Complete beginner looking for some direction getting started..

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Forum topic by jkphila posted 02-24-2010 05:56 PM 1298 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 3249 days

02-24-2010 05:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner hand tools tools

Hello all. Ive been interested in woodworking for a little while now and have decided I think I want to give this hobby a try. My problem is that Im coming from as close to zero background as you can get. My father was into building computers when I was growing up, not cabinets. :)

Anyways I have been reading over this forum and watching videos on youtube and would like to see what you guys would recommend as the minimal amount of tools I would need to get started? Im going to be doing this with only hand tools because of my living arrangement. Id be happy just making a small box with a lid or a small side table with 4 legs and a top just to put my laptop on at night when Im sleeping. Any help getting me started is appreciated!

9 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3310 days

#1 posted 02-24-2010 06:55 PM

If I was just starting out and if I was committed to just using hand tools, I would seriously consider the Jointmaker SW from Bridge City tools. It is expensive but it is very a very capable tool. In woodworking the name of the game is precision cutting. This tool gives you the ability to make extremely accurate and precise cuts. Check out the video at their website.

In my opinion, the jointmaker, some good chisels, at least one good plane and a few other miscellaneous items and you are in business.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3304 days

#2 posted 02-24-2010 08:03 PM

This is one of those “chicken and egg” questions. The tools you need will depend on what you think you want to build – and what you want to build pretty much dictates the tools needed. Confused yet? – lol

Since you mentioned a small box or simple table, I suggest that you watch videos of people building those and pay close attention to the tools they’re using – particularly the hand tools. That should get you started. When you make a mistake (and you will), try to figure out what you did wrong and do it again correctly. Think of the money you spend on extra wood as tuition. – lol

I also recommend that you watch as many of the woodworking shows as you can. Years ago, I watched Norm Abrams on the “New Yankee Workshop” and spent most of the show thinking “Ahh, so that’s how you do that”. These days, I watch him and think “That’s neat, but I do it this way”. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3506 days

#3 posted 02-24-2010 09:33 PM

I would recommend you find a local club or guild and join. Nothing is better than learning from experience. I learned and gained my love of woodworking from my grandfather…and he was a great role model. There are also classes at local woodcraft stores…or look around for a good local class (some adult education classes offer shop classes)...I would try before I buy as far as tools go….otherwise you might buy tools that aren’t able to keep up with your skills or are not of a good quality. There are a lot of tool companies out there making the same type of tools. Most tools have different features, some that are good and some that are unnessary.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View LeeG's profile


40 posts in 3257 days

#4 posted 02-24-2010 10:56 PM

I was in a similar position several years ago. My first real tool purchase was a good compound miter saw. This gave me a platform that I could use to make accurate cuts in finished lumber bought from a home center. This worked well for my handyman type projects around the house (apartment at the time). If I needed sheet wood, I’d have it cut to size at the store and then cut the remaining pieces to fit that. Sure you can do your cutting with a handsaw, but it takes a considerable amount of practice to do that well. I wanted to build stuff, not make piles of sawdust trying to get a square cut.

For me, I started with projects that fit within the skill/equipment level I had – a set of shelves built into my storage room. I added tools to fit the projects I wanted to do. A router was next for me. I did quite a bit of stuff with just those 2 tools and a cordless driver/drill. Once I decided that I really enjoyed doing woodwork, I added more ‘shop’ tools – table saw, drill press, etc.

Some people recommend starting with hand tools. This would be good if you want to really learn the art of woodworking, but if your goals are more along the lines of finished projects, power tools are the only real way to go. It is considerably easier to reach a decent level of competence with power tools than with hand tools. Also, hand tools need to be kept sharp to be anything more than a frustration. Sharpening is an additional skill you need to acquire as well as an additional expense.

-- Lee in Phoenix

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3636 days

#5 posted 02-24-2010 11:22 PM

Welcome. As far as getting into woodworking and where to start. I would say get some really good books and research. There are so many but if you do a search on the site I’m positive you will find some good information from past post’s. Next, see if there is a woodworking store in your area i.e. Woodcraft, that offers classes. Also, as reggie said, see if there are any clubs or guilds in your area. If you have PBS on tv, see if they show “The Woodwright’s Shop” with Roy Underhill, he uses nothing but hand tools.

As far as tools go, you will see many different reactions to the question. Some people will say buy cheaper tools to learn on and then eventually move up to the more expensive ones. Others will say to buy nothing but the top of the line tools because they only work. My opinion is to first look at the cheaper tools,research and see what the reviews say. Also, I completely agree with Lee about sharpening though.

Most of my hand tools cost very little, though recently I began to upgrade them, not because they didn’t work but because I learned how to use them and wanted better ones. I recently bought my first hand plane and decided on a cheap $20 #4 Groz. I knew beforehand I would be doing a fair amount of tune up to get it working right. I spent a couple hours working on it and after that I’m convinced it cuts just as good as a $300 plane, which I have used before. Yeah it wasn’t set up perfect right out of the box, but look at the amount of money I saved and the skill I learned while tuning it up to get it right.

Happy woodworking!

View JohnnyW's profile


83 posts in 3266 days

#6 posted 02-24-2010 11:43 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks.

I started from a fairly similar point a few weeks ago and I’ve found the Getting Started series on Fine Woodworking website really useful.
The guys take you through making a small box with basic hand tools. You could use the same tools and skills for other similar projects.

I’ve also got this book and agree wholeheartedly with the reviews; it’s probably the next best thing to having someone explain it to you personally.

I hope these help you as much as they did me and I look forward to seeing your first projects.

-- John

View jkphila's profile


2 posts in 3249 days

#7 posted 02-25-2010 05:32 AM

Thanks a lot guys I will take all of this into consideration!

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3257 days

#8 posted 02-25-2010 05:53 AM

Check around your local area for a Community College that offers courses in woodworking. If available, they are a great place to start learning the basics (and safety unless you want to start being called “3 Fingers MacGinty”). They tend not to be very expensive and you get to use their tools. It’s a great hobby that I find very cathartic but trying to do it on the slim or learning by trial and error can also be very frustrating.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Marius's profile


123 posts in 3251 days

#9 posted 02-25-2010 07:16 AM

my first BENCH tool was a radial arm saw… second a band saw… i made LOTS of rocking horses about 8 inches high and sold them for about 10$ each i could barely keep up sanding 2 a night AT work was like a
$3 hr rise :) i had a sit down and watch machine run in auto job again :) :)

-- Marius PG_BC_CA

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