Man, do I ever know about the "pre-buyers remorse"! My fiancé is a self proclaimed "cheapskate"(her language is a bit more coarse), but when it comes to my shop, she's all for me spending. I always end up being the one to pump the brakes, as I have a history of being TERRIBLE with money(@ 21, I was making close to 6 figures with no post-secondary education, and at 31, I still have less than $5,000 in the bank), while she pushes me to get "whatever I need". Of course, we all know that the line between want and need is pretty blurry. I agree with some of the other posts; I keep all of my expenses logged, and try to churn out money-makers to chip away at the red, always hoping to reach the black. So far, I'm still seeing red, but as my shop continues to flesh-out and my skill set grows, profit begins to sound more and more feasible all the time. Of course, I'm not really trying to make money. I just want to buy bigger and better equipment and supplies!
I've been through many tools in that time and I rarely buy new. So many begin this hobby with a zillion tools but never use them. They wait about two years and sell. The best thing is the price but I also like the fact when she looks for my list items she finds so many other things that were future list items. I won't bore with good deal stories but I have many.

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.
Flea markets and swap meets are great sources of old tools, but unless you are able to rehab and sharpen them, they aren't going to do you much good. You can always find lots of chisels and planes at these places, and they can be brought back to life. I wouldn't waste my time on any saws though, unless they are relatively rust-free. If a saw is rusty, you will have to re-file and re-set the teeth, which requires a good deal of expertise and some specialized tools.
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.
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.
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): 

I've been through many tools in that time and I rarely buy new. So many begin this hobby with a zillion tools but never use them. They wait about two years and sell. The best thing is the price but I also like the fact when she looks for my list items she finds so many other things that were future list items. I won't bore with good deal stories but I have many.
Right now you're thinking, "but the plans say to use a table saw for this." That's OK , because the great thing about a circular saw is you can turn it into a table saw. There are plenty of videos online showing how to do this, but you are essentially cutting a slot in a piece of plywood, mounting the circular saw to it, and flipping it over. With careful planning you can have a good basic table saw without spending hundreds of dollars, and it can come apart if you need to save space. With that setup you can cut long pieces of wood that you may not be able to brace properly to cut with the circular saw. You can also make more accurate cuts than by holding the circular saw. It can also be used to cut simple dados and to cut a bevel. You do need to be careful, as it won't have the blade guard covering the saw blade anymore.
The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding. Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.
One of the challenges we all face is how to move machines into a home without damaging the home, the machinery, or yourself. I actually had to bring things through the front door, and across hardwood floors, and turn 90° to descend the stairs into the shop. To protect the floors, I laid down sheets of 1/2" MDF that I could use later. On the wooden stairs, I used three strips of softwood strap­ping, held with wood screws to the stairs. I mounted a 2x4 baton to the wall studs at the top of the stairs, with a 5/16-inch eye-bolt through it.
I have a stable income like a said earlier, but when it comes to having extra cash to just blow on a hobby, well I was never always that fortunate.  So when I wanted a new tool or even to just purchase lumber, I would have to save up until I could purchase it.  I know that sounds like most people, but it has taken me several years to just even get the basic tools of woodworking.
As far as sharp goes, I subscribe to the school of thought that you need to hone an edge to hold up to what is is going to be cutting. The more you hone an edge, the thinner it becomes. This makes it sharp, but it also erodes it’s physical strength. If you want to slice paper or shave the hairs off your arm, go happy with a 2000 grit polish. If you are going to be hogging through wood, that edge will round over very quickly. IMHO you are better with a 500 grit finish at the most, and usually I am totally happy with the result of the 360 diamond hone.

My name is Marc Spagnuolo and welcome to my channel. I am a podcaster, video producer, author, and woodworking enthusiast. I have contributed articles and video content to FineWoodworking.com, Popular Woodworking Magazine and WOOD Magazine. Producing the Wood Whisperer is a great way for me to combine four of my passions: woodworking, technology, education, and humor. I believe that even the most complicated woodworking project is just a series of steps. My goal with this channel is to show you the tools and techniques you need to perform those steps.
By posting on this site and forum, the poster grants to Canadian Woodworking Magazine/Website the unrestricted rights to use of the content of the post for any purpose, including, but not limited to, publishing the posted material, including images, in print or electronic form in a future issue or issues of Canadian Woodworking magazine or related Canadian Woodworking products, and to use the post for promotional purposes without further compensation, as well as the right to use the poster's name in a credit along with the post.
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!
Just like a hammer and tape measure, a drill is something a lot of people already keep on hand for small household projects. Danny and I started out on a SUPER cheap drill when we first got married and quickly learned that this was not something to cheap out on.  If you plan to do much woodworking, invest in a quality drill.  It doesn’t have to be the best of the best, but do at least get a mid-grade drill. 

