We started making cuts and the only complaint was the fence not staying put. This saw was on track to rank high up on this list. Until day two, when the motor suddenly died for no apparent reason. We checked everything but couldn’t determine a cause. Luckily, it’s covered under Hitachi’s five-year warranty. After doing some research though, this problem is a pretty common occurrence. Despite the great operation and feature set, the lack of reliability means we can’t recommend this saw as a top performer.

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Our Woodworking Tool index (LEFT) includes a listing of all our Woodworking Tools and materials. Throughout our site you will find exceptional values on fine woodworking tools, quality tools built to last.  Woodworking Hand Tools are one of our passions and we sell the very best hand tool brands in production today. At Highland Woodworking we not only carry a great selection of top rated tools but we also provide top notch information on woodworking tools and techniques. Selecting the right woodworking tools for your woodworking shop can be overwhelming so we are always here to answer your tool questions and help you to become a better woodworker.  If you are new to woodworking checkout our starter woodworking tool list for beginners. We've been offering fine woodworking tools and education since 1978, keeping woodworkers informed about the best woodworking tools, tips & techniques along the way. Purchases are backed by Highland Woodworking's 60-day money back guarantee, so you can shop us with confidence for high quality woodworking tools.
Here’s a list of the 5 basic woodworking tools I’d recommend for beginners to DIY and woodworking. These tools should enable you to build almost anything, and will still be useful even if you upgrade to larger stationary tools later on. These tools would also make great gifts for any of the woodworkers in your life. Enjoy, and let me know what your 5 picks would be in the comments below!

Miter gauges are one of those accessories that you may forget about in daily use, but then desperately need if you don’t have one. They’re used with table saws in order to cut angles that aren’t 90 degrees. The best miter gauges include hard stops at 90 degrees and 45 degrees, which are the angles that you’re most often going to be cutting at. The hard stops make it easy to set the miter gauge to those angles and cut away with confidence.
While it is possible to rip thin stock using only the table saw’s fence, you have to remove the guard and squeeze your stock and push stick through the dangerously narrow gap between the blade and your fence. Can you say “kickback”? Even if you successfully navigate this dangerous cut, you inevitably end up with burn marks and uneven cuts that have to be sanded out.

Cutting Fast: An obvious question when comparing the performance of different jigsaws is “which saw cuts the fastest?” I created a speed cutting test to determine the answer. First, I fitted each saw with a new Bosch Progressor blade, designed specifically for fast, rough cutting. With the help of my wife, Ann, I timed how long it took each saw to crosscut a 2x6, as shown in the lead photo on page 44. I took several passes, then averaged the times for each saw. I tried to push each saw as hard as I could without bogging its motor down. In the final tally, the premium-priced Festool turned in the fastest average time: 2.74 seconds, notable because this saw doesn’t have the highest-amperage motor or fastest blade stroke speed in this group of jigsaws. The next fastest cutting time was clocked by the Makita — less than a tenth of a second slower than the Festool. Posting a slightly slower time than that was the Bosch, followed (in timed order) by the Metabo, Milwaukee and Hitachi. The DeWALT held up the rear of the pack with a rather slow 4.27-second average time. The second-and-a-half difference between the fastest and slowest saws might not seem like much. But this time can really add up if you have dozens of rafter ends to decoratively jigsaw, or a pile of curved parts to cut out. Vibration: Regardless of how fast a jigsaw cuts, the less vibration it produces, the better. All jigsaws employ some sort of counterbalance system to reduce the up-and-down shaking created by the reciprocating plunger and blade, and some work better than others. In truth, I found it quite difficult to accurately compare the vibration of the various saws in the group, as it varied under different circumstances. For example, the DeWALT felt very smooth-running when idling at full speed. However, when I put the saw to wood, it produced noticeably more vibration. After careful consideration, I found the Bosch and Festool, closely followed by the Milwaukee and Makita, consistently produced the least vibration when cutting a variety of wood types and thicknesses with a variety of blades. That’s not to say that the DeWALT and Hitachi produce unacceptable amounts of vibration, but they just didn’t feel as smooth running as the top saws. At the bottom of the pack, the Metabo jigsaw consistently produced more vibration than any of the other saws. [caption id="attachment_7431" align="aligncenter" width="370"] One of the tests the author put the saws through was cutting melamine, which is fragile and likely to splinter when making close cuts. Cutting cleanly: Getting clean jigsaw cuts with only light splintering, tearout and surface chipping is chiefly a matter of selecting a blade that’s designed for the job. But I still wanted to see just how smooth a cut each saw was capable of producing with a general purpose blade. I fit each saw with a fine-toothed blade and set it to a medium speed with a slight orbit (#1). I then took several cuts with each on a piece of 3/4" melamine — a material notorious for chipping easily. After experimenting with different rates of feed, I selected the cutoffs that displayed the cleanest edge produced by each saw. The Bosch, aided, I suspect, by its precision control guide, left the cleanest cut edges. With cuts only slightly more ragged than the Bosch were the Makita, Festool and DeWALT, followed by the other saws. It’s worth noting that I was able to get a much cleaner cut with all of these saws by fitting them with a special saw blade designed for laminates, as well as an anti-splinter insert. [caption id="attachment_7432" align="aligncenter" width="305"] The better view you have of the cut line, the more accurate your cut will be, and the Bosch jigsaw has the best overall cutting viewpoint. Cutting accurately: The major factors that affect the accuracy of jigsaw cuts are: How well you can see the line of cut and how well the saw’s blade stays square to the workpiece (or at a fixed angle during bevel cuts). Generally, a saw with less of its body overhanging the blade is easier to use, especially when you’re working in cramped quarters or trying to follow a curvaceous line, say when cutting out a scrollwork pattern. The open front end configuration of the Bosch and Metabo make it much easier for me to see the blade without having to crane my neck. The Milwaukee and Hitachi have the most blade obscuring body overhangs, but the former’s built-in LED light helps to improve its line-of-cut visibility. [caption id="attachment_7433" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Many of the jigsaws had a slight waver in them, but the Bosch and Festool saws provided the most square cuts. It’s usually true that the thicker, denser (or more variable in density) a workpiece is, the more likely that a jigsaw’s blade will deflect when cutting it. This is especially true when cutting tight curves. To judge this aspect of cutting accuracy, I crosscut 4x4 lumber with each jigsaw. Most models left edges that wavered in squareness and up-and-down straightness over the length of the cut. The exceptions were the Bosch and Festool models, which left nearly dead square and straight cut edges. It’s safe to assume that such superior performance was likely due to the special blade guide systems on these saws, which helped prevent their long saw blades from deflecting.


