New to woodworking #1: Excited but never tried anything in woodworking

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Blog entry by WeaponX posted 01-03-2012 05:55 PM 1606 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Wanting to start woodworking

Hi all,

I am very new to woodworking, acutally I was a mechainc for 10 years. I know nothing at all, not even how to read a tape measure in increments. Do you guys have any advise that I could get. I want to buy some tools but I dont wnat to spend alot. I dont mind if they are just hand tools. Just dont know where to start and would love to learn a simple project to work on. Anyways thanks for the advise.

12 comments so far

View deleteme's profile


141 posts in 2634 days

#1 posted 01-03-2012 08:09 PM

As a fellow new LJ’er, I want to say welcome. I have met some amazing people here. I’m sure they will inspire you and lead you in the right direction. Personally, I started looking through the blogs and finding out a bit more on the craft. I’ve been taught that owning tools is just 10% of it. Learning how to use them efficiently, safely, and patiently is another 10%. Just being creative and at times down right nosey is the other 80%. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions but also recorgnizing your level of comfort when executing the suggestions. I too often have bitten off more than I could chew attempting the projects of the “big guns”. Start small, used and simple. Then after you get great with the basics go bigger and better. Oh, and get resourceful with Craigslist. Have an awesome ride brother!

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3676 days

#2 posted 01-03-2012 08:26 PM

Welcome to LJ.

I say – don’t overbuy tools, or run too fast. learn each step properly and enjoy the ride. I would recommend by building a toolbox/toolchest/toolcabinet. you will need some basic tools like:
marking tools (pencil/marking knife)
measuring tools (ruler is OK, square)
cutting tools (saw (handsaw, circular saw, jigsaw), chisels (1/4”,1/2”,3/4” are a good start))
sharpening equipment (sand paper is a good way to start – search for “scary sharp”)

have fun!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dave Pearce's profile

Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3700 days

#3 posted 01-03-2012 08:37 PM


As far as not wanting to spend alot, I can see where you’re coming from. It’s tough to outlay alot of cash on something you’ve never tried before. Just to let you know, buying hand tools isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying power tools. Well made used hand tools can be tuned to a high degree, or you can buy ready to use new hand tools that are finely made. So, good hand tools cost, either in time or in money.

Before you dip into your wallet, spend some time deciding on what it is you really want to build. That’ll help determine what kind of tools you’ll need right away. There’s some overlap to most common tools, where no matter what you build you’ll always want a given tool, but you can quickly go down the rabbit hole of buying needless accessories and gizmos without meaning to.

If I were you, I’d get a list of projects together, present them here, and ask the basic question of, “What tools do I need if I want to build X, Y, or Z”... At least then, people can help you narrow down what you might or might not need to purchase, at least in the short term.

Of course, acquiring tools can be an end to itself, and is perfectly fine if that’s what you’re into.


View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2863 days

#4 posted 01-03-2012 08:38 PM

I’d recommend looking at Wood magazine for some beginner stuff. They usually have some decent projects that don’t require advanced skills. For example I’ve just started their entry way bench and although I’ll change things up to fit my tools it really only requires a drill, a table saw, a tape measure, some clamps and a hand plane. Can be done with less if you live someplace that sells wide surfaced boards.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View xwingace's profile


228 posts in 2616 days

#5 posted 01-03-2012 08:45 PM

Be patient for sure. The skills take time to learn, and your first few projects may be a bit rough. Don’t let that frustrate or discourage you. You should see the scrap pile I had at the beginning…

-- I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.

View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2867 days

#6 posted 01-03-2012 11:26 PM

I second the suggestion at looking into Wood Magazine. I’ve had a subscription for years and have appreciated the clear step-by-step instructions and pictures.

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2448 days

#7 posted 01-04-2012 02:15 AM

Im fairly new to woodworking as well. It started with me when we redid our house when we bought it. I’ve always known basic carpentry (hammer and nails, trim work, etc) mostly done with a finish nailer. When redoing the house I was able to make a few things such as a corner shelf for the cabinets, a mantle for the fireplace, and a basic mdf toybox using a few basic power tools I had. After feeling my way through not really knowing what I was doing, I became fascinated with all the techniques of wood Joinery specifically. That got me doing research and trying to learn about what a “mortise” and “tenon” was, a “dovetail” and “box joint” etc. And then I started acquiring tools off craigslist, eBay, etc. I found that if you’re patient there are a lot of good deals and even better deals if you’re willing to be patient to restore some older tools. I’ve found with a lot of things through my journey so far is a lot of times, older machinery such as table saws, jointers, etc for the most part seem better built analogs stout than a lot if the new machinery which is mostly imported. My table saw started with a Delta contractors saw that I picked up for $75 and itwas in great shape but just needed tuned up and cleaned up. It’s still my powerhouse. A good set if chisels is a must. The Narex set is a good value set that are well worth the money from places like Lee Valley, highland woodworking. I will warn you that it’s a slippery slope. It starts with a table saw, then you move on to hand tools, and more power tools, and more hand tools, etc. Then you need all the handtools and powertools to build the much needed workbench in order to use all those tools. One project leads to another and then necessitates the need for once again more tools. Hahaha it’s a viscous and wallet draining cycle. I would suggest picking up a few books, watching you tube, the forums, googling. Find out asmuch as you can and then get to work and start trying to learn some different skills. Most of all, have fun!!

