Whether you’re just starting out and wondering what essential woodworking tools a beginner needs or you’re an experienced carpenter looking to replace a saw that ran out of juice, these are the must-have tools every woodworker should have in their workshop.
Here are the best woodworking tools you need to create your next project.
Best Table Saw
DEWALT DWE7491RS Jobsite Table Saw
Includes folding stand
Some complaints of slightly warped table
A table saw is arguably the most important tool in the workshop of any handyperson. This basic power saw makes neat rip cuts—those are straight cuts across the grain—but also creates more specialized cuts, including miters, bevels, dado cuts, and rabbets. As your table saw is destined to become the workhorse of your woodshop, it follows that you’ll want to buy the best one you can afford. Our recommendation is the DEWALT 10-Inch Jobsite Table Saw, which includes a sturdy rolling stand.
This top-rated 15-amp table saw from DEWALT has a rack-and-pinion system for smoothly rolling out the extension when working on large boards. The saw comes with a 10-inch, 24-tooth carbide blade, which is an all-purpose blade for most types of woodworking projects. The saw has a maximum rip capacity of 22 inches to the left of the blade and 32.5 inches to the right of the blade. The maximum cut depth at 90 degrees is 3.125 inches and 2.25 inches at a 45-degree angle.
The features don't stop there, however. The 2-inch dust port connects to your vacuum to keep your workshop free of sawdust. The telescoping fence rails make it easier to store the tool when necessary, and the rip fence flips over when you need to make narrow cuts. There's onboard storage for the tools needed while using the saw, and once you're finished, you can easily fold and store the stand if desired.
Price at time of publish: $649
Power Source: Corded | Weight: 110 pounds | Dimensions: 31 x 24.5 x 31 inches | Primary Use: Cutting wood
Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless Orbital Jigsaw
Selects appropriate speed and orbital setting for materials
Built-in work light
Few complaints that it pulls to the left
As the name suggests, a jigsaw is a power tool that’s designed to cut curves and circular patterns and also comes in handy for cutting holes and trimming lumber to length. If you do a lot of intricate woodwork, such as following patterns, creating delicate designs, or making crafts, a jigsaw is an essential part of your woodworking power tool collection. And it's hard to go wrong with the Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless Orbital Jigsaw, which frees you from the tether of a power cord.
This versatile jigsaw from Ryobi—note that the battery is sold separately if you don't already own one—has variable speed settings from 1,100 to 3,000 strokes per minute, as well as four orbital settings. However, what makes it unique is the SPEEDMATCH selector, which helps you set the appropriate speed and orbital setting for the material you are cutting. The saw has a built-in light and a sight-line blower to clear away debris so you’ll always be able to see your work area. It works for right-handed and left-handed people alike.
Price at time of publish: $45
Power Source: Battery | Weight: 4.4 pounds | Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 6.5 inches | Primary Use: Cutting wood
Best Chisel Set
VonHaus 8-Piece Craftsman Woodworking Wood Chisel Set
Great set for beginners
Some complaints that chisels weren't sharp enough
A good set of woodworking chisels allows you to make far more precise and detailed cuts than what's possible with a power tool. You can use chisels to scrape away rough edges, make small indents and cuts, chop out corners, carve figures, and shave or cut wood joints. This 8-piece set from VonHaus includes six bench chisels in sizes 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, 1-inch, 1-1/4-inch, and 1-1/2-inch, plus a honing guide and sharpening stone.
The chisel blades are made of strong and powerful heat-treated chrome-vanadium steel alloy that’s tougher than even carbon steel. The ergonomically shaped hard plastic handles are comfortable and easy to hold from start to finish of your task. When it’s time to sharpen them, you’ll appreciate the included sharpening stone and honing guide, and when you’re ready to pack them up, you’ll be happy to have the hard plastic case that keeps everything organized and damage-free.
