Power Tools – Gifts For Woodworkers

Since we’ve already covered hand tools (along with some workshop consumables) in my previous article it’s now time for the second in this series of three articles. This list of ‘Gifts For Woodworkers’ will cover power tools I feel are going to be appreciated by any keen woodworker who receives them.

For me personally, I find all woodworking tools exciting but power tools are perhaps the ones that create the most ‘magpie’ moments. By ‘magpie’ moments I mean that whole ‘shiny object’ reaction where I look at the latest and greatest power tool and feel I just have to have it!

There are a couple of problems with this though; the first being that I usually can’t afford it and the second being, more often than not, I don’t actually need it! I just WANT it coz it’s new and shiny!

So let’s ignore ‘shiny object syndrome’ for a moment and just look at the power tools that I believe will be the most useful to your prospective gift recipient. Every woodworking enthusiast loves power tools, no matter if their chosen skill is mainly hand tool based, so here are a few more ‘Gifts For Woodworkers’ ideas for you to consider.

1. Drill

A power drill is probably the most versatile and useful of all the power tools because it is used for a multitude of tasks, not just woodworking. Most now come with rotary and hammer action, hence the name rotary hammer drill, so they really can offer great versatility.

DeWalt DCD996B XR Cordless 3-Speed Hammer Drill
DeWalt® DCD996B XR Cordless 3-Speed Hammer Drill

Whether you opt for a corded or cordless (rechargeable battery-powered) version there is a huge choice out there so it very much depends on both budget and what your woodworking enthusiast prefers. I would recommend a cordless drill simply because of the convenience; no cable so it can be used practically anywhere.

At the risk of sounding like an old man, the early cordless drills were often vastly underpowered compared to the corded models. Cordless tools have come a long way in a very short space of time and now can accomplish almost anything a corded tool can. However, they do tend to cost a bit more so a corded version is perfectly acceptable too.

If you do decide to go cordless then look for an 18 volts system or higher. These compare most favourably with the corded models and should mean you won’t have to suffer your gift recipient bemoaning any lack of power.

2. Random Orbit Sander

It doesn’t matter what you make from wood, once all the hard work is done and it’s ready for assembly, it needs to be sanded to a finish.

Sanding by hand is fine, even if it can be pretty hard work, especially when it’s a larger piece. Did I just say that? Sanding by hand is fine? No, it’s not!! Its hard work and is no fun whatsoever! Ask any woodworker which part of their craft they dislike the most and I guarantee it will be the sanding.

That’s why the gift of a random orbit sander will result in incoherent mutterings from a deliriously happy woodworker. It is, without doubt, one of the most important power tools for woodworking and can save a huge amount of time and effort finishing their latest creation.

A random orbit sander offers the greatest versatility and due to its random action, can be used along and across the grain without leaving swirls or scratch marks on the wood surface. The most common sizes are the 125mm/5″ and 150mm/6″ but there are also 180mm/7″ models.

The 125mm/5″ is more than adequate and there are plenty of brands of sanding disks available, with the hook & loop (or VELCRO®) attaching system, that fit any brand of orbit sander.

3. Jigsaw

Makita 4350FCT Jigsaw
Makita® 4350FCT Jigsaw

This is one of those power tools you never really know you need but when you have one, you don’t know how you ever managed without it.

With a vast array of different blade types and lengths available it has the ability to cut curves, circles, holes and complexed shapes. It can also be used on a variety of materials including wood, MDF, aluminium, plastic and acrylic.

Most jigsaws now have a tool-free or twist-lock blade system making them incredibly easy to use.

Once again I would recommend a cordless model as it eliminates any risk of cutting through the power cable. Look for one with orbital action and variable speed for the ultimate in versatility.

4. Compound Mitre Saw

Now, I’m not suggesting you have to go out and buy a compound mitre saw just to impress your woodworking partner, friend, colleague or relative. But if you really want to, this tool is gonna do it!

A good quality mitre saw will quickly become the go-to saw for any aspiring or even accomplished woodworker. I can honestly say, my one is used more than any other saw, and the more I use it the more I learn about it which in turn means, the more I use it! Crazy huh?

Bosch Professional GDM 12 GDL Mitre Saw
Bosch® Professional GDM 12 GDL Mitre Saw

Compound mitre saws come in different sizes but the three most common are 216mm/8½”, 255mm/10″ and 305mm/12″. The size refers to the circular blade and generally, the larger the blade the larger the pieces of material it can cut.

Compound mitre saws come in different sizes but the three most common are 216mm/8½”, 255mm/10″ and 305mm/12″. The size refers to the circular blade and generally, the larger the blade the larger the pieces of material it can cut.

The blade angle and direction is fully adjustable producing perfect cuts from straight to any required angle. Ideal for crosscuts, bevels and mitres when cutting anything from crown moulding to picture frames.

With a wide selection of blade types suitable for all woods & plywoods, plastic, acrylic, aluminium and even steel, this saw will be a valuable addition to any woodworkers’ toolset.

Couple it with a portable mitre saw stand and you have a versatile and stable saw and bench combination you can use anywhere.

5. Router or Palm Router

There’s no other way to describe it, a router is a marvellous piece of equipment. Well, there are probably several other ways to describe it but it is definitely an awesome piece of kit!

From simple rounding of edges to the most intricate and detailed joints and finishes, the router is capable of accomplishing them all. That said, it actually can’t do very much on its own but once you add a few different router bits the sky is the limit as to what it can achieve.

Triton TRA001 2400W Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
Triton® TRA001 2400W Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router

If you plan to buy your woodworking enthusiast their first ever router I would suggest a palm (or trim) router with variable speed control. They are the most affordable and the smaller design makes them fairly easy to operate, especially for someone who hasn’t used one before. There are even a few cordless versions now so once more, that irritating cable can be taken out of the equation if necessary.

