Along with all the other things, the tool industry is growing, too. And from this booming industry came benchtop woodworking tools.
These tools are made to make things easier for people who view woodwork as a hobby.
Now, they can easily make a quick trip to a local home improvement shop and have the tools they need to get started.
Benchtop tools are generally those tools that are stationary. They are small-sized versions of industrial woodworking tools, so it’s easy to take them home. They save space, cost, and weight. An occasional user may then get the specific tools that professionals use in their workplace.
Examining the Quality of Benchtop Tools
Benchtop Drill Press
There are tables that already come with a benchtop tool.
However, you can also attach the tools you need a table yourself. This way, you are able to save a good amount of space.
So you now have a tool that you can easily carry back and forth its storage shelf and your workbench by the use of a dolly or rolling table.
However, you cannot magically have a high-quality machine from a stationary tool. It’s something that does not happen.
There are adapters and jigs available in the market that you can easily operate as a stationary too. A good example of this is a drill holder. You can also have planners, circular saws, planers, etc. There are good to use as they are mostly lightweight.
If you plan to become a serious woodworker, you might avoid them as they are not the actual things. But you could definitely keep a router table if you’re interested in mounting them invertedly.
Downsized Stationary Tools
So a benchtop tool is basically a small version of an original large stationary tool. But who can carry such large tools in your house? The effort is not worth it if you’re not going to use it every day anyway.
So, people opt for the alternative. A benchtop tool has, of course, linear dimensions.
In order to keep the same proportion, all the dimensions of the original stationary tool are shrunk down to the same rate.
Therefore, if you purchase a benchtop tool that is half as wide as the original one, then it’s most probably half as deep and half as tall.
When you get a stationary tool that is more compact, you can save space.
However, since it is smaller, you must also purchase and use tools that are small. They won’t fit on the table otherwise.
Though the size of the tools rarely affects the quality of the finished product, it may take a considerable time to operate around them.
If this concerns you, you must be careful when you are selecting a benchtop tool to buy.
Looking at the Dimensions
Mostly, the surface is the benchtop tool is a quarter of the original. Since the area is already reduced to one-quarter, the volume of the tool is also reduced, but to an eighth.
Consequently, there is a decline of the tool’s weight. If this is not constructed properly, you will have a benchtop tool that is shaky, noisy, and just plain flimsy.
As a countermeasure, some manufacturers substitute heavy materials for the small tools. Of course, that would cost more, so some manufacturers still opt the plastic, the kind used in fences and in housing. When you buy a benchtop tool, you must then lookout for the material used.
Some benchtop tools are constructed in a way that they can be moved with just a finger, a clear opposite of a floor-standing tool which needs a whole crew to be moved.
However, when you want to cut down lumber, you want a tool that won’t slip or move. That is why you would probably need a workbench.
Since most benchtop tools have mounting holes on the base, you can easily bolt them down with the use of a wing nut or some other technique.
This way, you have transferred the inertia of the tool to the bench. Be sure to check the links of the tool too, as some of them are made from weak materials and can easily break.
Analyzing the Power Used by the Tools
It is expected that benchtop tools are just less powerful than the floor-standing tools. It’s something one has to bear. The speed of the tool may be just about the same.
However, it will quickly drop off if you don’t use power behind it.
As a countermeasure, you can just get the best out of it. Get as much power as the tool can give—given its cost, size, and portability.
While you’re at it, you can adjust the expectations you have for the tools.
After all, it’s not made for the professionals. But even if it is, just think about past woodworkers. Surely, Michaelangelo didn’t have powerful tools to help him create such beauty.
Checking Benchtop Tools Speed and Repeatability
The time you’ll consume in making something out of benchtop tools is directly dependent on the power that they produce.
In using a benchtop tool, you must keep in mind that an overwhelming force will damage or break it. Therefore, only make moderate cuts and keep the feed rate to the safest level. It’ll take you more time, sure.
But then, you’ll feel more secure. Besides, you are not keeping up with time. If you’re really doing the woodwork for fun, then time will not matter.
You must draw the line between a benchtop tool that is time-consuming and a benchtop tool that is absolutely doing nothing. If you have the latter, then you have bought the wrong one. You have to replace it.
In woodworking, repeatability is applied when you’re planning to make more than one identical cut or pattern. What professionals usually do is that make the cut, take a break, then go back to make the same cut again.
However, if you’re using a benchtop tool, the setting gets rearranged. So having identical cuts may be a problem. It is best for you to get everything done in one sitting then.
Getting Accessories for Benchtop
Tools come with parts that can be consumed. This includes bits, sandpapers, and blades that are constantly in contact with the wood.
If you want to still produce the same quality of finished work when you first bought the benchtop tools, then you must constantly monitor them. Other accessories that you can purchase can be templates, fences, and jigs.
To make things easier for you in the future, you might want to purchase a bench that could be compatible with several standard accessories. If not, you’ll be forced to buy accessories which are costly and hard to find.
Thinking About Your Safety
Though smaller in size, the feed tables, and small fences can still cause damage and cuts. Moreover, the bench does not really give you the assurance that it will hold you if you lean on it.
Therefore, you must always be wary when you are using the tools. Your safety is not something you must disregard just because you are using something that looks safe. Nothing is safe among the tools of woodworking.