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).
If I had it to do over again, I would stick to an entry level miter saw and table saw until I had both the funds and need to upgrade to more capable saws.  Because of this, I'd stick to the two saws we looked at in the $500 build: ​The Craftsman Table Saw for ~$150 and Hitachi 10 inch Miter Saw for ~110.  These two additions bring our running total to just over $500.  
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.
One of the great furniture woods, Mahogany has a reddish-brown to deep-red tint, a straight grain, medium texture and is moderately hard. It takes stain very well, but looks great with even just a few coats of oil on it. For an even more distinguished look, exotic African Ribbon-Striped Mahogany adds amazing grain and texture elements to this already beautiful species of wood.
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.
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. 

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. 

An assortment of chisels should be part of every workbench. Chisels are not just for wood carvers. Any woodworker will need chisels to clean out joints and saw cuts. Look for chisels made of high-alloy carbon steel or chromium-vanadium alloyed steel. Hardwood grips are best, especially if they have metal caps on them. This will keep the end of the handle from becoming malformed when you hammer on it.
Repurposed materials are taken from their original intent and utilized in another fashion. This refers to barn beams or siding, old wood floors, paneling or even wood pallets that had an original purpose, but are then transformed into something completely new. The possibilities are endless, as every repurposed piece has a little piece of history that comes along with it, and gives unbelievable character to the new project.

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.

Poplar is one of the less expensive hardwoods. It’s also fairly soft, considering it is a hardwood, which makes it easy to work with. Poplar is very light in color (almost “white”) with some green or brown streaks in the heartwood (the wood that comes from the center of the tree). Because poplar is not the most beautifully grained wood, it’s almost always painted as it does take to paint very nicely for a uniform finish. Poplar makes for great table bases (often painted, with a stained tabletop of a different wood), drawers, cabinets, hutches and more. Poplar is a very common wood that is versatile and cost efficient.
For woodworking entertainment and inspiration be sure to checkout our Woodworking Video Series "The Highland Woodworker". Improve your woodworking skills and learn more about the use of woodworking tools with free online woodworking materials in the Woodworking Library. At Highland Woodworking you get more than fine woodworking tools...you get fine tool tips too!
If I had it to do over again, I would stick to an entry level miter saw and table saw until I had both the funds and need to upgrade to more capable saws.  Because of this, I'd stick to the two saws we looked at in the $500 build: ​The Craftsman Table Saw for ~$150 and Hitachi 10 inch Miter Saw for ~110.  These two additions bring our running total to just over $500.  

Swap meets and flea markets? Often you see people bring all the old tools out of their garage that grandpa handed down to them and that haven't seen any use for 40 years. Hand saws, chisels, planes, drills, and all other manner of hand tools that are hard to give away because most people can't even tell what they are. An old fashioned brace-and-bit falls into that category, and all the people want for it is a couple of bucks.


I can't really give a great answer to your question - I'm still learning how to deal with woodworking on a limited budget myself, but I'm getting there. It's not always easy, but when I want something I can't afford, I am starting to remind myself more and more that someday my day will come when hopefully there will be more room in the budget for my woodworking hobby. I'm also hoping to start selling the occasional item within the next year to help bring in some extra money for woodworking related expenses.
For woodworking entertainment and inspiration be sure to checkout our Woodworking Video Series "The Highland Woodworker". Improve your woodworking skills and learn more about the use of woodworking tools with free online woodworking materials in the Woodworking Library. At Highland Woodworking you get more than fine woodworking tools...you get fine tool tips too!
When I bought my miter saw, I didn’t buy the cheapest, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I started out with a small Hitachi.  I LOVE my saw and it does a great job—I have no complaints.  However, I do kind of wish I had gotten a larger one.  Here’s the thing.  I can cut up to a 1×6 board in one pass on my miter saw.  But if I cut any larger than that, I have to flip the board over and cut again from the other side.  That means if I’m making something from 1x8s or wider, I have to make twice as many cuts.  Sometimes this is a pain.  But it’s obviously not a big enough pain for me to spend the extra money to go buy a bigger one haha.  Just something to consider. Either way, a miter saw of any size is guaranteed to be a good investment.  Also, watch out for sales on this saw…it’s often listed on sale for $100 (that’s how I got mine!).

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.

Through my cabinet-shop connections, I managed a snappy deal ($200) on a used cabinet saw with a 54-in. commercial rip fence. That price would be hard to match, but it is possible to find a hybrid or used cabinet saw with a high-quality fence for $600 to $1,200. Some of them will run on 120v household current, meaning you won’t have to rewire your shop for 240v service, but be sure to check for compatibility before you buy.
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.
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