10 Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker

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They say the day you get into woodwork, quitting becomes a problem. Having just a few essential tools for a beginner woodworker is all you need to get started in woodworking.

With good reasons too. Woodworking means different things to different people. This goes farther than the joy of creating beautiful or functional pieces. 

For some, woodworking is a way to create an income or additional income on the side. Others love the cathartic, stress-relieving properties of a good woodworking session. 

For some, it’s a means to get a muscle workout while being creative. 

For others it is just an outlet to make interesting things beyond furniture like for instance, longbows.

Whatever the reason, the correct tools support your end game. If you are just discovering this art, here are the essential tools you should have in your woodworking toolbox.

Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker #1 – Safety Gear

This is not necessarily a tool but is an absolute must-have when engaging in any woodwork activity. 

If professional woodworkers put safety first after formal training and years of expertise: so should you. Without this, you risk inflicting small or even severe permanent injuries on yourself.

Gloves and safety goggles will offer ample protection against flying wood chips, dust and debris and minor tool mishaps. 

If you will be working with power tools, hearing protection is required to protect you from hearing loss. A good quality facemask will also protect you from inhaling dust and particles, as well as from paint and varnish. 

Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker – Saws 

Woodworking requires a lot of cutting. Saws are, however, not a one size fits all. Different saws accomplish different functions. Here are some saws to start off your cutting tools collection. 

#2 Handsaw:

The handsaw is great for beginners because it’s lightweight and has no cords to wrangle while you work. 

#3 Circular saw:

These feature a circular or round blade with sharp teeth to cut through wood. Circular saws are electric-powered, with different types and brands having different power ratings. 

Circular saws have three types of blades:

  • ripping blades
  • crosscut blades
  • combination blades

#4 Jigsaw:

The electric tools are designed to make curved, straight or winding cuts. They cut with up, down and back and forth movement. You can also make smaller, more intricate interior cuts with the jigsaw. 

Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker – Planing, Filing and Sanding

Unless you are going for a rustic look and feel, the planks of wood you cut need some finishing to give it a better appearance. 

This is where planning, sanding and filing tools come in. 

#5 Planes

woodworking essential tools for a beginner woodworker

Planes are tools that use a fixed blade to shave wood fibres. This allows the object you’re making to take shape and become gradually smoother. The most common ones are:

  • Jack plane
  • Block plane
  • Joining Plane
  • Rabbet plane
  • Scraper plane

#6 Orbital Sander

These use sandpaper pads to smoothen surfaces. Being electric, they tend to be faster and do not require as much energy to operate as manual sanding tools. 

Regular orbital sanders work in a circular motion, but leave swirl marks that are challenging to remove. A random orbital sander oscillates rather than circulates. This gives you a mark-free, silky finish. 

#7 Hand Files

Good quality hand files are durable and often inexpensive. These are excellent smoothing options especially for beginners. 

The main file choices to have are:

Rasps: these have coarse teeth and rough edges. This is often the first file to be used as it shaves off larger chunks of wood before finer files take over. 

Half-round files: these feature one rounded side and one flat surface. The two ends make it possible to work on both flat and curved wood pieces. 

Mill files: these have two flat surfaces, with one end being courser than the other. These files can also work on tight spaces thanks to their toothed edges. 

Hand files are also often used to sharpen other bits and blades used in woodwork. 

Assembly Tools

hammers and screws essential tools for a beginner woodworker

Once wood planks are sized and smoothened adequately, they need to be put together to form the final product. 

Assembly is dependent on two things: precision joints and fastening. 

The more common ones are:

#8 Hammer

There are different woodworking hammers to accomplish various tasks. The main ones are prying and pounding. 

How well a hammer accomplishes these tasks is dependent on several factors. These are:

Hammer claw: the claw design includes a hammer claw’s length and curve. Finishing hammers have longer claws while framing tools have straighter edges for splitting materials.

Head design: some hammerheads, especially finishing hammers, have smooth heads. On the other hand, framing hammers have serrated faces for prying fasteners and nails. 

Handle design: composite or wooden hammer handlers are great for beginners as they deliver minimal shock. Framing works better with steel handles, however. These have more shock, but steel makes them heavier, increasing their force. 

The main type of hammers are:

  • Finishing hammers which tend to be all-purpose
  • Framing hammers with are heavier and sturdier
  • Tack hammers, ideal for small jobs and have no claws

#9 Mallets

Mallets are often confused with hammers. Mallets feature large wood or leather heads with detachable bits to allow various head sizes. 

Unlike a hammer, mallets will absorb shock rather than discharge it. They also leave minimal striking marks, giving off a more refined finish. 

Measurement tools

It is said that a good woodworker measures twice and cuts once. 

These necessitate some good quality, easy to read measuring tools. The following are absolute must-haves in your toolbox. 

#10 Squares

A good assortment of squares is central to great woodwork pieces. Aside from allowing the creation of various angles, squares have measurements on them, making it possible to use them as rulers. 

The key squares to have are:

  • Framing squares: these are large, right-angled for bigger tools
  • Speed squares to check 45 and 90-degree cuts
  • Try squares for smaller, right-angled for verifying squares 
  • bevel squares to recreate existing angles

#11 Tape measure

measuring essential tools for a beginner woodworker

You should have at least one tape measure in your woodworking kit. This can be:

  • Retractable steel tapes: these are very common and come folded in a shell for easy handling
  • Folding Rules: these are rigid measuring sticks that fold into several sections
  • Flexible reel tapes: these measure over 100 feet and come in both steel and fabric
  • Straight edges and yardsticks: these are ideal for laying straight lines

With just a few simple tools you can get started in woodworking easily. Don’t let not having all the fanciest tools hold you back for getting started creating and working on projects.

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