It's certainly a common question, and while "buy them as you discover you need them" is not a bad strategy -- especially since the answer depends on what kinds of projects you want to tackle -- there are some basics, and some things which are more useful than they may appear at first glance, and those which you can live without but which really do make the job so much easier that...

But this is definitely an opinion/poll kind of question, and I don't think we want to open that can of worms right now. If ever.

On the other hand, if someone has a really good reference for this.. I know SE dislikes offsite pointers, but it might be good to have a canned answer on the site just to let us refer folks to it.

Just a thought. May be a silly thought.

3 Answers 3


The best answer for a particular person is going to depend on various factors.

  1. the amount of space available, having a detached 100 ft² garage is going to support a quite different tool progressions than doing it out of a Tokio apartment.

  2. budget, coupled with possibility of just abandoning woodworking altogether and the drive to build your own tools plus the source/price of the wood he will be working with.

  3. Planned projects, a hobbyist woodworker without a project is more likely to leave the tools to rust than one that has actual short-term goals (beyond building a set of jigs and tools).

  • All true. Hence my hesitation; answering it properly in writing needs a library.
    – keshlam
    Mar 20, 2015 at 1:27
  • Not every woodworker would need the same set of tools either. The logical progression of tool acquisition would vary greatly. Personally I get my tools based on how go the sale is at the local store!
    – Matt
    Mar 20, 2015 at 2:15

This is the kind of question is really not on topic unless it's specific.

Off topic, and unsalvageable without a complete rewrite:

What order should I buy my tools in?

On topic:

I am building a deck, and need to cut 4x4 and 2x10 boards, plus some smaller boards. What tools should I first buy to do this?

On topic, mostly:

I'm looking to get into hobbyist woodworking, to build toys and some small furniture. What are the core tools I should own regardless of exactly what project I work on?

The latter would probably want some further clarification, into a completely on topic question:

I'm looking to get into hobbyist woodworking, to build toys and some small furniture. Would a table saw and a table mounted jigsaw or miter saw be necessary for this kind of work, or would I be better off with handheld tools?

I think the former version would be okay, but the latter question is very good as it gets right to the core of what they need to know.

It's important to get people to include all of the context of their question. Otherwise you end up with a chameleon that doesn't help anyone and either gets no answers or frustrates the answerers.

  • Good observations; thanks for helping to sharpen the boundary!
    – keshlam
    Mar 20, 2015 at 14:38

I agree with Joe's answer about the need for specific questions.

We are likely to have several questions about this topic, such as What minimum amount of equipment is required to start turning bowls?

I think we should have a tag for this topic. It would help people compare the equipment needs of various kinds of woodworking, and prioritize items that are likely to be useful for multiple projects.

What would be a good tag name? The tag name should be chosen carefully, because users reasonably expect that tagged topics are in the site's scope. The tag wiki can discuss what kinds of questions are welcome in the tag, but very few new users are likely to read the tag wiki.

  • [tool-recommendations], probably?
    – Joe
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:16
  • 1
    @Joe -- "Tool recommendations" also suggests questions like "I need a band saw. Can anyone recommend a good make and model?"
    – Jasper
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:18
  • Sure, but from the point of view of 'what will people type to find tags', I can't think of any way around 'recommendations'. The tag wiki and the excerpt can help with that to some extent, and otherwise we simply close them.
    – Joe
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:20
  • 1
    Perhaps [tool-priorities] as the tag, and "For questions about what tools are needed to do a particular kind of project. Great questions discuss how budget, shop space, and other constraints affect tool priorities." as the tag wiki excerpt. The excerpt is the tool-tip that appears when users mouse-over the tag.
    – Jasper
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:21
  • Considering the tag formatting guidelines, should the tag be singular (such as [tool-priority]) or plural (such as [tool-priorities])? My inclination is plural, because most projects need multiple tools, and the tool purchases and/or rentals need to be prioritized.
    – Jasper
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:27
  • I personally don't find tool priorities to be very helpful, in part because I don't think people will use it and in part because I don't think people will use it right; you'll end up with bad questions for that just as for recommendations.
    – Joe
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:31
  • 1
    If we did use it, I think it should be [tool-priorities] as it is an obvious plural concept (not just one priority, but a list of them].
    – Joe
    Mar 20, 2015 at 18:32
  • Here's are some self-descriptive but wordy tag ideas: tools-needed-to-do-X, what-tools-do-i-need
    – rob Mod
    Apr 13, 2015 at 18:10

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