Woodworking Tools

16 Must-Have Woodworking Tools for Beginner DIY Projects

Updated on

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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Woodworking is a great way to relieve stress and a form of exercise. And while some people engage in it as a hobby, some do it professionally. 

Through woodworking and carpentry, you can create unique and jaw-dropping pieces of furniture that enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home and office.

And like every other profession, there are specific tools that you will need in woodworking. There are many tools, but in the beginning, you will need only the essentials and then you can upgrade and add others as you improve your skills. This article explores the essential woodworking tools you must have for all DIY projects. 

15 Must-Have Woodworking Tools for Every DIY Beginner

1. Workbench

It's not technically a tool but an essential item in your DIY projects, as you'll need a location to place your planks for clamps. Sometimes you need to place the plank on a bench to cut with a saw. So, you can buy a sturdy workbench capable of holding down heavy items and stable enough to withstand shaking while working. And above all, it must have a flat top and be at a comfortable height to ensure you are not straining to bend down.

Since you've done plenty of research, you can buy the materials you need and build your workbench in a few hours, saving you money. You never know; someone looking to start woodworking might see it and want an exact, thus acting as a marketing front.

2. Square

If you are making a table, chairs, or cabinets, you'll need a square to ensure that the angles are cut to precision. It is another measuring tool available in various sizes, and it's good to have a variety for different tasks. The most essential squares include:

  • Framing square: Best for big right-angle surfaces

  • Try square: Best for small right-angle surfaces

  • Speed squares: Measures angles at 90 and 45 degrees

  • Miter squares: Best for angled miter cuts

  • Bevel Square: Best for recreating an existing angle and transferring the pattern to a new wood surface.

3. Mallet/Hammer

Many confuse the two; although they perform similar functions, their designs differ. A hammer has a steel body. On the other hand, a mallet has wooden or leather heads and a detachable handle used to attach various head sizes.

When striking with a hammer, you will feel the striking shock and witness its impression on the surface. But with a mallet, the shock is absorbed by the wood and leaves minimal marks on the wood surface; thus, it’s ideal for tapping wood joints together.

4. Plane

Planes are great for straightening and sanding abrasive wood surfaces. A hand plane has a fixed blade that helps shave off wood fibers, straightening and letting it take up a smoother appeal. The size of the blade and depth determine how much wood you can shave off. The planes come in different sizes and functions. They include:

  • Jack planes, which can smoothen all surfaces, including straight and curved edges.

  • Block planes, which are ideal for small and stour surfaces. They are suitable for smoothening joints.

  • Rabbet planes, which are used for making right-angle grooves along the edges of the wood grain.

  • Scraper planes, which are suitable for scraping off wood for super-smooth surfaces and are sometimes referred to as cabinet scrapers.

  • Joining planes, which are designed to make smooth edges and join wood pieces together.

  • Spokeshaves, which are ideal for smoothening curved surfaces.

5. Lathes

Instead of sticking with the regular square-shaped table and chair legs, some prefer them to have a circular shape. In such a case, you'd need to use a wood lathe to cut, shape and sand the wood into the form you want.

The lathe works by rotating the wooden piece around a stationary cutting tool, which removes all the unwanted parts and gives you a nicely shaped and smooth workpiece.

6. Chisel

This sharp, angled steel blade with a wooden handle is mainly used for carving and cutting wood. When you want a very rough wood, you'd have to use it in conjunction with a mallet to apply force. Chisels come in different shapes, sizes, and styles, and it's recommended that you have a minimum of four chisels in your toolbox. The good thing is that they are not expensive and you can get one for around $50 or so.

7. Measuring Tape

Every woodworker must have a measuring tape in their toolkit, the most preferred being the 25-foot tape. There are different tape measures, so choose the one that fits your needs.

  • Retractable steel tapes are the most common as they are compact and effortless. Their length ranges from 12-30 feet.

  • Flexible reel tapes are made of fabric or steel and are over 100 feet in length.

  • Folding rules are rigid and are best for getting exact measurements. They are folded into sections for storage.

  • Yardsticks, also known as rulers and are straight.

