So You Want To Get Into Woodworking? Setting The Foundation.
By Anna Bailey
So you’re thinking about getting into woodworking, but aren’t sure where to start?
You’ve come to the right place. We happen to think that woodworking is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling hobbies that you can invest your time and energy into. It doesn’t take a long time to learn the basics. With continuous improvement, you might even find that you enjoy it so much that you’d like to use that passion to create a product line for a family business.
With so many options, it can be hard to decide what the right products are for you. There is a wide range of general woodworking tools out there, so deciding where to start depends on what your interests are. With any new venture, practice will guide you to what you discover you enjoy the most. To help you explore the world of woodworking, I will share with you what I believe are the top tools to get started on any woodworking project.
Before I go into what tools I think are important when starting woodworking, I thought it might be helpful to give you a few tips on what to look for when you go to purchase new tools.
In North America, we are presented with so many options and brands to choose from in practically every type of purchase that we make, that it can become really confusing to decide which product will be right for you. I don’t believe that one single brand name is going to be the best because there are so many high quality woodworking tools available. And when you are just starting out, you might not want to invest in the highest quality products until you know that woodworking is something you want to stick to.
I really suggest, when making your purchasing choices, to have a nice balance between high performance and superior value. Check for each manufacturer’s warranty terms and safety standards, and read reviews to determine the reliability of their products. It is also good to be aware of their product support resources.
When starting out, don’t forget the importance of well working and precise hand tools. These are the foundation to accuracy and solid building. Make sure you have a tape measure that works well for you. When purchasing a new tape measure, I always make sure to buy one with the included micro measurements numerically written in for quick reading.
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You will also need a good square, to make sure you are getting consistent and accurate measurements for angles. Much success can be had when you have the right foundational tools in your toolbox.
Make sure to keep an ample supply of pencils handy, so you alway have one at your fingertips. Whether you prefer carpenters pencils or traditional pencils, that is a personal choice.
Pro tip: Pencil holders are super helpful to clip onto your apron so you always have one handy! They are affordable and totally worth it.
When purchasing a new hammer, hold it in your hand and make sure the weight of the hammer feels comfortable for you to strike with. Another tool that can be useful is a rasp, when you need to make adjustments that require more effort than purely sanding.
When getting into woodworking machinery, there are so many options. My suggestion is to start simple, and build your kit as you go.
There are, however, some fundamental power tools that add extreme value when it comes to saving time and increasing accuracy. Again, it really depends on what type of woodworking you are planning on doing. If your projects are small, there are some tools you can live without, especially when you are starting out.
Regardless of the size of the project, you will need a method for cutting your wood materials.
Most small, straight cuts can be accomplished most efficiently with a miter saw.
A miter saw allows you to make quick, straight cuts in any angle or bevel that is needed. The width of the wood you are able to cut depends on the size of the miter saw. Some miter saws have a gliding arm to allow for wider cuts.
Many projects require curved cuts. These cuts can be accomplished with a jigsaw.
Jigsaws are a very reasonable tool to add to your kit that allows for great versatility. If working decoratively with fine detail, your best bet is to look into a scroll saw. Scroll saws allow you to make intricate cuts that embellish a project, and is a great tool to expand on your creativity.
Most projects will require you to make long straight cuts. In a pinch, you could use a jigsaw to accomplish these cuts. However, you will get much cleaner cuts with more precision if you use a table saw.
Table saws make long straight cuts a quick project. However, there are added safety concerns that need to be taken into consideration when investing in a table saw.
Another option, though also not as easily accurate as a table saw, is the use of a circular saw. Circular saws are hand held and can move through sheets of wood effortlessly. You can help with the accuracy by using guides that run alongside your wood to encourage an accurate, straight cut.
Another cutting tool that I find to be extremely useful and versatile is the oscillating tool.
Oscillating tools have many different uses, and many different attachments for the application you are using it for. Aside from general woodworking, they are super useful for house projects.
As your love of woodworking grows, you might find that these saws will suit all of your needs. You also might want to consider other saws such as band saws and cabinet saws. A lot of this will depend on your available workshop space.
You might consider the purchase of an air compressor, as this plays a vital role in the use of several tools that require air pressure as their power source. Having an air compressor on hand will make quick work of projects that require nails, with the use of a pneumatic nail gun. An air compressor can also be used for applying stains and paints.
The last essential item that must be mentioned is a wood sander.
Wood sanders are used for so many purposes throughout the creation of a wood project, and there are many to choose from.
Drum sanders are used to remove wood layers rapidly and are very aggressive.
Belt sanders can also be used to sand off layers of wood quickly and evenly from flat surfaces.
For a simple, portable sander, I would consider the use of a random orbital sander. These sanders fit in the palm of your hand and work very well for smaller projects. I also appreciate them when working around outer corners.
Hopefully this list of my top tools to get started in woodworking has given you some ideas to consider when setting up your woodshop.
This list of tools will set a good foundation for any type of woodworking project that you are hoping to pursue. Don’t forget to enjoy the process as you use this creative outlet for enjoyment, and even as a source of income.
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