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Tools + Supplies
Woodworking Class
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Lesson 1: Tools + Supplies
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Chances are that you, or someone you know, already own some basic tools that you can get started with. It really doesn't take many tools to accomplish a wide variety of everyday projects. Some tools are basic and shouldn't cost a lot, some tools are used loads and may require a higher quality so you're satisfied, and some tools you won't need at all!

The barrier to learning about woodworking shouldn't be behind having the biggest shop with the best tools, there's lots of people who live in apartments without shop access or who don't have the money for fixed machines like table saws. With this in mind every lesson in this class uses basic hand power tools to teach the skills and make the projects.

As a general rule, I like using corded power tools as they perform better since they don't run out of juice, and you don't have to mess with batteries - a power drill is my exception, but you'll find your own personal favorites as you progress.

Here's all the tools I use in this woodworking class:

Personal Protective Equipment


Workshop Tools

Chances are that you, or someone you know, already own some basic tools that you can get started with. It really doesn't take many tools to accomplish a wide variety of everyday projects. Some tools are basic and shouldn't cost a lot, some tools are used loads and may require a higher quality so you're satisfied, and some tools you won't need at all!

As a general rule, I like using corded power tools as they perform better since they don't run out of juice, and you don't have to mess with batteries - a drill is my exception, but you'll find your own personal favorites as you progress.

Drill

Corded drills have more power but are tethered by the cord and may lack some of the features that cordless drills have, like torque control. If you're serious about woodworking, or looking to up your game, a quality drill like the Milwaukee M18 I use in this class is about $75 by itself, but you can usually find it bundled with some other goodies which helps justify the purchase.


Circular Saw

I recommend a corded 7-1/4" blade circular saw. Since circular saws use lots of power (and you don't want to be changing out batteries partway through your build) get a corded saw. Look for a circular saw with a controllable blade depth, and one with a tilting base that allow bevels - both standard features. Look to spend $50 - $80 on a quality saw.


Hand Router

A hand router is one of my favorite woodworking tools and has many of uses besides providing a decorative edge profile. A small palm router like the one shown here is usually more than enough for most woodworking jobs, but there's also a larger plunge routers which have a spring-loaded base that allows the router to dip into the wood.

I use a Bosch 1HP palm router for almost every project; it's got good power, it's easy to handle, and has excellent build quality.


Jigsaw

Jigsaws are great for curved cuts that have a tight radius. There's interchangeable blades that can be used for fine cuts or faster coarse cuts, and different lengths of blades. Your jigsaw will have a adjustable base that lets the angle of the cut be set - a standard feature. I like corded jigsaws as they have the power for a consistent cut, unlike battery power which can make the action sluggish when they run out of juice. As with circular saws, try your hand at a few and see which one feels good to you. There's not much to a jigsaw, so don't spend more than $60 on one.


Orbital Sander

An orbital sander has an adhesive base that sanding pads can be easily and quickly interchanged. Look for a sander that has a variable speed which will allow you to refine your sanding and can provide less fatigue, and pick up a few extra sanding pads of different grits.
Go with a corded sander over the cordless, since you'll be sanding for a while you'll want all the power you can get without changing batteries. Plan to spend $50 - $80 on an orbital sander that feels good in your hand, and has a variable speed.


Aside from power tools there's a few more tools to have on hand that you're going to need.

Clamps

You really can't have enough clamps. I'd recommend a few different types, and different sizes, so you've got a clamp for all occasions. When you're doing a big glue-up you'll be surprised by how many clamps you end up using, and the clamp you wish you had on hand.
The quick-release clamps are handy to have, but I wouldn't rely on them under stress as they aren't as secure as bar clamps with a twisting handle. Clamps can cost anywhere from $10 - $50 depending on the type. A few bar clamps and spring A-Clamps to get you started should be good.


Square

Shown here is a speed square (or carpenter's square), which is great because it combines a few functions like protractor, a square edge, a 45 degree edge, and even has rafter/stair calculations on it...all in one!
The square also has some thickness to it, so it can easily be used as a saw guide. Though plastic squares are available, look for the aluminum one as it's more robust.


Adhesives

Along with clamps, holding wood down while your working can be a challenge. For the times when a clamp is too large, or just gets in the way, double sided tape and a hot glue gun are great alternatives. Double sided tape goes for about $10 a roll, and any type of hot glue will work so shop thrifty. Of course, we're also going to need lots and lots of wood glue. There's even an entire lesson in this class dedicated to glue.


