There are thousands of woodworkers in the USA. Apart from professional woodworkers, a lot of Americans carry out the majority of woodworking tasks by themselves. Woodworking is an interesting and challenging task, but it is also technical and can be dangerous at times if incorrect tools and techniques are used.
In this article, we will elaborate on the most important woodworking tips and tricks. Also, we will review a bunch of the most essential woodworking tools for beginners (and professional woodworkers, too). Hopefully, it will help you get your workstation set up and ready to go!
Woodworking Tips for Beginners
For many people, woodworking is not just a task – it’s an enjoyable hobby. Most beginners, though, usually face the same issue – they are not sure where to start! Our first and foremost advice to you would be to start by setting up your workstation.
Choose a Location for Your Woodworking Station
The ideal location for your workstation must be big enough to accommodate your tools, work tables, lumber storage, finishing room, dust collector/compressor room, and storeroom. The convenience of your workspace depends on how you utilize your space. And, of course, the size of the projects you plan to undertake will play a role in that. As a beginner, you will probably start with small projects with less workload. It won’t be long, though, until you become more confident in your skills and start taking on bigger projects.
According to experts, a 30 x 40 ft space is ideal for a woodworking setup. This space will allow you to assign designated places for all your work tools and ensure you have enough space to move around your workpiece unhindered. For beginners, a 700 sq. ft space will be perfect. It’s better to choose a convenient space shape too. That sounds a little strange, but it makes sense when you’re working with long pieces of wood. If your available space is square, it will allow you to switch longboards (10 ft), give shorter dust collection runs, and you will have less to worry about when it comes to electricity access for all of your tools.
On the contrary, rectangular spaces allow easier subdivision. It all comes down to how many and what types of tools you are setting up and how many people will be working with you. A large space with a big gate and easy access allows you to load/unload stock easily, gives ample parking space and a resting spot.
Once you’ve created a shortlist of workstation options, ensure that space offers the following:
- Sufficient natural light and fittings for bright interior lighting too
- Proper ventilation
- No safety hazards
Woodworking Tools for Beginners
After your workstation is set up, the next step is to select woodworking tools designed for beginners. Make sure that you don’t buy all the tools at once. Instead, go for the ones you need for your first project and start building your collection from there naturally.
First off, get all the basic tools and ensure that you arrange them properly. Also, set up your worktables making sure you’re fully kitted with all the required safety equipment. To assist beginner woodworkers, we have prepared a list of equipment needed for the woodworking – you will find this list further in the article.
But let’s discuss first on to how to select the right projects for you.
Project Selection Guidelines
It is best to start with simple projects and then proceed to tackle tougher and more complicated ones. A few great options for first projects for beginner woodworkers are:
- Shelving (for walls)
- Garden table
- Sofa sleeves
- Cup holder (mug stand)
- Coffee table
These projects only require only basic tools, they don’t involve complex cutting, nor technicalities. For beginners, one small project at a time is very advisable.
Arranging Materials for Woodworking Project
Once you decide which project you go for, make sure you arrange all the materials needed to complete the particular project. You will have to arrange wood, boards, screws, tools, and safety equipment.
Gathering everything in one place before taking the project will simplify the process and save your time later.
Use Credible Sources for Guidelines and Tutorials
A lot of people look for tutorials and working guides online – be careful while doing so. Always look for woodworking techniques and tutorials from credible sources. Another point would be to spend some time on YouTube actually watching tutorials. Having a visual reference often takes the guesswork out of a complex woodworking task.
Wood Board Dimensions
One of the things that a beginner woodworker must keep in mind is that the dimensions of the wood boards are not identical to the size on the label. For instance, 2 x 4 boards are actually 1.5 x 3.5 in size. They are called 2 x 4 out of tradition.
A court ruling has made it mandatory for the companies to list both dimensions on the packing nowadays. So, if you are buying wood for your projects, don’t get confused with the two dimensions listed. If you’re unsure which size applies, ask the supplier to provide some insight and confirm the exact measurements of the board you’re buying.
Managing Odd Width Measurements
Another common issue is measuring odd dimensions like 3/8 and 7/8. Such dimensions usually come out when you are managing something complex and with edges. One way to solve this issue is to divide the fractions and measure the boards in decimal places.
However, it will take a lot of time. The best way to measure such lengths is to angle your tape across the piece until it divides evenly. Mark the piece with angled tape.
