Beginner Woodworking Tools Buying Guide

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

Regardless of the size of project or your budget, this list of beginner woodworking tools will help you get started right away!


Woodworking Tools Buying Guide

In no way do I consider ourselves woodworkers.

We have made some awesome projects out of wood though.

DIY sliding barn door hanging up

Like our DIY barn door.

stained and finished farmhouse table and bench in kitchen

Or our RH inspired farmhouse table.

And even this super simple, yet super fab DIY mirror frame.

But all those things require tools.

When I started this site 4 years ago, we had maybe a couple of hammers and some screwdrivers but power tools were a foreign concept to us.

However very soon after we bought this fixer with intentions to fixing it ourselves, we had to invest in some tools and fast.

But what tools do you really need? What do you buy first? How do you budget?

If you’re trying to start doing DIY projects on your own but are feeling overwhelmed where to start, look no further!

I’ve rounded up for you the top beginner woodworking tools that you’ll need from the simplest DIY projects to super complex! This post will seem long, but you can jump around if you need.

I just wanted to provide a why behind the purchase of the tool – not just “Oh look! Shiny thing! Buy buy buy!”

These tools will help you get started with your projects, even if you’re only making beginner projects.

Hand Tools vs. Power Tools

I never want to assume anything. So did you know that there are different types? There are hand tools and power tools. And both can be used in conjunction with each other.

Hand Tools

These are the traditional woodworking tools. They don’t require any power or electricity to operate. They include things like hammers, screwdrivers, hand saws or even a simple tape measure.

Power Tools

These tools require power from a battery or an electric socket in order to run. Some examples of this are routers, saws, hand sanders and drills.

What Tools Should I Buy First?

You don’t want to go broke trying to buy tools.

Buying good tools is an investment and should be treated as such. Make sure you’re buying them as you can afford them, save up and keep an eye on the sale papers. Times like Black Friday and Memorial Day/Labor Day weekend are usually when they’re guaranteed to be on some kind. ofsale.

Luckily many of the tools you need to get started don’t cost a ton. You can always spend more to get top of the line, but there really are some great entry level beginner woodworking tools out there that will get you going in a good spot. You don’t need to buy every new shiny tool that you come across at the store.

What Are Considered Essential Woodworking Tools for Beginners?

Alright, alright.

I know you’re wondering what tools do I even need? Let’s dive in!

Carpenter’s pencil

man marking wood with pencil

This is really just a regular pencil, but it’s a bit more sturdy because of its shape.

Take a hint from us too – if you’re going to get a pencil, grab a retractable pencil holder so that when you’re not using it, you’re not losing it.

Because as we all know if you don’t use it, you do in fact lose it.

Speed square

speed square to measure window sill

Confusingly shaped like a triangle, a speed square is used to help you cut precise angles, like 45 degrees or 90 degrees on a piece of wood.

We use this on nearly every major wood project we have done, especially when we hang open shelving like in our kitchen or in our guest bathroom.

While the main reason of having a square is to help cut angles on a board, another helpful reason to have one of these around is to help calibrate a table saw to make sure it’s cutting at the proper angle so you’re not wasting boards that for some reason now cost billions of dollars a piece.

Tape Measure

unfinished wood sitting on table and bright green measuring tape

See what I mean? Not every tool has to cost hundreds! I’m doing what I can to start you off small so that you can get the basics. Even a beginner woodworker needs one of these bad boys hanging from their belt.

Not all tape measures are created equal, though. Some have features that make it easier to use, but at the end of the day, just make sure it’s heavy duty and can stand up to being dropped out of a second story window or off the back of your truck.

Not speaking from experience or anything.

Wood clamps

nailing together the header for craftsman style window trim

These come in varying sizes so depending on the size of your project you can get small or big ones.

When we needed to hold our barn door front and back side together, we could get away with using smaller clamps, but when we had to hold together sides of our RH inspired dining table, we needed the big boys.

Regardless of size, wood clamps usually don’t cost an arm or a leg.

And many projects you do with wood won’t require wood clamps, but they really are super helpful to have around when you’re doing any project that may require holding things together with wood glue until it dries.

Safety glasses

Admittedly, we don’t always use actual safety glasses. Jordan has a pair of old glasses that he uses as “work glasses” so he doesn’t mess up his ones that he wears every day.

I don’t know if you know this, but having safety glasses over your regular glasses can actually be super dangerous too because if they don’t fit and fall off into a running saw blade, that could be very very not good.

HOWEVER! Eye Buy Direct which is where I have about 1500 pair of glasses just released their collection of PRESCRIPTION PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR and let me tell you I’m GEEKED! I haven’t got a pair yet, but every pair of glasses I have gotten there have been really good quality.

Kreg Jig

By now, I’m sure you’re annoyed with me because I haven’t shown any ACTUAL woodworking tools, but here’s the first one that I don’t think we could live without.

