The old saying "If only I knew then what I know now" certainly applies to buying woodworking tools . Like nearly every woodworker, I would love a large shop equipped with all the best tools. Like most woodworkers however, I have had to make choices due to finances, space, and what was available at the time of need. As I look back at the purchases I made over the last 30 years, I have few true regrets, but there are many things I would do differently. Here is how I would approach equipment selection today.
However, I would recommend that you either build a wooden workbench, or purchase one if you feel a workbench build is too advanced for you right now. However, I created the DVD “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench with Will Myers” so that even beginners can build a solid, portable, and very affordable workbench that will fit almost anywhere, using mostly or only hand tools. You can buy it in my store here. You can find Will’s free workbench plans for the Moravian Workbench here. Whichever path you choose, make sure you choose to either build or buy a heavy & sturdy wooden workbench, with at least a 3″ solid top, strong supportive base legs, and two strong vises.
The circular saw is a hand held or table mounted saw. Circular saws come with the ability to set the depth of the blade, which enables one to create cut offs, dados and narrow slots. There are upsides and downsides to all saws, and the one down side to the circular saw that its light weight sometimes causes it to move when cutting, and stability in the machine is important for the cut and for safety. On the other hand, this is also its advantage. The versatility and the mobility of this saw gives one the freedom to work anywhere.

Break down plywood Following the cutting diagram, crosscut plywood along the line marked “first cut”. Take the smaller of the two rip 3/4″ plywood according to diagram and cut list. For safety and easier handling, use a circular saw with a good quality blade (following a straight edge guide for a straight cut) for first cross-cut on plywood. If you are not confident in your circular saw’s ability to cut straight lines with no tear out, leave yourself 1/4″ of extra material (there is enough extra material in a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood to do this) and make your final cuts on the table saw.
How about building a secret room hidden behind a door that’s masquerading as a bookcase—just like in the movies? Not sure how to build the entrance? Well, just buy a kit. These bookcase doors from Woodfold Manufacturing are perfect for disguising the secret entrance. The bifold-style doors look like a typical bookcase when they’re closed. In fact, you can even load up the shelves with 500 lbs. of books or knickknacks. The doors slide open along a steel roller system at the top and the bottom to reveal the secret room.
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here's my 6x6 version build with #2 pine. shelves are 1x10 and threaded rod upsized to 5/16" to allow for extra width. center upright spaced at 1/3 side to side. this is very complex structurally - all the commenters who don't believe it should build it to really feel how it works. it is basically like a post-tensioned high rise. i think i'd like to paint the uprights and stain the shelves.
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).
Thickness planer. A thickness planer is used to fix surfaces of imperfect wood. If you are picking up less than perfect wood from the lumberyard, wood with some surface defects, a planer will let you fix that wood in the quickest time. A thickness planer pays for itself quick as it allows you to buy cheaper wood that doesn’t have perfect surfaces and fix it yourself. Be careful though. You loose wood during planing. So the remaining amount of wood still has to be worth the price you paid for it.

I have yet to attempt much of this -- but still an option. This can be both costly, and time consuming, but *very* satisfying! You can make your own saw handles, your own wood planes, your own workbench, vice, toolchest. etc.   There are multiple resources when it comes to making your own planes-- like David Finck, and Caleb James -- even some of the others I've already mentioned have some tutorials for that.  Youtube is rife with people making their own tools out of wood, metal, plastic, etc.

The Lead Instructor for the course is Aled Lewis. You can see Fine Woodworking's video about Aled here. For each project, Aled is joined by a co-teacher who specializes in the relevant skills. The following list is subject to change. Most of the instructors have websites which you can visit for more extensive views of their work. See the list of instructors here.

