Essential Woodworking Tools for Beginners

So, you’ve always wanted to work with wood. It could be a newly found passion or a long-forgotten hobby. Perhaps you even want to take it to the next level and make a career out of it. To get you started in woodworking, we have drawn up a list of the essential woodworking tools you should get when starting.

As a new woodworker, you are probably overwhelmed by the wide variety of tools available. Not only are there too many but they are also expensive.

woodworking tools

We will take you through what you should buy first and how to slowly equip your toolbox. Depending on what sort of woodworking that you want to do, will determine the essential woodworking tools that you will need to get started.

Which Essential Woodworking Tools Should you have to start?

The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. The essentials vary depending on what you intend to work on but of course, there are the most basic tools for every beginner.

We can’t cramp all the tools into one big basket. We need to subdivide them depending on their purpose and power; as well as how necessary they are.

As every experienced woodworker will tell you, start by buying hand tools. Then slowly start investing in power tools.

Essential Woodworking Hand ToolsEssential Woodworking Power Tools
Measuring tools
Jack plane
Block plane
A panel saw
A back saw
Coping saw
A set of bench chisel
Mortise chisels
A combination square
Sliding and try square
A marking knife
Striking tools
Sharpening tools
Clamping and fastening tools  
Cutting tools
Drilling tools
Sanding tools
Planer tools
Nailer tools
Routing Tools
Shaping tools     Storage Tools

Woodworking Hand Tools for Beginners

Japanese Hand Saw

No one calls themselves a woodworker without a handsaw. The good ol’ saw will cut wood when you don’t have to get the big guns out.

The Japanese hand saw is a classic preferred by many owing to its ease of use and availability. Japanese saws have a thinner blade than American ones and cut when you are on the pull stroke.

Chisel for using in woodworking

A chisel is a tool you’ll be reaching for often as a woodworker. Your chisel should be wickedly sharp for clean concise cuts. This tool often comes in last after sawing when you need to do joinery.

As a beginner, we recommend the bench chisel which is a general-purpose tool. Its width can vary from as little as o.25 inches to 2 inches.

Hand Plane to Smooth the Wood

When it comes to smoothing and straightening a board, nothing ever comes close to a hand plane. They are smaller and easier to operate especially for simple tasks. They come in different sizes ranging from 7 inches all the way to 24 inches.

Essential woodworking tools

Striking Tools in Workshop

To strike your chisel, you will need a wooden mallet. We specifically recommend a wooden mallet to avoid damaging your chisel.

The mallet should be light but delivers a punch. A good one will be made of tight-grained hardwood to avoid breaking. The handle should be tapered for a good grip.

Marking and Measuring Tools for Woodworking

As a woodworker, precision is your friend. You won’t just plaster wood onto each other. Instead, you’ll measure and then cut. Each of the tools listed here are absolutely necessary for bringing the idea in your head to reality.

As you develop your hobby, you will come across numerous tools for measuring and marking.

  • Pencil
  • Steel rule
  • Measuring tape
  • Machinist Square
  • Scratch Awl
  • Sliding T-Bevel
  • Protractor
  • Straight Edge

We recommend these ones as the absolute must-haves to start your woodworking journey.

Mechanical Pencil

Every woodworker has one behind their ear. To create the clean cuts, you will need for great products, you will need a mechanical pencil. We recommend it for its sharp, crisp lines, which will enhance your accuracy.

Tape Measure

For a woodworker, you will need to measure before cutting if you are to produce good results. Woodworkers typically prefer tape measures although some will go with the folding rules depending on the task at hand since they are more accurate. The hook end of the tape measure can easily get damaged thus affecting the accuracy.

Steel Rule

Look for a steel rule that has a matte finish and has marking etched on it as opposed to stamped. This will help with legibility and accuracy.

Machinist Square.

This is one of the tools that you will continuously reach for as you work. It is used to mark crosscuts precisely and is easy to slip into the pocket of your apron.

Bench stones

A set of bench stones will be enough for you as a beginner. They come in different shapes and sizes. They could either be synthetic abrasives or natural stones.

