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Curated quality minimalist tool list for a beginner woodworker

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tibi

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Hello,
I would like to apologise for a long post and using metric units only in my post.

I have started my woodworking hobby recently and I would like to set up my shop. I have decided for spacial and practical reasons to use only hand tools (except for powered hand drill – unless there is any obvious advantage to use brace and auger bits instead). I currently have a very limited space, but I plan to build myself a 4x4m shop in the garden in the future. I like the quietness, dustlessness and finesse that go with the hand tools. Conversely, I do not like the dust and noise that is connected to the power tools (and my neighbours would not like them either)

My woodworking motivation is very simple. It is a therapy after a day in a fast paced and stressful job. Time to finish any individual project for me is not an issue, so I am not obviously concerned about speed. My objective is to build and replace every piece of MDF furniture in our house with a bespoke one, that will be made by myself and will be made of solid hardwood. I have the rest of my life to finish this project. And also to build a few tools along the way (i.e. hand planes, spokeshaves, panel gauges, etc.). My grandfather was also a hobbyist woodworker and his father, my great-grand father was a chief woodworker by profession, who was in charge of 30 craftsmen in the workshop 60 years ago. Unfortunately, he died before I was born, so I could not get any knowledge of him.

I would like to buy a set of quality hand tools and measuring tools, that will last me a lifetime and I will pass them to my son, if he shows interest in woodworking in the future. He is quite uncertain yet if woodworking feels right for him, but I cannot blame him, as he is only one year old.

My approach to woodworking is to buy only the quality tools and have only those tools that are absolutely necessary to get the job done. Having full shelves of dozens of planes and other woodworking instruments in multiple instances of the same kind does not appeal to me. Also I do not want to own tools, that I will use once every other decade for a special purpose.I do want to build a kind of furniture for which I have tools for, not to dream of the next tool that I need to buy to feel well equipped for a short while, until the next shiny tool comes along.

I would like to have those tools, that are absolutely necessary to get the job done in a reasonable manner (i.e. I do not want to dimension all my wood with a block plane or a chisel, just to be called a minimalist)

I would like to ask here more experienced hand tool woodworkers what tools should I buy in the first batch, second batch and last batch and which tools are absolutely necessary if I only want to have a minimal toolkit that will cover 80% of woodworking needs. I will regret the 20% that I will not be able to produce with the given toolkit.

I would prefer to use Japanese saws, because I have one and it is easier to start a cut with and has a thinner kerf. And I can use maybe one ryoba and one dozuki instead of 5 different western saws to get the job done. I would like to have a big saw maybe 300 mm Ryoba that will help me cross cut and rip cut the wood quickly, and then I will use a shooting board to get it precisely square.

Types of joints that I would like to do: mortise & tenon, dovetails, dados and their variations. I would do almost no ornaments or curved pieces and no moldings. Size of furniture that I would like to build is up to 2 meters in length or width including beds, chests of drawers, all kinds of tables, storage furniture, bookshelves, etc.

Tools that I currently own to get me started:

- Pine wood for a small workbench 1,5x0,6m, that I would like to build next year that would fit into my current limited space 2x3m. After I build my own shop 4x4m, I would like to build a bespoke beech workbench, - once I have more experience.

- One Stanley Fatmax Japanese saw of low quality 7TPI and 18TPI, that I would like to replace with something better and faster

- Stanley no.4 and no.5, wooden scrub plane made by Czech company Pinie (with size as no.4 Stanley), One old beech jointer plane inherited from my great grand father with a lot of worm holes inside (I would like to buy another wooden jointer plane from Pinie or build myself one). Also I have some other old bespoke inherited hand planes with single irons, worn out mouths that also serve as worm dwellings.
- set of 3 chisels – 8 mm, 14 mm and 20 mm (cheap ones)
- diamond sharpening stones (240,600,1500) and water stone (1000/4000)
- honing guide that has a narrow wheel and makes a deep groove into my water stone if I sharpen too enthusiastically
- card scraper, rasp, files, power drill and bits
- low quality 150 mm combination square, 300 mm, 600 mm ruler, 600x400 mm try square
- some other small tools

- I also have a Makita Thickness planer, Bosch electric hand plane and Makita Circular saw, all of which I had bought when I had thought that I would build a bigger shop and have powered equipment. Once I feel that I do not need those tools and my skills are good enough to build quality furniture with hand tools only, I will sell them.

