Tips on getting started - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-23-2019, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Tips on getting started

Hi everyone! I've been doing a crazy amount of research and reading on what to focus on when buying my first tools. I am just trying to get started out and it already seems overwhelming! Do any of you have any tips on how to go about getting started? I figured I would make my first project building a bench to work at. I just am a little unsure on where to start on bare essential tools for a novice. I am primarily interested in working with hand tools. Thanks in advance! -Matt

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post #2 of 15 Old 06-23-2019, 04:38 PM
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hand tools can be with or with/out a motor.
vintage or modern

what tools do you have now
what kind of workspace do you have
what types of projects interest you the most.

welcome to the forum - what part of the world do you live in ?

.

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post #3 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 12:03 PM
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Matt, I would start with a 12" combination square, a marking knife, a marking gauge, a crosscut saw, a rip saw, a # 4 smoothing plane, a 29 piece set of drill bits and 1/2" battery/electric drill, a set of chisels from 1/4" to 1", and a way to sharpen and hone...whether it is sandpaper or honing stones or diamond plates. Later I would add a bandsaw as a first stationary tool, then after that add other tools whether powered or otherwise as needed. Skill comes from doing when woodworking, and practice is what will give you the skills to succeed. All of the tools I listed will give you a great start in hand tool woodworking. I recommend "Paul Sellers" on YouTube.
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 12:34 PM
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Personally I would build or buy a couple sawhorses and a 2X4 plywood panel before attempting to build a work bench, that and a few clamps will do until you can determine what kind of bench will suit your needs.

As far as hand tools go there are lots of goods suggestions out there that don't need repeating here, just buy the best you can afford at the time.

ďEverything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.Ē
― Marcus Aurelius
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 12:37 PM
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I started with a B&D drill and a Workmate bench. Then made a policy to just buy a tool to do a specific job when it came along. No room for a TS etc so I use a circular saw or jig saw using guides made from help on this forum.
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnep View Post
I started with a B&D drill and a Workmate bench. Then made a policy to just buy a tool to do a specific job when it came along. No room for a TS etc so I use a circular saw or jig saw using guides made from help on this forum.
johnep
This is the evolution of most any workshop, so pick your project first. Thatíll determine your fist tools.

For any project you must measure, mark, cut, join, smooth, and finish the work you have created. It is a given that you will need a work surface of some kind. But that is a matter for you to figure out before you start. Many a project has been built on the ground. Iím too old for that stuff now, but I used to do a lot of work in contorted positions.

A tape measure is usually a good first purchase. Some folks like folding rules, but a tape is quick and stows itself easily. Some sort of square should be next (I used a framing square for years before upgrading to fancier models). You then must determine if you wish to power cut or hand cut. Power cutting usually equals circular saw to start; a jigsaw if your project is curvy. No power equals a hand saw, usually a crosscut saw is a good starting point. Note: While I found that crosscutting was, well, just okay, I found that ripping by hand to be more effort than I was willing to put into a cut... so I went with a circular saw. Buy an extension cord to go with it too.

Joining can entail glue and/ or mechanical fasteners. If your project uses all mechanical fasteners, you will probably want a drill of some kind to A) drill pilot holes (if needed) and B) drive your fasteners (assuming screws). Nails would require a claw hammer. If you need glue, you might consider a clamp or two. Style of clamp will be dictated by the width or thickness of your glueup. Purchase accordingly. Another note: No shop EVER has enough clamps. They will end up being a big part of your shop evolution. I canít count how many clamps I have, of many different styles, but I still always need one more!

Smoothing usually means sanding, although scraping is an option (I suggest sanding your first couple of projects). Right off the bat you would need at least a couple different grits of sandpaper. Iíd start with something like 100-120 and 220 grit. Then you want to figure out if you want to use elbow grease or electricity to do the work. If electric is the winner then I might suggest a random orbital sander in, say, six-inch size. Buy the sander and discs to match each other. I prefer hook and loop sanding discs over the stick-on type, but they are more expensive to purchase. If you choose elbow grease then get sheets and get busy!

Finally, finishing is just what it says. Youíll need either a paint brush or a spray can. Or you may leave your project in the raw.

The little tings like pencils, drill bits, screws and glue will come as you need them. I buy quantities of just about everything, so I always have an extra pencil, some extra drill bits, or half a box screws on hand. Then I replace stuff when I get low.

My last suggestion is to purchase major tools of quality. There are few things more frustrating than a saw that wonít hold square, or a drill whose battery wonít last long, or even a square that isnít exactly square. (Attempt to) Save your money until you can afford what you really want. Youíll only spend it once, and youíll never regret it.

Another $000,000,000.02 worth of advice,
Mark
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 04:01 PM
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There has to be a high school or community college that offers woodworking classes near by. Take a couple of classes and you will know what you need.

Then there are two questions that you need to answer:
1 ~ Where are you going to put the tools after you buy.
2 ~ What are the electricity options available. 115/230 volts and available amperage

With everything answered, you'll know what and where.

Rich
In furniture 1/32" is a Grand Canyon
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 08:05 PM
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"Ask 10 woodworkers, get 11 answers."

As a fellow hand tool novice, I think the best advice anyone can give you is to start here. Paul Sellers is an excellent teacher and budget-friendly. Check out his newbie website here, which has a great list of tools to get you started. Next, pick one of Paul's projects and build along with him. It's one thing to have a set of plans, it's something else to have a great teacher working along with you that you can reference at any time.

