Most beginners in woodworking don’t have an idea which tools to buy with the vast array available on the market. As a result, they spend thousands of dollars’ worth of expensive woodworking tools when it doesn’t have to be always costly. As a beginner, your woodworking tools must start with what’s basic, so you get the feel of the core of great work.
To help you decide what goes inside your toolbox, this list of must-have tools for woodworking compiled by experts from your workshop journal will be your guide.
Every woodworking project begins with cutting materials. Whether you need to cut softwood like pine or hardwood like oak, wood needs good ripping and crosscutting to take shape. To do this, you need saws in different shapes and sizes.
One power tool that should belong in your toolbox is a circular saw. It’s a round blade with sharp teeth that tear through the wood. They are electric and come in different power ratings. Some people think a circular saw is more ideal for rough carpentry than woodworking, but in the right hands, you can cut straight and clean lines. It actually depends on the blade you use, which comes in three types:
- Crosscut: used for sawing across the grain
- Combination: used for both crosscutting and ripping
- Ripping: used to cut lengthwise along or with the grain
Instead of revolving blades, jigsaws cut through up and down motion and are designed to make intricate cuts that are straight, curved, or serpentine. Think of the lines found in a jigsaw puzzle, and you’ll get a glimpse of what this tool is capable of.
Jigsaw blades vary in and tooth numbers, such as:
- Fine-tooth Blades – used for sawing veneers
- Coarse-tooth Blades – used for rough and fast work
Table saws can produce cuts that are hard to do using other saw types. They’re constructed like upside-down circular saws where the blade is exposed below a saw table or a work surface.
Depending on the location and the size of work you’ll be doing, these are your main table saw choices:
Cabinet – This is ideal for all-purpose work like lumber-ripping and panel-cutting.
Contractor – This is economical and preferred by building contractors for quick and easy cutting where time and space are crucial.
Benchtop – This is made to be portable and is a direct drive (which makes it compact), but tends to be noisy when in use.
Handsaws are simple to use for quick work or where you need detailed, precise cuts. This tool isn’t expensive, and the nice thing about it is there’s no bulky weight, cords, or batteries that die. It’s a toothed steel blade with a wooden handle which you need to slide back and forth to work. Make sure to invest in high-quality handsaws you can afford. Most disappointments with handsaws are because of dull blades. A sharp blade can cut wood nearly as fast as an electric saw.
Filing, Planing, and Sanding
After you cut wood pieces to a rough shape, you need to do more work to get an attractive, finished appearance. Even if you have a fine saw blade, you’ll still need filing, planing, and sanding supplies.
Planes use a fixed blade to shave wood fibers, let them take shape, and become smoother. The blade size and depth are key variables in how much you can remove.
For hand planes, these are the range you may want:
- Block Planes – small but heavy and best for tight work where smooth joints are necessary
- Jack Planes – a “jack-of-all-trades” tool because of both curved and straight edge
- Joining Planes – designed to smooth edges and join pieces together
- Rabbet Planes – used for cutting right angle grooves along board edge grain
- Scraper Planes – used to scrape fine fibers off wood surfaces for a super-smooth finish
- Spokeshaves – designed for curved surfaces
This is a fast-acting machine that makes hand sanding easier. Orbital sanders use sandpaper pads that revolve in a circular or orbital pattern. Your best buy is a random orbital sander as it doesn’t circulate. Instead, it swings back and forth in a random manner, leaving the wood surface smooth and mark-free.
A hand file is a great tool to shape and smoothen wood. It’s inexpensive and lasts a long time if made with quality steel. Once dull, it’s best to replace them rather than try to sharpen them. Here are your main choices:
Rasps – a rough-edged tool with coarse teeth used to remove large pieces of wood for general shaping
Half-Round – has a curved face on one side and a flat surface on the other, which allows you to work on curved and straight surfaces
Mill – is flat on both faces but have fine teeth on one side and coarse on the other
You can also use hand files to sharpen woodworking blades and bits. Metal files have fine teeth and are made of high-grade steel. You’ll get the most of what you paid for if you invest in high-grade hand files.
Once your wood components are cut in proper sizes and smooth enough, they’ll need assembling. Successful woodwork assembly relies on two things: precision joints that fit and the right tools to assemble and fasten them.
These are the basic assembly tools you’ll need:
- Hammer – used to pound and pry
- Mallet – softer than hammers and absorb shock rather than direct it
- Power Drill – used to drill holes
- Screw Gun – all-around best fastener for woodworking
Measurement and Angles
Good measuring equipment ensures that your measurements are accurate and easy to read. These tools will help you in that area:
- Squares – Good squares allow you to create and check all sorts of angles. Most squares have measuring markings engraved on the surface, which double as measuring rules.
- Tape Measures – This is a common woodworker measuring tool composed of a flexible ruler. This is used to measure distance or size and consists of fiberglass, metal strip, ribbon cloth, and plastic with linear measurement markings.
Invest in Quality Tools
Whatever work you’re trying to do, the best tip we can leave you is to invest in quality tools. This lets you do your work with ease and ensure that you produce the results you expect. After all, you’ll need woodworking tools that can stand the test of time, enough for you to get a return on your investment.