Newbie needs tool advice

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by ringore posted 04-15-2011 04:41 AM 1746 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ringore's profile


24 posts in 2836 days

04-15-2011 04:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: newbie starter tools tools hand tool power tools beginner woodworking

I’m starting in woodworking. I’ve some experience but not a lot. I need some advice on what a starting set of hand and power tools should consist of. After building a workbench and a couple of other things for the shop, my first project will be some bookcases for our bedroom. My plans are to build simple case work type projects and move on from there over the years. Any and every response will be much appreciated.

-- "I'm a classic overachieving underachiever" - Phil Newcomb

15 replies so far

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3428 days

#1 posted 04-15-2011 08:10 AM

For power tools: 1) Contractors table saw, 2) jointer (to square up the boards. 3) planer to mill the wood.

For Hand tools: Squares (multipul), chisels, hammers, clamps, card scraper.

Portable power: Router, jig saw, orbital sander, 19 volt drill

These were thye must have tools for me when I started.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2869 days

#2 posted 04-15-2011 09:27 AM

Popular Woodworking published a manual that should answer you question quite well. I only highlights hand tools and portable power tools. No floor standing machines are really covered. Honestly, unless your bookcases are a fancy or radical design, you can probably build a good product with little more than a circular saw, drill, and maybe a pocket hole jig.
See link below.


View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2904 days

#3 posted 04-15-2011 09:48 AM

Go get a GOOD ROUTER, a GOOD ROUTER, a GOOD ROUTER, A Porter Cable 690 kit with two bases, would be perfect.
Any one agree with this ????

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3366 days

#4 posted 04-15-2011 01:53 PM

+ 1 on what Bob Kollman said – the trinity – table saw, jointer, planer. Don’t get diverted into bandsaw, or drill presses till later. Just remember the mantra – table saw, jointer, planer – and you’ll be ok. For hand held stuff, a drill and, as Bubinga says, a decent router kit. But, I would lean toward the Bosch 1617EVSPK kit. It cost less and has less play in the plunge rails.

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2842 days

#5 posted 04-15-2011 01:58 PM

It sounds like your first project is the workbench in which case the power tools you will absolutely need are different then if your first project were the bookcase. Most of the time there is a recommendation to ease into woodworking as tool purchases go so you don’t end up with several thousand dollars in tools and then decide you don’t really like woodworking or just don’t have time for it.

Workbenches have a pretty big sliding scale for how elaborate they can be, all the way from an old or new solid core door on a couple of saw horses (doors are very flat and make good surfaces), to extremely well built workbenches made out of exotic hardwoods.

If you plan to use finished lumber when you start then say Tedstor’s recommendations for just buying portable power tools is the way to go, at least till you have a few projects under your belt and you can be sure you will be keeping the hobby around. If you plan to use unfinished lumber then you are going to need a table saw, planer and jointer as well as a hand drill, router and a bunch of clamps at the very least.

When I started I bought used tools for literally 1/5th the cost I would have spent on new tools and that worked out extremely well. Of course I had to put a lot of work into most of them to get them fully functional but I enjoyed doing it. If you don’t want to do that then you will be buying either new or very recently new tools in which case which way you go will probably be determined by both how much money and how much space you wish to put into it.

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3637 days

#6 posted 04-15-2011 04:19 PM

Since you are starting with casework;

Power- Table Saw, Router w/router table, Drill, and a jigsaw. Then add a planer and jointer and a bandsaw.

Hand- Planes, scrapers, and chisels.

Don’t forget many, many clamps. You may want to also add a pocket hole jig.

View Manitario's profile


2703 posts in 3120 days

#7 posted 04-15-2011 04:43 PM

I’m relatively new to ww as well. I made the mistake in the beginning of going out a buying a bunch of tools that I thought that I needed, even though I had no experience using them. I am now ending up replacing those tools as I slowly realize what I need and what features I need in each tool. My advice would be rather than get a list of tools to go out and buy, try and let each of your projects dictate which tools you should buy. Look at the project you’re going to do and think through each of the steps, planning out what you’ll need to finish. Resist the urge to buy a large set of router bits!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View pete79's profile