If you are a beginner and don’t have much workload, you don’t need to allocate a separate container for a mixing surface. Instead, you can use painter’s tape to create a mixing surface. All you have to do is lay down some pieces of painter’s tape on your workbench. Ensure you overlap them so that epoxy/glue or other mixing materials don’t leach onto the bench. Using mixing tape is better than a container because it doesn’t require cleaning afterward.
Staining Your Wood Pieces
Staining the wood pieces comes in handy while working on chairs or lattices. Use a spray bottle to get the stain evenly and quickly distributed. Spray the area you need and wipe off the extra spray with a cloth. The spray allows you to reach tight curves and hidden spots which you won’t be able to cover otherwise.
Managing Excess Glue
Glue is an important ingredient when it comes to woodworking. If you have leftover glue, don’t forget to close its lid or keep it in a closed container. If you do forget this,though and your glue starts to harden a bit, you can add 1-2 drops of vinegar in hard glue, and it will become usable again. Keeping this tip in mind can save you a bit of money in the long run.
Beginners should cut sandpaper with a knife as it saves time and saves your scissor blades. Once you become a master woodworker, you can use a hacksaw blade for cutting sandpapers.
Safety Measures for Woodworking
Woodworking is not a child’s play. Though it is one of the safest hobbies out there, you need to take some safety precautions into account. OSHA has laid out safety rules for woodworkers that you should familiarize yourself with.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or expert, you must adhere to the safety rules and make sure that you and everyone around you are safe. Below we take a closer look at woodworking safety measures.
- Personal Protective Equipment. Never ignore personal protective equipment. You must always wear safety glasses, work gloves where needed, latex gloves while applying finishes, and ear protection while working on loud machines. You must also wear work boots to protect your feet from wood, screws, and other things in your work area.
- Pick the Right Clothing. Make sure you wear the right clothing while using woodworking machines. If you wear baggy and loose clothing, there is a high chance that they can get stuck in moving parts of the device, such as the cutting heads and blades. You must also remove items like chains, bracelets, and lockets before working. If you have long hair, tie it up so that it’s out of the way.
- Never Woodwork While Intoxicated. You should never operate woodworking machinery while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication. Your reaction rate will be slower, and there’s an increased chance of having an accident.
- Handling Electricity. If you are using extension cables to power your machines, make sure that you connect them in such a way so that they don’t entangle your feet while working around them. Arrange them on the sides of your workspace and clamp them. If you have cables running on the floor, use thick sticky tape to cover them so that you cannot trip on them. Another important safety tip is to switch off and remove plugs of your machine before changing blades, work bits, or cleaning your machines.
Of course, you should also never operate electrical appliances without shoes on or while your clothes or shoes are wet. It is best to install a separate breaker for your entire shop or work area so that you have to turn off only one switch and not every machine one by one when you need to disconnect the power.
- Take Care of your Woodworking Tools. Never ignore tool maintenance. Ensure you clean them properly, read the owner’s manual, and follow all the instructions given. It is best to gather some general working information before operating a particular machine. And before you run a device, make sure that you remove the keys and wrenches.
- Check Wood before Working. If you are working with old wood, make sure you check it for nails before working with it. Visual inspection works fine, but if you use a lot of old and used wood, it is best to get a metal detector.
- Working Posture. Working posture, standing position, and cutting direction vary from one machine to another. The exact working guidelines for each machine are given in the owner’s manual – which is why it is very important to spend some time studying the manual of each item of equipment. However, as a general rule, you must stand on flat ground and place your feet apart for maximum balance and grip. In addition, make sure that you have enough foot space around the machine to handle the size of the workpiece you are using.
- Minimize Distractions. Always keep your focus on the machine you are operating. Have a general rule to maintain distance and space while you or someone else is working with woodworking tools. Don’t let kids or pets come into the workspace while you are working, as they can injure themselves or distract you.
- Work Against the Cutter. You must always work against the cutter as it will reduce the chances of kickback. It is safer to feed a workpiece against a stationary table instead of forcing the table on the workboard.
- Blade Safety. Be very careful while working with blades. Make sure you never reach for a running blade. If you have to change the blade, handle it with caution. Always remove/install the blade according to the directions given in the user’s manual and ensure that you operate the blade with the cover on. The blades must be sharp. Dull and blunt blades are a hazard at workplaces as they can destroy your wood and cause injury.
- Handling Workpieces. Make sure you clamp the work pieces firmly on the cutting board. Loose pieces can lead to injury and damage to the machines as well. Therefore, it is best to clamp the pieces firmly regardless of their size. If you are working with smaller pieces, you can use push sticks.
