Choosing Tools for the Beginning Woodworker

I often see and hear questions about which tools a beginning woodworker should acquire. And the numerous recommendations, although varied, all seem to have a shopping list a mile long. So, I want to also provide my shopping list. And remember that I am still a beginner.

What I say here some might consider shocking, even blasphemous.

The only tools that a beginner needs are a saw and a hammer. And no, I did not mean a power saw. A simple hand saw will suffice. I might also add a screw driver and perhaps even pliers.

So, you can’t be serious. But, I most assuredly am. But, realize that the woodworking with these tools is sorely limited. Nevertheless, it can be done, just not very well. So, what I’m getting at is that woodworking is such a broad area that it’s harder to define. Because a contractors table saw might be of little use to someone that wants to do wood carving. Likewise, precision carving knives are of little use to a woodworker specializing in wood turning.

So, before we can design a shopping list, we ideally want to know something about what the woodworker wants to do with the craft. Now, with all that behind us, I will attempt to devise a more generic shopping list.

I would begin with some basic hand tools. By that, I mean hammers, assorted screw drivers and assorted wrenches. I would also include a generic handsaw, or two.

Next, I would consider the more basic power tools. I would begin with an electric drill. A battery operated cordless unit is desirable, but certainly, not necessary. I personally have a newer compact 18v lithium drill and I love it. Corded drills still function admirably, even though they give up a slight bit of flexibility. One note here is that a cordless tool is always subject to battery life and battery failure. Replacement batteries are often more expensive than a completely new tool. A corded tool only needs access to power and the proper extension cord. A circular saw, a jig saw and an orbital sander would complete my basic shopping list.

The next step beyond the basics listed above would likely include a table saw and a router. Often times this might include multiple routers, at least one of them would be bench mounted. Another of the more basic power tools is the compound miter saw. Some folks also prefer the redial arm saw.

After this, the selection becomes a lot more specific to the particular aspect of woodworking you wish to pursue. A jointer and a planer seem to be fit the more advanced woodworker, while a scroll saw is more for those that chose to do the smaller, more delicate type of work.

I know that this list is not complete in all areas, and in some circumstances it is probably overly general. But it is a place to start.

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