154 posts in 3377 days

#8 posted 04-15-2011 05:16 PM

Despite my many posts asking for advice on larger tools, I seem able to complete most of my beginner-type project with what I currently have. Using that as a benchmark, here’s what I have (notice there is no jointer or planer in this list):

- Table saw (contractor)
- Porter Cable 690 router + plunge base
- Hand drill
- Dowel-it dowel jig (helps drill straight holes in place of a drill press…in some cases)
- Shop-vac
- Workbench & good vise
- #5 Stanley Bailey bench plane
- Block plane
- Clamps
- Combination square
- Chisels and Mallet

I’m sure I’m missing a couple other things (circular saw, jigsaw, sander, etc.), but the above can suprisingly accomplish a large amount of work. The jointer and planer come in handy depending on what shape the wood you buy is in when you get it. I pay more for wood that is S2S or even S4S until I can afford a jointer and planer. Router bits and other small items find their way into the arsenal as I need them for a particular project. Good luck!

-- Life is a one lap race.

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 2887 days

#9 posted 04-15-2011 05:44 PM

Okay so one tip that i would really suggest is to check craigs list for tools. You can really find a good deal on there from time to time and trust me it is a great thing to watch for things you need. Like many people say get a table saw first and there are always good deals on CL for these. Some things you will want to get new such as router and drill unless you find ones on CL that look almost new but that could take a long time till you run across one of those. Good luck!

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3910 days

#10 posted 04-15-2011 05:48 PM

Dont buy a lot of tools, only to end up not needing have of them.

View brtech's profile


1054 posts in 3159 days

#11 posted 04-15-2011 05:49 PM

I’m going to repeat what several have said, but add more color.

Your first purchase should be a table saw. A contractor saw is probably what you want to start with unless you a flush with cash. Start looking for a used delta on Craiglist. If you can find a nice one at half of retail, and it’s in good condition, buy it. You might find a good one for far less than that. Depends on age, condition and which fence it has. New, if you can afford it, get the Sawstop. If you can’t I think a Grizzly is probably the best choice. Having said that, many of us, including me, get along with 20-40 year old Craftsman.

Your next purchase should be a cordless drill/driver. I got a Bosch 18V Li-Ion, but there are many fine drill/drivers out there. You need a good set of drill bits. Get brad point bits.

Get two good screwdrivers. Get what they call a 4 in 1. I have a Craftsman, but there are others that are good. Then get one that takes bits, and get a decent bit assortment. It would be good if that one had a long reach.

Then take a trip to Harbor Freight. Get a decent claw hammer, a dead blow hammer, 6” adjustable wrench. Get 6 of their squeeze clamps, 4 12” and 2 18” f clamps, and 6 of the 3/4” pipe clamps. Get a pair of 10 or 12” C clamps. Get their low end dial indicator and the mag base that goes with it. Get a hex (allen) key wrench set.

Take a trip to a big box (Home Depot or Lowes). That may be where you bought the drill. Buy two 10’ lengths of 3/4” black iron pipe and have them cut one into 2×4’ leaving a 2’ piece and other into 3×3’, leaving a 1’ piece. Thread both ends. Buy 4 female to female couplers. This is the pipe for the pipe clamps. You never have enough clamps. While you are there, by an alumunum Swanson Speed Square, a 24” carpenter square and a 20’ measuring tape. Go to the glass department and get them to cut you 3 pieces of glass 4” wide by 12” long. You could instead by a very flat granite tile. Get a Random Orbit Sander. I am partial to the Porter Cable, but there are plenty of other good ones. Get an assortment of sanding discs to go with it, and also pick up a pack of sanding sheets in 80, 120 and 200 grit, and a sheet or two of whatever their highest grit is. A jig saw is very handy. I have a Makita that is very nice.

You need a few hand tools you don’t want to buy at HF or big box. Rockler, Woodcraft or Lee Valley. You want:
A small set of decent chisels, a mallet, a good quality 12” combination square, a dovetail saw (or some other small, thin kerf handsaw), and a decent block plane. You need a good combo blade for your table saw. Lots of arguments on that. I have a Freud, but there are plenty of other choices. You also want a decent stacked Dado set. I just picked up an Oshlun set on sale at Amazon. You want a sharpening jig that holds a chisel or plane blade at the right angle.

