The wide range of tools available on the market often leads to overwhelming feelings among novice woodworkers. It is common to be tempted to spend a significant amount of money on expensive woodworking tools for your workshop. However, it is unnecessary for beginners to invest in elaborate and costly tools. Instead, it is advisable to begin with the essential tools in order to grasp the fundamental simplicity that is crucial for creating excellent work.
SAWS USED FOR WOODWORKING
To initiate a woodworking project, the first step involves cutting materials, with rough lengths of wood being particularly noteworthy for creating superior and captivating pieces. Regardless of whether the wood stock comprises hardwoods such as oak or softwoods like pine, it is essential to rip and crosscut the wood to commence the shaping process. Saws are the ideal tools for this purpose, as they come in various sizes and shapes, each designed for specific cutting tasks. The following is a list of the essential saws required to start building an efficient collection.
A circular saw is a tool that can be used to make precise cuts in various materials.
The circular saw is the essential power-activated saw found in every beginner’s toolkit, with countless brand options. What sets them apart is the shared characteristic of a circular blade equipped with sharp teeth, designed to effortlessly cut through wood. While there are various power ratings available, all circular saws are electric. Traditionally, they are corded and operated using household current, but significant progress has been made in cordless circular saws.
Circular saws are often considered better suited for rough carpentry rather than fine woodworking. However, this perception is entirely mistaken as circular saws can indeed cut straight and neat lines when used skillfully. The choice of blade also plays a significant role in achieving desired results.
There are three types of circular saw blades available.
- Ripping Blades: Cut material lengthwise along or with the grain
- Crosscut Blades: For sawing across the grain
- Combination Blades: Designed for both ripping and crosscutting
Blades vary in terms of their teeth design. Ripping blades have teeth that are evenly spaced, while crosscut blades have staggered teeth. Combination blades, on the other hand, combine both tooth layouts. If you have budget constraints, it is advisable to invest in a high-quality combination blade that is equipped with carbide teeth. Additionally, it is important to have an understanding of blade diameters. Circular blades typically begin at 7 ½ inches, although 10-inch blades are more commonly used, and larger 12-inch diameters are also available for cutting larger dimensional wood.
There are two distinct designs of circular saws available. The first design is a direct drive, where the blade is directly mounted on the arbor at a 90-degree angle to the motor. Direct drives are the most commonly used and least costly type of circular saws. On the other hand, worn-drive circular saws are specifically designed for heavy-duty tasks. They have the same blade designs as direct drives, but the blade is driven by gears, positioned ahead of the motor.
It is recommended for every novice woodworker to purchase a good-quality jigsaw. These tools are also known as saber saws due to their blade that moves back and forth, resembling a saber. Jigsaws, which are powered by electricity, are specifically designed for making complex cuts that can be either straight, curved, or wavy. By envisioning the lines in a jigsaw puzzle, you can get an idea of the capabilities of a jigsaw.
Jigsaws are distinct from circular saws as they operate with a different cutting motion, either back-and-forth or up-and-down. The blades used in jigsaws come in various tooth numbers and materials, suitable for cutting metal, plastic, and wood. When sawing veneers, fine-tooth blades are preferred, while coarse tooth-blades are more appropriate for rough and speedy tasks.
It is easy to operate jigsaws using one hand, which frees up your other hand to securely hold your work. Jigsaws are effective in cutting small and detailed pieces. Interior cuts, such as inner circles or rectangles, are among the best uses for a jigsaw. By drilling a pilot hole and inserting the blade, you can effortlessly make plunge cuts with your jigsaw as you gain experience through practice.
A compound miter saw is a tool used for cutting precise angles in wood.
Compound miter saws offer a higher level of capability compared to standard circular saws. These saws are compatible with the same rip, crosscut, and combination blades as circular saws. However, they are fixed in place on an arm or track, similar to the radial arm saws that are now mostly replaced by compound miter saws. While the most commonly used blade diameters are 10 and 12 inches, it is possible to equip compound miter saws with the smaller 7 ½” size. When using a miter saw, it is advisable to always opt for a high-quality crosscut saw blade.
Most shops have replaced the standard miter box and backsaw with these highly versatile electric saws. Powered miter saws are preferred by beginners as they make more precise cuts for miters, bevels, and compound angles. They can be conveniently adjusted to the standard angles of 22 ½, 45, and 90 degrees, as well as any angle in between, including left and right cuts.
Compound miter saws have evolved from the standard chop saw, now incorporating sliding arms to extend cut lengths. Additionally, their power heads can tilt on both sides, enabling a combination of miter and bevel cuts. With a compound miter saw, one can achieve practically any series of angles when cutting.
Early on in their woodworking journey, many novice woodworkers choose to purchase a table saw. Table saws are capable of making cuts that cannot be easily accomplished with other types of saws. These saws are designed to resemble inverted circular saws, with the blade being exposed from underneath the saw table or work surface. Adjusting the blade depth and angles is a simple task, enabling precise cuts to be made.
There are three primary types of table saws that are appropriate for novice woodworkers. The selection will vary based on the scale of your projects and the setting. You may prefer a stationary table saw for a dedicated workshop or a portable option that can be easily stored. Here are your available options for table saws:
- Cabinet table saws are heavy and made to stay put. The name comes from their motors being enclosed in a lower cabinet with the blade driven by a belt and pulley system. They’re excellent for all-purpose work from lumber-ripping to panel-cutting. Many beginners choose a cabinet table saw as their workshop centerpiece.
- Benchtop table saws are lighter-duty. They’re made to be portable, so they’re perfect for moving between locations as well as conveniently storing when not being used. Most benchtop table saws are direct drive. That lets them remain compact, but they tend to be noisy.
- Contractor table saws are the tightest designs. Building contractors prefer them for quick and easy cutting on job sites where time and space are a premium. Contractor table saws are also economical, making them a good choice for beginners learning their tasks.
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When it comes to ripping rough stock or creating intricate curved cuts, the bandsaw is undoubtedly unmatched. These power tools combine the features of circular and saber saws, with the teeth being securely attached to a continuously looped flat steel band that rotates around the upper and lower pulleys. Additionally, a flat table is positioned between the pulleys, allowing for adjustable angled cuts.
There is a wide range of sizes available for bandsaws, which is determined by the size of the material you plan to cut and the level of intricacy needed in your cuts. These two key characteristics dictate the size of bandsaw you should choose.
- Depth capacity is how far the bandsaw blade is exposed between the pulleys. It’s also called face opening and varies between 4” for small bandsaws up to 12” or more for big machines. This determines how thick your material capacity is.
- Throat depth measures from the blade teeth to the back of the support frame. This determines how wide your stock can be. A deep throat capacity makes it easier to make curved cuts where work needs turning on the table.
There are coarse bandsaw teeth for quick cuts and fine teeth for slower, smooth cutting. The width of the blade is crucial when it comes to bandsaws. Wide blades provide stability for ripping, whereas thin blades facilitate curved cutting.
To achieve optimal performance, it is important to invest in high-quality tires for your bandsaw.
Handsaws are tools that are designed for cutting wood by hand.
Handsaws will forever have a place in the workshop of every woodworker due to their simplicity and ease of use for both quick tasks and intricate cuts that demand accuracy. One beneficial aspect of handsaws is the absence of bulky weight, unwieldy cords, or batteries that may run out of charge. Moreover, handsaws are always prepared for action and come at an affordable price.
When it comes to handsaws, their existence dates back for centuries. Essentially, they consist of a wooden handle connected to a toothed steel blade that moves back and forth to perform cutting tasks. However, the application of handsaws goes beyond what beginners typically comprehend. Here are a few handsaw designs to take into account.
- Ripping Handsaws: Cut with the wood grain
- Crosscut Handsaws: Cut across the wood grain
- Combination Handsaws: Can do both rips and crosscuts
- Backsaws: Have rectangular blades with braced backs for miter cuts
- Carcase Handsaws: Larger and stronger backsaws
- Coping Handsaws: Like jigsaws and bandsaws for curved cuts
- Dovetail handsaws: For fine dovetail joint work
- Keyhole handsaws: Made to cut interior holes
It is advisable for novice woodworkers to purchase handsaws of the highest possible quality within their budget. The primary source of frustration when using hand saws arises from using inexpensive or blunt blades. A well-sharpened blade with high-quality teeth has the ability to cut wood just as efficiently and accurately as an electric saw.
