On the Virtues of Power Tools for Stock Preparation

This one is text only.

Here at The Apartment Woodworker, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to bring the strange world of small-space woodworking to life.  In a total reversal from my usual course, I would like to talk for a moment about the virtues of power tools and apologize to anyone at whom I ever scoffed for using a table saw in rough stock preparation.

If you haven’t angrily closed your browser yet, let me explain. I make no secret of my reliance on a thickness planer, nor do I deny I often turn to my orbital sander for quick finishing-prep. I also love a good roundover or chamfer by router and I sharpen the forstner bits for my power drill with a rotary tool. I even own a sweet miter saw that lives at my parents’ house. But I rationalize this because each one of those power tools complements my hand-tool-first approach to small-space woodworking. Every single board first gets at least ripped and planed S2S by hand before a power tool even touches it.

For the first time ever, though, I wish I owned a table saw. I have been hand-ripping rough-sawn, close-grained hard maple for the plant stand project and Praise Alvis is “hard” an understatement.

I’d be cutting joints by now if I had a table saw. My 4.5 tpi and 6.5 tpi rip panel saws are way too coarse and my 9tpi rip panel saw is way too fine. And each now has a kink in the plate that I need to hammer out. It’s true I don’t have the room for a table saw in my apartment and I could just grab my circular saw from my brother’s house, but that’s not the point. I merely see the point now of power stock preparation.

Up until this point, I considered myself to be a handtool snob who would never, ever use, let alone buy, a table saw. But now I think that when I again have a full-sized shop, I just might just buy myself a SawStop and learn to use it safely. Or at least a bandsaw. Those aren’t so bad.

For stock preparation only: not for joinery. I’m no powertool sissy.



  1. I’d get a bandsaw before a table saw for those long rips and for long curves. The bandsaw is very versatile, less expensive and a smaller footprint.


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