Advice on first tools

bowdoin514911April 9, 2012

I would like to get started doing some projects in the woodworking area, such as birdhouses, and small, simple craft projects. What are some of the basic tools I might need? I have a few things like hammers, screwdrivers, an electric drill, pliers. ANY suggestions would be very welcome. If it helps any, I am a woman, know nothing about really making wooden things, and enjoy making things. Thank you!

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I would invest in a jigsaw, and a circular saw. You can build a lot of things with them. See the link below for the Women in Woodworking Website.

Here is a link that might be useful: Women in Woodworking

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 9:40PM
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T0 answer your questions, we need to know several things like:

What kind of wood are you going to start with?

Are you going to need to make that wood thinner or more narrow?

How precise do you want the joints to be?

And so on.

Now, don't get discouraged already. There are many ways to make craft projects. And some do not involve power tools.

The first thing you need to consider is where you will get the materials. Wood from a saw mill, kiln owner, lumberyard, home improvement store, hobby store all can be the same types of wood, but very different in readiness for making things. And, since the wood from a hobby store is ready for use, it will be fairly expensive.

Here's a short list, geared to where you get wood(for small craft type projects):

Hobby store--scroll saw(more accurate than a jig saw)- cost starts at about $150 and goes up to a thousand and more, small belt/disk sander(1" belt/6" disk)-cost is about $100, about 10 or more small adjustable bar clamps-cost $4-$20 each, wood glue(Titebond is one good brand), riffler file set, sheet sand paper, good steel ruler, good steel tape measure.

Upgrades later---band saw(about $400), 23 gauge pin nailer, 18 gauge brad nailer and air compressor(package deals can be found for about $200), oscillating spindle/belt sander(About $150-$200), router/w table($150-$1000), and table saw(From $60-$4,000). Those allow you to make larger projects and to be able to do more shaping/thinning of the wood you buy. Wood is less expensive from a saw mill/kiln owner, but requires more tools to get it useable for building.

Example, a maple board 6 feet long, an inch thick, and 6" wide kiln dried might cost $10 at a sawmill and $18 from a lumber yard. That same board from a home improvement store might be $30 and even more from a hobby store. The hobby store would have different thicknesses, however, negating the need to the band saw and other dimensioning tools(jointer or planer).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Popular Woodworking has a recurring column (and evolving user's guide) geared for the beginner with minimal tools, time, and using products easily found at a "home center."

It's a good place to start. I'd just avoid the gimmicky "pink tools." Get good tools. Better to pay $20 for a good screwdriver that will last the rest of your life than have to replace a cheap screwdriver every year or two.

You don't need all the tools to begin with. Start out with simple project and add tools as subsequent projects need and justify them.

Here is a link that might be useful: ICDT free manual

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Thank you, thank you for all the great ideas! I DO have a B & D jigsaw, so that sounds like a good thing. I agree, starting small and upgrading later is a good idea, especially in getting new tools, getting the better ones, no cheapies or else I'll be buying it again later, while I kick myself! Keep the suggestions coming!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:25PM
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I'd suggest the first two power tools you get to add to your jigsaw and drill should be

* Circular saw : will speed up breakdown of sheetgoods (plywood, etc), ripping to width, and straight or angled cuts. It's easy enough to make a track to guide it.

* Random orbit sander -- to smooth down surfaces and edges for finishing.

For hand tools:

* A few clamps to aid in joinery and edge gluing.

* A plane to smooth surfaces and edges

While I don't care for the look much on exposed surfaces, a pocket hole jig will help make quick and dirty joints. A simple single hole version with drill bit runs $20, a more advanced, two-hole version about $40. Screws run less than $5 per 100.

I'm assuming you have screwdrivers, hammer, utility knife, a few chisels, tape measure, and square.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 8:18PM
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