Last Updated on 2021-02-10 by Harry Masterton
My small woodworking shop has given me many years of pleasure and I have whiled away many happy hours making items that became treasured gifts, or useful additions to my own home.
Woodworking with hand tools in particular helps me to relax, and often when I need to give my mind a break from a problem and find fresh solutions, I spend a few hours building something new.
When I first started woodworking I did not need an extensive collection of tools to start creating a new wood working project. There is however an essential list of woodworking hand tools that helped me to get started in the woodworking hobby.
The layout of my small woodworking shop is also a critical part of my success, since that improves my productivity and the enjoyment of the woodworking hobby.
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- 1 Small Woodworking Shop Tools List
- 2 Selecting my Woodworking Workbench
- 3 Woodworkers Hand Planes.
- 4 Set Of Woodworkers Chisels.
- 5 Marking Gauge and Square
- 6 Wood Saws
- 7 How To Buy Good Second Hand Woodworking Tools
- 8 My Small Woodworking Shop Layout
- 9 Small Woodworking Shop Setup In A Garage.
Small Woodworking Shop Tools List
My Basic List of Woodworking Tools
There are about five tools in my workshop that I couldn't do without. I've used these on simple builds that only take a few hours and larger projects that take me through several weekends.
These are my five basic woodworking hand tools:
- A woodworkers workbench
- A Hand Plane – A No 5 Bench Plane and a No 4 Smoothing Plane
- Set Of Woodworkers Chisels
- A Woodworking Marking Gauge
- Woodworking Hand Saws
Additional Small Woodworking Wood Shop Essentials
I make my work easier, and maintain my tools with a few supplies:
- Wax to make cutting smoother and protect each saw
- Oil to keep my tools from rusting
- Dust cloths
- Dust masks
I created a budget for tools, separate from other costs for setting up the shop. When I started looking around at some of the prices, at first I thought I wouldn't be able to buy everything I wanted. I even considered working on a solid piece of ply board mounted on an old table for a while, and temporarily removing the workbench from my list.
Skimping on your woodworking bench however would not be the best way to start setting up your small woodworking shop the right way
How Many Woodworking Tools do I Really Need?
This is a question I ask myself whenever I browse my favorite store. Everything looks good, and I can see all of them proudly displayed in my shop.
Fortunately, the mental picture reminds me that I don't have enough room for everything. Even if I did, have the room and the budget to go with it it’s important when you first start out not to buy things you think you need. Only buy tools that help you build the projects you want to get started with.
Selecting my Woodworking Workbench
A good workbench will last years, and if you buy the very best you can afford a well looked after woodworking bench will last you a lifetime
I chose a workbench that would fit my small woodworking shop layout and be a good fit for the projects I had in mind. I also need to consider:
Height – Overall dimensions – Type of material – Width – Stability
The big question to ask yourself is ‘am I going to buy my woodworking bench or look for woodworking bench plans and build my own?’
There are some great tutorials on YouTube and Instructables has a great range of free Woodworkers Bench plans. Building a real woodworking bench is my favorite.
If you’re going to buy a bench then the first thing to do is set your budget.
Firstly let’s examine the options.
- Make your own bench using a set of woodworking bench plans as discussed above. Depending on the size of the wood bench and the quality of lumber you use and the care you take this is going to cost you at most $200/$300 plus your time.
- Buy a professional grade woodworking bench like the ever popular Sjobergs woodworking bench. The Sjoberg Elite 2000 whilst it is a superb bench will set you back $2300.
- Buy a portable folding woodworking bench like the excellent WORX Pegasus Multi-Function Work Table or the Keter Folding Table Work Bench. This will be an excellent starter wood bench and will not be redundant when you progress to a full sized bench. You’ll always find a use for it around the home and yard or DIY jobs.
A Folding Work Bench will have a multitude of uses as a saw horse, support for larger projects in the workshop and for ad-hoc jobs that need doing around the house or yard when your main wood bench is otherwise occupied with a project.
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I wanted to buy two hand planes to start with, A No 5 Bench Plane and a No 4 Smoothing Plane. I can shape and straighten the wood with my bench plane and finish off with my smoothing plane, I didn’t have the budget for a power sander so this is a good beginners hand tool combination.
Later I added a low-angle jack plane to my tool collection because they are so versatile when it comes to squaring and trimming, particularly when working with end grain.
Good wood chisels are a joy to use. Watching the wood come out of a mortise joint with a good sharp chisel is so satisfying. Choose a set of 4 made from quality chrome vanadium steel with hardwood handles.
You’ll need ¼”, ½”, ¾” and 1”. Wood chisels range in price from $50/60 each for high end cabinet makers chisels to $15.98 for a starter set at the low end. Buy the very best you can afford.
