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Forum topic by JasonIndy posted 12-30-2008 10:50 AM 1577 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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187 posts in 3435 days

12-30-2008 10:50 AM

Hey everybody, I’m relatively new to woodworking and I’m slowly getting all my tools together. Can anybody recommend a link showing the more or less ‘basic’ necessities? I’ve got most of the saws I would need just from working around the house but I’m not sure how practical vs. cost things such as a lathe/planer/jointer/etc. would be. Any guidance would be appreciated, thanks in advance!

18 replies so far

View mission76's profile


47 posts in 3622 days

#1 posted 12-30-2008 11:05 AM

Hey whats up, Fine Woodworking has a couple good videos right now for people just getting into woodworking or like me just getting back into it. They have a few projects right now being done with minimal tools. The current project is being built by one of the members of this board, a walnut entertainment center using basically a router, a circular saw, a straight edge, and a few hand tools. If you have iTunes there are a few podcasts with guys building a lot of projects with thier garage workshops. I’m not sure if this helps but all I have is a contractors table saw, a router, a miter box saw, a drill, a sander, and a biscuit cutter. Wait for other people here to answer you in the morning they will tell you exactly what you need, but you should tell them what kind of things you want to build.

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3596 days

#2 posted 12-30-2008 02:22 PM has a real good site for woodworkers.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3613 days

#3 posted 12-30-2008 04:00 PM

What mission76 said…

For years, I did alright with nothing but a circular saw and a cheap Craftsman router. I built all the cabinets in my condiminium kitchen (tiny) using just these tools and they came out great. Over the years I’ve collected more tools but I find they just make the work go faster, in most cases not better. One steadfast rule I’ve adopted: if I start a project that would go smoother or be safer with a certain tool, then I go buy it. After it pays for itself with one project, it is amazing how much it gets used when it is constantly available.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3761 days

#4 posted 12-30-2008 04:14 PM

I wouldn’t run right out and buy $5000 worth of new power tools – although the magazines and their advertisers would like that. Every workshop needs to have a nice complement of handtools and a decent work bench and this would be a great start.

But before I get ahead of myself, you need to prepare your selected space so that it can be a workshop, At a minimum, this will include at least two electrical circuits and additional recepticles on the wall. Most likely you will need to add additional lighting, and if all possible this should be on a separate circuit as well. I also like to paint walls and/or ceiling white in order to reflect light.

There are a lot of books on workshops and Taunton Press has published many. There are also a lot of great small workshops on this site, many with pictures and blogs, and these owners will be glad to offer help and answer questions.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3763 days

#5 posted 12-30-2008 04:23 PM

Thats a pretty wide open question. Everyone has their own preferences in tools, usually depending on what they like to make, and or what their budget is. As you gain experience you’ll know when you need a certain tool.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4127 days

#6 posted 12-30-2008 04:46 PM

What is it you want to do?

-- 温故知新

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3648 days

#7 posted 12-30-2008 05:05 PM

check out: Getting Started in Woodworking

and: that has some good knowledge base, good videos, and awesome podcasts! – and Marc (thewoodwhisperer) is also a Lumberjock here… (what a plug… lol)

These are excellent sources to get you started…

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

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4160 days

#8 posted 12-30-2008 06:06 PM

1. type of woodworking projects you will be making (check out all the projects to see what interests you – once you get started you might be expanding your interests)
2. what is your budget… (and what is our spouse’s version of the budget if you have a partner)
3. which items are a priority and which can you work around, using the tools you have
4. which items do you want “nothing but the best” and will save $$ for a long time in order to get it (and then, what will you use in the meantime)
5. you get what you pay for usually
6. check out the Reviews posted here to get feedback from woodworkers rather than salespeople.
7. listen to the LumberJocks!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3763 days

#9 posted 12-30-2008 07:00 PM

I think that the best can be takein several different ways. What is the best ? The most expensive ? Or time tested ? Some would argue that SawStop, Festool, Leigh, etc. are the best, but are they best for everyones use and budget ? Will a SawStop Contractor’s saw, cut better than a Delta Contractor’s saw ? Or will a SawStop Cabinet saw cut better than a Delta Unisaw ? Unlikely. Will a Festool jigsaw cut better than a Bosch jigsaw ? Once again, unlikely. I think it would of been better to have said to buy good quality, time tested, well rated, brand name tools. Spend your money wisely, it can get to be a very expensive hobby.

