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Best Jigsaw – Puzzling Out The Jigsaw

A jigsaw is an extremely versatile power tool. It is capable of cross cuts, ripping, straight and curved cuts, plunge cuts, beveling and mitres. The Best Jigsaw will allow you to cut freely and effortlessly through sheets of wood time and time again.

In a pinch it can be used instead of a number of other tools (but won’t give quite the same quality of finish or be as easy); these include a band saw, circular saw, scroll saw and router. They’re also pretty cheap tools so it’s likely you’ll pick one of these up before buying any of the more specialized tools above.

A jigsaw essentially consists of a motor with a reciprocating saw blade attached. The blade is quite possibly the most important part of this tool; different blade types will allow you to cut different materials and achieve differing levels of finish. More information on blades a bit later on.

Jigsaw Reviews

There are plenty of jigsaw tools on the market to choose from. Luckily they are a pretty cheap power tool in comparison to others like a scroll saw or band saw. When choosing the best jigsaw the two main attributes that need to be considered are price and cutting quality.

The quality of the cut is mostly determined by the quality of the blades that you use. Obviously the quality of the jigsaw that you choose will also have a direct effect on how well it cuts but the blades that you use will probably have a bigger influence.

That said I would personally avoid most cheap power tools. They are cheap for a reason after all. Right now the Bosch JS470E has the best blend of quality, durability and cutting accuracy. Not only that it is one of the most powerful corded jigsaws that you can buy for a reasonable price. 

Best Jigsaw

Bosch JS470E 7 Amp

The JS470E is a top handle corded jigsaw from Bosch.

At 7 Amps it packs a powerful punch and should be more than capable of handling the majority of cutting jobs in either a home wood shop or on site at a contracting gig.

Specifications

  • Powerful 7 Amp motor
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Four different orbital-action settings for different type cuts
  • Max speed setting and trigger controlled operating speed
  • Heavy die cast foot
  • One year warranty

It has an adjustable speed range and a max bevel cut angle of 45 degrees so it's a pretty versatile jigsaw tool. There is also four different settings for the orbital action of the blades. Being able to vary the orbital action can help immensely when it comes to cutting smooth or when you need to be a little more aggressive depending on the material.

The JS470E is one of the heaviest jigsaws here. All that weight makes it extra sturdy and smooth with minimal vibrations. The aluminum die-cast foot with steel insert helps keep the center of gravity low helping to keep the track of the saw true across the cutting surface.   

​Capable of cutting wood up to 5-7/8 inches thick, aluminum 7/8 inches and mild steel 3/8 inches thick depending on the quality of blades used. 

Bosch Jig Saw JS470E
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Durability

Although the Bosch is a little on the high side for price compared to some of the others in our review it's the kind of power tool that is worth investing in i.e you should need to replace it as often as a cheaper model. It should last many years if looked after correctly.

See how the Bosch JS365 and JS470E compare in our head to head. 

The best Jigsaw for the money you'll be making perfect cuts time and time again.


Porter Cable PC600JS 6 Amp

This budget jigsaw from Porter Cable is perfect for those that don't need to use a jigsaw every day. It is more than capable of handling the occasional job about the house. 

Paired with a quality jigsaw blade it can comfortably cut to the usual thickness of woods that you'll be using for your woodworking ​projects at home. 

The PC600JS has a 6 Amp motor. The speed from the motor is highly adjustable. There are seven different speed settings built into the trigger. No only is the speed adjustable but so too is the cutting action which is has four different orbital settings.

A cheap yet ​highly capable tool that can get the job done in a no fuss manner.

Specifications

  • 6 Amp motor
  • Lock-on button for constant use
  • Tool free blade change
  • 3 year limited warranty

Dewalt DW331K 6.5 Amp

The Dewalt has a 6.5 Amp motor and and has a has the same 4-position orbital cutting action as the Bosch and Porter Cable above.

It is priced at a fairly similar price point to the Bosch but with slightly less power the Bosch has it beat.​

It also lighter than the Bosch which when compared may give it a slightly less quality feel during usage..​

The shoe and blade can be set at a variety of angles to help you gain greater accuracy when looking to make angled cuts. An integrated dust blower also helps keep your line of site clean and clear as you advance the saw forward.

Note: it only accepts T-shank blades so be aware of that before you purchase​

Specifications

  • 6.5 Amp motor
  • 4-position orbital action
  • Variable speed control on the dial and trigger
  • Counter balance mechanism to help reduce vibration

Black & Decker BDEJS600C 5 Amp

Another budget model in our line up of best jigsaws is the Black and Decker 5 Amp.

At 5 Amps the motor is probably the least powerful here. Saying that it is sufficient for light cutting and occasional use.

Definetly suitable for someone on a budget, you can spend your money on other tools if you are just starting out and building up your tool box​

Specifications

  • 5 Amp motor 
  • 4 action orbital setting
  • Adjustable shoe can be used at 45 degrees
  • 2 year limited manufacturers warranty 

Makita 4350FCT 6.3 Amp

The Makita has a 6.3 Amp motor and is priced at roughly the same as the Bosch. For the money however it does lack some of the Bosch's features.

There are only 3 orbital settings the SPM(strokes per minute) is also lower at 2800 versus the Bosch's ​3100. With higher a higher powered motor and better cutting adjust-ability the Bosch for the money is a clear choice over the Makita. 

The only reason you may choose the Matika vs Bosch Jigsaw is that Matika is known for producing some of the best quality tools available. Generally when you choose Matika you are buying a tool that will still be working day after day year after year, a brand you can trust!

Specifications

  • 6.3 Amp motor
  • 3 orbital action cutting settings
  • Built-in LED 
  • Tool-less blade change

Cordless Jigsaws

The best cordless jigsaws are never going to be able to compete with a corded model in terms of raw cutting power. What they lack in power they make up for in convenience as you do not need to rely on having a power outlet available. That being said they still have ample power to get most jobs done.

Best Cordless Jigsaw

Dewalt DCS331Mi Lithium Ion 

The DCS331 cordless jigsaw kit is power by a 20V Lithium Ion battery pack. The motor at full charge is capable of 3000 strokes per minute at full speed.

These stats are comparable to a mid-range corded model so it is still a very usable jigsaw​ with the added convenience of no power cord

Specifications

  • All metal shoe bevel with multi-degree adjustment
  • 4-position orbital action
  • One 4.0 Ahr battery and charger included
  • 3 year limited manufacturers warranty

There are some more powerful cordless jigsaws available however, they require the additional purchase of the battery pack and the charger. These types of jigsaws are sold as "tool only" so be careful if you are searching online or looking at a box in a store.

The best cordless jigsaw for the money that comes with a battery pack and charger​.​

toughbuilt-c550-support-pegs

Matika VJ04R1 12V Lithium Ion

The Makita VJ04R1 12V Lithium-Ion cordless jigsaw kit comes with everything you need to get started right out of the box!

Includes a charger, two batteries and blades all packed in a sturdy carry case. This would make an awesome woodworking gift for a birthday or over the holidays.​

Although it's not quite as powerful as the DeWalt you still get are pretty decent jigsaw for the money and given that it comes with practically everything you need blades and all then it's a perfect starter jigsaw.

Specifications

  • 12V motor
  • 3 orbital action settings
  • Two 12V 2.0Ah batteries included
  • One charger, jigsaw blades and carry case included
  • 3 year warranty

Jigsaw Buyers Guide

Let’s have a quick history lesson here. The origin of the jigsaw goes back to the 1940s to an engineer called Albert Kaufmann. After seeing the action on his wife’s sewing machine he replaced the needle with a saw blade and suddenly he could make detailed and delicate cuts in wood.

Jigsaw power options

The first decision when buying is whether to go for a pneumatic or electric jigsaw. This will most likely come down to personal preference, but if you think about your usual type of project it’ll probably guide your decision.

Pneumatic jigsaws aren’t as common as electric, but they do have a few advantages. They’re a lot safer to work with under wet/damp conditions as you’re not going to get electrocuted; and they’re quite powerful (more so than battery powered ones at least). Once you’ve charged your air compressor you also don’t need a power outlet. If you’re just working at your home this likely won’t be an issue, but if you’re a professional working on a customer’s drive this could be the single most important point. They’re also quite a bit lighter than either electric variety (excluding the compressor of course).

If you go for an electric jigsaw then you’ve got another decision, corded or battery.


A cordless jigsaw has some benefits over its corded brother; you don’t need to worry about whether you’ll have a power outlet available. If you don’t have a cord you also don’t need to worry about cutting through it while you’re focussing on your cut. Of course a drawback to not having a cord is that you are reliant on batteries, so you need to keep them charged and maybe have a couple so you can be charging one while using the other. This can be expensive though as batteries aren’t cheap. Disadvantages include being the heaviest type (blame the battery), and having less power than corded/pneumatic so you’re going to be restricting your maximum cut depth straight away.

Corded jigsaws have more power than cordless, but you’re going to have to work within a maximum distance from your power outlet. You’ll also need to be very safety conscious; it’s easy to lose track of where your power cord is and you could get a nasty shock if you cut it.

Features

Now that you’ve decided on your power choice lets start going through some other features that you might be interested in.

Orbital or pendulum

This just describes the way the blade moves. Regular jigsaws move the blade in an up/down motion. An orbital jigsaw also moves the blade forward/backward at an (adjustable) angle. You can change the angle to match the material that you are cutting. The benefit of this is threefold.

  1. You’ll be able to cut more aggressively through thicker or harder materials.
  2. As the blade moves backwards, away from the material, it will momentarily be able to cool. Combining this with not having to push as hard when you’re cutting, means that the blade will be less likely to overheat and scorch your project. This could mean a longer life for your blades, saving you some money.
  3. If you’re cutting wood this also allows the sawdust to drop away from the cutting line, when the blade moves backwards, which gives you a better line of sight to the cut.

Variable speed control

Most jigsaws will allow you to control the speed of the blade. This can be very important depending on the types of materials that you’ll be cutting. As a general rule, the harder the material (e.g. metal), the slower the blade needs to be moving; and the softer (e.g. wood), the faster the blade should be going.

Dual-bevel

This simply allows angled cuts in both directions. The benefit here is that you won’t have to move either your work piece or yourself to bevel on both sides.

Guide light

This can really make seeing your cutting line a lot easier. Don’t rule it out just because you’ve got lights in your shop!

Laser line

Quite a simple thing but, again, this can help you follow your cutting line by projecting a line showing where your jigsaw is pointing. This can help if you have trouble wandering off your cut line.

Dust collector

The same as any tool used for woodworking, if you’re collecting your dust as you go then it’s not flying around in your face (or lungs) and there’s less to clean up afterwards which is always a bonus!

Jigsaw blades types

Jigsaw blades come in several varieties depending on the type of material they are designed to cut. You’ll probably get an all-rounder blade with your jigsaw, which will give ok performance in a few different materials; but you’ll most likely want to buy a specialised blade almost straight away.

There are a few things to consider when selecting a new blade – check out my article on band saw blades too, as they’re quite similar.

  • Blade material
  • Teeth per inch
  • Tooth set
  • Blade width

Blade material

Most blades are made from one of three types or material.

Tungsten carbide: These work best for cutting masonry or ceramics.

High-speed steel: These are good for lighter metals of soft woods such as pine.

Bi-metal: Use these for heaving jobs, such as harder metals and hardwoods like oak.

Teeth per inch

Shortened to TPI, this measures how many teeth are in each inch of the blade. This will determine the type of material the blade can be used for along with both the speed and quality of the cut. A low TPI (6-20) is suitable for soft materials. This will result in a fast cut that needs some sanding to smooth it off. Harder materials need a higher TPI (14-36) and will be slower to cut.

Tooth set

The tooth set will be either ground or milled. Ground sets have a fine point, will cut slowly but result in a higher quality cut. Milled sets are good for fast, rough cuts and are blunter. Milled sets tend to last longer than ground sets.

Blade width

Blade width is measured from the back of the blade to the tips of the teeth; this has the biggest impact on the radius of a cut that you’ll be able to make. A thinner blade will make a tighter radius cut. If you’re doing a straight cut then use the widest blade your jigsaw can accommodate as this will result in less wandering.

