Choosing the Right Tool for Your Built-in Project

cutting lumber

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.

Projects in Tool Selection

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.

Wish-list Projects

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