My guess is that if you’re just starting out to set up your small woodworking shop you will want a good budget set of woodworking chisels that will give you a good start and last you a good few years.
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Marking Gauge and Square
OK so there are two woodworking tools here but they do go together.
Woodworkers marking gauge
There are two basic types of marking gauge, the pin marking gauge and the wheel marking gauge. With a traditional pin marking gauge the pin has to be at the correct angle to the wood or it will judder and cause an inaccurate line. The wood grain can also cause the pin to wander causing even more inaccuracies.
The wheel marking gauge cuts into the fibers of the wood giving a much more accurate and defined ‘cut’ ready for your chisel.
The woodworkers try square is one of those tools you use almost without thinking. If it’s good enough to be intuitive you’ll find a good square easy to use. To qualify the square should have a stainless steel blade that is marked in inches running reverse ways on each side of the blade.
Woodworkers squares to consider. The Swanson Speed Square Layout Tool – the Irwin Tools 12” Combination Square. And our favorite, the traditional Swanson Tool 8” Try Square with Hardwood Handle. There is just something about this square that looks good in a woodworkers shop and the price is amazing.
I like using hand saws because of the shear satisfaction of creating a good clean cut or a neat well fitting joint with a good woodworking saw. Plus, there's less of the dust associated with a stationary power saw.
When I selected my saws, I considered the type of wood I prefer to work with, and the texture of the cut I wanted. I bought two saws initially a good carpentry saw and a panel saw. I added a dovetail saw as my skills progressed.
For general carpentry and woodwork choose a 15” saw for precision cutting with 12 to 15 teeth per inch and a courser cut saw for large panels and thicker lumber.
How To Buy Good Second Hand Woodworking Tools
Should you buy second hand? I’ve bought some real dummies buying second hand. By rule of thumb now I look for high rated sellers on eBay who specialize in second hand tools. If I’m looking for something specific I use a very specific search using as much detail as possible.
If nothing comes up I will save that search then eBay will send me an email as soon as what I’m looking for is listed.
My local Weekend Flea market always has some really good sellers and I’ve picked up some real bargains.
Look for a flea market or tailgate sale in your area and go and browse. Just remember to go with a specific shopping list and don’t impulse buy!
Of late I’ve taken to looking in my local Facebook Market Place for second hand tools. The advantage of both Facebook and the local Flea Market is you can examine the tools and get to know the sellers.
My Small Woodworking Shop Layout
I did a sketch of my small woodworking shop layout and cut out small pieces of paper to represent everything I wanted, and then shifted those around until I was happy it would work.
This is a real back to basics approach but it really does work.
I like my space to be uncluttered. If I don't need a tool in the shop, I won't have it. My hand tools are kept on shelves near the workbench.
I have a couple of stationary power tools. I don't use them often, so they aren't close to my workbench. They're at the other end of the shop.
I have a small wood storage area in my shop. This is close enough to my workbench to allow for a smooth workflow. Oil and anything flammable are kept away from this area.
I placed my workbench near to the electrical outlets. I made sure nothing is between the workbench and outlets, because I don't want the cords getting tangled or rubbing against any sharp edges.
I planned to leave space all around my workbench if that was possible. This allows me to maneuver larger projects on the bench.
I left a clear path between the door and my workbench. This is primarily for safety reasons. I don't want to trip or collide with anything while carrying supplies inside, or moving quickly outside.
Small Woodworking Shop Setup In A Garage.
I used 80 square feet of space for my small woodworking shop. I knew that this much free space was available in my garage, and that I could easily store enough wood for my projects in that space.
It also meant I could easily reverse to the door with any wood I purchased. Moving finished projects that I was making for sale into a vehicle for delivery would also be easy.
There's enough ventilation in the garage. I can also open the workshop door, and the garage door for additional cooling. There's room to add ventilation in the future.
While selecting a space to set up my workshop, I assessed each potential area based on its:
- Closeness to living areas with noise and sound insulation a factor
- Potential for storage
- Access to electricity
- Natural light
- Convenience of unloading my lumber and supplies.
The small woodworking shop suits my needs currently, but there's room for changes to be made as I acquire more tools, and develop my designs.
The Most Common Problems Beginner Woodworkers Face Are Tool Selection & Workshop Space. For A Comprehensive Guide To Setting Up A Small Without A Horror Budget Including Tool List's Watch The Woodworking Shop Video
Even if you have a modest apartment, you can set up a woodworking shop where you can make your ideas and woodworking projects come to life. I hope that learning how I planned my small woodworking shop helps you to build the woodworking shop of your dreams and gets you started in this wonderful hobby.