Accessories

So you’ve got your jigsaw and an appropriate blade, before you go and have some fun you’ll need just a few more things to keep you safe and get a decent finish.

  • Eye protection
  • Ear defenders (depending how loud your saw is)
  • A face mask to reduce your dust inhalation
  • Saw horses, a jigsaw table or a workbench to hold your work-piece
  • A few clamps to hold it securely

Summary

So there you have it, all the information you need to help you choose the best jigsaw for your projects. Just make sure you use an appropriate blade or you’ll risk damage to the blade and maybe even your new saw. And, of course, remember to play safe!

Gifts for Woodworkers – Great Christmas Gift Ideas

Confused over what to get that special woodworker in your life?
Check out our list of gifts for woodworkers we are sure you will find something for everyone no matter how picky they are. 

Gifts for Woodworkers​

Gifts for woodworkers are not too difficult to come up with if you are an experienced woodworker. If you are not however, then we have compiled a list of the best gifts for woodworkers no matter what their skill level or experience.


Waxed Canvas Shop Apron

A new shop apron is a great gift for a woodworker. Keeping your clothes clean whilst you work is something that is often overlooked. Woodworking creates a lot of dust and dirt and often there is oil and wood finishing oils and varnishes involved. These can make a big mess out of your clothes. One simple solution is a traditional style shop apron. 

An apron is not only great for protecting your clothes but they usually come with enough pockets to pretty much have any hand tool or smaller accessories like measuring tape and pencils. The added bonus is that these types of woodworking items are usually the ones you lose regularly because they are small, with all the pockets on an apron they are always to hand.

Specifications

  • Built from 16 oz canvas
  • Reinforced pockets, rivets and grommets 
  • Multiple pockets for lots of storage
  • Water resistant
  • Comes in a gift box

DeWalt Impact Driver Set

An impact driver may look like a small hand drill but it differs in one regard: power to drive screws in to just about anything. Impact drivers are used by tradesmen and home DIY'ers to drive in screws to wood with ease. They take all of the pain and hassle out of using a conventional drill or manual screw driver.

Impact drivers pack a lot of power and torque. They allow you to drive lots of screws into wood quickly and easily. Speed is one of their best assets. If your loved one has a lot of projects that require screws for the fixings then this will be a sure fire winner of a Christmas or birthday gift for a woodworker. 

Specifications

  • Small and lightweight
  • ​Comes with battery and charging unit
  • Suitable for professionals and hobbyists 
  • 3 year limited warranty

Craftsman Screwdriver Bit Set

A set of high quality bits for an electric screw driver or an impact driver is one way to make sure you have all possible bits and heads available to you in one easy to use organised storage location.

Getting stuck in the middle without the right bit head for you driver is a real pain and can mean wasted time as you try to find the bit either at the bottom​ of your tool box, counter top or even worse somewhere on the floor. 

The Craftsman brand is known for producing high quality durable bits and the are one of the top names that you can trust.​

Specifications

  • 208 pieces
  • Molded carry case
  • Labelled slots so they go back in the right place everytime

Porter Cable 8-Tool Combo Kit

Gifts for woodworkers don't come more generous than this! The Porter Cable 8 Tool Combo kit has practically every power tool the budding woodworker could need. 

This combo kit is a great way to fit out a home woodworking shop. Or as a way to replace old and tired tools that might be lurking/broken in the garage. It has practically everything you would need for the majority of home woodworking projects or DIY jobs about the house.​

Power by a 20V lithium ion battery each of these tools can deliver a lot of power without the need of an annoying power chord. Although this gift is probably the priciest on our list if is certainly something that will not only be really appreciated but also not forgotten.​

Specifications

  • 8 Power Tools all accepting the same battery pack
  • Comes with 2 batteries
  • Drill Driver, Impact Driver, Circular Saw, Tiger Saw, Jigsaw, Multi-Tool, Grinder and Flash Light
  • 3 year limited warranty

Rockwell JawHorse Support Station

Sometimes when you are working away in the garage or your wood shop on your own you need that extra pair of hands just for a few minutes and all just to hold and piece of wood steady so it can be cut or fastened/glued to another.

The solution is a JawHorse. They are part sawhorse part, portable workbench, part woodworking clamp. Whatever they are they are extremely handy to have in a wood shop. In fact two of these can replace all of the above individual tools in just about any situation. 

The JawHorse is like a second pair of hands in your shop that will never get tired! They also have a very convenient foot pedal that allows you to control the clamping mechanism hands free. Perfect for those projects that have a lot of pieces that may need to be maneuvered and locked in place whilst they are being cut or fixed together.

Specifications

  • Clamps can excert 1 metric tonne of force
  • Solid steel construction can support up to 600 lbs of load safely 
  • Hands free foot pedal operated clamping mechanism is like a second pair of hands
  • Quickly folds down for easy storage

Precision Combination Square

There is one sure fire way to mess up a woodworking project and that's sloppy measurements. The LaSquare Precision Combination Square and Ruler is one way to make sure your measurements and right angle marks are through are precise.

A great little gift that can surely help increase the quality of those home projects. It is precision engineered from stainless steel and contains durable ​etched graduations that are easy to see and read.

Specifications

  • American made from stainless steel to exacting standards and tolerances 
  • Precisionau ground head from solid aluminum 
  • Tempered stainless steel ruler blade

Bosch 7 Amp Jigsaw

Jigsaw's are great for quickly and accurately cutting your way through sheets of wood. This Bosch 7 Amp is one of the best jigsaws available,a pretty powerful piece of kit and is a top woodworking gift for any DIYer. It features a tool-less blade changing system for quick and easy swapping of different blades.

It's 7 Amp motor can be controlled to suit the wood blade thanks to a accelerator trigger and the max power can be limited via a dial.

It has 4 different orbital settings for the blade action ranging from smooth to aggressive. ​Can be purchased with or without blade sets.

Specifications

  • Tool-less blade changing
  • Cuts wood up to 5-7/8 inches thick
  • Carrying case included
  • 1 year warranty

VonHaus 10 Piece Premium Chisel Set

A sharp set of wood chisels should be a given for any self respecting woodworker. This VonHaus set of wood chisels come in a classically styled wooden case. It features 8 different sized wood chisels a honing guide and an aluminum oxide sharpening stone.

A very presentable and practical woodworking gift.​

Specifications

  • 10 piece set
  • Chrome vanadium steel alloy blades
  • Rubber grips with metal strike caps
  • Beautiful wooden storage case

Bosch Random Orbital Sander

Never heard of a random orbital sander before? How does it differ from a regular belt sander? Well if works in a tight elliptical swirling motion. The added advantage of this motion is that you can sand across the grain of the wood unlike a traditional sander.

A random orbit sander is unusable by just about anyone. They can be used to strip off heavy varnishes/paint or to remove small scratches and also be used for fine detail finishing work before you apply the wet treatment to the wood.​

Specifications

  • Accepts standard 5 inch sanding disks
  • Microfilter system
  • Connects to any standard wood shop vacuum
  • Variable speed
  • 1 year warranty

3M reusable Respirator

Sanding and drilling can create a lot of dust in any wood shop. And one thing is for sure without the proper safety equipment that dusk is going to make its way into your throat and lungs. Protect your loved one by giving then a respirator to filter out even the smallest of dust particles.

The reusable respirator from 3M is designed to filter out as much as possible from the air whilst also helping to reduce moisture build up and fogging.   

Specifications

  • Built from tough yet comfortable silicon
  • Harness is dual mode: standard or drop down
  • Special valve helps direct moisture away to reduce fogging
  • Comes in various sizes

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a must for any garage or home for that matter. Any place where there are lots of saws, off cuts of wood and power tools will ultimately result in some kind of minor accident eventually.

Having a good well stocked first aid kit to hand is something that you should always have around. This first aid kit contains 326 pieces and is rated for up to 100 people so it's more than enough for your garage.

It can be stored easily in any easy to access location or ideally is wall mountable so that it is to hand when it is really needed. Gifts for woodworkers don't come with as much piece off mind as this one.

Specifications

  • 326 pieces
  • FDA approved manufacturing facility
  • Meets OSHA and ANSI 2009 guidelines
  • Suitable for up to 100 people
  • Wall mountable

Digital Angle/Height Finder Tool

Like the precision metal ruler and square above in our list of gifts for woodworkers using a tool to help you accurately measure your angles and wood heights will help give you cleanest cuts and truest measurements.

This combo contains a digital angle finder and a digital depth/height gauge. A perfect little gift for a woodworker who has everything, because chances are they may not have these in their tool box.

Specifications

  • Digital angle measuring tool
  • Digital height guage
  • Locking screw to keep angle set
  • Batteries included

Wen Belt & Disk Sander

Sanding small objects for detailed finishing work can be a real pain of you only have a hand sander. This two in one belt and disk sander from Wen is ideal as it can be bench mounted so you can use both hands to get a more accurate sanding finish.

​The main belt driven sander can be tilted from 0 through 90 degrees meaning that you can adjust the angle to suit any heavy or awkward pieces of wood that you may not be able to lift and hold at table height. A great gift for a woodworker but make sure they have a bench on which they can mount it.

Specifications

  • 2 in 1 belt and disk sander
  • 4.3 Amp motor
  • Simple quick release lever for quick changing of sand paper
  • Belt tilts from 0 to 90 degrees

Digital Laser Level

An old school level that has a bubble as the gauge is great for things like fences outdoors but when it comes to getting a perfectly level reading for an indoor project or some piece of furniture then a digital laser level is where it's at. 

This laser level comes with an easy to read digital output that is readable in either degrees, % or in inches/foot. ​It has a laser output that is useful if you need to make reading over long distances and is visible up to about 100 meters. 

Specifications

  • Digital readout for accurate readings
  • Laser dot output to make ling distance readings
  • ​Stores last nine measurements
  • Available in 3 different lengths

Dewalt Professional Knee Pads

Gift ideas for woodworkers need not be complicated. If you know a roofer or someone that is constantly fixing boards or lumbar on the ground then how about this knee pads?

Kneeling all day as you work on a site with power tools can take a heavy toll on your knees . Wearing a good set of knee pads can alleviate all of the stress and pain that can be forced onto the knee joint and knee cap be kneeling for extended periods of time. 

Specifications

  • Durable build from ballistic poly material
  • Non-skid
  • Cushioned gel helps reduce impact on the knee
  • Easily adjustable and comfortable for all day use 

Freud Forstner Drill Bit Set

Forstner drill bits are used to make perfectly flat bottomed holes in wood. They are usually used in a drill press as they require a lot of force to get the best possible cut from them. So I wouldn't get these for someone who only has a hand drill. 

However if the person you are buying a gift for does have a drill press then these will make a great gift. ​They come packaged in a purpose built wooden case with specific dividers for each bit. The case is small enough to be stored in a drawer or stacked neatly on a work bench.

Specifications

  • 7 piece Forstner drill bit set
  • Comes in high quality wooden case
  • 1 year manufacturers warranty

X-Acto Manual Pencil Sharpener

Pencils will always be used for marking out different pieces or for writing down material lists. Have a sharp pencil makes sure you can mark out with the greatest possible accuracy and neatness.

This ​manual handle driven pencil sharpener from X-Acto is great. It has an old school and can be mounted to a wall or workbench. It is capable of sharpening up to 8 different pencil sizes.

The is a pretty cheap gift for a woodworker and is great as a stocking filler. Yet it is something that a lot of DIY'ers would love to have bolted to the benches purely for the look of it!​

Specifications

  • Bench or wall mountable
  • Can sharpen up to 8 different pencils
  • Dual helical cutters give perfect and reliable sharpening every time 

Bessey 24 Inch Clutch Clamp

Clamps, you can never have enough woodworking clamps. All woodworking shops and garages can benefit from having more clamps about to help stabilize and secure wood and metal pieces and as they are being worked on or whilst waiting for glue to set.

Bessey is one of the most respected manufacturers of wood working clamps. These clutch style bar clamps are ​top quality and ultra reliable.  

Specifications

  • Cast iron with powder coated finish
  • 2 piece clutch system
  • Pads on both top and bottom

Jet Air Filter

There is no doubt about it woodworking produces a lot of shavings and dust. The shavings can be simply swept up after you are finished and are harmless. The dust however is another matter.

