There are five stationary power tools that are essential in order to make your shop a useful and pleasurable place to work on your projects. Once these tools are part of your workshop, they will make your woodworking life a joy and will allow you to create quality pieces for your home or office.
The table saw is obviously the most versatile machine in any woodworking shop and should be the woodworker’s first machine purchase. A good table saw becomes the centerpiece of the workshop as the woodworker uses it to rip, square, miter, groove, shape and join pieces. A quality table saw will make completing nearly any woodworking project easier. This vital stationary tool should be positioned in the center of the room to allow the maximum area for handling and maneuvering large pieces of stock. There should be more than ten feet of clearance on either side of the table saw if possible so that large boards and sheets of stock can easily be fed over the table surface.
The next item that should be near the table saw is a sturdy router table. After the table saw, the router is one of the most practical stationary tools in the shop. A stand-alone cabinet is perhaps the most desirable arrangement for a router table. It provides storage space for extra routers, bits, bases and wrenches plus it is heavy enough to be stable. Such a unit can be custom built to suit your own height and it can be outfitted with casters or locking rollers to make better use of limited shop space.
Several very useful power tools that should be located near to one another in the shop are the radial-arm saw, a chop saw and a 14-inch band saw. If shop space is limited, the radial-arm can be used as a chop saw also. Although it takes a bit longer to set up a radial-arm saw for miter cuts, it is just as accurate and quick as the chop saw when properly used.
The band saw is another of the five basic stationary tools that are considered the foundation of the craftsperson’s workshop. The band saw is used to cut irregular shapes. The radius of a curve that can be cut on a particular saw is limited by the width of the band.
The last of the five essential tools is the power planer. The planer trims a parallel surface which is a very important step in milling stock for furniture or other pieces that will be on display in a home or office. A good planer quickly converts low-cost rough lumber into valuable finished stock. You can use it to turn out perfect picture frame molding, quarter-round, casing, tongue and groove, etc.
The table saw, router, band saw, planer and jointer comprise the basic tool complement that is required as you begin to build your shop. You will find them invaluable as you progress to larger and more sophisticated projects.