Other must-have hand tools for beginners include

Woodworking Hand Tools
  1. Jack plane
  2. Block plane
  3. A panel saw
  4. A back saw
  5. Coping saw
  6. A set of bench chisels
  7. Mortise chisels
  8. A combination square
  9. Sliding and try square
  10. Dividers
  11. A marking knife
  12. Clamps

Woodworking Power tools for beginners

After buying the must-have hand tools it’s now time to start buying the must-have power tools. Remember, the specific tool to buy depends on your specialization. Some are the basics for every woodworker.  The last three are not exactly tools but are absolutely necessary for a beginner

1. Cutting Tools

At the most basic level, every woodworker needs to cut. In the 21st century, high-tech power tools are the in thing but nothing will ever replace the humble saw. You will probably begin with pieces of wood of varying lengths that you will have to cut to your required shape. There are numerous kinds of saws, each with specific uses.

As technology advances, people are ditching hand tools for power tools as they are easier to use and faster. They are also getting cheaper as the years go by. There are numerous types of power saws available in the market such as;

  • Miter saw
  • Chainsaw
  • Band saw
  • Chop saw
  • Circular saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • The compound miter saw.

Luckily, you don’t need all these saws when starting. As you progress in your woodworking journey you can slowly invest in the other types of saws. These are the best power saws for a beginner.

a) Circular Saw

A circular saw is the most commonly used saw. This power tool is a basic tool for DIY projects as well as professional projects.  It can cut across numerous materials ranging from cement, fiberglass, slate, brick, cement block, and of course, wood. Some consider the circular tool as better suited for rough carpentry but in the right hands, it can do a wonderful job.

A circular saw has a circular blade that is edged with sharp teeth. Typically, they are corded tools but we expect them to be cordless in the near future. If you need to work with different materials other than wood, you can change the blade as you wish.

b) JigSaw

Power woodworking tools

Also known as a sabre saw, the jigsaw is a handheld saw which is primarily used to make curved cuts such as arches and circles. Apart from cutting shapes, you can also make many other cuts such as straight cuts and beveled cuts.

Many people do not consider a jigsaw as a beginner tool but it comes in handy for DIY home projects.

c) Track saw

While some will argue that this is not a beginner’s tool, the sooner you own it, the more precise your cuts will be. It is designed to be precise and you will feel the difference when you use it.

A track saw is a circular saw but comes with a track guide. The track guide holds the saw as you cut making some of the smoothest cuts.

You don’t need a track saw and a circular saw, you just need one. The question is which should you get?

Without a doubt, you should get a track saw. While they are more expensive than circular saws, they make cutting easier.

d) Table saw

A table saw is one of the most accurate and fastest types of saws. While they are expensive and big, there are very few saws that can match a table saw. This is not a must-have saw, but if you have the money and space, go for it. This tool is excellent for quick accurate work that you will need to do repetitively.

2. Drilling  Tools

As you work with wood, you will always be reaching over for your drilling tool. But, to save time and energy, you need to ditch your ancient screwdriver and use a power drill instead.

There are different types of power drills

  • Corded or cordless drill driver
  • Hammer drill
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill press

For a beginner, we recommend getting a corded or cordless power drill or an impact driver.

Corded/cordless drill driver

A drill driver is one of the most popular power tools. It’s used to drill holes and drive screws. Drill drivers are either corded or cordless. You will need to choose one depending on the work you set out to do. The corded drill driver offers more power but you will need a constant supply of power. The cordless drill gives you the freedom to move around as much as you desire. It runs on batteries but is equally powerful.

Impact driver

If you will be driving long screws and boring large holes you are best suited with an impact driver. Impact drivers are more powerful but noisier. When starting you don’t need both, pick one depending on how much torque your drilling and boring tasks require.

3. Sanding tools

In order to finish your project, you will definitely need a sanding tool . They come in different shapes, sizes. Some common types of sanders used by most woodworkers are;

  • The belt sander
  • Sic sander
  • Bench-top disc sander
  • Oscillating spindle sander (OSS)
  • Orbital sander

The choice of the sander will depend on what projects you will be handling. Any of the three types of sanders is perfect for a beginner.

Palm sander

This is the smallest power sander on the market. It is also called a quarter sheet sander. It’s great for light-duty finishes. Its small square shape makes it ideal for fitting in tiny spaces that a random-orbital sander will not.

