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.
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.
Another staple in the beginner woodworkers tool kit has to be the cordless drill. Used for either drilling holes or driving fasteners, this tool gets used on almost every project. There a tons of options here regarding size of batteries, aka power, but something around the 18-20 volt range is a good all-around size that will not leave you constantly wishing you had something larger or smaller. Here is a large accessory kit at a good price that should give you most of the drivers a bits you will need.
Sadly, that’s most of my power tools and shop accessories, but it’s a growing collection. Compared to all the money I’ve wasted on small electronics and computer junk in the past, I’d say this has been, and will continue to be, a much better investment. I just wish I had come to that realization back in college, when I was probably spending $500-$1000+ a year upgrading my computer.
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 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.
The next hand tool every woodworker should have is a nail set. In fact, you should have several sizes. They look like awls, and you use them to drive nail heads into the wood so they are flush or right below the surface. This allows you to fill the holes and prepare for staining or painting. The nail setter will usually have either a convex or concave surface to grip the nail better and keep it from sliding off and marring the wood.
The trick is to use sandpaper. It’s a good quality abrasive material and is readily available. You’ll want a selection of different grits – low grits to get started, higher grits when finishing. The reason this is cheaper is that you can get a selection of 5-10 different sandpapers for under $20. Getting even a couple of decent sharpening stones wouldn’t be possible at that price. In the long run, they’ll last longer but this is a budget option we’re talking about.
If you have wood pallets just lying around the yard, put them to use by turning them into a great mud room bench. This bench would look fabulous on the deck or just inside the door, wherever you want to put it. When you finish putting it all together, just sand and stain it whatever color you want and you have a beautiful bench that cost you very little to create.
I could not consider a 12" jointer, given that the equipment had to be moved down the stairs to my basement, and the cost would blow my budget. What I wanted in an 8" jointer was true tables, a fence that is solid and easy to adjust, a cut depth gauge that is reliable, and long tables that aid in flattening longer bowed planks. I have found that the Taiwanese tools have come a long way in the past 20 years. I purchased the King KC-80FX 8-inch jointer, with lever adjust parallelogram tables. The system arrived in a good state of tune, and the well-written manual includes a full parts list and exploded parts diagrams. The tables were extremely heavy; more about getting things down the stairs later. The jointer is reasonably priced, it runs smoothly and it is well made.
The Japanese style saw or Japan saw, depending on who you ask, can easily replace both the push saw and the dovetail pull saw for most of your needs. This is why I included the Japanese style saw in my woodworking budget starter kit. If I was starting over, and just going to buy one saw, this would be the one. I purchased an Irwin, but there are several other brands out there. I just found this one to be the best value at the time I was shopping.
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.