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Forum topic by LucasWoods posted 10-03-2014 04:06 AM 2131 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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448 posts in 2408 days

10-03-2014 04:06 AM

I am new to woodworking and would like your opinions on some tools that I will need to complete even easy projects.

Currently i have:

Circular saw; 12V drill, 3ft metal level, and then your odds and ends like a hammer, screwdriver etc.

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

26 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11187 posts in 4723 days

#1 posted 10-03-2014 04:27 AM

Well, it depends if you want to make things like
bookshelves or just do some carpentry. I could
build a shed or a variety of outdoor carpentry
projects with the tools you have.

If you want to make some furniture or decorative
items you may find you want to put some
curved parts in them for decoration and for
that a coping saw and a rasp or two come
in handy. A jig saw will work too.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 4146 days

#2 posted 10-03-2014 04:32 AM

Do you have more time or more money? That will largely dictate which tools you buy. You can do pretty much anything with a circular saw and drill, but it takes a lot longer to set up your cuts, especially if you don’t have a zero-clearance straightedge guide for the circular saw.

I was in your place several years ago. I wasted a lot of time trying to avoid buying a table saw because I was worried I’d injure myself. I should have just bought a bandsaw or a SawStop right from the start instead of trying to make small incremental improvements to my tool collection.

Here’s what I would do if I had to start all over again:

Buy a table saw and a few sheets of good quality 3/4” Baltic Birch plywood. The first thing you should make is a zero-clearance straightedge guide for your circular saw. Then make a crosscut sled. After that, make an edge jointing jig and whatever jigs/fixtures seem like they’ll be handy.

Get a second drill. You want one to drill holes and another to drive. Optionally get a third drill so you can countersink, too, all without having to fuss with changing bits back and forth for each hole.

Buy good quality parallel clamps when they go on sale. Also buy a couple gear clamps. Quick Grips are okay but not great. If you get Quick Grip-style clamps, get a couple of the standard ones but mostly stick to the Quick Grip XL ones that have a higher clamping pressure.

Get a thickness planer and make a face jointing sled for it from a long thick piece of MDF. You’ll also need a box of business cards (to use as shims) and a hot glue gun.

It’s also nice to have a router, depending on what you want to do. If you get a router, build a router table for it.

Make sure you get some hand tools, too. These let you fine-tune and clean up your power tool work to make things fit nicely.

3 or 4 used Stanley hand planes depending on what you want to do (general recommendations are usually block plane or rabbeting block plane, jack plane, and router plane or shoulder plane)

Some chisels—something like a 3/8” and 3/4”, at the very least.

Sharpening supplies—coarse, medium, and super-fine 3”x8” diamond stones. Also consider getting an Arkansas stone and/or a leather strop and some honing compound.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View B4B's profile


173 posts in 2433 days

#3 posted 10-03-2014 04:33 AM

The types of woodworking projects people do are varied, take a look at the project gallery and you’ll see bandsaw boxes, wood carvings, tables, chairs, cutting boards, cabinets, toys, small projects to big projects. Anything you can make out of wood, is probably showcased here. Some projects require an extensive assortment of power tools, while others only require a modest set of hand tools.

Figure out what projects you want to do, and build your tool collection from there.

For me, I’ve gotten away with nothing more than a tablesaw (old 70s craftsman contractor), a power drill and an assortment of hand tools. I’ve also not completed many complex projects. Only recently have I gotten into projects that would be easier with additional tools, but I did get though them just fine without, it just took a little longer.

Remember this whether you are building a hobby shop or a production shop: Easy jobs will be harder with the wrong tool, while hard jobs will be easier with the right tools.

Watch the Craigslist tool section, there can be deals to be had there. Everything from people cleaning out production shops to hobby shops that are upgrading equipment, but do watch out. If a deal is too good to be true, it may be. Inspect every used tool carefully, always assume private sales are final. There’s a lot of good advise hidden in old LJ threads, so a quick search here is worth while.

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

View knotscott's profile


8416 posts in 4450 days

#4 posted 10-03-2014 09:37 AM

It depends on what you do…..dimensional lumber, sheetgoods, and turning all require different tools. You can do a lot with a circular saw and a straight edge. Adding a router isn’t overly expensive and adds a lot of capability.

