How To Start Woodworking - Basics, Tools and Projects
You've decided you're ready to dive into the rewarding world of woodworking. Making something from scratch with your own two hands can be one of the most satisfying things you do. Woodworking is filled with creativity, skills, flexibility and, most importantly, patience. As you get started, you are going to make a lot of mistakes and may have to start completely over a time or two. Just know that this is to be expected and all great woodworkers go through this learning process. The key is to not let those mistakes deter you and just stick with it. Enjoy the learning process, because it will always be a part of this hobby – or profession!
In this article we outline some of the basics for learning woodworking, the top tools you will need for a well-rounded workshop and some resources for easy beginner projects. Keep reading to discover everything you need to start woodworking right!
Woodworking Basics Before You Get Started
Before we cover what tools you need, let's cover some basics.
1. Set Up Your Space
No matter where you decide to set up your woodworking shop, plan the layout thoughtfully. This is especially important for smaller areas where space is limited. As you get started, it may be difficult to visualize how you will work within the space, so this may take some trial and error. Larger woodworking tools are often quite heavy, so try and find a spot for those first and then you can move smaller tools around them. Keep in mind that safety should be a priority. Consider who might also use this space or work in it with you, and factor that into planning. Overall, make this a space you get excited to work in.
2. Do Your Research
Research is going to be a major part of your woodworking, especially at the very beginning. The first thing you should do with any new tool is learn everything you can about it. Understanding how your tools work and how to use them properly will not only improve your skills but also improve your personal safety. Reference the user manual and research online for more information, and you should be in good shape.
3. Buy Tools as You Need Them/Improve
Beginner woodworkers will most likely have a smaller collection of tools and supplies. Don't go out and buy every little thing or every major tool you see related to woodworking. This is a waste of money and will be overwhelming! Instead, start with the basics (as outlined below) and add to your tools as needed. You will naturally start to accumulate tools, leading to a robust workshop collection.
Also, you may be tempted to invest in a top-of-the-line bandsaw or drill press. Unless you've already worked with these tools and feel well acquainted with them, start with more basic options that will allow you to refine your skills. As you improve, then you will definitely want to invest in nicer, more professional tools. But for getting started, the basics are a great place to begin.
4. Find the Best Method for You
The great thing about woodworking is there is a lot of freedom and creativity in it. There are multiple ways to do one project, so it is up to you to decide. Part of learning woodworking is that with more experience, you will know what does and doesn't work for you. But to start, try out different methods and look for options that work within your abilities/constraints. Have fun with it, and don't be afraid to try something new!
Beginner Woodworking Tools You Need
Now for the tools every beginner needs. One thing you need to know is that with woodworking tools, you get what you pay for. Often, more expensive tools are higher quality, more precise, faster and safer. Again, don't invest in top-of-the-line professional tools when you're just getting started, but for some of the recommended tools, you may want to spend a little more at first to make life easier and projects more enjoyable. Here's what we recommend for getting started:
For making curved cuts, you're going to need a jigsaw. You will take this tool to the wood to make the cut, which can make your cuts less precise. Jigsaws are a great cheap option for getting started and won't take up too much space. Band saws are the upgrade from a jigsaw. Band saws stay stationary while the saw makes the cut, leading to faster cutting and more accuracy. This is a bigger tool and more expensive, which is why it may be a better purchase later on. Also, jigsaws are limited to certain thicknesses. As you work on projects that require thicker wood pieces, it may be time to upgrade.
This is one beginner woodworking tool that may be worth a major investment up front. Table saws and circular saws are used to make straight cuts. You will most likely use this tool often, which is why starting with a cheap handsaw is not ideal. A good table saw will save you a lot of time. You can also add accessories to your saw for different features. We recommend getting a fence, which keeps a wood piece in place as you cut and allows you to make multiple precise, identical cuts. This type of tool will take up quite a bit of space, so that is one downside.
Every workshop needs a quality workbench! Workbenches will come with different features that you may or may not need. When starting out, opt for a sturdy flat bench. As you get better, you will start to notice what features you like or dislike and you can swap out your old bench for a new one.
Clamps, Hand Drill and Sanders
These last three tools you will definitely want to buy as needed. Clamps keep glued pieces together while they dry, and they cost a pretty penny. So buy clamps as you need them.
For drilling holes, a hand drill works perfectly, especially for beginners. As you progress and need bigger holes, you may consider investing in a drill press, but you can get by for quite a while with just a hand drill.
Finally, sanders are used for the last step before you add your finishing touches to your project. A hand sander works just fine; however, hand-sanding will take longer, so you may want to invest in a more expensive model earlier on. Use sanding to clean up rough spots, cover mistakes and prep wood for its new finish.
Again, there are many more tools that you may need for the project you're working on, and feel free to invest in those! These are just some solid basics that will have your woodshop prepped for whatever you are ready to work on.
Beginner Woodworking Projects
To get started on your first woodworking project, check out some of these resources. They offer great guides for beginner woodworkers that are easy to learn and fun!