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Top 5 Tools for Beginning Woodworkers

As every woodworker knows, when you start out there are an endless amount of tools you "need" to buy. But in reality, you can get started with just a handful of tools. In this blog I will be discussing the first 5 tools I would buy if I was to start over tomorrow!

1. A Compound Miter Saw: For those starting out woodworking, a miter saw is an incredibly versatile and approachable tool. In simple terms, a miter saw cuts boards to length while squaring up the ends. This tool can also cut mitered cuts for projects like picture frames.

If you buy your lumber at the correct width and thickness from the big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) you can make endless projects with a compound miter saw.

Buying Tips: If space is not an issue A 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw is the most versatile, capable of cutting much wider boards and panels, but also requires much more shop space front to back in your shop.

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Upgrade Option: A good high tooth count blade (80+ for 10" and 90+ for 12" saws) makes a huge difference in cut quality and minimizing tearout. These usually range from $50-75 and make a big difference.


2. Cordless Drill: A good Cordless drill goes a long way, and is a tool you'll have for a long time to come. Capable of both drilling holes and driving screws, this is a must-have tool in any woodworking shop.

Buying Tips: For your first drill, you'll want to look for one with 18-20V. This will provide plenty of power for drilling and driving. I wouldn't worry about the battery size on my first drill. Even the smallest battery will last you quite a while under normal use (unless your planning on using it for a very large-scale project right off the bat).

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3. Random Orbit Sander: A random orbit sander is one of the most used tools in any shop, so this is not the tool to cheap out on! A good random orbit sander will leave your work feeling soft and looking smooth. Unlike traditional sheet sanders, a random orbit sander can sand with and against the grain, making it a versatile tool.

Buying Tips: For those of you who hate sanding as much as I do, remember a 6" ROS will sand about 50% faster than an equivalent 5" ROS sander!

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4. Clamps: A saying you'll hear all too often in woodworking is "you can never have too many clamps!" And man, is that true. I recommend starting woodworkers focus on buying two types of clamps, 6" F style clamps and 3/4" pipe clamps of various lengths. You can buy pipe and have it cut and threaded for free at most Lowes and Home Depots. Pipe Clamps are great for panel glue-ups, project glue-ups, and just overall workpiece holding. 6" F Style clamps are lightweight, multipurpose clamps that you'll find frequent use for in your shop, even as your clamp collection grows!

Pipe Clamp Recommendation:

F Style Clamp Recommendation:


5. Pocket Hole Jig: Probably the most versatile and beginner-friendly method of joinery is the pocket hole. Some of the most common flaws in amateur woodworking are failure to use proper joinery and exposed hardware. Pocket Hole Joinery solves both of these issues and immediately ups the quality function and look of your woodworking. A pocket hole jig is a jig that helps you drill holes at an angle that allows special pocket hole screws to make very strong joints. You can also buy special cut plugs that cover up your holes you've put your screws in, making for very clean furniture!

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