"So you want to be a woodworker? Check out this list of essential woodworking tools to get started."

When I first started woodworking, I didn't have anyone to tell me the essential basic  tools I needed to get started, so I figured I'd share the basic woodworking tools you need to get started. Let's dive in.

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Now for me, even though I was a beginner woodworker, I decided to not get the most dinkiest tools just because I was a beginner. I knew this was an interest that I would keep with, so for some of these tools I decided to get a step up from what people would call a beginner tool, so I'll be giving a few tool suggestions for each basic item.


First, we are starting off with the power drill. This is probably the most used tool that I have and that you will use. Drills are used in the woodworking shop for so many reasons these days, making it an essential tool for woodworking. 

Ryobi Hammer DrillMost people will argue that a corded drill is better but I live in the land of cordless, so my suggestions will be cordless models.

If you are looking for a good beginner drill, here are some of my recommendations.

Ryobi Hammer Drill  - $69

  • For Ryobi drills, I am recommending the hammer drill because it gives you a little more power for drilling and a little more versatility with it being a hammer drill. I have tried Ryobi's cheaper drill models and for me they just don't make the cut. Being that the drill is one of the most used tools, you want to make sure you get something solid. Check out my full tool review here.

RIDGID Drill/Driver - $119 (Top Recommendation)

  • This Ridgid Drill is a beast of a tool. I have been using this drill for about a year and have had very good success with it. With its 1,3000 lbs. of torque RIDGID's Hammer Drill/Driver is an industry leader and features over 100 settings for dialing in with it's micro clutch. This is an excellent drill with great power and torque. It is a little heavier than my other drills, but the power and  performance outweighs the annoyance of the weight. Check out my full tool review here.

Dewalt Drill/Driver - $139

  • This Dewalt Drill has also proved to be a pretty good fit for me. It is a little pricey but DEWALT has always been a reputable brand and its something that will last you. This 20-Volt cordless tool is ideal for most drilling/fastening applications and it's high-speed transmission features two speed settings.

Kreg Jig

Now this is a tool you might not see in most peoples essential tool list, but I would highly recommend this tool for people who are new to woodworking. The Kreg Jig is a fun tool used for joinery.

Kreg JigI bought this tool very early on in my woodworking journey and I am so glad I did. If you are hesitant on whether or not this tool is the right tool for you, I am listing a few Kreg Jig options below to help get you started.

K3 Pocket Hole Jig - $29

  • This K3 pocket jig is a smaller version of what you will get in the master system. If you don't want to commit to getting the big master system, this would be my next recommendation.

K4 Master System - $139 (Top Recommendation)

  • The K4 Master System is the tool I use. I actually have two of these things, and after the drill, it is probably my most used tool. I personally like this model because it gives you everything you need. 

Kreg Jig 320 - $39

  • The Kreg Jig 320 features two drill guides, a removable spacer and thickness stops for 1/2 in., 3/4 in. and 1 1/2 in. material that allow you to build with materials such as plywood and boards.

Check out this video below to see me use a few of the Kreg jig models in action.

Compound Miter Saw

Compound Miter Saws would probably be most next used tool in my shop. They are very similar to circular saws in that they make the same rip and cross cut as a circular saw, but the miter saw is fixed in an arm or a track, making it more accurate.

Ryobi 12 in Miter Saw

Most miter saws come in two popular blade diameters, 10 inch and 12 inch. Most series of angles can be cut with a miter saw. Let's take a look at a few of m recommendations.

Ryobi 12" Sliding Miter Saw - $219

  • The Ryobi 12" Sliding Miter Saw was the first saw that I ever bought and it was the first saw I ever operated. For a girl who had never built anything, I had a pretty smooth experience. If you are a beginner woodworker who plans on doing woodworking as just a hobby I would recommend this saw. I specifically love that it comes with a laser. The laser allows you to see exactly where the blade would be cutting, which was very helpful for me as a beginner. Although, I had great experiences with this miter saw, over time, I noticed that it wouldn't out-stand the wear and tear I would be putting on it. If you are looking to get heavily into woodworking, I wouldn't recommend this miter saw but if you are a beginner hobbyist who wants to just dabble, this is a great option.

