If your wallet still cringes at the totals above, fear not, for the totals above are for all brand new tools. The one luxury we have in our modern day of hand tools is the large secondhand market where you might be able to scoop up some great tools – possibly even some of the actual tools that once inhabited these cabinets – for the original price in today’s dollars, or less. So before you break out the barbeque, give some thought to how you can free yourself from a mountain of modern tools and invest in a modest set of traditional hand tools that will get you started on the path to more enjoyable woodworking.


I agree, that’s a nice and easy set up to start with. I’d say a block plane it’s handy for small areas, and touch ups. A no.5 is excellent but a bit heavy and tiring sometimes. I find that a nice rabbet block plane (shoulder + block) with two irons with different sharpening angles it’s essential to me. One fine flat rasp and a medium flat file would complete my set.
I was telling my brother of the different ways I sharpen and he seemed interested in the slab/sandpaper method. When I went to get the extra supplies I picked up a slab of granite, adhesive, and sandpaper for sharpening. When the job was completed, the saw, the can of finish, and the slab with sandpaper were gifted to my brother. I could have shortened my list a little,
The very affordable coping saw (often around $20) is regularly used for rough cutting shapes in the board, but especially for removing waste from dovetail joints (one of the most common wood joints). An affordable coping saw will work just fine as long as you have plenty of replacement blades on hand (also very affordable). Read my hand saw buying guide for more detail on brands & features to look for when purchasing a coping saw.

Lots of good comments! I do think it is a bit of stretch to include a jointer and surface planner on the ‘basics’ list – we’ve got a slippery slope here! And a lot of different approaches – money, space, time, resources, etc. But lets plunge ahead. If you buy your wood already (or mostly) prep’ed, then the jointer & surface planner can be postponed. You definitely need a way to accurately measure linear distances (e.g. length, width) so a good ruler and tape measure. You need to be able to measure squareness – so you need a good combination square. You need to be able to mark the wood – so a good marking knife, an awl, some chalk, a fine pencil, etc. You should have some decent chisels (and good ones don’t need to cost a lot!). You will need to sharpen them (again not expensive – piece of plate glass and some sandpaper). You need a way to accurately cut your wood – a couple of good handsaws and a file or two for sharpening. You really should have a decent work surface/work bench/etc – a good first project by the way. Last of the basics – a good drill (3/8″ vs battery type). Lastly (I could go on but room is lacking), take a look at Paul Seller’s video’s for simple but highly competent work.
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But before you purchase clamps, build your first project and put it together without glue. Then see how many clamps you think you will need to put enough pressure in all the right spots. Then proceed to purchase that number of clamps. Repeat this process on your next project, and purchase more clamps if needed. See my buying guide for different clamp types, uses, and my favorite brands.

