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Basic Workshop

by CM_2016
posted 07-27-2016 07:22 PM

25 replies so far

View jwmalone's profile


768 posts in 1552 days

#1 posted 07-27-2016 07:33 PM

Look at your fathers stuff, see whats used most or what you borrow most. You have to have a skill saw, can be very versatile. Some layout tools are a must have. And a first aid kit. A good hammer. To start out you can improvise almost every thing, do it by hand and slowly add to the collection. 20 years and thousands of dollars later then the right way of doing it will come to you. Ask anyone they’ll tell ya.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4562 days

#2 posted 07-27-2016 07:38 PM

Hammer, saw, screw drivers of the common variety and sizes, pliers, and a good supply of elbow grease would be a good start. Stay on good terms with your father so you can borrow tools until you can afford to buy your own :-) would be a tactic I would use also, LOL!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View KelleyCrafts's profile


4325 posts in 1589 days

#3 posted 07-27-2016 07:46 PM

Definitely look at your father’s most used gear. The other posts are good, also you will need a drill and some bits. Can’t think of many projects around the house where you won’t use one.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View MikesProjects's profile


172 posts in 2752 days

#4 posted 07-27-2016 07:53 PM

Skill saw, jig saw & plug in drill, 50’ extension cord, saw horses , All these can be purchased at walmart on a budget…Skill makes good budget friendly tools, Ryobi is also good if your on a budget…...... maybe a table saw & maybe a belt sander… Now an air compressor & nail gun would be considered intermediate woodworking, you asked for Basic. You can make workbenches, carts, sawhorses & more shop furniture with these basic tools. For the first 6 years of my adult hood I worked out of a shed.
Being on a budget stick with plug in tools, they should last a long time where battery power cost money over time. Ryobi makes a decent 18v battery drill if the budget allows. Don’t get caught up in buying the best of anything as some may suggest. As the years pass and tools are replaced only then should they be upgraded. Your father may have doubles he could kick down. I moved out when I was 19 years old & bought these basic tools myself from walmart. I remember the skill brand jigsaw saw 19.99, the skill brand circular saw was 29.99 & the plug in skill drill was 19.99., I too was on a budget. Today I make a living doing wood working, lol

-- -Mike, Southern California, YouTube User ( Give & Take )

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1598 days

#5 posted 07-27-2016 11:19 PM

I was making small rather crude wooden stools with the most basic of hand tools. Then, for Christmas, my wife got me a Ridgid fold up table saw. Things got out of hand after that. I got a bench top band saw, a bench top drill press, made a small simple collapsible router table. Then a bench top jointer and then a bench top planer. All that was in the garage. It all started with the table saw. Now I have a nice workshop with probably 20% more tools than I really need.

That said, my early woodworking mentor had taught high school wood shop for 35 years. He did amazing things with not that many power tools. He had jigs made for everything, and could do unbelievable things with jigs and his router. I used to marvel at his jigs and wondered how he even came up with the ideas.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1770 days

#6 posted 07-28-2016 02:35 AM


It sounds like my son is pretty much where you are in terms of tools. He had none and now needs some. However, unlike you, he has no interest, at least at this time, in developing furniture making skills. On those occasions where he has a furniture type project, we spend bonding time in my workshop. Here has been my advice to him geared toward home repairs and improvements.

1) A multiple piece set of wrenches and pillars (~$50 – $75)

2) A set of screw drivers (~$20)

3) A set of spring clamps (~$10)

4) A Ryboi (Home Depot) Combo 18 volt cordless kit. His includes the drill/driver, flashlight, reciprocating saw, circular trim saw two Li batteries and charger. Ryobi is affordable and range of other tools not included in the kit can be purchased as needed at a later time. (~$200)

5) A sliding compound mitre saw with stand. He found good value buying a Kobalt (Lowes) saw and stand (~$350)

6) As a project comes along requiring some tool not in the arsenal, include the price of the tool in the project budget and buy the best tool possible on the budget.

View Dustin's profile


707 posts in 1590 days

#7 posted 07-28-2016 01:29 PM

I only saw it mentioned once by Jbrow, but I’ll second the reciprocating saw.
I worked as a tradesman for 4 years, and always used my recip. saw from my work tools around the house. When I left that job (and that tool behind), I replaced my drill and impact driver, but didn’t think I’d miss the saw.

