Woodworking Tools for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide
Let’s face it, you can’t really get started with woodworking unless you have the right tools. Whether you are following tutorials on YouTube or heading to your very first woodworking class, you still need the right equipment to help you out.
The thing is, woodworking can refer to most wood-related projects. This includes carpentry, carving, cabinet making, and more.
So, with just a list of varied activities, it can be tough to narrow down the tools you need. Not to mention, as a beginner, you need to focus on collecting basic tools that will help you learn and hone the necessary woodworking skills.
To make your selection process just a little bit easier, we have put together a go-to guide to help you find the tools that you will require.
Here is a brief peek at the tools that you will need as a beginner woodworker:
For Your Safety:
- Safety glasses
- Face masks
- Heavy-duty gloves
For Your Workshop:
- The storage unit (drawers, shelves, pegboard)
For Your Basic Toolkit:
- Claw Hammers
- Wooden Mallet
- Measuring and Marking Tools
- Carving and Shaping Tools
- Utility Knife
- Power Drill
- Circular Saw
What You Need to Know Before You Buy Your Tools
So, before we move on to what tools you are going to need, let’s first take a look at some of the things you should be aware of before you go on a buying spree:
1. Create a Budget for Yourself
There is a good chance that you have a budget you need to stick to, regarding just how much you can spend on your woodworking tools. This is why you should first have some idea of what all this is going to cost you.
First of all, do you want to set up a workshop for yourself? If so, you are probably going to need about $1000, just for the basic items. You should keep in mind that this does not include the tools that you will need to get started on your projects.
Now let’s talk about how much a basic woodworking kit will cost you. Such a collection doesn’t include more advanced tools, rather consisting of hand tools. In this case, you can expect to spend around $100 to $650, depending on the quality of the tools.
Once you have graduated from the basic projects, you may be ready to get yourself some power tools. In this case, you may have to spend a few thousand dollars for all the tools you will need.
Keep in mind that especially with power tools, quality costs more. This means that if you want top-of-the-line tools, you will have to shell out a lot more in return.
2. Keep Your Collection Simple
There are so many different woodworking tools to choose from. This is why it is easy to get overexcited, imagine yourself as the next Ron Swanson, and buy everything that is on offer.
However, when you are just starting out with woodworking, you only need the basic tools. These will allow you to learn the fundamental skills involved in woodworking.
As a result, you aren’t going to need a lot of those shiny new tools until much later on. So, do yourself a favor and hold off on buying them just yet.
After all, it is only once you have gained some experience that you will truly be able to distinguish between tools that you actually need and those that are just gimmicks.
3. Always Focus on Quality
You are going to be pretty hard on your woodworking tools considering that you will have to saw, scrape, and hack away at solid pieces of wood.
This is why it is important for you to choose tools that are durable and well-made. Now, this can be a bit tricky if you want to do the majority of your shopping online, where woodworking implements tend to be cheaper.
In this situation, you should always make it a point to go through the reviews written by previous customers. This will give you a better idea of how well these tools will hold up in real-life.
The Importance of Starting with Safety Equipment
There is no denying that woodworking can be a dangerous hobby. Even if you aren’t handling power tools, there is still a lot that can go wrong.
One of the best ways to make sure that you keep all fingers and limbs intact is to make sure that you create a safe working environment for yourself.
This is why you need to start your shopping spree with safety equipment. Here are the essentials that you will need:
- Safety glasses
- Face masks
- Heavy-duty gloves
Once you begin to graduate to power tools or start working on bigger projects, then you might require more extensive safety gear. These are:
- Face shields
Remember, it isn’t just about using the right safety equipment. You should also only wear long, fitted clothing while you are working with any of your tools.
What You Need to Set Up a Workshop
You are going to need a designated space to do your woodworking since you can’t exactly set up your tools and implements in your living room.
If you are committed to improving your woodworking skills, then it is a good idea to set up a proper space for yourself.
