Types of woodshop machines and what they do

A table saw used to cut wood in a typical woodshop environment.

Radomil talk, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

A table saw used to cut wood in a typical woodshop environment.

Jacob Toth, Staff Writer

In a typical woodshop or woodworking class, these are the most common machines used and what they do. If you are planning on taking a woodshop class or building something from scratch then this article will be helpful to you.

  1. Radial Arm Saw. This is a saw that is used for crosscutting which means cutting a wooden board against the grain. This is usually the first step of making a project. For example, you may have a board that is 10 feet long, but you have to crosscut the board to 20 inches to make it easier to work with.
  2.  Jointer. A jointer is a machine that has an input and output table and in between the two tables is a spinning blade that takes 1/8 of an inch off whatever side of the board you push through it. It is also used for turning a rough board that has splinters on it into a nice, clean, and smooth board.
  3. Table Saw. This is a saw that is used for ripping which means cutting wood with the grain. For example, you may have to rip a board to  2 1/16 inches and it will cut it width-wise.
  4. Planer. This machine is used for two things mostly: 1. Makes a board in the same plane which makes it so it does not rock back and forth when sitting on a flat surface, and 2. Takes a really thick board and turns it into a thin board. These are the only two things that this machine is used for.
  5. Miter Saw. This saw is also used for trimming a board but most importantly it also makes the corners at a 90-degree angle to each other.
  6. Belt Sander. This machine is pretty simple. It has a very high-speed belt with sandpaper attached to it, and it can sand a piece of wood to make it smoother or for just sanding a few inches off of something that a saw cannot do precisely.
  7. Band Saw. A band saw is a saw that has a thin blade that rotates continuously on a wheel drive. It can be used to simply cut wood or to cut around a certain intricate shape. I guarantee that your local grocery store has one because the workers in the meat department use band saws to cut bones and make certain cuts of meat when the animal carcasses are shipped in.
  8. Router. This machine has a small spinning blade that has a certain shape to it can use to round corners of wood such as when you see a rounded corner on a countertop.
  9. Drill Press. This machine is used for drilling a hole in a piece of wood for whatever a hole may be needed for.
  10. CNC router. This machine is hooked up to a computer that can be programmed to cut out very complex shapes and can even cut letters into the wood. It is a spinning drill bit that moves from left to right, front to back, and up and down depending on what needs to be cut.