Stop at an auto parts store and get some 1000 and 6000 grit abrasive sheet.

Come home and read up about “Scary Sharp” sharpening method. You use the sandpaper/abrasive sheet on the glass with the jig. Sharpen your chisels and your plane blade.

Read up on aligning your table saw. Align your blade to the miter slot and the fence to the miter slot.

This will get you going if you purchase “Surfaced 4 sides” (S4S) lumber.

Then get a good router. Lots of good choices. A Porter Cable is what many have. I have a Hitachi M12VC.

You need a shop vac. You should have a real Dust Collector. The HF 2HP is a great deal, but you need to upgrade the bag to a Wynn .5 micron cartridge filter. You need safety glasses, hearing protector and respirator. Don’t skimp, always use them.

Then opinions vary. I would get a bench top drill press first (Grizz or HF). Then I would get a planer and jointer. I would buy them used (CL). Then a bandsaw.

View sh2005's profile


97 posts in 3473 days

#12 posted 04-15-2011 08:11 PM

Let’s see if this helps you figure out what you need: you mentioned you have built couple of things for the shop, including a workbench. While you were building them, ask yourself what are the challenges did you face and how you had solved them. Will a particular tool help you solve a specific problem? Did you have to let go of a particular aspect of your design because you weren’t able to accomplish the task with the tools you had at your disposal? If we take the workbench project as an example, how did you go about making the benchtop? Did you buy it or make it? If you made it, did you buy already milled lumbers from a lumberyard or HomeDepot/Lowes? Were you limited by the type/dimension of the wood that was available at those store? Do you think you could have had better wood if you were able to buy rough lumber and milled it to your exact needs? Going forward, do you think you can do better if you mill your own lumber or do you think for your projects, it makes more sense to buy pre-milled lumber from the stores? This will dictate whether you will need a jointer and a planer or not.
This is just an example. Also look at what you are planning to build next, visualize it and see if you can figure out what challenges you may face when trying to build it. The idea is that you look at your experience and where you are trying to go next – then figure out how you are going to get there.

I find it easier, and more fun actually (we all like to buy tools, whether we admit it or not :) ), to identify a challenge/need/obstacle and then find out a solution (a tool, a jig), rather than looking at a tool on a shelf and trying to find out if you have a use for it. That way, you will not end up with boxes of stuff that you have no use for. I am not the first one, couple of others have suggested the same thing as well.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3311 days

#13 posted 04-15-2011 09:30 PM

The best advice I can give you is to take it slow and let the projects you want to do drive the tool buying decisions you make. I will also advise you that you do not need the real expensive tools, but you should also avoid the real cheap tools. Don’t overlook opportunities to buy good used tools.

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3352 days

#14 posted 04-15-2011 10:12 PM

nomatter what don´t forget to use your brain the most importen tool you have :-)
then your hands with all ten digits you still needs them the day you die …. no spareparts avable

pencil , paper and good layout tools and a solid workbench
from ther you can go either the unplugged handtoolway or on the electron killing lane :-)
depeing on how you look at it no one of them is better than the other
but if you combien it and let them walk hand in hand you will get a good mix
the power mashines when you need to make a productionlike work
just be aware that many times a handtool can be faster and make a better work when you
have get the skills
I wont say what powertools you shuold buy I have no idea and knowledge about them
but you can get along way with a copple of saws a few hand planes and a few cheisels and a mallet and a hammer beside the lay out tools the last thing and you proppebly have that already a cordless drill
of course ther is alot of things between these lines you need too like sharpeningstones , pliers , etc

but as other says let the project´s deside more or less what to buy….. but buy only one new type of tool
at a time and take your time to learn to know it in and out and back again so you know what its cable of
including some of the things you never wuold have dreamed of ….. the little sneaky tricks that make
a tool a blast to use becourse you know what it can and even more importen what it can´t
ther is always other ways to work around this

good luck

View ringore's profile


24 posts in 2836 days

#15 posted 04-16-2011 06:09 AM

Thanks for all the comments….you guys are AWESOME. You all have given me a lot to think about. I’m glad there are forums like this to get lots of different views from. Once again Thanks to everyone.

-- "I'm a classic overachieving underachiever" - Phil Newcomb

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics