What Woodworking Tools Should I Buy First? (Beginner Cheat-Sheet)

Every new woodworker has to start somewhere. And what better place to start than by focusing on getting your workshop kitted out with all the tools you will need.

Now, it can be a bit daunting scanning through all of the different carpentry tools on offer… let alone trying to decide if you need (or even have the budget!) to buy them all.

But thankfully, you won’t need fritter away money on workshop tools that you may never use. Why? Because, there are only really a select range of tools that every beginner needs to consider getting their hands on.

So, I have gathered (and listed below) the 12 tools you’ll need in order to take on almost any woodwork project that catches your eye.

From fine wood carving, to refinishing furniture, you’ll be ready to take them all on… and so much more.

what woodworking tools should i buy first

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1. Power Drill

What is it?

A power drill is an electric powered hand tool that spins a piece of metal (known as a drill bit) around at high speeds.

Predominantly used to drill holes into hard surface materials, (such as wood, metal, brick, etc), it can also be used to loosen or fasten screws.

What is its best feature?

If you opt for a cordless drill – which is a drill that is not powered by a permanent electrical cord attachment – then a big benefit of this tool is that it is easily mobile.

2. Thickness Planer

What is it?

A thickness planer is a workshop machine that allows you to trim down rough lumber with ease.

We use it to cut wooden boards down to size, whilst keeping each board uniformly even along every surface.

What is its best feature?

All rough lumber will need some amount of planing. The advantage of a Thickness Planer, however, is that it will save you a lot of time by allowing you to plane rough stock quickly and accurately.

3. Power Jointer

What is it?

A jointer straightens out lumber by flattening out warps in the wood.

So, you will want to use a power jointer to straighten out newly purchased boards, (in preparation for running them through a thickness planer later on).

What is its best feature?

Jointers are especially useful when working on large craft items or furniture. You are going to need this tool to make sure that the edges of the boards fit together seamlessly.

4. Router

What is it?

A router is a tool used to cleanly cut a refined shape out of wood.

What is its best feature?

This is going to be your favorite tool if you love making decorative wood crafts – such as home decor ornaments.

5. Circular Saw

What is it?

Woodwork router

A circular saw is a powered saw, (with very sharp metal teeth), used for cutting through lumber.

It can cut through wood, concrete and even cast iron.

What is its best feature?

These tools are deceptively light and compact – making them easy to store away. Plus they can carve through wood quicker than a hand saw.

6. Orbital Sander

What is it?

An orbital sander is used for smoothing down surfaces.

You will be using this tool to prepare the surface of hardwood for finishing, painting, and so on.

What is its best feature?

It allows you to make quick work of sanding down large pieces.

7. Jigsaw

What is it?

This is another powered saw, but unlike the Circular Saw, the Jigsaw is designed for incredibly precise cuts.

Use it for carving holes and for cutting out intricate patterns.

What is its best feature?

If you want to carve out complex cuts into wood, then this tool can make it happen.

There are so many things you can do with this tool – especially when it gives you far more flexibility than a Circular Saw.

Watch Steve Ramsey’s video below to discover how you too can get the most out of a Jigsaw:

8. Block Plane

What is it?

This is a type of hand plane used to cut, plane and smooth out end grain.

Use it trim the wood, do finishing, or remove marks on the surface.

What is its best feature?

It is great for removing small amounts of wood ends and pieces off a project.

9. Smoothing Plane

What is it?

This particular hand plane is used to make wood surfaces even and smooth – often in preparation for a good coat of wood finish.

What is its best feature?

It is superb at smoothing down wood to an almost-polished feel.

10. Wooden Mallet

What is it?

A hand tool used to drive chisels into wood, or to hammer two wooden blocks into place.

Use this for projects that need a lighter touch when it comes to hammering. For example, you would use a wooden mallet to hammer your chisels with, because a metal hammer can be too harsh on the chisels handle.

What is its best feature?

Wooden mallets help reduce the forceful impact of hammering.

11. Hammer

What is it?

A handy tool used to thump various types of fasteners into wood.

What is its best feature?

Its simplicity of use. Whenever you find a stray nail, then a hammers got you covered.

12. A Set of Chisels

What is it?

These are all-purpose tools designed to cut, carve, chip, or simply shave away at wood.

Typically used in conjunction with a wooden mallet, chisels allow you to chip away at wood pieces delicately.

What is its best feature?

These are a must-have item if you ever want to take up wood sculpturing, (which is a form of wood carving focused on creating ornaments and figurines).