Your moisture meter should have settings on it that will account for different species of wood. For instance, oak is a hardwood, but ebony is an even harder density wood. If you are planning an inlay job using both types of wood, you will need to know the moisture content levels of each of the two species so that your inlay glue joints will stay intact. These different wood species have different specific gravities, which must be used or programmed into the moisture meter.


I taught (teach) several aspects of "green woodworking" and related subjects, so I love your question. The buying and using of old tools is great...no matter the source. However, I have seen much frustration ensue over getting them adjusted, and "work ready." As often a beginner with limited budgets, also have limited traditional skill sets as well in understanding these tools and sharpening them. You must be patient with yourself, as tuning these old tools up will be very time consuming. Sharpening (and the proper tools of sharpening) should be your first acquisition. So many folks buy chickens before building a proper "chicken coop." Traditional tools are the same way, as there is no reason to own them, if you can't keep them properly honed.
Those two tools comprise the most basic power tools you need to start woodworking. In addition, you'll need some hand tools. A hammer is an obvious necessity, and can be bought cheaply. A tape measure is a must- have for marking out lengths. A ruler or straight edge is needed to turn your measurements into straight lines for cutting, and can be clamped to a work piece to use as a saw guide. Speaking of clamps, they are important for joining pieces together for gluing, screwing or nailing. Most woodworkers have a lot of them, and you'll never have as many as you need. For now, just buy a few 6-inch and 12-inch clamps and add more as you need them.
While there are certainly tools beyond this list that would make certain tasks easier, I feel confident that you can build pretty much anything you could possible want using this beginner woodworking tool set. Everything on this list is also purposefully portable and does not take up much space at all. The goal here was to compile a list of the best beginner tools that would allow you to build almost anything, anywhere, and only take up a small cabinet in your house or garage.
If you’re woodworking as a hobby, you already know that it can get very expensive. Saving money by not buying redundant tools is one way to keep it slightly more affordable. If you’re doing this as a business like I am, then every dollar saved is another dollar you can invest in your business. If you have other money saving tips, please feel free to share them!
Ready for fall? Fall is one of my favorite seasons (hello cute boots and cozy sweaters!), plus I love watching the leaves turn gorgeous colors. You can bring a bit of that colorful nature indoors this fall with some simple fall wood crafts. Just grab a few scraps of wood, some fallen branches, or some wood slices, and whip up these adorable fall crafts in no time!
We made the decision for my wife to be a stay at home mom - it was a decision we both felt was a good one before we ever even discussed it. Being a single income family does sometimes have financial drawbacks, but the blessings of my wife being a stay at home mom are blessings that money can't buy. Eventually, when our son (and any future children we may have) are in grade school, my wife will look at finding a job. She's also looking at the possibility of starting to do in-home daycare for 2 or 3 children in our home, which would bring in some extra money.
What tools are needed to start woodworking? Well, this list can vary greatly depending on your budget. The best beginner woodworking tools are subjective but can vary largely depending on how much money you are willing or able to invest to start out in woodworking. It can also vary depending on if you are wanting to start out woodworking just as a hobby or as a side-hustle business. Most of the best beginner woodworking tools on this list are either tools I own, have owned, or at least have used in the past.
As far as advice goes, I'm like a lot of the other folks on this thread; make a shop budget that fits into your existing budget and stick to it. Whenever you can foresee a larger expense, skrimp and save, cut costs in other areas of non-essential spending, and accept that sometimes, you NEED to go outside of your budget. In my experience, if it means enough to you, you can make it work. Good luck!
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.
Build projects from wood the fast, strong, easy way using pocket-hole joinery and the Kreg Jig® R3. With the Kreg Jig, all you have to do is drill a hole in one of the pieces you want to join. Then drive in a Kreg Screw. The self-tapping tip draws the joint together and holds it tight, so you can create beautiful, durable projects quickly. The portable Kreg Jig R3 features two hardened-steel drill guides, built-in guides that make it easy to set up on a wide range of material thicknesses, and a clamp pad—all in a compact carrying case.
Woodworking tools at Highland Woodworking - shop our comprehensive tool selection for the best in woodworking tools. Our lines include woodworking hand tools & power tools, joinery jigs, The World's Safest Tablesaw and The Best Bandsaw Blade Selection. Along with woodworking tools from top tool brands, we stock the woodworking materials & supplies you need everyday. View all tools at Highland Woodworking home to over 10,000 Woodworking Tools or browse through our Woodworking Tools sub-categories below. Be sure to check out our Woodworking Tool Sale page where you will find special offers and tool deals.
