There are such a vast amount of woodworking tools available on the market that it is common to feel overwhelmed. Beginners may fall into a rabbit hole of spending thousands of dollars on tools they deem necessary even when they don’t have to.
The essential tools for beginners do not have to cost an arm and a leg.
It’s important to note there are five categories of tools for woodwork.
- Holding raw materials under construction.
These five classes of tools contain everything that is necessary to build both simple and complex woodwork projects.
We have written this guide to show you which tools to prioritize to declutter the shopping process for you.
In summary, you need the following tools we have listed as essential to begin your woodwork projects:
- Power Saw
- Hand saw
- Tape measure
- Screw gun
1. Woodworking Saws
The beginning of the woodworking project normally involves cutting the wood stock. Every magnificent wooden creation likely began as a rough piece of lumber. It was ripped and cut through until it started taking shape.
Saws are the implements used in this cutting stage. There are different shapes and sizes of saws based on the types of woodcutting you are doing.
Here are the types of saws you can include in your collection.
All brands of circular saws are electric but the power ratings vary. The most common types are corded and work well with domestic currency. However, cordless circular saws are making quite an entrance into the market.
There are three kinds of blades found in circular saws:
- Crosscut blade – It cuts through the grain. Crosscut blades have careened teeth.
- Ripping blade – It cuts along the length of the grain. This blade has evenly spaced teeth.
- Combination blades – These perform both ripping and crosscutting functions, thus they have both types of teeth.
In case you have a tight budget, invest in one high-quality combination saw which contains carbide teeth.
Circular blades have diameters ranging from the smallest 7.5 inches to 12 inches for large cutting. However, 10 inch blades are most common.
While circular saws are great for rough woodwork, don’t be afraid to practice your skills in fine carpentry with the saw.
The jigsaw can cut in lines as complicated as a jigsaw puzzle. It can cut in straight, curved, and zigzag lines.
Jigsaws are electric-powered just like the circular saws. The main difference between the two is that the jigsaw blades cut in alternating motions.
There are no standard teeth numbers nor composition between brands as this number highly fluctuates.
Jigsaw blades cut through plastic and metal alongside the wood. Finer tooth jigsaw blades saw veneers. On the other hand, coarse-tooth blades do rough and quick jobs.
This tool is compact enough to be held with one hand while the other holds a workpiece steady. This way you can cut any intricate pattern into the wood. Make plunge cuts and interior cuts with this implement.
We recommend the jigsaw for every beginner’s arsenal of tools.
They are electrically powered just like our two previous saws above. The blade diameters range from 7.5 inches to 12 inches. The most common blade diameters are 10 and 12 inches.
Compound miter saws make more precise bevels, compound angles, and miter cuts. The preset angles are 22.5, 45, and 90 degrees. You can however adjust it to your preferred angles.
Table saws are another beginner’s friend because they make cuts that are not easy to do with other saws.
There are three types of table saws, and your choice of saw may be determined by the size of wood you are cutting through and the location of the workshop.
These are your choices:
- Cabinet table saw – Heavy and fixed to one location on a cabinet. The belt is operated via a belt and pulley system. Cabinet saws are all-purpose woodwork appliances and are friendly enough for beginners to operate.
- Benchtop table saw -Light and portable. They can be moved and kept away when not in use. However, these kinds of table saws tend to produce a lot of noise so use ear protection.
- Contractor Table saw -They are the most compact ergonomically designed of all table saws. For this reason, contractors prefer to use the onsite because they take little space and cut quickly.
These saws are pocket-friendly so beginners may as well purchase them when they are starting out.
Once you have your table saw, please always use a high-quality blade. Carbide combination blades or rip blades are some good options.
5. Band Saw
The Band saw is a powerful electric cutting tool that combines the blade makeup of both circular and jigsaw saws.
The teeth are fixed on an infinitely looped flat band of steel that moves up and down controlled by an upper and lower pulley system. A worktop is erected between the pulleys.
Band saws come in all sizes and your choice will be guided by the size of lumber block you want to cut and the pattern your project requires.
The following are the two main characteristics of band saws:
- Depth capacity– This refers to the length of the band saw blade that is visible between the upper and lower pulleys. It is technically referred to as a face opening and ranges between 4 inches for smaller handsaws to 12 inches for bigger appliances.
- Throat depth– This is a measurement from the teeth to the end of the support column. The throat depth determines the width of your workpiece. The deeper the throat, the easier it is to make curved cuts.
The band saw blades come in rough and fine teeth as well as both wide and thin blades.