Sanding in particular creates a lot of very fine dust that can hang in the air. Breathing in this dust is harmful for you lungs. One way to avoid breathing it in is to wear a dusk mask.

Another method is to install an air filtration system into your wood shop. This programmable air filter from Jet is one of the best air filters out there. All you need to do is hang it from the center of the ceiling and switch it on.

It can filter a large portion of some of the smallest dust particles. Is programmable and is remote controlled.​

Specifications

  • Programmable and remote controlled
  • Can cope with dust particles down to 5 microns thick
  • Can also be mounted on a workbench
  • 5 year warranty

3M Ear Muffs

Just like dust noise is one of the least obvious health dangers associated with woodworking.

Protecting your ears from the high noise levels that power tools produce is something that every woodworker should be aware of. ​It is not until we are much older that we start to notice a deteriation in our hearing.

A quality set of ear protectors can help defend the ears from exposure to damaging noises.​

These ear muffs from 3M are just the ticket and make a great gift for a woodworker that is using power tools on a regular basis.​

Specifications

  • 30dB noise level protection
  • Available in 3 different styles
  • Twin cup design

Akro-Mills Hardware Cabinet

Keeping your work space clean and well organized is a sure fire way to help with your productivity and enjoyment in your wood shop or garage. 

Screws, nails and drill bit heads can be a pain if they are laying about your garage in different places or even worse on the floor. Take the pain out of storage with this durable and easy to use plastic cabinet.

It has 12 larger sized drawers and 32 small sized drawers and is easy to store either on top of a workbench or neatly hidden away under it.

Specifications

  • High impact Polystyrene construction
  • 12 large drawers
  • 32 small drawers
  • Perfect for keeping nails and screws organized
  • Available in red or black

Optimus Shop Heater

​Working in a cold garage can take all the fun and enjoyment out of your hobby. Why not install a heater? 

Working in the cold is no fun ​and working with hand tools when your fingers and hands are cold is certainly no fun. Adding a bit of ambient heat to you garage is a sure fire way to increase your comfort levels during the fall and winter seasons.

This wall or ceiling mounted heater ​from Optimus has a soft halogen light that helps to brighten up the place included.

A great Christmas gift for a woodworker that lives in a colder climate.

Specifications

  • 750 watt heat output
  • Can be mounted on wall or ceiling
  • heat and light operate independent to each other

Best Random Orbital Sander

Choosing the best random orbital sander can help greatly to get the wood finish you require for your next project. A random orbital sander differs greatly from a belt sander in how the action of the sander applies the friction from the sanding disk to the surface of the material.

A Random orbital sander as the name suggests moves the disk in a circular fashion that is adjusted slightly as it spins to give a some what random disk action. The randomness is said to help increase the smoothness and evenness of the sanded finish. ​

Why do you Need a Random Orbital Sander?​

Random orbital sander allow you to cover a lot of surface area in a short space of time. The pad runs in a random elliptical motion that can give a much smoother finish than regular orbital sander.

One of the main advantages of using a random orbital sander is that you do not have to religiously stick to sanding with the wood grain. Other sanders require that you do not cross the grain or otherwise you can leave sanding spots that look bad.

Due to the fact that you do not need to sand with the grain a random orbital sander can be used by just about anyone regardless of their skill level. ​

Random Orbital Sander Reviews

Best Random Orbital Sander

Dewalt D26453K 3 Amp 5-inch

The D26453k from Dewalt is the best random orbital sander available to buy on the market right now.

It combines an array of excellent features, top notch quality and best in class build quality.

The Dewalt orbital sander has a 3-Amp variable speed motor that can run in a range between 7,000 and 12,000 OPM. It takes a standard 5-inch 8 hole sanding pad using a hook and loop system, meaning switching out different sanding disks is quick and easy.

The higher OPM is generally required for wood types from hardwood species.​ The variable speed control is perfect for getting the correct power required for either soft or hardwood and allows you to use the sander for both very fine finishing work or removing heavy material depending on your needs.

Specifications

  • 3.0 Amp variable speed motor
  • 7,000 to 12,000 opm
  • Controlled Finishing System
  • Anti-slip grip and top
  • Comes with cloth dust bag
  • Weight 3.4 pounds
  • 3 year limited warranty

This orbital sander features Dewalt's proprietary Controlled Finishing System(CFS) that helps to reduce gouging during startup - something that can ruin an almost complete surface as you attempt to add the finishing touches.

It's random-orbit motion that has a 3/32 inch orbit. The smaller the orbit the less likely you are to create unsightly swirls especially on heavily cross grained wood. Yet at the same time with the correct grit sanding paper it can still remove heavy material, thanks in part to the max power 12,000 OPM. 

The design of the D26453K features an ergonomic handle that helps reduce grip fatigue. The handle and top is coated in an anti-slip material that which helps to keep your grip comfortable when used for extended periods. The fan is a dual-plane counter balanced one that helps to reduce the strain on the wrist that can otherwise be associated with a single fan design. 

Dewault D26453K random orbit sander

The amount of dust that the Dewalt produces is minimized by the addition of a high capacity dust bag. For added convenience the dust bag comes with a vacuum adapter that should fit any standard shop vac or extractor.

97 %
Features
92 %
Value
95 %
Durability

The best orbital sander for the money it won't let you down!​


Makita BO5041K 5-Inch

​The Matika is a close run second to the Dewalt above. It is equipped with a similar 3 Amp motor that has a over-sized sealed ball bearing for greater durability.

yet is adjustable from 4,000 to 12,000 OPM so there is a greater range that you can adjust to find the best finish on your project.

The speed range is greater but so too is the random orbit action at 1/8 inch. The smaller the action the finer the finish, so the Dewalt has the Makita beat here. Of course the smaller orbital action does not always guarantee a finer finish. The grade of sandpaper you use and your skill and care and attention can usually be the main deciding factors.

Specifications

  • 3.0 Amp variable speed motor
  • Variable speed 4,000 to 12,000 opm
  • Ergonomic non-slip grip
  • Pad control system
  • Adjustable front handle for ease of use in corners

The Makita uses a through-the-pad dust management system that can help reduce the chances of fine dust entering the air. It also has a high capacity dust collection bag that is as you would expect capable of being used with a shop vac.

To reduce the potential of start up gouging Makita use a "Pad Control System" to control the speed of start up helping to eliminate potential marks​.


Black & Decker BDERO100  5-Inch

For those on a budget or just in need of an orbital sander for a one off job then the Black and Decker is a smart choice. 

It is a fraction of the price of the others in our list of best random orbital sanders yet can still deliver a pretty decent finish if used properly.​

It is slightly under powered compared to the rest with a 2 Amp motor but still spins up to 12,000 OPM. The Black & Decker has a pretty simple no frills design. There is a well coated anti-slip grip on the main handle that is easy to grip. 

Dust collection is by a small canister ​and to help keep the dust out of the electronics the main switch is sealed to help extend the usage life.

Specifications

  • Hook and loop system for easy changing
  • Sealed dust switch
  • 2 Amp motor
  • 2 year limited manufacturers warranty
  • Dust canister

Bosch ROS2OVSK 120-Volt Variable Speed

A great mid range choice this sander from Bosch is capable of keeping up with some of the more expensive orbital sanders out there. 

​Priced roughly between the Black & Decker and the Dewalt(if you choose the soft bag) it is perfect for the occasional woodworking or those in need of something a bit more robust than a cheap sander that won't last too long.

Capable of operating from 7,500 to 12,000 OPM the disk on the Bosch uses a pad dampening system that should help reduce swirl marks.

A built in microfilter system helps to filter out dust particles down to 1/2 micron in diameter. It has a simple to twist off dust canister so emptying is quick and easy. The sander is also capable of being used with a standard 1-1/4 inch or 1-1/2 inch shop vacuum or Bosch vacuum hose.

The internals are further shielded from dust via a sealed switch. ​

It has the usual soft grip top and main body that you would come to expect from a random orbital sander.​

Specifications

  • Variable speed
  • Pad damping braking system
  • 7,500 to 12,000 opm
  • Weighs 3.5 pounds
  • Microfilter Dust system
  • HookTight hook and loop disc attachment

Porter-Cable 382 5-Inch

Another great mid-ranged orbital sander the Porter Cable 382 is actually the lowest powered in this line up at 1.9 Amps.

​It still spins up to 12,000 OPM and is a fairly light sander at just 3 pounds. A solid choice for the occasional user as Porter Cable are a brand known for their build quality.

The durability is backed by a sealed main switch and sealed ball bearings both helping to reduce the chances of dust clogging and damaging the electronics and the main motor. 

​It features the same dual blade counterbalanced fan design as the DeWalt to help reduce vibration and torque from the fan so you can have a less stressful grip and reduce hand fatigue.

Specifications

  • Dual-plane counter balanced fan
  • 1.9 Amp variable speed motor up to 12,000 opm
  • Weighs 3 pounds
  • 3 year limited warranty
  • Controlled finishing system

Best Orbital Sander Buyer's Guide

The majority of manufacturers will quote their sander based on a rating called orbits per minute(OPM) and the motors power is usually expressed in Amp's.

What features to look for in a random orbital sander:

  • OPM - does the sander have a variable range that can set the OPM? Usually between 4,000 and 12,000. ​
  • Dust extraction system - does it come with a dust canister, can it be used with a standard shop vacum hose?
  • Weight - Too heavy and it will apply too much pressure to the surface, too light and you will have to apply additional force which adds to fatigue.
  • Sanding disk attachment - Hook and Loop is the industry standard method for attaching the sanding disks to your sander. 
  • Cost/Specifications: Ultimately you need to balance performance/quality in line with your budget.
  • Usage - Are you going to be using and abusing your sander for extended periods of time on large surface areas?

Ideally you would base your decision on your usage needs. If you are looking for a no frills sander for a one off job or the occasional project then you don't need to buy the best.

However if you are using your sander for all of your projects quite regularly then making the decision to buy the best tool for the job is a wise decision. The best random orbital sander for your need swill balance both features and price.

​How to Use an Orbital Sander

Clearly any powered sander is going to be a fairly simple tool to operate that requires little training. However, to get the best possible finish from your sander then there are a few key points ​that need to observed.

The first is how you use the sander to get the best possible performance from it. Secondly is safety. Like any power tool a sander does need to be operated within a few safety guidelines to help keep you safe and those around you.

​Operation

A random orbit sander works by oscillating the sanding disk in a fairly random manner. As opposed to a belt sander that just rotates the sand paper as a belt in one direction.​ They're main advantage is that you do not have to strictly stick to sanding with the grain.

Because they are not required to stick to sanding with the grain you can cover a large area very quickly and can be a little bit more aggressive in how you use the sander.

Be aware that random orbit sander can suffer from leaving swirl marks on start up. Some of the models listed above have built in features to help reduce this. Care and attention should be taken to not pres too hard on the sander until it is up to full working speed​.

​Always try to sand a sample area of your surface first. Preferably an area that is not easily seen on the finished article. Doing so allows you to gauge the correct speed of the sander and the correct grit of sanding paper to use on it.

Overtime you will become more familiar with what speed/paper works best for each specific material you wish to sand.​

As a general rule sand paper grit rated 30 to 100 are more useful for stripping multiple layers of paint or for some slight leveling and shaping of wood.

Paper of grit 100 to 180 can be used for finer finishing work or for smoothing out slight scratches on a flat surface. ​

A higher speed combined with a higher rated sand paper will deliver the best results for fine finishing works. Conversely a slower speed and lower rated grit paper will be better for stripping of heavier paint or smoothing out more pronounced scratches or uneven parts of a piece of wood. ​

Safety​

When ever you are using any kind of tool in your workshop whether it is a power tool you need to be aware of some basic safety precautions when using that tool.​ All power tools carry some degree of risk due to the electric current running through the tool.

