Top Woodworking Tool Recommendations for Small Shops

beginner handheld hobby Makita Milescraft Mirka planer plunge router recommendations router sander small shop tools track saw tracks Virutex woodworking

Do you take pride in building your own furniture, like being covered in sawdust, and enjoy listening to good tunes in your shop?  Me too! In the 5 years I’ve been professionally building reclaimed timber furniture I’ve definitely favored a few setups.  I often get asked to share what my recommendations are for the hobbyist and small shop craftsman, so I’ve picked out some of my best. 
 Dusty with Mirka Sanding System
For the beginner and hobbyist, you should know that the majority of woodworking is getting a good 90 degree cut either by using a blade, a bit, or by sanding.  So it’s crucial to choose tools to improve the efficiency and quality of your cuts.  The right tools will reduce human error and therefore reduce imperfections in your final product. 

The goal is always to have perfect joints at glue up.  

Woodworking is done in two ways.  One is by moving wood over a stationary tool, the other is by moving a smaller portable tool over a piece of wood.  I’m about to share 5 tools, some with additional attachments, that have completed a ton of projects in my shop with a high degree of efficiency.  These are not the cheapest tools, nor the most expensive, and are great recommendations for a small shop with limited space.  If you’re working out of a garage or basement then getting tools that are spacing saving and highly efficient is key.  


Let’s take a look at my top 5.

 1.  Handheld Planer

There are lots of options for planers out there, but for the beginner or small shop I definitely recommend a hand held planer like this Virutex  I like that it has bigger shoes on the bottom which makes it easier to use to get my desired end result.  My favorite part is the edge guide, which is quick to pop on plus it gives me extra security and precision. 
 Virutex Handheld Planer
Virutex Handheld Planer bottom

 2.  Track Saw with extra tracks and clamps

Being able to take a blade across wood in a predicable manner plus setting depth and angle is invaluable.  I have this Makita 6 1/2 “ Plunge Circular Saw and often use mine with an 118” and/or 55” track.  I love this kit that attaches multiple tracks together for longer projects like table and beams.  This system is amazing for sizing materials and I also use their clamps for added security and precision beyond the rubber stops on the underside of the tracks. 
 Makita Track saw with 118 and 55 trcks 

3.  18V Cordless Router

Routers are the most versatile tools to perform dados, rabbets, shaping, and more!  They can be intimidating but once practiced they become very useful around the shop.  This Makita router  has tons of power and gets lots of work done.  I use it for general router skills and also some slab stitching to stabilize cracks in the reclaimed wood.  
 Makita 18V Cordless Router

4.  Plunge Router with attachments

Stepping up the techniques a little, I use this Makita 1 ¼ HP Plunge Router for a variety of projects, including attaching it to the saw track, mortising doors with this Milescraft Subcompact Base, and even adding my homemade plexiglass plate to extend the base for larger things like mantels.  
   Makita Plunge Router
Makita Plunge Router with Milescraft Mortising pins
Makita Plunge Router with homemade plexiglass plate

5.  Sanding System

A high quality sander like the Mirka Deros 6” Electric Dust-Free Sanding System makes a huge difference in my shop.  I started with a 5” battery powered sander and have worked up to this bad boy!  It is well balanced and engineered for amazing dustless sanding.  It has 7 speeds and an auto tool setting.  You may be surprised to hear that this system greatly reduces user fatigue, cuts down on sanding time and makes sanding fun! Sanding… fun???.. Who knew!?
  Mirka Sanding System
If you'd benefit from some tool reviews and project examples you can find them on my Youtube Channel  The Dusty Lumber Co - YouTube
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