I tend to use primarily dimensional lumber….a good table saw, planer, jointer, and router are at the top of my list, followed by BS and DP.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 3680 days

#5 posted 10-03-2014 10:40 AM

So folks have hit on this already but what the heck, might as well throw my 2 cents in as well

It depends on what you want to make.

You say you want tools needed to complete easy projects. Well there are two ways you can go. If all you want to do is turn pens, bowls, and vases etc. Then all you need is a lathe and bandsaw. With those 2 you can pretty much do whatever you need to for lathe work. You would also need a bunch of chisels for the lathe and accessories etc, but power tool wise you would be done.

If on the otherhand you want to make furniture, and boxes etc. Then you need the following in this order.

1) Table Saw
2) Jointer
3) Planer
4) Bandsaw or Jigsaw (depending on money)
5) Drill Press

As you buy more tools the more sophisticated the projects you can make. I made a cuttingboard as my first project with nothing more then a table saw and a random orbit sander. And there is lots of small projects that would only need the table saw and some other small hand tools to make. Once you start getting into sophisticated boxes or furniture you will need the others.

View Blackcatbone's profile


32 posts in 2426 days

#6 posted 10-03-2014 12:08 PM

I’m fairly new to it myself and don’t just work with wood, but the tool I’ve used the most, hands down, is this Porter Cable sander I’ve used it for hours at a time, not just on wood but metal and solid surface (Corian) and it’s a workhorse, heavy enough to do a lot of the work for you but not so heavy as to wear you out. Also doesn’t vibrate your hand to death. It’ll do a lot for you until you figure out if you need more specialized sanders.

-- . . . it's cheaper than therapy.

View OSU55's profile


2792 posts in 3064 days

#7 posted 10-03-2014 12:24 PM

Provide more input on what you want to build and it helps narrow down the tool list or what $ level of tool to get. I made a lot of items – simple shelves, workbench, tool storage cabinet, etc – with what you have. For the most part there are many ways to accomplish the same thing, so you will get many differing opinions for what is needed as you progress through building up a shop full of tools. For instance many will recommend a jointer – instead I use a planer and an mdf bed to flatten board faces, and a hand plane to joint edges. The hand plane is also used to flatten panel glue ups.

Available space to store the tools plays a big role as well. I would love a full size cabinet saw with infeed/outfeed tables but I don’t have room. So, I use a smaller footprint table saw that I can roll out of the way when not in use.

Just as building something requires designing and planning, the workshop does to. Money and space are the main driving factors.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26186 posts in 4180 days

#8 posted 10-03-2014 01:01 PM

First of all , WELCOME TO LUMBERJOCKS. you find this the best woodworking website on the net.

To answer which tools you’ll need will depend on which way you want to go. If you are starting out and have just what you listed, you should get a good combination square that is truly square. Avoid Harbor Freight for this kind of tool. Look in garage sales and on Craigslist and E bay to get a 12” combo square made by Lufkin, Starret Brown and Sharpe or some old Stanley square are pretty accurate .
Get a full set of screwdrivers- HF one are okay for that. Get a good set of drills that are high speed steel. Old used ones are good if they are a name brand like Cleveland. The HF drills would be okay for wood for a starter set. You’ll need a center punch, a set of wood chisels ( 1/4 to 1”), a good 48” straight edge – it could be wood but aluminum is nice if you find one.Get an assortment of clamps ( C clamps and squeeze clamps) .A good scissors for cutting patterns and a hand held jig saw for cutting curves and a power sander- a random orbit would be nice and they are getting cheaper..

When you can afford it, you should have a table saw with a fence you can trust. And make lot of pusher stick so you always keep your fingers away from the blade. A band saw , drill press and jointer would be next.
These tools are always for sale at garage sales and on Craigslist. I have been asked to list lots of them for friends who have died and their widows want the stuff gone. I just posted three table saws , 2 belt sanders, a scroll saw and a jointer yesterday in our area on CL.

Be resourceful and go to garage sales and flea markets with the list of what you need so you remember when you see something at a good price and don’t be afraid to haggle on price- it is your money and you want the most you can get.