I was way off.

It’s one of those things that when you need it, you REALLY need it. If you plan on doing any sort of demo, or work on railings/fences, it’s pretty invaluable. If you’ll be doing this kind of stuff but only occassionally, you might make do with a hacksaw, but be prepared to get a workout.

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2845 days

#8 posted 07-28-2016 02:51 PM

I hope this doesn’t become too controversial, but Harbor Freight is made for people in just your situation.

Go there and get all your hand tools. Screw driver set, socket set, end wrenches…etc. they are the cheapest around but their hand tools work fine for light to moderate home use. Levels, squares, tape measures,clamps….all very use able fromy HF.

Take the money you saved and get a name brand skill saw, maybe a reciprocating saw. The dremel multimedia and other flush cut saws are handy too, but that is a second or third tier. A 10” compound miter saw will have lots of uses too and you might find that an early purchase.

A vintage tuned Stanley #5 from a trusted LJ seller would be super handy. Also a palm sander or ROS.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2845 days

#9 posted 07-28-2016 02:54 PM

I should have also mentioned…a nice cordless 18 or 20v drill…


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

147 posts in 1554 days

#10 posted 07-28-2016 03:52 PM

Wood magazine has a currently running series on outfitting a shop on a budget. The premise is building a complete workshop in a year by spending (or saving) a little bit each paycheck:

Even if you don’t follow the program to the letter, there are still good ideas on how to stretch your budget, how to prioritize what tools you need, and how to extend the utility of your tools with jigs and such.

I’d also endorse the recommendation to stay on your father’s good side. Borrowed tools cost next-to-nothing :)

Also endorse shopping at Harbor Freight or the like. Sure, you’re not gonna find any heirlooms that you’ll pass down to your grandchildren. But they’ll get you in the shop having fun and making sawdust!

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1598 days

#11 posted 07-28-2016 05:43 PM

Harbor Freight was a good suggestion. A close friend, now deceased, used nothing but HF tools. Even had the HF jointer. And, there are several Ryobi tools at Home Depot that are decent. I have two 18V drill drivers that will not die. Batteries die, but they are reasonably priced. I have a Ryobi belt sander that won’t die, and a spindle sander that gets a lot of use. Same with my scroll saw. My air compressor is from HF. All my nail guns are Bostich, but my buddies nail guns were all HF. A fellow doesn’t have to have ‘the good stuff’ for woodworking, though the better tools are good to have.

I have another buddy that only buys the good stuff – Powermatic and such – but he never builds anything.

View MikesProjects's profile


172 posts in 2752 days

#12 posted 07-28-2016 09:29 PM

A fellow doesn t have to have the good stuff for woodworking, though the better tools are good to have.

I have another buddy that only buys the good stuff – Powermatic and such – but he never builds anything.

- Kirk650

Hahh, the buddy that has the fancy tools is probably a tool collector. It’s the ides that you “could” build anything but life happens, some people have better opportunities than others. I know of several fellas like this. There is a good guy who occasionally posts some of his tools on CL, I purchased a disc sander from him & recognize his shop from his ads. His clean garage shop is full of the best stuff, his tools are perfect looking, no dust anywhere on his epoxy floor.

Sometimes being at the right place at the right time pays off (craigslist comes to mind) I’ve purchased several shop tools that were such great deals I couldn’t pass them up, even though I didn’t really need them at the time. Its called thinking ahead or perhaps tool collecting???

I agree with buying at HarborFreight, if you can break a tool from there than one can consider upgrading to something better later. Also, Im all over the clearance section at the box stores. I like to collect tools that are marked down more than 50% – 75% off… BlackFriday through the new year is a great time to purchase new tools, after christmas everything gets marked down. People can begin saving money now to buy then, November is right around the corner.

