Power Tools for Advanced Woodworkers

Once a beginner woodworker reaches a certain level of competency, he or she may feel a need to branch out and expand beyond the standard set of power tools that are typical for beginners, such as a quality table saw, miter saw, router, and a few drills. These advanced tools are typically found in commercial woodshops, but the novice woodworker likely will not have a need for these machines.

  • 01 of 06

    Drill Press

    drill press tune up
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    There is no more precise tool for drilling holes into wood stock than the drill press. A drill press is a large motor with a drill chuck mounted directly above a table.

    To use a drill press, a bit is secured in the chuck, and a board is placed directly beneath the bit on the table. The motor is then turned on and by pulling on a lever, the woodworker can ease the drill bit into the wood to drill the hole. That being said, there is a lot more that can be done with a drill press.

  • 02 of 06

    Router Table

    Wood router in use
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    Using a router by hand to apply a profile to the edge of a board is a skill that takes some practice. When routing a profile on a board, the wood stock needs to be secured so that it does not move on the table, and the router is moved around the perimeter of the board, allowing the router bit to cut the desired profile. Since the router's base plate is relatively small, the router can be inadvertently tipped slightly, causing an inconsistent edge profile. 

    A router table works in the opposite manner: the router is stationary and the board moves around the router bit. In many cases, this is a much easier method of applying the profile, as the board being routed is held flat on the router table's surface, thus keeping the board consistently square to the router bit. This eliminates the possibility of tilting the router.

  • 03 of 06

    Oscillating Spindle Sander

    Oscillating Spindle Sander
    (c) 2011 Chris Baylor

    An oscillating spindle sander is probably the easiest tool to use for sanding and fine-tuning curved cuts in wood. The sander is similar to a router table, except that it has either round sanding drums or a belt sander protruding from the table.

    Wood is placed onto the table and then the edge to be sanded is introduced to the sander, which allows the face of the sanding surface to be kept square to the face of the board.

  • 04 of 06

    Surface Planer

    Wood planing
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    Imagine that you want to glue a few planks together to build a table top, but the boards you wish to use are of varying thicknesses. How do you shave them to a consistent thickness? In the olden days, you might have chosen a wide hand plane to shave each board to a specific thickness, but that is time-consuming and takes considerable skill.

    Modern woodworkers would opt for a power surface planer. This tool allows you to set a desired thickness on the machine and then run the boards through the planer, and they all end up at the desired thickness, consistently even with the opposite face of the board.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06


    Biscuit jointer at work
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    If you have some wood stock that is not straight or doesn't have flat surfaces, the jointer is the tool you need. The jointer is the ideal tool for cutting a consistent, flat surface along one edge of the board, and then it can be rotated 90-degrees, and by holding the newly-surfaced face against the jointer's fence, you can smooth an adjoining surface to be not only flat and consistent but also square to the first edge.

    After jointing two corresponding edges of a board, it can then be taken to the table saw to cut the board to size, using the two flat surfaces as guides for cutting the opposite faces.

  • 06 of 06

    Wood Lathe

    Bowl Turning on a Lathe
    (c) 2016 Chris Baylor

    Woodturning is a fun aspect of woodworking, but it requires a very different skill set than traditional woodworking. In woodturning, a piece of stock is inserted into a tool called a wood lathe, with a rotating motor on one end and a freely-spinning spindle on the other end of the board.

    The motor is then turned on to rotate the board, and various tools are used to hone, cut and shape the wood into various profiles. A wood lathe can also be used without the rear spindle to create wooden bowls.