Marc, it’s very difficult to answer this question. Many years ago i started out with a book, and then i got another but i just wasn’t getting it. Then I started watching your video’s and everything came to life. I know there are many options that you would fall under but in my personal opinion there needs to be a Woodwhisperer choice or at least a Pod casting choice =)


Apply 2 coats of Urethane with a brush. Let the second coat dry completely (6-12 hours), then lightly sand the armrests, table, and areas you come in contact with when sitting (chair slats). This light sanding with 220 grit paper will remove any dust particles that settled in the first coat. Next, take a clean cloth and wipe a thin coat of poly on all the areas you sanded. This will give you a nice smooth finish. Once dry, enjoy your new furniture and have a barbecue!
Manufacturing the furniture is one of the most complex crafts, because manufacturing the good quality furniture requires a lot of skills, tools and rich experience. As the part of interior, the furniture is always on the visible place and it is often the main element of interior decorations. Because of this, its manufacture does not allow any mistakes. Just a tiny error on a visible place can often ruin all the effort that was made to produce that piece of the furniture. Because of that, a quality furniture plan is one of the basic things for reducing the risk of errors.
The space behind a door is a storage spot that’s often overlooked. Build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door. The materials are inexpensive. Measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.
Hardwood boards and softwoods may look similar in shape and dimension, but they are sold using completely different measuring systems. Softwoods are typically sold in standard lumber dimensions (such as a 2x4), whereas hardwoods are most often sold by the board foot. Calculating board feet helps you guarantee that you're getting your money's worth on every piece of hardwood you purchase.
Mallet. A mallet is a wooden hammer. If you're going to use a chisel you have to use it with a mallet. Using a regular hammer is a big no. Wooden projects such as furniture almost always require tapping to put things in place or to make them stronger. Using a regular hammer will most likely cause damage. Mallets are your only option. Get them is a few different sizes so they suit all your projects big and small.
Use 1x12 pine lumber for a rustic appearance. Nothing looks like pine with its large knots and swirls. And because you're using solid lumber, you can sand the edges smooth for a finished appearance. Add a 1/4-inch fir plywood back for strength and stability. Note that "1x12" is a nominal size. The actual size will be ¾-inch thick and 11 ¼-inches wide.
Dan, my work space that is available for power tools is quite small, about 6′ x 20′. It may seem like a lot on the surface, but a long rectangle is a bear to work in. It requires a lot of serpentine action. That said, I don’t have too much room for large footprint tools. I have settled finally on three big tools; a small bench saw, a thickness planer, and a drill press. I had to forgo the jointer, so I use hand tools to make up for it’s absence (as I do with a lot of my hand tool techniques). I have gotten to the point where I can flatten one side and true an edge of a board reasonably quick. I then finish it up with the thickness planer and table saw, giving me a nice flat board. I guess what I am basically saying is, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and don’t write off hand tools as a quaint way to experience the past. They worked for thousands of years, and still do! Thanks for the blogs, they make for great reading.
This is a hard question to really answer. I learn a lot from just being in the shop working. but, at the same time I learn and am exposed to so much more online and in books than I would be in my own shop. I had a hard time answering this question. Though I ended up saying books. Why? Because I learn more traditional hand tool techniques, visually see furniture construction(drawings and sketches), and I am exposed to different types of furniture styles, many older books were written by those who had done the same things for years, so they became very proficient at the styles they constructed in . All of these things combined give me a lot of information to take back into my shop. I could learn all of this from schools and from online content, however I feel I have enough basic techniques under my belt to learn successfully from a book, vs. when I first started when I was a kid. And I can buy several books for the cost of one class. Not to say classes are bad, I just don’t have the money to go galavanting all over taking classes.
Drill presses are available as both freestanding floor models and in benchtop designs. The drill press is powered by an electric motor, driving it via a system of pulleys or gears. The drill bit is locked into the chuck, then is driven down using a hand-powered lever system. A spring pushes it back up when pressure on the lever is released. The size of a drill press is determined by the throat, the distance between the supporting column at the rear and the axis on which the spindle of the drill turns; thus, a 15-inch model will cut to the center of a 15-inch workpiece. A number of adjustments including a movable table depth, a depth gauge to set the distance the spindle travels and pulley adjustments to change speeds increase the tool’s functionality. The drill press can be used not only to drill round holes of all kinds but also for sanding, grooving, and even mortising jobs with the addition of specialized attachments.
If you have an old cabinet or dresser that you can redo, consider taking out the drawers and just adding rustic wooden planks. This gives the entire cabinet a great rustic look and it is really easy to do. This is a great project for those old dressers that have broken or missing drawers. You can attach the wood pieces together and fix them so that they pull out for easy access to the dresser contents.