FILING, PLANING, AND SANDING SUPPLIES USED IN WOODWORKING
Beginning woodworkers should consider investing in the necessary filing, planing, and sanding supplies once they have cut the wood pieces to a rough shape, regardless of the quality of their saw blade, in order to achieve an appealing, finished appearance.
Planes are inherently present.
Planes function as cutting instruments rather than abrasive tools for sanding. All categories of planes employ a stationary blade to slice through wooden fibers, allowing them to take form and achieve gradual refinement. The crucial factors determining the amount of material that can be eliminated at once are the size and depth of the blade.
If you’re new to woodworking, it’s worth exploring a variety of hand planes that may seem unfamiliar or amusing due to their foreign names. Rabbet planes and jack planes, although both used to shave wood, serve different purposes. Additionally, terms such as jointers, blocks, and spokeshaves are commonly used to refer to these hand planes, sometimes even by numerical designations. Therefore, it is recommended that novice woodworkers familiarize themselves with this range of hand planes.
- Jack Plane: These tools remove a lot of material in a pass. It’s a “jack-of-all-trades” tool because there are both curved edge and straight edge types available — for smoothing or jointing, respectively.
- Block Planes: These planes are smaller and stout. They’re best for tight work where very smooth joints are necessary.
- Joining Planes: Like jack planes, except they’re designed to smooth edges and join pieces together. Typically, jointers have long frames.
- Rabbet Planes: Used for cutting right-angle grooves along board edge grain. These joints are called rabbets, which differ from inside grooves termed dadoes.
- Scraper Planes: Made to scrape fine fibers off wood surfaces for super-smooth finishes. These planes are sometimes called cabinet scrapers.
- Spokeshaves: Hand planes designed for curved surfaces. Originally, they were for wagon wheel spokes, but they found their useful way to all woodworkers.
An orbital sander is a power tool commonly used for sanding wood and other materials with a rotating disk.
An orbital sander should be your top choice if you are planning to purchase an electric wood-finishing tool. These efficient machines eliminate the effort involved in hand sanding and accomplish the task at a much faster pace. Unlike belt sanders, orbital sanders operate by utilizing sandpaper pads that rotate in a circular or orbital manner.
Regular orbital sanders utilize a circular abrasive sandpaper disk that rotates in a circular motion, thereby eliminating material swiftly. However, they often leave challenging-to-eliminate swirl marks. On the other hand, opting for a random orbital sander is a superior choice. These sanders do not follow a circular pattern but instead oscillate randomly, providing a flawlessly smooth wood surface without any marks.
Files for hand use
When it comes to shaping and smoothing wood, a hand file is often the most effective tool. If you opt for hand files that are made with high-quality steel, they can be both affordable and durable. Instead of attempting to sharpen them, it is recommended to replace hand files once they become dull. Here are the primary options available for hand files.
- Rasps are rough-edged tools with coarse teeth. They’re used to remove large amounts of wood for general shaping, then allow finer files to take over.
- Half-round files have a flat surface on one side and a curved face on the other. This lets them be worked on straight and curved surfaces.
- Mill files are flat on both faces. They usually have coarse teeth on one side and fine on the reverse. Mill files also have toothed edges for tight spaces.
Rotary cutters function similarly to hand files, except they are specifically designed to be used with electric drill bits. By inserting them into the drill chuck, the rotary abrasive action effectively eliminates material. These rotary files can be found in various patterns and with different cutting grits.
High-grade steel hand files, which usually have extremely fine teeth, are also utilized for sharpening various woodworking blades and bits. It is advisable to invest in these high-quality hand files, as with any tool, as you generally get what you pay for.
ASSEMBLY TOOLS FOR WOODWORKING
In addition to cutting and smoothing wood, assembling the components is an essential part of the overall woodworking process. Achieving a successful woodwork assembly relies on two factors: precision joints that fit accurately and the appropriate tools to securely fasten them.
The following are the fundamental tools for novice woodworkers engaging in assembly tasks.