Milwaukee is a well-trusted name in the world of power tools. This table saw is part of their cordless M18 Fuel system. It sits at the high end of the pricing spectrum, though it’s still a small, tabletop design. For this price, you would almost expect to see a stand of some sort, but not with the Milwaukee. You’re mostly paying for the portability of battery-power. Unfortunately, cordless has its own set of drawbacks. Despite the decent battery life, the power just isn’t quite enough for real job site use.
Most of our products are in stock waiting and ready to ship the day you order them (look for our green IN STOCK icon) – and if you purchase a PRO Membership, you get free standard shipping for an entire year. We guarantee satisfaction on your order and know you will find the best products when you shop with us! We aim to be the first company you call when you need woodworking or building products. Make us your go-to supplier!

Contractor saws have plenty of advantages, and are used in many professional cabinet shops. Don't let your credit card limit make the choice for you. Put the advantage lists side by side. Think carefully and realistically about your work and other shop needs. Cross out advantages that won't make a difference in your projects. You may also want to cross out items that will only moderately affect your work. Highlight and contemplate the advantages that will be significant in your most common cutting situations. Visit local shops and woodworking friends to check out both saw types in action. When you are comfortable with the differences and their importance to your work, put the notes away and buy what feels right.
The DEWALT DW745 is a smaller version of the DEWALT DWE7491RS. It’s still a good saw in its own right. It comes with a 15-amp motor, just like the larger unit, though it can only handle rips of up to 20”. You’ll experience the same power and consequently, the same speed as the larger model, though you can’t cut pieces as large. This model is also meant to be moved, and while it doesn’t have wheels, it has a metal roll cage that will help it survive travel without taking any damage.
I am not a power tool guy. My only power tools before this had been a hand-held drill (from 1980) and a hand sander. But I needed to put two cat doors in our house and needed something to cut the openings in our solid-wood doors. The same day that this saw arrived on the front porch, I managed to cut openings in two doors with no issues. (Well, no issues with the saw, anyway. Given my limited power-tool skills, I ended up adhering to the "Measure once, cut twice" rule. But that's my shortcoming, not the saw's.)

My Stanley 51/2 was in a bit of a state when I got it and refurbing it took a bit of time and cash. Now it works a treat and looks like new. I’m nearly through the bench build and have spend hours using it – it really is a workhorse piece of kit. I did some final cleaning up of some oak legs the other day and I can’t really see how a smaller plain would do a better job.


Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or DIY pro, you’ll find the woodworking tools you need for the jobsite or around the house. Search woodworking project plans to get some fresh ideas or browse our wide tool selection to find exactly what you need. Outfit your woodworking shop with routers, sanders, table saws, dust collectors, planing tools, and hand tools from bestselling brands including Makita, Festool, Bosch, JET, Powermatic, Rockler, Grizzly, and more.
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