Can you please help me curate a list of tools that I need to buy - maybe with some examples of good brands. I do not need high end tools, but tools that are reliable enough to be called precise in right hands and sturdy enough that they can last a lifetime or two (except for disposable blades of Japanese saws).

Thank you very much for your insight.
 

billw

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Read The Anarchist's Toolchest. You can pick and choose what specific tool you'll buy, it gives you a very good idea of what is *really* needed rather than desired. I loved reading it and I've significantly cut down my use of Ebay since then.
 

grumpycorn

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Welcome!

I'd second the Anarchist's toolchest, it hasn't necessarily reduced by ebay purchases, but they're a lot more targeted!). I also got a book called 'hand tool essentials' by popular woodworking. It's just a collection of magazine articles, but I found it really useful as a basic overview of how tools function and I do find myself going back to it a fair bit

Paul Seller's youtube videos are quite handy for how to use handtools effectively to produce the joints you want to practice and how to restore / set them up.
 

Cabinetman

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You seem to be light on one or two essential pieces for marking out,
Good you have a try square, check to see that it is square.
You need a marking knife, right or left handed.
A marking gauge.
A mortise gauge.
A sliding bevel, I personally like the Japanese style in cast aluminium and you turn the knob on the end to tighten it
I have an engineers marking spike, sorry I don’t know what it’s called. But I use it a lot.
A pin punch
A pin hammer- Stanley are as good as any.
A hammer.
A mallet.
Small and medium wooden handled cabinet makers screwdrivers
None of these need to be particularly expensive, you can do perfectly good woodwork with well made inexpensive tools.
I applaud your ambition and wish you the very best of luck. Personally I wouldn’t do without my planer thicknesser, you will need a good solid bench, and I recommend (as well as a good vice say a 52 or 53 Record) try Gramercy holdfasts, I think the only place you can get them in Europe is Germany but they will make life very much more easy Ian
 
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Jameshow

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Narex chisels

Veritas / Clifton / lie Nealson planes.
Or s/h record / Stanley

Saws???

Cheers James
 

Trainee neophyte

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I would approach it differently: only buy the tools you need to complete your current project. That way you never buy anything you don't need, but each project should need less tool buying as you slowly build your collection.
 

tibi

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Thank you very much for all your answers. I will definitely check The Anarchist's Toolchest. I am currently reading the Anarchist Workbench, which can be downloaded free as PDF from Lost Art Press. I like Chris ' style so I will check his other book. I already watch videos of people like Paul Sellers, David Charlesworth, Chris Schwarz, Rob Cosman and Tom Fidgen.

I would like to purposefully limit my selection of tools that I own or want to acquire - that would force me to become a better woodworker more than drooling over online woodworking shops and desiring more tools.

The only power tool than cannot be easily replaced by a single hand tool is probably a router. As my limited knowledge tells me, I would need a separate plane or set of planes to substitute each router bit. But for now, I would like to only do a small radius for rounding the edges of legs or tabletops. I do not know if that can be done precisely enough with a block plane or I need a speciality plane for this.
 

Awac

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If you are going to work exclusively with hand tools, can I ask about your sharpening knowledge? If good then ignore my recommendations. If you can't sharpen well, you will not produce anything of quality, and it will frustrate you.
The complete guide to sharpening-Leonard lee
The perfect edge-Ron Hock


I notice you are in Slovakia, I use two excellent German tool retailers which might be better postage costs.. Get the Dictum catalogue, it really is a great guide to prices of quality tools (warning, you will see things that you didn't realise you needed...! I am a tool alcoholic...).