  • Always concentrate on what you are doing
  • Never leave a sander running on your workbench unsupervised
  • Keep the sander away from water, that includes making sure your hands are dry
  • Keep an eye on the electrical  cord, never position yourself or the sanders cord in such a way that the sander may run over the cord. Also make sure the cord does not tangle in other tools near your work area or that it may trip you up 
  • Always wear appropriate eye protection whilst using your sander
  • Always use your sander in a well ventilated area 
  • If your sander has the ability to connect to a shop vac then make use of it even for small jobs. Breathing microscopic wood dust is very bad for your respiratory system and if you have a good ventilation system then always use it

Best Biscuit Joiner – Top 5 Joiners Reviewed

There are many different joints and techniques used to join two bits of wood together. Using a biscuit joint hides the join from view. If you are looking for a very professional, flush and strong finish to your projects then choosing the best biscuit joiner can help make that process much easier.

There are a variety of models to choose from. Some are suitable for those on a budget and others that are many times the price of the average biscuit joiner.

One thing is for certain if you intend on using a lot of biscuit joints regularly in your projects then you need to be sure that the biscuit joiner that you choose is not only reliable but will give you the flush and more importantly accurate joins that you require.

Confused by which is the right biscuit joiners for you?
Below we have profiled the top 5 biscuit joiners available. For the averagely busy woodworker the Porter Cable and the Dewalt are more than suitable. They both offer a perfect blend of both features and affordability. 

Looking for a suitable biscuit joiner if you are just starting out or need one for a one off simple job then the TruePower is easily the cheapest joiner here.

On the other end of the spectrum the Lamello is the leading high end established brand for biscuit joiners and have a very solid reputation for quality.​

​Biscuit Joiner Reviews

Best Biscuit Joiner

Porter Cable 557 7 Amp

The 557 Plate Joiner Kit from Porter-Cable feature an industry leading 7 Amp motor.

This powerful motor spins up to 10,000 at max rpm; meaning even the hardest of woods can be cut with ease.

The Porter Cable 557 is one of the most versatile plate joiners available. It has an adjustable fence that can pivot from 0 to 135 degrees and includes adjustable stops at the standard 90 degrees.

At 7.5 lbs it is one of the lighter models in this list of biscuit joiner reviews. Weight may not be a big factor to consider in these types of tools. However, if you are using the biscuit joiner off the workbench and holding it at various awkward angles then it is something to consider.

The 557 has a whopping seven different cutting settings help you to cover a large range of biscuit sizes and shapes.

It comes with a standard 4 inch blade and there is also a 2 inch blade available(sold separately). Switching the blades out is pretty simple thanks to a keyhole-slotted blade cover and spindle lock mechanism.

Specifications

  • 7 Amp motor 10,000 rpm
  • 7 different cutting settings
  • Fence tilts 0 through 135 degrees, positive adjustable stops at 90 degrees
  • 4 inch blade included
  • Optional 2 inch blade(sold separately) for smaller 1-1/2 inch cuts
  • Quick and easy blade changing

If you are looking for a great quality biscuit joiner than can give you reliable precision and versatility every time then the Porter Cable is just the tool for you.

It's versatility is thanks to the large number of adjustment options, meaning you can configure it to just about any angle and wood thickness that you require, quickly and easily every time.

Suitable for both pro and home shop enthusiast you'll be making perfect joins with ease.

porter cable 557 biscuit joiner
96 %
Features
92 %
Value
95 %
Durability

The Porter Cable 557 is the perfect blend of features, quality and price. Undoubtedly the best biscuit joiner for the money available today.


Dewalt DW682K 6.5 AMP

Coming in a close second to the Porter Cable is the Dewalt DW682K. 

Housing a 6.5 Amp motor the Dewalt is just as capable on the cutting front as the Porter.

Spinning it's carbide blade at 10,000 rpm means pretty much any hardwood is easily dealt with.

A highly durable biscuit joiner for any hardworking wood shop.

The Dewalt has a one piece adjustable fence that can be tilted to the standard 90 degrees that you will find on most models(with the exception of the Porter's 135 degrees above). The fence is one of the most accurate available thanks in part to its twin rack-and-pinion adjustment system.

​You will also find preset stops for all the standard biscuit sizes that you will find in any home or commercial woodworking shop. 

Depending on whether you have it clamped to you workbench or free-moving for more awkward pieces of wood you can rest assured that the anti-slip pins keep the Dewalt and your work-piece lined up reliably.  ​

If you are on a very tight budget and are wondering which one Porter Cable vs DeWalt biscuit joiner then the DeWalt might be the better option as it is cheaper and performs almost as well.​

Specifications

  • 6.5 Amp 10,000 rpm motor
  • Cutting depth up to 20 mm 
  • Pre-set depths stop for common biscuits of 0,10 and 20
  • One-piece fence adjustable to 90 degrees
  • Heavy duty non-marring shoe
  • 3 year limited warranty

Matika PJ7000 

The Matika PJ7000 plate joiner has a smaller 5.6 motor. However it does spin up to a slightly higher 11,000 rpm.

​A well designed extremely durable construction thanks in part to a cast aluminum front body. 

With six different depth setting you can handle just about any biscuits. 

The fence is adjustable from 0 through 90 degrees. It has positive stops at 0, 45 and 90 degrees which are the most common angles used in biscuit joins.

The shoe features non-marring rubber inserts(unique to the Matika) which help with any potential material slippage. 

Specifications

  • 5.6 amp motor at 11,000 rpm
  • Pivot fence has three positive stops at 0, 45, and 90 degrees
  • Rack and pinion fence adjustment system
  • Tool-less blade cover with shaft lock for quick and easy blade changes
  • Six depth settings

Lamello Classic X

Lamello are considered one of the oldest and most respected brands in the biscuit joiner sphere. They pride themselves on being known as the "Cadillac of plate joiners" and are known for being the best plate joiner brand.

The Classic X features a slide shoe, fence and multi-function stop square all made from one piece precision machined milled metal, something that only Lamello can boast. This construction method ensures virtually no side to side play on the fence that can be found on really cheap joiners.

It can handle a broad range of different stock thicknesses due to the auxiliary fence that attaches to the main fence. For vertical work you can also attach the auxiliary upright so it is an ease to use it in a vertical position. 

Specifications

  • 780 Watt motor at 10,000 rpm
  • Highest quality biscuit joiner available
  • Precision machine milled parts
  • 1 year parts guarantee

The creme de la creme of biscuit joiners it is easily the most expensive plate joiner reviewed here, they are reserved only for the most expensive of woodworking shops. 


TruePower 01-0102

The TruePower comes in as the cheapest option in out list or top 5 biscuit joiners. 

It is a pretty no frills fairly reliable option for those that are looking to do the occasional bit of plate joining.

An entry level plate joiner that offers 0 to 45 degrees cutting angle. This model is best for those on a tight budget or those that are starting out woodworking as a beginner

Specifications

  • 120v 10,000 rpm motor
  • Preset depth stops for 0,10 and 20 sized biscuits
  • Includes tungsten carbide tipped blade
  • One year limited warranty

Best Biscuit Joiner Buyer's Guide

What is a Biscuit Joint?​

A biscuit joint is a means of joining two pieces of wood together with out any kind of metal fastener such as a nail or screw. They are usually invisible. A cut is made on the edge of both pieces of wood that you wish to join.

These cuts are commonly referred to a plunges. A small pieces of compressed wood known as a biscuit is then placed into the plunge in either piece of wood and glued into place. 

This joint is both strong and usually completely hidden from view unlike a ​dovetail joint for example. They are commonly used in furniture and other decorative pieces that do not require much stronger joints or important load bearing joints.

​What is a Biscuit Joiner?

​A biscuit joiner at its simplest is a power tool that allows you to make precision cuts into the edge of boards. They are used to cut the plunges described above. 

You could make these plunges without using a biscuit joiner. For example you could clamp or configure a wood router ​or carve out by hand using a chisel. This might be suitable for a one off join if you are already suitably skilled. 

However, if you are looking to reliably make multiple joints then a dedicated tool is required.

A biscuit joiner gives you the ability to make the plunges at varying angles to the wood. Where it really excels is that you can make these plunges the exact same way time and time again. Accurate plunges are necessary, without the plunge angle and depth being easily repeatable you will end up with a finished piece that is not aligned properly and in many cases not fit for purpose. 

What to Look for in a Biscuit Joiner​

There are a number of important features to consider when choosing which biscuit joiner to choose:

​Motor Power

Cutting plunges into hardwood requires a sharp cutting blade and a motor that is capable of spinning up to a high rpm.

Ideally you should be looking for a joiner that has a motor with the following specifications:

  • Power - Ideally higher than 5 Amp, industry standard is 7 Amp.
  • Rpm - The majority will spin to 10,000 rpm​
  • Durability - Any big brand name should have a motor that won't overheat or burn out quickly. 

The sharpest blades in the world are no good if you have a weak motor. 

The Fence

​The fences primary function is to ensure that the biscuit joiner is properly aligned at the correct angle to the piece of wood that you wish to cut. On cheaper tools the fence can be easier to secure in a misaligned manner. 

At a minimum you would expect all biscuit joiners to be adjustable from 0 to 90 degrees. Some models such as the Porter Cable are capable of ​135 degree adjustment. 

Weight​

If you are cutting your plunges at an awkward angle then the weight of the joiner may become a consideration. Too heavy and it may become tiresome to use. Too light and it is probably an indication of a lower quality tool.

Biscuit Joiner Blades​

The standard blade size is usually ​4 inches. There are smaller and larger blades available should you need them. 

How easily it is to change a blade is also an important consideration to take into account. There should be a simple blade guard that has an easy to use release mechanism should you need to change your blades regularly.  ​

Plate joiner vs Biscuit Joiner

Confused by the ​use if the terms plate joiner and biscuit joiner?
Don't worry they are the same thing and you will hear people use the terms interchangeably. It's one of those unfortunate things that can cause a little confusion if you are just starting out learning woodworking. 

You may also hear them referred to as biscuit cutter, biscuit jointer(not to be confused with a table jointer), plate cutter and biscuit cutter.​

Best Roofing Nailer – Shooting From the Hip

Choosing the best roofing nailer for your next job can make life a lot simpler. Getting shingles on quickly and easily means your roofing job can be completed much quicker. Having the best tool for the job means picking a roofing nailer that is easy to use, reloads quickly and leaves a clean finish.

Pretty much every decent roofing nailer out there is going to be air powered. There are a few battery powered ones available but they pale in comparison to a good air powered nailer.

With your air compressor cranked up to 170 psi you should have no problems covering large areas of a roof compared to a battery operated nailer. ​

Every user will have different needs and there is a model to suit all tastes. What's right for a full time roofer is not necessarily the right option of a first timer. Any nail gun used for roofing can be used by just about anybody but in the hands of a professional that can make light work of very large areas of roofs that need to be finished.

For the Pro​

Looking for a high end roofing nailer that can handle just about anything you can throw at it? Then the Hitachi is a clear winner. A full time roofer​ needs a much hardier and more durable nailer than a home build who needs it for a one off job.

It is easily the best quality roofing nailer here and is packed with all of the features you would expect for a high end model. It has built it's reputation on being extremely durable and can take a lot of abuse week after week in all weather conditions.

For the Amateur ​

One off jobs or some light repair work don't require an expensive nailer. What you are paying for in these tools like any other tool be it a saw or drill is quality. If you are looking for a cheap roofing nailer that still gets the job done then perhaps the Wen is your best bet. 

However if you are an occasional user that does put big demands on their nailer then the Dewault is probably a safer bet. It delivers almost the same specs and quality as the Hitachi yet manages to do so at a cheaper price. The Wen is fine for a once off but it may not stack up to too much rigorous use.​

There is no need to buy an expensive model that once you are finished with on your current project is just going to gather dust for months on end.

Roofing Nailer Reviews

Best Roofing Nailer

Hitachi NV45AB2 Nailer

The Hitachi NV45AB2 is loved by professional roofers and amateurs alike thanks to it's extremely durable construction, generous capacity and best in class reliability.

With a body built from steel it can withstand a lot of abuse on site. The body has numerous rubber coated area's on it increasing the grip when left down on a steep roof and reducing the chances of slipping.

Specifications
  • ​Toothless drive depth adjustment
  • Weighs 5.5 pounds
  • 5 year limited warranty
  • 120 capacity side loading magazine
  • Operating pressure 70-120psi
  • Accepts 7/8 inch to 1-3/4 inch log nails

The NV45AB2 packs a serious punch too. Capable of driving nails up to 1-3/4 inch at a max pressure of 120 psi it can handle just about any modern roofing material.

