Beginning Woodworker Tools Recommendation

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  • #19854
    William Smith
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I pose this question to perhaps get folks to think about the absolute necessities on tools that are needed to get started in woodworking. I know opinions vary and of course, as you engage in the endeavor of working wood, you will acquire more and more tools to round out your workshops. However, with that said, I know some folks have to start somewhere, which some basic outlay, to start that collection of tools.

    So, what would we recommend to any person just getting started in woodworking if they only had perhaps $500.00 and NO TOOLS (not even a hammer). I know it sounds silly, but I have had a couple of neighbors that have hit me up on this very question (their kids- teens – want to get started in wood work with hand tools).

    The challenge is the budget constraint, and some good quality tools to round out that initial start. Perhaps a list of 20 tools and an idea of the cost for those tools.

    #19855
    Ken
    Participant

    William, have a look at Paul’s essential tools list

    http://paulsellers.com/2011/12/my-essential-tools/

    #19857
    Timothy Corcoran
    Participant

    You can’t go wrong with Mr. Sellers’ list that Ken has posted above. It would be interesting see what would make his short list. I think that 500$ would be a bit of a stretch. All I can do is offer what I would consider bare essentials. So here goes.
    Combination Square
    Marking Gauge
    Marking Knife
    Dividers
    Tape Measure
    Try square or Framing Square (I would prefer a framing Square for various reasons)
    Sliding T Bevel
    Combination Saw (rip and crosscut)
    #4 Smoothing Plane
    Set of 5 chisels 1/4,3/8,1/2,3/4,1″
    Hammer or Mallet
    Coping Saw
    Torpedo Level
    24″ Box Level
    Clamps
    If you want to get Neolithic:
    Pot Sherd
    One hefty stone.

    #19862
    John Purser
    Participant

    Well, I’d start off with some decent tunes of course. Music that keeps you company and provides a presence in the room. Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, The Corries, Tom Rush, Happy Traum, all figure into my library.

    And you’ll need a comfortable chair.

    A water bowl and small throw rug so the dog (I suggest one of the Spaniel breeds myself) knows where he can stay out of the way.

    That should get you started in the right direction.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #19863
    Timothy Corcoran
    Participant

    Mallet please…..Rex. 🙂

    #19864
    kiyoshigawa
    Participant

    I’m just starting out myself, and had a similar budget. So far, the tools I use most of all are the following:

    Combination Square (Used for everything under the sun, just make sue it’s good and square or you’ll be in trouble)

    Mortising Gauge (I bought this instead of a single marking gauge, as it can do single and double with one tool. They both sell for similar prices on ebay if you keep an eye open.)

    Marking Knife (same one Paul uses)

    Millers Falls #9 Plane (equivalent to a Stanley #4, made my whole workbench top with only this, the saw, and my chisels)

    Woodriver 4-pack of Chisels (1/4″ 1/2″ 3/4″ and 1″, the 1/4″ and 1″ are my most used, though the 1/2″ was used for all the mortises on my workbench.)

    A rubber ended mallet (needed for chiseling and assembling things without damaging the wood)

    My workbench with vise (it makes my life so much easier to have a big solid bench to hold my work and a vise so I don’t need to find a way to lean, sit on, or otherwise wedge the work against something to cut, plane or work with it)

    12″ Back Saw (filed for rip cut, 13 tpi, using Paul’s method. This is big enough I could cut all the parts of my workbench with it (pre-glue-up anyway. It’s still a bit rough aroudn the edges), and has fine enough teeth that I can still get a good surface out of it.)

    Three EZE-Lap diamond stones, and a #5 2x slim saw file (coarse, fine and super-fine. These are essential for keeping the tools above sharp. You can build a saw vise like this one easily with very limited tools)

    All the other tools I used to get started can be made with the above, for example, use a poor man’s router instead of a real router plane, the one new shiny tool I splurged on. I suppose I have used a few other things, like a cordless drill, a big flat granite tile that I used to check for flatness on things and to lap my plane bottom with sandpaper, a leather strop I use for final honing of my blades, but these can, for the most part, be improvised. Before I made my strop from plywood and scrap leather, I just used a piece of cardboard, and it worked almost as well.

    Looking at the few more tools I have since gotten, the list above covers most everything I use regularly. If you have the above, you should be able to do almost everything Paul has done on this website with persistance and practice. Other tools may make things easier, but you can work around their absence if you need to.

    I’m finding the most important tool is muscle memory, and that I can only get and improve by working through projects. I’m also finding that patience is a good ‘tool’ to have to keep you from working sloppily and making mistakes. Finally, having access to information about technique and forums that help and can answer questions is a more useful tool for learning the basics than just about anything. If this website and other forums and youtube channels weren’t around, I highly doubt I would have been able to learn anything nearly as fast as I have.

    Anyways, that’s my two cents as a beginner in hand tool woodworking.

    -Tim Anderson, UT, USA

    #19865
    kiyoshigawa
    Participant

    Oh, and I forgot to mention clamps! You never have enough clamps.