I also like carving spoons and I think this is a great way to get into woodworking. You pick up/get/find/steal small pieces of different wood and it really teaches you how different wood behaves and feels, also strengthens your hands and can be done anywhere. If you feel this is for you, get this book.

Swedish Carving Techniques -Wille Sundqvist

I love working with hand tools, and love using planes, BUT I would not get rid of my Thicknesser....don't use it much, but when I do....I am with cabinet man on that!
 

Awac

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You seem to be light on one or two essential pieces for marking out,
Good you have a try square, check to see that it is square.
You need a marking knife, right or left handed.
A marking gauge.
A mortise gauge.
A sliding bevel, I personally like the Japanese style in cast aluminium and you turn the knob on the end to tighten it
I have an engineers marking spike, sorry I don’t know what it’s called. But I use it a lot.
A pin punch
A pin hammer- Stanley are as good as any.
A hammer.
A mallet.
Small and medium wooden handled cabinet makers screwdrivers
None of these need to be particularly expensive, you can do perfectly good woodwork with well made inexpensive tools.
I applaud your ambition and wish you the very best of luck. Personally I wouldn’t do without my planer thicknesser, you will need a good solid bench, and I recommend (as well as a good vice say a 52 or 53 Record) try Gramercy holdfasts, I think the only place you can get them in Europe is Germany but they will make life very much more easy Ian
With you on the thicknesser, you would have to pry it off me....
 

tibi

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If you are going to work exclusively with hand tools, can I ask about your sharpening knowledge? If good then ignore my recommendations. If you can't sharpen well, you will not produce anything of quality, and it will frustrate you.
The complete guide to sharpening-Leonard lee
The perfect edge-Ron Hock


I notice you are in Slovakia, I use two excellent German tool retailers which might be better postage costs.. Get the Dictum catalogue, it really is a great guide to prices of quality tools (warning, you will see things that you didn't realise you needed...! I am a tool alcoholic...).



I also like carving spoons and I think this is a great way to get into woodworking. You pick up/get/find/steal small pieces of different wood and it really teaches you how different wood behaves and feels, also strengthens your hands and can be done anywhere. If you feel this is for you, get this book.

Swedish Carving Techniques -Wille Sundqvist

I love working with hand tools, and love using planes, BUT I would not get rid of my Thicknesser....don't use it much, but when I do....I am with cabinet man on that!
To my sharpening knowledge, I know the tools, the procedures and I have tried several schools of sharpening. I can get thin shavings with my planes, but I cannot say if this is the sharpest I can get, as I have nothing to compare to. I have never been face to face with a woodworker who can show me what really sharp is. I have 1000/4000 waterstone and I have used sandpaper for lower grits. However I do not have a wheel grinder yet and one of my plane blades is out of square a bit. So I want to remedy this once I buy a grinder. It would take ages on the water stone.

Thank you very much for links on those sites. I know them both already and their shipping is at least half the price than when buying from UK. I would like to buy tools in larger batches in order to save on shipping, so I need to divide the tools that I want to buy into bigger batches , e.g. one batch per 200 €. And I will buy a new batch every 3-6 months.

I am not quite sure of the Dictum tools quality, because they have their own brand Dick, they sell hand saws, planes, etc. As far as I know their Dick planes are made in China by Quangsheng, so they must be at least of some decent quality,because other brands like Woodriver or Luban of Quangsheng get positive reviews. But I do not know who are manufacturers of other tools that are sold by the Dick brand.
 

Ttrees

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Sounds like you have near enough to get to work.
I would look out for long ruler for no more than a tenner locally if you can get a nice one, I was surprised to see them for sale in Homebase for cheap.
Not essential though.
I would buy a nice 150mm engineers square for a tenner from Axi, and get some marking gauges.
The next thing might be on the list to buy is a worklight.
I like the old style angle poise lamps and picked up three of them on the bay
recently, been looking for them for a long while.
I haven't seen them new anywhere.

