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    Avatar Of WashereWashere
    Post count: 1

    hi, I’m new to woodworking, and would like to know what order I should buy my tools in? Thanks

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    • Avatar Of Mike In TnMike in TN
      Post count: 301

      Tough Question

      Hi Wasere,

      That is a tough question to answer because the answer will vary depending on a lot of factors including  the type of woodworking you want to do, your financial status, etc. There are a lot of videos on the subject (including those posted by Josh) and I would suggest you check them out to help with your decisions.

      For the average person who is just starting out it can be very confusing. Do as much research as you can before making any purchases and when looking at specific items pay close attention to reviews by users over manufacturers. Learn to use hand tools before investing in expensive power tools. Since most of us have limited budgets, I recommend buying good quality tools but not falling into the concept that tools have to be “high end” tools in order to be good tools. Buy good used tools when you can and save the expensive purchases until you have more experience and disposable income. Find a local experienced woodworker or a woodworking club to help you make the decisions.

      For general woodworking you will always need to get the general tool basics such as hammers, measuring tools, and marking tools. Past that, there are some tools that have use across a broad range of woodworking areas and you should work to acquire those first. The exception here is, if you have decided on a specific area of woodworking then you should give preference to tools supporting that area. As an example, spoon carving, relief carving, Windsor chair making, and frame-and-panel cabinet making will all require different sets of tools and you should proceed accordingly.

      Don’t put off trying woodworking until you have the “perfect” tool set. Whittling with a pocket knife IS woodworking and will teach you much about grain, working qualities of different wood species, and tool use. Just keep in mind that spending time in the craft is as much about developing a relationship between yourself and the wood as it is about the tools. Experienced craftsmen can accomplish much with a severely limited set of tools because they know ways to work through the challenges. If you start out with all of the best goodies you will never learn to work through those challenges. Would you rather be a learned craftsman or a person with all of the goodies?

      My personal recommendation (if you haven’t already, and without going into brands) is that you invest in a decent set of  bench chisels, a sharpening system of your choice, and a couple of good, basic hand saws. If you really learn how to use those well you will already be better off than most and by that time you will probably already know which tools you really need next. Let your work guide your decisions and give limited credence to woodworking tool catalogs or magazine articles promoting “high end” tools as “must haves”.

      Above all else, have fun.


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    • Avatar Of Joshua FarnsworthJoshua Farnsworth
      Post count: 102

      I have this article that answers your question perfectly:

      • Avatar Of Mike In TnMike in TN
        Post count: 301

        Joshua gives some very good advice and I don’t intend to argue against his personal choices on the tools to acquire. The tools he lists and the order he indicated in his article are valid for him and I respect that, but I have different thoughts on the subject. For instance, the first thing on his list is a workbench. A little research will show that much good work can be managed without a traditional bench, and in fact, some of the different variations of the wide world of woodworking do not require a “workbench” at all. In addition, considering the different types of “traditional” and “modern” workbenches, How does a beginner decide which type/features to invest those precious dollars in without having some experience in the craft? It is obvious that his suggestions are based on workbench-centered European and American style cabinet making work as he is used to performing it. What about the raw beginner who is interested in a different style of woodwork, woodworking product, doesn’t have enough resources to initially acquire a significant set of tools, or just wants to try some aspect of the hobby out to see how it fits them?

        The choice of creating with wood, tools, heart, head, and hands should not be entered with the requirement of a large list of tools. That is the thinking of teachers that teach with the attitude of ” this is how you should do it”  instead of “this is one way to do it” and the attitude of woodworking tool manufacturers and dealers. Creating is as much a self discovery process as it is a work process. There are at least three different ways to achieve a desired result and a woodworker should endeavor to understand each, choosing the method and associated tools and techniques they deem best given their resources and talents. While it is important and efficient to draw upon the experience of other people, it is even more important to create your own experience and learn from it. Craft is more about the growth as a craftsman than it is the products produced.

        One other thing I should have mentioned in my first reply to the original poster is to learn the restoration skills for used tools. All tools require some maintenance. Learning to restore the old stuff will teach you about tool design, history, and the techniques for using them while saving money in the bargain. It also helps you understand the differences between a good tool and an expensive one. Another good habit to get into is building tools and accessories. They make excellent practice and helps to reduce costs.

        Many a beginning woodworker has been chased away from the interest by the pressure to spend large sums on those “must-have” tools. It does make it easier to build “stuff” if you can afford to buy all of the goodies, but if that is all you do you will never fully understand the beauty of this relationship mankind has developed with this wonderful material.

        We live in a world determined to tear us away from nature, tradition, and, thousands of years of the culture that has made us who and what we are. Forces are at work that create artificial environments, artificial tribes, and artificial thoughts. In this new world we all seek that which we know to be real and solid anchors to help us defend those parts of ourselves that seems to be at risk, to remind ourselves that in spite of the fluid nature of this modern world, some things we hold dear remain true and steadfast. Is it any wonder that people gravitate to the security of some self sufficiency, of being able to take basic materials and create things of beauty and utility without dependency on modern institutions? Craft is an expression of what it means to be human and in that is more valuable than the objects it produces. With that in mind, encourage any craftsperson because it helps keep our humanity alive.

        Have fun.

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