Essential Woodworking Tools For Beginners

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People always talk about the feeling they get from creating something with their own two hands. But when they say that, they’re selling their tools short. Building something yourself can be a great activity or hobby, but you need to make sure you have the right tools to make the job as easy as possible for you.

Woodworking is a great way to be productive while enjoying a hobby. Put together a desk, a shelf, or a patio table; the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to what you can build with wood. If you’re a beginner, the best way to get a good start and not get in over your head is to make sure you have the best and most useful tools at your disposal.

Dozens of little gadgets and doo-dads can be used for different woodworking jobs, but there are a handful that are simply essential. If you’re just diving into the world of woodworking, read on to learn which seven tools you should buy to get your woodworking journey started and what to consider while on that journey. Truly no toolbox is complete without this starter kit of crucial woodworking elements.

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7 Essential Woodworking Tools For Beginners

1.     Power Drill & Drill Bits – DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Drill/Driver Kit

A power drill will essentially be replacing your screwdriver, though you will come back to the latter from time to time for more intimate or smaller jobs. A power drill is going to be used in nearly every woodworking job you do, so you must get a good one that comes with its own set of drill bits. A power drill makes a lot of jobs much easier, such as screwing things in and drilling holes.

For a beginner, the best value for money is the 20V Max Cordless Drill/Driver Kit from DeWalt. It comes with everything you need, including drill, driver, and drill bits—but that’s just the start. This kit also comes with two amazing lithium-ion batteries that are absolutely ideal as they take almost no time to charge, and the battery power lasts for as long as you need. Charge both of the 20V batteries that come included before a project, and you’ll find that you need to charge yourself more often than the batteries during a long job.

It’s also built to be light-weight and compact, so it can fit into any small space, and it features an ergonomic handle that brings both comfort and control. A half-inch single sleeve ratcheting chuck also gives you increased bit gripping strength.

This drill also has a built-in LED light that can brighten even the darkest places, but it is the power that makes this tool really impressive. High-speed transmission delivers two speeds (0-450 rpm and 1,500 rpm) that can be applied to a wide range of fastening and drilling jobs. The high-performance motor also delivers a hefty 300-unit watts out (UWO) of power ability.

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver Kit, Compact, 1/2-Inch (DCD771C2) Buy on Amazon

2.     Random Orbital Sander – DeWalt 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

It is unlikely that those who are new to the woodworking game can truly understand just how useful this tool is. To really appreciate it, you have to have tried to sand something down by hand. If you already have tried, you know it is no fun whatsoever.

This will probably be a completely new tool for a lot of woodworking beginners but have no fear, it’s a much simpler little device than you think. A random orbital sander cuts down on one of the most cumbersome by-hand jobs in the woodshop. It gets the job done in a small fraction of the time and usually with a higher-quality finish. If you want anything you build with timber to be nice and smooth to the touch, you’ll need to turn to the orbital sander.

Once again, DeWalt has supplied us with a top of the notch tool, this time in the form of their five-inch Random Orbit Sander. This sander comes equipped with a strong 3.0 motor that allows the tool to get up to 12,000 OPM (oscillations per minute). Thanks to the rubber overmold, this tool isn’t sacrificing comfort for power either.

This tool’s construction also includes a dust-sealed switch that protects the sander from ingesting too much dust and sand, which gives it a much longer life. Also included is an innovative one-hand locking system to clip the dust bag on and off.

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K) Buy on Amazon

3.     Jigsaw – Black & Decker 5.0-Amp Smart Select Jigsaw

Have you ever wondered how carpenters can get such perfect circular shapes and curves on their beautiful creations? They do it with a jigsaw, and so can you. The jigsaw is the go-to power tool when a woodworker is looking to make a curve in their design or construction. Jigsaws won’t be used for every project you do like some of the other tools on this list, but when you need it, there really isn’t any substitute for it.

Any non-linear type cuts you’re looking to make in your wood will need to be made with the use of a jigsaw. Cutting pieces out of the middle of a piece of wood is also a job that can be done almost exclusively with a jigsaw. It’s great for your more decorative cuts, as well as for more practical uses, for example, cutting a hole for the sink out of a piece of countertop wood.

A beginner in woodworking should be trying to get the highest quality tools they can so they get the best help while they’re working. When it comes to jigsaws, the best of the best is the 5.0-Amp Smart Select Jigsaw from Black & Decker.

This jigsaw takes curved cuts to the next level with unique curve control technology that allows you to tinker with the saw’s orbit in one of four customized settings, giving you added control over your curved cuts.

A wire guard gives you an easy and clear line of sight while you’re cutting, and the beveling shoe also allows you to make angled cuts in both directions. This piece from Black & Decker also includes a dust blower to keep your area clean and a keyless blade clamp that lets you switch blades out without the need for any other tools.

BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, Smart Select, 5.0-Amp (BDEJS600C) Buy on Amazon

4.     Clamps – Irwin Quick-Grip Clamps&Tekton 30-Inch Ratchet Bar Clamp

There are many different kinds of clamps that are used in different situations, but they all do the same basic job: holding or fastening objects together to prevent any movement through the use of inward pressure. No one clamp can do it all, but some are much more versatile than others.

One type of clamp that a beginner woodworker should surely have is the squeeze clamp. Also known as a quick-release or one-handed clamp, these simple clamps are built with a mechanism that allows the user to release a workpiece in a single, quick, one-handed movement.

Irwin Quick-Grip Clamps are the best way to go for beginners and really any woodworker in need of a one-handed clamp. This clamp is perfect for smaller projects and is one of the easiest clamps to use, which makes it ideal for beginners. It comes fitted with non-marring pads, which help you protect your workpiece from scratches and scuffs.

The easy, one-handed triggers on these clamps allow for the user to release their work instantly and with no hassle. It’s also constructed with hardened steel, so there’s no need to worry about these clamps bending or flexing on you. The small stature of these pieces makes them good for confined areas, and it wields 150 pounds of force as well.

IRWIN QUICK-GRIP Clamps, One-Handed, Mini Bar, 6-Inch, 4-Pack (1964758) Buy on Amazon

Another important type of clamp beginners should have in their woodshop or working area is a bar clamp, which is a much heftier clamp that is paired well with the smaller squeeze clamps. These clamps have a long metal bar that holds two jaws parallel to one another. The bar can then extend to allow the user to clamp larger and wider workpieces, which makes them perfect for heavy-duty work.

The Irwin clamp mentioned does have a bar in it, but it’s not the heavy-duty bar clamp mentioned here. The Tekton 30-inch Ratchet Bar Clamp is a perfect solution for any large project, even coming with a 36-inch spreader included. With this clamp, you will be able to apply constant and precise pressure to any job you’re working on.

The soft jaw pads that grip the workpiece keep it safe from any scratches, and the clamp can even be converted into a spread by putting the fixed jaw on the opposite end of the bar. Though it can be used for heavy-duty jobs, this tool is nearly just as easy to use as the smaller squeeze clamp, so beginners should have no difficulty figuring it out.

TEKTON 30-Inch x 2-1/2-Inch Ratchet Bar Clamp and 36-Inch Spreader | 39185 Buy on Amazon

5.     Nail Gun – NuMax SFR2190 Pneumatic Nail Gun

Say goodbye to those listless hours of hopeless pounding with a hammer and say hello to the nail gun. Not only does a nail gun save the user a ton of energy when putting in nails, but it is also much more precise than a lot of beginner woodworkers would be with a hammer. Instead of that senseless pounding, simply pull the trigger on a nail gun and voila!

You can’t just throw your hammer away, however, as it can still be used for small projects like hanging up photos and things of that nature. But the nail gun will be your new best friend whenever you need to use nails for a project.

For burgeoning woodworkers out there, a nail gun is a must-have in your toolbox, and the best one you’ll be able to find is the SFR2190 Pneumatic Nail Gun from NuMax. This nail gun is great for everything from framing to sub-floors, roof-decking, wood-fencing, sheathing, and more.

Numax built this nail gun with a good, ergonomic handle on the gun, which is crucial to ensure a secure grip and limit vibration. You can also choose one of two different functions to either go bump or quick-fire or go single-fire for a little bit more accurate placement.

This nail gun also comes fitted with a no-mar tip that keeps your work protected from unwanted scratches and scuffs, which allows your work to get a professional finish. Once you remove the no-mar tip, the user can see Numax’s no-slip teeth, which make it easy to grip the wood to ensure secure firing.

NuMax SFR2190 Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2 Buy on Amazon

6.     Tape Measure – Stanley 16-Foot Fat Max Tape Measure

It may seem like it should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: woodworking beginners need to have a quality tape measure. You can’t simply use whatever tape measure you find around the house, because a flimsy tape measure that’s flopping and bending all over the place can be one of the most frustrating things to deal with in a woodshop.

In woodworking, the tape measure is used almost constantly to ensure all of the cuts are being made exactly where they should be with absolute precision. If you plan on making woodworking a regular hobby, investing in a high-quality tape measure is a smart move. Though they’re usually pretty affordable, so it’s really not much of an investment.

The best tape measures you can find are usually from Stanley, so it should be no surprise that our choice is one of their products as well. Though some prefer 25-foot tape measures, 16-foot tape measures can do most jobs and are much lighter and easier to handle. The Fat Max 16-foot Tape Measure from Stanley is compact but strong and reliable.