It’s cheaper and user-friendly making it a better bet for a beginner than a random-orbital sander. It has a relatively small motor, which makes it not ideal for heavy sanding projects.

Sanding tools

A handheld belt Sander

If your projects require a lot of sanding, we recommend a belt sander. It gets its name from the fact that a sanding belt goes around two drums. It is used for smoothing and flattening surfaces such as table tops. Belt sanders are either handheld or stationary.

Random-Orbital Sander

Random orbital sander gets its name from the fact that it randomly rotates both back and forth and in elliptical circles. This random motion typically results in a smoother finish that the usual circular motions. It is used for large projects and it is typically more expensive.


A Handheld Electric Planer

You will need a good planer to shave and straighten pieces of wood or square up edges. Most planers extract an average of 3mm per pass. There are both electric and manual planers, both of which can do a pretty decent job. There are different kinds of electric planers;

  • Automatic hand-held planers
  • Bench-top planers
  • Stationary planers
  • Molding planers
  • Automatic hand-held planers

For a beginner an electric hand planer will suffice.

Nailing tools

We no longer use hammers to drive in our nails. The recommended tool for driving in nails in the nailer, which requires less exertion and is more accurate and faster. There are different types of nail guns.

  • Framing nailers
  • Roofing nailers
  • Flooring nailers
  • Finishing nailers
  • Brad nailers

As a beginner, we recommend a brad nailer as it is a light-duty nailer that can be used for a wide variety of finishing jobs. It is easy to use and budget-friendly. Using brad nailers significantly reduces the risk of splitting your wood since the nails are smaller. Brad nailers come in cordless options making them highly portable.

Routing Tools

Routers are used to make grooves, cut patterns, and designs on wood. On flat pieces of wood, routers are used to trace delicate letters or designs. Other uses of a router include cutting dadoes, rabbets, and moldings.

There are different routing tools used in woodworking.

  • Fixed-base router
  • Plunge router
  • Combo router
  • Compact router
  • Cordless router
  • Laminate trimmer
  • Router table

If you are on a tight budget and you are a beginner, the compact router will be an asset to you. This type of router has a powerful motor and is also relatively lightweight.

Clamping and Fastening Tool

Clamps are key tools in woodworking to hold pieces of wood as you cut and join. With so many clamps in the industry today, choosing one might seem intimidating for a beginner.

There are probably more than 40 types of clamps. Here is a list of the most popular types.

  • Beam clamp
  • Bench clamp
  • Bench vise
  • Cabinetry clamp
  • Corner clamp
  • Dimide clamp
  • G or C clamp
  • Drill press clamp
  • Flooring clamp
  • Kant-twist type
  • Locking clamp
  • Marman clamp
  • Mitre clamp
  • Pipe clamp,
  • Sheet metal type
  • Spring clamp.

Some say that a woodworker cannot have enough clamps. When starting we recommend getting the following.

Pipe Clamps

These are probably the cheapest clamps you can get. Start with the half-inch pipes and increase your variety as you go. We recommend these because they are not bulky and can be used for smaller projects. You will need at least four of these.

Bar clamps

Every woodworker agrees that they use these clamps the most. Buy six-inch clamps and only buy others when necessary. Bar clamps have a variety of clamps ranging from holding stop blocks to simply providing an extra hand. Just like pipe clamps, begin with 4 bar clamps.

Strap Clamps

This may seem like an unconventional pick but as a beginner in woodworking, you will definitely require a strap clamp at one point or another. If you need to put together, say, a picture frame, the easiest most efficient way to hold it up is using a strap clamp.

Storage Solution

It goes without saying that you will need to put your tools away when you do not need them. Doing this will preserve your tools for longer and to avoid losing them. A well-designed tool storage system will go a long way in saving you time and energy looking for lost items.. There are numerous ways to store your tools such as;

  • Shelves
  • Pegboards
  • Magnetic Strips
  • Drawers
  • Storage bins
  • Storage cabinets

Storage Bins

For an absolute beginner, we assume you do not have many tools to work with. Therefore, plastic storage bins will do the job. Later, when you’ve more tools, you can build wall storage. Plastic storage bins are cheap to acquire and quite hardy.

