Having a set of fine woodworking tools in your workshop is essential if you want to complete woodworking projects successfully. Here is a brief overview of the essential basic tools that you must have to start woodworking, and which will enable you to successfully realize most projects.
- The hammer. This is one of the most basic woodworking tools, used not only to drive nails into wood but also knock things together, like joints, as well as breaking things apart. However, it can also be used to pull out nails by using the claw end, which acts as a small pry bar. You will need a basic claw hammer as part of your tool kit. As you develop your skill, you will probably add other types of hammers such as rubber mallets and upholstery hammers as well.
- The chisel. The basic function of this tool is to cut through materials such as wood and stone, although woodworkers also use it for a variety of functions, ranging from heavy chopping to fine carving. They are available in a variety of widths, depending on what material you want to cut. For your initial foray into fine woodworking, you’ll need several basic bench chisels in widths ranging from ¼-inch to one inch. Eventually, you’ll probably get more specialized chisels such as paring chisels and mortise chisels.
- Hand planes. These tools are used to smooth wood as well as adjust its thickness. Although many of the functions of hand planes in completing woodworking projects have been taken over by power tools such as sanders, carpenters still carry them around for a variety of spot jobs such as shaving the edge from a door to stop it from sticking. For your first hand plane, you should get a basic bench plane, and eventually get other planes with more specialized uses such as jacks and jointers.
- Hand saws. This is another tool that has been overshadowed in recent years by its power counterpart, but many carpenters still use them to cut wood. There are two basic types: rip saw and crosscut saw. Rip saws are designed to cut in the direction of the wood grain and have fewer but bigger teeth. Crosscut saws, on the other hand, cut against the grain and have finer teeth.
- Clamps. This bench tool is used in conjunction with the other tools on this list and is used to hold the components together while you’re working on them. Generally, you’ll need several of these in your workshop for various uses. The basic clamp is the C-clamp, and you’ll need a lot of these in various sizes, ranging from four inches to eight inches. Eventually, to complete fine woodworking plans, you’ll need more specialized clamps such as miter clamps that hold two pieces at a ninety-degree angle and can be used for assembling miter joints as well as T-shaped joints.
Any workshop also needs a set of power tools. You won’t have to break your budget to get these fine woodworking tools, however, since they are relatively inexpensive and you can probably even get good quality previously owned ones at garage sales and from online retail sites.
- Circular saws. Although most people associate these saws with carpentry, they can be used to complete woodworking projects as well. When used in conjunction with a clamp, a circular saw can cut a straight line with as much accuracy as a table saw. And you can use special blades to cut curved shapes.
- Power drills. These essential tools are used to drill holes in wood and come in corded and cordless varieties. Although cordless drills are more convenient, corded models provide you with more power as well as a longer working time. They generally come in 3/8-inch and 1/2–inch models, based on the size of the chuck. You can complete most fine woodworking plans using the 3/8-inch drill, although as you become more proficient and need to drill larger holes, you may want to add a ½-drill as well.
- Jigsaw. These specialized saws allow woodworkers to cut patterns in stock. Get a corded, orbital-action jigsaw, since this will be versatile enough to let you complete most projects. For convenience, pick one that has an easy system for changing blades.
- Random orbital sander. The advantage of using these sanders over the regular palm sander is that they don’t sand in patterns and thus, don’t leave unsightly sanding marks. You will also need a supply of sanding disks in progressively finer grits, since you will use these to remove sanding marks.
- Table saw. This is one of the most essential purchases you will make for your woodworking workshop. While you can economize on the other power tools, make sure that you splurge on the highest quality table saw that you can afford. Apart from having a heavy working surface and a powerful motor that starts with minimal vibration and can make cuts in even the thicker woods, the table saw should also have handles for bringing the saw blade up and down as well as adjusting its angle. Likewise, don’t forget the safety features.
- Compound Miter Saw. This saw will enable you to make precise angle cuts to complete pieces for fine woodworking plans. The saw can be angled to as much as sixty degrees to the left or right so that you can make compound angle cuts accurately, as well as being able to lock it down to the angle that you need. They are available with eight, ten or twelve-inch blade models, of which the ten-inch saw is the most popular since it enables woodworkers to complete most projects while still being affordable.
- Router. This versatile tool can be used for a variety of tasks when doing fine woodworking, including cutting grooves and dove tails and making dovetail and finger joints. For beginning woodworkers, a router with a stationary base will be enough to complete most projects. Once you gain more experience, you may want to get one that has a plunge router base as well. You might also want to consider investing in a router table on which to mount it as well.