- Keep your Work Place Tidy. Always keep your workplace neat and clean. Remove sawdust, remove any debris or trash after you are done working. If your shop is not clean, it can become a tripping hazard. And a tidy workplace will make your mind work faster, and improve the quality of your work.
- Use Common Sense. One of the most important woodworking tips is to use common sense while working with machines. Work slowly, pay attention to what you are doing and focus on the task at hand. If you notice something out of order, like a burning smell or short-circuiting, stop right away and turn off the machine. Don’t try to use the wrong equipment for the job because you think it might work.
Equipment Needed for the Woodworking
Now that we have described all the tips a beginner woodworker should know, it’s time to discuss the tools required. Before you get started, try to improve your tool knowledge. We have researched various woodworking tools and listed the best options for woodworking beginners for various projects below. Each of the following tools is the best in their listed categories.
1. Power Jointer – Wahuda Tools Jointer
A jointer is a woodworking machine used to produce a flat surface along a board’s length. Wahuda provides an outstanding tool for beginners. With this machine, you can say goodbye to cupped woods. Instead, it will help you make smoother and accurate cuts. The spiral cutter head comes with 4-sided carbide inserts, which give you cutting precision.
The machine is powered with a 120V motor and produces 12000 fixed RPM. You can do edging, jointing, flattening, and tapering. Its cast-iron table gives you stability while you are working on big wood pieces. The fence can be tilted between 90 & 135°, providing you versatility while using the machine.
Setting up this machine is quick and easy. To assist users, it is provided with simple and easy-to-understand instruction and pictorial representation. The total weight of the machine is 56.2 pounds, and it measures 34 x 14 x 13 inches. The machine’s maximum capacity is 6-inch width, 1/8-inch maximum depth of a cut, a 2 ½ inch dust port (included), and 4 3/8 x 19 5/8 inch aluminum fence. You get push blocks, a T-Torx wrench, and other tools needed to set up the machine.
|Dimensions||34" x 14" x 13"|
|Power Source||AC Power|
2. Circular Saw – SKIL 5280-01 Circular Saw
A circular saw is used to make straight cuts on a piece of lumber. It is an excellent machine for beginners as most of the basic woodworking projects need straight cutting. Skil’s 5280-01 is a powerful machine for beginners and experts alike. It comes with a 15-amp motor and delivers 5300 RPM for high-speed and precision cutting. It has a 7-1/4 inch carbide blade with an easy replacement mechanism.
The bevel capacity is 51 degrees with a 45-degree angle stop, and the arbor size is 5.8 inches with a cord length of 6 feet. One of the best things about this saw is that it is a lightweight model with a compact size. The weight and dimensions are 6 pounds and 14.25 x 9.75 x 8.5 inches, respectively. The dust blower feature on this saw will keep the line of work free from dust, and an anti-snag lower guard reduces the chances of kickback injuries.
This saw comes with a single beam laser for convenience and more accurate cutting. You also get a carrying bag for easy storage and convenient portability.
|Dimensions||14.25" x 9.75" 8.5"|
|Power Source||AC Power|
3. A Router – DEWALT 20V Max XR Cordless Router
A cordless router is one of the essential woodworking tools for beginners. It is used for cutting, trimming, and shaping tasks on wood, laminates, plastic, and metal. The Dewalt brushless cordless router is a great tool to own. It comes with dual LED lights, which help illuminate the work surface. You get a depth adjustment ring allowing you quick height adjustments.
The speed of this unit is 16000-25500 RPM with an electronic braking system, allowing the motor to slow quicker after the unit is shut off. You also get a variable speed dial giving you the freedom to work on different applications. A router motor with a fixed base, an instruction manual, and a wrench for setting up the machine comes in the box.
|Dimensions||8.38" x 5.82" x 5.75"|
|Power Source||Battery Powered|
|Battery Type||Lithium-ion battery|
4. Router Bits – KOWOOD Router Bits Set
The performance of your router depends on the bits you use with it. For all the beginner woodworkers, we have the perfect option router bit set for you: Kowood. Kowood provides a 15-bit set at a very affordable price. They come with an alloy blade and a solid hardened steel board, enabling them to be used for a longer time and withstand high workloads. The 1/4-inch shank gives you greater stability, and the design reduces the chances of kickback.
