I set an initial budget of $10,000 to build the shop – everything from studs and drywall to hand tools and machinery. The final number was over by $1,000, but I’m still very happy with the result. The shop is now my haven, with a good sound sys­tem and good lighting. Every time I go back into the shop, it is exactly the way I left it, because it is my shop!
As the final stage of any project, the finish will define your piece for years to come. Whether you choose to leave the material unfinished, stained, painted, or rubbed with oils, there are many options to choose from when it comes to finishing. A finish is meant to protect the wood from water damage, dirt, stains, etc., so the benefits are obvious. At CZ Woodworking we will finish the material to your exact needs and determine what will work best for your specific piece. A piece that will endure everyday use, such as a countertop or tabletop, would need a more durable finish than a display shelf. An exterior table, if not made from a naturally weatherproof material, would have to be finished with moisture resistant materials to endure the outdoor elements such as rain and snow. Some materials – such as repurposed barn woods – would be better left unfinished in order to maintain the naturally aged look that defines it.

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.


One of the challenges in building a cabinet for hand tools, is that as soon as you define a place for each tool in your custom cabinet, you find that you need more room to store the must have tools you just bought. I decided to make a couple of open cabinets, and employ the use of inserts that can be replaced or modified as my tool collection grows. Part of the goal was to make a clean, efficient shop, while keeping to a budget. I bought paint grade maple plywood and made the cabinets. Applying a solid maple face frame to the cabinet makes a clean looking cabinet from sheet goods purchased at $50/sheet.
Rob Cosman and Paul Sellers. Rob is damn near a genius when it comes to woodworking. He routinely comes up with methods and tools that sort of change the way we all do things in the shop. The guy is also an amazing instructor. Paul Sellers is also an amazing instructor. These are the kinds of guys that all the rest on your list learned how to woodwork from!

Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.


Check with Habitat for Humanity.  If they have a store you may find several good items such as a bench, bandsaw or etc.  When I retired and moved I donated  a complete shop full of woodworking power tools and hand tools to Habitat.  They sold them, I deducted them from my income tax.  Unfortunately I could not retire my desire to woodwork and at age 78 I built a shop and use only hand tools and a bandsaw.  Good exercise pushing  a LN #7.   Build yourself a solid bench with some southern pine with a moxon vise that can be built by hand.  Get some holddowns!

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Man, do I ever know about the "pre-buyers remorse"! My fiancé is a self proclaimed "cheapskate"(her language is a bit more coarse), but when it comes to my shop, she's all for me spending. I always end up being the one to pump the brakes, as I have a history of being TERRIBLE with money(@ 21, I was making close to 6 figures with no post-secondary education, and at 31, I still have less than $5,000 in the bank), while she pushes me to get "whatever I need". Of course, we all know that the line between want and need is pretty blurry. I agree with some of the other posts; I keep all of my expenses logged, and try to churn out money-makers to chip away at the red, always hoping to reach the black. So far, I'm still seeing red, but as my shop continues to flesh-out and my skill set grows, profit begins to sound more and more feasible all the time. Of course, I'm not really trying to make money. I just want to buy bigger and better equipment and supplies!
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.
We us the ReStore also– What great finds–sometimes things we were even looking for–my other favorite place is the second hand stores–many times they have give away bends that I have reclaimed out of–and we have a neighborhood swap–my favorite of all is the FREE CYCLE– its is a community of people that just give things away– OH MY GOSH–when I need to get rid of things after a yard sale its the best– someone always comes and reclaims my curdside giveaways–I love–it stays out of the dump and someelse is using something they may need badly– I have found tons of great things,wood,tirers, paint–ect.
Ok, the leap from $1,000 to $2,500 is a big one.  I certainly didn't make it at one time.  It took me years.  But I know folks that decided they wanted to get into woodworking and dropped at least $2,500 getting themselves outfitted.  When you do make the jump, the thought process becomes much less about making sure you can get the job done and becomes more about having quality tools to get the job done. 

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For me, I watch Craigslist, and hit auctions. My g/f scored me a huge load of pallets (free wood is good wood, especially when projects made from it generate $$$), and I work in a high end window & door company, so the scrap bin gets raided quite often. I made a deal with myself to only buy what I can pay for from what the shop makes. This includes (at times) going without a needed tool as I was waiting for a better one because I had sold what I once had for more than I paid for it. Just like flipping houses, on a much smaller scale. Right place, right time.
Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill. There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on. Learn all about these options (along with some suggestions on what to look for when shopping) in this article on corded power drills.

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.
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