8. Sand Block/Random Orbit Sander

When making a table, chair, cabinet, or other wood furniture that requires smooth surfaces, you must use sanding blocks to smooth out the scratches and other things marring the surface. Although labor intensive, it provides the best result. There are rough sanding blocks for working on irregular surfaces, and once it's a bit smooth, you can use a soft sanding block for a super-smooth texture.

You can invest in a random orbit sander if you have money to spare. It does the work of rough and soft sanding blocks as it helps remove rough scratches on wooden surfaces. And the best part is that you can adjust the sanding grit to the level you want. It is fast, easy to use, and perfect for small to medium projects.

9. Hand Saw/Portable Table Saw

You'll need saws for cutting your wood. However, there are different types of saws, each with specific tasks. They include:

  • The circular saw, which has a circular blade with sharp teeth that cut across the wood. Most circular saws are electric and come in three types of blades. The ripping blade is ideal for cutting the wood along the direction of the grain. Crosscut blade which cuts across the grains, and a combination of the two. The difference between the blades is in their teeth as ripping has evenly spaced while crosscut has staggered ones.

  • The jigsaw, which is pretty crucial for every beginner woodworker as they make straight cuts and require you to move it back and forth. It's the most affordable but labor-intensive.

  • The table saw, which is a good investment if you have the budget. It helps make cuts that can't be made by other saws. The blade is raised above the table and can be adjusted depending on the width of your wood. There are three types of table saws, and they include:

  • Cabinet table saws: They are heavy, and their design requires them to stay in one place. They have a cabinet below them where the belt and the blade's pulley system are stored. They are all-purpose and can be used to rip lumber from wood or panel cutting. It is the preferred centerpiece for most workshops.

  • Benchtop table saws are light and thus can be placed on a workbench and removed when not in use. 

  • Contractor table saws are primarily used by building contractors as they are fast and easy to use.

  • Bandsaws are ideal for making angled or intricately curved cuts.

  • Handsaws can be found in every carpenter's workshop. They are affordable, light, easy to use, and make precise cuts.

  • Miter saws are best for making angled cuts. And the best part is they are versatile; the blades can be changed to make your preferred cut.

10. Marking Knife

Although pencils can make lines on wood, the graphite marks remain on the surface. Avoid marring your wooden surface by using a marking knife for etching clean and accurate lines, especially on woodworking joints like dovetails.

11. Sharpening Tool

Since you are working with sharp tools in your workshop such as planes, saws, and chisels, you will need to sharpen them often as dull tools slow down your workspace. Invest in a sharpening tool to ensure your tools are always sharp.

12. Drill

Power drills are the best for beginners as they are efficient and easy to use. Nowadays, only a few people still use a hand drill or brace and bit. The best part about having an electric drill is that it's multipurpose, meaning you can attach other tools to transform its function. When buying a power drill, go for the corded model with a voltage of 110/120. This is because they have more torque and are more durable than cordless ones.

13. Clamps

If you are making a table, you will be required to press the wood together compactly to achieve an even and flat surface. A clamp will help hold several planks together, allowing you to glue or nail them together. Clamps are available in different types and sizes, and they include:

  • Bend clamp

  • C-clamp

  • Bar clamp

14. Screw Gun

You will be working with screws, and instead of struggling with a screwdriver, why not invest in a screw gun. A screw gun makes fastening screws faster and easy to use.

15. Eye and Ear Safety and Gloves

While working with various woodworking tools, you must consider your safety by investing in the proper eye and ear gear. This will prevent wood splinters from getting into your eyes or ears. And the gloves protect your hands from the sharp tools and from being pierced by wood splinters.

16. Toolkit

To ensure that your woodworking tools remain in good condition, you must conduct regular maintenance by cleaning them and storing them in a quality and spacious toolkit.

Final Thoughts

Woodworking is very fulfilling as every workpiece starts from a brilliant idea and is then made into a really beautiful object through your efforts. And it's not an expensive profession or hobby as you can start with inexpensive tools and then upgrade to better and more expensive tools as you become more experienced and skilled. But the tools that you learned about in this article are the bare essentials that you must get as a beginner! 

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About the author

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.