While the router isn’t exactly necessary to build the most basic projects, it will really allow you to put that extra level of detail on a project so it isn’t quite so bland looking. Routers are also an extremely versatile tool that can be used in lieu of a jointer to get a straight edge on rough lumber, put a nice detail edge on a table top or piece of furniture, cut mortise and tenon joinery, cut dadoes and rabbets, mount in a table, or a countless number of other uses. Router bits can be pricey, so my advice would be to add bits as you need them for specific uses and projects. There are some variety pack kits available if you want a set to get started though. Also, there are smaller (trim) routers and full-size routers available. For the purpose of a beginner woodworking tool set, I recommend starting out with the small router and seeing just how much you can accomplish with that.
One purchase that did work out in my favor this year was a bandsaw. I found an old, built in 1946, 14" Delta bandsaw w/ riser block in good condition for a steal at $150. I had a couple months of free spend saved up, and my wife threw in the rest of the money and considered it my birthday gift. Attached to the saw's base was an old Stanley 77 dowel maker the seller gave me with the saw since it was attached to the base when he got the saw. I was able to sell it on ebay for just shy of $300. I actually made money on that deal, and the money from the sale has allowed me to buy blades and upgrades for the bandsaw, as well as the parts and materials I need to build the router table I'm in the process of building. Was nice to get that - otherwise it would be months before I'd be able to purchase some of those things!
Carpenters Builders Pencils 13pc Joiners Sharpener Soft-lead oval-section carpenters pencils for marking timber, brick, stone and other building materials. Draws thick or thin lines on both rough and smooth surfaces. Oval-shaped length means pencils do not roll away when placed on inclined surfaces. Includes 12 pencils and a sharpener. Pencils supplied are in BLUE.
Just how small?  Will you have an extra bedroom for your shop or will you be doing woodworking in your living room?  Do you have to put the projects and tools away every time you want to entertain or will you leave everything set up all the time?  A while back FWW had a video tour of a shop in Japan that was smaller than small.  I'll try to find it and get back.  Found it...  shows what can be done in a small space but this shop was not on a small budget so no help there.

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 🙂


Some moisture meters have pins that penetrate the surface of the wood. This can leave tiny holes that mar the surface and require filling. Others are pin-less. They have sensing plates that scan the wood beneath. However, not all pinless moisture meters are the same – look for one that uses technology that is not affected by the surface moisture in the wood, such as Wagner Meters IntelliSense™ Technology Moisture Meters.
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We've written about routers on the site before and my favorite is the Bosch 1617​.  It is light enough that you can control it when using it handheld, yet powerful enough that it won't have any problems when you mount it under a table.  On top of that, it comes with a plunge base which makes it significantly easier to use handheld.  The package clocks in at ~$190.
You really don’t have to do anything to get a great set of coffee tables. Well, you do have to gather a few tree trunks or stumps. Just sand them down a bit, and cut them off to make them flat. You can have a collection of different sizes sitting around the room and in different shapes. Stain them if you want but you can leave them natural for a really rustic look.
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?! ;) )

Hardwoods come from deciduous, or broad-leaved trees, as opposed to softwoods, that are harvested from from evergreens. In general, the lumber derived from hardwood species are typically harder than softwoods, although there are exceptions (balsa wood is very light and soft, but is considered a hardwood). Most hardwood tree species lose their leaves in winter, and generally offer a much wider variety of colors and textures than softwoods. Typically, stock from hardwood species are a lot more expensive than those from softwoods.


Pine is of the most common softwoods and comes in several varieties, including White, Knotty and Yellow – all of which can be used to make furniture. Pine is fairly easy to work with, as it is very soft, but it will show wear and tear more easily with everyday use (which could be a good or bad thing, depending on the look you prefer). Pine can either be stained or painted and often gives a more traditional feel to a piece – especially when using repurposed Pine flooring and siding. Pine is a practical and affordable choice for shelving, tables, closets, and cabinetry.
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.
Most chisels are beveled on the 2 sides and on the cutting edge, but specialty chisels may only be beveled at the cutting edge. This bevel will be at 20 to 25 degrees down the length of the blade on one side, and flat on the backside. The blade will be between 4” and 7” long. Make sure you get chisels with a grip that fits your hand. If the grip is too small, you won’t be able to hold the chisel steady as you work. Be sure to use a mallet or wood hammer when you work, so that you don’t destroy the head on your chisel. Keep track of the edge caps, keep them sharp, and oil the metal now and then after you’ve used them, and they should be good for years. If you don’t have the edge caps, get a roll to keep them in. This will prevent them from bouncing around in your tool box drawers and getting damaged.
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.
For under $20 I am very impressed with the Bad Blade Carver by Kwik Tool.  Mounted in a 4.5″ grinder, it removes a ton of material quickly yet allows a fair amount of control.  The disk has only 6 teeth so the carver is mainly a solid disk with very few teeth to bite and create kick-back or dig-in. I found I had the best control when engaging the blade between 12 o’clock (top of the grinder) and 3 o’clock. When in that range it was not overly aggressive and left me in control.
She came back to the mainland when her family was building a sky scraper in Denver. ( Well about as tall as any of the other down town high rises.) I got to tour it while it was being built.  Very cool !  So hanging around this crew of a family she picked up quite a lot.  The wife of her brother, the iron worker and pro chef, was an iron worker as well. The first lady ironworker I had ever met and I grew up around construction workers some what. Hard core people ( bound to rub off ).
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.
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.  ​
Non-Standard Miter Slots - This one is a downer.  One of the primary advantages of having a table saw is access to jigs that expand the saws functionality.  This is a major issue if you plan on buying after market jigs.  Given that we are limiting the cost of this buildout to $500, I am guessing that after market jigs are probably low on the priority list.  Your going to want jigs once you start researching what they enable you to do, my advice is to build your own - there are plenty of plans online.   

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.
Roy Underhill is a gentleman woodworker.  Nothing electrical for him, he works with hand tools only, and it's a delight to listen to and watch him work.  He's pre-Youtube and so it's a bit of a hunt to find his videos but you'll be rewarded with real charm that makes you want to grab an axe, fell a neighbours tree and hone it into a bench.  Or he just makes you thankful for plywood and routers.
Roy Underhill is a gentleman woodworker.  Nothing electrical for him, he works with hand tools only, and it's a delight to listen to and watch him work.  He's pre-Youtube and so it's a bit of a hunt to find his videos but you'll be rewarded with real charm that makes you want to grab an axe, fell a neighbours tree and hone it into a bench.  Or he just makes you thankful for plywood and routers.
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.
For those who want to make money from their woodworking skills, David Piccuito's channel Make Something is a great place to start. He encourages woodworkers to use his designs for selling to clients as long as he gets credit for the design. Make Something has tutorials for making things at any skill level, from beginner to expert. It is filled with woodworking hacks on things like how to make curved inlays and how to drill really large holes—even those holes that are larger than your largest bit.
These how to videos and articles of information are dedicated to my woodworking instructor who trained me during my apprenticeship. This body of work is also in honor of the journeyman who were generous in sharing their woodworking knowledge and skills with me throughout my long career. All of you have helped me to make a wonderful living  in a great craft. My hat is off to all of you.
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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 a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.
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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