Most people find that the garage is a good area, especially as it is far enough so that people inside your home won’t be bothered by the noise.
1. Assemble the Main Platform
If you don’t have a lot of space to work with or are only interested in learning the most rudimentary woodworking techniques, then you can start with a sawhorse.
This is essentially a simple stand that you can place wood on when sawing planks in half. It is quite handy since you can convert it into a makeshift table by placing a flat piece of wood on top of it.
After a while, though, you will find that a sawhorse alone will not be enough. Then, you will need to graduate to a workbench.
This is a sturdy platform that is able to withstand all the work that you will be doing on top of it. So, this needs to be an extremely well-constructed piece of equipment.
Interestingly enough, a lot of people choose to build their own workbench as it is quite cheap and easy to construct. So, if you prefer it, this can actually be your very first project.
2. Create Your Storage Space
All the tools you are going to be buying soon enough will need be stored somewhere.
Depending on the tools, you can either keep them up on shelves, hang them on pegboards, place them in cupboards, or store them in drawers.
It is up to you to decide on the most convenient places to keep your tools. The only thing that matters is that you store them neatly and in places that they can stay protected.
3. Set Up Separate Sections in Your Workspace
Each part of your woodworking project is going to require a different skill and an entirely new set of tools.
So, to make it easy for yourself, you should have separate sections in your workspace. For instance, one area can be where you do your measurements, the other where you do your sawing, and another for your varnishing and painting.
This way, there will be a more cohesive flow to your work.
What You Should Include In Your Elementary Toolkit
In this section, we are going to talk about the tools that are absolutely necessary for any woodworking project. These are the tools that you will continue to need, regardless of how skilled you become:
1. Claw Hammers
Claw hammers are one of the most basic tools and you probably have one lying in your house at this very moment. However, what most people don’t realize is that there are actually a few different factors to consider when choosing a hammer.
Framing vs. Finishing Hammers
First things first – you need to know what type of claw hammer you will need. Since you are only just kicking off your woodworking hobby, you can make do with a framing hammer and a finishing hammer.
What you probably have at home is a framing hammer. The sole purpose of this hammer is to generate enough force so that the nail can be jammed down into the wood as quickly as possible.
While the framing hammer is effective, it can also mar the piece of wood you are working on. So, if you want a smooth, attractive finish, this type of hammer won’t do.
This is where the finishing hammer comes in. It is lighter than the framing hammer and tends to have a smoother face as well.
As a result, it doesn’t do as much damage to the surface of the wood.
Since your projects will be rather simplistic in the beginning, you don’t have to get carried away with having too many hammers.
In most cases, a 16-ounce hammer will be suitable for most types of tasks. If you feel like you might need a little more power, it can be useful to have a 20-ounce hammer on hand as well.
At this point, it really doesn’t make sense for you to invest in heavy-duty hammers such as the 28-ounce kind. So, you should just save your money here.
While most hammer heads are made from steel, their handles can be made from a variety of materials. You are probably used to those with a slick, wooden handle.
Of course, with woodworking, you are probably going to need something a little sturdier so you may find that fiberglass or steel handles are best.
You should make sure that they are coated with a soft material like rubber, though, so that they will absorb the vibrations and impact of the hammering.
2. Wooden Mallet
Technically, a mallet falls under the category of hammers, although it is made entirely out of wood. On its own, it can be used to knock pieces of wood together. This is because it is less likely to leave marks and indentations on the surface than a steel hammer.
You can also use the wooden mallet along with a chisel. The mallet adds power to the chisel, making it easier to drive into the wood.
In this section, we will be talking about traditional saws – these are the kind that isn’t powered by electricity. You are actually going to need quite a few saws to complete different projects. Fortunately, though, since they are manual, they tend to be rather affordable.
- Cross Cut saw: this type of saw cuts across the grain of the wood, much like a knife. This type of saw has wide, discontinuous beveled teeth and is available in a range of sizes. However, you will find that 12 points per inch saw will work best for you.
