Basic Tool Set for the Beginning Woodworker

Video - August 1, 2014

There are lots of different opinions out there as to what you actually need to do woodworking. Truth is, you don’t need much. Think about our ancestors and what they were able to accomplish using only the most rudimentary tools. But in the 21st century, we aren’t building for our survival and most of us have family and day jobs that come before woodworking, so we use modern tools to help us build projects faster and with fewer headaches. Below you’ll find my recommendations for tools that are well-suited to the early stages of woodworking. You might notice the big stationary power tools are conspicuously missing and that’s intentional. As you are just getting your feet wet, I think it’s important to avoid spending too much money since you probably aren’t sure this is going to be a lifelong hobby. So why drop a huge amount of cash? Also, the tools recommended here will still be useful to you even if/when you decide to upgrade to larger (and usually expensive) stationary tools.


festool-of1400Routers aren’t just for edge treatments and profiles. You can cut all kinds of joints including mortises, tenons, rabbets, dados, grooves, and dovetails just to name a few. You can go for one of the budget-friendly models such as this Bosch model or you can go for the router I use, the Festool OF1400.

Random Orbit Sander
festool-ets-150No one loves sanding, but it’s a necessary part of the woodworking process. So my advice is to get a reliable sander that will make the job as quick and comfortable as possible. For years I used DeWalt sanders but got sick of replacing them. Since then, I’ve been using the Festool ETS150.

dewalt-drillJust a basic drill/driver will do the trick. While it doesn’t have to be cordless, battery-powered drills are ubiquitous and fairly inexpensive. And don’t assume you need the most powerful drill available with the biggest batteries on the market. If you work in a shop, like I do, you’re never too far from a charger and most operations don’t require tons of extra power.

Circular Saw
porter-cable-circ-sawA decent circular saw with a good quality blade will make splinter-free cuts in sheet goods. The key is to make sure you spend a few extra bucks of a good quality blade! This Porter Cable model is a great unit that should yield good results.

Jig Saw
Festool jig sawHelpful for breaking down large pieces as well as cutting curves. Once again, a good quality blade makes all the difference in the quality of the cut. You have lots of options in jig saws including this budget-friendly Black & Decker model as well as this “best in class” Festool Jigsaw.

Set of Chisels

narex-chiselsA basic set of chisels such as 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″.
A well-reviewed set of chisels that won’t break the bank: Narex 4-piece Chisel Set. Keep them sharp and treat them well.

Basic Hand Saw

dozukiEven if you aren’t a dedicated hand tool user, you’ll still want a decent quality multi-purpose hand saw. I’m a big fan of the humble Dozuki.


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