-- -Mike, Southern California, YouTube User ( Give & Take )

View jwmalone's profile


768 posts in 1552 days

#13 posted 07-29-2016 12:45 AM

Yeap I go along with harbor freight, You can save a bundle picking up hand tools there. Also agree with stick to corded power tool, much cheaper, ive got an old craftman I bought used 12 years ago and I use it a lot.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Woodknack's profile


13473 posts in 3230 days

#14 posted 07-29-2016 05:55 AM

The downside of buying cheap is that you are stuck with tools that are sometimes more frustrating and difficult to use than something halfway decent. One example is a jig saw, a common first saw, cheap ones can be very frustrating which is why I typically recommend buying the best Bosch you can afford even if it’s used off Craigslist. Hand saws are another example where you don’t want to cheap out.

I wrote this up for someone else and saved it. More woodworking focused than general DIY.

You’ll be sawing wood on probably every project you ever build so don’t skimp on saws. A good circular saw will get your far, a tablesaw will get you farther. Handsaws are nice but buy them as you need them and don’t skimp.
- Table saw vs. band saw: At some point you’ll come to this dilemma; it boils down to if you’re cutting mostly regular quadrilaterals the tablesaw wins. If you are cutting irregular shapes, circles, and resawing lumber a good quality 14” (or bigger) band saw wins. Tablesaws can also do mouldings and cove cuts. In my opinion, the tablesaw is the most versatile tool in a woodworking shop, arguably second only to the router.
- Jig saws are overrated as beginner tools, wait until you know you need one then buy the best Bosch you can afford. Buying a used one is fine.
- Routers are multi-purpose tools, there are so many jigs that extend their use it’s worth buying a good one and eventually several.
- Drills, you’ll probably use a hand drill more often than a drill press but a press is nice when you need a straight hole or want to use Forstner bits. Don’t go overboard on a hand drill, just buy a decent one and save up for a drill press. A cheap drill press is better than no drill press.
- Clamps, you can never have too many… short, med, long, bar, C, spring, all sorts, all sizes, all useful. Buy ‘em as you need ‘em.
- Hand planes, very handy. The more they cost the nicer they generally are to use and the better they perform. But you can get good performance with inexpensive planes if you are willing to put some elbow grease into flattening/sharpening/etc.
- Squares are good investments and quality versions are money well spent. In the beginning you can get by with carpentry grade squares, I have several varieties of speed squares. You’ll also want a quality combination square – don’t go cheap or it’ll be an aggravation.
- Sanding: everything has to be sanded. A ROS is very nice but there will be times when you may want a finish or belt sander.
- Workbench: you can get by with whatever in the beginning but eventually you realize that a proper woodworking bench is indispensable. A woodworking bench is more than a table, it is a work holding device.
- Jointer: you’ll want one down the road, they make your life easier and projects better.

-Rick M

-- Rick M,

View becikeja's profile


1131 posts in 3663 days

#15 posted 07-29-2016 10:29 AM

I think my son-in-law has the right plan. Every time they come to visit, he talks me into upgrading one of my tools. Then miraculously my old ones end up at his house. Hmmmm??

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View CM_2016's profile


13 posts in 1566 days

#16 posted 07-29-2016 09:09 PM

I think my son-in-law has the right plan. Every time they come to visit, he talks me into upgrading one of my tools. Then miraculously my old ones end up at his house. Hmmmm??

- becikeja

I suppose that’s what I should do with my dad too! Haha. What are people’s thoughts on some of the Home Depot/Lowes “brand” tools as compared to some of the big names?

-- Greatness is a lot of small things done well everyday- Ray Lewis

View torea's profile


24 posts in 1720 days

#17 posted 08-11-2016 07:41 PM

Clamps! My dad and I survived through a ton of projects with three craftsman quick release clamps, but since I started pouring more money into this hobby we’ve upgraded our clamp selection significantly and it has been really great. Glue ups are much easier; we make better use of our small shop by sorting the chop saw and router table, then clamping them to the workbench for quick usage; clamp stuff together as a third hand while putting in screws; reverse them into spreaders for all sorts of uses. Clamps. =P

As far as sexy tools go, I can’t overstate how big a difference the bench top band saw has been for us. We’re so much more likely to knock out small projects cause we can cut small boards down to size. The table saw is very useful still but a lot of my small projects now just use the 7-1/4” sliding miter and our 10” band saw.