To provide the user with maximum durability, Stanley reinforced the first six feet of the tape with BladeArmor coating. The mylar polyester film that this tape measure is made with also extends the life of the entire blade considerably.

A heat-treated spring mechanism in the tape measure also prolongs the life of the tool while providing the user with a nice blade recoil. And every woodworker knows there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a long, smooth tape measure recoil.

Stanley Tools 33-716 16-Foot-by-1-1/4-Inch FatMax Tape Rule with Blade Armor Buy on Amazon

7.     Combination Square – Stanley Combination Die Cast Square

This is one of the oldest tools in the woodworkers’ handbook, yet it remains one of the most crucial to this day, even with all the other technology out there. A combination square is a kind of carpenter’s square, which is a great tool to quickly get a 90-degree measurement. It can also be used to guide the marking of layout lines when cutting wood to length with a circular saw.

It’s simply a handy and very inexpensive tool to always keep within arm’s reach. A combination square can work well to mark lines at 45, 90, and 135 degrees and uses an adjustable sliding ruler to mark a parallel line along a workpiece or measure the depth of mortices and other holes.

For a classic tool, why not go with a classic manufacturer? Stanley’s Combination Die Cast Square is as good as it gets, and it’s easy to use, which is always music to a beginner’s ears. Not only does the yellow color make it easy to find in your toolbox, but it gets the job done with utter precision.

This combination square has a precision die-cast body that contains three precision-machined faces for increased accuracy. It also has a 360-degree vial for full visibility, high-quality brass nuts and scriber fittings to help the tool last a long time, and a high-visibility reading etched and coated blade that helps reduce rust. It also offers both metric and imperial graduations for users on both sides of the Atlantic.

Stanley Combination 305 mm Square 2-46-028 Buy on Amazon

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Woodworking Tools For Beginners Buying Guide

Those seven tools are the base for beginning your woodworking journey, but it’s unlikely they will be the last tools you buy to satisfy your woodworking hobby.

When it comes to picking out the best possible tools for your woodworking projects, there are a few considerations for you to keep in mind as you shop. And the decision isn’t made any easier by how many different tools fall into this category either. Before you go out and buy a shiny new set of tools, let’s go over the main factors to consider during your buying journey.

What Do You Want To Build?

It’s important to know what kind of woodworker you’re going to be. That means you need to think about what kind of projects you want to work on and what your goals are for your woodworking hobby. Though the tools mentioned in this article are universal, for the most part, many jobs require a unique combination of tools.

Knowing what you want to create in your woodshop will help you avoid buying tools that are useless for the projects you intend to complete. For example, if you plan to create pieces with a lot of curved wood, a jigsaw must be purchased, but if you plan on keeping your work square and straight, there’s really not much need for one.

Know Your Budget

Make sure you set a concrete budget for yourself before you set out on your woodworking tool buying journey. One of the worst things about shopping is choosing all of your favorite products, only to get to the checkout to find that they’re way outside of your price range.

Setting a budget for yourself ahead of time and making sure the tools you’re looking at fall at or under your budget is the smart way to begin your new woodworking hobby. That’s not to say that you should sacrifice quality, but it’s always important to know your financial limitations when buying some of these tools as they can get a bit pricey.

Check For Warranties

Sometimes life just happens, and there’s nothing you can do to control it. This can be said about most products—woodworking tools included. Things just break from time to time. That’s why it’s always important to buy from a reputable company that uses high-quality materials, but that’s also why ensuring what you buy is covered by a warranty is a smart move.

Some companies say they use only high-quality methods and materials, but you can never really know for sure, which is why getting that backup protection of the warranty can really save you from future mishaps. There’s nothing worse for a beginner than getting your woodshop all set up only to realize you have a faulty power drill or jigsaw with no warranty.

Don’t Overbuy Right Away

Woodworking tools aren’t a category of products that require any kind of stocking up, especially in today’s age of daily technological innovations. There’s no need to buy anything more than the tools you need for your current project.

You can always buy tools for your next project later, and the tool you buy at a later date will usually be more advanced than the one you would’ve bought earlier.

Final Thoughts

Woodworking is a productive and worthwhile hobby that’s great for anyone who likes to work with their hands, work with wood, or simply build or create something. To get any productive woodworking done, however, you will always need good tools. So, that’s where a beginner should start after they’ve decided to get into woodworking.

Though there are dozens of other amazing tools that can help you realize your woodworking vision. The seven listed here are the absolute essential base that a beginner must have in their toolbox to start working with wood.

Always taking the time to consider all components of your buying journey with these tools is crucial as well. Know your project and buy only the tools you need for the job at hand, be sure to check for warranties, and always ensure you stay within your self-imposed budget. Happy woodworking!

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