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3584 days

#8 posted 01-04-2012 02:26 AM

I started out with sawhorses and a circular saw. I was building shelving in the basement, rough stuff. Then I built some speaker stands, but got a little more serious when I started making boxes. As for tools, I only bought what I needed for each project, so it took me years to build up my shop. One advantage you have is a background in mechanics. What with all the adjustements power tools need, that will come in handy. I find that a large part of the hobby is actually mechanical.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View WeaponX's profile


5 posts in 2363 days

#9 posted 01-04-2012 04:23 AM

Can anyone give me some good hand tools not sure what a “basic hand tools are” I really appreciate all the advise and I am real excited to post my first project if I ever get the tool lol. Thanks again.

View Dave Pearce's profile

Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3700 days

#10 posted 01-04-2012 06:54 AM

Well, I don’t have a good list myself, however, I borrowed this list from the Festool forums, which in turn borrowed them from Christopher Schwarz’ book, Anarchist’s Tool Chest. Technically, it’s more than a beginners list, but better to have too much info than not enough.

So the list is hand tools and nothing but. Apologies if you’re looking for something with a cord and a plug in this list. Since you’re new to woodworking, some of these tools might sound unfamiliar or hard to find (they would’ve been to me back when I started), but don’t worry too much. There’s plenty of info about each of these tools right here at Lumberjocks, and from Google. A quick search on the items should turn up some information.

And as always, questions posted in the forums are answered pretty quickly.

Happy reading!

Jack plane
Plow plane
Rabbet/shoulder plane
Router plane
Block plane

Marking & Measuring
Cutting gauge(s)
Panel gauge
6″ Combination square
6″ Rule
24″ folding rule or 24″ steel rule
12″ tape measure
Marking knife
Wooden winding Sticks
36″ wooden straightedge
Wooden try square, 12″ blade
Sliding bevel
Dividers, two to four pair
Trammel points

Essential Cutting Tools
Bevel-edge chisels 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1-1/4″
Mortise chisels, 1/4″ or 5/16″
Cabinet, modeling and rattail rasp
Card scrapers

Striking & Fastening Tools
Chisel mallet
Cross-peen hammer
13 oz. to 16 oz. claw hammer
Deadblow mallet
Nail pincers
Set of slotted screwdrivers
Screw tips for drill/drivers
Sawnut drivers
Countersinks & counterbores
10″ brace
Hand drill
Set of 13 auger bits
Brad points 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″ and 1/2″
Birdcage awl
Dowel plate
Dovetail saw
Carcase saw
Tenon saw
Panel saws (rip saw, crosscut saw, fine crosscut saw)
Flush cut saw
Coping saw

Sharpening stones (honing and polishing)
Oilcan or plant mister

Bench hook
Miter box
End-grain shooting board
Long-grain shooting board
Cork-backed sanding block

Good-to-have Tools
Dial caliper
12″ combination square
Dovetail marker
Jointer plane
Smooth plane
Large shoulder plane
Carpenter’s hatchet
No. 80 cabinet scraper
Beading plane
Small complex moulder, such as an ogee or square ovolo
Half-set of hollows & rounds
1-1/2″-wide paring chisel
Fishtail chisel
Drawer-lock chisel
Mortise float
Expansive bit
Drawbore pins
12″ bowsaw
Mill file
Saw Vise
Saw Set
Side-clamp honing guide


View Sylvain's profile


708 posts in 2527 days

#11 posted 01-04-2012 12:47 PM

Don’t forget some space (see closegrain hereunder) and some kind of workbench.

For a list of hand tools, read all the episode of the excellent Blog serie

“Occasional Table Class” by RGTools

starting at

Have also a look at the Tips & Tricks of MsDebbieP
“basic start-up toold & equipment”

You might find interesting to read :

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View WeaponX's profile


5 posts in 2363 days

#12 posted 01-09-2012 09:35 PM

Thanks guys you have all been a real help, this is a great website. Hopefully I can post a ic soon of something I have done.

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