Woodworking on a budget: How to find cheap tools


Woodworking can be as expensive or cheap as you make it. The price you pay is normally due to speed, ease of use, efficiency, power, mobility, accuracy, and convenience.

I am not here to say that you should go the cheap route. However, I will explain how to get into woodworking with very little money, how to find cheap tools, and how to start a workshop on a budget.

Directory

  1. How to get into woodworking cheaply
  2. The cheapest route
  3. The Recommended route
  4. The Cheaper route
  5. How to get cheap woodworking tools

How to get into woodworking cheaply

The cheapest way to get into woodworking is by using hand tools. However, my recommended list of starting woodworking on a budget includes a circular saw, a power drill, and a pocket hole set.

The Cheapest route

Starting cost: $30 – 60

Tools:

  • Back saw
  • Chisel
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps

Features:

  • Only hand joinery
  • Only manual cuts
  • Sanding by hand

Go to my list

My Recommendation

Starting cost: $110-150

Tools:

  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Pockethole set
  • Screws
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps

Features:

  • Pocket hole joinery
  • Power cuts
  • Sanding by hand

Go to my list

The Cheaper route

Starting cost: $50 – 90

Tools:

  • Jigsaw
  • Chisel set
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps
  • Sanding block

Features:

  • Only hand joinery
  • Power cuts
  • Sanding by hand

Go to my list

The cheapest route

Starting cost: $30 to $36

Starting cost: $30 – 60

Tools:

  • Back saw
  • Chisel
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps

Features:

  • Only hand joinery
  • Only manual cuts
  • Sanding by hand

Purchase Products: The cheapest route

The cheapest way to get into woodworking is by using hand tools. To get started, all you need is a back saw, chisel, wood glue, sandpaper, and clamps.

As mentioned before, you are paying for convenience, efficiency, and accuracy. To get started with woodworking this cheaply, you will have to create your joinery by hand. I do not recommend this method for beginner woodworkers because hand joinery is difficult to master. You will be dependent on joints like dado, box, and dovetail joints.

You will not be able to use pocket hole joints to create your joinery.

Additionally, It is very time consuming to rip cut a longer piece of wood using hand tool. You will also not get the same accuracy in the cut as if you were to use a higher end power tool like a table or miter saw.

You will use the back saw to do the majority of your cutting. You will use this tool to cut the wood to length for your project.

The chisel will then be used to create the joinery like half lap and dovetail joints. You will then use sandpaper to sand all of your individual pieces. Lastly, the wood glue and clamps will hold everything in place.

It is also very helpful to have a combination square, however you may not need to purchase one if you have something around the house that you know is a 90 degree angle, like a 2×2 inch wooden block.

The culprit

This is the cheapest way you can get into woodworking, but only using these tools will take a lot of skill. Starting woodworking already has a steep learning curve, and by limiting yourself to these tools, you will make learning more difficult.

Potential additional tools

If your budget is a little higher then I would recommend the following hand tools

  • Hack saw
  • Coping saw
  • Marking gauge
  • Combination square
  • Sanding block

Hack saw

Cost: $10-50

A hack saw is used to quickly cut wood to a rough length. It is not ideal for accuracy but can be used to rip cut longer pieces of wood more quickly in relation to the back saw.

A really cheap hacksaw will not be as effective at quickly cutting wood. A really effective hack saw will be well over $50 and likely well over your budget if you want to start woodworking cheaply.

If you only want to use hand tools for your projects, then a hack saw is pretty necessary. However, if you will use any form of power saw then you will not need this tool.

Coping saw

Cost: $10-50

A coping saw is effective at cutting curves in wood and cutting out other forms of joinery. Using a coping saw makes it much easier to cut out dovetail joints.

A coping saw is necessary if you want to cut curves or in the wood and advanced forms of joinery.

Marking gauge

Cost: $15-30

A miter gauge is every effective at making joinery creation easier. With a miter gauge you will set a specific depth that will be easily transferred to the other wood piece. You will not have to do any estimation or math and your joinery will measure up flawlessly every time.

Combination square

Cost: $8-20

A form of square is essential to woodworking to ensure that your right angles are actually 90 degrees. However, it is not required that you purchase one. As stated before, if you have a wooden block or something that you know is 90 degrees at the house, then you do not need to purchase a combination square.

A combination square is good to get 90 degree angles along with other angles. If you are creating joinery that requires angles other than 90 degrees, like a dovetail joint, then a combination square is definitely necessary

Sanding block

Cost: $3-10

You can always sand by hand. But not only is it hard on your hands, your hands are not flat. A sanding block is a very cheap item that you can purchase that will save you time and will result in a better end result.

The Recommended route

Starting Cost: ~ $120

Tools:

  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Pockethole set
  • Screws
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps

Features:

  • Pocket hole joinery
  • Power cuts
  • Sanding by hand

Purchase Products: Recommended route

The cheapest possible way to get started with woodworking is by using only hand tools and by creating joinery by hand.

There are three issues with this. One, creating joinery by hand is a more difficult woodworking skill. Two, sawing by hand is very time consuming and is not efficient for larger projects. Three, creating larger projects will require an array of hand tools which can add up in cost.