Depth control is adjustable via a conveniently placed knob just behind the trigger. Having a quickly accessible depth controller makes switching between materials a cinch. 

Capable of holding up to 120 nails in it's side loading magazine means fewer reloads and better efficiency on the job. 

The Hitachi has a carbide nose the can withstand years of abuse. It sits perfectly flush so you can be sure that nail delivery is accurate and powerful on every touch.

97 %
Features
93 %
Value
96 %
Durability

Priced at the upper end of the spectrum the Hitachi is a serious workhorse. If you are looking for an ultra reliable, precision roofing nailer that can handle the requirements of all day professional use then the Hitachi NV45AB2 is the best roofing nailer for the money.


Dewalt DWFP12658 Roofing Nailer 

Dewault have built up a solid reputation in the power tools market. They have built that reputation on designing durable, powerful and accurate tools at a decent price point. 

The DWFP12658 is no exception and delivers an easy to use, reliable and powerful nailer.

The Dewault is a very compact easy to you nailer that can withstand quite a lot of abuse. Although it's not quite up to the Hitachi in terms of durability it is not far off and is slightly cheaper. So if you can't quite stretch your budget to the Hitachi rest assured you can still get your hands on a very capable roofing nailer.

The DWFP12658 is very easy to use. The depth of drive is located close to the trigger so you can switch things up pretty quickly. Choosing between sequential and bump firing is just as easy which means little or no interruption as you work through the day.  

Any good rooking nailer should be easy to reload and the Dewault is no exception thanks to its side-loading canister that only requires undoing a latch.

Specifications
  • Operating pressure 70-120 psi
  • Anti-slip padding on exterior
  • Tool-free shingle guide
  • Selectable trigger
  • Quick-set depth drive 

Senco Roof Pro 455XP Roofing Nailer

The 455XP roofing nailer from Senco is a pretty no nonsense nailer that although lacks the high end features of some of the others nailers listed here it is however well made and very comfortable for extended use.

This may not be a model for a hard working pro roofer but it is more than adequate for occasional use.

The Senco features an adjustable exhaust that can be rotated through 360 degrees, so if you are left or right handed you can easily choose which side you would like the exhaust on.

​It is designed to be very comfortable to use and has a comfortable rubber material on the handle that makes for a very ergonomic grip position. And at 5.5 pounds it is not a bulky unit so you can handle it for extended periods of time. 

The supplied case is also a nice tough and means transportation to and from a work site is easy.​

Specifications
  • Accepts 3/4 inch to 1-3/4 inch nails
  • ​Tool free depth of drive adjustment
  • Case included
  • 5 year warranty

Note that is model of Senco is manufactured in China so for some that may be something to consider before buying.


Bostitch RN46-1 Coil Roofing Nailer

Another workhorse for the roofing pro the Bostich is packs a mean punch, delivering 410 inch-pounds of force at only 100 psi.

​It is a very well designed, ergonomic and reliable roofing nailer. At 4.8 lbs it's also one of the lightest models listed here so extended use is not an issue.

The Bostitch is however one of the slower firing models in this list of best roofing nailers. It can shoot roughly 100 nails in a minute. For the amateur that is more than enough, for a seasoned pro however that might be a little too pedestrian.

Despite not being the fastest it is however very easy to use. So much so that is makes for a great first time roofing nailer. It has a single action side-loaded canister that makes reloading a dream. 

Specifications
  • ​Magnesium housing and carbide tip
  • Single-action side load canister
  • Accepts 3/4 inch to 1-3/4 inch nails
  • Lockout mechanism prevents empty firing
  • Seven year limited warranty

Wen 61782 Coil Roofing Nailer

The Wen 61782 may be the cheapest model in this list but it is still a very capable roofing nailer.

Despite it's low price point it has a lot of the features of the more expensive models listed above.​

However it can still be considered a quality tool and for the occasional roofing job or the first time roofer that need something reliable that won't break the bank.​

If you are a full time roofer that makes big demands from their tools the the Wen is probably not the best option. Considering it's price point it can still deliver a pretty good user experience as long as you don't intend using it all day long day in day out.

If used lightly the Wen is still a perfectly good nailer just as long as you are aware of it's limitations.​

Specifications
  • 120 magazine capacity 
  • Accepts 3/4 inch to 1-3/4 inch nails
  • Quick-release compartment for clearing jammed nails 
  • 100 psi operating pressure delivers 430-inch-pounds of force
  • Operates at 70 to 120 psi
  • One year warranty

Best Roofing Nailer Buyer's Guide

What to look for in a roofing nailer?

The are plenty of features available in the most popular models. However you should always try to choose a roofing nailer that has the following features/attributes as standard:

​Build Quality

You need something that can withstand a lot of abuse. The casing should be metal and capable of taking a lot of force. The less plastic components the better on these types of tool. However, when it comes to the grip you would expect a high quality ergonomic design that is easy to hold for extended periods of time.

Speed​

Being restricted by the speed at which your nailer operates can be very frustrating if you need to cover a large area of roof. You should be looking for a fire rate of at least one nail per second as a minimum.​ Switching between modes from bump mode to sequential is also a consideration, lucky most decent nailers these days have the controls relatively close to the trigger. 

Weight​

Spending hours on a roof holding and reloading a roofing nailer should cause a huge amount of fatigue. If the nailer is built though but light and has a comfortable design then you should be fine to use it for extended periods of time.

Although overall weigh is an issue so too is that weight distribution. A properly balanced nailer will mean that you can quickly and accurately fire the nails without having to compensate for an unbalanced tool that is difficult to control.  ​

​Depth of Drive and Mode

​The more jobs and roofs you end up working on the bigger the range of materials you will need to be able to work with. Ensuring that your roofing nailer has an easily adjustable depth of drive is crucial. The best roofing nailers will have an adjustable know close to the trigger that is convenient to use.

On the top rated roofing nailers switching between sequential and bump mode should also be easy. Having to stop and make adjustments to any tool as you use can interrupt your flow. As long as these features are easy to with through you should not feel like your work is being interrupted.​

Magazine​

  • Capacity​ - You should expect to be able to hold at least 100 nails. The better models can hold slightly more at 120.
  • Ease of change - Being able to quickly and simply switch out an empty magazine is one of the most important features of a roofing nailer. Wasting time fiddling with a tricky release mechanism is not something you would expect to find yourself doing with a quality nailer. Generally a single piece coil cover will be quicker than any other design.
  • Side loading - This is the preferred design as it is much more convenient to simple switch a magazine out from the side than any other way.

Trigger

Although a trigger on any power tool is ​a pretty simple part of the design it is however one that has a big contribution to how easily it is to safely operate the tool. A trigger that is easy to press time and time again will make for less fatigue.

Lets face if a any kind of nail gun be that either a finish nailer, framing nailer or even a brad nailer in the wrong hands has the potential to be a very dangerous weapon. Used incorrectly then consequences can be serious. The safer triggers will generally have a longer travel distance on them before the nailer fires, this lessens the chance of accidentally firing the nailer. 

Best Telescoping Ladder – Buyers’s Guide

The Best Telescoping Ladder should be easy to use, lightweight and provide a stable base from which to work from. When using any ladder you need to have 100% confidence in it's ability to hold you safely at height.

The main advantages over a telescopic ladder versus a folding, platform or extension ladder is portability. The average telescoping ladder has a packed length of somewhere between 30-35 inches. This small footprint means they can easily fit in the foot well of a normal sized saloon or work truck. 

Their small size also means the can be packed away easily at home either under the stairs or a cupboard ​and will easily find a place in any standard sized garage or workshop.

Best Telescoping Ladder

When choosing the best telescopic ladder for you needs it is important to firstly consider safety and then function. Choosing a collapsible ladder that is capable of holding your weight plus your tools and any materials that you may be lifting into place is of the utmost importance.

Always look for a ladder that has a recognized safety rating. Without such a rating you are at risk of equipment failure that could result in serious injury.​

Best Telesoping Ladder

Xtend & Climb 780P Aluminum Telescoping Ladder 12.5-Foot

Xtend and Climb have established themselves as the market leader in telescoping ladders.

The 780P is built from high grade 6061 alloy aluminum and is rated to 300 lbs. At 12.5' fully extended it is not the tallest ladder in this review list but it has the highest safety rating for it's max weight capacity.

The range consists of both a home series and professionally rated collapsible ladders, the 780P is the flagship of the professional series. They are ideal for home and professional use and are seen on work sites across American in a wide range of industries. 

Specifications

  • Extends from 2.5' to 12.5'
  • ​300 lb ANSI Type IA rating
  • Built from 6061 alloy aluminum
  • Weighs 32 lbs
  • Extends and locks by the foot

The 780P Type IA Professional Series extends from a retracted height of 2.5' to 12.5'. It has a carry weight of 32 lbs and a convenient built in carry handle.

Designed with maximum safety in mind the 780P uses Xtend & Climb's patented "No-Pinch Closure System" ​that has red/green tab safety tab indicators so you know for sure that the ladder is locked in place before you leave the ground.

​Although the 780P is 3 feet smaller in length than it's bigger brother the 785P below it has a 50 lbs higher weight max capacity. Not only can it carry more it is also lighter to carry. 

Xtend-Climb-780P-Aluminum-Telescoping-Ladder
96 %
Features
94 %
Value
95 %
Durability

Perfect for lots of applications around the house or by a professional on site seeking an easy to transport telescopic ladder that can fit in any vehicle. The Xtend and Climb 780P Type IA Professional Series is definitely the best telescoping ladder for the money.


Ollieroo EN131 Aluminum Telescoping Ladder

A close runner up to the 780P is the Ollieroo EN131 Aluminum telescopic exstension ladder. The Ollieroo has the same dimensions as the 780P but has a higher load capacity of 330 lbs. 

Just be aware this certified load capacity is to European en131 standards and not to ANSI Type IA safety code​ which is the American standard.

Saying that the Ollieroo is still to be trusted however personally I don't think I would risk 330 lbs on any telescoping ladder at max extension.​

There is a choice of either a 12.5' model or a 13.5' footer. 

Specifications

  • Extends from 2.5' to 12.5'
  • ​330 lb EN131 European rating
  • Built from anodized aluminum
  • Weighs 26 lbs

Telesteps 1800EP Professional Ladder

The Telesteps 1800EP is built to roughly the same standards as the other colapsible ladders above. It extends from 33 inches up to 14.5 feet.

The feet have a ​silicon-covered surface it greatly increase the grip on a host of different surfaces. Non-slip feet on any ladder is extremely important and is often an over looked element of ladder selection.

​These ladders are a little more expensive than say the Xtend and Climb and to be honest I'm not sure that the added expensive is warranted. 

Specifications

  • Extends from 33 inches to 14.5'
  • ​300 lb OSHA compliant and type 1A rating
  • Built from aluminum alloy
  • Weighs 30.5 lbs
  • Adjusts in one foot increments

Xtend & Climb 785P Type I Pro Series 15.5'

The 785P is the longer version of the 780P listed above. It extends from 36.5 inches up to a max height of 15.5'. That extra length means it is roughly 4 pounds heavier than it's smaller brother. 

The extra reach also means that it has a smaller max load rating of 250 lbs. The lower the ladder generally the lower the max carrying load will be if they are made from the same materials and manufacturer.​

You get the same quality build materials and safety lock mechanisms throughout the professional series. And as with all Xtend & Climb Professional series ladders there is a six-month warranty on parts and repair.

Specifications

  • Extends from 36.5 inches to 15.5'
  • ​250 lbs type 1A rating
  • Built from aluminum alloy
  • Weighs 36 lbs

Generic EN131 Aluminum Telescoping Ladder

If you are looking for an affordable lightweight telescoping ladder then the Generic EN131 may fit the bill.

It's considerably lighter than most others in this review and although it has a 300 lb rating all that weight saving is due to slightly smaller and lighter tubes.

Personally I would not overload a ladder as light as this, a bit of extra weight in the ladder can make a big difference on stability.

Specifications

  • Extends from 34 inches to 12.5'
  • ​300 lb ANSI A 14.2 Type 1A rating
  • Built from aluminum alloy
  • Weighs 26 lbs
  • Adjusts in one foot increments

At this price point it's a perfectly fine ladder for small jobs around the house that don't require heavy loads to be lifted to a height.