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A universal woodworking hammer does not exist. Although a carpenter’s claw hammer may come close to being a versatile pounding tool, there are also numerous variations of it. Woodworking hammers are typically expected to perform two functions, which include pounding and prying. The effectiveness of their performance relies on a few factors.
- Head design including face size and weight. Some heads are smooth, as in finishing hammers. Some have serrated faces for gripping nails and fasteners as you see in framing hammers.
- Claw design including length and curve. Finishing hammers have long and pronounced claws while framing tools use a straighter edge used to split materials.
- Handle composition is critical for comfort. Most beginning woodworkers prefer a wooden or composite hammer handle. They deliver less shock when striking. Framers like steel handles. There’s more shock, but steel adds to the weight, so there’s more driving force. Steel handles also don’t break easily.
- Overall weight is important. Hammer weight is measured in ounces. Lightweight hammers are 8 to 10 ounces. Intermediate hammers are 16 to 20 ounces, while heavy-duty ones weigh 24 to 32 ounces.
There are different types of woodworking hammers that serve various purposes and are made from different materials. New woodworkers have a wide range of options available to them and should determine the specific tasks they will be using the hammers for before making a purchase. Here are the primary categories of woodworking hammers.
- Finishing hammers are all-purpose. This should be your first purchase as they’re so handy.
- Framing hammers are tough. However, they’re a bit overkill for most woodworking projects.
- Tack hammers are like brad drivers. They’re for small work and usually have two different head sizes with no claws.
MALLET is a software tool for topic modeling, which is a computational method for discovering and understanding topics in large collections of textual data.
Do not mix up mallets with hammers as they are distinct types of striking tools with different uses. While hammers are typically made of steel, brass or plastic variations also exist. On the other hand, mallets feature large heads made of wood or leather and have detachable handles to fit different head sizes.
Mallets differ from hammers in terms of their impact force and surface effect. Mallets, softer than hammers, are designed to absorb shock rather than inflict it. Additionally, they leave minimal marks when striking, which makes them ideal for gently tapping wooden joints together.
It is crucial for novice woodworkers to comprehend that utilizing a steel hammer on chisels should be strictly avoided. The impact of steel hammers leads to chisels thrusting or poking the wood, resulting in uneven finishes. Conversely, by lightly striking chisels with a mallet, they can effortlessly slice through wood with a steady and uniform force.
Electric drills have become essential tools for novice woodworkers, outshining the old-fashioned brace and bit or hand drill, which are now rarely used. These electric-powered drills are utilized extensively in the workshop for various purposes, extending beyond simple hole drilling. Additionally, one can acquire numerous attachments to transform their electric drill into diverse tools.
When purchasing your initial power drill, it is advisable to give serious thought to opting for a corded version. Corded drills, which operate on 110/120-volt power, possess significantly greater torque and durability compared to cordless drills. Although certain individuals might perceive cords as an obstruction, they will never disappoint you with a low battery charge.
If you prefer cordless power drills, they are classified by voltage. Initially, they were 7.5-volt, but they were rapidly improved. Presently, for beginners, it is advisable to opt for 18-volt cordless drills. They are only slightly pricier than 14-volt drills and offer significantly more power.
Chuck size is another way to rate power drills, with 3/8″ being the typical medium size and 1/2″ for heavy-duty drills. These drills can be found with either keyed models or keyless chucks, which simplify the process of changing the drill bits.
Screws are excellent fasteners for woodworking as they provide a secure hold and can be easily removed for disassembling, creating temporary joints, or rectifying mistakes. While standard hand screwdrivers are essential, acquiring a powered screw gun can significantly expedite and simplify the process of driving screws. This is particularly advantageous when working with numerous screws on a project.
Screw guns can be considered as a part of the power drill group, with most models now being cordless for added convenience. The key distinction between a genuine screw gun and a power drill lies in the internal structure of the chuck, as screw guns are specifically engineered to accommodate hexagonal or six-sided bit shanks, ensuring there is no slippage.
WOODWORKING TOOLS FOR MEASUREMENT AND ANGLES
The best advice for beginner woodworkers is to follow the old saying of measuring twice and cutting once. Another useful tip is to invest in high-quality measuring tools that are both precise and easy to read. Below, we have listed the essential tools for measuring and checking angles that every aspiring woodworker should have.
