Today, we are talking tools! Not just any tools—but the five basic tools you need to get you started with woodworking. And you can buy all five for less than $500 total!!
So, if you are looking to get started on some DIY projects, but don’t know what tools to buy, you are in the right place.
Now, everyone will have their own opinions about this. Some woodworkers (the kinds that intimidate me) will tell you to start with hand tools (UGH). They will be the ones suggesting chisels and hand saws and hand planers. That’s scary.
Then there are the “practical” woodworkers that enjoy weekend projects and things that don’t require a ton of expensive tools, time, and expertise (HELLO, THAT’S ME). I will be in the latter category. Sure, you can invest in hand tools, but in the words of one of my favorite internet sensations, “ain’t nobody got time fo that.” Let’s be practical here.
Before I give you my list, I am assuming (and yes, I know what assuming does) that you already have a tape measure, screwdriver and a hammer. These are common household items that most people (woodworkers or not) keep around the house. If you don’t have one, they are a few bucks each and WELL worth the investment. AND they are my favorite types of stocking stuffers—even if it is just July, it’s already on my mind 🙂
Now that my assumptions are out of the way, here we go.
In order of (in my own opinion) importance, here are the five basic tools that will give you the most bang for your buck. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. I am only linking to products that I personally use and recommend. See disclosure policy for more details.
1. Jigsaw ($30)
The first tool I ever purchased was a jigsaw. I have no regrets about that. I bought the cheapest one that I could find and it had good reviews. This is the one I have and I LOVE it. It was cheap and does everything I need it to do so far.
My first projects were making things from pallet boards. I cut the boards to size using my jig saw. It’s not quite as good as using a miter saw, but it got me by for a while with sufficient results. Even now that I have a miter saw, I still use my jig saw A LOT to make notches (like for my outdoor table), or fun designs (like these deer heads last Christmas).
I even used it to taper the legs on my dresser.
Any cuts that seem a little too dangerous for making on my miter saw, I will use my jigsaw. It’s an EXCELLENT beginner tool and much safer than larger power saws.
Just like a hammer and tape measure, a drill is something a lot of people already keep on hand for small household projects. Danny and I started out on a SUPER cheap drill when we first got married and quickly learned that this was not something to cheap out on. If you plan to do much woodworking, invest in a quality drill. It doesn’t have to be the best of the best, but do at least get a mid-grade drill.
We use a Dewalt 20V drill. It’s kind of embarrassing how much I love this drill. I got so used to having a crappy one, that once I got a good one, I was hooked on it. While you are getting the drill, don’t forget drill bits. Don’t cheap out on those either. Trust me. You will use a drill on almost every project, so the investment is definitely worth it.
This was actually not one of my first tools, but looking back, I wish it had been. Once I got my Kreg Jig and figured out how to use it, I was able to make a whole lot more projects than I was able to before.
There are a lot of options for Kreg Jigs—from little bitty to large benchtop mounted jigs. The one I use is one step up from the bottom. I am saving for the next step up (the K4), but the R3 does the job and doesn’t break the bank. I highly recommend starting on it to make sure you like it—it’s easy to use and doesn’t take up a lot of workspace.
Oh the miter saw—my most used tool. I mentioned that I started out on a jig saw. It got the job done fine without the large investment, BUT the miter saw was definitely a game changer. The cuts were straighter, faster, and cleaner than they were with my jig saw.
When I bought my miter saw, I didn’t buy the cheapest, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I started out with a small Hitachi. I LOVE my saw and it does a great job—I have no complaints. However, I do kind of wish I had gotten a larger one. Here’s the thing. I can cut up to a 1×6 board in one pass on my miter saw. But if I cut any larger than that, I have to flip the board over and cut again from the other side. That means if I’m making something from 1x8s or wider, I have to make twice as many cuts. Sometimes this is a pain. But it’s obviously not a big enough pain for me to spend the extra money to go buy a bigger one haha. Just something to consider. Either way, a miter saw of any size is guaranteed to be a good investment. Also, watch out for sales on this saw…it’s often listed on sale for $100 (that’s how I got mine!).
Last but definitely not least is the nail gun. As far as fun factor goes, this is probably my favorite (as seen in all the pictures below). You may not use it on every project, but the ones you do use it on, you will be SUPER glad you have it.
By the way, before you yell at me about the fact that the price on the links for the nail gun is more than $200, listen up I have a handy tip: There are sales throughout the year on this exact package for $200. That’s how I bought mine. Just keep checking back. And be sure to follow me on social media. I keep checking it, too and if I see it’s on sale, I will post it to let you all know!
Of course you can get away without a nail gun. Hammer and nails do pretty much the same thing. But it’s much easier and faster (and more fun) to drive a nail with the pull of a trigger than having to beat a nail in and worry about it going in crooked (that’s me every. Single. Time.).
I’ve used my nail gun on countless projects and although it isn’t a NECESSARY tool, it is a VERY handy one. I’ve installed crown moulding, door trim, and flooring with it. It’s also great for attaching face frames and backing on cabinets, attaching bottoms on drawers and for quick fun projects like centerpiece boxes and pumpkin wagons 🙂
I bought the combo with the two nail guns and the stapler. I highly recommend buying the set with all three because you will use them all (I promise) and it’s cheaper to buy them together than to realize later you want the extra piece and buy them all separate.
We are already at five? I got so excited talking about tools, I almost lost count. Have you been adding up those numbers? It’s all less than $500! 4 power tools and a VERY useful jig for less than $500. That’s a steal!
Now, I’m not crazy rich or anything. I know that’s still a lot of money, but you will be able to make SO many things with just these five tools you seriously won’t believe it. And if you are just starting out, just buy one tool and try it out. You’ll be surprised how much you can make with just a jigsaw, hammer, nails and a screwdriver. I made tons of stuff! All you have to do is get started…where there is a will there is a way. 🙂
These are just the basics and are definitely my most used tools. I highly recommend them all. If you already have all of the above tools, I will be talking about a few more of my favorites sometime soon, so stay tuned.
And don’t forget to watch out for tomorrow’s What’s Up Wednesday! I have another new “tool” to tell you about. Until then, happy building!
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