Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 underrated tools - part 2

There are many great woodworking tools on the market, but it’s important not to overlook these basic gems or take them for granted. They make your time in the workshop more enjoyable and efficient.

1. Respirator – We all know safety is critical, but I often won­der if woodworkers really understand the hazards of airborne dust on their long-term health. Tiny, almost invisible, dust particles get deep into our lungs because of their small size, and they tend to stay there. A properly fitting respirator is the final line of defense.

2. Cordless Drill – We all have one, but we likely all take it for granted. The ability to walk untethered around the shop, home or yard with a drill is something that we should celebrate. From drill­ing holes of all sizes to driving fasteners of all types, our cordless drills should be put on a pedestal in our shops.

3. Festool Domino – Mortice and tenon joints have been a mainstay of furniture joinery for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. Their only downside is they can be difficult to quickly and accu­rately create. That was until Festool introduced the Domino. They aren’t cheap, but after using many jigs to cut my mortice and tenons, I was amazed at how quick, accurate and flexible a Domino is.

4. Dowel Centres – They’re so simple we forget to use them. For a few dollars you can have a method to add dowels to almost any joint. Dowels aren’t bomb-proof, but they certainly have their time and place. Dowel centres work wonders, especially when coupled with…

5. Brad Point Bits – A full set of brad point bits is a luxury to have on hand. But even if you only have enough cash for a few, pull the trigger. These bits leave clean holes and because of their centre spur, they accurately bore holes in wood. They’re available in utility and premium versions, and both are better than twist bits in wood, though the premium versions are much better.

6. Router – We already know a router is a versatile power tool, but I still think we don’t give routers all the credit they deserve. Coupled with some shop-made jigs, a selection of bits and a bit of knowledge, routers are the unsung heroes of my small shop.

7. Castors – A weirdly specific item, I know, but think about how static and cluttered our small shops would be without the almighty castor. The ability to support a heavy machine and easily allow us to move it around the shop as needed is an heroic act.

8. Scroll Saw – I only realized how handy these quiet saws were after I was given one. There are many operations I can’t really do without a scroll saw. Everything from tight curves in solid wood to fine inlay cuts are made possible with a scroll saw. My kids also enjoy using it. All this from a saw we rarely mention.

9. Power Carving Cutters – The ability to shape wood in a third dimension was a revelation to me when I first started power carving. A cutting disk and an angle grinder are all that’s needed to get going. And with all the cool variations on the market today, there’s a power carving cutter for pretty much any project.

10. Woodworking Clubs – Although the pandemic put a damper on in-person meetups, many woodworking clubs still found ways to connect with their membership. Woodworking clubs are a way to learn from other, more experienced, woodworkers. They also offer a chance to socialize, which is great for us who tend to spend our free time alone in our shops.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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