The bits work great with wood, MDF, laminate, particleboard, plywood, and compact panels. Make sure you don’t try these bits with hard materials such as metals. The bots are packed in a sturdy wooden case which protects them while stored and makes portability convenient. Please note that you cannot use these bits in electric drills and drill presses as their use are limited to desktop woodworking tools.
|Dimensions||7.5" x 5.4" x 2"|
5. A Hand Saw – SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Hand Saw
The Suizan is a Japanese style saw that is growing in popularity. The Suizan Pull Saw cuts materials via pulling and is therefore called a “pull saw.” The benefit of using a pull saw is that it is lighter, needs less force for cutting, and results in a cleaner cut. So, it is an excellent idea to start using pull say instead of push saw.
This saw is made of high-quality steel and comes with a proud history of Japanese woodworking traditions. The blade weighs only 5.6 ounces and measures 10.63 x 1.97 x 0.39 inches. The blade size is 9.5 inches and can be replaced by just loosening a screw.
|Dimensions||10.6" x 1.97" x 0.39"|
6. A Jig Saw – BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw
A jigsaw is one of the most important hand tools for woodworkers. It is used to cut irregular curves and stenciled designs in wood and other materials. Black+Decker offers one of the best jigsaws for beginners as it is easy to use and offers easy operation.
This unit is a 5 amp electric jigsaw with a ¾ inch blade orbital action for increased precision. Its curve control technology gives you more control while making rounded cuts, and you can make beveled cuts up to an angle of 45 degrees. With this jigsaw, you get a variable speed motor with a maximum power of 3500 SPM, making this saw ideal for multiple applications. Its adjustable shoe with wire guard keeps you safe while working and gives you straight and accurate cuts.
|Dimensions||11.75" x 4.38" x 9.3"|
|Power Source||AC Power|
7. A Power Drill – Bosch PS31-2A Speed Drill
As far as essential hand tools for woodworkers go, the speed drill should be on the top of the list. A speed drill gives you versatility in drilling various materials like softwood, hardwood, laminates, metal, and masonry materials. Bosch is a trusted name in the world of drills, and you can’t go wrong with the Bosch PS31-2A speed drill.
This drill comes with a 3/-inch single sleeve chuck, making it perfect for various applications. It is capable of delivering 265 inch-pounds of maximum torque and provides 20+1 clutch settings. The unit offers variable speed settings (0-350 RPM and 0-1,300 RPM) for different materials. The integrated LED lighting makes it easier to work in dark spots, and the fuel gauge keeps you aware of battery usage.
This particular model from Bosch comes with a short height and a compact head length. It is a lightweight model and is perfect for working in tight spaces. The box includes two 12V 2.0 Ah lithium-ion batteries, a 12V charger, two screw driving bits, and a carrying bag.
|Dimensions||7" x 2.5"|
|Power Source||Battery Powered|
|Battery Type||12V 2.0 Ah lithium-ion|
|Chuck Size and Design||3/8-inch, keyless|
8. A Block Plane – Stanley Block Plane Surform
Surforms are woodworking planes used for rapidly removing wood from curved surfaces. One problem with surforms is that the finish quality is not fine; you will have to use finer tools such as files and woodworking blocks to create a smooth finish after using a surform.
Stanley’s surform is made from strong and heavy-duty metal, giving you stability and making the tool durable. It is fitted with a fine-cut blade which makes it ideal for edges and confined workspaces. You can replace the blade with a simple thumbscrew. The blade size is 140 millimeters, and you can use this tool single-handedly.
|Dimensions||3.9" x 2.17" x 6.26"|
|Blade Size||140 mm|
9. A Smoothing Plane – Faithfull Smoothing Plane
Another woodworking plane commonly used for finishing the wood is the smoothing plane. A smoothing plane removes fine wood shavings to give your wood a smooth finish and increase the aesthetic value of your work.
This smoothing plane is made with high-quality grey cast iron and gives you stability and control while working. The unit also provides a precision ground base and slides for flatness. Its machined setting eliminates movement and blade vibration. The lever cap helps secure the blade assembly and enables easy release for sharpening. It uses a 50 mm blade for smoothing.
|Dimensions||10.5 x 2.68 x 7.48 inch|
|Blade Size||50 mm|
10. A Random Orbital Sander – SKIL 5” Random Orbital Sander
If you are looking to make your life easy and increase your work speed, you need a sander in your woodworking arsenal. Skil manufactures one of the best sanders on the market. The Skil 5’’ sander is a powerful tool with a 2.8 amp motor that delivers 13000 orbits per minute. You can use this machine for a variety of sanding applications.
The dust collector in this model is easy to clean and leaves no mess behind. With this sander, it is time to say goodbye to tiring sanding and cleaning. The sanding disc has a diameter of 128 millimeters, and it can move between 7000-13000 orbits per minute.
