An internet search to “woodworking tools for beginners” comes up with nearly two million pages to read! Good luck. I’ve looked at a few dozen and find that:
- Many pages are just reformatted copies of other pages. I thought that was illegal!
- Some pages are written by wood supply retailer or tool manufacturers. Guess what – no kidding – the tool they make or sell is on their list of most wanted.
- Woodworkers and cabinetmakers that have websites making a little cash by writing posts are happy to share their opinion, experience, and knowledge with others.
There are top 10, top 8, and top 11 lists you “Must read.” Most of the lists overlap by a large amount. However, this is not a surprise. Because indeed there is a core number of essential woodworking tools for beginners but a list is not the place to start.
Background: Why I know about woodworking tools for beginners
Before I started SketchList 3D I had my own shop. And that was an experience! I made mistakes. Wrong tools – cool but rarely used. Buying low cost – and usually low quality. And my worst enemy – buying stuff at woodworking shows. And they say you shouldn’t go shopping without a list! But I did. Does anyone want to buy some used tools?
Since I developed my woodworking software, I have trained thousands of woodworkers how to use it. Each person – during the training – related to their experience in getting started. They answer why the need my software – which is very closely related to why they are starting woodworking.
From that background, when I think more about woodworking tools for beginners, rather than make a list I have a series of questions to ask.
Motivation Determines What Are the Essential Woodworking Tools for Beginners
What is motivating you to get into woodworking? Believe it or not, this is a bit of a shortlist of all the answers I have heard.
- Picking up a new skill or hobby.
- Retiring and want to start a side-hustle.
- Helping a church, school or Boy Scout troop.
- Remodeling the kitchen or garage.
- Toys for the kids or storage for the stuff they already have.
Related to the motivation is to know what is your timeframe or outlook?
- One time – quick start, quick end – an entertainment center for the new wider TV.
- Occasional project and maybe grow into more projects. Many people do woodworking in the winter to offset the lack of golf, fishing, or camping.
- Long term investment – Want to learn skills and techniques using high-end tools and equipment.
What type of woodworking project are you working on?
Examine what you want to build and how you want to build it to see what is really needed to accomplish your goals. This will determine what kinds of tools you need, their quality, and their function.
This is very simplistic, I know.
|This desk looks like a big challenge to determine essential woodworking tools for beginners. But like any task, it breaks down to several relatively easy steps or processes.
Basically, you will cut and assemble lots of boards that are rectangular or square. Then you will join them together using one of several joinery methods.
Cutting and joinery all require some sort of tool.
|The table base for a glass top is a bit more complex.
Like the desk, at a basic level, this table requires cutting boards and joining them together.
Because of the curves, it introduces another type of woodworking process – and therefore a new tool.
Anything can be broken down into its parts.
This kitchen cabinet might be seen as complex to make. Breaking it down there is a fixed number of boards with a fixed number of cuts. Now some are plywood, and some are solid lumber. And more joinery is required for assembly but that really doesn’t mean the woodworking tools needed are more complex.
First, you just need the ability to cut a straight line. So a saw is required. And a table to hold the parts down.
There are all types of saws: here are the top 3 types of saws.
- For the long cuts, a hand saw is probably out since you need a straight line. A circular saw will work if you have a straight edge to guide it. And of course, a table to cut it on – don’t use the garage floor! A table saw will cut it straight to the size you set and hold the board while it is being cut.
- For the short crosscuts, you can get a miter box or miter saw for 90-degree cuts.
- By the way – a scroll saw will cut the curves on the table base.
You put the boards together using different types of joinery.
There are several options, and each has advantages and disadvantages:
- The simple approach is to butt the boards together with glue and nails or screws. So you probably need a nail gun [electric, or air gun nailer with a compressor]. And certainly, you can use a screwdriver [not really the best] or a power drill.
- Pocket hole joinery is popular and effective. You use some clamps and a jig/fixture to hold the boards while you drill a hole at an angle that hits both boards. Then you glue the boards and drill a special screw into the holes to bind the boards together.
There are other options – but this post is for beginners and I am really just sharing a bit of logic or approach. See more on joinery.
Summary: Thoughts on Woodworking Tools for Beginners
- Consider what you are making and what cuts and joinery is needed for it.
- What is your budget? Pennywise can be pound foolish.
- Can you beg or borrow tools from the neighbor? Heck, I have all sorts of my neighbor’s stuff!
- Another great option – see if your local schools offer workshop classes. They usually find themselves well equipped.
I my opinion, the most important tool is a good and careful drawing and plan. A bad plan, or one made up on the fly, is the worst possible tool to have in your shop.