Telescoping Ladder Buyer's Guide

What to look for when buying a telescoping ladder:

  • ​Max weight capacity
  • Safety rating​
  • Extended height
  • Carry weight

Max Weight Capacity

One of the first things along with the height that the average user will look at when buying a telecopic ladder is how much weight it can safely carry. ​It is extremely important to realise that the ratings that are qouted are for the max load.

The max load is the weight of the person plus all of there tools and materials. So if you intend to carry lumber or dry wall on the ladder you need to calculate the weight of the material plus any saws or other tools(including your tool belt and what is in it) plus your own body weight.

It may be tempting to overload these ladders up to half height ​extension but you really should not attempt to do so. I have see it time and time again onsite and it is an accident waiting to happen. 

When carrying very heavy loads a telescoping ladder is not a substitute for a properly rated ​conventional ladder that is properly and securely set up.

​Safety Rating

In general you should look for a collapsible ladder that has the highest possible safety rating for it's max weight capacity. In general there are three different types of ratings applied to these kins of ladders.

The following ladder ratings are listed in order of superiority from one to three:

  1. ANSI - American National Standards Institute
  2. OSHA - Occupational Safety and Health Organization
  3. EN 131 - European rating system

If you happen to come across a ladder that has not got any of the above ratings then you should be extremely wary of the quality of both the build materials and the design.

Extended Height​

The majority of telescoping ladders top out at about 16 feet maximum. For this type of ladder safety beyond that height would require a much wider and heavier design. Once you start to widen and make these ladders heavier then you begin to impact on their ability to be transported easily which is one of the main selling points.​

Carry Weight​

Like the max height building these ladders too heavy will mean moving them around easily will be impacted. If a telescoping ladder was to start weighing 50 pounds or more then it would begin to become less manageable.​

Using a Telescoping Ladder Safely

Whenever you use any ladder any decision you make on where and how you use it should be primarily based on safe usage. Always ensure that the ladder is on a stable surface that is not slippery.

The ladder should also rest up against a stable wall or surface. It should be placed at a safe angle away from the surface that gives it maximum stability.

When you start to climb the ladder always ensure that the tools or load you are carrying do not impede your safety in any way. Always try to remain in balance on the ladder. If you intend to move an awkwardly shaped object about at height try to have someone hand it to you from the ground once you are in a stable position on the ladder.

Remember the higher you climb the less stable a platform the ladder will provide.​

Wood Finishes Guide for Beginners

​There are lots and lots of different wood finishes to choose from. For the most part what looks good is subjective. Some people prefer a more natural finish whilst others like a dark wood stain on wood that has been smoothed and sanded to perfection.

There’s something to be said for creating with your hands. Our fingertips, after all, have an amazing number of nerves and sensors, allowing us to feel even the slightest imperfection in a surface.

Go to an arts and crafts show, or an antiques mall, or a furniture store, close your eyes, and run your hand over a piece of woodwork. Is it smooth as silk? Fine as glass? Or do you feel small scratches and bumps?

Granted, not all woodwork necessarily merits the time spent on the finest finish you can muster, but for those occasions when you want it, you’ll be happy you learned how.

Keep in mind, this is an article for beginning woodworkers, as well as intermediate woodworkers looking to improve their skills. There are much more advanced techniques involving scrapers, various compounds and generally a great deal more time involved.

wood finish

Why choose a wood finish instead of leaving the surface raw? Finishes protect the wood; over time, changes in humidity shrink and swell the wood, but finishes can help lessen this effect.

You've bought all the tools; saws, workbenches, clamps and sanders​. You've learned the different types of wood jointing techniques and have learned how to measure and cut wood with great accuracy. The finishing touches are the ones that you'll actually see and getting it wrong at the last hurdle may haunt you forever.

A durable finish will keep your piece looking as you intended. Imagine spilling a glass of wine on a table you built lovingly by hand. If you finish it with a nice, durable protective surface, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you left the wood natural, you now have a permanent purple blemish in the middle of your work.

Untreated wood acts like a sponge. Wood finishes are often used to show off the characteristics and grain patterns of that wood. Stains and oils will often complement and enhance the look of different species of wood.

The Science of Sanding

As a quick note on safety, rosewood and many other species can cause lung irritation and even greater medical problems if their sanding dust is inhaled. When in doubt, wear respiratory protection.

Eye protection is important as well, especially when dealing with a palm sander; the air vents will always find a way to blow dust in your eyes. Whether sanding completely by hand, or with a palm or random orbit sander, start with a coarse grit and work through stages.

Every project needing a smooth finish should have at least three or four different grits used. The number designations for sandpaper stand for the approximate number of abrasive particles per square inch; the more particles, the finer the grit. In the majority of cases, a progression of 80, 160, 240, or any numbers in those general groupings should suffice.

One other option is using sanding sponges, available in a variety of grits. These are best left for projects with curves, or where it’s okay if the edges get slightly rounded. Two of the most commonly used materials from which sandpapers are made are aluminum oxide and garnet, although there are many others out there.

Sand with the grain of the wood – although this may seem like commonsense, any amount of sanding done across the grain is going to leave scratches when the finish is applied. Think about how you want the finished product to turn out – are the edges meant to be crisp and sharp, or do you want to relieve the corners a bit? Is the item meant to look brand new, or is it going to have some “distressing”? (This is the subject for another article.)

Use a sanding block behind your paper when sanding flat surfaces. This can be a commercially available sanding block, or something as simple as a scrap of wood – the purpose is to press the paper evenly into the surface.

Check your sandpaper once in a while. It will eventually “clog” with sanding dust and be less effective. Slap the paper against your hand or a workbench to remove some of the sanding dust. If too much of the abrasive seems to have worn away, get a fresh piece.

Work your way up through the grits. The coarsest paper is for removing material, saw marks and tooling marks; intermediate grits remove scratches and sanding marks from the previous operations; the finer sandpaper will put a near-finish smoothness on the surface of the wood.

I say near-finish, because we still have a final step in the sanding process. Using a spray bottle of plain water, mist the entire surface of the work-piece. It doesn’t need to be saturated, just enough to get the surface wet to the touch.

Let the piece completely dry, and then run your hand over it. It’s rough again! All that careful work for nothing, right? Wrong. The water swells and raises the wood’s grain slightly, and when you use the fine grit paper on it again now, it will knock down the raised grain. This can be repeated more than once if necessary before finishing.

Just think how upset you’d be if you had painted or stained without doing the final grain raising with water! Take your time, do it right, and you’ll be pleased with the results. Now, we’re ready to move to the next phase of the process.

​Wood Finishes

​Entire volumes could be – and have been – written regarding specific types of finishes. In this case, without going into brand names, I’ll discuss a few of the most general types of wood finish available at almost any home center. Afterward, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how to actually apply these products to your work piece.

As stated above, we need to take a moment to regard safety precautions. Most acrylic paints these days contain few, if any, VOCs and harmful fumes. On the other hand, many other products, either oil-based,or with certain drying agents, can put off dangerous fumes. Please pay attention to all safety advisories on the products’ containers, including using in well-ventilated areas, with supplementary respiratory protection

Wet Process Wood Finishes – The Products

Paints are available in a range of surface types, from matte and eggshell, to the semi-gloss and full gloss. This is strictly a personal preference based on your project. For purposes of this writing, we are going to stick with latex/acrylic paints, as they are water-based, with a much faster drying and curing time.

Oil-based paints, while great in some applications, have generally a longer drying time, often are filled with volatile chemicals (VOCs), and require some sort of solvent such as mineral spirits for cleanup.

cabinet finishes

Stains and dyes are transparent colorants that allow the grain to show though and enhance the look of the wood, but offer no protection to the surface. They come in a wide variety of shades and tints, and even in vivid colors. Generally speaking, the more coats of stain applied, the deeper the tone. Depending on the manufacturer, these products have varying degrees of VOCs and solvents. Since they are not wood preservatives, stains and dyes must be used in combination with some form of surface protectant, a couple of which will be discussed below.

Polyurethanes, both oil-based and water-based are widely known as excellent wood protectants. Since the water-based variety is slightly less tolerant to high extremities of heat, it shouldn’t be used in applications where it might have hot dishes or mugs placed on it. Both types are versatile in their uses, and can even be applied over paint as an additional preservative. Keep in mind that polyurethane will lend a slight amber hue to most woods, as well as to lighter colors of paint.

Varnishes are essentially resins dissolved in a liquid, and form a hard,durable surface when cured. One of the most common types of this product, known as spar varnish, is perfect for outdoor projects, especially in locations around water.

Stain/Protectant combinations are very common today, and afford the user a bit faster finish, since there is no need to apply the sealer, then the stain,and then two or three coats of wood preservative. One of the most common of these combinations is stain mixed with polyurethane.

There are two major types of oil finishes I will mention at the moment, since oil is somewhat more difficult to work with. Tung oil and boiled linseed oil are both traditional means of preserving wood, but take some practice in getting used to their application. Be sure to use boiled linseed oil, as raw linseed oil will take weeks to fully cure.

There are many products sold as “wiping varnishes” that are in reality an oil mixed with different metallic dryers or other agents. Again, use a sample board for practice.

Laying it Down

First, it is advisable to start with a coat of sanding sealer. In painted applications, this primes the wood, and helps make the paint adhere better to the surface.

With oil-based wood finishes, sanding sealer helps provide more even absorption of the finish solution, preventing blotches and uneven coloration. This is a common problem with many species of wood, including pine and cherry.

With all finishes, it is best to make a test board, a sample piece made out of the same material, sanded with the same grits of sandpaper.

The rule of thumb for applying the finish product is to use slow, even strokes of the brush, keeping a wet edge at all times. If the edge of the last strip applied by brush is allowed to dry out even partially, it could leave small ridges in the finished surface where the brush strokes overlap.

Brushing too quickly can cause more air bubbles. While it is normal to see some bubbles in the wet finish, it is better to stir oil-based products, especially varnish, instead of shaking them.

Staining wooden surface

Allow the first coat to dry completely, then go over it with ultra-fine sandpaper, or better yet, 0000 grade steel wool. This will help to smooth out any bubbles or imperfections. Be careful not to sand too deeply, nor get down to bare wood. A second coat should suffice on most surfaces. Buildup of too many coats may cause the loss of detail in some woodworking projects.

Wet Wood Finishes – A Note about Brushes

The generally accepted convention is to use synthetic (usually nylon) bristle brushes when using acrylic paints and finishes.

Natural bristle (also called China bristle) brushes are best when applying oil-based wood finishes, including oil-based paints.

The best advice when learning how to use a new finish is to test, test, test. Take a few pieces of sample wood. Sand them with different grades of sand paper until you find what works best. 

Then apply the finish. For the different pieces of test wood apply a different number of coats. Apply sealer to some and not to others. And sand in between coats and not others.

This experimentation means that any mistakes you make will not be on your finished project only on a few pieces of off cut wood.

When you find what you like then start the same process on the least visible part of your project. See how it looks and then if you like it continue on to the rest of it.

Over time you will learn how to get the best wood finish for each scenario. By experimenting like this you can greatly speed up your learning process and reduce the amount of mistakes on your projects as you finish them.​

Now that we’ve figured out the mysteries to a good wood finish, what are you going to build next? Challenge yourself to improve your skills, and really pull out all the stops on that finish. If you don’t love the results, sand it down a little and keep on trying.

Types of Wood for Woodworking

Visit your local home improvement store – let alone a specialty lumberyard – and there are so many types of wood for woodworking, it’s enough to intimidate the beginning woodworker.

Questions start popping into your head, such as,
“What kind of wood would be better to make a …?”,
or “I wonder what that wood looks like when it’s stained?”
Frankly, it can be a little overwhelming without some guidance. The bottom line is, none of these woods is necessarily better or worse than the others; it matters mainly what you intend to make or do with the wood.

Let’s consider six of the most common, most popular species based on the type of projects they’re best suited for. Keep in mind, this isn’t a definitive list, but more a set of guidelines to get you started in the right direction.

Our list, in this case, goes from least expensive to most expensive types. Typically speaking, when buying thicker pieces, such as stock for table legs, the more expensive the piece will be.