This sander offers low vibration, which is convenient for comfortable use. The ergonomic design ensures that you stay comfortable after a long working session. A compact size allows you to perform sanding applications in tight and confined spaces. You also get three sanding papers with the sander.
|Dimensions||7.87 x 4.8 x 5.51 inch|
|Power Source||AC Power|
11. Files – REXBETI 16Pcs Premium Grade Wood Filers
Filers are one of thing things every woodworking workspace should have. They come in handy where machines don’t work well or can’t provide the desired finish. This set of filers is composed of 16 different filing tools.
All the pieces are made with drop forged alloy steel to give it durability and accurate performance. The teeth were deeply milled, tempered, and coated for durability. Inside the box, you will find four large files (flat/triangle/half-round/round file) and 12 needle files. The large files come with a soft rubbery handle to give you maximum comfort and solid grip while you work.
Everything is packed in a rugged carry case with designated places. It allows easy storage and portability. The large pieces are 120 millimeters in size, and the needles are 140 millimeters. Once you buy this set, you don’t have to worry about filing tools for at least 5-6 years.
|Dimensions||14.29 x 6.5 x 2.28 inch|
This combo set from Freeman consists of 4 tools. This set is basically for expert woodworkers but can be used by beginners in a variety of applications. Let’s check out what each tool is capable of and how it can be useful for you:
Framing Nailer: The framing nailer can be used for framing, sheathing, truss assembly, roof decking, subfloors, and wood fencing. The tool is compatible with 21 degrees plastic collated full round head framing nails with a size of 2 to 3-1/2 inches. It is made of a magnesium body, giving you durability and a lightweight design, and the magazine and cylinder are anodized for stability and durability. You can adjust the 360-degree exhaust to direct the air away from your face.
Finish Nailer: You can use a finish nailer for door and window casing, molding, trims, chair rails, and cabinetry. It can work with 15 gauge tape or glue collated 34 degrees finish nails from 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches. The dual-mode trigger allows you to switch between sequential and bump firing. Apart from all the features listed above, the unit offers a one piece drive blade for increased stability and an anti-dust cap to keep the interior components free from debris.
Brad Nailer: A Brad Nailer can be used for interior and exterior finish and trim, picture frames, hobbies, and crafts. The tool is compatible with 18 gauge straight brad nails from 3/8 to 1-1/4 inches. All the features in this tool are the same compared to the machines discussed above.
Narrow Crown Stapler: For decorative trims, cabinetry, cabinet backing, and hobbies, a narrow crown spoiler is ideal. It is compatible with 18 gauge 1/4 narrow crown staples from 1/2 to 1-1/4 inches. The basic features of this machine are also the same.
Apart from the four tools, a canvas bag, air tool oil, and adjustment tools are also included in the box.
|Dimensions||23.03 x 9.5 x 14.8 inch|
|Power Source||Air power|
13. A Miter Saw – DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw
A compound miter saw allows you to move the saw head back and forward on a sliding rail. Its operation is similar to a radial arm saw. With a sliding compound miter saw, you can cut larger size boards and make straight and pulled-down cuts. Dewalt’s compound miter saws are the best.
This model comes with a stainless steel miter plate with a 12-inch blade and ten positive stops. The miter system and machined base fence deliver accurate and precise miter cuts. The tall sliding fences can support a 6-3/4-inch base vertically, and the bevel can move 48 degrees left and right.
You can cut 2×14 inch lumber at 90 degrees and 2×10 inch lumber at 45 degrees. You get dual horizontal rails with an innovative clamping mechanism and linear ball bearings for support and stability while cutting wood on this machine. The bevel scale is designed to give you high visibility. It comes with an efficient dust collection which collects over 75% of the dust produced. You get a carbide blade, blade wrench, dust bag, and a vertical material clamp in the box.
|Dimensions||21 x 17 x 17 inch|
|Power Source||AC Power|
|Blade Size||12 inches|
Check Out More Of Our Cordless Drills Reviews
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Compare & Contrast: DeWalt vs. Makita vs. Milwaukee — Best Cordless Drills
You should go for basic tools first. Other than that, you must buy tools that are needed for your projects.
Each woodworking tool has a different sharpening mechanism. Refer to user instructions for exact information.
Each tool has a different operational procedure. You can learn a lot from instruction manuals, online tutorial videos, and guides. However, make sure you stay away from fake information and follow all the safety guidelines.
We hope that woodworking will be fun and easy for you now that you have a good grip on the basics. We have listed all the tips and tools a beginner woodworker may need and hope that they assist you in your future woodworking endeavors.