8 Essential Woodworking Tools Every Beginner Needs

Basic must-have tools you will need for your workshop


Looking to open your own woodworking shop or maybe you’re a woodwork enthusiast and enjoy doing a few DIY projects around the house. Well everyone knows that there are tools to each trade and having the right equipment along with the know how, will be one of the determining factors on how successful your projects are.

Opening a workshop there are a few basic tools you will need, however, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of tools and brands out there to choose from, and not knowing what is really essential. When creating your workshop what you really need are tools that are durable and will provide you with a lot of flexibility to get you started.

In this article I’ll share with you 8 must-have tools to get your woodworking shop up and running, while also saving a few bucks in the process. I'll also share with you a few basic tools that you will need if you are interested in wood burning or wood carving.

When purchasing tools, brands are only important if the tools are really just superior to the others, beyond that, your purchases do not have to be brand specific or you do not have to be brand loyal. If you’re interested in purchasing a set of tools that share the same battery hence sticking to a particular company, keep in mind that battery technology changes very quickly. So if that was your only purpose, there is still no guarantee that the brand will not change or upgrade it’s batteries for several reasons. 

One of the ways you can offset the cost for some of your tools is to go for what's on sale. If you are purchasing multiple power tools at the same time, you can find some kind of package deal on a set, so you always want to keep an eye out for those.

Two of the best resources that you want to use to look out for tools are your local classifieds and craigslist where you can get a good deal on used equipment. When it comes to used tools, they are like used exercise equipment, it’s either they are ‘beat to hell’ or they have hardly been used, those are the ones you want to look for when purchasing.

Now let's get to the tools and all the cool stuff.

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1.  Circular saw

Once you are working with any kind of wood, you will need to cut it. When you are setting up your workshop one of the first tools you should invest in is the circular saw, preferably cordless. The cordless circular saw is super lightweight, it makes your woodworking  life a bit easier as you are able to make a lot of different cuts with the tool.

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If you aren’t familiar with the circular saw you have an adjustment where you can change the angle on the blade so you can make angled cuts.

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You can also change and adjust the depths of your cuts. 

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2.  Speed square

Many people think that the circular saw is kind of a barbaric saw and that it’s really hard to get clean lines with, but that's not true. One way to ensure that you are making accurate cuts with your circular saw is to pair it with a speed square, preferably a 12 inch one as it provides much more versatility. The speed square is a solid tool, you can cut a larger stock with it and you can clip it to a  surface and use it as a guide.

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3.  Drill

The next tool you will need is a drill. The drill is one of your most essential and versatile tools in your shop,it is what you will use to drive all your screws and drill holes. 

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4.  Jigsaw

The next tool on your list should be a jigsaw, this tool is basically the poor man’s band saw. Anything that does not involve a straight cut, you can usually do it with a jigsaw, this is your non-straight cutting needs tool. One suggestion when buying a jigsaw is to make sure you get some fine toothed working blades with it as well. Normally when you purchase a jigsaw, the blades that come with it are the coarse cut, and those will often just tear up the wood.

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5.  Clamps

Clamps are going to be project specific, when purchasing them you will need to evaluate what projects you’re going to make and buy accordingly. However, you can’t go wrong with some up style clamps, but again depending on the size of the project you may need some other type.

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6.  Work bench

One of the most important tools to have in your workshop is a work bench or some kind of work surface. You can purchase one at your local depot or you can build one. 

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7.  Orbital sander

The next important tool that you will definitely need in your workshop, and should be one of your first purchases is the orbital sander. When you first start woodworking you’re going to do a lot of sanding and this tool is going to help you get everything nice and smooth. 

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8.  Trim router

One extra or bonus tool you can add to your workshop is the trim router. This is not a tool you really need at the beginning when you’re just starting out, but it will definitely give your pieces more of a finished look. The trim router can give your pieces a nice little chamfer or rounded edge on anything, making your pieces look a bit more professional. Again this is not something you will need immediately, if you’re building boxes, continue to build a few more before you decide to invest in this tool.

In total you’re looking to spend close to $500, now remember this may vary based on the amount of items you purchase, like the clamps. With that said, you can outfit a shop to actually build things for under $500.

Now let's look at the boring but necessary tools you will need for your shop:

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1.  Eye protection

In every shop you must always have some type of eye protection. If you wear glasses you’re already one step ahead of everyone else, just make sure that they are shadow proof. However for everyone else , you need to get you a pair of birth control glasses to protect your eyes.

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2.  Respirator

If you’re doing anything that releases fumes, if you’re sanding or doing anything that may cause sawdust at all, it is very important to have a respirator. Try to find ones that are comfortable, easy to clean and you can replace the filters.

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3.  Gloves

This may not be necessary for everyone, however, if you’re doing some type of power carving or doing anything with fire, you need to invest in a good pair of gloves. Do not just purchase any kind of gloves or those with nylon in it, as it can melt directly to your skin. Instead try to get gloves that are made out of leather or materials that are flame-retardant. 

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4.  Ear protection

The last piece of personal protective equipment you need to be concerned about, is some type of ear protection especially if you’re working with high pitched power tools.

Now if you love to torch or burn wood, here are a few specialized tools you will need to get you started in wood burning:

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1.  Propane torch

This is great for beginners just getting into wood burning.

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2.  Soldering kit

Soldering kits are not too expensive and they are great for beginners. They include interchangeable heads and are perfect for doing any kind of detailed work or doing smaller burns.

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3.  Large propane torch

As you continue to burn you will eventually graduate to one of the larger propane torches that hooks up to a can of propane. This is good for covering larger surfaces.

If power carving is something you’re interested in, here’s a list of basic tools you will also need to get started:

When getting started with power carving, try to start by carving small things first and then graduate to larger things. You need to get an idea of how the wood works underneath your hand, what’s going to pull you where, and how to work with and against the grain.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the process, when you’re using tools like an angle grinder you’re not putting yourself in a position where you can injured. 

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1.  Rotary tool

A rotary tool is good for doing really small and medium carvings. 

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2.  Plunge base router

Another tool that is really good for doing detailed work is a plunge base, like the one you’d find on a router. You can basically place your rotary tool inside of the plunge base and use it like a small router.

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3.  Angle grinder

If you want to get into power carving larger items, then you will need to get an angle grinder. This tool is pretty inexpensive and will cost you around $40.

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4.  Flap disc

When you begin to use your angle grinder, try to start out with some flap discs. These are basically just sanding discs that helps you remove material, and is less dangerous than other other flap discs with blades.

And there you have it, these are all the basic tools you need to get started. It may seem quite intimidating and costly because you see all those nice workshops online, however, go at your own pace, get the essentials that you really need and overtime with a little elbow grease if you want to get a little fancy, then by all means. 

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