I’ve got a three other bits of advice: First of all, get really, really good at woodworking. There are lots of people who enjoy it as a hobby. To sell your services, you’ve got to be able to do far superior work or do it much faster than everyone else (preferably both). Failure to do so means competing against hundreds of amateurs who make things for the pleasure of it, then sell their work at cost to fund the hobby. Second, develop great people skills. Most professionals do custom work and few focus on selling a product. Most of them sell a service, and a big part of that is getting customers to enjoy the experience of collaborating with a woodworker to create their dream products. If your customers don’t like you, they can usually save time and money by getting something from an online catalog. People who buy handcrafted items from woodworkers are often attracted to the idea of supporting artisans. The face behind the work is important to them. Last, develop an iron-clad work ethic. In this field you’re directly trading time for money, and that time is very limited. It’s important to be productive, so try to get 40 hours of actual productivity (as in making things) every week. Accounting, phone conversations and social media marketing may be important, but none of them provide an actual paycheck, so they don’t count as productive work.


A small jointer is better than no jointer, but a small jointer is not a great addition to a shop. A jointer needs table length. I would skip buying a small to medium size jointer. Once again, rely on your hand tools. They can perform as well or better than a machine that costs hundreds more, they require a great deal of room, and they should be run in conjunction with a dust collector. You can flatten boards with a jack plane and straighten edges with a jointer. With a little experience it becomes a quick task.
Wondering if you are still hanging in there Scott? One thing I notice woodworkers often do when getting started (including myself) is they sell their hand made items way too cheap, it doesn’t help anyone except the customer. You say yourself that they sell as fast as you can make them. Put your prices up! Double or even triple, the amount of orders may slow down but you will be doing yourself a favour. Don’t bother with Etsy or Craigslist or local markets in my opinion. Build it up for yourself to make money not making the giants even richer from all your hard work. I’ve been selling my woodwork online since 2004, before all these giants came along. I feel I have the experience to offer advice if anyone is interested. Trust no one! The internet has become a place for giants to make money off you (Facebook, Etsy, GoogleAds, Amazon…… the list goes on.) Don’t let them take your money, learn how to use them to your advantage instead of being a sucker and paying them money to grow even bigger while you stay the same size. They don’t care about you, they only care about their own business models. Grow your own business brand and ignore anyone who appears to want to help you, especially if their main business is making money online. That’s all they care about! Not you. Invest your time and money in yourself, your own website – not others and you will succeed, providing you are doing what you love and are passionate about.
I generally use biscuits for this (three per joint), and I have never had a joint fail (and a bookcase spending five years in an elementary school is a pretty fair test), but dadoes work great here as well. To assist with accuracy and consistency when using biscuits, mark your biscuit locations on a piece of scrap, and then use the scrap as a guide as you mill biscuit slots in each carcass member. The carcass top is attached so that it is flush with the top of the carcass sides. The carcass bottom is attached so that the top of the panel is 2-1/2″ above the floor (or the bottom of the side panel).
The old saying "If only I knew then what I know now" certainly applies to buying woodworking tools . Like nearly every woodworker, I would love a large shop equipped with all the best tools. Like most woodworkers however, I have had to make choices due to finances, space, and what was available at the time of need. As I look back at the purchases I made over the last 30 years, I have few true regrets, but there are many things I would do differently. Here is how I would approach equipment selection today.
The best advice I could give you is to learn WordPress or find a friend who can help you figure it out. Once the light bulb goes off there will be no stopping you, you will have the power in your own hands to provide what your end user needs and to educate them about the benefits and your products value – in a selfish, wasteful, throw-away society who expect everything delivered yesterday and expect to pay dirt cheap prices for your skills and repetitive hard work. End of rant….Sorry but I just had to comment. I know what it’s like, don’t lose hope!
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.
Just a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.
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