The key to making furniture is having a plan. (Or is that the key to life? I always forget.) The good news for beginning woodworkers is that you don’t need to develop the plan; you need only to follow it. Project plans are abundant and easily found (check out Chapter 21 for some project-plan resources). After you get familiar with the way plans are written, you can build just about anything (depending on your skills, of course).
A marking knife is used for marking where you will be cutting with your saws. For getting into tight spots (like dovetails) and making very accurate lines (which is vital for tight fitting joints) you need just the right marking knife. You would think that any old knife would work, but you would be wrong. Years ago I purchased several that didn’t work well.
Periodically people ask what I recommend as far as tools to build and begin their own DIY woodworking adventure. The journey looks different for everyone, and we all end up picking our own favorite things to focus on, of course. But there are some basic things most of us agree on. For this list of recommended items I picked the brains of some of my fellow woodworkers, and found a few common items. For a few of these I’ll reference you to a tutorial so you can learn more if you like.
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1: Table saw in place of a jointer. Any number of tips in previous issues address straightening edges of boards without a jointer. A jointer serves one purpose, but a tablesaw can serve many (just watch your local Craigslist for a decent one to come up.) The thickness planer is unavoidable, but until you can afford one, buy stock in the thickness you need.
Speaking of rugged simplicity and hand tools kit – I’m very surprised to not see an axe in it! I still remember how I was amazed to see a board being split by an axe in the spoon rack premium video. Do you plan to make a blog post on this sort of topic (also because not everyone has access to premium videos)? Would be interesting to see what other coarse tools you use and when and why, and your thoughts around them. After all, the longer we stay at coarse stage the less time it will take to make something and the more efficient we are.
The Delta 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer is great The Delta 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer is great for professional results in the woodworker's shop. It features two polyurethane feed rollers for a no-slip grip on the work piece; positioned close to the cutter head to improve work piece finish. The machine also has precision machined steel cutter head for ...  More + Product Details Close
On chisels, once a new comer learns to sharpen, Aldi sells a 4 chisel pack for about $20 US. They are blunt and the backs need to be flattened but once correctly sharpened, they hold their edge very well. These are my go to chisels for most work and they’re as sharp as a scalpel. My good chisels haven’t seen the light of day in over a year as the Aldi chisels work beautifully.
With the right tools and materials, what you build is only limited by your imagination and creativity. So why not have a little fun with the kids and teach them something at the same time? Our woodworker tools and woodworking supplies will help you put together an easy birdhouse, squirrel feeder or butterfly house. The kids will love to use our paint samples to add their creative touch, and will enjoy displaying the finished product in the backyard.
Periodically people ask what I recommend as far as tools to build and begin their own DIY woodworking adventure. The journey looks different for everyone, and we all end up picking our own favorite things to focus on, of course. But there are some basic things most of us agree on. For this list of recommended items I picked the brains of some of my fellow woodworkers, and found a few common items. For a few of these I’ll reference you to a tutorial so you can learn more if you like.
For woodworking, you want wood with few defects and as good a grain pattern as possible. For the most part, you want the top two grades of wood: Firsts and Seconds. These two are often grouped together and referred to as FAS (Firsts and Seconds). Most decent lumberyards are well stocked with FAS boards and some Selects. The common classes aren’t used in furniture-making because they contain far too many defects.
Basic woodworking tools are different from beginner woodworking tools. For one thing, I don’t like to use the word “beginner” unless I am using it accurately. It’s not a very useful label, in my opinion, because it implies that there are clear-cut and hierarchical steps in your growth as a woodworker. Who wants to return to grade school during his or her valuable shop time? So I only use the word “beginner” when I’m talking about someone who is touching woodworking tools for the first time.

Working on one side at a time, glue and nail the side to the back. Apply glue and drive three 1-5/8-in. nails into each shelf, attach the other side and nail those shelves into place to secure them. Clamps are helpful to hold the unit together while you’re driving nails. Center the top piece, leaving a 2-in. overhang on both sides, and glue and nail it into place. Paint or stain the unit and then drill pilot holes into the top face of each side of the unit and screw in the hooks to hold your ironing board. Mount the shelf on drywall using screw-in wall anchors.


Nearly all of these links are affiliate, which means that I earn a small amount when you purchase one of them. It doesn’t cost you anything, so everyone is happy and I can keep bringing you free content. I only refer things I am happy with personally, and while you’ll notice a few dominant colors here, all opinions are completely my own. I try to give relatively affordable options, and in cases where I recommend spending a bit more it is because I am confident that it will save you more in the long run and be well worth the slight extra cost.
This Farmhouse Side Table post is sponsored by The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product. All ideas and opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. Building a new farmhouse side table to go along with my farmhouse coffee table has been on my list for a … [Read more...]
A woodworking project wouldn’t be complete without the finish. Part V helps you make this often hated (trust me, I’m being nice here) process of sanding and finishing into a chore that you’ll love (okay, maybe just tolerate). Chapter 16 explores the often short-shrifted process of filling and sanding the wood smooth. Chapter 17 shows you how to add color to the wood. Chapter 18 demystifies the topcoat process. In this chapter, you discover the best type of finish for your project and go through the steps of applying it for best results.
Oakman, 1/12/2015 If you are planning on remaining a beginner then these are fine but..... The soles of the planes are not flat. Planes will only flatten a surface as flat as their soles and the ones I received are not flat and the work I would need to do in order to flatten the is excessive. The sides of both planes I received are not square. I sharpened the blades after cleaning the shipping oil from them. (they did arrive clean). I did get them adjusted to shave a nice thin strip off the piece I was working on but it was not flat due to the sole issues stated above. Had I performed these tests promptly upon receipt of the planes, I would have returned them. They will serve a purpose but they are not what I expected.
Furnishing and decorating your patio is not an easy task – but then again, it has to be done! Your patio is obviously one of the most important rooms in your home, as you can easily turn it into your little piece of Heaven, your “safe spot” in your home where you can retreat whenever you want to ignore the world and just spend some time alone all by yourself.
Dan, I’m worried about you. The stress must be getting to you. Somehow you’ve lost your ability to count. By my estimation, your list has at least 29 items, some of which are actually “sets” of items, like chisels or crayons, which I only counted as one item. Perhaps you need a break from all that blogging, and time to get back to basics, like counting. I can help. Come over to my shop and we can count things like parts, items on the honey-do list, and for extra credit, screw holes. Don’t worry about making mistakes, I’ll guide you through it, and we can round up if necessary. Ha!
It’s okay to buy wood with knots, splits, cracks, and checks. These defects affect only a small area of the board (if they exist over the majority of the board, don’t buy it), so you can plan your cuts around them. Avoid boards with warps, twists, or bows. It takes a lot of time to flatten a board that has one of these defects. To test for these defects, place one end of the board on the floor and hold the other end to your eye. The board should be straight and true. If not, leave it there.