Wood sold by specialty lumberyards (not generally in home centers) is priced by the board foot. One board foot equals 1 inch X 12 inches X 12 inches. Hypothetically speaking, this means a less expensive wood such as pine might be sold at $1.00 per board foot, while a more expensive hardwood like oak might go for $2.00 per board foot.

Now, let’s look at the wood types themselves:

Wood Types

Pine ($)

pine wood

There are well over 100 species of pine, some of the most common in woodworking being white, yellow, and ponderosa. It is a fairly soft wood, although yellow pine is slightly more durable.

Unless you’re paying for “clear pine”, the wood will have a proportionate number of knots, depending on the grade. On the extreme side, this is known as “knotty pine”. While these knots can have a certain design appeal, especially for rustic looking projects such as folk art and furniture, they do make the wood somewhat weaker. You’ll want to stay away from using highly knot-filled woods for anything structural.

Pine is a great wood for making boxes, toys, cabinets and furniture and as such is a good for woodworking for beginners. It can be carved, but tools need to be kept very sharp, especially when cutting across the grain to avoid tear-out. Is easily cut using any basic hand saw.

Poplar/ Tulip Poplar ($$)

poplar wood

This wood is on the softer end of the scale as hardwoods go, but is beautiful to work with. It may be streaked in color, with purples, browns, and greens in the heartwood. Of course, this coloration is a matter of personal preference; many people finish the wood, depending on the project. Since it is a particularly stable wood, it is often used as secondary material in furniture. It works well for drawer sides and glides, structural members, and internal bracing in furniture where more expensive wood is used for the exterior.

Oak ($$$)

oak wood

While there are many varieties of oak, the most common in woodworking are red and white, having a relatively straight, tight grain . Red oak is a popular choice among woodworkers for furniture, architectural trim work, and cabinetry. White oak is also used in furniture building, but is somewhat less available, and therefore more expensive.

It’s one of the most prevalent types of wood that was showcased in the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century; white oak is still commonly used in boat building and outdoor furniture due to its greater resistance to moisture.

Maple ($$$$)

maple wood

This wood is generally referred to in terms of hard or soft, although both are harder than many of the types of wood commercially available to woodworkers. Since both have typically long, straight grains, they tend to be very strong.

This wood is perfect for anything from cabinet facings, to musical instruments and cutting boards, and is even the wood of choice for basketball courts! There are many secondary varieties, which are truly just aesthetic variants occurring in nature. Among these are quilted maple, flame maple, bird’s eye maple, and spalted maple.

Cherry ($$$$$)

cherry wood

While not usually as hard as maple, cherry is one of the more popular woods for fine woodworking and furniture building. It generally has a tight grain and is good for carving.

This wood lends a good, classic look to any project, takes finishes and stains well, and develops a very nice patina with age. Since this wood tends to be higher in demand, it can be somewhat more expensive than other woods.

Mahogany/Honduras Mahogany ($$$$$$)

mahogany wood

This is one of the world-class species for fine woodworking, good for carving and shaping with fine details. It takes finishes well, particularly oil, and is highly weather resistant. Look at many of the antiques on the market today, and you’ll see its widespread use.

The beauty and durability of mahogany was demonstrated by boat builders such as Chris-Craft and Hacker in the early 20th century. There are several biologically related species referred to as mahogany. These other species are, in fact, less dense, meaning they’re more susceptible to rot if used in outdoor applications. It’s unfortunate that this wood is becoming more and more scarce due to the lack of sustainable farming.

​Others

There are thousands of species of trees worldwide: coloration, pattern, desired hardness (or softness) are just a few of the considerations. Keep in mind that with more exotic woods, any restrictions placed on harvesting, sustainability in farming, cost of shipping internationally, and other factors affecting scarcity can drive up the cost.

Woods such as cocobolo, wenge, bubinga, zebrawood, purpleheart, sapele, and others can add great interest to your projects as accent woods even when purchased in small amounts.There are a multitude of woods available for virtually any project, it just depends on what you want to do. Beech for example can be used a biscuits for use with a biscuit joiner.

These are just some of the more popular species, and by no means a complete list. Don’t let cost be your only deciding factor when making a selection. By doing a little exploring, you can find the perfect wood for what you want to make. Now get out there, ask questions, and start building!

Woodworking for Beginners

​Woodworking for beginners just starting out can be an overwhelming experience. There are many techniques and tools to learn. You probably have many questions such as;  When do you use a coping saw versus a fret saw? What type of wood should I buy for my project?

Where do you start:

The simple answer is start simple.......​ and build from there. 

There is nothing more satisfying in life than making something with your own hands and the project becomes an instant success. This is exactly what happens when a complete newbie uses easy woodworking projects to create something he or she is passionate about.

The feeling of accomplishing something is really uplifting and hard to replace. This is one of the top reasons why woodworking is so popular worldwide.

In fact, the great thing about learning woodworking is that you don't have to be a professional carpenter to start building objects out of wood. You are able to find many simple projects and plans online for free. This article will highlight some important points about woodworking.

The internet has a plethora of free woodworking projects which are quite straightforward and simple to follow. Even the complete newbie is able to follow these step-by-step instructions with detailed diagrams and blueprints in place. Most of the plans would include instructional videos in order to explain how to perform each step in the woodworking plan. This is why there is so much of interest today with regards to these free woodworking projects online.

Woodworking for beginners

An inexperienced woodworker should always choose an easy design to start with. Any project that gets you started no matter how basic will teach you something.

Even the simplest project will get you started in improving your skills on:

  • Measurement​
  • Cutting accurately and cleanly
  • Joining
  • Sanding
  • Wood Finishing
woodworking birdhouse

A birdhouse is one of the easiest jobs for a complete newbie. It will not have elaborate blueprints which would confuse a beginner that is working with wood. A basic design is enough to create a sound birdhouse which would not fall apart during the harsh weather conditions in winter.

Once you have completed such a simple job, you may have the confidence instilled in going for much bigger ones.

The satisfaction you get from making a birdhouse and watching the birds in your garden flock to it is quite enormous. You would no doubt derive immense fulfillment from such an exercise. Whenever there are visitors to the garden, you can proudly showcase the birdhouse as one of your own creation.

There are many websites which would teach you how to build simple woodworking projects step by step. Most of these projects are listed for free while some projects would charge a nominal fee for some of the advanced woodworking projects. It is completely worthwhile even if you have to pay a nominal fee for such projects.

Woodworking will definitely help to enhance your creativity in leaps and bounds. It is great for anyone looking for a hobby which involves creativity, dedication and work. Your time would be used in a fruitful manner when you take on woodworking as a hobby or professional career.

Some of the simple designs for a complete beginner would include letter holders, magazine racks, and kitchen odds and ends. These items are quite basic in design and extremely easy to follow. There would be detailed step-by-step instructions with diagrams and videos for the convenience of the student. Most of these woodworking projects are offered for free on the internet.

All in all, there are numerous easy woodworking projects for the complete beginner listed on the internet without cost. Just doing a quick search will give you what you need. Always remember that even for a beginner, working with wood is attainable with practice and some basic tools.

Woodworking is a hobby enjoyed by men and women, both young and old. This is a hobby that takes years of experience to perfect. However, that does not mean woodworking novices cannot have a good time with it. Here are some helpful woodworking tips that can help you improve the quality of your projects.

Plan

When you are working with a project plan, always read over your plan from start to finish before you start on it. You want to know what the project entails so there will be no surprises. Make a list of supplies and assemble them before you start. That way, you will not have to interrupt your project because you ran out of something in the middle.

​Measure

Before you cut, always take your measurements twice. The second measurement is a way to check the accuracy of your first measurement. When you are cutting a wood piece, there is no room for errors. One wrong cut can ruin the piece and make you start all over again. Always follow the old adage, measure twice, cut once.

​Keep Work Area Clean

Always keep your work area clean and tidy. Each tool should have its own storage space. When your tools are organized, you will not waste time looking for something that you need. Leaving tools lying around can be a hazard because you can trip over them.

woodworking bench

Clean and organized woodworking bench

Do not allow saw dust and debris to accumulate on the floor because that can make you slip and fall. Do some clean up and straightening up during your project, and give your workshop a thorough clean up after you are done.

​Wood Storage

Store your wood pieces in a dry area. Prevent sunlight from directly hitting them. Wood has a tendency to warp if exposed to a humid environment or extreme temperatures. Store the pieces flat on the ground or work bench instead of on their edges to minimize warping.

​Safety

Always take safety precautions when you are working with hand or machine tools. Wear protective goggles to prevent injury from flying debris. Wear ear protection when operating woodworking machinery because those tools can be very loud. Avoid wearing loose clothing because the excess fabric can get caught in the machinery and cause you injury. Wear sturdy shoes with thick soles that will protect your feet from falling objects or sharp nails.

Organize a library of your favorite ideas and advice and have those at your disposal at all times. A simple binder with index tabs is usually sufficient. Keep this binder in your work area so you can have easy access to it.

Always clean your tools after you have used them. Blades may need to be sharpened conditioned with oil to keep them from rusting. Machinery should be oiled to keep them running smoothly. When you spend time in taking care of your tools, you will get better results in your projects.

By learning and applying great woodworking tips to your projects, you can perfect your skills and become a master woodworker. Even for the masters, the learning does not stop. There is always something new to learn, which makes this hobby such a sustainable pastime for woodworking enthusiasts.

Woodworking Tools for Beginners

I’m assuming that if you’re reading this article, you have an interest in woodworking. You might even have some questions;

  • “What do I need to get started?”
  • “What are the first tools I need to begin woodworking?”
  • “There are so many quality levels and varieties of tools out there, do I need to spend a boat-load of money?”

Lay down your fears, and let’s take a look at some of the basics. The purpose of this article is to examine some of the simplest tools. That is to say, woodworking hand tools for beginners. You’ll soon see that if you’re able to acquire this set of tools, either all at once or piece-by-piece, you could build a substantial number of projects and fix most things around the house, including many appliances if necessary.

Some of these aren’t strictly woodworking tools, but they are most definitely valuable in the home shop for making adjustments to tools, carrying out repairs, and finding solutions. The definition of a hand tool in its plainest terms is a device powered by the user. It doesn’t have a plug or batteries, but is guided, adjusted, and animated by the person holding it.

As you progress you can start to buy more power tools to help speed up your projects.​

woodworking tools list

The list below is divided into categories of tools, and a price range given for each. It is not within the scope of this article to search out every possible source for tools (nor am I endorsing any particular seller), but simply to give a general idea of what you might expect to pay for something.

One more word about quality: It isn’t always necessary to buy the most expensive to get the best quality. A good rule of thumb is to buy what you can afford now, and add to your collection and upgrade over time as you go. I will say that if you have the means, it might be beneficial to spend slightly more when buying saws, chisels, and planes, as these are somewhat more specialized.

Before getting into the specifics of the tools themselves, I need to mention considerations for safety. Always follow the instructions included with the tools, and wear hearing, eye, and in many cases, respiratory protection.

Woodworking Tools List​

Below you will find a list of woodworking tools for the beginner carpenter. The list is by no means exhaustive ​nor are they all required. The best advice is just buy each tool as your projects require them.

