Power tools in your hand tool work

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Forum topic by AGolden posted 05-05-2021 06:26 AM 443 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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114 posts in 453 days

05-05-2021 06:26 AM

Just an open question for discussion and debate.

for everyone who either uses hand tools exclusively or works in a hybrid shop. What 3 power tools do you think either would add the most value or you couldn’t live without and why?

here are mine

1) bandsaw – saves me long rips, resaws, scroll cuts

2) router – I like cutting my joinery by hand but I have neighbors and frankly being able to cut the waste out of dadoes and mortises quickly has an advantage, and the noise of the router might be worse for me but it’s less disturbing to my neighbors than the percussive hammer strikes of chopping out dadoes. It also does edge profiles which I can’t make with my hand planes.

3) belt/spindle sander – I can plane, scrape, and hand sand most pieces for finishing, but there are certain specialty things that the belt/spindle sander combo saves a lot of time and frustration on such as sanding down metal hardware pieces, making final adjustments to splines and inlays, and making quick freehand adjustments to pieces. I use the other two tools on my list more frequently but this tool saves sooo much time. not having to think about setup, jigs, workflow is really nice when all you real need to do is just nip something down to a line or make something a tiny bit thinner

i realize my shop vac is technically also a power tool but we can make an exception for this list ;)

18 replies so far

View MikeB_UK's profile


451 posts in 2153 days

#1 posted 05-05-2021 11:13 AM

I have a cordless drill, somewhere, I dig it out if I need a hole in brock or concrete.
Oh, and a Jigsaw I got for cutting through some ceramic tiles.

Short of that I don’t even own any power tools :)

-- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

View SMP's profile


4153 posts in 1024 days

#2 posted 05-05-2021 03:13 PM

I guess it really depends on what you make and how you buy your wood. My local lumberyard I usually buy wood from only sells s2s or s3s. If i bought rough I would want a jointer and planer or at least a planer. And I mainly make furniture. So the main power tools I use are my table saw and chop saw. As cutting wood to length with hand saws and having to trim them down just a bit is a nightmare with hand tools. I have that same spindle sander and its great whenever i make curved pieces, but that is rare with most furniture i make. I also use a cordless drill for various things. I have never owned a bandsaw. I have molding planes and plow planes etc so rarely use my powered router unless doing like a whole kitchen or something. So i guess 80/20 rule I would say:

1. Table saw for repetitive rips
2. Chop saw to trim ends/length
3. Cordless drill holes and installing hinges etc.

View HokieKen's profile


17919 posts in 2257 days

#3 posted 05-05-2021 03:17 PM

Table saw

Although drill press and thickness planer are also “must-haves” for me, I could live without them in a pinch. But I have zero interest in ripping by hand or breaking down sheet goods so the table saw stays. Ditto for resawing and non-linear cuts so the bandsaw stays. And the lathe is just too much fun to get rid of :-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View DevinT's profile


1168 posts in 85 days

#4 posted 05-05-2021 04:18 PM

Shaper Origin—replaces the need for a drill press for me almost entirely. Not completely, but pretty much. The only time it doesn’t is when I need long reach to bore a deep (5”+) hole. It also replaces the need for many other tools but not completely. I would say 90% of the time it can do what I would do on the scroll saw (except where a thin kerf is needed or to do something unique like tilt the scroll saw base to make pop-out letters in a sign). I can also often times skip making a template and just use a digital template, which saves me time at the router table. However, sometimes the Shaper gets me into time issues. Like the other day I went to cut out a 1” deep, 2.5” wide, 3” long pocket in a 2×4, and after several hours realized it would have been quicker to hog out the material with a coping saw and then just clean up the bottom with the Origin. So sometimes the Origin tricks me into wasting time.

Track saw or circular saw with Kreg Accucut guide. I know I can take the Shaper and make a dead-nuts accurate straight cut down a sheet of ply but I just think I get a faster cleaner result with the track saw.

