Birch comes in two varieties: yellow and white. Yellow birch is a pale yellow-to-white wood with reddish-brown heartwood, whereas white birch has a whiter color that resembles maple. Birch is readily available and less expensive than many other hardwoods. Birch is stable and easy to work with. However, it’s hard to stain because it can get blotchy, so it is generally preferred to paint Birch.
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.
You need an out-feed table to support work exiting the table saw and band saw. By placing the tools close together, I was able to make one out-feed table that works for both tools. I put four pivoting wheels on the table, allowing me to shift the table in any direction. By placing a shelf below the table, I gained some much needed storage space for portable power tools. Finally, since this is a large work surface, the table also serves as a true, flat assembly table.
Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Not only will you need Phillips and slot, or flathead screwdrivers, you’ll need star drivers and Torx drivers, too. A quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming absolutely useless.
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.
Eastern Hemlock, the state tree of Pennsylvania, is a softwood that has a naturally light-reddish-brown color. Although Western Hemlock (sourced from the Pacific Northwest) is often used in furniture building due to its straight grain and finer texture, which sands to a silky, reflective smooth surface. Hemlock gives some hardwoods a run for their money in terms of durability and strength, but at a more approachable price point. Reclaimed Hemlock has made its way into local salvage yards in recent years, and is being utilized in all aspects of woodworking and furniture building.
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.
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.
To get the most out of your router, you are going to want a router table. You may find yourself asking if you really need one - if you do, check this post out. It's one of those purchases that you won't truly understand how valuable it is until you have one. Given the budget of $2,500, I'd suggest looking at the Bosch RA1171 ($150). If you want to see our favorite tables along with write-ups, check them out here.
Low-tech tools are high on value A basic set of handplanes lets you true edges, flatten panels or wide boards, and achieve finish-ready surfaces. Start with a small cluster of handplanes—low-angle and standard block planes, a No. 4 or 4-1/2 bench plane, and a jointer plane. A set of inexpensive chisels is essential for chopping, paring, and trimming.
Frank’s work is visually arresting. This is not necessarily a channel you’re going to learn from, if you’re a novice woodworker or just getting into the field. The main reason to subscribe to Frank’s channel is how gorgeous his work is. The pieces he makes are always artfully conceived, even if it’s just a simple bookcase or a bench. Add to that his killer stop-motion and filmmaking skills, and you get a YouTube channel you can share with anyone, even if they think they’re not remotely interested in the craft.
An old piece of wood and a few hooks will help you to create a beautiful hanger for your favorite coffee cups. Just add the hangers, stain the wood and then hang it on the wall. This is a project that takes little time and will cost very little if you already have the wood on hand. You just have to purchase the hangers which are relatively inexpensive.
All you need to get an edge on your hand tools and pocket knives is a 100/300 grit combo stone from your local hardware, even horrible fright. This shouldn't cost more than $10. Then go to the natural slate section of the home center or flooring store & find 3-4" natural slate tile that you can barely see the grains in. This should cost another $1 or so. This tile is roughly 800 grit. If you can't find natural tile in your area, you should be able to find an 'Arkansas' stone for <$5. If you can scare up some Chrome Oxide and a piece of leather (piece of cardboard or block of MDF also work) all the better. These three things will cost you $15 and get your edged tools sharp enough to take hair off your arm and chips of your lumber.
Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you've had time to get comfortable with using them, its time to make your first (and likely most important) major tool purchase. The table saw is the heart and soul of every woodworking shop, the centerpiece around which all of the other tools are used and organized, so you'll want to buy the best table saw that your budget can comfortably afford. Take the time to learn which features you really want and the table saw that best fits your budget and your needs. This article will show you the most common features, and how to determine what features you need and how to know if those features are really well built, or simply added on to the saw because they are selling features.