Guide to the most common 23 woodworking tools

In this article you will learn the about most common woodworking tools. This list will include beginner tools to specialty tools and is a one-stop shop to all the common tools that you will see in a workshop.


  1. What tools do you use for woodworking
  2. Saws
  3. Sanders
  4. Nail guns
  5. Drills
  6. Clamps
  7. Planars
  8. Routers
  9. Other essential items

What tools do you use for woodworking

There is a large array of tools and equipment that is seen in a workshop. Which includes cuttings, sanding, drilling, clamping, and planning. There are also many types of tools within a category that you will have to chose depending on the type of woodworker you are.

Below is a table of all of the common woodworking tools and if they are essential to all woodworkers or a specialty tool. This table is exhaustive and you can skip to the saws, sanders, drills, clamps, planers, routers, and essential accessories.

1-5 Essential to SpecialtyDescription
Circular Saw1Power saw that can do rip and cross cuts
Table saw2Power saw that can do precise cuts
Miter saw3Power saw that can cut miters and bevels
Hand saw1Various hand saws to do many cuts in wood
Chisel1Hand tool to cut or shape wood
Random orbital sander1Hand-held power tool to sand wood surfaces
Belt sander4More powerful power sander to deeply strip wood
Disk sander4Lateral disk power tool sander
Nail gun2Power or manual tool to put nails in wood
Drill driver1General drill to insert screws and put in drill holes
Impact drill2Drill driver with more torque than drill driver
Hammer drill4Special type of drill with more immediate torque than the impact drill
Right angle drill3Drill for small spaces
Drill press4Machinery for easy drilling of various materials
Clamps1Clamps to set joinery as wood dries
Hand planer2Manual or electrical hand-held planer to level wood
Bench planar3Machine to plane wood to a precise thickness
Router2Tool to designs and shapes for joinery in wood
Mallet1Hammer with a wooden or rubber head
Marking gauge1Mark precise lines for wood joinery methods
Sliding bevel1Mark precise angles in wood
Square1Check squareness of wood corners and joints


The 4 main type of saws that woodworkers use are circular, miter, table, and hand saws. While there are other saw types like jigsaws, I did not include them on the list because they are not as precise and effective.

4 Main types of woodworking saws

Circular SawTable sawMiter sawHandsaws*
UsesVersatile tool to perform almost any cutRip and cross cut with precisionCut miters and bevels with precisionHand tools to perform almost any cut
Very versatile
Fairly versatile
Somewhat specialty
Very versatile
Cut long pieces of wood
Quick to cut
Quick to cut
Manual tool
ConsMay not be as precise
Less powerful
Less efficiency
Not as portable
Not ideal with smaller wood pieces
Not as portable
Cannot rip cut
Requires more labor
Not a power tool
Price Range$40-130$150-650+$115-450$7-100
*You will likely need more than one saw
Circular saw

The circular saw

The saw that you will need will depend on the type of projects that you will be doing. I general, the circular saw is the most portable and beginner-friendly saw between the table and miter saw. You can also cut the longest pieces of wood

The table saw

The table saw is not portable but you can create a wide variety of cuts with the help of table saw jigs. It is also more precise than a circular saw.

The miter saw

The miter saw is a specialty type of saw that is great for cutting miters and bevels of varying degrees. It is not good for cutting wide pieces of wood like plywood sheets.

Hand saws

If you want to cut your wood by hand, then you will need different hand saws for the type of cuts that you want to create. Some examples of common hand saws that woodworkers user are coping saws, fret saws, hack saws, back saw, rip saw, and the Japanese saw.

You would use a hack saw to completely cut through materials. The back saw is ideal for cutting joinery with precision and the coping saw for cutting in any direction.

Here, I grouped all handsaws together for simplicity. If you would like to learn more about different types of handsaws, then you should check out my article “Handsaws Complete Guide”.


Sanders are used to smooth the surface of the wood to give it a nice, clean finish.

Random orbital sanderBelt sanderDisk sanderBlock sander
UsesSmooth almost any projectRemove a lot of materialSand smaller piecesManual hand sander
Can serve as a thicknesser
For handheld workpieces
Easy to control
Manual tool
Cons– Not for smaller workpieces
– Not ideal for removing material
– Not as powerful
– Not for smaller pieces
– Not for fine projects
– Not to remove a lot of material
– Not for pieces to heavy to hold
– Requires a lot of manual labor
Price range$30-80$40-160$60-300+$3-9

Random Orbital sander

The most common sander for woodworkers is the random orbital sander. It is a hand-held, portable sander that rotates on a disk. Additionally the random orbit prevents from burning through the material as you are sanding.

Belt sander

The belt sander is ideal for woodworkers who are want to knock off a lot of material. This is more of a specialty tool that is not as essential in every workshop

Disk sander

Technically, a random orbital sander is a type of disk sander. However, a disk sander is generally marketed as a lateral stationary sander.

The disk sander is not as versatile and portable as the random orbital sander. It does, however, allow for more precision in sanding smaller pieces

Block sander

A sanding block is a handheld, manual type of sander. You will wrap or clamp the sand paper around the sanding block and knock off the wood by hand.