    -Tim Anderson, UT, USA

    #19868
    dborn
    Participant

    Start hitting up flea markets. You should be able to get a decent set of chisels, #4 plane and a couple saws, (panel and tenon) for less than $100… You also should be able to find files rasps combination squares and maybe a whetstone for cheap.

    good luck!

    #19869
    Carlos J. Collazo
    Participant

    In addition to what Tim has already mentioned in his excellent list, I’d add a spokeshave…great for shaping, and getting children to start woodworking. On Ebay you can find them for about $20 for an old Stanley #151 which is what I paid about a month ago. I’d imagine you can find them at estate sales and no doubt flea markets.

    Carlos

    New Jersey, U.S.A.

    #19870
    William Smith
    Participant

    I guess my original post wasn’t really clear. What manufacturers of those tools would you suggest on that limited budget.

    When the neighbor asked me, I suggested something along the lines of either a 16oz or 20oz Eastwing claw hammer, some F type clamps from harbor freight (though I know they are not super high quality, they still work pretty good), a metal 6 or 8 inch framing square you can pick up at home depot, kinda thing.

    I kind of wanted to point him in the right direction of getting some “quality” tools within his budget constraints. At his budget of $500, I wanted to suggest at least 1 tool that he should “splurge” a bit more on type thing.

    I hope that clears up a bit of the confusion. I know when I started buying my tools, I didn’t always buy tools that were truly worth the materials they were made from, and I wanted to try and minimize the “just cast em off” type junk for when you have more money to buy tools with, kinda thing. Make sense?

    #19872
    David Gill
    Participant

    What type of woodworking did they want to get in to? Although I do have a claw hammer I have never had any need to use it on any of Paul’s type of projects.

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    #19873
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Some excellent advice already but I think if you’re on a budget, one thing worth considering would be to focus on making one type of item very well to get you some skill-building. This reduces the number of tools you need and will boost confidence, and let you find out more about what sort of other pieces you’d like, then slowly add more tools to the collection as required.

    For example, making boxes is a great start because you can get timber from most stores that only requires minimal milling so you won’t need a planer/jointer/thicknesser, or a collection of hand saws and planes. You also won’t need many clamps as boxes are small and can be clamped in the workbench vise, plus one or two small (24″) aluminium sash clamps from HF. Shaping tools are not required either, so you could spend some $$ on a nice dovetail saw from Veritas or Lie-Nielsen. The combination square is the most important tool in the shop – as long as it’s square, you’re in good shape (pun intended) but you could have a hunt around for a good quality one on eBay; Starrett are the best but they don’t come cheap.

    I can recommend Narex chisels. They’re not too expensive and take a keen edge, although do require sharpening fairly often as they don’t hold the edge too well.

    If you want to splurge on one thing, though, I’d say make that thing a set of three sharpening stones. You’ll use these for everything you make and they last a long time. Without sharp tools you’ll get frustrated very quickly. The EZE-Lap 8×3″ diamond plates (course, fine and extra-fine) will be a very worthwhile investment.

    I’ve not used a claw hammer while building any of Paul’s projects. There’s barely any nailing done!

    Hope at least some of this helps!

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #19878
    kiyoshigawa
    Participant

    I kind of wanted to point him in the right direction of getting some “quality” tools within his budget constraints. At his budget of $500, I wanted to suggest at least 1 tool that he should “splurge” a bit more on type thing.

    Based on this, the only tools I bought new from the list above were the combination square, chisels and EZE-Lap 8″x3″ stones. I’ve also since bought a rip-filed 14tpi Veritas Dovetail saw with molded spline, and I’ve been very satisfied with it. But for the most part, I’d keep an eye out at yard sales, ebay and flea markets, as you’re likely to find better tools there than you can buy new on the budget you listed. A couple Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen planes would wipe out the whole budget in one go, and the old Stanley planes on ebay will work just as well if properly restored and cared for.

    For the record, the aluminum hollow clamps from Harbor Freight have worked great for me. I also use some of the Irwin clamps for work holding, but if I had to chose between the two, I’d go with the HF aluminum ones, as they are more reliable for glue-ups.

    If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably buy the same tools I did last time, but spend a bit extra on a good saw up front, but keep the rest used as described.

    -Tim Anderson, UT, USA

    #19880
    dborn
    Participant

    I’m going to second the veritas dovetail saw, I have one and thoroughly enjoy using it. I also own the veritas cross cut carcass saw and it is my go to saw for citing just about anything except dovetails and small tennis. If you are inclined to buy only new, Lee valley has high quality tools, reasonably priced. You can buy any of the veritas line of tools, plus Narex chisels, that get good reviews. Also Lee valley offers free shipping specials occasionally throughout the year.

    #19895
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    I also own the veritas cross cut carcass saw and it is my go to saw for citing just about anything except dovetails and small tennis.

    Auto-correct at its finest! I love citing small tennis!

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

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