Measuring

Of course, every woodworker is going to need a good tape measure. Avoid the fancy tape measures with frills and go for something simple. Also, chose a tape measure that has both metric and imperial units. Even if you don't use one of the units, you'll be glad you have it for the once in a lifetime project where you need it.


Of course, there's the workshop staples of a hand saw, hammer, 4-way rasp, sandpaper, and hand screwdrivers. If you plan on making lots of handsaw cuts, you'll probably want a miter box.

Outside of this woodworking class you're likely to use these tools for everyday projects, too. Think of it as an investment. You don't have to buy expensive tools to achieve great results, but avoid buying cheap tools as they usually don't hold up to much use. It's best to buy standard tools and then upgrade later if you want special features.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Think back to your high school shop teacher, do you remember how many fingers they had? No matter if they were missing any, the answer is always safety.

All power tools pose a serious safety hazard, and this will never be more evident until it's too late. Tools spin very fast and have more than enough torque to cause some very serious damage to your body, and in extreme cases even death. Keep this sobering reminder in the front of your mind before you start any work, as the smallest mistake can have some serious consequences.

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment (shown above)

Eye Protectionis a requirement! The smallest speck in your eye, no matter the severity, can take you out of commission for the rest of the day. I don't even enter the shop without having eye protection on, and you shouldn't either. Your eyes are much too valuable to not protect, and eye protection is cheap.

Hearing Protection, either over-ear or in-ear, provide relief when using any power tools. Hearing loss is measured by duration of exposure, so while it might not seem too loud at the moment by the end of the day you've been exposed for a long time and have caused damage to your hearing.

Dust Masks are great to prevent inhalation of wood dust. It might seem benign, but wood dust is listed as a hazard by safety organizations. Also, picking out weird dust-boogers after a long day of woodworking is kinda gross.

Gloves might seem to be missing from this list, but they're actually not. While gloves are great for a variety of uses, working with woodworking machines is not one of them. If your glove gets caught in a machine while running it can suck your hand in with it, but if you were wearing no gloves you stand a better chance of damaging a smaller portion of your body.

Aside from PPE, you should also limit your exposure to equipment entanglement by tying back long hair, removing jewelry, tucking in loose clothing.


Tie back long hair


Remove jewellery

Roll up sleeves and tuck in loose clothing.

While many wounds in the shop are cuts caused by sharp blades, there's the real risk of avulsion (skin being ripped off) from many of the fixed power tools, such as the lathe or drill press, where the tool catches a ring or watch and pulls it into the machine. Even though we're not working with fixed power tools in this class, there's always a risk when working with any tools.


Shop Safety

Fire Extinguisher

Wood is flammable, and wood dust is extremely flammable. Keeping a fire extinguisher easily accessible in your shop is smart and super easy. Locate your fire extinguisher somewhere visible, easily accessible, and preferably near your exit.

Egress

This might seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your exit path clear is something easily forgotten. Shops are busy places and can be cluttered up with raw materials and half-built projects. Take the time to organize your shop so that you always have a clear path in an out of your shop.

First Aid

Accidents happen, let's hope it was minor and you can get back to work. Keep a first aid kit in your shop and keep it stocked. At a minimum you should have bandages, a tourniquet, antiseptic, and eye drops. A more comprehensive first aid kit is never a bad thing, so go crazy making sure you've got the best first aid possible, your injuries will thank you later for it.

Now that we have the boring safety stuff out of the way...


Before We Start...

Keep these things in mind as you progress through the class:

  • We all make mistakes.
    Learn from what happened and change your approach next time. Also, try not to obsess about small imperfections in your work, chances are you’re the only one who will notice them!

  • Take your time.
    Woodworking is incredibly satisfying, so enjoy the process - the smells, how the wood feels, and how it reacts while you are making. I learn new things about wood all the time, and taking your time with projects allows the journey to be just as enjoyable as the destination.

  • Have fun!
    There can be frustrating times when something is not working. Remember that you’re learning something new and that's to be expected, most times you can start over or fix a piece and you'll realize it not a big deal. Take breaks and examine your work objectively, and remember that with practice things get easier; You'll be a pro in no time!

  • Ask for help.
    We’re all learning new things, so talking about your project to another hobbyist or expert can be a very rewarding exchange. There's an entire community at Instructables with knowledge to share that would love to be part of your project, and that includes me! Ask for help if you need it, you’ll be happy you did!

Ready to get started? Let's go to the shop!

CLASS PROJECT

Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project