starting at wood working

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Blog entry by Lazy_K posted 06-19-2014 02:14 PM 1413 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all;
I’ve been reading blogs, woodworking blogs (go figure . right?) and they all eventually have a list of “what you need to start up” in woodworking. most are on the theme of you only need this $100 dollar saw and this $75 dollar marking gauge and and $ and $ $$$.

STOP!!! (insert sound of record scratching hear) just stop.

take a deep breath.

tools you may already have around the house or apartment, that can also be used to make furniture projects.
tools (if you don’t already have them) that may be useful around the house that can also be used for woodworking projects.
can I make any of these tools myself?

you may have a saw, if not, any of the ones from the local hardware/lumber store can get you started.
the “hard tooth” ones stay sharp longer but cannot be resharpened, the Japanese style ones make really good smooth cuts but are very difficult to sharpen and very easy to ruin. ANY SAW can get you started. buy the expensive one later.

hand planes
it is sometimes useful to have a small block plane or smoothing plane around the house. to trim a sticking door or smooth a damaged moulding. the cheaper block planes are more difficult to use. the Japanese style planes really need a couple of years of practice before you manage to get them set right. for starting out: sometimes sandpaper (which can do all of a plane’s smoothing jobs) is what you need to keep the costs down.

A cordless drill is very useful for hanging pictures, curtains, anything you need a hole or a screw for. also can be used for any hole making in your woodworking. OR a brace w/ bits (you can get holders for modern screw tips)

a 15’ (3m) tape measure can do all of your measuring. (and is handy to have for measuring that space to see if the couch you want to buy will fit)
layout and marking tools: you can make them all yourself, gauges, squares, straight edges, bevels, all that , make em yourself. (search the webs, or ask me)

a chisel
you probably need one to start. a 1/2” or a 1/4” (please do not use it for a screwdriver)

see what I said about drilling

most people have a 12 or 16 oz claw hammer around for the occasional nail or picture hanger. 16 oz is good for most small nails you might use. you only need a 20 or 24 oz hammer if you are driving a lot of 16 and 20 d nails.

Even if you run right out and buy all of this stuff today it should cost less than $100. (yes it can cost you $10,000.00 if you want it to. )
I have a list of tools that I hand out to my students that are all useful to have even if you never make another project. I call it my “tools with which you can make anything” or “everything you need to make anything” list it is @ 20 tools long. maybe next post.

So what are you waiting for?
Money? no really you don’t need that expensive tool. get a better saw when what you are doing justifies the expense (if you “wear out” a tool making things I’d say that the expense of a better tool was justified).
Keep It Simple Sam

-- Kai SaerPren

4 comments so far

View sras's profile


4363 posts in 2551 days

#1 posted 06-19-2014 02:43 PM

If you want to start woodworking, make something with what you have.

I remember helping my sons make their pinewood derby cars in Cub Scouts. I felt pretty good guiding them on how to use the bandsaw and drill press as they shaped their designs.

Then I got to see how one boy had made his car. His dad was not in the picture and his grandfather had let him look through his small tool box. This boy had shaped his car by scraping away wood with a screw driver! And – it didn’t look half bad. Considering what he did, it was the best car there!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Lazy_K's profile


111 posts in 1612 days

#2 posted 06-20-2014 12:30 AM

exactly Steve! start NOW, with what you Have! you may start out a bit paleo, but refinements will come and the wood is always wood.

-- Kai SaerPren

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7717 posts in 1802 days

#3 posted 06-20-2014 02:49 AM

any of the ones from the local hardware/lumber store can get you started.

There is nothing more frustrating than hardware store saws. I bet they dissuade more people from hand tool woodworking than any other single tool.


View Lazy_K's profile


111 posts in 1612 days

#4 posted 06-20-2014 08:03 PM

Rick M; there is truth in what you say. However: telling someone they absolutely must spend $100 for their first saw will also stop many from starting. the point I am trying to make is that if someone wants to start woodworking, and all they have is a pocket knife and grampa’s old saw or even less, they should start making something. sometimes first projects need to be planned around what you have for tools and get better tools slowly as you go.

-- Kai SaerPren

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