A workbench and I don't mean a workmate, might be an idea to go look around for one as you might pick it up for the price of the vice alone.
Failing that and needing something now, I would look out for a fire door from a skip, any rigid smooth surfaced door or whatever will do.
You could put it on trestles and affix an apron on it to stop a thin door or similar countertop sagging.
Screenshot-2020-10-29 All Replies on Work bench smack down LumberJocks com ~ woodworking commu...png


Here's one of the angle poise/articulated/long reach/folding arm/architects lamp.
If you see one for around a tenner snap it up, it will likely have no base, but easy to make something like Cosman's, I made a plywood block with a mouth the same thickness as that lab countertop.
and don't be fooled by the new ones from the Far East, if the pictures have differing designs and false measurements, all those are teeny
2 - Copy.JPG
SAM_3989.JPG



Tom
 
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Awac

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I would approach it differently: only buy the tools you need to complete your current project. That way you never buy anything you don't need, but each project should need less tool buying as you slowly build your collection.

OK so you can sharpen, how well can you do it, I expect we all ask ourselves that! Then decide what you want to build, look at the list, start making it and buy as you need. I think that is remarkable advice from a self confessed tool hoarder..
 

jcassidy

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+1 for buying as you need them. You appear to be taking a fairly sensible project-based approach, so your need of tools will be driven by the needs of the project you are starting.

An out of square plane edge is corrected by the lateral lever on the plane.
 

Cabinetman

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Sounds like you have near enough to get to work.
I would look out for long ruler for no more than a tenner locally if you can get a nice one, I was surprised to see them for sale in Homebase for cheap.
Not essential though.
I would buy a nice 150mm engineers square for a tenner from Axi, and get some marking gauges.
The next thing might be on the list to buy is a worklight.
I like the old style angle poise lamps and picked up three of them on the bay
recently, been looking for them for a long while.
I haven't seen them new anywhere.

A workbench and I don't mean a workmate, might be an idea to go look around for one as you might pick it up for the price of the vice alone.
Failing that and needing something now, I would look out for a fire door from a skip, any rigid smooth surfaced door or whatever will do.
You could put it on trestles and affix an apron on it to stop a thin door or similar countertop sagging.
View attachment 97284

Here's one of the angle poise/articulated/long reach/folding arm/architects lamp.
If you see one for around a tenner snap it up, it will likely have no base, but easy to make something like Cosman's, I made a plywood block with a mouth the same thickness as that lab countertop.
and don't be fooled by the new ones from the Far East, if the pictures have differing designs and false measurements, all those are teeny
2 - Copy.JPG
View attachment 97285


Tom
Tom, I’ve noticed before a couple of times, you’re not reading the thread me old fruit, he is in Slovakia., sorry for picking on you but it happens a lot on here. Ian
 

Ttrees

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Fair point Ian
I missed that point that Dictum tools could be the biggest outlet in Slovakia.
It's only recently that one has to take this into account, I must be more thorough in future!
There must be something like Homebase and maybe also an engineers supplies close to Tibi, that he might get a good long stout stainless ruler or two from
and some other bits and bobs, for a reasonable price.
Pick up as you need kinda things.
If a certain job is down the road and needs a tool, and one can only afford secondhand, then planning is a good idea.

This probably makes buying used tools like planes on ebay uk a bit more troublesome to find a seller that has cheaper postage than the rest.
There maybe cheap alternatives like a parcel motel service for Slovakian's to use?

As for new..
I would bet that quality controlled tools from Soba might be available from Dictum for a cheap engineers square or verniers for example.
I imagine for that price that there could be seconds to be found, maybe not so much these days with everything CNC'd...
I suppose this kind of thing would relate to cast iron or other soft metals rather than precision machined blanks of tool steel.
Something middle of the road, rather than the absolute cheapest.

