grizzly cabinet saw

What Are The Best Woodworking Tools To Buy

Best Woodworking Tools

Please know that I do not make anything from recommendations I give here. Also know I hate recommending brands. Why? Defining what is the best woodworking tools can vary based upon someones need.

You will see plenty of blogs pushing a specific brand or name in front of you. Rather you should have a better comparison from needs to performance. Knowing what woodworking tool to buy shouldn’t be based on hype.

Ditch The Inferior Tools

To focus on the best tools in woodworking requires us to ditch all the garbage. Forget Harbor Freight, Lowes, and Home Depot. If your need is general carpentry on a construction site then those names are what you need.

If you are a serious woodworker, create wood art, or delve into carving, you definitely have other needs. These needs focus on repeatability in accuracy and speed. The accuracy in cuts we need at this level are consistently beyond what the average contractor saw can handle..

To get this kind of accuracy requires quality machining in the tool. This in turn means that these woodworking tools will most likely last a lifetime.

There simply is no way that inferior tools can produce this kind of accuracy much less give you durability. Many have tried with them and they all will fail.

I place the brands you find from the local hardware stores, and most on Amazon, into one category I call throw aways. There is little they offer outside of some basics like electric sanders or a basic drill press.

Best Woodworking Tool Brands

When it comes to table saws, band saws, larger planers or similar as a wood shaping tool, there are a handful of brands we turn to. Everyone will have their favorite flavor yet here I will detail mine.

table saw

In terms of brands you arrive at the names Powermatic, SawStop, Jet, and Grizzly. I have listed these names in relative order to quality.

The only exception to this order is Powermatic and SawStop. Due to SawStop mainly focusing on table saws they have less to offer in terms of a broader scope of tool selection.

If I were to compare both brands table saws it really is a near tie. The one advantage SawStop has is their safety features. If you like this then it is a clear win.

For me this was the case and thus why I own one. It only takes one slip for injury and the table saw is the most notorious tool for accidents to happen with.

I will also add that when maintained and configured well, the SawStop does an amazing job making a smooth crosscut with little effort.

Most nicer pieces of equipment will sport hearty frames, steel or cast iron tops, and solid hardware. Compare this to cheaper versions and the quality is evident.

For any steel or cast iron components, paste wax can be used to protect surfaces. Quality of this nature can survive for years and continue to serve you.

Jet And Grizzly Tools

Jet and Grizzly tools are a toss up depending on what tool it is you are looking at. The year you purchase the tool in can sometimes matter as well. Nevertheless generally Jet can outperform in some areas.

My personal selection here is different from some others. In terms of a bandsaw I selected Grizzly. Due to a sale which took place, and the difference between the two brands being marginal, I went with the more economical route.

Some will cite Jet as being better due to historical relationships in the company to Powermatic. Much of their manufacturing is also in Taiwan. Others do not like that most of Grizzly is made in China.

So what is the real difference?

With Grizzly you are not getting the cheap or poorly made Chinese products. Rather it is the better of their manufacturing capability. Those who have built cnc mills in their shops understand this point as European made is outside of hobby shop price ranges.

Jet and Grizzly really are comparable in quality, depending on the tool you are speaking about. Here I would compare the tool, its features, and then go according to your needs.

What To Avoid In Woodworking Tools

With these “better brands” there are still things to avoid. A very good example here is a dust collector and air filtration unit. In this case you need a specialist which focuses on that expertise.

In the example of a dust collector I would be looking a name like Oneida. Their air filtration units are among the best that us lowly woodworkers can afford.

So avoid the Grizzly, Jet, or other options out there as this is not their specialty. In the end you will be glad you did.

Outside of these big woodworking tools there are smaller varieties that also split the brands at who is best at what. Wood chisels is a great example in this regard.

If you are looking for the best then you would need to look for authentic Japanese wood chisels. This though is not a flavor everyone likes due to the required set up, maintenance, and sharpening regimens of the steel.

Now we are quickly back to need when compared to function and cost. Good Western wood chisels can be had from places like Rockler or Woodcraft.

My point here is that there will be some tools that are more specialty than others. In this case you are better off going with the specialist for that function to get the best woodworking tools.

As for my Oneida dust collector, I love it. I wouldn’t have any other brand for this function. Most certainly not a Grizzly.

Routers, Drill Press, Miter Saws, Lathe, Other Small Tools

For things like routers or a drill press, my preference is to find something which was made in the 1970’s to 1980’s if at all possible. The tools then were just better made. Unfortunately many of these are now near extinction.

My router comes from the early 80’s. My drill press is from the early 90’s. Unless you need something complex or large by scale, going with older tools can gain you better quality at a better price.

Many of these smaller tools that are made today essentially become throw aways. Even Miter Saws are not what they used to be.

