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.
When I was just getting started with woodworking, I didn’t know anything about saws. The standard push saw was the only hand saw that I had any experience with. So naturally this was the type of saw I bought. It works fine for making cross cuts, and can even be used to rip, if you don’t have a table saw or circular saw. However, I quickly realized that I needed something for more precision cuts.
Many beginners trying to get started in woodworking take one look at their budget and worry how they can afford to buy a whole shop full of power tools to get started. Fortunately, one doesn't have to spend a fortune to get started. There are really only seven woodworking tools that I would recommend any beginning woodworker have on hand from the start, and most are relatively inexpensive. However, with these seven tools, a beginner can tackle quite a number of projects.
Some DIY woodworking projects are too intimidating to even attempt because you don't think of yourself as a master woodworker. Backyard Woodworking dubs itself as the YouTube channel for the average guy. The channel takes you through simple projects you can do today, projects like a piggy bank, a birdhouse and a heart boxâ€”which is apparently the perfect gift for your sweetie!
The last tool I recommend for every beginning woodworker is a quality router. While many routers available today offer two different bases (a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and can also be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in (or even build one) one down the line. Choose a router model that is at least 2-HP and has electronic variable speed controls (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds), a soft start mechanism and is easy to make bit changes (preferably with the ability to use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch shank router bits).
The type of wood you choose will determine the overall strength, look and cost of the finished piece. Many varieties of wood exist, and CZ Woodworking will work with each customer to determine what wood will fit your needs best. Each wood has its benefits and can be utilized in a number of different ways to create various looks within a project. Explore the various samples below to determine what might work best for you.
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.
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.
Softwoods are often softer and more delicate woods in general, as the name would suggest, but aren’t necessarily always weaker than hardwoods. Although, they are generally less dense and not as durable as Hardwoods, which grow at a much slower rate than softwoods creating a denser and stronger grain in the wood. Softwoods come from coniferous (or gymnosperm) trees such as Cedar, Hemlock and Pine and lean towards a yellow to reddish tone by nature. Hardwoods come from angiosperm (seed producing) trees such as Oak, Cherry, Maple and Walnut and are generally darker toned woods. Softwoods tend to be less expensive than hardwoods, as they grow much more quickly and can be milled at a faster rate. While hardwoods are generally more expensive, the durability, strength and overall look is often worth the additional cost depending on your project needs.
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.
Finally, at the beginning you'll do just fine with a basic set of router bits that run ~$40. A starter set will typically include straight bits for edge matching material, a selection of edge finishing bits, and some joinery bits. As you work on a few projects you may find that more specialized bits are needed. But specialized bits are expensive - so purchasing them as you have a specific need makes more sense than buying in anticipation of a need.
I added an accessory mitre gauge to the saw for accurate cut-off work. The Incra Miter1000 showed up under the Christmas tree after the Lee Valley flyer photo with part number mysteriously ended up on the fridge door with a circle around it last December. A great addition, the Incra is light, accurate, and provides adjustable stops for cutting multiple parts to precise length. I will also make a plywood cut-off sled for the saw for squaring larger panels.
Hand tools offer your best chance of finding a real bargain. Until the early 20th century, nearly all woodworking was done with hand tools, and their designs and uses have changed little. Most of the high-end planes on today’s market, for example, are just reproductions of the original designs. And because the originals were mass-produced, they are fairly easy to find at rummage sales and antiques stores. (For more information, refer to Matthew Teague’s article, “Buying Old Tools,” in FWW #180).
I place the band saw first in my order of purchases, because I consider it the heart of the shop. Band saws are very safe tools for ripping, re-sawing, cutting curves and more because all of the force is downward, virtually eliminating any chance of unexpected kickbacks. I wanted a saw that had a strong back, dynamically balanced cast iron wheels for smooth operation and flywheel effect, 12" depth of cut, good dust extraction design, a large table and a solid fence. After shopping around, I settled on the General International Model 90-170 14" saw. It is very smooth, comes with an Excalibur fence, and it is light enough (133kg) to move into your basement without crushing someone.
The next thing to look at was how to order the list. Probably the most obvious was subscriber count (which is how it is ordered), video count was also a possibility. One thing I was looking at, was the subscribers to video ratio. For example the Channel Inspire To Make has 101,000 subscribers, but when you realize that they only have 20 videos, the subscriber to video ratio is very impressive. I really do recommend you check it out as the videos really are very well made.
Frank Howarth is a unique guy - educated as an architect, but with practical woodworking skills to rival any journeyman. He has the most enviable workshop of anybody I've seen, and his projects are aspirational on every level - creativity, originality, ingenuity, and craftsmanship. He devotes a lot of time to talking about the layout and design of his ever-changing workshop, and there's a lot of clever ideas to steal and pass off as your own. If you can't tell, I love Frank. Oh, and his stopmotion videos are awesome.
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.
If you choose paint for your finish, you won't want to waste your money on woods known for their color and beauty when stained, so avoid richly-colored species such as oak, maple, walnut or mahogany. For painted projects, poplar is a very good choice because it is relatively stable and takes paint quite well (not to mention that it doesn't look all that good stained).
The majority of books I read are lost to my memory since I had originally read them in high school when I was very active in scouting. I fell out of focus and didn't really get interested again in woodworking specifically until the last few years as my desire for learning self-sufficient skills has grown beyond just survivalism. I've read the first five Foxfire books and paid great attention to the various non-electric projects and old fashioned woodworking skills. I have also begun to watch episodes of the Woodwright's Shop (my father used to watch it heavily, but at the time I paid very little attention) and wish the first season was online since he does a lot of the basics in that first season. Most of my other reading has been online or watching videos such as the construction of a woodworking bench and the like. I do get smanterings from other books such as the Back to Basics by Abigail Gehring.
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!