The list

My recommended list is to purchase a circular saw ($35-70), power drill ($25-70), kreg pocket hole set ($30), screws, wood glue, sand paper, and clamps.

A circular saw is the most versatile saw. It can create rip and cross cuts, miters and beveled cuts, and it is very accurate. There are better, more expensive saws and cheaper saws available. In my other article, I explain why the circular saw is the best saw for the beginner woodworker.

Sandpaper will then be used to sand all of the wood pieces prior to glue up.

You will use the power drill with the pocket hole set to create joinery. Is a very easy, quick, and relatively strong form of joinery. You will then use the screws, wood glue, and clamps to hold everything together.

A cheaper route

If this set up is a little expensive, then you do have a few alternatives to make everything cheaper.

Tools:

  • Jigsaw
  • Chisel set
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps
  • Sanding block

Features:

  • Only hand joinery
  • Power cuts
  • Sanding by hand

Purchase Products: Cheaper route

Jig saw

Instead of getting a circular saw, you could purchase a jig saw which is slightly cheaper on average. A jigsaw is actually safer for beginner woodworkers, however, it is not as accurate or versatile as the circular saw.

If you would like to learn more about the safety and features of both of the saws, then you should check out my article “Safest saw for beginner DIYers: How to chose one”.

Chisel set

You can purchase a chisel set instead of a power drill, drill bits, and screws. The power drill, pocket hole set, and screws were used to create pocket hole joinery.

However, if you do not want to use pocket hole joints or if you want to use a cheaper method, then you can create hand joinery by using a chisel.

You can get by by just using a chisel, however, it will make your life a lot easier if you also purchased a miter gauge and a hand saw.

Possible additional Tools

My recommended list is a budget list to get started with woodworking. However, there are many additional useful tools that you can add if your budget allows.

  • Random orbital sander: $30 – 100
  • Combination square: $8 – 20
  • Miter or Table saw: $100 – 600
  • Router: $150 – 300

Random orbital sander

A random orbital sander is almost essential to woodworking. The reason why I did not put it on the list is because it not necessary. You can sand by hand or sanding block, but a sander will save you so much time, effort, and energy.

Combination square

You can build your own square or find something around the house that is 90 degree angles. However, a combination square is an easy tool that not only allows you to measure 90 degree angles but additional angles.

A combination square is great if you want to create certain forms of joinery, miters, and beveled cuts.

Miter or Table saw

A miter saw or a table saw is a good additional saw to have for beginner woodworkers, if you need it. A miter saw is good for cutting miters and bevels, while a table saw is good for making accurate cuts for wood pieces that a miter saw cannot handle

Router

A router is a tool that can create designs and some forms of joinery in your wood pieces. The use of a router can push your project over the edge to make your work look professional.

Read On

Below I will discuss two simple ways to get cheap woodworking tools and the Pros and Cons for each method. With this you will be able to saw money and possibly purchase additional tools with the same budget

How to get cheap woodworking tools

Now that you know how to get started with woodworking on a budget, I will now explain how to get cheaper woodworking tools.

There are two main ways that you can accomplish this. To find cheap woodworking you can either purchase the very basic version of the tool or second hand tools.

  • Option One: Purchase basic tools
  • Option Two: Purchase second hand tools

Both options have their pros and cons that I will discuss below

Option One: Basic tools

You can purchase the basic option for the tools that you need. For example, you can purchase a power drill without variable torque and speed. You can purchase a circular saw with lower HP and a smaller blade size.

Additionally, you can purchase cheaper brand name tools, like tools from harbor freight.

The pros

  • Don’t have to worry about scammers
    • When you purchase from hardware stores, you will not have to worry about getting ripped offed or scammed by individual sellers.

The cons

  • You get what you pay for
    • If you purchase a tool with a smaller blade, lower HP, or no option for variable speed, then you will have some limitations to what you can accomplish.

One of the best examples that I like to give is the variable speed and torque option on power drills. You can save a little money by getting a standard speed and torque power drill. However, when you are working with different wood types and thicknesses, having a variable speed will save a lot of your projects from split wood.

Option two: Second hand tools

You can get second hand tools from friends, family, and resell websites. Some common websites include craigslist, eBay, Facebook marketplace, and offer up. Many sellers are selling that they do not use or need anymore.

The pros

  • Can still get additional features
    • Normally you can find cheaper items for less without sacrificing additional features.

The cons

  • Possibility of getting scammed
    • When buying second hand tools, there is a possibility that you can get scammed
    • The scammer may intentionally try to scam you by taking your money. Or you may buy an item that you do not feel is how the seller described.
    • To prevent this, you should purchase from a legit site with buyer protection and not give any personal information directly to the seller. Let the site handle the transactions and only communicate through site approved sources.
  • Tool may not last as long
    • Because the tool has been used, it may not last as long as a brand new tool.
    • Some sellers may have taken good care of the tool before hand to where it works almost as new.

Rachel

My name is Rachel Blanding and I am a woodworker. I started woodworking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mainly create and refurbish furniture and create art. In this site I will share with you the knowledge I have gained over the years, and what worked for me and what didn't.

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