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.
Through and through milling is the simplest and most efficient way to cut a log. Milling through and through results in plain-sawn, rift-sawn, and quarter-sawn boards because the orientation of the growth rings changes as the boards are sliced off the log (see the Choosing the right wood cut for you section later in this chapter for more information).
Easy projects show how to get started with an increasingly popular hobby More than 18 million Americans have discovered how satisfying it is to build their own furniture. Packed with detailed illustrations and photographs, this book offers an easy-to-understand introduction to all aspects of woodworking-selecting hand and power tools, setting up a workspace, working with various types of wood, creating edges, joins, applying finishes, and more. Best of all, it includes lots of step-by-step woodworking projects-for dressers, book cases, tables, cabinets, and more-to help people dive right in and start playing in the sawdust. Jeff Strong (Lamy, NM) is a veteran For Dummies author as well as an accomplished wood-worker and furniture-maker who recently completed designs for a commercial line of furniture.
Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.
Somehow I overlook #1, the jointer and thickness planer, and I saw all the other tools and immediately thought that this was my first set of tools I bought when I started working as a carpenter on a friend’s crew. Then I saw my oversight and just couldn’t get over how incongrous those two items were to the rest of the list. Had I seen a scrub plane and a jack plane I would have more harmony in the list.
I use chisels perhaps more than any other tool in my workshop, so it’s a good idea to not cheap out here. A high quality set of bevel edge bench chisels (new or vintage) will last you many years (likely  your entire life) and will be used on nearly every project. I’ve used some descent affordable plastic handle bench chisels, but highly prefer lighter wooden handle chisels with excellent steel.
The number one thing to know is that wood isn’t a static thing. It’s a natural product that’s constantly in movement. As a woodworker, your job is to understand how wood moves and how to use that movement to your best advantage (or at least how to keep it from ruining your masterpiece). This chapter helps you to understand how boards are made out of trees and to discover that the way the log is cut determines its ultimate strength and stability (and its beauty). Additionally, you explore the characteristics of a variety of species of hardwoods and softwoods.
The third tool for the beginner is the Jigsaw. A jigsaw allows the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock. Sure, a band saw will likely be more accurate and can cut thicker stock, but for the beginner, the jigsaw (sometimes also referred to as a Sabre Saw) can be perfectly effective. For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded jigsaw that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system.
This book is organized modularly, which means that you can read it from cover to cover and progressively build your woodworking knowledge. Or you can skip around and choose a subject that interests you from the table of contents or index, and start reading it immediately without feeling lost. Throughout the book I also include cross-references to where you can find more information about a subject.
Part I is your introduction to woodworking, wood, and woodworking shops. Chapter 1 gives you an overview of the woodworking process and gets absolute beginners up to speed on this fascinating hobby. Chapter 2 helps you to understand the unique qualities of wood. You discover the various types of wood used in furniture and how to find and buy the right boards for your projects. Because woodworking is an inherently dangerous activity, Chapter 3 shows you how to create a safe working environment and gives you some guidelines for working as safely as possible.
I just moved overseas and had to give up all of my power tools due to space limitations and power incompatibility. Upon arrival the first power tool that I bought was a cordless drill/driver and the second was a circular saw. I then modified the saw to improve its performance for cabinet quality work by putting a zero clearance baseplate (just a piece of 1/4″ plywood screwed to the base) this allows the saw to cut plywood panels without tearing up the edges. I also bought a length of aluminum rectangle tube stock for a straight edge. Together the straight edge and the zero clearance baseplate makes the circular saw a fairly accurate tool for plywood construction projects. It’s not as easy to use as a Festool track saw but it cuts almost as clean and cost about 1/5th the price.
I have so many free woodworking plans on the site, that it is so hard for a beginner to choose something both simple to build and fulfilling. That is why, I decided to make a short list with my top 20 favorite projects that can be built by any person with basic woodworking skills and limited tools. Even if it might look intimidating at first, my detailed plans and step by step instructions make it really easy for anyone to get the job done.
Super Chunky X Table Plans and Tool Review 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. During this build, I'll be reviewing the Ridgid MegaMax, Diablo blades, Bosch drill bits and Makita … [Read more...]
The very affordable coping saw (often around $20) is regularly used for rough cutting shapes in the board, but especially for removing waste from dovetail joints (one of the most common wood joints). An affordable coping saw will work just fine as long as you have plenty of replacement blades on hand (also very affordable). Read my hand saw buying guide for more detail on brands & features to look for when purchasing a coping saw.

I've only been woodworking for a few months and am still very much a novice. I bought this book hoping to learn some creative, but easy methods or time saving tips, but as my title implys, this book contains only the most basic of techniques. However, this book is very good for understanding basic terminology. This was my first "for dummies" book so maybe I was expecting too much. A few episodes of the New Yankee Workshop and/or a few hours of browsing the internet and you can learn the majority of what this book covers.
The very affordable coping saw (often around $20) is regularly used for rough cutting shapes in the board, but especially for removing waste from dovetail joints (one of the most common wood joints). An affordable coping saw will work just fine as long as you have plenty of replacement blades on hand (also very affordable). Read my hand saw buying guide for more detail on brands & features to look for when purchasing a coping saw.
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now I finally know what to recommend my friends when I try to convince them to give handtools a try (I currently am doing an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking (unfortunately mostly particle board) and said friends they do the same and often have no clue what can be achieved with handtools alone) because up until now, I never knew what to recommend for sharpening as my setup is great but very expensive. And I guess if I recommend to get two stones instead of a combination stone, one can keep one side flat for flattening the backs of new chisels, and add a strop with some polishing compound I really can’t think of anything else one would need for a long time!
My Stanley 51/2 was in a bit of a state when I got it and refurbing it took a bit of time and cash. Now it works a treat and looks like new. I’m nearly through the bench build and have spend hours using it – it really is a workhorse piece of kit. I did some final cleaning up of some oak legs the other day and I can’t really see how a smaller plain would do a better job.
I quickly found that power equipment was not broadening my capabilities as much as it was like an anchor tethering me to a limited band of work and taking up valuable shop space. I also didn’t like wearing the requisite dust mask, hearing protection and safety glasses all the time – it was like a mini sensory deprivation chamber. When I asked master cabinetmaker Dan Faia what he does for dust protection in his own shop, his succinct reply was “I never coughed up a curl.” That pithy remark reflected the very different view traditional woodworkers have – without all the big machines, the dust and noise, you can focus on the work, invest in a smaller set of high quality tools that should last a lifetime and enjoy the process as much as the result.
I’m not sold on the need for a power jointer for flattening a surface. That said, I do have a Shopsmith 4″ jointer.. It’s great for jointing edges, and perhaps flattening the occasional rails and stiles, but it of course is inadequate for surfacing wide boards. Would a six inch jointer be better…..not by much. So what do we do? Go to an eight inch, or better yet a ten inch jointer? Now we’re getting into really big, heavy, and electrically hungry machines that are not really suitable for the small shop that is likely to be in a small shed or garage.
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