6 woodworking tools to start your woodshop. Part 1

At the beginning of our adventure, almost 8 years ago, before having a woodshop, a place of our own and not even thinking about dedicating ourselves full-time to craft wooden pieces, the garage of our parents' house and the circular saw were our best friends .

After hundreds of students who have gone through our classes, the question "What tools should I buy to start?"It's the most repeated of all.

The reality is that there is always more than one way to do the same work and get similar results. What is going to mark the difference between two tools that can do the same thing but differently, it is the efficiency and comfort of each one to carry out this task. This will vary a lot from person to person, mainly because everyone will be doing different projects.

Taking into account that not everybody have an unlimited budget to buy a complete woodshop and that, like us, you will be buying tools little by little, here we leave a summary of our experience and how we would do it if we had to start again. We will divide this topic in 2 parts, the first part (this) will be the basics to start your projects; The second part will be the tools to complement and help you raise the bar.This article is not a thorough explanation of each tool (more of that to come)

Note: price references are from the most frequented hardware stores in Panamá; It can vary according to your country and the quality of the tool. As a rule, we recommend you to buy brands that have good repair and maintenance service in your country. For Panama Bosch, Dewalt, Makita and Milwakee are the most common. We do not recommend leaving these unless there is no tool or you are looking for something more professional.
Security: Each of the following tools that have blades are a danger to you if you do not follow safety practices and common sense. This is not to discourage you, but it is important that you treat each tool with respect and always use all your senses. Accidents happen when you work tired or get over confident. Soon we will be creating material on how to use each of these tools or you can look for it on YouTube.

First part

1. Circular saw

($ 180): We started our woodshop with a Bosch circular saw ("Big Boss"). Even when we do not use it as much as at that time, today we always find something that only the circular saw can do.

    • It is versatile, common and accessible in most hardware stores
    • It is small and easy to store
    • It works for longitudinal, transverse and diagonal cuts
    • Excellent for plenty of beginner projects
    • Easy to make several types of interesting joints
    • You can make or buy different templates and guides for straight and accurate cuts

    Using wood already squared from a hardware store and some guides for straight cuts, you can make enough projects to start and practice. Compared to a table saw, it has limitations in terms of precision and repetition capacity (to be able to make several equal cuts with the same adjustment); This can be quite tedious at the time of cutting many pieces or looking for a very accurate measure.

    To prevent you from being limited at the time of working with commercial wood, consider buying a saw with 7-¼" to 9" cutting blade in diameter; These sizes will be able to work with the most common measures of commercial wood.

    2. Clamps

    (from $120.00 per set of 4) (two 5" C-clamps and two 36" tube clamps) Clamps are indispensable and get the second place because since you have to cut the material, now you will need to clamp it down for cutting, join it, assemble, glue it and much more.

      You can acquire several kinds of clamps, but a repertoire of "C" type clamps next to long tube clamps will serve you for a lifetime. There are never enough clamps in a shop but we recommend having 4 clamps always at hand.

      3. Orbital sander

      (from $ 120.00): The safest thing is that you will use this tool in the final part of each project you do, so it's worth investing in a reliable brand and that you get to your budget. If you go to the top, you can get orbitals up to $ 600 in brands like Festool, but for much less of this you can get very good orbitals that will last enough.

        • You are looking for the machine to be labeled as "Orbital" (indicates that the pad rotates on its own axis) and "Hook & Loop" (the pad is a Velcro system)
        • A good size to start is 5 "or 125 mm
        • It allows you to give an excellent finish to your pieces once you dame the correct process
        • It is small and easy to store

        A second option to improve your repertoire of sanding machines, is a band sander; These allow you to attack projects with a flat and large surface (like a table envelope) and / or more rustic surfaces in which you need something more power.

        Pro-Tip: The Golden Sanding Rule is to be able to climb between sandpaper, of less to greater, making sure to erase the lines left by the previous paper. Example - use a sequence of # 80 - # 120 - # 180 - # 220. Do not exceed # 80 a # 220, unless you want to have a rustic finish full of lines.

        4. Drills

        (from $ 30): a drill or "drill" will be very useful for such common things like opening holes in a concrete wall or until use it to remove excess wood in a box and spike junction (Mortise & Tenon).
          • If you have to limit yourself to a single drill, look for one that has a "hammer" mode (to open concrete gaps)
          • With the right bitches you can open gaps in wood, metal, concrete and many more
          • Excellent for creating junctions with tours and / or screws
          • Help Remove excess material when making different wooden joints

          We try to always have three different drills:

          • Electric - to open holes quickly
          • Wireless (battery) - To open hollows more comfortably and accessible
          • Wireless impact screwdriver - excellent for screwing more demanding projects with less effort

          5. Formons.

          (from $ 30): Any person who works wood must have formons and you can get a game or set of three sizes quite easy, usually come from ½ ", ¾" and 1 "and these are excellent to start, but there are many options of ways , Brands and sizes.

            • They need to be sharpened and rectified (the quality of the metal determines how constant you must do this)
            • They are tools with which you can make very basic projects to very elaborate
            • Perfect for practicing unions and assemblies

            Pro-Tip: In our case, we have had more cut with Formons than with power tools. Be careful with the edge and make sure that the movement and strength is never towards you.


            6. Hand Brush

            (from $ 20 Manual / $ 200 electric): This tool is an excellent supplement for your basic projects.

              • You can flatten or rectify, excellent for when you are looking for flat surfaces or paste 2 or more pieces
              • Electric brush - Allows you to cut material quickly by removing small amounts of materials in each pass
              • Manual brush - allows a very controlled way to make adjustments and leave a very thin finish. They need to be sharp; They can be difficult to dominate with hardwoods

              So we finished the count of 6 tools that we consider essential and basic to start your home carpentry workshop. As you can see, the budget is not so raised and will allow you to start creating in a short time.

              Let us know your preferences below, what about these already have and what do you plan to buy next?

              After this list, you will want to evaluate other tools to further upload your level and be able to work much more efficiently; We leave you here the link For the 2nd part of this article.

              José and Javier Feliu
              Jefh Woodshop

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