I built my first bench and wall clock by following along, and with a bare minimum set of tools. If I needed a tool as I went along, I put the project on hold until I could get it.

Good luck!

⚡ Anthony
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-24-2019, 11:35 PM
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When I started out building stuff in 1971 I had four electric tools that did the majority of my heavy work.
Drill
Router
saber saw
belt sander.
All from Sears.
For hand tools, straight edges, a few clamps, a chisel or two, hammers, screwdrivers, etc. The most important hand tool I had was a 6" set of vernier calipers. That set of vernier calipers allowed me to see differences in joinery details and transfer dimensions. Without it my joints would have been horrible.

Today there's a bewildering array of tools available and an even worse volume of youtube videos. I sort of feel sorry for anyone starting out. They're almost defeated by the overload of information.

A single word of advise: Try.
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-25-2019, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Vaughan View Post
an even worse volume of youtube videos. I sort of feel sorry for anyone starting out. They're almost defeated by the overload of information.

A single word of advise: Try.

The volume of videos draws a person into believing that a) perfection is easily attainable, b) if it ain't perfect it ain't worth doing. Don't get sucked into it. Rather, try, try, practice, fail, try again, practice. Do your best, get it done, and move on. Spend more time finishing than you think you need to. Often, it's the finish that is the difference in the good pieces and the 'meh.'



You'll need a solid work surface for hand tool work. Nothing in the realm of hand tool woodworking is more frustrating than a wobbly, racking work surface.

An inexpensive table saw can accomplish a heck of a lot more than people realize.

I get a lot of use out of my Stanley Miter Box 20-800.

You can pick up cheap tools at Harbor Freight. A soft mallet is a soft mallet. But don't skimp on edged tools. If you're going to spend money, spend it on blades.
I bought a few quick release Irwin clamps and couldn't believe how I survived without them.


And pay attention to Paul Sellers. It's not only what he teaches in terms of how-to and technique, he's what he imparts by way of philosophy and experience .

Last edited by gj13us; 06-25-2019 at 09:06 AM.
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post #11 of 15 Old 06-25-2019, 11:46 AM
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I agree with the comments about "Paul Sellers". You will learn more from a fantastic teacher than anyone else. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Gary
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post #12 of 15 Old 06-26-2019, 08:52 AM
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I'm sure you've gotten enough good advice. But I'm gonna throw my own at ya', anyway ...


I have a shop full of power tools. I did a bit of carpentry level projects through the years, and I thought I was pretty good. Then I was introduced to the world of vintage woodworking, and was blown away. Over the last 3 years or so, I've goofed off in the shop, playing with dovetails and other joints, all using chisels and hand planes. I also got a lot of satisfaction from finding a vintage tool and re-fettling (refurbishing) it to working order.


I swung in the direction of vintage, and found that it's a really enjoyable experience. "It's about the journey, not the destination" really seems to ring. It takes longer, but I think it's more satisfying.


As far as what you need for vintage ...
- You certainly need a good sturdy bench. Other posters are correct; if your table rocks or bounces, it's gonna mess up your process. Paul Sellers shows how to build a good bench. And once you have that, the rest seems a piece of cake.
- To make life LOTS easier, you'll want to invest in a woodworking vice that will attach to your bench. This is probably one of the biggest expenses you'll probably make, but it's seriously worth it.
- 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" and 1" chisels. You can go cheap to start out, but no matter how much you spend, you'll need to learn to properly set them up (flatten the back, and square and angle the bevel).
- A hand plane. #4 or #5 size. A cheap $5 flea market find can get you going.

- A way to keep your edges sharp. A thick, flat piece of glass or tile, with sanding paper (150, 220, 400, 600 grit will get you started.) Later you can move to water or diamond stones if you wish.

- A wooden or rubber mallet for bench and chisel work. No, not a metal hammer, as they're too heavy for fine work, and can damage wood-handled chisels.
- A combination or speed square. You'll want to ensure it measures as close to 90 degrees as possible.

- Measuring tape. Big ones are ok, but I get along great with my 9ft tape on my bench. Never needed any more.
- Clamps. At least four 2-3 foot bar clamps, and a couple of spring clamps.


Other than the cost of the bench build and woodworking vice, you can probably pick up most of these tools for less that $100-150. Once you're feeling a bit more comfortable, you can start investing in more expensive tools.


Good luck!
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post #13 of 15 Old 06-26-2019, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
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Wow! I honestly wasn't expecting so many helpful replies. You guys have given me some great tips and it is more appreciated than you know. I have opted to go the Paul Sellers route. I tend to do well with instruction I can see as well as following along while I do it. I signed up on his website and it seems the first focus he has is learning the different joints one at a time and once I have better understood and learned how to do them then the following projects will not seem as daunting. I'm just buying tools that he says are needed for these joints starting out and reading his guides on buying. I think with all of y'alls advice and reading and listen to Paul, I have a decent start heading my way!
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post #14 of 15 Old 06-26-2019, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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I also realized how expensive hardwood can be and emailed a local cabinet maker to see if he would be willing to sell me some scrap hardwood he had left over for me to learn on! He got back to me this morning and said he would love to help me out. Looking forward to being able to pass on this kind of help to a younger woodworker when I'm older and better at this craft.
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post #15 of 15 Old 06-27-2019, 10:01 AM
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Good luck Matt89...Sounds like you are hooked.

Gary
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