Setting Up a Hand Tool Shop – Step One

If I had a quarter for every post or article I’ve read about getting started in woodworking or setting up shop, I could retire and take the majority of the company I work for with me!

Almost all of these articles can fit into one of two categories:

– To get started in woodworking you need _________ tools.
– Pick a project and build your tool collection around what is needed to build what you want.

Both of these ideas are great, but both are frustrating if you are truly starting from nothing. There are so many little things that are needed to build even the smallest project that many experienced woodworkers take things for granted.

I’ve seen people build projects that are designed completely for beginners. They have a cut list, a tool list, and detailed instructions. Then the first thing they do is use a tool or a work holding device that’s not on the list.

I’m going to to do a series of posts that detail how I would set up my shop were I to completely start over, and I’m going to show how you can get some skills built up while you are slowly building your tool kit.

I’m going to be honest and start off with tools and supplies that are not the “right” way to do things. I know that I will be making recommendations that will make hand tool purists cringe or even possibly want to cause me bodily harm, but working wood by hand means you have to learn skills. You can’t just push a power button, shove a board through a machine, and get a square cut or smooth surface. Learning the skills is more important than building the best project now. Once you are comfortable with a skill, you’ll know what you’ll want to change or update.

– Mike Russo


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