Basic Tools to Get Started Woodworking

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Curious about what tools do you need to get started building your own furniture and home goods? When I started on this adventure of building and DIY decor, I wasn’t sure where it was going or what I was doing. Now that I’ve gotten my feet somewhat under me, I’d like to share my insight on what tools are most necessary for a beginner! I assure you … you do not need anything fancy to get started.

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First, a little background:

It was smack-dab in the middle of winter in Minnesota …

I had an unheated garage with dim lighting from an old lamp.

I didn’t own a saw or any sort of work bench.

But I had gotten hooked on building after my attempt at a coffee table from Ana White’s website.

I thought, hey, I can do this building thing! I can teach myself more of this shenanigans.

Not gonna lie, winter was a little rough. But once I made it through that, the rest is history!

And here we are.

So what are the basics to get started? From my experience so far, I’ve completed quite a few projects, including a coffee table, yard dice, dresser refurbish, storage chest, serving tray, and set of stools with the following supply of tools:

Miter Saw

I started by borrowing a saw from my family, but I did eventually purchase one of my own. The saw I borrowed was a 10” compound miter saw, which was enough to get started. However, when I bought my own, I decided to go for a sliding 12″.

A 10″ miter saw can cut a 2 x 6 at 90° and a 2 x 4 at 45°. A 12″ miter saw can cut a 2 x 8 at 90° and a 2 x 6 at 45°. A sliding 12″ miter saw can cut a 2 x 16 dimensional lumber at 90°. So there’s quite a bit more capacity with the sliding saw, but it definitely comes at a price.

From my experience, though a little spendy, it’s worth investing in your saw. You’ll use it on every project. For those of you looking for a great saw at a decent price, I’d recommend going for the 12″ Compound Miter Saw.

For those of you looking to go-big-or-go-home, here’s the 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw.

Drill & Bits

There are few builds you can do without a drill. Small DIY projects are usually fine without one, but once you start looking at building furniture, a drill is 100% necessary.

I use a basic Black & Decker drill that Joseph got in college.


Does it get tired sometimes when drilling through a 2 x 4? Yes.

Would it be cool to own a high-powered beast that tears through any job in 1.2 seconds flat? Yes.

But does the basic Black & Decker one get the job done? Most of the time …

I suppose this is a given, but your drill won’t do much good without a bit. Here’s the Black & Decker set that I currently own.

Kreg Jig

If you’re looking to make furniture without fancy woodworking tools, pick up a Kreg Jig. I’ve used mine since day 1 and never looked back! Once you’ve got the tool, the pocket-hole joinery system is simple and easy to learn.

The Kreg R3 is perfect for getting started. But if you’d like to go that extra step, I’d grab the Kreg R4.

Orbital Sander

You could choose to sand by hand, but an orbital sander will make your life a million times better. Especially since sanding is already the worst part of any project ever :/

I’ll level with you here (woodworking punnnnn!) – I started with a super cheepo sander and it was awful. Please please please do yourself a favor and just get a nice one. Don’t be like me … Not a good experience.

Go for the tried and true DeWalt sander. Worth. Every. Penny.


A nail gun would be awesome but not necessary if you’re just starting out. You will need a hammer though. Best tool in the box 😉

Use it to dismantle pieces, add finishing trim, and distress take out anger on boards!

This ‘n That Tools

I’m not sure what the appropriate title is for these, but it’s a roundup of the small tools you probably already have lying around for home improvement or emergencies that are also necessary on your own DIY adventures:

  • Tape Measure – Measure once, cut twice!  … just kidding, don’t do that … Measure twice, cut once 🙂
  • Pencil – Any pencil for marking cuts. Mechanical pencil, No.2 pencil, carpenter’s pencil, the pencil you found under the couch. Really, whatever makes you happy!
  • Speed Square – Make sure those projects are square and won’t wobble around. There is nothing more frustrating that finishing a nightstand and then finding out it has a terrible wobble … not that I speak from experience or anything.

  • Clamps – I started with 2 small Dewalt clamps that had a maximum capacity of like 6” … don’t do that to yourself. It’s extremely difficult to square up a build if you don’t have any way to hold it in place. I recommend picking up this Irwin set. It’s nothing fancy, but can get you started for a reasonable price.

That pretty much sums it up. It’s amazing what you can build with just a few tools!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.



Get Started Woodworking

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