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I dedicate several chapters in this book to exploring the exciting world of tools. From age-old hand tools to the most modern machine for milling wood, Chapters 5, 6, and 7 cover them all (well, not all of them, that would be insane, not to mention take up the entire book). Not only do you get to see what tools are what, you also get a glimpse into how to use each of them safely and effectively.
Don’t follow the temptation to cheap out and buy a cheap combination square. Because, like me, you will eventually have to replace it because of its inaccuracy. If you want your joinery to fit perfectly, then you need to scribe it accurately with precise marking tools. Unfortunately there is really only one company (that I know of) that makes a super accurate combination square. But fortunately it is amazing, and I use it daily. I’ll talk about it in-depth in the Layout & Measuring Tool Buying Guide.
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.
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.
My $0.02 worth. I agree with the thickness planer [mine is 10″] but anything over a 6″ jointer is expensive and space-consuming, so use hand planes as in your later blog. I inherited an 8″ table saw that my dad and I used to build a 12′ outboard boat back in 1955. I’ve used it for ripping, but I’m having second thoughts because of safety issues. Some have suggested a band saw for ripping, which is quieter and safer to use. I gave my router away [and hope to get rid of my Freud biscuit joiner and 6″ jointer]. A quality eggbeater drill works every bit [pun not intended] as well as a power drill, and they cost less. A coping saw and a jewelers saw negate the need for a jigsaw unless you are into making puzzles. Chris Schwarz has a video short on one of the Highland Woodworker series showing how to joint the edge of a board with a plane and a simple jig on the workbench surface. Another reason to bypass the jointer.
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.
We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports. You can apply this same concept to garage storage. See how to build double-decker garage storage shelves here.

Build this handy stool in one hour and park it in your closet. You can also use it as a step to reach the high shelf. All you need is a 4 x 4-ft. sheet of 3/4-in. plywood, wood glue and a handful of 8d finish nails. Cut the plywood pieces according to the illustration. Spread wood glue on the joints, then nail them together with 8d finish nails. First nail through the sides into the back. Then nail through the top into the sides and back. Finally, mark the location of the two shelves and nail through the sides into the shelves. Don’t have floor space to spare? Build these super simple wall-mounted shoe organizers instead!
I consider this my “basic” tool list. Although I do not have a dedicated box for these tools, I assure you that they have a great home in cabinets, on shelves, and laying around on benches. When I do need to take my hand tools somewhere, the larger tools end up in a simple tongue and grooved latch box my grandfather owned. The smaller tools are always in my overall pockets. Overalls work great. They have multiple pockets, they’re comfortable, and they protect your upper body and legs. You only have to deal with small chunks of wood getting into the pockets, which can be dealt with if you or your other half are crafty enough to sew some flaps. It doesn’t bother me though. Thanks for your time.

About forty years ago I purchased a Shopsmith Mark V because I lacked space for a large shop, and also moved around the United States a lot. Later I purchased another Shopsmith Mark V Model 510 for the increase in table size and flexibility. I do wood working as a hobby, not to do many projects as fast as possible. I also have every tool and accessory that Shopsmith makes for the two primary tools. Their quality is excellent, and while I enjoy antique tools like the 1912 three phase electric Camel Back Drill Press I purchased for my son’s shop, the Shopsmith does every thing I have ever needed.
As much as I’d like to provide a book with everything you’ll ever need to know about woodworking (as if I even know all that!), it’s just not possible. Chapter 21 is my way of helping you to keep exploring this immense craft by providing you with a bunch of resources. This chapter contains contact info for woodworking magazines, addresses for helpful Web sites, and ideas to help you keep expanding your knowledge and skills.
This wood bench plan 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. My neighbor saw a cute wood bench at a local restaurant and wanted one for her house.  She snapped a few pics for me, … [Read more...]
The first step in developing woodworking skills is to be able to discern the best glues, joints (ways of connecting two pieces of wood), and fasteners to use. Whether you need a dovetail joint for a drawer front or a mortise-and-tenon joint for a table leg, Chapter 10 introduces you to the wonderful world of wood joints. With an understanding of the joints in Chapter 10, you can build any furniture project and make it strong and durable.
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.
John, 9/18/2012 Arrived quickly and in a real beautiful box. I sharpened and honed the planes and used them to smooth some old cedar boards. They worked flawlessly even for this beginning woodworker. A real joy using these types of tools instead of power sanding tools and the like. I have never used a Spokeshave before but can already see that it will be very useful as I progress in my journey from welder to woodworking.
This snowman kit 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. The snowflakes are falling softly on the ground. You grab your hat, coat and mittens and head outside to test the snow. … [Read more...]
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.

I consider this my “basic” tool list. Although I do not have a dedicated box for these tools, I assure you that they have a great home in cabinets, on shelves, and laying around on benches. When I do need to take my hand tools somewhere, the larger tools end up in a simple tongue and grooved latch box my grandfather owned. The smaller tools are always in my overall pockets. Overalls work great. They have multiple pockets, they’re comfortable, and they protect your upper body and legs. You only have to deal with small chunks of wood getting into the pockets, which can be dealt with if you or your other half are crafty enough to sew some flaps. It doesn’t bother me though. Thanks for your time.

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.
By video tutorial, you will get step by step process instructions of making a nice wooden folding sling chair from scratch. However, my first wooden chair was not the best one, but it was good enough to motivate me to make some more folding chairs like this one. If I can make this, you too can make one yourself. You can browse the internet for more folding sling chairs ideas and start making one now.
Block planes have become one of the most oft-used tools in a woodworker’s workshop. Some traditional woodworkers even keep them in their aprons! These little planes can be used to trim your joints, put chamfers on board edges, trim end grain, etc. I would recommend finding a low angle block plane, because the low angle lets you cut difficult grain more easily.

This is a super cheap option for a pretty diverse tool. Like, how wrong can you go for $34, right? This tool rocks for doing cuts on larger pieces of wood that need to be more detailed than your circular saw will allow. For more detailed work I would totally go for a scroll saw, or even a band saw. But if you are building your tool box, this is a much more approachable item, both price wise and in terms of ability to be used in diverse ways. And, hey, woodworking isn’t exactly inexpensive, right?


Speaking of safety, woodworking is one of the most dangerous hobbies that you can get into. Wood is harder than skin and bone, and the tools that you use to cut and shape wood can do real damage real fast if you happen to slip or make a mistake. Not to worry, though. Chapter 3 gives you the heads up on creating a safe shop in which to work and on keeping safe while working. As an added bonus, Chapter 19 offers ten habits to get into that can make your woodworking time accident free.

As Chief Creative Officer and Founding Partner at Brit + Co, Anjelika Temple brings her voracious consumption of all things creative and colorful to DIY projects, geeky gadgetry finds and more. When she's not DIY-ing her heart out, you'll find her throwing dinner parties with friends or adventuring with her husband David, their daughter Anokhi, and their silly dog Turkey.

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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.
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