To learn more about sanders, then you should check out my article “Sander Complete Guide”.

Nail guns

Nail guns are moderately essential if you are putting nails in wood. While you could do it by hand, using a nail gun is more efficient and accurate.

The reason why I do not say that nail guns are very essential is because screws do a better job at holding pieces of wood together, and nails should only be used on non-structural pieces.


Drills are very essential in woodworking. If you want to drill a screw into wood, you will first have to drill a pilot hole and use the drill to screw the screw into the wood.

Drill driverImpact drillRight-angle drillHammer drill
UsesVersatile drill for woodworkingDrill driver with more torqueDrill for small spacesDrill with bursts of torque
For small spacesFor denser materials
ConsNot as powerfulCosts more than drill driverNot as powerfulMay be too powerful in some scenarios
Price Range$20-90$40-130$60-170$40-200
Drill driver

The drill driver

The most common type of drill that woodworkers use is the drill driver. The drill driver will be able to complete the majority, if not all of your woodworking projects.

I would highly recommend getting a drill with variable speed and torque to prevent damage to your piece

The impact drill

The impact drill is like a regular drill with more torque. The speed and torque start off slow and then increases.

Some projects will require an impact drill if the torque on your regular drill is not enough power. However, many and most woodworkers will not need an impact drill.

The right angle drill

The right angle drill is a slightly specialty tool but would provide value to most woodworkers. It is good for drilling into small spaces that would be difficult to reach with a conventionally sized drill, like right angle corners.

The hammer drill

The hammer drill is what I would call a specialty tool in woodworking. It provides more torque than the drill driver and supplies that torque immediately, in comparison to the impact drill.

Very few woodworkers will find more value in a hammer drill than an impact drill. The hammer drill is good for drilling into other materials though



Clamps in woodworking is a very essential piece of equipment regardless of the type of woodworker you are.

You will need to clamps to hold the pieces together to let the wood glue dry. Even if you don’t use wood glue, 90 degree angle clamps will help with getting that perfect angle in hand joinery.

If you need to get clamps or are interested in which clamps to get, then you should check out my other article “Woodworking Clamps: How-to, Types of clamps, Tricks”.


Planers are used as a thicknesser to get the wood at the desired consistent thickness.

Planers in general are a good tool to have, but I would not call them very essential. You can get by without using a planar.

Hand planarBench planar
ConsNot as powerfulNot portable
More expensive
Price RangeManual: $30-100
Electrical: $150+

The hand planer

A hand planar can be manual or electrical. A manual planer is much cheaper (~$30-100) and requires more physical labor. An electrical planer is more expensive ($150+), requires less physical labor, and is quicker and more powerful.

The bench planer

The bench planer is not hand-held and not as portable as the hand planer options. However, it does provide much more precision and consistency in the thicknessing the wood.

I would call the bench planer a specialty tool because you do not need one unless you want to build professional products and need quick speed and accuracy.

A hand planer will suffice for most projects.

To learn more about planers types and their features, then you should check out my article “Wood Planars”.


I would call routers slightly essential. While you could get away without using one, it is useful when creating designs in wood pieces.

There are many different types of routers. You have the hand-held, plunge-based, fixed-based, and d-base routers.

When buying a router, I would recommend to buy a hand-held router with a removable base kit.

I have a bosch router kit with a plunge and fixed-based accessories. If I needed to, I could also buy a D-base accessory.

Buying removable bases will save you a lot of money if you decide to upgrade.

To learn more about all of the different types of routers and their uses, then you should check out my article “Router Complete Guide”.

Other essential items

In woodworking, you will also need chisels, a mallet, a marking gauge, a sliding bevel, and a square. Below I will explain why each one of the items are essential.


You will need chisels to cut out joinery and shape the wood. Some of the common chisels for woodworking include bench, mortise, and parring chisels.

You should get a kit for any type of chisel that you choose to use. This will include different sizing for the different types of joinery and sizes of wood that you will be working with.

The mallet

You will need a mallet in conjunction with the chisel to cut and shape wood. Using a hammer will be very difficult and would not produce a clean finish.

A mallet can also be used on the wood to get a tight joint to be flush with the corner.

The marking gauge

The marking gauge is an essential tool, especially for hand made joinery. It is used to create a straight line to create precise cuts.

Trying to create a mortise or a dovetail joint without a marking gauge is very difficult

The sliding bevel

The sliding bevel is used to create precise angles in the wood. These angles can be used to create hand joinery methods along with the marking gauge.

The square

The square can be used to check the squareness of the corners of the wood. It can also be used to create straight, 90 degree angle, lines in the wood.


In this article, we discussed the 23 most common woodworking tools. We also went over different tool types in each category and compared the tools to see which one would be right for you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!


My name is Rachel Blanding and I am a woodworker. I started woodworking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mainly create and refurbish furniture and create art. In this site I will share with you the knowledge I have gained over the years, and what worked for me and what didn't.

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