Sadly, that’s most of my power tools and shop accessories, but it’s a growing collection. Compared to all the money I’ve wasted on small electronics and computer junk in the past, I’d say this has been, and will continue to be, a much better investment. I just wish I had come to that realization back in college, when I was probably spending $500-$1000+ a year upgrading my computer.
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Before you bid in an online auction, check the site’s rules of operation. At some sites, a winning bid is a binding contract, which can be a problem if you can’t inspect the tool before you purchase it. Don’t forget shipping costs. In some cases they can exceed the cost of the tool. Also, make sure the tool you’re buying will run on the power you have in your shop. Many former industrial tools run on 240v single-phase power. If your shop doesn’t have 240v service, you’ll need to factor in the cost of upgrading before deciding to buy. You don’t want to saddle yourself with a tool you can’t use, no matter how good the price.
If you'd like to learn more about the differences between hardwood species, I can think of no better resource than R. Bruce Hoadley's 1980 masterpiece, Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology. Not only does Hoadley detail nearly every species used for woodworking, he does an exceptional job at describing how to prepare, work with and finish these hardwoods. This is an industry-standard resource, one that I'd highly recommend to every woodworker.
Ron Paulk is an extremely likeable mystery and I think he deserves 10x more subscribers than he has. I'm convinced he's a secret millionaire - he has a workshop in what seems to be the 20-car garage of a multi-million dollar mansion - which he claims belongs to a friend and he's only using it temporarily while they sell the house.  I think it's been five years now that he's been there.  But anyway, Ron is mainly a finish carpentry contractor - that's things like baseboard, fireplaces, kitchen cabinets etc.  He is a master craftsman.  What makes him unique is his approach to working - he is all about being portable, mobile and lightweight.  Every year he seems to fit out a new van or trailer as a mobile woodshop.  I've built Ultimate Workbench, Chop Saw station and fitted out a van following his designs.  He introduced me to Festool, which was a costly mistake for me!  I've built a lot of his projects, and I learned a whole lot along the way.
Woodworking tools at Highland Woodworking - shop our comprehensive tool selection for the best in woodworking tools. Our lines include woodworking hand tools & power tools, joinery jigs, The World's Safest Tablesaw and The Best Bandsaw Blade Selection. Along with woodworking tools from top tool brands, we stock the woodworking materials & supplies you need everyday. View all tools at Highland Woodworking home to over 10,000 Woodworking Tools or browse through our Woodworking Tools sub-categories below. Be sure to check out our Woodworking Tool Sale page where you will find special offers and tool deals.
Pocket holes may get a bad rap from “fine” woodworkers, but they are the most accessible and versatile form of joinery for any woodworker. You will find tons of pocket holes in the highest end custom cabinetry kitchens, so I don’t hesitate to use them when needed. They are great for quick DIY furniture projects like my pub table here. I actually own bow the low and medium budget options below because they both have their place in my shop and I can choose which to use depending on the application. If you’re not sure what size pocket hole screws you will need to start out with, here is the variety pack that I first purchased.
So I am curious about what the best choices in woodworking tools would be for someone who is just beginning to develop the skills involved with the craft. Funds would be limited and at least for me, I have a strong preference for non-electric tools when possible. Not only what would be the best tools to start a collection with, but also what would be a good way to obtain them aside from ebay, pawn shops and antique shops?
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That's it. That's all you really need to begin woodworking. Over time you will add more tools to your collection, like chisels, drill bits, a sander and, more clamps; but for right now you should be able to get started on most beginner projects. Don't be afraid to look online for second- hand tools. Old drills and circular saws work well when given proper care. With some ingenuity you can figure out how to adapt most plans to the tools you have available. People have been making wooden items throughout human history, and they didn't need expensive planers, biscuit joiners or fancy jigs. Start learning the craft, see if you like it, and have fun.
Raw material is a concept. A concept that we describe as any material that has yet to find its final home. It is a material that is en route to becoming something interesting, creative and more permanent in the world. If it has yet to be worked and transformed to create a unique piece of woodworking or artisan craftsmanship, then it is still raw to us.

Just like a hammer and tape measure, a drill is something a lot of people already keep on hand for small household projects. Danny and I started out on a SUPER cheap drill when we first got married and quickly learned that this was not something to cheap out on.  If you plan to do much woodworking, invest in a quality drill.  It doesn’t have to be the best of the best, but do at least get a mid-grade drill.


​There are some diverging paths that you could take at this point: some may want to get a router with a router table for edge work and improved joinery capabilities, some may want to start looking at some of the interesting 3rd party jigs - two of my favorites are the DowelMax and the Kreg Pocket System, but my recommendation would be to equip yourself to buy cheap stock.