Rough teeth made faster cuts and fine teeth made slower cuts with a smooth finish. Wide blades are for ripping through the wood, on the other hand, thinner blades enhanced curved cutting designs.
Hand saws are light, small, and have no cords to trip over. These qualities only add to the advantages of having this tool in the workshop. They are easy on the pocket if you have a tight budget.
A hand saw in its basic form is simply a steel blade attached to a wooden handle. The blade cuts through the wood using a back and forth action.
The following are hand saw designs based on their functionality:
- Keyhole hand saws are meant to cut holes in the interior surface of the wood
- Back saws have prominent rectangular blades and folded backs for making cuts formiter joints.
- Dovetail hand saws make smooth dovetail joints
- Coping hand saws make curved cuts like band saws and jigsaws
- Carcass hand saws are bigger and stronger versions of back saws
- Crosscut hand saws cut through the wood grain
- Ripping hand saw cuts along the length of the wood grain
- Combination hand saw creates rips and crosscuts
Don’t be afraid to spend your money on quality hand saws and sharp blades. These machines are good, but you won’t reap the benefits if the blades are too dull or weak to cut.
Sharp blades cut quickly and precisely.
2. Finishing Tools: Planing Sanding and Filing Equipment
Creating a nice finish is the next step after cutting. No matter how smooth your sawing blade is, you will still need the tools to create a finer finish.
The following are some planing, sanding, and filing tools you should consider having in your workshop.
How much wood fiber that is shaved off depends on the size of the planing blade as well as its depth.
Planes have peculiar names, with each kind performing different functions that we outline below:
- Spoke shaves are tiny handheld planing devices for crescent-shaped surfaces. Their name originates from the fact that they were in use as wheel spokes on wagons.
- Jack planes shave off a chunk of wood fiber in a single pass. It is a jack of all trades because there are both linear and curved blades. The straight blade is for jointing and the curved one is for smoothing.
- Scraper planesare also known as cabinet scrapers that deliver an ultra-fine finishing. It does this by scraping off flimsy fibers left behind.
- Block planesare compact and broad to smoothen difficult jointed surfaces with greater control of movement.
- Rabbet planes are for cutting joints known as rabbets. Rabbets are made at right angles lateral to the grains at the edge of the board.
- Joining planessmooth edges and link different workpieces. Joining planes have prominent frames.
An orbital sander is an electric finishing tool whose action is similar to a hand sander, only faster. This tool will save your hands a lot of strain as the sandpaper pads are mechanized.
Orbital sanders attach rounded disks of sandpaper to their surface and rotate it in an orbit to smoothen the wood.
The downside of these electrical sanders is that they tend to leave behind abrasion marks that are a nightmare to remove.
However, a random orbital sander takes care of this problem. Random orbital sanders swing back and forth randomly to create a scratch-free yet polished wooden surface.
Hand files are inexpensive yet effective means to smoothen and modify wood. Go for the highest quality steel you can find and the tool will work for you for a long time. However, once the files go blunt, it is better to replace rather than sharpen them.
The following are the types of hand files commonly used in wood workshops:
- Rasps have coarse edges and serrated teeth for filing away sizeable chunks of wood for rough shaping. Follow up with a finely serrated file for a better texture.
- Half-round files tend to be flat on one side and convex on the alternate side. The curved side smoothens the insides of cylindrical shaped wooden objects.
- Mill files are flat with rough teeth on one side and finer teeth on the other end. The tips of this file may also be serrated so that they can reach into hidden spaces.
Other than shaping and smoothing, hand files are commonly used to sharpen blades and drilling bits. Therefore, investing in the price of a high-grade steel hand file will pay off in multiple ways.
3. Woodworking assembling tools
Cutting, shaping, and smoothing wood surfaces are the major initial phases of a woodwork project. Once you have your correctly sized and smoothened pieces, your next step is to assemble them.
To successfully assemble woodwork, you need precision joints of the right size and the tools to pull them together to tightly attach them.
The following are essential woodwork assembly tools:
There are a dozen different kinds of claw hammers.
In their basic form, woodwork hammers are meant to pound, fasten, and pry up. How they accomplish the tasks depends on the following technical considerations:
- The weight of the hammer plays an important part in its performance. They are considered heavyweight if they weigh anything from 24 to 32 oz. The intermediate weight falls between 16 and 20 Oz, while hammers are light between 8 and 10 oz.
- The design and size of the hammerhead determine what functions it can do. For example, serrated hammer faces are able to clutch nails and other fasteners. These hammers are known as framing hammers.