On a slightly different note Stavros Gakos in Poland might be a youtuber or other forum to follow also, as there could be folks in the same boat regarding tool sourcing.


All the best
Tom
 

timothyedoran

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I'm might be about 2 steps ahead of you in the wood working game. I have a small space, 3x4m which is also my home office and bike shed. I use only.hand tools too.

I think that Paul Sellers is my guru, but often watch his stuff at double speed. I really like that he is not a pine snob. A softwood workbench may well outlive you!

For tools I have:
Stanley scalpel for marking with, essential for accuracy
A combination square
A no 4 plane
Set of chisels
Couple of marking guages
Hand saws, panel, tenon and a small pull saw.
Thor mallet
Hand electric drill
With that I am quite happy. My mate has a workshop full of machines and seems happy, but it's not for me. I enjoy the silence and knowledge that it's my skill that's doing the work. It's slower but I don't care.

I also have
Circular saw, hardly used
Belt sander, used to sand some floor boards but was also good to square a plane with a big nick in the blade.

I think I would like a band saw to help resize wood. Matthias Wandel has some plans for a homemade one that I'm dreaming of.
 

thick_mike

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The two most energy intensive and tedious processes in woodworking for me are rip sawing and dimensioning rough sawn lumber. A bandsaw and a planer thicknesser Improves my enjoyment of hand tool woodworking Immeasurably.
 

tibi

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If you are going to work exclusively with hand tools, can I ask about your sharpening knowledge? If good then ignore my recommendations. If you can't sharpen well, you will not produce anything of quality, and it will frustrate you.
The complete guide to sharpening-Leonard lee
The perfect edge-Ron Hock


I notice you are in Slovakia, I use two excellent German tool retailers which might be better postage costs.. Get the Dictum catalogue, it really is a great guide to prices of quality tools (warning, you will see things that you didn't realise you needed...! I am a tool alcoholic...).



I also like carving spoons and I think this is a great way to get into woodworking. You pick up/get/find/steal small pieces of different wood and it really teaches you how different wood behaves and feels, also strengthens your hands and can be done anywhere. If you feel this is for you, get this book.

Swedish Carving Techniques -Wille Sundqvist

I love working with hand tools, and love using planes, BUT I would not get rid of my Thicknesser....don't use it much, but when I do....I am with cabinet man on that!
+1 for buying as you need them. You appear to be taking a fairly sensible project-based approach, so your need of tools will be driven by the needs of the project you are starting.

An out of square plane edge is corrected by the lateral lever on the plane.
Sounds like you have near enough to get to work.
I would look out for long ruler for no more than a tenner locally if you can get a nice one, I was surprised to see them for sale in Homebase for cheap.
Not essential though.
I would buy a nice 150mm engineers square for a tenner from Axi, and get some marking gauges.
The next thing might be on the list to buy is a worklight.
I like the old style angle poise lamps and picked up three of them on the bay
recently, been looking for them for a long while.
I haven't seen them new anywhere.

A workbench and I don't mean a workmate, might be an idea to go look around for one as you might pick it up for the price of the vice alone.
Failing that and needing something now, I would look out for a fire door from a skip, any rigid smooth surfaced door or whatever will do.
You could put it on trestles and affix an apron on it to stop a thin door or similar countertop sagging.
View attachment 97284

Here's one of the angle poise/articulated/long reach/folding arm/architects lamp.
If you see one for around a tenner snap it up, it will likely have no base, but easy to make something like Cosman's, I made a plywood block with a mouth the same thickness as that lab countertop.
and don't be fooled by the new ones from the Far East, if the pictures have differing designs and false measurements, all those are teeny
2 - Copy.JPG
View attachment 97285


Tom
Thank you very much. I will definitely consider a good light, as I have a very decent overhead light, but I need to be positioned in only one way to get the light. Multiple lights will definitely help.
 
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