What are the top 10 handtools and top 10 powertools a woodworker needs?

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Forum topic by stevef22 posted 07-11-2010 01:35 AM 5874 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 2907 days

07-11-2010 01:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tools doors

Hello everyone, I have just started getting into the woodworking hobby. I am trying to build the best workshop in my own 20’X17’ garage. What tools are essential to get started as a hobbyist woodworker? I think the first major project I would ike to tackle is creating some cabinet doors for the kitchen. What are the top 10 handtools and top 10 powertools a woodworker needs?

Example of doors I would like to make.

Oak Doors

19 replies so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3144 days

#1 posted 07-11-2010 02:02 AM

a good bench
lay out tools
pen and paper
marking knife and marking gauge
set of good cheisels, mallet
smoothingplane, jackplane, jointer,lowangle blockplane, shuolderplane, rabeateplane, etc.
2 panelsaws one for ripsawing and the other for crosscuting
and a dovetailsaw and a tennonsaw, etc.

as for electric I donĀ“t know


View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3803 days

#2 posted 07-11-2010 03:08 AM

I am basically a cabinet/furniture builder. As far as stationary equipment you can look at my workshop and get some ideas what equipment is needed to do this type of work. You need a good cabinet table saw, miter saw and router table or shaper and cutters to do the doors you want. Then you can grow from there.

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Gary Lucas's profile

Gary Lucas

74 posts in 2937 days

#3 posted 07-11-2010 04:06 AM

Woodsmith had a TV program on this. The choices for the top three were Table Saw, Router Table, and Drill Press. Plus you need a good workbench and clamps.

-- Go create sawdust

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3310 days

#4 posted 07-11-2010 04:55 AM


Looking at your photo is, for me, like hearing fingernails on a black board. But it’s not for me to judge what you like.

To do what you want, I suggest a table saw, 6” jointer, 12’ planer, shaper with cope & stick and panel raising cutters. You’ll also need a sander, cordless drill, clamps and square.

I’d like to take you in a different direction but you’ll end up there or maybe not.

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2984 days

#5 posted 07-11-2010 06:10 AM

All that you absolutely NEED to get started is a saw, a plane, and a chisel.

But, since you asked for the top ten …

Power tools: Table Saw, Jointer, Planer, Band Saw, Router, Random Orbital Sander, Drill, Dust Collector. And, considering that’s only eight tools, I’ll throw a circular saw on the list to help in breaking down sheet goods (and lumber too) to a manageable size, and a biscuit jointer or a domino or some other way to do loose tenons is probably a good thing too.

Hand tools: Work Bench, Scrub plane (to flatten stock with when the stock is too big for the jointer), Card Scraper, Chisels, Marking Knife, Try Square (or a good combination square), Mallet, Joinery Saw (dovetail), Marking Guage, and you need clamps, so I guess that finishes the list.

Note that to get quality versions of these tools, you are looking at a couple thousand dollars.

Also note that if you are a complete noob, you have a lot of learnin ahead of you.

And finally, you don’t need all of the 20 tools that I just listed to build yourself the cabinets that you want to start with. As far as which ones you do need, well, you should be able to work it out for yourself (just think about the operations that you’ll need to do to get the wood where you need it to be.)

View Jesse.R's profile


55 posts in 2954 days

#6 posted 07-11-2010 06:31 AM

i would strongly recomend taking a course first. check your area for classes my old hs had adult ed classes in basic cabinetmaking. by the time your done with the course youll have a good idea of which tools you want and how to use them safely.

-- jesse

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 2923 days

#7 posted 07-11-2010 06:34 AM

You need to decide if you are a hand tool guy or a power tool guy. Like Uffitze said tools are a major investment. If you are a hand tool guy spend your money there, and vice versa. For example a good planner and jointer may set you back a thousand, a few quality hand planes can set you back just as much if not more. I would say start out with the basics, table saw, router + table, miter saw, and add as you need. But generally the center piece of anyshop is a table saw, that is what I would start with, I have a Delta model 10 /w biesmeyer fence, not as powerfull as many cabinet saws but it fits my needs as woodworking is my hobby, if I was a cabinet maker I am sure I would go for a Unisaw. Anyway here is my list.

Table Saw (also add a good miter gauge like the Incra or the Kreg), router, random orbit sander, Miter saw, router table, jig saw, planner, jointer, dust collector, boombox for the shop, air compresser, brad nailer & finish nailer, small beer fridge

Chisles, smoothing plane, jack plane, block plane, clamps of all sizes, card scrapers, sharpening stones, a set of good quality brushes, bottle opener

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 2923 days

#8 posted 07-11-2010 06:36 AM

Also I should add a bench with dogs and vices, but rather than thinking of it as a tool investment, think of it as your first project, there are lots of free plans online.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3103 days

#9 posted 07-11-2010 01:58 PM

A friend of mine has become a very successful woodworker/artist. I consider him a great source of information. He once told me that when he started he felt like he needed one of every basic tool in a workshop so he bought “one of everything”.

He says that in retrospect that was not wise. He says buy what you need for the project you are doing and don’t buy a tool until you need it for a project. He says this “go slow” approach will result in you making better decisions about each tool.

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

View iamwelty's profile


259 posts in 3145 days

#10 posted 07-11-2010 02:55 PM

I like taking the class idea, but here is my list for you;
(Not in order of importance)
Hand 1. Good Set of Chisels 2. Sharpening stones/system 3. Lots of Clamps 4. Sanding Blocks 5. Squares- Try-Square, Bevel-Square and Framing Square 6. Good Tape Measure 7. Planes 8. Screw Drivers 9. Bench/Vises 10.Fractional Calculator (I suck at math)

Power Tools 1. Table Saw 2. Jointer 3. Planer 4. Drill Press with Good Drill Bits 5. Router, Router Table 6. Air Compressor 7. Air Nailers 8. ROS Sander 9. Belt Sander 10.Dust Collection System

-- There is a fine line between eroticism and nausea...

View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3404 days

#11 posted 07-11-2010 02:56 PM

There’s no single “best” approach, but desire is a key ingredient. From there, you’ll find a way to get it done.

My top 10 choices:
bench or work surface
good TS
router/router table (best to have a separate hand router and table router)
block plane/jack plane
basic chisels
jig saw
cordless drill/driver

Other key additions:
hand sander
basic Kreg pocket jig
dust collection
drill press
band saw

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3203 days

#12 posted 07-11-2010 02:58 PM

Here’s my recommendation for #1. It flows quite nicely from there:

-- -- Neil

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3696 days

#13 posted 07-11-2010 03:13 PM

Buy nice, not twice

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3404 days

#14 posted 07-11-2010 03:36 PM

I’ll 2nd the suggestion for the New Woodworker Handbook…good reading for any level wwer. Tom might even sign it for you if you request it.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3741 days

#15 posted 07-11-2010 07:30 PM

VISA card, Lee Valley and Windsor Plywood catalogues and an understanding spouse… all the rest is details LOL!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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