Hobbies on a Budget reader Rob sent me this tip: Recycle wood for small projects. I have gotten a lot a usable wood from old mattress frames, pallets, panel doors and even a piano. A little bit of destruction work and some cleanup and you can get a ton of useable wood. The best part is that the wood stays out of the landfill. Cost for reused wood? FREE

If you’re looking to setup a shop equipped mainly with stationary power tools, I’d focus the bulk of your budget on the primary big tools. It’s easier to come up with $10 for a couple of clamps as an impulse purchase, than it is $1000 for a good table saw (TS). Most shops feature the TS, and that’s where I’d focus the bulk of my research and budget, unless you’ll primarily be using a band saw (BS). The biggies for me would be a good full size stationary table saw, planer, jointer, router and router table, and maybe a modest DC (like the HF unit for $150). With those main tools, you can build just alot using dimensional lumber or sheetgoods. A BS and DP are nice, but can be added down the road…in the meantime, a modest jigsaw and handheld power drill worked fine for early on. You’ll want a reasonable work surface, whether it’s a nice bench, or an old door. I’d add a good tape measure, squares, a chisel or two, sandpaper, and some basic clamps, then would add more clamps, block plane, and other extras as you go. (Ask family members for gift cards to Rockler, Woodcraft, Amazon, Lowes, HD, etc….). $3k is doable if you’re selective….the used market can be your friend if the right deals come along.


I taught (teach) several aspects of "green woodworking" and related subjects, so I love your question. The buying and using of old tools is great...no matter the source. However, I have seen much frustration ensue over getting them adjusted, and "work ready." As often a beginner with limited budgets, also have limited traditional skill sets as well in understanding these tools and sharpening them. You must be patient with yourself, as tuning these old tools up will be very time consuming. Sharpening (and the proper tools of sharpening) should be your first acquisition. So many folks buy chickens before building a proper "chicken coop." Traditional tools are the same way, as there is no reason to own them, if you can't keep them properly honed.
Even if you don’t live in a rustic log cabin, you can give your home a great cabin look by simply planking one or more walls. This is a relatively easy project that will add beauty and value to any home. Just choose the wall that you want to change, and add wooden planks which you can pick up at most home improvement stores for very little. Then stain if you want and you have a lovely cabin type wall
However, instead of sharing a remodel update this week I thought I would do something a little different. This little voice in my head (sometimes called my husband) has been nagging me to add videos to my blog. I did a couple 1 minute hands-only videos a few months back, but I have been seriously afraid to get in front of the camera. The nagging voice finally won out and I bit the bullet and got in front of the camera for you today! I decided to do a video for today’s post instead of just writing out a boring list. And while editing the video I came to the realization that I am very expressive when I talk. Wow! I use my whole face when I talk. I guess that’s what people meant when they said I am dramatic. Oh well, this is me so I hope you enjoy today’s video about how to build a woodshop on a budget.
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.
The best advise I can give you is to get and read the book "Hand Tool Essentials" by the staff of Popular Woodworking before buying any tools.  It is sort of an inexpensive crash course in hand tools.  Chris Schwarz's book "The Anachrist's Toolchest" is another good source of information on handtools that I found to be a fun read.  Use the internet to learn all you can about a tool before buying.  The tools you need are dictated by what you want to build.
However, if you want to stain or clear-coat the project, you'll have a number of choices to look through. Since your local home center megamart will probably only carry a couple of hardwood species (poplar and red oak are common) spend time at a fine wood supplier and look through the vareties available. They should be able to help you determine how each species will look when finished, which will go a long way toward refining your decision.
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.
Teak is an excellent choice, the “crème de la crème”, for fine outdoor furniture. Teak is highly weather-resistant by nature, which means that it does not have to be weatherproofed when used outdoors – although it often is finished and stained for aesthetic purposes. Teak is one of the most expensive exotic hardwoods there are, but it will look absolutely beautiful and maintain its integrity over time.
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! 

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.

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.  


I use a 9″ x 12″ Chinese grade B surface plate and wet the back of the carborundum “sandpaper” to hold it in place. Obviously not the “budget” version, but I have the surface plate for other purposes. At about $17 from ENCO it wasn’t very expensive. And it *really* is flat to better than 0.001″. So the thickness of the paper is the biggest error. I also have a good assortment of Arkansas and other types of stones, though none of the Japanese waterstones. I generally don’t use the surface plate unless the edge is really bad e.g. an abused tool picked up at a yard sale. 

