Power tools speed up the job of cutting the materials you need to build your cabinet. Depending on skill level, some people find it almost impossible to do things correctly without them, but they certainly can be done with hand tools. The list of power tools that are commonly used can be quite long, but a cabinet can certainly be built with a few important ones.
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A circular saw cuts straight lines faster and easier than almost any other saw. It allows you to take the tool over to the wood, rather than maneuvering the wood around the tool.
Nearly all the cuts on a standard cabinet can be made with a circular saw. The exception to this is inside curves. Outside curves can be rough cut with the circular saw, and then sanded to match the pencil line.
A saw guide will help keep your straight cuts straight. You can buy them at your local hardware store, or can build one using the factory edge of a sheet of MDF to guide the saw. You use them by clamping them to the piece of wood you are cutting, and running the edge of your saw along the guide.
TIP: Clamp the saw guide to the piece of wood you intend to keep. That way, if the saw does happen to walk away from the guide while you are cutting, you will leave too much wood on the piece you are keeping, and can clean it up with a second pass.
Best tool for cutting straight lines and much better than a circular saw if you need to put an angle on a cut.
Also called a Saber Saw, a jigsaw is quite useful for making curved cuts. A jigsaw can be used to make straight cuts as well, but will take more time and due to the narrower base and propensity for the blades to bend, allows more chances for mistakes to creep in.
To minimize these mistakes, it is important to select a good quality blade that is appropriate to the material you are cutting. A cheap blade is much more likely to bend in a dense material like MDF than a more expensive one. Also, a cutting guide or straight-edge can make a big difference in the quality of the cut.
For our purposes, a router can be considered the jack-of-all-trades. With the proper guides and setup, a router can do straight cuts like a circular saw, can handle curved cuts like a jigsaw, and can do several other things with a high degree of competency. The router's capabilities are determined by the bit that is used. If you wish to install t-molding on your cabinet, it is practically impossible to do so without using a t-molding bit in your router. If you wish to ensure both sides of your cabinet are identical, cutting one side and using a pattern bit or flush-trim bit to trace around the first side will cut a second piece of wood to the exact same shape. Cutting plexiglass with your router is also easier with your router and tends to encounter less problems.
Smaller routers, called trim or laminate routers, can also be used, and are perfectly acceptable for our purposes. Larger-shanked bits usually cannot be used, so be sure to check that the bits you wish to use come in the smaller-shanked versions.
Do not try to "cheat" to get more depth out of the cut than the bit allows. Always use the bit for the job it is meant to do.
Drills, drill bits, and screwdriver bits work to speed up fastening panels together. Some materials, such as MDF, should be pre-drilled, meaning a drill bit should be used to drill a hole before a screw is placed in that spot. Failure to do so can result in splitting the material. Many other materials require this step as well. Test yours to make sure.
When done with the predrilling step, using a screwdriver bit in your drill will speed up the insertion of screws as well. If your drill comes with several speeds, the lowest setting (usually #1) is designed to be used when driving screws. Higher speeds can set your screw too deep, potentially ruining the work you just did.
One of the most helpful drill bits needed for MDF cabinet construction is a "countersink" bit. This is a special drill bit assembly that has a regular drill bit with a secondary countersink cutter attached. This bit creates a dome shaped recess at the start of the hole to allow the head of the screw to rest flush with the face of the wood. By using a countersink bit you can prevent the dreaded "hump" of displaced MDF around your screw heads and in your glued and screwed joints.
Hand sanding quickly becomes tedious and more often than not, will be ignored or given minimal attention because of this. A smooth paint/stain job is easier to obtain with a smooth surface, so a random-orbit sander speeds up this chore and makes it easier to complete.
Random-orbit sanders use random movements so as not to leave directional marks in what you are sanding. While this is not important in materials such as MDF where there is no direction, or "grain", materials such as plywood will show such marks, and may be difficult if not impossible to remove. If you are staining your project, this may show up through your finish, and can be an eyesore.
Another reason for a random-orbit sander is when mistakes happen. It is easier to sand off the layer of finish you just applied if something goes wrong, such as dust in the paint. A power sander will make this an easy repair.
- Hole-creation bits
- Hole Saw
- Spade Bit
- Forstner Bit
- Router bits
- T-molding bit
- Flush-trim Bit
- Pattern Bit
- Saw blades
- Standard blade (HSS)
- Carbide blade
- Hollow ground blade