View hackery's profile


49 posts in 1561 days

#18 posted 08-11-2016 08:40 PM

Not much to add here but…

- Hammer

- Set of screwdrivers (including flat / slotted head you would be surprised the amount of crap that still using slotted head screws)

- Decent crosscut saw (the Irwin Evo assuming it’s sold in the US is a superb and very cheap under $8 hand saw)

- Adjustable spanner / wrench (although a set of cheap spanners is better)

- Cordless drill with hammer action (can be used as a standard drill, hammer drill and driver) and a cheap drill bit and driver bit set

- Tape measure

- Spirit Level

- Jigsaw

- A workbench be it a sheet of ply across two saw horses, a folding Black and Decker Workmate type job or a proper in garage / shed workbench and a vise. I couldn’t operate without a vise for pretty much all jobs.

- Irwin quick release bar clamps (they are cheap and pretty much every woodworker world wide uses them)

- Cheap hand held belt sander (can be used as standard or turned upside down in vise if you have one and used as a bench sander)

- Cheap 3 pack of chisels (Irwin Marbles are a good choice)

I think I should get a job promoting Irwin products!

Slightly Fancier

- Block plane (very handy)

- No.4 hand plane (smoothing…. can pretty much handle all planing jobs in a pinch)

-- Notice woodworker and now metal worker - Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3717 days

#19 posted 08-11-2016 08:54 PM

When I got started over 40 years ago I bought $1000 dollars worth of good quality hand tools. I never regretted it. You can build a lot of things with just hand tools. A while after that I added some more hand tools but also started to add a portable power tool every so often. I didn’t add any stationary power tools for a good while. You can build just about anything with just hand tools and the portable power tools and won’t break the bank account. I never regretted the way that I did it. Eventually I ended up with a pretty nice shop. A few years later (about 3 years ago) I built my dream shop and added a few more stationary power tools. I still have all of those original hand tools that I started with along with others I added over the years.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Richard's profile


1940 posts in 3540 days

#20 posted 08-11-2016 09:24 PM

Well if most of it is currently for Home Repairs don’t forget Plumbing and Electrical Repair tools as well as Painting supplies.

My List for Home Repair

Power Tools all corded Batteries are Expensive and corded have more power IMHO .
7 1/4 ” Circular saw – 24 tooth blades and 40 tooth blades Maybe a 60 tooth blade if you do a lot of plywood cutting.
3/8” and 1/2” Drill and bits – regular wood/metal bits , Spade Bits , Hole Saw set , Brad Point bits , Forstner bits.
Jig Saw – Wood Blades fine and course , Metal Blades fine and course
Reciprocating saw with wood and metal blades fine and course
Random Orbit Sander – lots of different grit paper
Belt Sander and belts in different grits
Sliding Miter Saw 10” – you can do a lot with one of these .

Open and Box end combo set 1/4” to 1 1/4”
Socket Wrench sets – 3/8” and 1/2” sets
Pipe Wrenches 3 piece set small to large
Crescent/Adjustable wrenches another 3 piece set
Allen/Hex wrenches – SAE and Metric sets

Regular Slip Joint – 2 sets of different sizes
Tongue and Groove – set of 3 or 4 sizes
Vise Grip/Locking Pliers – another set of 3 or 4 sizes
Needle Nose Pliers – short and long nose

Screw Drivers – a good size set of 10 or so maybe 2 sets because some times you need 2 of the same size.

Hammers – 16oz. Rip and Claw – 20 or 24 oz. Framing – Ball Peen 3 or 4 piece set – 1 or 2 lb. Dead Blow – 1 lb. Rubber Mallet and maybe a 6 or 8 lb. Sledge hammer

Measuring and Misc.
Tape Measure – 3 or 4 12’ to 25’
Measuring reel – 50 to 100’
Framing Square
Speed Squares small and large
Levels -1’ , 4’ and 6’
Pry or Crow Bars – a few different sizes will come in handy
Hand Saw – 18” to 24” general purpose rip/crosscut
Hack Saw – fine and course blades
Bow Saw – the kind for trimming trees not woodworking
Round Nose and Square Nose Shovels
Bypass Pruner and Lopper for trimming tress and shrubs .
Garden Hose and Nozzle
Electrical Multimeter and electrical tape
Step Ladder 4’ and 8’
Extension Ladder – 14’ to 24’ – Goanna have to clean out those gutters sometime.
A workmate or something similar as a basic workbench to start.

