I'm starting to get into some woodwork for building a desk for my home and I need to purchase some tools, but I'm not really sure of what to look for to determine if a tool is of good quality.

I don't want superb top of the line tools as I won't be using them that often but I need something that will not hinder my work, and I definitely want something that will at least be good for a couple years (maybe).

I'll probably be needing

  • a power drill
  • a circular saw
  • a jig saw
  • orbital sander or belt sander

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  • It would probably be good to ask for product recommendations in separate questions, one for each kind of tool. – Vebjorn Ljosa Jul 29 '10 at 14:38

A Doweling jig can be useful.

or a Pocket hole jig.

And plenty of clamps (big ones, small ones, band clamps are nice).

For power tools I find that Ryobi has decent tools for a good prices.

  • This is pretty much how I got started, head in every once in a while and pick up what Ryobi's I could afford, then slowly get the hand toos, and finally once my budget started freeing up I started getting bigger power tools opting for the higher quality where possible. – Tom Anderson Jul 31 '10 at 17:57

My absolute favorite power drill I've bought is a Ryobi 12V cordless. They don't make the same model I have now, but the current "One+" series takes both the old 12V batteries that I have, and the newer lithium batteries (my brother has one of those - it can charge a battery in about 45 minutes!)

One of the nice things about the drill, other than the fact that it was under $60, is the magnetic tray on the bottom - it's wonderful for holding bits as you change them in and out. I use my drill as a power screwdriver all the time, so having the tray to hold screws and the bit I use to pre-drill the hole is nice.

The great thing about the cordless series is that you can get a bunch of different tools that all use the same batteries. I picked up mine at Home Depot.

  • @Jared Harley how long has it lasted you? – msarchet Jul 28 '10 at 22:04
  • +1 - I've had pretty good luck with Ryobi tools as well. They are a pretty good compromise between cost and quality. – Eric Petroelje Jul 28 '10 at 22:22
  • I bought mine when we bought our house at the end of 2006, so almost 4 years, now, and it's still going strong - I've worn out a screwdriver bit and broken a drill bit, but the drill looks almost brand new. – Jared Harley Jul 28 '10 at 22:22
  • +1. Almost 7 years for mine, it's had a tough life and looks it, but it's still going strong. – Niall C. Jul 29 '10 at 0:55
  • Don't want to sound sarcastic, but it seems funny that a Ryobi drill is getting more attention than classic woodworking tools. – Brian Jul 29 '10 at 13:05

A good chisel is in any woodworker's toolbox.

  • If you have a chisel, you have to have a way to keep it sharp. – Jay Bazuzi Jul 29 '10 at 12:43

The number of uses a carpenter's square has are almost as many as the uses for the common screwdriver.

See also: http://zo-d.com/stuff/how-do-i/how-to-use-the-swanson-speed-square-as-a-framing-square.html


Get a long and sturdy metal level. Clamp it to plywood and use it as a straightedge for your circular saw.

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