Choosing the Right Tool for Your Built-in Project

You don’t need a workshop full of expensive tools to build top-quality bookcases and shelves. You can avoid the cost of some tools by having wood and sheet goods cut to size when you purchase them. Most lumberyards and home centers will cut or plane material for you. You’ll pay extra for this service, but it’s less expensive than buying a planer or tablesaw.

Power Tools

Portable power tools do basically the same jobs as their hand-tool counterparts, but they do them faster and usually more accurately. For accuracy, power, and durability, buy a name-brand, high-quality model rather than a discount, hobbyist one.

Speedy sawing
One of the handiest tools you can own is a portable circular saw, which cuts lumber as well as plywood, with and across the grain. The gear-driven blades come in diameter sizes from 4 to 10 inches. The 7-1/4-inch size offers many blade options and is the most useful for do-it-yourself work. The better saws have ball bearings rather than sleeve bearings and an arbor lock that holds the blade while you loosen it.

A jigsaw (also called a saber saw) cuts circles and curves as well as straight lines. A variety of blade types allows you to cut materials other than wood, such as metal and plastic. Variable speed control adds versatility; an orbiting feature helps with complicated scrolling but is less steady when making straight cuts.

Circular saws
In most of the DIY or woodworking project, circular saw is the most commonly used tool. Circular saw comes in many designs and blades for cutting different wood and other materials. This tool is very easy to use and can cut wood whenever its blade is set in motion. You can either buy a left handed or right handed circular saw depending on your preferences. If you are looking to buy a good circular saw in UK, this article will be beneficial for you.

Smooth sanding
The belt sander’s abrasive belt moves across a flat bed to remove wood quickly. Choose a sander with at least a 21-inch belt and a width you feel comfortable with — the wider the belt, the heavier the sander.

Orbital finishing sanders use an oscillating motion to move a piece of sandpaper in tiny circles over the wood. The 1/4-sheet size, called a palm sander, is popular. A detail sander allows you to smooth hard-to-reach areas, such as inside corners. A random-orbit sander uses a round abrasive disk that moves in a random pattern to remove stock faster than hand sanding and minimize scratch marks. Models take 5- to 12-inch-diameter disks that attach with adhesive or hook-and-loop fasteners. A good choice is a 5- or 6-inch-diameter model with a connection for dust collection.

Basic Woodworking Tools for Built-ins

A crosscut saw cuts wood across the grain (rip saws have special teeth to cut with the grain). A backsaw creates a finer, more accurate cut and is typically used with a miter box to cut accurate angles. The thin, narrow blade of a coping saw follows tight curves. Look for saws with solid wood handles, which are more comfortable and sturdy than hollow plastic ones. A jack plane smooths and squares the long sides of larger pieces of wood, while a block plane shaves their ends and angles. Wood chisels pare away material and cut recesses. A rasp and a Surform plane quickly remove wood. When buying these cutting tools, look for precision machining. A sanding block holds sandpaper flat and firmly as you smooth wood. For trimming small pieces, a utility knife is handy.

Tools for joining wood pieces
A 7-ounce finishing hammer drives brads and small nails. A nail set pushes a nailhead below the wood’s surface. Use a dead-blow hammer to tap wood pieces into place without marring. For screws, you’ll need phillips and standard or cordless screwdrivers in several sizes. Use a hand drill and twist bits or brad-point bits to make pilot holes for screws. Turn to Forstner bits for clean-sided, flat-bottomed holes or spade bits for rougher cut ones. Drill-stop collars control hole depth. Dowel centers help correctly align holes when making dowel joints.

C-clamps and adjustable pipe clamps or bar clamps hold work securely during gluing or machining. Quick clamps are easy to tighten with one hand. A miter clamp holds pieces at a precise 90-degree angle.

Tools for measuring and marking
A 12-foot steel tape measure is handy for making large measurements accurately and conveniently. The best ones have wide, tempered-steel blades with large high-visibility numbering. A framing square is handy for checking right angles and laying out 90-degree lines; choose one that has the gradations stamped into the metal, rather than simply painted on. A layout square quickly lays out angles up to 90 degrees. A combination square lays out 45- and 90-degree angles, and its blade slides for adjustment. For checking 90-degree angles, use a try square. To measure odd angles and transfer them for duplication, use a sliding bevel gauge. Scribe lines parallel to an edge with or mark several pieces the same distance from an edge with a marking gauge.

Shop smart

You probably already have some of the basic tools you’ll need. Quality is important, though, so if you’re starting your first serious woodworking project, you may need to upgrade. Each new project may call for the purchase of a specific tool. Budget that cost along with the materials and consider it an investment in future projects.

Many tool manufacturers produce two product lines: inexpensive homeowner tools and more costly, heavier-duty tools for professional use. Examine top-of-the-line tools and you’ll quickly see the difference between them and the ones made cheaply. A good hammer, for instance, will have a drop-forged and heat-tempered steel head; the handle will be ash, hickory, or fiberglass; or it will be one-piece, all-steel construction.

The metal on all hand tools should be flawlessly machined; handles should be tight-fitting and hefty. When purchasing hand tools, buy the best you can afford, and consider the relatively few dollars more that you will pay to be an investment in your future satisfaction, safety, and productivity.

When shopping for power tools, on the other hand, don’t buy more features than you need. Professional power tools can cost many times more than their hobbyist cousins. Capacity and durability are worth the money to professionals who use power tools all day, every day, but for most do-it-yourselfers, a 12-volt cordless drill is just as useful as an 18-volt one.

You can tell a lot about a tool’s quality by how it is built. A well-made, precisely assembled housing usually suggests carefully made inner workings. Make sure steel or aluminum parts are smoothly finished, triggers and controls are user-friendly, and electrical cords are sturdy. Compare portable power tools by their amperage ratings rather than their horsepower; the more current (amperage) the tool uses, the more power it delivers.

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