And not to forget the Favorite one of all – A Drain Snake and Plunger for clearing out clogged toilet and kitchen drains

And the list goes on and on and I know I left out a Lot of stuff you will need.

And this is just the Home DIY stuff not even getting into the Woodworking yet , but you could make stuff like saw horses and picnic tables and lawn chairs and other things with these tools.
And you can get a lot of the hand tools from HF but I would pretty much stay away from their power tools unless you really know how to check them out and make sure they are going to be good for you.

Have Fun and see how much stuff you can Borrow from Dad. Plus don’t forget to ask him what stuff he has that he doesn’t use and doesn’t think you would need either , he knows what he bought and never used.

View Richard's profile


1940 posts in 3540 days

#21 posted 08-11-2016 10:26 PM

I think my son-in-law has the right plan. Every time they come to visit, he talks me into upgrading one of my tools. Then miraculously my old ones end up at his house. Hmmmm??

- becikeja

My Daughter seems to have a similar process , Every time I visit her she has something that needs fixed or made and doesn’t have the tool to do it. Somehow buy the time I leave she has the tool required for the job and most often the job has been done (by me of course) but she does help and learns to use the tool properly and safely.

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


5840 posts in 3201 days

#22 posted 08-12-2016 01:49 AM

Circular saw, jig saw, cordless drill or two, router, jack plane and a couple of chisels. For first project, build a couple of saw horses so you have a work surface. You could build a lot of things w/ just those tools.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View wmgworks's profile


196 posts in 1835 days

#23 posted 08-12-2016 06:08 PM

As someone who has just started getting his feet wet in this same area I cannot tell you how invaluable my ryobi 18v drill/driver set has been. The wife groans whenever I say I have to buy a new tool, but every time she sees me using the drill or driver (which is a lot!) she reminds me how it’s the best gift she ever gave me.

It’s OK when starting out to go cheap. You don’t know what you don’t know. As your skill and needs progress, you will know what you don’t like about the tool you currently have and be able to make a more informed purchase on the upgrade.

I’d also advocate buying tools as you need them in the beginning. I went down that road of initial excitement – buy all the tools I thought i needed – and some have yet to be used a year later.

The way I justify buying tools is this: if we hired someone to do this job it would cost us X. At the end, we would have a finished product. If I do it, it will cost us Y because I have to buy tools at the same time. Most of the time, for the smaller stuff, it will be less. For bigger projects (like the first time you need the miter saw) it might be more. But you will have it for the next time you need it, and THAT project will be less.

Things I suggest getting off the bat are:
- Drill/driver set
- Claw Hammer
- screwdrivers
- Jeweler’s set (whatever you call those really tiny screwdriver sets) – lots of electronics need small screwdrivers
- tape measure
- level
- pliers
- wire snips
- cheap socket set (metric and imperial)
- cheap wrenches (metric and imperial)
- vise grips
- something to measure squareness – be it a framing square or speed square. You will eventually want both
- hack saw

Add as needed
- circ saw
- jig saw
- clamps
- chisels
- planes
- sanders

My first “big” purchase was was a Hitachi 10” miter saw from Lowes for about $130. It works great for me.

One of my favorite parts of the hobby is making my own tools. Marking gauges, mallets, jigs, etc. Makes it much more fulfilling for me. And, as bondogaposis said your first project should be sawhorses.

Good luck!

-- Butchering wood since 2015

View JackDuren's profile


1324 posts in 1809 days

#24 posted 08-14-2016 04:12 PM

If you are going to be starting from scratch, and don t have much cash to spend, what basic tools would you recommend for someone who wants to be able to handle everyday maintenance around a house, and maybe a few small DIY furniture projects from time to time?

I am going out on my own soon away from my father s supply of good power tools and such and would love to hear what you all recommend as the necessities.

- CM_2016

You’ll actually learn as you go. You have birthdays right?

View BigYin's profile


421 posts in 3266 days

#25 posted 08-14-2016 04:24 PM

where ever you are going to work, Garage Basement Shed wher ever before you fill it with tools Insulate it and add a few extra sockets 4foot 6ins from floor. if the light is bad concider your lighting.
Then fill it with bench tools etc

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

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