The Kreg Jig.

Let me just say that we tried to live without this because we didn’t want to justify the amount of money. It seemed steep for such a little tool; not to mention the fact that you have to buy special “branded” screws for it to work.

But I now can say I have no issue paying the money for these guys.

If you do a quick search of Kreg Jig, you’ll find tons of options. You don’t have to get the most expensive one. Just a simple Kreg Jig like we have is all you need to get started.

man using impact driver to screw 2 pieces of boards together

There are so many things that we do with this little guy, but just know that you can build tons of furniture and even beginner woodworking projects without it. But if you’re going to get into beginner woodworking, just get it.

Pro tip: Practice using these guys before you actually use them on a real project because they take a little bit to get used to.

Nail Gun

man with beard using Ryobi nail gun for DIY barn door

We actually have 2 of these – 16 gauge and 18 gauge.

If you’re unfamiliar, gauge is just how the tool guys measure the size of nails that these guns shoot. And it’s opposite of….how numbers work which is also confusing.

A 16 gauge is actually larger than an 18 gauge. We love having both, but if you’re just starting out I recommend getting the 18 gauge.

An 18 gauge nail gun is small enough where it wont leave a massive hole on your projects. It’s the most versatile. You can use this for finish carpentry and finish trim, but you can also use it to nail stuff.

Drill/driver combo

drilling curtain wall bracket into

A drill and impact driver are 2 of our most used tools which we love because they’re so versatile. The reason we love an impact driver is because it has a lot of torque that allows for drilling directly into studs (which we do a lot).

For example, with a drill, you would have to use a drill bit first to drill a pilot hole and then drill into your stud. With an impact driver, you can do it all at once. So it saves time and it can really add up if you’re trying to crank out a lot of woodworking projects (like the time Jordan decided to make and sell our table for people and ended up making about 60 of them. Yikes).

A power drill will be the BFF of any beginning woodworker. Other attachments may be added to your electric drill to transform it into a variety of tools so there’s that versatility I was talking about!

You have the option of doing corded or battery powered when it comes to drills (and most power tools). Corded power tools are always going to have more power because you’re not going to have to worry about batteries dying and things like that.

Power Sander

womans hand holding a hand sander on white door

There is not much I hate more than sanding something. So an orbital sander was a must for us.

If you’re going to be doing more than one woodworking project, an orbital sander is a must-have. It will save you so much time, and while you may love the muscles you may get from doing everything by hand, I’m not planning on entering any body building competitions anytime soon so I’ll take a power sander please and thank you.

The sander we use is a (shocker) Ryobi orbital sander. More specifically a random orbital sander. Here’s why that’s important:

Orbital sanders spin your sandpaper disks in a circle (aka. orb). However, if you’re not careful, they can leave circular marks on your project depending on your wood.

If you have a random orbital sander, it will oscillate randomly and create a more smooth surface of your wood without leaving those pesky little circle marks.

Table saw

Man cutting lumber with a tablesaw for DIY barn door

We use ours all the time in woodworking. When we started out, we didn’t have our big boy nice one that we have now.

We got a hand me down that was totally free to us. However, as you can see in the photo above it was HELLA unsafe. There’s supposed to be a cover on that blade so you don’t cut your friggin’ finger off.

This is probably one of the first “larger” purchases to make if you’re going to be making a go at this beginner woodworking thing!

Miter saw

man using compound miter saw to cut wood

These bad boys can get expensive, but you can also get a really good entry level miter saw that will get the job done for you!

Some may say that this is a tool that you’ll need once you’re doing more advanced work like full blown room renovations or laying flooring, but a compound miter saw can also help you with simple DIY projects as well.

Miter saws can either be a hand tool (which is obviously going to be cheaper) or a power tool like the Dewalt compound miter saw that we have. Your least expensive option is a miter box that you use with a regular hand saw or you can get a power miter saw.

A miter saw cuts up and down, left and right, but a sliding compound miter saw like we have will also tilt to cut diagonal. We have a 12″ blade because it can cut bigger wood like a 6×6, but you can start off with 10″ that would work just fine. A 10″ blade will cut a 4×4.

To make our RH inspired farmhouse dining table, we used our 12″ blade.

What Tools Do You Really Need?

Well, I’m glad you asked. The tools you really need are the ones that will best fit the kind of projects you’ll be doing.

You will be able to get away with smaller saws like a circular saw or a regular drill, but if you are planning on doing larger things like laying hardwood floors yourself, it may be best to go ahead and invest in the more hefty tools.

You could also get beginner woodworking tools now and then sell those to save up for your bigger purchase.

If you are just getting started in the beginner woodworking hobby, it’s important to know what tools will best fit your needs. If you’re not sure where to start or which tool is right for the job, don’t worry!

Hopefully this is a step in the right direction if you’re looking for beginner woodworking tools for yourself or someone else!

Now get to cuttin’ or drillin’ something!

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