Power Source: Manual | Weight: 6 pounds | Dimensions: 2 x 14.4 x 15.4 inches | Primary Use: Chiseling wood
Best Wood Whittling Knife
BeaverCraft C4 Wood Whittling Sloyd Knife
Some complaints of rusting
Not all woodworking tools are power operated—take this classic wood carving knife, for example. Using your own strength, hand-eye coordination, and skill you can whittle, smooth rough wood, or carve nearly any type of wood with this extremely sharp blade. The thin pointed tip of the 3.14-inch high-carbon steel blade is designed for precise detail work in small areas, while the rounded part of the blade can be used to make larger rolled or slicing cuts. The ergonomically shaped handle is made of oak that was processed with linseed oil. The knife measures about 8 inches in total and comes with a leather carrying case to protect the blade.
If you've always wanted to learn to whittle, already are a whittler who wants to add to your knife collection, or know someone looking for a new hobby, take a look at this whittling/carving knife, which is suitable for beginners or those with more experience. It's sure to become a favorite.
Price at time of publish: $27
Power Source: Manual | Weight: 3.2 ounces | Dimensions: 8.7 x 2.1 x 1.7 inches | Primary Use: Whittling wood
BOSCH ROS20VSC 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander/Polisher Kit
Excellent dust collection system
Few complaints about power
There are several different types of sanders, but the most versatile for most home projects is a random orbital sander, which can be safely used for everything from furniture making to finishing trims and baseboards. A random orbital sander works in a circular yet eccentric motion, so it won’t leave scratches on your wood, even if you go against the grain. This 5-inch sander from Bosch fits easily into the palm of your hand to give you more control, and it has an extremely efficient dust-collection system. It also has plenty of power and speed; the 2.5 amp motor offers variable speed control from 7,500 to 12,000 orbits per minute. The Hook-Tight hook-and-loop system holds the sander discs firmly in place.
Our product tester put this sander through its paces while building a bookcase. He gave it top marks, praising its performance, dust control, and ease of use. He added, "Its lightweight, ergonomic design makes it easy to handle all sorts of work without fatigue, the sand discs are easy to swap in and out, and the pad dampening system eliminates swirl marks."
Price at time of publish: $79
Power Source: Corded | Weight: 3.5 pounds | Dimensions: 9 x 5 x 6 inches | Primary Use: Sanding wood
Best Woodworking Bench
Olympia Tools 48-Inch Acacia Carpentry Workbench
Attractive, sturdy table
Few complaints of legs being uneven
Some woodworking projects, such as whittling, don't require a designated workspace, but if your woodworking extends into carpentry or large-scale projects, then you'll appreciate the benefits of the Olympia Tools 48-Inch Acacia Carpentry Workbench. This attractive and sturdy solid acacia-wood bench has a full-length storage shelf, as well as a sliding drawer to stash chisels and other tools. A built-in vise keeps your project firmly clamped, and the bench has pre-drilled dog holes, along with a set of metal and wood pegs to use as bench dogs for holding wood in place while you work.
The bench measures 49.6 inches wide by 19.7 inches deep by 33.9 inches tall. The thickness of the varnished acacia wood tabletop is 0.7 inches, and there's a work trough running almost the full length for holding small tools or even to serve as a gathering spot for sawdust until you have a chance to brush it away. The table requires assembly.
Price at time of publish: $218
Power Source: N/A | Weight: 52 pounds | Dimensions: 49.6 x 19.7 x 33.9 inches | Primary Use: Work table
Best Miter Saw
DEWALT DWS715 12-Inch Single Compound Miter Saw
Accurate, powerful performance
Miter saws are a must-have if you do a lot of woodwork that involves miter or bevel cuts, which are angled cuts frequently used when cutting boards that need to fit tightly at the corners for trim, picture frames, furniture, or flooring. Of course, you can also use a miter saw for cross and rip cuts, as well. The DEWALT DWS715 12-Inch Single Compound Miter Saw is a reasonably priced miter saw with a 15-amp motor and a 12-inch blade, which allows you to work on fairly large boards.
This miter saw can cut bevels from 0 to 48 degrees and has a cut capacity of 2x8 lumbar at 90 degrees and 2x6 lumbar at 45 degrees. The top speed is 4,000 RPM. With a very sturdy build, accurate performance, and plenty of power, you'll get years of service from this saw.
Price at time of publish: $319
Power Source: Corded | Weight: 42.8 pounds | Dimensions: 26.8 x 21.9 x 18.9 inches | Primary Use: Cutting wood
Best Woodcrafting Tool Kit
Worx MakerX WX991L 3-Piece Crafting Tool Combo Kit
Very comprehensive and versatile kit
Includes 20-volt battery
Power cord is a bit stiff
Many carpentry and woodworking projects require only large, powerful tools, such as table saws. Others, however, need a little more finesse. For those projects, you'll want the Worx MakerX WX991L 3-Piece Crafting Tool Combo Kit, which includes a rotary tool, an angle grinder, and a wood/metal solder/crafting tool, all of which are powered by a Worx 20-volt battery. But that's not all; you also get a wide variety of attachments for the tools, including grinders, cutters, sanders, polishers, engravers, and more. Plus, a handy box for the attachments and a carry bag for the entire kit.
This is a great way to start or add to your collection of powered woodworking tools. As a bonus, their uses extend far beyond carpentry, as you can use them for a wide range of DIY, home improvement, and repair projects around your home, workshop, or garage.
Price at time of publish: $190
Power Source: Battery | Weight: 4.9 pounds | Dimensions: 14.6 x 13 x 8.2 inches | Primary Use: Detailed woodwork
Worx WX176L.8 20-Volt Switchdriver
Holds two bits at the same time
Handful of complaints about insufficient power
Forget about stopping to switch drill bits midway through your project; with the Worx 20-Volt Switchdriver, all you need to do is push a button and rotate the dual heads to whichever of the two bits you’d like to use. What a great way to simplify common tasks like drilling a pilot hole and then driving in a screw. And with its 20-volt Power Share battery, the tool has plenty of power and reasonably long battery life to accomplish most simple tasks around the house.
The drill has two quarter-inch chucks, and you don’t need any tools to install or swap out whatever compatible bits you’d like to use. There are 12 torque settings and two speeds: low is 0 to 400 rpm, and high is 0 to 1,500 rpm. Automatic torque control helps prevent the annoying stripping or overdriving of screws or damage to the surface you are working on. There’s even a built-in LED work light, which comes in handy when working in dim conditions, such as underneath a sink.
You get the drill, charger, battery, one 2-inch screwdriver bit, and two HSS drill bits.
Price at time of publish: $100
Power Source: Battery | Weight: 2.9 pounds | Dimensions: 8.8 x 3.3 x 9 inches | Primary Use: Drilling holes
Best Wood Clamp
BESSEY 36-Inch Clutch-Style Bar Clamp
1,100 pounds of clamping pressure
Strong and durable construction
A versatile bar clamp like this 36-inch model from BESSEY easily clamps material together. This version offers strength and durability, with strong powder-coated cast-iron jaws tipped with non-marring pads, a nickel-plated bar, and an improved comfort-grip handle. And most importantly, it clamps like a champ. The spring-loaded clutch plate slides along the bar smoothly and easily and then locks in place right where you want it. Once locked in place, the jaws won't slip, even if you shake, jar, or drop the clamp.
This light-to-moderate duty clamp is 36 inches long and has a 3.5-inch throat, meaning that you can position it up to 3.5 inches towards the center of your material. It exerts up to 1,100 pounds of clamping pressure, which is more than enough for most DIY projects. The clamp itself weighs 4.5 pounds. It's a must-have for any carpentry or woodworking shop, whether professional or hobbyist.
Price at time of publish: $30
Power Source: Manual | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Dimensions: 1.4 x 3.5 x 36 inches | Primary Use: Clamping wood pieces
Best Combination Square
Irwin Tools 12-Inch Combination Square 1794469
Includes metric measurements
Few complaints of not being accurately square
Not every woodworker needs a combination square, but if your projects include items that must have perfect 90-degree or 45-degree angles, such as cabinets, pieces of trim, picture frames, furniture, or wooden boxes, then you'll want the Irwin Tools 12-Inch Combination Square. This handy and accurate square has a stainless steel blade, a zinc body, and easy-to-read black markings.
