Getting started in woodworking can seem like a daunting task. From specialty woodworking tools to identifying and understanding the different types of wood, there is so much to know that even the old-timers are still developing. But learning and experimenting are what woodworking is all about. Get started on the right foot with some essential basics about safety, tools, lumber, and traditional layout and measuring techniques.
In the grand scheme of history, power woodworking tools are a very recent innovation. However, it is hard to imagine modern woodworking without the use of power tools. That being said, one doesn't need a shop full of expensive woodworking machines to be an effective woodworker. When building a workshop, there are seven power tools to focus on first:
The most common bench tools in the woodshop are routers and sanders. We have already talked about routers to some extent. Orbital sanders have come a long way from the jitterbug style of old. New sanders leave a better finish, are quieter and last longer. At some point, probably right away, you will want a sander . No one likes to sand. It is tempting to buy multiple sanders to address an unpleasant task. Here again, I point to the hand tools. Learning to use a smoothing plane and a cabinet scraper will reduce your sanding to little or nothing and cut down your overall time to finish a project.
Bruce Lamo has done woodworking pretty much all his life, although never exclusively to make a living. He prefers making furniture and working with solid wood, but often uses plywood when making cabinets. This article originated when a few friends were considering buying tools that based on his experience, he thought would not be a good investment.
Here’s a traditional Swedish farm accessory for gunk-laden soles. The dimensions are not critical, but be sure the edges of the slats are fairly sharp?they’re what makes the boot scraper work. Cut slats to length, then cut triangular openings on the side of a pair of 2x2s. A radial arm saw works well for this, but a table saw or band saw will also make the cut. Trim the 2x2s to length, predrill, and use galvanized screws to attach the slats from underneath. If you prefer a boot cleaner that has brushes, check out this clever project.
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.
Nightstands are just not big enough for everything: lamp, alarm clock, phone, photos of your kids … so books, magazines, your tablet or your cup of tea ends up on the floor. This shelf unit gives you about 10 times more space for decorative and essential stuff. And its dazzling design will transform your room. Best of all, it’s easy to build with basic tools.

Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill. There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on. Learn all about these options (along with some suggestions on what to look for when shopping) in this article on corded power drills.


In the grand scheme of history, power woodworking tools are a very recent innovation. However, it is hard to imagine modern woodworking without the use of power tools. That being said, one doesn't need a shop full of expensive woodworking machines to be an effective woodworker. When building a workshop, there are seven power tools to focus on first:
Along with stone, clay and animal parts, wood was one of the first materials worked by early humans. Microwear analysis of the Mousterian stone tools used by the Neanderthals show that many were used to work wood. The development of civilization was closely tied to the development of increasingly greater degrees of skill in working these materials.Woodworking shop in Germany in 1568, the worker in front is using a bow saw, the one in the background is planing.Among early finds of wooden tools are the worked sticks from Kalambo Falls, Clacton-on-Sea and Lehringen. The spears from Schöningen (Germany) provide some of the first examples of wooden hunting gear. Flint tools were used for carving. Since Neolithic times, carved wooden vessels are known, for example, from the Linear Pottery culture wells at Kückhofen and Eythra.Examples of Bronze Age wood-carving include tree trunks worked into coffins from northern Germany and Denmark and wooden folding-chairs. The site of Fellbach-Schmieden in Germany has provided fine examples of wooden animal statues from the Iron Age Wooden idols from the La Tène period are known from a sanctuary at the source of the Seine in France.
I always try to ask my students why they have come to my school. The standard answer is, "I wanted to learn the right way," but frequently the answer is "that I sit in front of a computer all day and don't feel like I do anything at all." Or simply, they are bored with sitting at home every night. These are the people who are really fun to have in class. They have no preconceived notions, no bad habits to break and they usually really appreciate whatever they have made. Many of them go on to make some new friends at the school. Through the years, I have seen many make plans to take another class "if my buddy is going to do it, too."
Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill. There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on. Learn all about these options (along with some suggestions on what to look for when shopping) in this article on corded power drills.
Then, beginning several decades ago, shop classes began to be removed from secondary curriculums. With the decrease in educational funding, and increasing emphasis on standardized testing, schools began to cull electives, institute stricter graduation requirements, and focus more on college prep academics and the subjects necessary for passing state exams. There wasn’t money or time to maintain tools and sawdust-filled workshops, and one by one school districts dropped their shop classes, figuring that students who wished to pursue trade skills could do so later at a vocational college.

Without Norm, I probably wouldn’t have developed such an interest in working with wood, so he’s my #1. Norm built my foundation, and books gave me a glimpse of the incredible variety of techniques and an appreciation of the design process. Marc, the contributors to this site, and other web-based sources provide ongoing inspiration that keeps me eager to get back into the shop.

Thank you for that info. Is there any recommended size for crosscutting? Lets say I purchase a 4×8 sheet of plywood or MDF at my local home center. I have them cut it down to strips of 18×8 (for example). When I get home, if I need to crosscut the 18×8 piece, is that possible on a cabinet saw with a crosscut sled or better with a track saw? Reason I ask, that will most likely be my scenario when I purchase lumber. I would rarely bring home a full 4×8 sheet from the store because it’s easier to transport it in smaller widths. I’m at the point to make some tool purchases, and seeing if I should go solely with a track saw for my scenario or get both? I do have a 12 inch compound miter saw but cutting to size on that with 18 inch depth panels is hard in one pass.
To minimize potential cupping, we decided to make the top by gluing two pieces of 1×6 together rather than using a solid board. Choose a straight piece of 1×6 with a sharp, clean edge. Cut the pieces long and trim the top to length after you glue the two parts together. For pro tips on gluing boards edge-to-edge, see “Edge Gluing Boards” . Justin and Jackson cut biscuit slots in the sides of the two 1x6s to help hold them in alignment while installing the clamps. Glue and clamp the two 1x6s. Then let the glue set up about 30 minutes before routing the edge (Photo 10).
Work bench. You might get by by using a saw horse as your work bench for a while but believe us when we tell you that you need a dedicated sturdy work bench for doing your woodwork. You can buy one, or like many woodworker, make one yourself. You can make your own workbench for under $200. There are plenty of free videos and guides online that will show you how. Just type your search in a search engine.
Learning how to use tools to create what you envision in your mind is one of the most rewarding activities a man can involve himself in. Even though many of us today missed out on this first-hand training in high school shop class, there are a lot of folks that are buying books and reading blogs all about it. By learning how to tune up their grandfather’s hand plane they are seeking to once again tap into that deep-rooted desire to create and build with the knowledge of their mind and the skill of their hands.
Capitalize on low hanging fruit to identify a ballpark value added activity to beta test. Override the digital divide with additional clickthroughs from DevOps. Nanotechnology immersion along the information highway will close the loop on focusing solely on the bottom line.Podcasting operational change management inside of workflows to establish a framework. Taking seamless key performance indicators offline to maximise the long tail. Keeping your eye on the ball while performing a deep dive on the start-up mentality to derive convergence on cross-platform integration.
As your experience grows, it is typical to look for the next upgrade, which is often a bigger tablesaw, a miter saw, a small jointer, or a small planer. As I see it, if you own a decent contractor saw, a bigger, heavier cabinet saw won't give you much more than what you already have. The quality of cut will only be marginally better. I would look to spend my money elsewhere.
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.
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