Woodworking Starter Pack: Essential Must Haves
Woodworking can be intimidating to break into. Fortunately the woodworking community is extremely welcoming, gracious, and supportive. If you are getting into working with wood, I recommend hopping on Instagram and making friends. It’s one heck of a terrific community. I am at thecreatedhome, come look me up and say hi!
Periodically people ask what I recommend as far as tools to build and begin their own DIY woodworking adventure. The journey looks different for everyone, and we all end up picking our own favorite things to focus on, of course. But there are some basic things most of us agree on. For this list of recommended items I picked the brains of some of my fellow woodworkers, and found a few common items. For a few of these I’ll reference you to a tutorial so you can learn more if you like.
Nearly all of these links are affiliate, which means that I earn a small amount when you purchase one of them. It doesn’t cost you anything, so everyone is happy and I can keep bringing you free content. I only refer things I am happy with personally, and while you’ll notice a few dominant colors here, all opinions are completely my own. I try to give relatively affordable options, and in cases where I recommend spending a bit more it is because I am confident that it will save you more in the long run and be well worth the slight extra cost.
Your woodworking starter pack essentials
It may not look like it, but this thing is a life saver. Because a large part of life is a glue container that doesn’t plug up.
Well, we covered the glue container, so we should cover what goes in it, right? An entire gallon?! Sure. Yes, uh huh. Woodworking uses a ton of glue. It goes fast.
Bench cookies are one of those inexpensive little tools that make life a whole lot easier. They elevate your work piece so you can work on it without clamping. Check them out, and trust me, you’ll want to pick up a set.
Dewalt Random Orbit Sander
I’m stepping up the price point with this one, but this one is an investment I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorse. It works. It works well and for a long, long time.
If you are going to be doing any sanding you need a mask. Non-optional. Get one. Also, the cheap white ones are super uncomfortable and kind of crappy. I have the one strap variety, and though I love the mask, it does slip. I will be purchasing this two strap one myself, and have heard great things about it.
You knew this one would show up, right? If you haven’t yet invested in a Kreg Jig…well, what can I say? It’s just plain the simplest and most convenient joinery method there is. And the fact is, they do a darn good job at what they do. Here’s a tutorial by my friend Anika at Anika’s DIY Life so you can gain or brush up on your pocket hole game!
Ryobi circular saw
Don’t underestimate this cuter-than-a-bug’s-ear circular saw. It’s small, but mighty (especially if you pair it with a sweet Freud blade). This is one petite, handy little tool that you’ll find yourself reaching for constantly. And at $39.97 that’s well worth it.
This is a super cheap option for a pretty diverse tool. Like, how wrong can you go for $34, right? This tool rocks for doing cuts on larger pieces of wood that need to be more detailed than your circular saw will allow. For more detailed work I would totally go for a scroll saw, or even a band saw. But if you are building your tool box, this is a much more approachable item, both price wise and in terms of ability to be used in diverse ways. And, hey, woodworking isn’t exactly inexpensive, right?
Dewalt Drill and Driver Set
Okay, I have been keeping this list pretty frugal, and I’m going to step it up a bit here with this one and suggest a drill and driver set that I swear by and that you will love. We have been using ours for years, and they are still going strong.
Ryobi Airstrike Brad Nailer
Here’s one a whole lotta woodworkers swear by. I’m a big fan of this tool, as well. The sheer convenience of not having to grab the compressor and lug it around to complete even the most simple task is enough to evoke tears of joy. Convenient is this tool’s middle name. At least, it would be if tools had middle names.
Last, but not least…but often left until last, let’s talk routers. If you already own Ryobi batteries, this is the no-brainer entry-level router for you. As you get into doing more router work you will learn there are different kinds of routers (trim, combination, and full size). Honestly, I don’t own this router, and when I first purchased a router a number of years ago I had no idea what I was getting. If I did it again I would start here and get comfortable with it, then decide from there what my main applications are. I will add that if you are using a router table, which I totally recommend (I use this one), you will need a full size. My old router is going out right now, and I will likely replace it with this Bosch model.
Routers can seem intimidating, but once you start using them you’ll see just how incredible they are. Adam at Lazy Guy DIY has an excellent guide to routers that goes more in depth, and I strongly encourage checking that out.
This needs it’s own category…
Every single Kreg jig that ever existed, ever.
No joke. As you get into building you’ll discover that woodworkers use jigs for everything, and that can be intimidating. The Kreg Jig company has absolutely knocked it out of the park in making jigs accessible, easy to use, and so incredibly useful that you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of that. They are affordable, and after just one build you will be singing the holy Kreg praises. I won’t go into each one, though I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Here’s a list of the jigs I have used and found incredibly helpful. (It’s a growing list!)
Of course I’m not saying you should run out and purchase all of these today. But it is good to have in mind what jigs exist so that you can add them to your woodworking arsenal as needed. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Concealed Hinge Jig
Shelf Pin Jig
Drawer Slide Jig
Cabinet Hardware Jig
Not technically a jig, but I cannot say enough good about it…
Kreg Trak and Stop System
If you have read any of my last few build tutorials you have probably caught me raving about this. I added my Kreg Trak and Stop System to my mobile miter cart designed by Brad of Fix This Build That, and it is a thing of both beauty and function. The time saving and accuracy are impossible to emphasize enough. I get really excited every time I do repeat cuts now.
There you have it, some basic tools and accessories to get your tool kit in gear. With these tools you are well on your way. You may notice that I left out a few big tools. I wanted to keep this relatively affordable. That said, there are just a few things I will mention that I consider major staples of my own modest shop.
A few large mentions…
First, my miter saw. We purchased it about four years ago from Lowes, and it has worked like a champ. I don’t recommend trying to use the laser, but it has otherwise been a great saw for us. I think it’s totally worth spending a bit more for a good compound miter saw, personally, because I use it All. The. Time.
Second, my table saw. I would love to have one of the big cabinet table saws that start in the four digit range, but, really, my Dewalt Job Site saw has done a mighty fine job for the three or so years we have owned it. The alignment continues to be right on, even after being toted around, and like every other Dewalt tool I have owned, it is an absolute work horse.
Finally, a workbench. Like most people, I started with a DIY workbench that totally did the trick for the first couple of years. I recently upgraded to a Kreg workbench, and it is awesome. It moves around so smoothly, it’s incredibly durable and strong, and it combines form and function in ways that make my heart sing. If you, like me, are working out of a garage or small shop, consider the value of something that moves about extremely well, and that is adaptable to your needs. They have several sizes to choose from, so I’ll link to the main product page.
I sincerely hope this list is helpful to you! Learning to build – to create from scratch things of beauty and function – has been one of the most personally satisfying and empowering experiences I have ever had. I love to see people take up tools and find their creative voice. Wherever you are at in your journey, from learning to read a tape measure to hand tooling furniture in your sleep, we are all in this together. So jump in, get your hands dirty, and let’s build something!