I get by without a band saw, but resaws really suck and I really wish I had a band saw.

I get by without a planer, because I have a router table. I’m going to say that a router table is my 3rd tool. I set up the split-fence to offset the out-feed by 1/128” to 1/64” and just slide the wood through to do jointing operations.

I get by without a thickness planer because I used the Shaper Origin and router table to make a surfacing jig, which I use in conjunction with hand planes to get my lumber to thickness.

So there’s my list:

Shaper Origin
Circular Saw with Kreg Accucut or Track Saw
Router with Router Table

And yeah, dust collection. I have a Bissell Garage Pro with 30’ hose that gets snaked about and hooked to various machines and hung on a Rockler DustRite boom.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View MPython's profile


366 posts in 931 days

#5 posted 05-05-2021 05:14 PM

Table saw – most rips and crosscuts that are later refined by hand tools.
Jointer/planer – for dressing and dimensioning rough sawn stock
Bandsaw – for resawing and ripping.
I use hand tools for joinery and fine tuning machine work. I use machine tools to take the grunt work out of my woodworking hobby.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26300 posts in 4224 days

#6 posted 05-05-2021 05:38 PM

Band saw,drill press and metal lathe for me!! Next three would be the table saw, the miter saw and the planer.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View HokieKen's profile


17919 posts in 2257 days

#7 posted 05-05-2021 05:58 PM

Whoa Jim, I thought we were just talking about WW tools ;-) Metal lathe and mill definitely top my list if we have to include them.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Madmark2's profile


2841 posts in 1707 days

#8 posted 05-05-2021 06:02 PM

In my shop its what hand tools do you use in your power work?

A pencil for layout on my T-rule.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Thorbjorn88's profile


222 posts in 1261 days

#9 posted 05-05-2021 06:07 PM

I think having a thickness planer let’s you get the satisfaction of using hand planes while flattening one side without it getting tedious and too time consuming.

-- Dave

View bondogaposis's profile


6000 posts in 3470 days

#10 posted 05-05-2021 06:15 PM

I think a drill press is real handy. Especially for wasting out mortises. One the quietest power tools.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View DevinT's profile


1168 posts in 85 days

#11 posted 05-05-2021 06:22 PM

I was once in the camp that a thickness planer was better than hand planes, until … I used hand planes and the surface left was superior.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View sansoo22's profile


1673 posts in 773 days

#12 posted 05-05-2021 06:35 PM

That’s kind of a tough question and I think the essence of why I love having a hybrid shop. It all really depends on the project at hand and what I’m in the mood for. For building cabinets I might not even touch the hand tools. Then again I might find some 100 yr old reclaimed barn timbers and start the milling process exclusively with hand tools.

I think the 3 power tools used the most on all types of project I do would be:

1. Table saw
2. Band saw
3. Thickness planer

Those 3 tools take most of the grunt work out of milling and dimensioning. To say my band saw is not very good would be an understatement. So currently the thickness planer is a must have to clean up those ugly cuts before planing smooth with a hand plane.

When i was super new to woodworking I thought a band saw was just for cutting curves…i was clueless. Now its becoming important enough to my work that its the very next tool to be upgraded.

I don’t have a jointer unless you count the #7s and #8s so I have no way to determine how important one of those would be. I still do all of that work the old way.

View bigblockyeti's profile


7328 posts in 2839 days

#13 posted 05-05-2021 10:08 PM

Sawmill, lathe, skidsteer

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Sylvain's profile


1274 posts in 3618 days

#14 posted 05-06-2021 07:52 AM

cordless drill/screw driver;
shop vac;

using the bandsaw to prep wood:
waiting for the next part.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View controlfreak's profile


2239 posts in 720 days

#15 posted 05-06-2021 10:34 AM

Hard to pick three so I will lump two together Jointer/planer, table saw, bandsaw. I am not excited to rip saw a long board but find a cross cut is quicker by hand if my table saw is folded up.

Never realized how handy a band saw would be until I got one.

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