This post speaks right to the heart of frugal woodworking. The woodworker addresses how to make a dye from tea and alcohol that is fast drying and will not raise the grain of your wood. Technically I guess it is both a stain and a dye since since the tannins in the tea will actually change the color of the wood, and the other colors in the tea act more like a stain. Either way it is a great idea.
On the 100/300 grit combo stone: absolutely, positively NO – and I’m a woodworker by training who sees sharpening of tools as a means to an end and not as a religion. DMT bench stones are soooo cheap in the US (they cost as much as 3 times as much in ROW) that you should not waste (expensive) time with Chinese carborundum stones or EZ-Lap …err … junk.
Raw material is a concept. A concept that we describe as any material that has yet to find its final home. It is a material that is en route to becoming something interesting, creative and more permanent in the world. If it has yet to be worked and transformed to create a unique piece of woodworking or artisan craftsmanship, then it is still raw to us.
Just like a hammer and tape measure, a drill is something a lot of people already keep on hand for small household projects. Danny and I started out on a SUPER cheap drill when we first got married and quickly learned that this was not something to cheap out on.  If you plan to do much woodworking, invest in a quality drill.  It doesn’t have to be the best of the best, but do at least get a mid-grade drill.
These YouTube videos provide great woodworking information that contains both traditional and modern methods. Each instructional video contains woodworking how to techniques to improve a woodworkers’ skills and also methods for how to work safe in the shop. If you want entertainment, then watch the video once. If you want learn, watch the again. If you want to master techniques and improve your woodworking skills, watch and study the videos repeatedly.
Even the backside grinding shown in the single frame of the video shows the effects of hand held sharpening. There is a curve on the flat side of the blade! Starting to look like a spoon. It’s impossible to get a flat surface when using bones and tendons. This effect was exploited to make the first lens when done in glass. Telescope mirror grinders do it too using two different hardness of glass, if machine done it would be flat. If those “slate” tiles are flat they must be ground flat not baked. No need to check.
Every woodworker needs a couple of levels. You probably won’t need one of the 6-foot levels used in construction, but 48” is a good length for many of the woodworking projects you’ll do. Usually, you’ll also need an 8” level too, usually known as a torpedo level. You’ll check the level and plum of your construction. Level means horizontal, and plumb is vertical.
Perhaps the most satisfying move I made was to automate the dust collection system. I used the iVACPro system to link all machines to the dust collector. When I turn on any machine in the shop, the dust collector fires up and whisks the dust into the bin. The system also has a programmable delay to allow the dust to make it to the bin before the dust collector shuts down. I set my system for a five-second delay. The system works flawlessly for my band saw, planer, and router table at 115 volts, and also my table saw and jointer at 240 volts. 
Before I give you my list, I am assuming (and yes, I know what assuming does) that you already have a tape measure, screwdriver and a hammer. These are common household items that most people (woodworkers or not) keep around the house.  If you don’t have one, they are a few bucks each and WELL worth the investment.  AND they are my favorite types of stocking stuffers—even if it is just July, it’s already on my mind 🙂
Make sure to run ground wires wrapped around all lengths of flexible exhaust hose to prevent static build up, which can spark and potentially ignite. I chose the King 1.5 HP dust collector, with a 115 volt motor, so I did not need special wir­ing for it. A shop vac is a must, as well, used to vacuum out machinery, and to remove dust from furniture prior to fin­ishing. Finally, an air filtration system was installed to clear the air of tiny airborne particles. The King KAC 650 unit I installed does a nice job, has a remote control, and a program­mable delay – I usually have the air cleaner run for a timed two hours when I leave the shop.
*any* glass made by the float glass process will have the same level of flatness (>95% of today’s colorless glass). However, thicker is better and I would see 5mm as the absolute minimum. When glass slabs get bigger/heavier their shards pose a real risk in case they crack. Therefore, 5 or 8mm tempered glass is what you should be looking for. If you can’t find tempered glass, cover the back with UV-stabilized (all weather) tape: this will hold the shards together and you don’t get any exposed edges.
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One of the challenges we all face is how to move machines into a home without damaging the home, the machinery, or yourself. I actually had to bring things through the front door, and across hardwood floors, and turn 90° to descend the stairs into the shop. To protect the floors, I laid down sheets of 1/2" MDF that I could use later. On the wooden stairs, I used three strips of softwood strap­ping, held with wood screws to the stairs. I mounted a 2x4 baton to the wall studs at the top of the stairs, with a 5/16-inch eye-bolt through it.
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