Top 6 Must Have Tools for Beginning Woodworkers & DIYers
I have been getting asked a lot by people I know, “what are the most essential tools I would need to get started?” So, I figured, it would be helpful to talk about the top tools and why. Of course, there are so many tools and accessories out there, and it would be awesome to get them all, but I wanted to focus it down to what is truly needed for most projects.
I broke the list down to the top 6 tools. They are all power tools with one exception. Of course, there are many other small tools not included, like hammers, tape measure, screw drivers, etc. These tools are necessary, but I wanted to focus on the higher cost tools that need more budgeting consideration.
The first on the list is the circular saw. This is a staple for any DIYer. It is very versatile and if used properly can do the job of a track saw, miter saw, and table saw. Of course, those tools are easier to use, but you can get reasonably precise cuts with the circular saw as well, as long as you take you time and use guides or accessories to improve your accuracy. I made some guides (which will be the subject of the next blog/video), that turns my circular saw into a track saw. If you don’t have that guide, any long, straight item would also work. I used to use a long leveler for most of my cuts. There are a ton of other accessories out there to assist with cuts, but I would say having the guides I made, or another go to straight item is the most useful.
The second tool on the list is a drill. I would definitely say it’s best to get combo with an impact driver. Drills are always needed for joining pieces – with screws, pocket holes, using a dowel jig, ect. Also, useful to have self-centering bits, forstner bits, counter sink bits. Impact driver is just so smooth with driving screws. Also, it’s is a great time saver to use the drill and driver in tandem.
The third tool on the list is a sander. Always useful, and even more so for the beginner. You won’t always (and really, almost never) be working with straight wood, so this can help fix the little imperfections when pieces don’t fit quite right. Also, most of the wood is rough so it needs some surfacing. Random orbital sanders are more aggressive than the sheet sander I have, and that can be a good thing or not depending on the scenario. The sheet sander gets in corners where the circular shape of the random orbital sander does not allow for that. However, there is less of a chance for sanding marks with random orbital sander compared to the sheet sander. One other point to consider is the sheet sander is a little less expensive. Either way, one of these is definitely a must have in your tool collection.
The fourth tool on the list is clamps. Clamps, clamps…. CLAMPS! This is the only non-power tool on the list for two reasons. Clamps can get expensive, and they are super useful to have. There are a ton of different types, and I would recommend to have multiple sizes to fit different needs. I mostly use my f-clamps, but others can be useful as well. Whether you are holding pieces in place for a glue up, to keep them from moving while screwing them together, or whatever else you need them for, clamps are as essential tool.
The fifth tool on the list is a jig saw. This is the second cutting tool on the list. It can make the cuts you can’t do with a circular saw. Either curves or smaller cuts that need more precision. Or stop cuts when you need a vertical cut line (unlike the circular saw which will have a rounded cut edge because of the shape pf the blade). This will fill in the gaps of your cutting needs not met by the circular saw.
The sixth tool on the list is a router. Routers are remarkably versatile tools. For the DIYer or starting woodworker, a trim router is definitely the way to go. It is so useful to edging your pieces (both finish piece or flush bit with two joined pieces). But the use does not stop there. There are special bits to create dados or other joints, like when making shaker cabinets. The router can plunge into material, and create many special cuts with the use of various jigs. It will open up a whole world of possibilities once you get into all the bits and jigs. This tool may not be as crucial for making basic projects, but it is definitely essential for making a more polished end product and to have something that will allow you to expand your projects as your skills grow.
Those are the top tools I would recommend to the beginning DIYer or woodworker. But once you are ready to step up your projects, the next ones on the list would be a miter saw, table saw, and a track saw. I thought about including a pocket hole jig or nailers to this list, but they do not really fir the theme of tools we are talking about here.
The miter saw is much more convenient than a circular saw for many cuts. Can set up stops for easy, repeatable cuts. Also, option of miters that will be much more accurate than with the circular saw.
A table saw will give so much more precision/accuracy. It can greatly expand the projects you feel confident doing, and speed up the process as well.
A track saw is will improve accuracy and speed as well for may cuts you would do with a circular saw. I do not have one of these yet myself, but it is only my short list of the tools I will be getting next.
Of course, the tools don’t stop there. There are always more tools to expand your capabilities. The next ones would be tools like a planer, jointer, band saw, or a drill press. I would love to have all of these, but space and money are always a consideration. But who knows what the future holds!
I do have a video talking about these tools on my YouTube channel as well, check it out if you are interested.
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