- Rip Cut saw: this saw cuts along the grain and is generally used when you want more aggressive cutting momentum from your saw. With this saw, 5 or 7.5 points per inch will be suitable for most of your woodworking projects.
- Backsaw: this saw has a reinforced upper edge so that it will not buckle when you are using it. The main purpose of a backsaw is to produce fine, accurate work. Although there are various types of backsaws, a dovetail saw with 15 teeth per inch is a good pick.
- Coping saw: this kind of saw has a steel frame that is equipped with a wooden handle. The handle can be turned to tighten the blade. This saw works best for intricate woodworks.
4. Measurement and Marking Tools
You are going to learn really quickly that the key to building attractive and sturdy woodworks is accuracy and precision. This is why measuring and marking tools are an incredibly important part of your toolkit.
There is no question that you are going to rely rather heavily on your tape measure. So, for the sake of accuracy, make sure that you get one that is around 25 feet long. If you are working by yourself, you aren’t really going to need anything longer than that. You should also make sure that it is retractable.
Even as a beginner woodworker, you are going to need to have to deal with a lot of right angles. What’s more, you will have to make sure that two pieces of wood join perfectly in a ninety-degree angle. To ensure this, you will have to use a variety of measuring squares.
- Combination squares: while combination squares have a lot of uses, as a novice, you will most likely use it to check that boards that you are about to plane are square enough. A 6-inch, metal combination square will serve you well.
- Sliding bevel square: this tool isn’t used for measuring squares. Rather, it is meant to help you copy an angle on to another kind of material like lumber or moldings.
Right after measurements, the flatness of the wood that you are working with is also quite important. To make certain that your plank or block is completely flat, you will need to use a level. Since you will most likely start off working on small pieces of wood, a 6-inch and an 8-inch level will be more than enough. The best levels are made from metal or brass-edged wood.
There many different categories of screwdrivers, perhaps more than you could imagine. This is one such tool where it is actually helpful to have a few options available.
Here are the types that you should consider getting for yourself:
- Slotted or Standard screwdriver: this is the most common type of screwdriver available which is why it can be helpful to have a few of these in various sizes. They are bound to come in handy.
- Phillips screwdriver: this, too, is fairly common and easily distinguishable from other types of screwdrivers. You should have a few different sized Phillips heads so that you are covered on all occasions. It is also a good idea to get yourself a stubby Phillips driver as these are useful for tightening or loosening screws when you don’t have a lot of room.
- Heavy-duty Square blade: this kind of screwdriver is long and has a thick blade. The main purpose behind it is to provide you with additional power and torque.
- Cabinet screwdriver: this screwdriver is useful for when you have to reach into deep holes but don’t want to damage the surrounding wood.
You should always choose screwdrivers that are made from strong, durable metals. This way, you will be able to ensure that they won’t get damaged, should you have to use a little bit of force.
7. Carving and Shaping Tools
Since woodworking is more than just about cutting pieces of wood into specific shapes and sizes, you will also require carving and shaping tools.
The following tools will help you create beautiful and intricate designs:
Chisels aren’t just for carvers, they are also used to clean out joints and cuts that have been made by a saw. Now, there are a number of different chisels to choose from, but as a beginner, you should focus on regular bevel-edged chisels.
Of these, you should always keep chisels of various sizes around. Most experts would agree that having chisels from one-fourth inch to 1½ inches in one-fourth increments is a good choice.
Sometimes, when you are putting the finishing touches on your woodworking project, you will find that you need to file down small areas.
In this instance, you would use a rasp which is made up of a bar of hardened steel that has individually cut teeth.
Depending on the area that you are filing down, you can either use a flat or a round rasp.
If you are looking to finish off your woodworking project and want it nice and smooth, then you are going to need a hand plane.
The two most common types of hand planes for novices are the block plane and the bench plane.
If you don’t want to spend too much and only want to buy one kind of plane, you should stick with the block plane. It is a lot more versatile and can help smooth down various types of wood.
