a level of portability. With this style, you’ll get a larger cutting service on the top with normally a more mobile base on the bottom. As far as motors go they can either come in direct drive or have the motor off hang out the back end driven by a belt and pulley system.


  • Larger table size
  • More powerful motor than benchtop
  • Can be portable


  • More expensive than benchtop models
  • Can be somewhat difficult to move by yourself

Cabinet Table Saw

Cabinet table saws are all business. This is what your professional shops are going to be running or the avid hobbyist will have. They can run off normal household 110 voltage but most models start at the 220/240 voltage. With this increased voltage cabinet table saws normally will have larger motors for greater power.  This, in turn, makes a table saw bog less in cuts in dense woods. So why are they called a cabinet table saw? Well, because the bottom half of the table saw is fully enclosed.

This will improve dust collection and hide all internal components inside a cabinet. The Delta unisaw was one of the first cabinet styles ever designed it has been evolved since 1939. Most modern manufacturers continue to build off the unisaw design today. 

This woodworking power tool can be extremely heavily due to its large solid cast iron top. With all that weight underneath it creates less vibration on the top surface increasing accuracy and repeatability.

Commonly this cabinet table saw will be run with a 10 inch blade. Although in some Industrial production applications 12″ or even 14″ in blades can be found. For blades in this range, the saw will be equipped the 1” in Arbor!


  • Durable
  • Repeatability
  • Increase in horsepower


  • Larger power source sometimes needed
  • Not easily moved
  • More expensive than others mentioned

Table Saw Wrap Up

A table saw as your first woodworking power tool seems like the ideal choice in my opinion. Take the three options I laid out above for you and take your budget into consideration then figure out where you need to go from there. I suggest looking in the used department first to help save money to be able to use the cash to buy more woodworking power tools to help grow and expand your shop’s tool needs. 

There’s nothing wrong with starting out with a benchtop table saw and then working your way through the ranks and then eventually getting a cabinet table as your hobby or business needs grow. My uncle me when buying woodworking power tools to buy one per year. I am little more inmpaitent so it was closer to every six-months. 

2. Miter Saw, Chop Saw, Cross-Cutting Machine

Miter saw is the next tool on our list of woodworking power tools. Also known as a chop saw sometimes, gives us as woodworkers the ability to quickly and efficiently cross our pieces of wood.

Getting a miter saw of quality is absolutely necessary if you plan to bring workpieces into final dimensions or cutting angles. Taking the time really get your miter saw adjusted into cutting square and true is a must.

In my shop, I tend to mostly use my miter saw for rough cutting and then bring everything into the final dimension with a crosscut sled on the table saw. Your situation could be different but I tend to feel more control and comfortable with a crosscut sled and produce a more accurate cut.

Just like the table saw we discussed above there are a few different options when purchasing a miter saw as well. Let’s get into those now.

Compound Miter Saw

A compound miter saw has the ability to rotate the blade to any angle as well as tilt the head to any angle. This gives the ability to make many different complex angled cuts. Making it ideal for trim work inside the home.

Dual Compound Miter Saw

The dual compound miter saw is just like the compound miter saw we talked about. The duel has the ability to rotate the head left and right. This means that you don’t have to flip the workpiece over to achieve the desired angle.

Sliding Compound Miter Saw

If you’re at all familiar with radial arm saws. The sliding compound miter saw as a woodworking power tool is very similar. It combines all the features of the two saws we mentioned above. But now has the added feature of sliding outward giving you a larger cross cut capacity.

Miter Saw Wrap Up

When shopping for your perfect miter saw for your shop. there’s a lot of different features get overwhelmed by. From lasers, two special slide mechanisms and many other features. As an example, if you have enough room to flip your workpiece from side to side and a compound miter saw will serve you just fine.

Lasers are nice but take a lot of extra time to get dialed in and most times don’t work as advertised. Different size blades are available with miter saws as well. Most common are 10″ and 12″, determine what size of stock you will be working with most commonly in your workshop to choose which is right for you. These different size options obviously come at two different price points. 

3. Planer

Next up on our list of woodworking power tools is the planer. When I first purchase my planer for my shop it completely changed the quality of my woodworking. It gave me the ability to make my workpieces very flat and for everything to fit together very nice and tight. My opinion I find It better start with a planer than a jointer first. The reason for this is because that you can turn your table saw into a jointer by making a jointer sled. I did this for many years before finally purchasing my joiner.

What is a planer?

So what exactly is a planer? A planer or gives you the ability to stick your workpiece in set the machine to the desired thickness and then outcomes the desired thickness workpiece. Now by no means is it is is this achieved in one single pass most times multiple passes are needed to get it to the desired thickness. With a good sharp set of blades combined with a good depth of cut, a silky smooth finish can be achieved.

Straight Blade Planer

The straight blade planer has been around for my years now. This style of planer still continues to perform in the woodshop today. So what exactly does it mean for a planer to have a straight blade? Well as the name indicates it has a straight blade. This straight blade knife is usual to make of some high-speed steel or carbide can be found.

Its shape is that of a knife blade but only sharpened on one side. The blade turns at an extremely high rpm and shears away the material while leaving a great quality finish. Or at least that’s the goal, it depends on just how sharp your planer blades actually are.

Helical Cutter Head

The more modern cats meow in woodworking technology is the outfit of a helical head. Helical heads have individual carbide cutters sprinkled around their surface. Giving you the ability to replace individual inserts or in most cases give them a turn to a fresh cutting side.

With the straight planer blades, we just talked about above if the blade becomes dull or damaged it needs to be sharpened or in some cases, a new blade will need to be purchased.

With so many great things to say about the helical head, what’s the negative?  Well, that all boils down to the Benjamins. On average there’s almost a 35% difference between a straight blade planer and a helical head planer.  The good stuff always cost more.

Planer Wrap

Like I keep mentioning in this article try to buy used. In my local market, I always see used helical head planers for sale. Always keep your eyes peeled on the buy sell trade sites for your area. You just might never know what you’ll find.

So when it comes down to planers I think we can greatly see the benefit of having a helical head but this doesn’t mean shy away from a straight blade planer to get started.  This is what I started with and this is what I continue to use today. But my neighbor does have a helical planer and there is defiantly an envy.

4. Jointer

For many years before I purchase my first Joiner. I always used a jointer slight on my table saw. That worked well for most projects. although when a big order came to the shop I decided enough was enough. I broke down and bought an 8 inch Grizzly jointer. This improved my workflow in my workshop it was unbelievable. Of course, I purchased used!

What Is A Jointer?

So what is a joiner and why is it important on our woodworking power tools list?  A jointer has two long beds one on one end and one on another. Most often these are made of solid cast iron and are extremely heavy. But in between these two big heavy pieces of cast iron lies a blade.

So the workpiece will be pushed in on the infeed table that is precisely ground flat across the blade and on to another dead flat outfeed table. So any of the high or low spots will be caught by the blade making them flat between the two beds. This most often takes multiple passes to be achieved. I handle toward the bottom of the infeed table or outfeed table can be adjusted to take a more aggressive cut. For my needs mine tends to stay in the same spot all the time. So just like the planer and we just talked about above there are two different types of cutter heads available.  I will discuss those below but I’m sure you already know what is the better one.

Straight Blade Jointer

Yep, straight blade jointer just like the straight blade planer. A knife like edge spinning at a high RPM  slicing through the wood to create a dead flat surface. straight blade joiners come on a few different blade options. Sometimes you run across a three-blade jointer. Although four-blade joiners can be found. I was lucky enough to find the four blade jointer when I bought mine used. Obviously more blades will produce a cleaner surface finish.

Helical Cutter

The helical head cutter is the same as we discussed above on the planer section. A round shaft with multiple carbide inserts spread across it. Each carbide insert has the ability to be rotated giving you a sharp edge upon rotating. Let’s say you’re running your jointer across some old reclaim Lumber. All of a sudden your blade finds a nail. You kill the machine inspect your carbide teeth and noticed that one has a chip in it.  Now all you have to do is simply rotate that cutter. unlike where with the straight blade planer or jointer you would have to sharpen the whole entire blade to bring it back to normal. Talk about a time suck.

Jointer Wrap Up

When choosing a jointer it’s very similar to the planer section. Buy what you can afford. Your helical option is going to be the top end cat’s meow. This just doesn’t mean to pass up a deal on good quality straight blade jointer. A straight blade jointer will serve you just fine for years to come.

5. Bandsaw

Bandsaws are up next on our woodworking power tools list. I’ll be honest with you in shop class in middle school bandsaws used to scare the you-know-what out of me.  Now that I have purchased my own for my workshop it has become by far my most favorite tool on the woodworking power tools list. There are so many great things that you can create with a bandsaw and with precision. From bandsaw boxes to resawing Lumber, cutting curves and so much more. So let t’s get into the meat of the band saw.

What is Bandsaw?

A bandsaw has two large wheels one at the top one at the bottom. On these wheels rides a blade. The best way to describe it is to think of a pulley but instead of using rope we have very sharp teethed blade rotating at a high RPM. The blades teeth come in varying TPI. TPI stands for teeth per inch. Along with varying teeth per inch width is another factor in bandsaw blades.

These two different variables in bandsaw blades each produce a different style of cut. Proper setup of a bandsaw is key to getting the cut quality you desire. The tension of the blade plays a key factor in this. I created a guide a while back on the subject you can check that out here. 

What To Look For In A Bandsaw?

Before you begin your search in the bandsaw market you need to decide what you want a bandsaw to do for you.  If you work with a lot of 12 inch wide boards that you know you’re going to be resawing make sure you buy an adequate saw that will handle your specification of stock. I really do think it’s hard to go wrong by buying too big of a bandsaw. especially if you find one of these in the used market that I keep harping about.

When I purchased my bandsaw I chose to go with a 17-inch bandsaw. When purchasing I knew 17-inch was a little larger than I actually needed. I probably could have got away with a 14-inch bandsaw but I chose it the 17-inch so that I can grow into it and not have the upgrade down the road.

This is something you might consider when purchasing any of the equipment I’ve mentioned so far. Buy just a little larger than you actually need for your woodworking hobby and then grow into it over time as your skill and needs grow as well.


I wrote this article to inform new woodworkers to the hobby. I wanted to get the right information to them and educate them on the stationary woodworking power tools they actually needed for their workshop. Woodworking power tools are expensive, don’t waste your time with other gizmos and gadgets to take up space in your work show these are truly the only five that you need to make a lot of great projects.

Most of the tools that I mentioned above can be substituted with other things until the money becomes available to purchase whatever piece of equipment desire next. For example, for the longest time, I used a jointer sled before I actually had my jointer. This worked well but then like I said in the article above what I had a big job come along I knew it was time I needed to upgrade. Upgrade as you need it and always try to buy used when money is tight to really save. 

Very soon I’ll be putting together a guide on how I buy my used woodworking power tools without me actually ever even having to search for it. If you don’t see this guy that was a couple weeks be sure to send me a message and I will get on it very quickly.

Please take the time to share this article with your friends and help us grow so we can continue to make great content to help you learn and grow as a woodworker in your journey

Be Well, Scott

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