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 3435 days

#10 posted 12-31-2008 11:57 PM

Thanks for all the input everybody. Just through doing work around the house I’ve got (what I consider) most of what I would need, with the exception of a good router, planer/joiner, and other very specific carpentry tools. One thing I’ve found is that a tool that might suffice for weekend housework probably wouldn’t cut it for doing the more exacting angles needed for furniture and fine work like that. I’d like to start small with boxes and cutting boards and work my way up to quality furniture. Before I start buying expensive hardwood I’ve got a lot of scrap I’d like to practice with until I’m comfortable with everything. In everybody’s professional opinion, is working with harder woods like what you would see in furniture similar to what you would experience working with standard lumbers and plywood?

The videos you guys gave links to are great too. Thanks again!

View anqi's profile


54 posts in 3461 days

#11 posted 01-01-2009 02:13 AM

I just start woodworking. The tools I most used are: plane, saw, rule (combination rule), chisel, clamp, power tools (router, circular saw and table saw).

View anqi's profile


54 posts in 3461 days

#12 posted 01-01-2009 02:19 AM

I guess, plywood is much easier to work with compared to real wood. You don’t need to true 4 surfaces. For practice, you may consider start with mortise and tendon if you work manually. Or true a wood to be square from rough lumber. Good luck.

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 3435 days

#13 posted 01-01-2009 08:10 PM

Thanks anqi. Much obliged.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

#14 posted 01-03-2009 12:13 AM

Lots of good suggestions here, but I’ll add my voice to the noise.

Given that you’ve already got some tools, and you’re going the “power tools and house projects” route, pick a capability that you don’t have for your next project, and expand your toolset that direction. And, when you do, buy the best (not necessarily most expensive) tool you can muster, even if the price seems outrageous, because that way you’ll never have to buy another one of them. I have a number of old Craftsman tools that I’ve replaced, and they either sit on my shelf waiting for a “what if I screw up my tool?” moment, or have been given away. I admit I do use the old Craftsman sander when I’m using the “cyanoacrylate in the joint” trick and need to generate extra dust.

I most use a saw on a rail (I’ve got the Festool, and am a Festool fanatic, but the DeWalt looks nice, the EZ Smart rails have their positives, and if you’ve got a circular saw already it’s not impossible to build your own rail and saw base with masonite), a router table, a planer, a good sander and a Festool Domino.

The saw on the rail gives me a jointable edge, if you’ve got a cheaper saw with a home-made rail you might need to use a router table with an offset fence to give you that, the planer lets me get my stock a consistent thickness. This lets me buy my hardwood as surplus or reclaimed off of Craigslist, which means that in California I pay about $2/bf for eastern hard maple.

I’d buy a good router and build your own router table. There are several routers with built-in lifts that’ll fit for the job and be good plunge routers if you ever decide to go to a big router with a lift with all the goodies. The smaller Triton and the mid-range DeWalt with built-in lifts both look pretty good for that (I have a PC7518 with a Jessem lift, but that’s spendy). That’ll give you 2” or so of jointing capabillity (a big 3/4” straight bit with a split fence, which you can build), and a router. The smaller router’s likely to be easier to maneuver hand-held, and you can almost always take smaller cuts and work up to something on the router table (Harder to do with sliding dovetails). Don’t buy a router without a 1/2” shank capacity unless it’s your third or more-th; small routers are great, but not versatile.

I don’t have room for a tablesaw, and my dad is missing a few fingers because of one, both of which are why I’ve gone the saw-on-a-rail route (Had I the space, I might get a SawStop, because it’d make long rips and strip stock easier). A good set of jigs (you could build much of the functionality of Festool’s MFT into your own workbench) will make a circular saw do an awful lot.

A planer is the only big fixed piece of machinery that I’ve found absolutely necessary , and I’ve got a Dewalt 735 on a roll-around table because I can get it out of the way in my tiny 1 car garage shop. If I had to do it again, and could talk the wife out of having the extra gadgetry, I’d do it without the roll-around; lifting it onto the workbench is a pain, but it’d take less space. However, my wife insisted that that was too much for me to be lifting regularly…

You can look at my various projects and blog entries here and over on HomeRefurbers to see what sort of stuff I’ve been doing, I’ve done more, but most of it’s like that, I’m proudest of things that aren’t complete yet, like my prototype kitchen cabinet doors, which have a very precise mitering problem, and my first chair, which is mostly a testament to the power of the Festool Domino, but also shows some complex joinery, angles, and ripping all done with the saw on a rail.

And re what anqi said about plywood: if you’re willing to spend a bunch, I’m loving ApplePly, and though I’m finishing it with a beauty strip on the ends, it’s pretty enough that for some styles you can use it just as-is. You could cut dadoes in it with a circular saw, and build some pretty cool stuff that way with the tools you’ve got and a few home-made jigs!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4005 days

#15 posted 01-03-2009 12:34 AM

I’d say now is a perfect time to buy used tools and machinery. Lots of people in construction need the money worse than the tool.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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