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I sincerely hope this list is helpful to you! Learning to build – to create from scratch things of beauty and function – has been one of the most personally satisfying and empowering experiences I have ever had. I love to see people take up tools and find their creative voice. Wherever you are at in your journey, from learning to read a tape measure to hand tooling furniture in your sleep, we are all in this together. So jump in, get your hands dirty, and let’s build something!
If I were to give someone new one piece of advice, it would be to buy their chisels new, not used. I have wasted more time and more money trying to save butchered chisels than I want to admit. There’s a good chance that the used chisel will be bellied in the back or pitted at the edge and it will take more than beginner skills to fix it. You may make things worse rather than better. Sure, learn to do this _some_ day, but maybe not as a beginner first thing. I’ve had similar problems with used planes, but it isn’t nearly as bad a problem for a joinery plane. If there are pits that lead to scratches, it may not matter for anything other than a final smoother. Also, a tiny back bevel may save the day on a plane, but you likely don’t want that on a chisel. So, I’m less fussed about planes and, if it all goes south, you can buy a new blade for smoothing work and use the old for rough work (all in the same plane). You can’t buy a new blade for a chisel. Well, you can, but it’s called buying a new chisel. I use 3/8″ a lot. 1/4, 3/8 to handle all the mortises and dovetails and either 3/4 or 1″ for paring shoulders and for fat parts of some dovetails. I probably learn towards the 1″ because there are times you want to reference off the blade to keep moving in a line, like for a housing. I think Lee Valley’s version of the Narex are excellent and mine came with flat backs that could go straight to polishing.
While some people consider the circular saw to be more of a carpentry tool than a fine woodworking tool, but some would disagree. There may be no more versatile basic handheld power tool than a circular saw. When used with a clamp-on straight-edge, the circular saw can be just about as accurate as a table saw and handle quite a few of the tasks that one would attempt with a table saw, particularly cutting sheet goods such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard. When woodworking on a budget, a quality circular saw should be the first handheld power tool purchased, as it is the one that will likely be the most useful as you get started.
Dividers (or compass) are used for taking and repeating a measurement over and over again on a work piece. Traditional woodworkers rarely take measurements with a tape measure when doing fine joinery work, but rather take a measurement with dividers then transfer that arbitrary (yet accurate) measurement to another work piece. This removes a degree of inaccuracy.
I tried to write a book that contains all the essential information for the novice woodworker as well as some more advanced tips and tricks to jumpstart your existing woodworking skills. You won’t find any useless theories or unnecessary technical jargon to bog you down. What you will find is practical, hands-on information and advice that will save you hours of frustration (pretty good deal, huh?).
In the sixty years of woodworking I have found two tools of increasing necessity. One is a band saw. I can do most of my work with a band saw and hand plane. The second tool is a bow saw, or actually several bow saws. They will replace the band saw if required, though they are slow. One I made about twenty years ago has a one and a half inch wide rip blade and is about thirty inches long. I think the blade is from an old industrial band saw blade I picked up and sharpened into a rip saw blade. It works very well on ripping lumber, logs, etc. Though it tires me out to much to use it now.
While some people consider the circular saw to be more of a carpentry tool than a fine woodworking tool, but some would disagree. There may be no more versatile basic handheld power tool than a circular saw. When used with a clamp-on straight-edge, the circular saw can be just about as accurate as a table saw and handle quite a few of the tasks that one would attempt with a table saw, particularly cutting sheet goods such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard. When woodworking on a budget, a quality circular saw should be the first handheld power tool purchased, as it is the one that will likely be the most useful as you get started.
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Great book to dip your toe before you invest several hundred or thousand dollars in tools and equipment. The author does a great job breaking down such things as growth rings, seasonal movement, wants vs. needs as far as tools and equipment and what it takes to get started in woodworking as a hobby or potential source of income. A great and easy read that has come in handy time and again for reference as well as a recommended reading for others interested in this hobby.

Having very sharp tools is one of the most important aspects of proper traditional woodworking. Many beginners think that they stink at woodworking, but usually they are just using dull (or improperly sharpened) hand tools. To start off with I recommend buying sharpening supplies for sharpening & honing your chisels, hand plane irons, and handsaws.
The final step in any woodworking project is protecting the wood from moisture and damage. Chapter 18 includes lots of information about the most common types of topcoats. Because not all of them provide the same degree of beauty and protection, you get a chance to compare the pros and cons of each topcoat so that you can choose the best option for you and your project.
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