Not to mention they do not need any building. We recommend you buy different storage bins to organize your tools according to use. For instance, you cannot mix clamps with marking and measuring tools

A workbench

Your first task as a woodworker will be to build a basic workbench. We recommend that you actually build your workbench with the tools you bought, and maybe borrow a few others. This will give you an idea of what it is like to work with your hands. You will also perfect it as you learn how to be better at your craft. This way, you can always customize it to your needs.

A workbench is at its core simply a table. Build one that works with your height. A rule of thumb is that the bench should reach up to your hip joint. Decide on a length and width that is comfortable for you to get around. You will also need to determine if it will be stationary or portable around the room. It should have slots at the rear end that you will temporarily store your tools as you work.

Safety tools when working with wood

Working with tools can be a messy and even dangerous operation. Of course, go through the safety measures for using particular tools first.

  • Safety glasses to protect your eyes from dust.
  • Ear protection to protect your ears too since many of the power tools are quite noisy.
  • Put on an overall to protect your clothes and your skin when working.
  • The windows of your workshop should preferably be open for aeration.
  • regularly wipe your surfaces to avoid buildup of saw dust.

Woodworking Books

I bet you didn’t expect to find books on this list. Books remain one of the best ways to get information about any topic. Woodworking is no different. As a crafter, you will continuously learn new tricks and techniques to improve your skill. We recommend these two books for beginners;

  1. Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in sawdust at Offerman Woodshop. Written by Nick Offerman, this book is filled with great stories about woodworking but from which every beginner will gain valuable lessons.
  2.  How to Build Bookcases & Bookshelves: 15 Woodworking Projects for Book Lovers. In this book, Scott Francis will give great ideas that you can begin to work on as a woodworker.

Unique Woodworking Tools

What we’ve discussed in this article are the most basic tools for any wood crafter. However, there are special tools unique to particular fields within woodworking as a whole.

For instance, if you choose to get into wood turning, you will have to invest in a lathe and a chisel.

Perhaps you may decide to get into the art of burning text, images, and other patterns into wood, what we call pyrography. To get into this art you will need a wood-burning pen that uses electricity.

It could be that you are futuristic and want to get into digital woodworking. If that’s the case then, you need to buy a good CNC Router and let the computer do the work for you.

Whichever field of woodwork you want to get into, the right tools will go a long way in making it easier.

How to Choose Your Essential Woodworking Tools as a beginner?

Choose woodworking tools

Choose woodworking tools according to your Skill Level

At the beginning, we recommend you start small and build up your toolbox as you go. Start with tools that are easy to use and understand. Perhaps even go a little old school. For instance, instead of buying a chainsaw, you’d rather begin with a basic handsaw.

Your Budget will determine which woodworking tools you can afford to buy

If you have the money, buy the best tools from the leading brands. They are worth it. Even if you are on a budget, avoid dirt cheap power tools.

A good option for those on a budget is buying used tools. Approach a more experienced woodworker to accompany you to garage sales and antique shops. Also check eBay, Facebook marketplace, and other online marketplaces. 

Draw up your budget and work with the end in mind. Decide what your most basic absolutes will be and stick to them.

Keep in mind that you have the option to continually build up your toolbox both in number and complexity as you get better.

Workshop Space to Store your Tools

The space you have will determine the tools you’ll buy and the projects you’ll build. For instance, a table saw is only ideal when you have a spacious workshop. If you will be building small items and perhaps doing small renovations around the house, there really is no need for a big workshop.

Mentorship with Experienced woodworkers

Connect with more experienced woodworkers and visit their workshops. Watch them for a day or two as you ask questions and gather as much information as you can.

Final Thoughts-Essential Woodworking Tools

You do not need every single tool on this list to start your woodworking journey. But, having a rough idea of everything you will need is a great idea. Eventually, you will stack up your tools. It may seem impossible at first but it can be done.

Start with the must-have basic hand tools and slowly invest in power tools. Remember, the specific tools you should get depend on personal needs.

After you have the basic tools, choose your very first project. We recommend building a workbench.

Good luck on your new journey!