What are essential tools to start? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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What are essential tools to start?

Hi all. I am new to this forum and would like to ask you for advice.
I used to do woodworking long time ago (almost 20 years and in another country) and now want to return to this advantage. But I am not sure what I need to set up my first shop. I plan to start with small projects like upgrading cabinet doors, building small furniture item, picture frames etc. There are a lot of equipment on the market now and I am kind of lost. I need to start with something (hand tools and machinery). What is the most essential tools I have to have? This, of course, depends in the starting budget. Let's say it is about 3K, may be a bit more. Please help. Thank you.
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 03:17 PM
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For me it would be a decent table saw, compound miter saw and router/router table. That's the big things. Then there's clamps, drill and router bits, hand tools, hand held power tools and such.
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 03:37 PM
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There is a wealth of information on the site. There are many people starting out in woodwork who ask similar questions.

Examples of earlier threads.

New woodworker requesting advice

Tools selection discussion
Tool Selection - Help the New Guy

Starting out what tools

Magazine recommendation
What is the best woodworking magazine for a beginner?
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 03:58 PM
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+1 on Dave's comments. I just got started about a year ago and this website was (and still is) very useful. If I were you, I would search the site for similar threads and go from there. More information might be useful i.e. space available, how much time will you spend working with the tools. Would you like to buy new or used? I have nearly completed my workshop I got a 3 hp delta unisaw with 6 ft outfeed table, Jet 14" band saw, Jet 22-44 drum sander, DeWalt 12.5" planer, Delta 6"x48" jointer, Powermatic mortiser, Jet disc sander and a bunch of clamps. I combined all the tools and got them for a pretty good price. I also posted them on a link here and solicited advice from other members on this website. Good luck and welcome to WWT

Novice with an attitude

Last edited by hays0369; 03-12-2013 at 04:39 PM.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 04:57 PM
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I just started two weeks ago. Here is what I bought:

-Sliding compound miter saw ($200)
-Power drill ($80)
-Circular saw ($80)
-Jigsaw ($60)
-Orbital sander ($50)
-Several different kinds of clamps ($50)
-An assortment of drill bits ($20)
-Shop light and bulbs ($25)
-An assortment of hand tools I was missing ($50)

I'm already learning that you can never have enough clamps. Next time I get paid, I am going to pick up some more clamps and a router. I only had about $800 put away to get started and buy some wood. With $3,000 I would probably have purchased all of the same things, but also a really nice table saw. It's already a little bit annoying setting things up so I can rip with my circular saw (plus the cuts aren't perfect).

I'm no expert, though, just a beginner.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 05:35 PM
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I've seen this question a few times and it's always surprised me. I've always bought tools "as needed". I suppose that could be carried to the extreme - one trip to Home Depot to get a screwdriver and a second later in the day for a Phillips - but I can't see buying a router and router table if you don't have a project in mind that will require it. On the other hand, I'll second one point in a post above - shop lighting. Be sure there's plenty - including the clamp-on (usually flimsy, unfortunately) that can be aimed where you need it. You'll need plenty of light for everything you do.
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 07:56 PM
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To second Dave, lights, lights, lights. You can't have too many lights, and don't buy a tool unless you need it for the project you're currently buying wood for.

I'll be a contrarian on the table saw. Even with homemade tracks, it's not tough to get accuracy with a circ saw, and a couple hundred bucks spent somewhere like EurekaZone can fix you up with a track system that can cut veneer-thin slices if you need them. My circ serves for rips, crosscuts (with a table I built) and the miters I've needed so far.

I'll use a bandsaw and router to take up the rest of the tablesaw slack and save a big chunk of money as well as a huge hunk of shop floor real estate. Not to mention keeping the two fingers my dad sacrificed to the table saw gods.
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 09:08 PM
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I agree with the buy it as you need it, that's what I've done up until this point. I do have a few suggestions though... don't be sold on a table saw as the first thing you need... band saw can do small ripping and cut curves.

Get a good router (adjustable speeds, takes 1/4" and 1/2" bits) and you can make the table for it when you need it.

Don't discount hand tools, hand planes and spoke shaves are very useful.

Good set of chisels, and waterstones will probably be one of the pricier parts of it but can't do without them

Last edited by GISer3546; 03-12-2013 at 09:15 PM.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 09:47 PM
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I'm relatively new but I took a different route with my first expenditures, based primarily on things I read on this board. Instead of asking what tools to get first I put safety first and preparing the workspace second. Tools came third, and are on an as needed basis.

First I added a high voltage circuit to my garage to support a dust collector. I bought some face masks to back that up, and some ear protection, too. My first projects have been stackable work/storage stools, and a cool portable work bench with additional storage. I also put up some shelving, bolted to the walls for strength.

I already had white pegboard over much of the walls, great for storage. I also already had a portable table saw, and a good hand drill.

The early projects have guided my tool buying journey. A replacement circular saw, a router, a bench top sander, a couple of nice hand planes, and a drill press.

For me it is all about the journey, however long it takes. It isn't about guessing the best tools to have in order to get the quickest gratification.

Update: I almost forgot that I invested in a sharpening system to go along with the hand planes. What a surprise and joy hand planing has turned out to be.

Last edited by Mark G; 03-12-2013 at 09:50 PM.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 10:52 PM
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I sort of got lucky and accquired some big tools up front. I inherited an 30-year old Craftsman 10" table saw from my dad. He gave it to me to use ripping hardwood floor planks when I installed hardwood floor in our living room. After I got done with that I realized that I enjoyed the work and started looking to branch out into other projects. Next my dad upgraded his benchtop joiner to a larger stand joiner and I again inherited the old one. A family friend passed away and his wife just wanted his planer out of the garage, so it made its way to my garage. So as you can see I got some of the big stuff out of the way early. The first thing I bought for myself was an assortment of clamps. I then picked up a router (and have since added a trim router and a plunge router). I'm slowly picking up smaller little things along the way as I go. New tools are always fun!
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post #11 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 11:12 PM
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Clamping: Clamps, Woodworking Vice
Joinery: Pocket Hole Jig , Optional:Dado blades for table saw or router.Wood glue,assorted screws,brads,and nails.
Cutting: Chisels,sheetmetal shears,scissors,knive,razor blades
Smoothing: Hand planes ,sanders,scrapers
Basic Hand tools: Screwdrivers,hammers,mallets...etc.
Sharpening: stones,sandpaper,etc.
Finishing: brushes, thinners,polys,paint,masking tape
Safety equip fire ext, dust control,respirator,goggles,face shield and/or safety glasses
Assembly area: bench and tables
Storage: cabinets,shelves

That covers most of the basic needs. I would suggest starting off with these essentials and
only splurge for those big stationary tools after you have done some research and looked
around. Perhaps start off with a good second hand table saw until you get back into the
groove and have a clearer goal of what you want to achieve.

Unless a woodworker is strickly a hand tool person, most of us probably have a couple of go to
power hand tools in the shop and related jigs.
For example. A circular saw pretty much is one of those must have tools imo.
As are a few decent drills. 1/2"and 3/8". Also would add power sanders to this
group that most probably find pretty essential to have.

Taking that a step further, I would also add that the simple hand tools like rip saws, cross-cut saws,
and perhaps flush cutters, are just as essential to many of us , as an expensive power tool. Use the
right tool for the job.

Last edited by against_the_grain; 03-12-2013 at 11:58 PM.
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post #12 of 12 Old 03-13-2013, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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thank you

Thank you all for your replies. This is a great forum. I will definitely search it for more information on the subject. I am looking forward when I can start putting together my shop and making first things.
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