RIDGID 12" Sliding Miter Saw - $499 (Top Recommendation)

  • This Ridgid Miter Saw is what I currently use and man is she a beast. I personally love that it has a 70 degree bevel capacity. It doesn't have a laser but it does have a shadow light that allows you to see where the blade will hit which is just as good in my opinion. I also have the Ridgid Miter Stand which in my opinion is the best I've ever seen. It allows you to break down the saw and move it around with ease. It is also compatible with other models if you opt for another saw. The Ridgid miter saw Runs neck and neck with the Dewalt Miter Saw, but you can’t beat Ridgid’s Warranty. Check it out more in detail in this video below.

Dewalt 12" Compound Miter Saw - $399

  • This DEWALT is a little cheaper than the RIDGID but still a solid choice. I've used it a few times and have had a great experience with, it does not have a laser or shadow light, which was very helpful to me as a beginner woodworker, but I don't have too many bad things to say about it. I bought this saw for my dad who does construction often and he loves it.

Cordless Milwaukee 10" Sliding Miter Saw - $599 

  • Although I think corded Miter Saws are a much better option. I had the opportunity try out this cordless Miter Saw and was super impressed. If you are someone who travels a lot with your tools and need a cordless option, I would highly recommend this saw. It is a bit pricey but worth it in my opinion. Check out the video review here if you're interested.

Brad Nailer

The brad nailer is another tool that most may not consider an "essential" tool but for me, this tool has been very helpful and pleasing in my woodworking journey.

Brad nailers are mostly used detailed applications such as trim work, cabinetry and moldings. They are designed to fire brad nails ideal for binding wood trim.

Ryobi Brad Nailer

Fun story about the brad nailer, I actually won this nailer in a giveaway and I'm so glad I did. I don't know if I would have realized how much I needed it if I hadn't have won one. I use this brad nailer often and would highly recommend it to any beginner woodworker.

If you're wondering just what the brad nailer is capable of, here is a quick look at a project I did using my Ryobi Brad Nailer. I completed this wall paneling project by brad nailing 1x2 trim to my blank wall to create this fun accent wall. Check out the project here to see how this Ryobi Brad nailer helped me transform my living room.

Wall Paneling Project

Ryobi 18 Gauge Brad Nailer - $129 (Top Recommendation)

  • This Ryobi Brad Nailer nails up to 1700 nails per charge and is compatible with the 18V Ryobi. battery system. It features AirStrike Technology, which eliminates the need for noisy compressors, bulky hoses, or expensive gas cartridges

Dewalt 18 Gauge Brad Nailer - $267

  • I have also had good experiences with this DEWALT brad nailer, in my opinion, the Ryobi Brad Nailer is just as good, but if you are looking to keep the same brand, this brad nailer is also a good recommendation. The only difference from the Ryobi brad nailer is that it doesn't fire right away when you pull the trigger.

Ryobi Pancake Compressor w/ Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer - $330

  • If you are more a pneumatic person. This Ryobi Pancake compressor set is a great option for a beginner, specifically because it comes with a compressor, which can be used for a ton of other things. It comes along with a brad nailer and a finish nailer all in one, so you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. I bought this set a while ago, and even though I have cordless nailers, I still get use out of the air compressor.


This tool doesn't get as much use as the tools listed above, but it definitely comes in handy when needed. I use a jigsaw mostly for cutting curvy lines into wood.

Ryobi JigsawMost saws are made to cut in a straight line but the jigsaw gives you the flexibility to cut complicating shapes and patterns.

Cordless Ryobi Brushless Jigsaw - $129 (Top Recommendation)

This cordless jigsaw has been a pleasant tool to have. If there is any tool I would want to be cordless, it would be a jigsaw because of all the curves and turns you make when operating it. I would highly recommend this jigsaw if you plan on using it often. Compatible with the Ryobi 18V battery series.

Corded Black and Decker Jigsaw - $34

If you don't plan on using the jigsaw a ton, I would still recommend getting one for the shop. This black and decker corded jigsaw was the first jigsaw I had and worked perfectly fine. If you don't think you'll use the jigsaw often, I would suggest this cheaper option. 

Circular Saw

When working with lumber, the circular saw has proved to be a very useful tool. It is an electric saw that turns a round blade to cut wood and other materials depending on the blade. 

Circular SawSometimes the miter saw is just too stationary for a straight cut, so I use my circular saw often to make lap joints and other less conventional cuts.

Dewalt Circular Saw - $159 

  • I have gotten good use out of this DEWALT circular Saw, it features up to a 57 degree bevel cut capacity and features a brake. I would also recommend the Diablo Steel Demon blade to go along with this saw, as you can see from the picture above, it cuts through metal. See it in action here. Most circular saws come with blades but I know Diablo to be the best.

Ridgid 18-Volt 7 1/4 Circular Saw - $149 (Top Recommendation)

  • I was really impressed by this particular circular saw model. It cut through plywood like butter. If you're looking for a nice model, this is the circular saw for you. See it in action here.

Ryobi Brushless 7 1/4 Circular Saw - $119

  • If you are looking for a cheaper option, I have had good experiences with this Ryobi circular saw. There are options that are cheaper than these listed, but in my experience it pays off in the long run to spend a few extra bucks to get something decent.

Makita Rear Handle Circular Saw - $199 (Highly Recommended)

  • This Makita Rear Handle Circular saw isn't something I would necessarily suggest to a beginner, but it's too good of a saw for me not to recommend it. This saw is hands down my favorite and has replaced all of my circular saws since purchasing it. The cuts this saw makes are so smooth and I highly recommend this tool for anyone who plans on pursuing woodworking on a serious basis.

Random Orbital Sander

One of my favorite things to do after finishing a furniture piece is sanding. I hope you could detect the sarcasm in my voice. Most furniture pieces need a little sanding at the end so it is vital to have a Random Orbital Sander Handy.

Dewalt Orbital Sander

Random orbital sanders are handheld tools where the sanding blade delivers a random-orbit action. They are primarily used for sanding.

Ryobi Corded Orbital Sander - $49

  • This Ryobi Orbital sander is a great starter sander. It features 12,500 orbits per minute for fast and smooth sanding and it includes sandpaper, and a dust Bag. 

Dewalt Cordless Orbit Sander - $129 (Top Recommendation)

  • This is my favorite sander by far. I have had great experiences with it and well worth the price in my opinion. It's variable-speed dial provides speed control and it's one-handed locking dust bag attaches securely to the sander to help with dust collection. It also features a rubber overmold grip for comfortability. 

Bosch Orbital Sander - $69

This Bosch orbital sander is another great option at a great price. It also comes with  a polisher kit and carrying bag. Most orbital sanders in my experience are pretty close to each other so any one you get will most likely be a good option.

Ryobi Corner Cat Sander - $35

This isn't an orbital sander but it has come n handy when trying to get into the hard to reach corners.

Now let's take a quick recap of everything you need to get started.

Woodworking Tools for a Beginner Woodworker

Now that we have made it through the essentials list, I still wanted to give you a little extra and provide you with a list of other useful tools that I have found very helpful to have in my shop. 

SawhorsesWhen working in the shop, you need something to build on. I would suggest getting a good pair of sawhorses that you can set stuff on or even set a piece of plywood on to make a quick workspace.

Measuring TapeIf you plan on building furniture, a measuring tape is a must to get those accurate measurements. This is really an essential, but there are tons of options out there.

LevelWhen building furniture, making sure everything is level is really important. Make sure you have a level handy to make sure things are straight and even.

Square - Just like a level, a square is essential during building to make sure things are square and also when putting together tools to make sure they are also square.

Drill Bit Set - You'lle need some help driving in those screws. Get you a good Drill Bit set to go along with your drill.

Shop Vac - With all the woodworking you'll be doing, rest assured there will be dust flying. Make sure you have a good shop vac around to clean up the mess.

Clamps - Clamps are the one tool you'll never have enough of. Clamps come in handy when trying to join lumber together, especially if your a one person team.

December 30, 2019 — Ashley Basnight