Measuring/Laying Out/Marking

  1. Tape measure $6.00 – $25.00
  2. Folding Rule $6.00 – $12.00
  3. Framing Square $8.00 – $15.00
  4. Combination Square or Speed Square $10.00 – $15.00
  5. Sliding Bevel $10.00 – $15.00
  6. Torpedo Level $5.00 – $9.00

Estimated subtotal for measuring/laying out/marking = $45 to $90

Cutting

  1. Chisels either metal end for use with a hammer, or plastic/wood-butt for use with a mallet. Can be found in many places in a set with 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ $30.00 – $140.00+ (on up to several hundred dollars)
  2. Hand rip saw (for sawing with the grain) $14.00 – $100.00+9.
  3. Hand cross-cut saw (for cutting across the grain) $14.00 – $100.00+10.
  4. Coping saw $8.00 – $20.0011.
  5. Back saw/dovetail saw $12.00 – $40.0012.
  6. Miter box/miter saw $15.00 – $60.0013.
  7. Sharpening stone combination with coarse/fine grains, oil $18.00 – $70.00+14.
  8. Utility knife, such as a lock-blade, with replaceable blades $8.00

Estimated subtotal for cutting = $120.00 to $540.00

Joining/Fastening

  1. Claw hammer, typically around 16 oz. $12.00 – $30.00
  2. Set of 3 nail set punches $3.00 – $7.00
  3. Hand drill – these can be difficult to find sometimes, and are not meant for extensive drilling; they are mainly for making pilot-holes, so a nail or screw doesn’t split the wood. $15.00 – $40.00
  4. Screwdrivers, at least two sizes of each in slotted and Phillips head, generally come in sets $9.00 – $30.00+

Estimated subtotal for joining/fastening= $40.00 to $105.00

Finishing

  1. Block/bench plane $12.00 – $125.00+ (on up to several hundred dollars)
  2. Set of rasps and files, various profiles $18.00 – $45.00
  3. Sanding block, various grits sandpaper (80, 120, 220) $15.00 – $30.00

Estimated subtotal for finishing = $45.00 to $175.00

Adjustments/Repairs/Other

  1. Clamps, either C-clamps (2-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch, 8-inch), squeeze clamps, Bar Clamp, or a combination, at least two pairs $50.00 – $150.00
  2. Small socket set or set of wrenches, in both metric and standard units (These days, it seems nothing is uniform.) $20.00 – $50.00
  3. Pliers – combination set of slip-joint, needle nose, and channel locks $25.00

Estimated subtotal for adjustments/repairs/other = $95.00 to $225.00

ESTIMATED TOTAL RANGE FOR ALL SECTIONS = $345.00 to $1136.00

As you can see, there is quite the range of costs from one end of the spectrum to the other, but there is generally something to fit most budgets. Don’t let this scare you. As I said before, there’s no rule that you have to pick all these tools up at once – buy them piece-meal if need be.

Woodworking for beginners in the internet age is a lot easier than pre-internet. There are countless websites and video's displaying the essential basic woodworking skills needed ​that are required to build a solid base. Armed with just a handful of the above tools you can make a start straight away.

Figure out a project you might like to try, and see what tools you’ll need first. Now, what are you waiting for? 

Best Scroll Saw Reviews | Buyer’s Guide

Looking for the best scroll saw for you garage or woodworking shop? If you are not sure on which scroll saw to buy or are looking for how to best use a scroll saw then have a look through our scroll saw guide and we should have all the answers you need.

A scroll saw is used for cutting detailed shapes usually into thin wood. It is motorized and is like a power coping saw. It is more accurate than a jigsaw or a reciprocating saw but cannot cut wood as thick as those two.

Best Scroll Saw Reviews​

The right scroll saw for you may not be the best for someone else. Are you a hobbyist that just needs the saw for some light finishing work or do you intend to take your hobby to the next level and start to produce your projects in greater volume for sale?

If you are a beginner then you should opt for one of the cheaper models. There is no point in paying out top dollar for a piece of equipment only for it to lie there gathering dust because you are busy learning how to use hand tools or have started to lose interest in your woodworking​.

Just because a saw doesn't have ​all of the advanced features of a more expensive one does not mean it will produce inferior work. As with any decent tool the results are down to how well you use it and your skill as a craftsman.

However if you do require some better features and a more versatile scroll saw ​there are some great higher end models available.

Best Scroll Saw

Dewalt DW788 1.3 Amp 20 Inch Variable Speed

The Dewault DW788 is a 20-inch 1.3 Amp variable speed scroll saw.

The C550 DW788 is aimed at those looking for a high quality, durable scroll saw that can take some heavy use.

Specifications

  • Tool free blade clamps makes blade changing a breeze
  • All controls located on upper arm for easy usage
  • Double parallel-link arm reduces noise and vibration
  •  Easy lift arm means blade can be threaded through materials for inside cuts
  • Table bevels 45 degrees in both left and right directions 
  • 1.3 amp gives 400 spm to 1750 spm
  • Variable stroke length between 3/4 inch and up to 2 inches deep
  • Weighs 56 lbs

If you are looking for a quality, heavy duty scroll saw that can handle a lot of work yet still deliver on cutting accuracy then the DeWault DW788 is probably the best scroll saw.

At 56 lbs without the stand thanks to a cast iron board it is incredibly stable and low on vibrations.

DeWALT DW788 SCROLL SAW

The cast-iron table and cast-iron frame construction is responsible for the users of the DeWault feeling hardly any vibrations during operation. Any reduction in vibrations on any kind of powered saw will greatly increase both the accuracy of your cuts and make the use of the saw a lot more comfortable.

The DW788 is also extremely easy to setup straight out of the box so you can be up and running in no time at all.

The ease of use and quality of cutting means that both beginners and more experienced woodworkers can get the most out of these scroll saws for their given skill sets. If you are looking to only ever purchase one scroll saw to last you decades of use then the DW788 is it. ​

97 %
Features
93 %
Value
97 %
Durability

The DW788 is also available with a stand and work light should you not already have them. The best scroll for the money you won't be disappointed.​


Wen 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed

​The Wen 3920 is ideal for those that are either starting out or don't do a lot of intricate finishing work. It is a great low cost option if you are stuck for money when you are first starting to fit out your woodworking shop or garage.

The Wen has a throat depth of 16 inches and is capable of cutting wood up to 1.9 inches thick. Capable of taking either pined or pinless blades the blade holder can be rotated through 90 degrees which now means that your cuts are no longer confined to 16 inches.

​The Wen also includes and adjustable air pump and built in LED light so your workspace will be both clean and easily seen. Unlike the DeWault the Wen 3920 has all of it's controls mounted on the front underneath the table which is probably the second best place for accessibility after the upper arm. 

Specifications

  •  Accepts both pinned and pinless blades
  • Table bevels 45 degrees to the left
  • Variable speed 550 spm to 1600 spm
  • Blade can be rotated through 90 degrees 
  • Adjustable air pump
  • Two year warranty

Comes backed by a two year warranty. A perfect starter scroll saw the Wen 3920 offers decent performance at a low price point.


Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed

Another standard 16-inch throat scroll saw the Shop Fox W1713 is a great mid-range choice for those that are torn between the features of the higher end DeWault and the lower cost alternative Wen. 

Powered by a 110-Volt motor the Shop Fox can handle just about anything a home woodworking could throw at it.

The W1713 has the added safety bonus of a see through plastic housing that surrounds the blade so you fingers are that little bit safer. The adjustable hold-down shoe has the air nozzle mounted on it which means you only need to make one adjustment to have both of them set optimally for your desired wood thickness.

The tilting table on the Shop Fox has a ​locking mechanism that also has a scale on it, providing your work surface is truly horizontal you can now make angled cuts with quite a degree of accuracy.

Specifications

  •  110-Volt 60Hz motor
  • Accepts both pinned and pinless blades
  • Table tilts through 45 degrees
  • Variable speed 550 spm to 1700 spm
  • Work light and dust blower

Dremel MS20-01 Moto-Saw Variable Speed

Dremel have made quite a name for themselves in the hobby world by producing high quality tools that can cut, drill and sand with great accuracy. 

The MS20-01 is portable scroll saw so it's weight at 9 lbs should not be seen as a negative when compared to heavyweights such as the DeWault.​

The main feature that differentiates the Dremel from the others in our other scroll saw reviews is that the table is detachable. This means you can now take the saw to the wood and not the other way around. For convenience sake this is a real plus. The MS20-01 is about as close as you can get to a power coping saw or electric coping saw.

Specifications

  • Detachable base means converts to a motorized coping saw
  • Fast clamps attach easily to most work surfaces
  • Comes with 4 types of blades for different materials, 10 in total
  • Great value for small jobs or light work

Delta Power Tools 40-694 20-Inch Variable Speed

When it comes to low vibration ad quietness the Delta Power Tools 20-inch variable speed scroll saw ranks on a par with the DeWault.

It has a ​1.3 Amp motor that has a variable speed controller allowing the scroll saw to operate at 400 spm to 1750 spm.

With a tilting table that can be tilted 45 degrees on either side makes this a very versatile tool. A built in blade compartment means that you can store your blades in the machine reducing the chance of losing them in your workshop.

Specifications

  • Parallel link arm reduces vibration
  • Variable speed from 400 spm to 1750 spm​
  • Table tilts 45 degrees to left and right
  • Light and stand also available
  • 5 year limited warranty

Scroll Saw Buyer's Guide

Often people will purchase their tools based solely on price. This is a mistake however. The best approach is to consider the features from two or three different scroll saws and then make your judgement based on that.

Choosing the right scroll saw means that you get the best value for your dollar. There is little point in purchasing the cheapest one if you intend on doing a lot of cutting and intend on putting a big demand on the saw..... the cheaper ones generally won't last.

So you need a balance of features and price to find the best scroll saw for you. Below are some of the features of a scroll saw you should look out for when making your decision:

  • Build quality - generally the heavier a scroll saw is built the less noise and vibration it will create. You should look for a heavy cast iron saw if possible. If you plan on doing a lot of work with the saw then the sturdier the construction the better.
  • Adjustable Speed Control - There is an optimal speed at which to cut the majority of materials. Not being able to adjust the speed on any kind of saw means that you may end up with a cut that is not perfect and requires extra finishing work such as sanding.
  • Tilt - Having the option to tilt the table on your scroll saw means a bit more versatility. However if you choose a model that does not tilt you can just tilt the wood as you cut. This can be tricky at times depending on what you are cutting so a tilting table can make life easier. In general tables will tilt from 0 to 45 degrees. Some of the better models will allow the table to tilt in both a left and right direction.
  • Throat Length - Throat length is the distance from the back of the scroll saw to the blade. A standard scroll saw throat length is roughly 18-20 inches. Some scroll saws have a feature that pivots the blade through 90 degrees thus allowing you to make much deeper cuts across the scroll saw table.
  • Blade Change - Having the ability to quickly and easily swap out a dull blade or change one for a different material is an essential feature to have. If you wind up wasting time changing blades out you will not only get less work done but your frustration levels will increase also.
  • Dust Removal - Reducing the amount of saw dust in your workshop is definetley a big help to your respiratory system and any decent scroll saw should come with such a feature.

Scroll Saw Blades

​Choosing the best scroll saw blades can be a little confusing. Like any saw not matching the right blade to the material will leave you with less than ideal results. Here are some important factors to help you choose the right scroll saw blades:

  • Pin or Pinless - ​Pinless or plain-end blades are the more modern of the two. A lot of really old scroll saws can only accept pinned ones. However, the majority of modern saws can accept both. Pinned blades are generally much faster to change out when they go dull. 
    Just be aware that when using pinned blades for fretting work you will need to drill a larger hole to account for the diameter. This is a big disadvantage if you plan on doing a lot of very small detailed inner cutting.
  • Blade Specifications - All blades should come with a size rating on the package. The blades are number as per the size of the material they are used to cut and the number of teeth per square inch. A#12 blade is more suited to cutting thicker pieces of wood and will have fewer teeth than a size #0.
    When using bigger blades on thicker wood you can run the scroll saw at a faster speed. When cutting delicate pieces with smaller blades you should run the saw at a slower speed as the finer blades can end up burning and scorching the wood if they are run to fast.
  • Blade Teeth - There are a variety of different tooth configurations on blades and this will influence what kind of cut they are best suited to:
  • scroll saw blades
    1. Regular - Regular blades are uniform and in a straight row. The teeth for wood cutting will be larger than for cutting metal.
    2. Double-tooth - Have a space between a pair of teeth. They tend to leave a very smooth cut but cut slower than other blades.
    3. Skip-tooth - As the name implies every second tooth is missing. They have a lesser tendency to burn during cutting, suitable for beginners.
    4. Reverse skip-tooth - same as a normal skip tooth except the reverse teeth on the end can help to leave a less splintered look on the bottom of the cutting surface.
    5. Crown - These blades cut in both directions and can be used on plastic
    6. Precision Ground - Much sharper and not suitable for a beginner.
    7. Spiral - Spiral blades are like a regular blade that has been twisted so that the teeth are on all sides of the blade. They are not very accurate and best not used on detailed work.

As a general rule the thinner the material you need to cut the finer the blade you should use.