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.
Since I long ago lost the woodcarving tools I used to own as a youth, I figured I would focus on something larger. With my current ideas of doing a commercial greenhouse venture, I have considered making my first project one of a pergola for training plants up as a living shade-tent area. I have also considered trying to do an earth-sheltered greenhouse assuming I can figure out a loophole in city ordinances and/or coax the officials to sign off on it. I would love to do some hand-carved bowls and eventually make my own workbench and maybe even craft other things like a shaving horse. A foot-powered lathe is another one that I still find fascinating from the Foxfire books.
This is known as the “Scary Sharp” method and I first learned of it on Usenet back in the day. I’ve had pretty good luck only going up to 2000 grit automotive paper. That stuff is commonly available near the spraypaint at Wally-world. At this grit, I can easily shave the hair on my forearm. For a plate, I use a single 12×12 tile from a Big Box store. 

The level of sophistication in a $250 shop is significantly less than a $2,500 shop.  But keep in mind even a $2,500 budget is entry level.  Acquiring a shop full of the perfect tools for each and every job takes a life time.  But that doesn't mean that producing quality work takes a lifetime.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby is the constant need to solve problems in order to produce good work.

"Woodworker's Supply, Inc. failed to properly investigate these complaints and failed to protect Ms. [Teresa] Logsdon from illegal sexual harassment, and gender discrimination in the workplace," according to the complaint filed by her attorney Wendy Owens of Casper in July. "Ultimately, Ms. Logsdon had no choice but to give notice of resignation to protect herself."

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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.
I just do it. Lol. Most of my projects are for my wife so its easier to scrape money together then listen to complaints about them not getting done! Seriously though, its tough. I have two expensive hobbies......woodworking and bass fishing, latter of the two being the worst. I reserve all my side work money for the two. One thing that helps is owning our own saw mill, lumber is basically free other then time.
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.
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.  ​
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.
I set an initial budget of $10,000 to build the shop – everything from studs and drywall to hand tools and machinery. The final number was over by $1,000, but I’m still very happy with the result. The shop is now my haven, with a good sound sys­tem and good lighting. Every time I go back into the shop, it is exactly the way I left it, because it is my shop!

The variety of colors and tones, textures, and grain patterns seen in most hardwoods create some of the most beautiful and unique furniture in the world. Hardwoods are generally more expensive than softwoods, but the finished look can be well worth the additional cost. Hardwoods are often more durable and are therefore generally recommended for tabletops and countertops. Many hardwoods do not need to be stained, but rather hand-finished with natural oils to enhance their beautiful grain and texture.

You can find a project for just about every room in your home. Table scape trays make perfect platforms for dining room decoration. Wooden plaques offer a blank slate for any saying or picture you want. If you want a unique table, we’ve got a few options to consider. Headboards and benches can give your bedroom a real transformation. You can find anything you want among these DIY wood craft projects.
We use a Dewalt 20V drill. It’s kind of embarrassing how much I love this drill.  I got so used to having a crappy one, that once I got a good one, I was hooked on it.  While you are getting the drill, don’t forget drill bits.  Don’t cheap out on those either.  Trust me.  You will use a drill on almost every project, so the investment is definitely worth it.
This is sequential to step one, but with a little difference. You choose simple and easy woodcrafts to make.  Ones that do not require investment in expensive tools. Nor do they require a lot of wood and raw materials. There are plenty of examples of such projects to be found. We have written about a few of them here. Small and popular wood projects can be made in large numbers and sold with ease, for a high profit. 
​In order to excel you are going to need to read up on jig building so that you can produce consistent repeatable cuts.  Ideas for jigs are a dime a dozen online and you could easily lose a couple of hours browsing the hundreds of ideas people think up.  A more economical approach would be to build your jigs as your projects demand them.  After you go through that exercise 4-5 times, you'll find you've accumulated quite the collection of jigs without even trying.
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).
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. 

On the 100/300 grit combo stone: absolutely, positively NO – and I’m a woodworker by training who sees sharpening of tools as a means to an end and not as a religion. DMT bench stones are soooo cheap in the US (they cost as much as 3 times as much in ROW) that you should not waste (expensive) time with Chinese carborundum stones or EZ-Lap …err … junk.
Thanks for the feedback. We’re glad you found the list helpful. Please note that this page contains only 10 of the 40 top tools for woodworking, displaying only hand tools. You can find the next 10 here: https://www.wagnermeters.com/top-40-woodworking-tools-2/. There are links at the bottom of each article to the next group of tools so you can view the entire list. Hope this helps.
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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.
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