If you are more concerned with creating a glossy and beautiful look on your wood, however, the bench plane will be a better choice for you.
8. Utility Knife
The reason why a utility knife is such a must-have tool is that it has a number of uses in woodworking projects. For one thing, the sharpness of the blade ensures that it can cut through various materials, including wood. It can also be used for marking, cutoff, and a number of different tasks.
Now, you can’t afford to have your pieces of wood shifting around while you are trying to measure them, cut them, or assemble them.
This is why you need various clamps to help you keep them steady. Here is a list of the clamps that will be most helpful to you:
- C-clamp: this is the best option for you if you are trying to glue two pieces of wood together and need to hold them in place until the glue dries. In the beginning, you will only need the basic design.
- Pipe clamp: this is what you will need when you are working with larger pieces of wood and need considerable power to hold them together.
Do You Need Power Tools as a Novice Woodworker?
So, you may have noticed that we haven’t included any information about power tools up until now. Well, this was done on purpose.
Most experts would agree that power tools aren’t something you will need as soon as you start learning woodwork.
While they are certainly important to ensure precision and cut down on the effort involved, it is often best to pick up your skills the old-fashioned way.
That being said, at some point, you will need some power tools so that you can take your woodworking projects to the next level.
This begs the question, at this point, what will you need?
1. Power Drill
One of the first decisions that you will have to make when buying a power drill is having to choose between the corded and the cordless version.
Now, it can be tempting to pick the cordless option since it can be easier to use and certainly creates less hassle for you.
However, as far as basic power tools go, you should probably stick with the corded version. Not only is it a lot more affordable, it also offers you more power.
Once you have made your selection, it is time to move on to the wood chunk size. You will have to pick between ½ and 3/8 inches.
Most people find that the ½” chunk suits their needs well, as it lets you use larger drill bits and provides more power.
2. Circular Saw
Yet another power tool that offers more bang for its buck is the circular saw. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you can use it in a manner similar to that of a table saw.
Due to its versatility, it will make a great addition to your tool collection. To make it an even more useful tool, have several types of blades at your disposal.
You will find that a 40 tooth blade saw is great for rough cuts while an 80 tooth blade works well with materials like plywood.
When discussing power sanders, the main topic that will come up is what to select between a palm sander and a random orbital sander.
While they both do the same job, some would argue that the random orbital sander does make your life a little easier. See, it sands the wood in random directions so as to not leave a pattern.
This isn’t an advantage that you have with the palm sander.
At the same time, the RO sander does have its downfalls. For instance, it can be difficult to find discs with every grit available at hardware stores near you.
If you can’t find one, then you will not be able to use your sander.
A router helps you shape the edges of your woodworking project. So, once you have learned the basics, this becomes a pretty important tool to own.
However, since you are still learning the ropes, you will find that a stationary base router is best. This is because it will only cut at the same depth from the beginning to the end of the piece of wood.
Tips for Using Your Tools Properly
So, now that you know which traditional and power tools you need to get the job done, it is time to move on to how you should you use your tools properly.
First and foremost, you should always read the instruction manual for your power tools. This is the only way to ensure that you are using them the right way.
Not only will this help you prolong the lifespan of the tool, it will also help keep you safe.
As far as traditional tools are concerned, you will find that it is often a good idea to get some training first. At the very least, watch video tutorials online to get a gist of how these tools function.
The other important thing to keep in mind is that you should always maintain your tools. So, if they need to be oiled, sharpened, or cleaned – make it a point to do so on a regular basis.
If you take care of your tools as required, you will find that they will last a lot longer.
On a similar note, you should also store your tools properly. For instance, you should never leave them exposed to the elements but store them in a drawer or cupboard.
If you are planning to keep your tools hanging on a pegboard, make sure it is done in the right conditions so that they will not develop rust.
This concludes the guide on woodworking tools that you will need as a beginner. With these in hand, you are sure to flourish as an artist and be ready to move on to more challenging tasks.