Woodworking requires a lot of planning, precision, and deep understanding of the tools used in the process. Woodworking can be very fun but also dangerous if you are not familiar with what needs to be used and how those tools are utilized in the creation process. There are many different woodworking tools you can pick from but ultimately some standards that are used in all of woodworking and continue to be the go-to when getting started. If you can master some of the tools that are involved in woodworking, you will surely be able to create some of the most magnificent pieces imaginable.
One of the first tools you will need to grab is a saw. Saws such as table saws, miter saws, and even jig saws are all useful in the woodworking community and are the standard for any design you will start working on. Granted, there are some tiny projects that you can create that do not require the use of a big table saw, but you will still use a smaller saw for that project nonetheless.
Another tool that gets utilized are sanders. Whether you are using a belt sander or just need a sanding disc, being able to smooth out the edges of your project and give it a fine finish are what set woodworking projects apart from one another. There is a distinct difference in someone that has enough attention to detail to sand their woodworking project properly compared to someone that does not.
Another common piece of woodworking machinery is a drill. Drills come in all shapes and sizes but ultimately are very useful in the process of woodworking. There are some people that get around needing to use a drill but if you want a project that can definitely make your life easier, you may want to consider investing in one.
There are other pieces of woodworking machinery you should keep in mind, such as nail guns, various oscillating tools, and even lathes, but only you will know what will be required when you get started on your project. No two woodworking projects are alike and some will require fewer or more tools than the other. Regardless of the amount of tools, respect of them and understanding of them will be what makes your project a success or a failure. Try out each tool, practice their safety guidelines, and see which will benefit you the most in the long run.
Below, we put together what we feel is a good beginner list of tools.
1. Power jointer and thickness planer. I have developed various means of straightening the edges of my stock with hand-held tools, but I don’t see a way to efficiently flatten the faces of rough or reclaimed lumber without a power jointer. It’s part of the first few steps for any furniture project, and I want to be able to move through this step quickly and into the more interesting work. The thickness planer is also a huge time-saver, compared to hand-held tools.
2. Circular saw, for rough dimensioning (especially long rip cuts). If you have a good table saw, that’s even better, because you can of course use a table saw for all sorts of joinery work – not just dimensioning.
3. Hand saws, a router and two router bits. These are the tools I use for cross-cutting, straightening edges and cutting boards down to final width. The two router bits are a straight cut bit and a flush trimming bit.
4. Jigsaw, for cutting curves. A coping saw is also nice to have for detailed work.
5. Combination square and tape measure, along with crayons, pencils, a knife and an awl for marking.
6. A power drill or two, and bits as needed.
7. Rasps, files, a random-orbit sander, a smoothing plane and a block plane. These are the minimum for smoothing all surfaces of the final work, and doing it efficiently. Don’t forget that you’ll need sharpening supplies for the plane blades.
8. Joinery gadgets? I’m not yet sold on buying a biscuit joiner or a pocket-hole set. Again, if you already have them I think they are great. But I’m looking for projects I can complete with a combination of hand-cut joints, router joints and straight-in screwing. We’ll see how it goes.
9. Chisels and a wooden mallet.
10. A hammer and some screwdrivers.
11. A Workmate, a puttering bench and clamps. Until I can invest in a large furniture-making workbench, I think I will be able to make do with the Workmate and a small bench. Again, we’ll see how it goes. A good-sized supply of clamps, of course, is always necessary.
This is a basic overview of woodworking tools. To get a full list of our essential workshop tools, download our free essential tools guide here.