Good luck and I look forward to your projects!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 2495 days

#9 posted 10-03-2014 01:11 PM

I may as well throw my two cents worth in as well. As mentioned, money and space, no doubt, are a dominating factor in deciding what tools you can or can not afford, but, if you can get to an estate sale, or some thing of the sort, you’ll pick up tools that are affordable, and still have a lot of life left in them. Like hand planes, sanders, drills, chisels, etc. And most of the older gentlemen took pretty good care of their tools, as well. Depending on your goals & abilities, a router, a few bits, maybe consider making yourself a few jigs for your router. When I first started, I had just the basic tools, about the same as you, and a router. Once I figured out the endless production, shall we say, I could manage with the router, I took off from there. Once you figure out what you want to create, and what direction you want to go, then you can decide what tools you need to purchase. Work safe, & enjoy your project!

-- Sawdust703

View dbray45's profile


3408 posts in 3852 days

#10 posted 10-03-2014 01:35 PM

First things first – before you buy anything – think.

You will need a table saw but there are a few things you need to do first – table saws

1.) Do you have space for a real cabinet saw or would a contractor saw be more in order (wheels on the bottom).

2.) the little $100 – $120 table saws are far more dangerous than an bigger and heavier duty table saw. These little saws are great throw away after the project is done type of saws. If it has a direct drive motor – blade is attached to the motor – do not buy it! You will not be able to get the smooth cuts you need or run a piece of 2” oak through it cleanly. Even some of the bigger contractor saws have a hard time with this.

Band saws You will need a minimum of a 1 hp motor to re-saw anything worth a darn – 1 1/2 – 2 hp is recommended. The little ones are great for making small stuff.

Hand tools – get old rusty ones and clean them up. Does several things. 1.) teaches you how they work

2.) teaches how to clean them up

3.) teaches you how to sharpen them

4.) the prices are much better and if you break it – it is better to break a $25 rusty plane than a $400 Lie Nielsen plane

5. teaches you how to sharpen hand saws – same if you mess it up you can always cut it up to be a bunch of card scrapers

A set of $25.00 chisels at Harbor Freight will teach you how to sharpen chisels – because the steel is crap but once learned, you will know all the ins and outs of how to enjoy a $300 set of chisels.

A decent wood mallet is a good thing, so is a dead blow hammer.

To learn how to clean up planes, saws, and even make your own, they are this site – you will be amazed at the material here – all it takes is the time to find it.

Good luck, enjoy, and be safe. If your brain tells you it is stupid and doing this is going to hurt – it will!
and finally – the sharper it is, the more it cuts the wood – not you.

Lastly – Always always always – do not let your fingers or anything that could bleed get within 3” of a moving blade. Use a push stick, a piece of scrap – doesn’t matter. If you need to touch it – unplug it or tag it to be off at the breaker.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View LucasWoods's profile


448 posts in 2408 days

#11 posted 10-03-2014 01:45 PM

Holy cow thank you all for the awesome replies! I have about equal time and money. I am in the Air Force so I am looking I guess for equiment that wouldn’t be that hard to Load into a uhaul. I agent reading all the posts yet but when i do I will give you all a little more info as to hat I want to accomplish/learn.

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


5986 posts in 3426 days

#12 posted 10-03-2014 01:58 PM

I say select a project first, then acquire the tools you need as you go.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LucasWoods's profile


448 posts in 2408 days

#13 posted 10-03-2014 02:01 PM

Ok so I finished ready all of your posts and all of your ideas are great!

I plan on making furniture. Mainly bookshelves, coffee tables, end tables, maybe a platform bed, and tables/chairs

I don’t have a large budget at all and I need all my tools especially large ones to be portable since I am in the Air Force and can expect to move every 3-4 years.

I have a 1 1/2 car garage to work in. But the caveat is when I move I may not have a workspace.

I am just scared to spend big $ on bandsaws, routers, planers etc…

My intentions are to get quality hand tools and maybe a bandsaw depending on price so I can build a few bookshelves or coffee tables. So I can learn and hone my skills (cause I have none). When in do some good projects my wife will be more open to letting me get bigger more expensive stuff.

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3750 days

#14 posted 10-03-2014 02:44 PM

Does the base have a hobby shop? When I was in the USAF they had large woodworking shops. You could go there and pay a fee for the use of the shop. It was a great deal because their budget was much larger than mine when I was making $138 a month. I left active duty 40 years ago so things might have changed but check this out.

View LucasWoods's profile


448 posts in 2408 days

#15 posted 10-03-2014 02:53 PM

They have closed all the hobby shops excep for auto hobby

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

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