Essential Woodworking Tools for the Garage

I love working with wood. It’s relaxing and gets the creative juices flowing. Woodworking as either income or hobby entails the use of certain tools. Once you decide to convert your garage into a shop, you will need to know the best choices for a limited space. Some tools are indispensable while others can be passed by depending on what you expect to achieve from your shop.

We can start by listing the most needed power tools followed by hand tools and incidentals. If you know exactly what you’ll be doing, tools may be added and removed, but we can make a good beginners list here.

Table Saw

table-sawThe biggest tool you should have will be your tablesaw. For accuracy, for ability to make repetitive cuts and for the ability to handle large sizes of board, this tool can’t be beat. The drawback is the amount of space it takes up. Being a cabinetmaker, I like my tablesaw bench to be large enough to handle at least a 4X8 sheet of plywood. That means my bench would be nine to ten feet from front to back and nine feet wide with the saw blade being center of that span.

An alternative to such a large piece of real estate in your garage is a portable tablesaw that can be stored under a workbench, but they have never been known for accuracy. For accuracy, you should turn to your circular saw, a good straightedge and clamps. It takes a bit to set up but it will give you a far better cut than the portable.

Power Tools

cordless-drillNext up is a drill. Some think that this is where it stops. Of course, you can put a screwdriver bit in and run screws but woodworking often requires a more delicate hand. In my opinion, drills are for drilling but screwguns are for screwing. They can be adjusted to stop before blowing through the wood.

A jigsaw is the next tool, preferably one that can scroll. This is followed by a router. Obtain an extra base for your router so that you have the ability to use it by hand and attach the other base to a router table. In a perfect world, your shop would have at least two routers, one with a ¼-inch shank and another with a ½-inch shank. Keep in mind, router bits can get very expensive.

Sanders are up next. You can certainly do ninety-nine percent of your sanding with a random orbital sander. However, a belt sander for large jobs certainly makes the job easier. For the small spaces, a triangular sander gets it done.

An air compressor is probably the most versatile piece of equipment in your shop or garage. Whether you’re using it with an air sander or just blowing off sawdust for cleaning, it’ll be used quite often. Since you’ll probably be in a small enclosed air, a quiet air compressor is the best option. Feel free to check out various other air compressor reviews online if you need something larger.

Finally, the indispensable compound miter saw or “chop saw” as it’s called in shops. This saw will cut straight, clean miters for corners, compound miters for angled corners such as crown molding and repetitive crosscuts. This tool can be built into the workbench or used away from it with collapsible supports.

Hand Tools

hand-toolsHand tools are the remaining link between past and present. No matter how many innovations are made to power tools, there will always be a time when you’ll reach for a hand tool. The list can go on forever but here are the necessities:

  • Chisels for cutting and cleaning up your projects. Chisels range in size from ¼-inch to 2 inches.

  • Squares come in several styles and you should have one of each. Framing squares, adjustable squares and T-squares are the most used in a wood shop.

  • Clamps, hand planes, screwdrivers, wrenches, tape measures and folding rulers round out the list.


The most important tool is your common sense. Be sure the garage is well ventilated, always wear safety equipment and work smart.

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