Even the backside grinding shown in the single frame of the video shows the effects of hand held sharpening. There is a curve on the flat side of the blade! Starting to look like a spoon. It’s impossible to get a flat surface when using bones and tendons. This effect was exploited to make the first lens when done in glass. Telescope mirror grinders do it too using two different hardness of glass, if machine done it would be flat. If those “slate” tiles are flat they must be ground flat not baked. No need to check.
We made the decision for my wife to be a stay at home mom - it was a decision we both felt was a good one before we ever even discussed it. Being a single income family does sometimes have financial drawbacks, but the blessings of my wife being a stay at home mom are blessings that money can't buy. Eventually, when our son (and any future children we may have) are in grade school, my wife will look at finding a job. She's also looking at the possibility of starting to do in-home daycare for 2 or 3 children in our home, which would bring in some extra money.
Then there are the “practical” woodworkers that enjoy weekend projects and things that don’t require a ton of expensive tools, time, and expertise (HELLO, THAT’S ME).  I will be in the latter category.  Sure, you can invest in hand tools, but in the words of one of my favorite internet sensations, “ain’t nobody got time fo that.”  Let’s be practical here.
Other important power tools—A good jigsaw will help get you through many tasks, particularly cutting curves, that would otherwise require a bandsaw. Look for one with blade guides that keep blade deflection to a minimum. A handheld drill is also essential. A quality corded drill is much less expensive than a cordless one, and will never leave you without a charge. Also look for a quality random-orbit sander with a provision for dust collection. 

These basics are going to set you back about $180, leaving you with $320 left to work with.  We are going to be leaving behind two hand powered tools from the $250 shop and upgrading to powered alternatives.  This should lead to more consistent results, more enjoyable builds, and increased efficiency.  These are all goods things that only the biggest fans of The Woodwright's Shop would argue with.

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.


The thickness planer can joint a board's face. On this simple jig, the stock is supported by twin rows of wood screws driven into a platform and adjusted to meet the varying clearances on the underside of the board. The stock rides the sled cup side up. Slide the board slightly sideways to adjust the screws, then seat it firmly on the screw heads for planing.
Thanks for the acknowledgement. My goal is for viewers like yourself to be able to focus 100% on the video’s content, woodworking. Most woodworking apprentices will ask the journeyman to show them how it is done. At the same time, many beginning woodworkers do not know what questions to ask. By showing you on the video, you are able to think for yourself and to also formulate important questions to ask. With that said, the more you watch each video, the more you will learn about woodworking skills and techniques. (some things in the videos are subtle that you may not pick up on the first viewing.)
First, let's dump that hand powered saw/miter box.  It gets the job done, but it takes forever.  We're still on a lean budget, but shelling out ~$110 for a 10 inch electric miter saw makes a lot of sense.  This won't be your forever saw, but it should do fine for most projects.  It can handle up to a 4x6 stock which will cover 99% of what a beginning wood worker will throw at it.  

Use the square and position the pivot point onto the board top and slide the square up to the 5 on the line up “COMMON TOP CUT” outside the board. Mark the line as for the angle. After first angle is cut, measure the rafter length from the tip cut to get the seat cut measurement. Mark the seat cut and place the pivot point onto this mark and do the same step to get 5/12 angle. From that angle, measure up 2 ½” and make the line.
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 🙂
The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding. Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.
Can you outfit your shop with all the necessary hand tools for just $100? Christopher Schwarz says you can, and he’ll show you how to do it in this article. Take Christopher’s shopping list to the flea market and come back with everything you need for less than you’d spend on one new hand plane. You can do all your woodworking with hand tools, and this article from Popular Woodworking will equip you with everything you need.

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.


The circular saw is pretty much the first tool I grab for any project. You can use it for both rough cutting your lumber to get started on a project or making finish cuts before final assembly of your project. You can use it to make half lap joints and a variety of other joinery methods. While a table saw or stationary miter saw might make a certain task easier, it is hard to beat the cost, portability, and versatility of a circular saw. While most of these come with a blade, here is a good all-around blade that I use.
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