Woodworking equipment falls into three general categories: hand tools, power tools, and safety equipment. Hand tools are not motorized, while power tools are. Screwdrivers, chisels, hammers, and sandpaper all fall under the category of hand tools, while drills, circular saws, palm sanders, dremel tools, and routers all fall under the category of power tools. Safety equipment is used to protect the woodworker from injuries; eye protection, aprons, gloves, and various safety devices on power tools fall into the safety woodworking equipment category. Other equipment used in a woodworker's shop may include tool boxes and containers for holding and organizing tools, dust collection systems, cleaning tools, and so on.
Traditionally, only hand tools were used by woodworkers. Woodworking equipment was limited because electricity was not commonly delivered to many workshops, though in some cases, gasoline-powered cutting mills could be used to cut wood to size. Hand tools were generally used to craft furniture, toys, and even entire homes. The tools themselves often featured metal blades and components, as well as wooden handles for comfort. They had to be sharpened by hand or otherwise maintained to ensure long, useful lives, and they required skill and finesse to use appropriately. While many of these hand tools are still in use, new woodworking equipment has been developed that makes many of the processes quicker and easier.
Power tools have replaced hand tools for many people because of their ease of use and effectiveness. Cutting can be done more quickly and sometimes more accurately using circular saws, table saws, band saws, jig saws, and so on. Power drills make holes much more quickly than traditional hand drills, and routers can finish the edges of boards with a variety of shapes and designs. In some cases, hand tools are still preferred for certain jobs, and many woodworkers prefer hand tools because they can control the tools more easily in many cases.
Safety woodworking equipment is designed to protect the woodworker from injury during the woodworking process. Dust collection systems prevent sawdust from building up in a room; when breathed in, this sawdust can have adverse effects on the woodworker's health. These systems suck dust away from the wood during cutting or shaping, and vent systems can allow fresh air to be pumped into a room. Eye and ear protection is important, especially when using power tools that can throw up debris during cutting or shaping.