- The material used to construct the hammer is crucial for comfort in use. Wooden or composite handles transfer less shock to the hand. On the other hand, metal handles generate and transfer more shock to the palms. Steel hammers are still common because it weighs more which translates to a powerful driving force. Steel hammers last a lifetime.
- The length and curve of the claw also dictate its functionality. For instance, finishing hammers sport long, prominent claws unlike framing hammers whose claws are straight.
As we have established, no two hammers are alike whether in materials or their specific functionality. Having understood that, you need to identify why you’re purchasing a hammer.
We have listed the major types of woodworking hammers to guide you below:
- Finishing hammers – They are the closest thing to an all-purpose hammer. You should purchase it first since there may be no need for another hammer once you have this tool.
- Tack hammers– They are for light woodwork projects and usually have two heads of different dimensions and no claws.
- Framing hammers-The good news is they are considered unnecessary for most projects at the homestead level.
Mallets are gentler on wooden surfaces they strike, unlike hammers. Mallets will hardly leave any strike marks at the point of impact. This is because they have softer heads made of wood or leather.
The softer material on mallet heads absorbs the striking shock as opposed to disseminating it through the handle.
Tape wooden joints using a mallet to bypass the risk of unnecessary marks tainting the surface.
Another advantage soft mallet heads have over the metal head hammer is that when used to tap chisels, the tip is able to smoothly and consistently slide through a layer of wood. On the other hand, hitting a chisel with a steel hammer will cause the tip to bite into the wood and produce rough, inconsistent cuts.
Note: The handle of a mallet is detachable from the head. This is so that you can switch between different head sizes.
Electric drills have replaced the traditional hand drills in the workshop. If you want to buy your first drill, consider getting one that is corded. Corded drills operating at a voltage of at least 110 volts produce more torque and last longer than cordless brands.
The downside may be that the cords annoy you, but that is a small price to pay for a consistently powerful and quick drilling.
A power drill will do more than just drill holes into your wood. You can use other attachable tips to transform the tool into an entirely different one.
If you must go the cordless way, check the voltage rating for each brand. We recommend that you get the 18-volt cordless drills.
Apart from the voltage rating, power drills are also rated according to their chuck size. Heavy-duty chucks are ½-inch and medium-duty chucks are 3/8-inch.
The conventional way of tightening screws is to use handheld screwdrivers. However, this is a slow process and certainly tedious when there are numerous screws to use.
An electric screw gun simplifies the entire process. Screw guns have hexagonal shanks at the tip to eliminate slipping.
4. Tools For Measurement and Angles
Our only advice concerning measuring tools is to invest in one that is accurate and easy to read. Bonus points if it is made of durable materials.
In woodwork, you will be measuring in angles, and there are various specific equipment for each type of measurement.
The following is a list of squares you need for your woodwork.
- Bevel squares are used to recreate a similar pattern on a different wooden surface, similarly, you will be able to recreate an angle using this tool.
- Miter squares guide the cutting tool to position for miter cuts.
- Speed squares offer the quickest method of confirming your 45 and 90 degrees.
- Combination squares give precise readings for angles and distance.
- Try squares are small, hand-held right-angled, and are used to verify an accurate square.
- Framing squares are for large woodwork projects, they are right-angled tools.
Always have one permanently hooked on your waist while in your workshop. There are however an array of tape measures, so make a choice and the winner gets a spot on your belt.
- Reel tapes are flexible fabric or steel that can measure at least 100 feet.
- Retractable steel tapes are the most common for measurements of up to 30 feet.
- Yardsticks are considered rulers. They will help you to measure straight vertical and horizontal lines.
- Folding rules are high precision measuring sticks.
5. Bonus Tool for Your Workshop: Work Bench
At this point, you know the tools you need from the beginning to the end. Now you need a worktopto place and hold your pieces while you do your job.
A work bench is a great option for securely holding your pieces regardless of what you intend to do.
It may be cheaper to make your own bench out of plywood, but that is a far cry from a professionally designed workbench.
The features of a good workbench include the following:
- Provides 360-degree access while
- Made out of Solid Hardwood
- Movable base to a height you are comfortable with
- Two vices
- Drawers on the lower compartment for storing your appliances
- In-built stops on a spacious working surface
Invest your money in high-quality tools. It is better to have a small collection of well-constructed tools as opposed to purchasing knock-off versions of all the tools in this guide. The durability of your tools will make you one happy carpenter!