The 12-inch combination square measures 12 inches in three increments: 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32. It also has metric measurements in centimeters and millimeters. There's an incorporated bubble level as well as rubber end caps that protect the device and absorb impact when placing the square into position. All in all, this is a worthwhile addition to your carpentry workshop.
Price at time of publish: $19
Power Source: Manual | Weight: 14.1 ounces | Dimensions: 5.5 x 12.4 x 0.8 inches | Primary Use: Measuring angles
If your woodworking shop needs a table saw, it’s hard to go wrong with the DEWALT 10-Inch Jobsite Table Saw, which is loaded with desirable features, including a folding stand for portability. This sturdy and powerful tool lets you cut through even large boards easily and accurately. But if it’s whittling that interests you, you’ll appreciate the BeaverCraft C4 Wood Whittling Knife, which has a strong and extremely sharp 3.14-inch blade that cleanly cuts through all manner of wood.
What to Look for When Buying Woodworking Tools
While there is a woodworking tool for every purpose, not everyone has the budget or the storage space to buy a complete set of tools. First, consider the types of projects you are likely to undertake or the kinds of woodworking that interest you. If you want to build furniture, your needs will be different from someone who plans on taking up whittling.
Whenever possible, look for multipurpose woodworking tools that can do more than one job or can be used in a number of ways. Of all the sander types available, choose a random orbital sander for the most versatility when working on projects around the home, from finishing baseboards to refinishing furniture, such as the Bosch 5-inch sander featured above, for example. A handheld wood soldering tool used for detailed woodworking that can also work to craft metal and repair computer or car wiring will save you space and money. A table saw can make a variety of cuts, from basic rips and cross cuts to more refined miter or bevel cuts. If you are limited in terms of budget or space, stick with tools that can serve more than one purpose around your workshop.
When buying woodworking tools, look to established brands with long records of producing quality, long-lasting tools that are worth the money. Well-made tools cut down on frustration and improve your odds of completing projects successfully. Invest in trusted brands that stand behind their products with warranties and, in some cases, lifetime guarantees.
Ease of Use
Look for tools that are comfortable for you to use and that match your skill level. For example, not everyone needs the most powerful or feature-stuffed table saw available. If you plan to use your tools at various worksites, consider portability features, such as folding stands or legs, overall weight, and size. Cordless tools are convenient if you don't expect to have an outlet near your worksite. Woodworking tools with ergonomic grips and reasonable weights let you work longer without wearing out your hands and wrists.
What are some must-have woodworking tools?
There is a whole universe of woodworking tools that are tailored to every facet and nuance of the woodworking process, including measuring, cutting, holding in place, assembling, and finishing pieces. Some vital tools frequently used in woodworking and carpentry projects include tape measures, table saws, jigsaws, miter saws, chisel sets, wood carving knives, sanders, drills, wood soldering tools, hammers, and various types of wood stains, sealers, and adhesives. And, of course, every woodworker needs a quality woodworking bench.
What's the difference between carving and whittling?
While the terms carving and whittling are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same thing, although both are common woodworking processes that produce a wooden figure. The main difference is in the tools used.
Whittling involves using nothing more than knives to create a wooden figure. There are many types of whittling knives and many different sizes.
Carving uses a variety of tools to create a wooden figure, including knives, chisels, lathes, and sometimes power tools.
How do you keep woodworking tools from rusting?
Rust is the number one enemy of woodworking tools, so keep rust at bay with some basic practices that will keep your tools in tip-top shape. Use them frequently to prevent moisture and dust from sitting on the surface, which eventually causes rust. Keep them clean by wiping them down after use. Store them in a dry environment. If you live in a humid climate, reduce moisture with a fan, a dehumidifier, or by using gel packs in your toolbox that absorb moisture on hand tools. You can also apply a thin coat of mineral oil to help protect surfaces.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of woodworking tools, evaluating each for use, design, versatility, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative.