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Essential shopping list for beginner cabinet maker

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guyr

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Hi all,

I’m a novice woodworker keen to learn some cabinet making techniques and some alcove cabinets, lounge bay window seat, kitchen table bench and alcove wardrobes.

I have general DIY tools inc. sander etc. have just replaced my drill, impact driver and bought a Festool TS55 with track. But what other essential tools and accessories should be on my shopping list? Weekend time is limited so I’m keen to be as efficient as I can be, but budget is limited.

Should I buy a dowel / biscuit jointer? If so will the cheaper ones do for my home use? Or just a dowel jig?
A router?
Shelf pin jig
Bracket jig
Corner clamps and regular longer clamps
Wood files, planer
trestles and worktop for cutting.
Space plugs for fitting cabinets to walls – any more good gadgets or gismos?
Finally can anyone recommend any specific books?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks a lot
 

Trevanion

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If I was looking to start cabinetmaking and planned on doing moulded stiles, rails and panels I would have a spindle moulder right at the very top of the list rather than a router. They’re far and above faster, better finish quality and arguably safer despite not looking it. Upfront cost of a spindle moulder is quite dear but you can pick up a cheap secondhand model like a Kity or Scheppach for around £300 with some tooling which is less than as a new decent router and table, instead of “bits” a spindle moulder takes larger cutters which leave a much nicer finish on the workpiece due to the larger arc of the cutter, and the tooling lasts far longer than router bits. It’s cheaper and massively better than a router table in the long run.
 

deema

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Take a look at Peter Millards superb uTube videos, (ten minute workshop) he’s also a contributor on here. He makes cabinets for a living and is generous in sharing how he does it with a very limited number of tools (not because he’s making do, rather it’s all he needs) and a very small workshop in London.
He has videos on how’s he made just about everything you mention.
Watch the ads to help keep him making his videos!
 

lurker

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Using what you already have, make yourself a pair of trestles.
The experience will give you all you need to make the kitchen table bench.

If you have a workshop then a solid bench is pretty much an essential.
 

woodbloke66

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guyr":36poqi9g said:
Hi all,

I’m a novice woodworker keen to learn some cabinet making techniques and some alcove cabinets, lounge bay window seat, kitchen table bench and alcove wardrobes.

I have general DIY tools inc. sander etc. have just replaced my drill, impact driver and bought a Festool TS55 with track. But what other essential tools and accessories should be on my shopping list? Weekend time is limited so I’m keen to be as efficient as I can be, but budget is limited.

Should I buy a dowel / biscuit jointer? If so will the cheaper ones do for my home use? Or just a dowel jig?
A router?
Shelf pin jig
Bracket jig
Corner clamps and regular longer clamps
Wood files, planer
trestles and worktop for cutting.
Space plugs for fitting cabinets to walls – any more good gadgets or gismos?
Finally can anyone recommend any specific books?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks a lot
None (or hardly any) of the tools you mention are worth buying when you're starting out. Lots of folk will have different views but generally buy the best you can afford so here's my list of the essential things you'll need to learn cabinet making handskills which is the basis of all good quality cabinet work. In no particular oder:
1. Measuring tools - 300mm and 1000mm rules. Decent tape measure for rough measuring, straight edges
2. Marking out tools - 150mm try square, marking knife, dovetail marking knife, a few marking gauges (min four) cutting gauge, mortice gauge, mitre set, sliding bevel gauge, 4H pencil, awl
3. Cutting tools - tenon saw, dovetail saw, coping and/or fret saw, No.4 smoother, No. 5 or 5.5 jack, No.7 jointer, block plane, shoulder plane, 4 bevel edge chisels. Set of lip n'spur drills and hand drill, countersink bit, Stanley knife, spokeshaves, card scraper
4. Striking tools - hammer, mallet, 'dead blow' assembly mallet, pin hammer
5. Clamping tools - G&F clamps, sash clamps, bench vice(s); lots required!
6. Bench - perhaps the most important tool of all. Solid top and as heavy as you can get or make.
7. Sharpening tools - crucial to any aspect of cabinet work. Without sharp tools you'll achieve nothing, so a system of honing chisels and plane irons that works for you. Some method of grinding back the bevel on plane and chisels when needed. Honing guide (if required), burnisher

This is about it, but I'm pretty sure there are a few I've missed - Rob
 

That would work

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100% agree with Woodbloke. If you don't get the handskills first you have no chance. So yes, get the measuring tools, marking tools, cutting tools holding tools, a solid simple bench with a big vice. Think of powered stuff as time savers rather than tools exactly.
 

AJB Temple

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My advice - go on a course. Spend your money on that. It will save you a LOT on wasted wood, wasted time and tools you don't need. There is a learning curve and a few short courses will stop you making mistakes and greatly elevate both skill and enthusiasm.
 

MikeG.

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I like woodbloke's list, but even that could be pared back quite severely for a beginner. I mean, I still don't have a shoulder plane despite making shoulders for 40 years. I reckon I'm just about ready for one. I don't even know what a dovetail gauge is, or why you need 2 marking knives or two rules. Leave out the deadblow hammer (hit a block of wood with a hammer), and I'd substitute a dovetail saw for a handsaw (a hardpoint crosscut saw is fine at the moment). I can't stress enough the importance of a bench, and if a bench is the first project, then you need some saw horses (I'd argue that saw horses are almost as important as a bench anyway).
 

woodbloke66

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MikeG.":2twowrdn said:
I like woodbloke's list, but even that could be pared back quite severely for a beginner. I mean, I still don't have a shoulder plane despite making shoulders for 40 years. I reckon I'm just about ready for one. I don't even know what a dovetail gauge is, or why you need 2 marking knives or two rules. Leave out the deadblow hammer (hit a block of wood with a hammer), and I'd substitute a dovetail saw for a handsaw (a hardpoint crosscut saw is fine at the moment). I can't stress enough the importance of a bench, and if a bench is the first project, then you need some saw horses (I'd argue that saw horses are almost as important as a bench anyway).
It's a fullish list Mike but agreed, some could be pared back. I don't use a shoulder plane for tenons but for me it's an indispensable bit of kit for stuff where I need to need to get right in close without the part of the plane body getting in the way...could be used for tenons though I'spose :D
Assuming that the OP wants to learn how to cut dovetails, a small spear point knife is required (or at least for me) to mark the pins from the tails. Two rules as the metre rule is essential but it's a real faff waving it around the 'shop when you need to measure 55mm (say). The 'deadblow' or white mallet needs one hand to use, a block of wood and a big 'ammer needs two...simples :D I don't think I mentioned a dovetail saw but I did say tenon saw, but again, if dovetails are on the cards (and why not) then a fine d/t saw ought to be added to the list and agree also about the hardpoint saw...stick one of those on the list as well

A solid, proper bench is THE most important tool and as to a saw horse, I've never used one or even a pair.

Edit: I did mention a dovetail saw- Rob
 

MikeG.

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woodbloke66":1gjli5fj said:
...... a small spear point knife is required (or at least for me) to mark the pins from the tails....
Yep, agreed, but that is all you need. It works perfectly well for all other marking-knife-related duties.
 

powertools

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My advice would be to start a project with the tools you have and then come back for advice if you have a problem you can't resulve.
 

That would work

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For a square, get yourself a decent combination square then you've got a mitre square plus a useful pencil gauge for marking off an edge.
 

thetyreman

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things not to skimp on...

clamps, get decent quality clamps right from the start,

high quality squares, this is very important for quality work

rules and measuring tools must all be very accurate.

and you can't be a cabinet maker without at least a few hand planes, no7 and no5 1/2 are my most used planes,

skills are the no1 priority so work on that more than anything else, practise dovetailing like mofo every waking hour.
 

Doug71

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All the advice above is good but I do think some of it can scare people off sometimes.

Ideally you start with basic hand tools making basic things, as your skill level grows so does your tool collection and the complexity of your projects but this is a slow process.

Going by the OP's list of projects and the fact he has just bought a Festool TS 55 I would guess that he is more likely to be cutting up and joining sheets of MDF and Birch ply than he is to be doing hand tool work, he may never need to use a spoke shave, card scraper, shoulder plane etc.

You can make a lot of decent, functional built in furniture using a track saw, router, biscuit jointer and pocket screws.

If you have a track saw one of these and some dogs are a must have

https://www.cncdesign.co.uk/replacement ... p-top.html
 

woodbloke66

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Doug71":pknx8fy5 said:
Going by the OP's list of projects and the fact he has just bought a Festool TS 55 I would guess that he is more likely to be cutting up and joining sheets of MDF and Birch ply than he is to be doing hand tool work, he may never need to use a spoke shave, card scraper, shoulder plane etc.

You can make a lot of decent, functional built in furniture using a track saw, router, biscuit jointer and pocket screws.
I agree, but the OP said right at the beginning that he wanted to learn 'cabinet making techniques'; hence my post with a list of hand tools. Yes, you can make functional stuff with the tools you indicate but in my book, that's not what he asked about...unless I read his question wrongly. I see also that you did mention basic hand tools as well, apologies - Rob
 

BHwoodworking

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you fell into the same trap as i did.......

much as i like power tools for some jobs i like a nice hand tool. a am a bit lacking in that department but being on here has tought me that i dont need every tool under the sun and then duplicates of the tools that you already have
 

chris watford

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I made my bench first, all from Russian/Siberian Pine in the early 70's, still using it today, although
it could do with modernising a bit. I remember the yard foreman telling me to watch my tools as I may find the odd piece of shrapnel!

I am convinced this is the way to start this career/hobby.
 

Jacob

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Just a detail but I see "marking knife" mentioned.
This causes a lot of confusion because knives are not used for marking, but may be used to cut a mark already made, where a clean cut edge is essential. It's a misnomer.
Mark with pencils, you can rub them out if they are wrong. Or a scribe point sometimes if you are confident about getting them right. Trying to do it with a knife is a PITA.
There is an exception - I've seen old work marked with a knife on just one of the four sides and my theory is that the foreman would have done this from the rod to avoid mistakes, an indelible mark to be completed in pencil by the bench hand.
Also nobody needs "dovetail markers" whatever they are. They were always done freehand, which is not that difficult. If you wanted absolute perfection you might mark out with dividers and a sliding bevel, at the angle of your choice!
 

Jacob

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chris watford":1tqwipbq said:
I made my bench first, all from Russian/Siberian Pine in the early 70's, still using it today, although
it could do with modernising a bit. I remember the yard foreman telling me to watch my tools as I may find the odd piece of shrapnel!

I am convinced this is the way to start this career/hobby.
Me too. More early 80s. I keep meaning to replace it with a proper one! More lead shot than shrapnel, so far.
 
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