2. Just the basics—I’ve used a compound miter saw, circular saw, jigsaw, band saw, router, table saw, drill, finishing sander, belt sander, Dremel, oscillating multi-tool, bar clamps, and a Shop-Vac. I haven’t used a planer, jointer, or lathe. I’ve never owned a table saw but have used a circular saw or improvised with a router for a few long cuts.
Any serious woodworker knows that square and flat Any serious woodworker knows that square and flat stock is the key to producing fine work so it’s time to skip the hand tools and graduate to the JJ-6HHDX 6 in. long bed jointer. This beast boasts a helical insert cutter head with staggered carbide inserts yet runs quietly and ...  More + Product Details Close
Assume that there aren’t any decent tools on craigslist or at garage sales, and keep in mind that I have absolutely no tools, dust collection, shop-vac, clamps, sanding & painting accessories, tables, materials to build my own tables/stands/jigs, or anything else—not even safety gear (you’re such a good buddy that you even let me borrow your extra set of goggles and your earmuffs when I used to come over).
If you are an advanced woodworker then you might want to check out the Wood Whisperer channel. It has advanced projects broken down to the details in multi-part series and also technique videos. Mark Spagnuolo has been creating DIY woodworking videos on the channel since 2006, so there is a lot of content to scratch the itch of any woodworking enthusiast.
Woodworking is a highly visual craft. There’s just something photogenic about lumber getting cut to size, dry-fit, glued or tacked together, and finally sanded down and finished into a beautiful piece of furniture. Even if you’re not a woodworker yourself, watching high-quality woodworking videos is a great way to learn about how stuff gets made, and who knows, you might even realize you want to make something yourself.

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.
Not many YouTube woodworking channels are run by guys who also happen to have PhD’s in medicinal chemistry, but this one is. Brian Grella’s channel offers a mix between more atmospheric videos that aren’t heavy on explanations (as the one shown above), and ones that are firmly in how-to territory, like this one for making a beautiful wooden bowl using nothing but a router and a drill press (no lathe required): 

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.
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 🙂

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.
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.

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.
The solution to potentially wedged boards on a jointer is to add a planer to the mix.  A planer has a flat surface with a cutting edge that is exactly 180 degrees to the surface.  This allows you to position the jointed edge flat on the planers surface and make a cut to the opposite side of the board that is perfectly square.  As an added bonus, the planer allows you incredible control over the thickness of the boards you're planing.  ​
But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things.  (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY.  In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine!  (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
Frank is an architect/woodworker who creates videos with stunning visuals that are intended to inspire you. Frank uses his top-notch filmmaking skills to fast-forward himself as he works on a project. He even uses stop motion—an animation technique that enables him to manipulate objects (such as chisels and clamps and block planes) to make it appear they are moving on their own. 

This unique approach to woodworking was expressed by George Nakashima’s work throughout the mid-20th century. He became known for leaving the natural, or live edge of the wood in tact as part of the finished piece. The profile of this live edge reflects the curvatures and unique textures of the tree’s exterior silhouette, assuring that no two pieces are ever the same. The use of this wood creates a bold, artistic and natural feel that is an extremely interesting way of obtaining that “wow factor” in a piece.
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.
A layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.
The third tool for the beginner is the Jigsaw. A jigsaw allows the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock. Sure, a band saw will likely be more accurate and can cut thicker stock, but for the beginner, the jigsaw (sometimes also referred to as a Sabre Saw) can be perfectly effective. For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded jigsaw that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system.

Flea markets and swap meets are great sources of old tools, but unless you are able to rehab and sharpen them, they aren't going to do you much good. You can always find lots of chisels and planes at these places, and they can be brought back to life. I wouldn't waste my time on any saws though, unless they are relatively rust-free. If a saw is rusty, you will have to re-file and re-set the teeth, which requires a good deal of expertise and some specialized tools.
The problems  that we least expect.  Five years ago i purchased a bicycle and discovered while riding that I had developed balance problems.  I ignored the problem and stopped riding the bicycle.During this period I built a workshop in my basement and stocked with the best handtools.  My lifelong dream was to be an anarchist!  In February 2012 I started having episodes of more severe balance problems which resulted in hospitalization and extended nursing home rehabilitationl for six months. The diagnoses is Parkinson Disease which causes muscles to react to unwanted brain signals.  Needless to say the therapist ordered "no woodworking" period" because of the hazards associated with machines and sharp tools.  I presented my case that I did only handwork with hand tools.  The therapist answer was "NO!".  Now I'm confined to using a walker or wheel chair and reading how you all are enjoying the smell of sawdust.
That headline struck me as discouraging. As an entry fee, $5,000 seems high enough to exclude a number of potential woodworkers, myself included. Christiana softened the blow by saying that used tools could cut the cost roughly in half. That figure seemed much closer to my experience, which involved buying a mix of new and used tools. Having said that, buying the right used tools is much more difficult than buying from a catalog or dealer who stocks everything needed to build a great shop. It requires a bit of guile and a good plan, but the payoff is worth it. Through careful choices and good fortune, I was able to outfit my shop with a blend of new and used tools for around $2,000.

Although we focus primarily on the use of wood in our work, CZ Woodworking also incorporates materials other than solid wood into our workshop. We work with metalworkers, glass companies, designers and artisans alike to bring various materials together to create custom pieces. Examples of additional materials we use are wrought iron, steel, glass, stone and more. By combining various mediums together, we are able to achieve the specific look that fits your needs best. Please contact us directly to inquire further.


Steve Ramsey.  He's an energetic, fast-talking eccentric whose built his channel based on projects that can be done without investing in fancy tools.  He trudges out a banged-up table saw from his garage, chops stuff up on the bed of his truck, and generally produces well-structured projects - even if I can't agree with his design aesthetic and color choices.  Lots of good stuff to learn and a great channel for someone starting out.  

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