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Having a variety of squares is essential if you want to produce quality woodworking projects. Reliable squares enable you to construct and confirm various angles, while also serving as measuring tools due to the markings engraved on their surface. Here is a list of essential squares that you should possess.
- Framing Squares: Large, right-angle tools for bigger work surfaces
- Try Squares: Smaller, right-angle hand devices for quickly verifying squareness
- Combination Squares: Used for precise checking of angles and distances
- Speed Squares: Quickly let you check 90 and 45-degree angles
- Miter Squares: Best for setting angled miter cuts
- Bevel Squares: Allow you to recreate an existing angle and transfer patterns
Dividers, compasses, and depth gauges aren’t technically squares, but they’re simple and invaluable woodworking tools. They cross into the other family of measuring tapes and rules.
It is essential for all woodworking enthusiasts to have a tape measure secured to their belt.
Considering the wide variety of tape measures available, it would be challenging to carry all of them with you. Here is a list of essential tape measures to ponder over.
- Retractable Steel Tapes: These are the most common measuring tools. They come in lengths from 12 to 30 feet.
- Flexible Reel Tapes: You can get them in fabric or steel in lengths over 100 feet.
- Folding Rules: Notice they’re not called rulers. These are rigid measuring sticks for high accuracy. Most rules fold into multiple sections.
- Yardsticks and Straight Edges: These are in the ruler family and are handy for quick takeoffs and laying straight lines.
TIPS FOR BEGINNER WOODWORKING
- USE YOUR PENCIL CORRECTLY
The pencils differ in width depending on the type, with the lead positioned in the middle and the wood or plastic covering it extending further.
Your pencil doesn’t directly touch the straight edge when marking a line, resulting in the lead making marks slightly off to the side of your intended location. As a consequence, this imprecision affects the accuracy of your marks and subsequent cuts.
Furthermore, altering the angle of the pencil while creating a mark results in the line being displaced from the accurate measurement.
To ensure precise marks, it is important to place the pencil on the desired mark and gently glide the straight-edge towards it, taking into consideration the pencil’s width. It is crucial to maintain the same angle of the pencil throughout the entire line.
- DON’T MEASURE FROM THE END OF THE TAPE
The end of tape measures features a section known as a “hook,” which is composed of delicate metal that is prone to bending, leading to inaccurate measurements.
To ensure accuracy, adjust the tape by moving it slightly forward from the hook slide and take measurements from either the 1 or 2-inch marking. This guarantees the correct distance. However, remember to subtract the starting value from the ending value. For instance, if you begin at 1 inch and the measurement shows 10 inches at the other end, the actual length is 9 inches. Make sure not to mistakenly record it as 10 inches.
- ALLOW FOR THE KERF
The width of a saw blade is referred to as a kerf, which is the size of the slot it cuts into a piece of wood.
In order to ensure I preserve the required width of the board, I must mark a line indicating the boundary. To avoid the saw compromising the intended section, I should align the saw blade with the line, accounting for the blade’s width, and ensuring the outer edge of the blade teeth aligns with the outer edge of the line.
- TAKE TIME WHEN SANDING
Sanding is often seen as an unavoidable task that we attempt to complete quickly or avoid entirely if possible.
However, if you don’t know how to approach sanding and don’t invest time in doing it properly, your finished projects will lack that polished and professional appearance.
When sanding, it is advisable to gradually increase the grit size, especially when working on a rough surface. This entails starting with a lower grit, such as 80, and progressively moving up. Therefore, proceed from 80 grit to approximately 120, and finally conclude with 220 for the finishing touches.
Additionally, avoid concentrating on a single area for an extended period of time. It is possible to have uneven and flush-less edges, which could lead to the temptation of excessive sanding in that specific spot. However, such an approach is likely to result in the formation of deep grooves and divots.
An effective technique for achieving a thorough and even sanding is to utilize a random orbit sander and make multiple markings across the entire surface using a pencil. Progress to the next spot only after erasing the pencil mark from the current spot, and refrain from sanding that particular area until all pencil marks within the sanding region have been eliminated and you are prepared for a subsequent round of sanding.