And if they already own a palm router you could look at adding a larger, more powerful, plunge router to their power tool arsenal. The plunge feature allows the router to be set at the desired depth of cut and the bit lowered into the material to that depth.

I’m currently using a Makita RT0700C palm and a Triton TRA001 Plunge Router which have been the only routers I’ve ever needed.

6. Workshop Vacuum Cleaner

Let’s clear something up here; there’s no such thing as a completely dust-free workshop. I have yet to discover any shop vacuum or woodshop dust extraction system that removes ALL dust and particles, it’s just not possible. That’s why I always advocate wearing a suitable dust mask whenever sawing or sanding.

Festool CT 17 E Dust Extractor
Festool® CT 17 E Dust Extractor

However, the dust and debris can be drastically reduced with the use of a good quality shop vacuum. It can help keep the work area clean and minimise the amount of airborne particles flying around the workshop.

Look for one with a strong powerful motor, both wet & dry capability and a removable filter that can be cleaned and reused as necessary. You could even opt for a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter model if you feel your woodworking enthusiast is worth the extra cost.

I prefer a bagless vac but it’s worth noting that a bag can act as a secondary filter so it is still worth considering. But do also consider the cost of regularly replacing the bag, especially if the vac is going to have high usage.

7. Circular Saw

Where do I start with circular saws? There’s so much I could say but as this is supposed to be a brief explanation of why I think these power tools would make great gifts I’ll leave the long-winded explanation for another day.

A circular saw is probably not the first tool any prospective woodworker would think to buy but certainly one they will use often once they own one. Like so many other saws, the circular saw can come in different sizes. The most common and most useable sizes are 165mm/6½” and 190mm/7½”. Again, this refers to the blade diameter and generally the smaller the blade, the lighter and easier the saw is to use.

When starting out woodworking this saw is a useful and versatile replacement for a more expensive table saw. By adding a guide rail it can comfortably cut large sheets of material like plywood and MDF. Similar to the jigsaw, with a quick blade change, it can also be used to cut plastic, acrylic and aluminium.

8. Electric Hand Planer

The electric planer is one of those tools that does everything a hand plane does but with a fraction of the effort. It is used for shaping and smoothing wood by reducing pieces to the required size, smoothing the surfaces and flattening out bumps or dips.

With easy blade depth adjustment and efficient cuttings removal, these tools are convenient and comfortable to use and any woodworker would be delighted to have one.

I currently use a Makita XPK01Z cordless planer which I am very happy with. There are several alternatives available, both cordless and corded. The better known and ultimately more reliable brands such as Festool, DeWalt and Bosch all provide good quality options with a range of prices to suit all budgets.

9. Brad Nailer

Makita XNB01Z 18vV LXT Cordless Brad Nailer
Makita® XNB01Z 18vV LXT Cordless Brad Nailer

A brad nailer is perhaps not what you would consider an essential power tool but for small to medium projects that involve a lot of nailing, not only is it a huge time saver, it also produces accurate and consistent nailing (and you can’t hammer your thumb!).

They come in corded, cordless and pneumatic versions and the brads (or nails) are slim gauge with small heads. Coupled with a range of lengths, most commonly 15mm/⅝” to 50mm/2″, they leave very small holes and are suitable for a wide range of applications including cabinet making, moulding, trim, casing, panelling and even upholstery work.

Whatever your woodworking enthusiast is creating a brad nailer will become an integral part of their power tool collection.

10. Bench Grinder

A bench grinder is another of those power tools us woodworkers could probably live without but, once we have one, we use a lot. I most commonly use it for sharpening tools like chisels, knives and plane irons (or plane blades) and occasionally, when I’m reminded, my wife’s garden shears!

Ryobi HBG-825B Bench Grinder
Ryobi® HBG-825B 375W Bench Grinder

A conventional bench grinder will typically have two abrasive wheels (typically 150mm/6″ or 200mm/8″) in different grits attached to either end of the motor shaft. And by changing out one of the grinding wheels to a wire brush or polishing wheel the bench grinder can be used for a plethora of other things making it very much an all-purpose tool.

If like me, your woodworking enthusiast doesn’t have much workshop space, it can be mounted on a moveable stand allowing it to be moved around with ease. In fact, my one is a Ryobi HBG-825B which is mounted on a 3-footed stand with castors so it tends to get wheeled around more than a shopping trolley at the local supermarket!

A Few Final Thoughts

As you have probably detected by now, I’m very much a cordless power tool fan. Obviously, this preference is influenced by the fact that I don’t have a dedicated workshop, just the corner of my garage, so I mostly work outside (weather permitting). If your woodworking enthusiast has a dedicated workshop then corded tools are often more affordable and thus, better value than their cordless relatives.

And no matter what anyone says, there is a reason big brand power tools are so popular. They are, for the most part, strong and reliable and the after-sales support is efficient and effective. But they also cost more than lesser-known brands which is a pretty big deal when you are buying as a gift for someone else.

What brand you go for depends on three important factors, not least of which is your budget. But you will also want to consider what power tools and brands your lucky gift recipient already owns and lastly, how much woodworking they actually do. If they are full-on woodworkers, with a thirst for turning out beautiful creations regularly, try to provide the power tools to suit. But if it’s just an occasional hobby, one of the cheaper brands will still be a great addition to any woodworkers’ toolset.

Whatever you decide, be sure to do some research and check which tools get the best reviews. There really is no substitute for the opinions, comments and feedback of those already using them.

I hope I’ve helped to give you some ideas for what kind of power tools your gift recipient would like but if you would like more details on a particular item or have any questions about anything woodworking please comment in the box below, I would love to hear from you.

Woodworkers Power Tools

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