Beginners Guide to Must-Have Tools for Woodworking

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Woodworking means different things to different folks. Many woodworkers create useful and long-lasting pieces to relieve stress and exercise their creative muscles. They’re hobbyists who know sawdust is good for the soul. Others turn professional. They’re handsomely compensated for skills in building coveted furniture. But no matter if you’re a master craftsperson or a rank amateur, you need the must-have tools for woodworking.

Many beginning woodworkers feel overwhelmed with the vast array of tools available on the market. It’s easy for you to rack up thousands of dollars’ worth of expensive woodworking tools in your shop. Most tools for beginner woodworkers don’t have to be elaborate and costly, though. Beginners’ woodworking tools should start with the basics so you can get the feel of simplicity that’s the core of great work.

There are five classes of basic woodworking tools. Those are tools to cut, finish, assemble, measure and hold wooden parts while transforming raw materials into completed projects. These tool groups cover everything a starting woodworker needs for building simple to complex items. To help prioritize what should go in your basic toolbox, here’s a beginners guide to must-have tools for woodworking.

SAWS USED FOR WOODWORKING

Almost every component in a woodworking project starts with cutting materials. The best and most interesting pieces start with rough lengths of wood. Whether that’s hardwood like oak or softwood like pine, wood stock needs ripping and crosscutting to start taking shape. Saws are the answer, but they come in different shapes and sizes. They’re also for different cutting tasks. Here’s what you need to begin building your saw collection.

Circular Saw

If there’s one power-activated saw belonging in every beginner’s box, it’s a circular saw. There are endless brands available, but they all have a common feature. That’s a round or circular blade full of sharp teeth that tear through wood. All circular saws are electric, although they come in various power ratings. Most are corded tools running on household current, but there have been great advances in cordless circular saws.

Some view circular saws as more ideal for rough carpentry than for fine woodworking. That’s not true at all. In the right hands, circular saws cut straight, clean lines. A lot depends on the blade you use.

Circular saw blades come in three types:

  • Ripping Blades: Cut material lengthwise along or with the grain
  • Crosscut Blades: For sawing across the grain
  • Combination Blades: Designed for both ripping and crosscutting

The difference between blades is their teeth design. Ripping blades have evenly spaced teeth, while crosscuts have staggered ones. Combination blades have both tooth layouts. If budget is your concern, it’s best to invest in one good combination blade fitted with carbide teeth. It’s also necessary to understand blade diameters. Circular blades start at 7 ½”, though 10” blades are common, and 12” diameters are available for large dimensional woodcutting.

Circular saws are available in two distinct designs. One is a direct drive where the blade is mounted 90 degrees to the motor and directly on the arbor. Direct drives are the most common circular saw and the least expensive. Worn drive circular saws are made for heavy work. They still have the same blade designs, but the blade is gear-driven ahead of the motor.

Jigsaw

Every beginning woodworker should invest in a decent jigsaw. They’re also called saber saws because of their reciprocating, saber-like blade. These electric power tools are designed to make intricate cuts that can be straight, curved or serpentine. Think of the lines in a jigsaw puzzle, and you’ll know what a jigsaw is capable of.

Jigsaws are completely different than circular saws. Instead of revolving blades, jigsaws cut with a back and forth or up and down motion. Blades vary in tooth numbers and composition. They’re used to cut metal and plastic as well as wood. Fine-tooth blades are used for sawing veneers, while coarse tooth-blades are for rough and fast work.

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