You can check out what the better brands such as Powermatic sell from time to time yet companies like Grizzly or Jet offer a wider variety. These kinds of woodworking tools though I do not see as a lifetime investment due to their average cost.

A lathe within a hobby shop is often of the smaller variety. Know that there are quite large lathes for bigger projects. Here is one of the cases of need to cost.

Better lathes can run up near 2k easily with the better brands like Jet or Powermatic. A smaller hobby lathe of the garden variety is of course cheaper.

The defining difference is the motor life, its power, and options the equipment comes with. I always opt in for more power and better life of the motor where possible.

Woodworking Bench And Vise

Here to get the best woodworking tools I seriously suggest to avoid buying anything. Instead you build it. A woodworking table should be fit to your needs within your shop.

If you look online the prices you find are inflated when compared to what you actually get. My woodworking tables I have built cost a LOT less money. The bonus is that I got exactly what I wanted.

In terms of a woodworking vise, you can buy the hardware from places like Rockler or Woodcraft and add it to your table. These are easily within the scope of what a hobbyist could handle doing.

What determines your need for a woodworking bench and vise? If you plan on hand tooling with things like chisels then it will become a must. A woodworking vise is basically a third hand.

What defines a woodworking table is it having a vise mounted to it with complimenting tools. Outside of this you essentially have a work bench that can be built with lumber from Lowes.

Tools For Special Functions: Incra, Kreg, And Others

You will run into needing some specialty tools for specific functions. An example here is a box joint. In terms of this function there is no better tool I have found than the Incra Ibox. Its worth every penny, in fact more.

Yet not all things by Incra are equal. Personally I do not like their router table, and yes I have one. Also their table saw fence system is in my opinion poorly designed due to footprint not its function.

My preferences do not mean these are not great products. Yet in the case of their fence system it simply takes up too much real estate on the table saw.

I can get the same accuracy with old school methods in my stock SawStop fence. This comes from tuning, practice, and experience.

Kreg has a great miter fence system. It is accurate enough for most functions and a major upgrade from the stock systems we all get with a new table saw. Should you get Incra instead? That is up to your needs.

Tools such as these begin to show a lot of difference in how someone works and the experience they have. Not every tool fits the same person in the same ways.

Here you really need to do your research on the specific product, watch videos, dig into forums going past the hype and see if it fits you.

Table Saw Blades, Router Bits, Cnc Bits, Hand Saws

Again stay away from Lowes or similar places. Freud and Forrest blades will serve you well for table saws. Just know the kind of cutting you are doing and match it to the tooth profile of the blade.

In terms of a dado stack I presently run Freud. It serves great and they are consistent. I have no complaints but there are others you may prefer.

When it comes to router bits I suggest at the very least Whiteside or Freud. Please do not think of going with junk from Amazon. Why?

These things spin at extremely high rpm’s. In terms of a cnc mill, speeds can reach easily between 16k to 20k plus rpm’s under numeric conrol. In other words you lose tactile feel of sensing something may be wrong.

Its not worth going cheap to have an accident or metal fragmenting. Stick with brands that have a reputation for going the distance with good quality control.

In my shop I run only bits which can serve in both cnc and routers. If a bit cannot do both then it doesn’t go into my shop. This automatically eliminates the cheap amazon sets.

Last but definitely not least, invest in some good hand saws. You do not need to spend a fortune to have a solid set. Yet do not miss out on how important these tools are in your work

The Best For Homebrew Cnc Mills

When it comes to the best woodworking tools we sometimes have no choice but to sacrifice due to budget. There is no other piece of equipment that we can invest in as woodworkers that shows this like a cnc mill.

Quality spindles for example can easily range into the many thousands of dollars and they are used spindles. Building a cnc alone is a question of what can you afford, and for some is it really worth a second mortgage.

wood canvas

At present the best options that are affordable come from Chinese companies. There is a wide range of possibilities in the equipment. Motors being among the more important of parts are worth paying more per axis.

The spindle is also worth paying a little more for. Its lifespan should easily exceed the older router method people used years ago. Yet consider these spindles as being disposable like the routers which were used in history.

Wiring is easy to obtain locally. In terms of the controller, building your own simple pc to run Linux Cnc is the best path I have found.

This requires a lot of work as you will be building your cnc from the ground up. Yet the end result is definitely worth it.

You should spend near half of what it would otherwise cost to buy a complete solution, and have better quality in your home build. This is one of the rare cases where it is better to do it yourself as compared to purchasing.

Make Spending Once For The Best Tools Priority

Spending once and crying once is often the mantra I use. It is better than spending multiple times. This will not apply in every case with every tool. Just make it count where it really should.

I have tossed out a few brand names which you should research. This is not all of the options that are out there, but they are among the best. The trick is to match your need to the tool.