A question I'm sometimes asked is how to get into woodworking, what tools I would recommend, where to start.
I can't really make good recommendations as to what specific brands of tools are better than others. Most of my tools were opportunistic purchases, with little regard to specific brands. More often than not, it's price and a quick inspection to gauge the solidity of the tool that are the determining factors. My tools are usually not among the best that can be had, but good enough.
I don't mean that entirely literally. But I think it's best if you buy just a few tools and start using those. As you get more comfortable with what you have, it becomes easier to understand what tools you should get next. It also reduces the risk of buying a workshop full of tools only to find out that you aren't really into woodworking.
Start by getting a few hand tools - a hammer, screwdrivers, nails, a few chisels, a hack saw, a try square, some sort of work table, and some clamps.
Your first power tools should probably be a drill and a jigsaw. Those are tools that come in handy here and there even if you aren't into woodworking. You won't be able to make any fine furniture with them, but it's enough to bang together a few projects for the basement or outside.
There are different grades of tools available at different prices. Salesmen will probably tell you to get good quality tools that last a lifetime. But the price difference between a cheap tool and a good quality tool can easily be a factor of four. My advice is to get cheap tools first and use them until they break. Once they break, it's time to consider getting something better. But unless you are a professional who uses the tools every day, even a cheap tool is likely to last a long time.
A good tool to get next is some sort of circular saw. A circular saw cuts a lot faster than a jigsaw, and it's easier to make a straighter cleaner cut with it. It's also a very useful tool for cutting up big sheets of plywood, even if you already have a table saw. At this point, you have enough tools for some simple projects such as this table or some storage shelving
You should consider getting a hand plane or two at this point, and maybe a workbench with a vise on it. It may be a good challenge to build a workbench while you are at it.
You may also want to invest in a doweling jig,
or a pocket hole jig (although I'm personally not very fond of pocket holes
joinery because it's not very strong)
With just the tools mentioned above, you can already tackle some basic projects, such as these:
The most useful stationary tools are a drill press and a table saw. For the longest time, I only had a cheap old contractor saw, and only a very small drill press, but I made do with those. The difference between a good drill press and a cheap drill press is much smaller than the difference between a cheap drill press and no drill press, so don't wait until you can afford the perfect one.
I can't say the same about a table saw. The cheapest benchtop table saws for under $200 tend to be awful, and will never produce a good clean cut. The more expensive benchtop saws are better, but still not as good as a contractor saw with a cast iron top or a hybrid table saw. And some can cost as much as a hybrid table saw.
An old style contractor saw is the type of table saw with the motor hanging off the back and with legs that go to the floor. They tend to be made of cast iron, and good value for the money used, but less common new as most people buy benchtop saws or hybrid table saws nowadays. Most contractors today use benchtop saws, so the term "contractor saw" can be confusing.
Hybrid saws are essentially built like the old contractor saws, but with the motor in the cabinet, just like a cabinetmaker saw. They are much cheaper than cabinetmakers saws and not as heavy. The saw at left is my first table saw, a 40-year old contractor saw, which I enclosed on the bottom to keep the sawdust inside. At present, I use a hybrid table saw
To get a cleaner cut on a table saw, it helps to buy a good quality saw blade for your table saw. With a decent table saw, and a good quality blade, it should be possible to get a cut that is smooth enough that it should require only minimal work to prepare it for finishing.
Table saw, drill press and bandsaw were all I had when I built my marble machine one. I use those tools the most.
A nice thing about a bandsaw is that it's not scary to use. Sure, a bandsaw can cut your fingers off too, but it will probably cut your finger slow enough that you can pull it back before it's a major injury. I cut into my thumb with a bandsaw once when I was a kid. I pulled back as soon as I felt it, and the cut on my thumb wasn't even deep enough to warrant a band-aid. So if table saws scare you, get a bandsaw first.
Bandsaws are very handy. They cut cleaner than jigsaws, but perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a bandsaw is convenience. It's my tool of choice for making most quick rough cuts. I also use it for cutting up long scraps to short pieces to fit them in the scrap box. I actually bought my bandsaw before I bought a table saw - I saw one marked down at a woodworking show, and I knew I'd get one eventually, so I jumped on it. That was before I built a bandsaw
Next it's probably time for some more handheld power tools. A belt sander often comes in handy. A router is also a really nice thing to have. Don't fret too much about which router to get - most woodworkers have more than one. So if you don't like some aspect of your router, it will still be handy as a second router if you upgrade.
Most people would also recommend that you get some sort of miter saw for making crosscuts. Personally, I have always just used a crosscut sled. Miter saws just don't have the rigidity to produce a cut as clean as can be made with a table saw sled, so I have never been a fan of them. Dust collection on miter saws is typically not very good.
A lot of people use random orbital sanders. They sand cleaner, but slower than belt sanders, but the sanding pads are easy to change.
Moving up to the next level, the next machine to get would be a
A jointer planer is very important if you want to glue up pieces of wood side-by-side
to make panels. It's just plain all around handy for planing stock. I'd recommend
you get a jointer planer before you get a thickness planer, because there is so much
more that can be done with a jointer than a thickness planer. A thickness planer
is really handy to get stock to the right thickness, although in a pinch, that can also
be done on the table saw by putting the workpiece between the fence and the
blade. If you cut from both sides, you can thickness stock up to twice the maximum
depth of cut of your table saw.
You can also watch some of my woodworking videos on YouTube. to get a better sense of how I work.
You will probably also enjoy the Woodworking for mere mortals YouTube channel, by Steve Ramsey. I enjoy watching them because Steve is very entertaining and the projects very beginner friendly.
Ther are also many more woodworking videos on YouTube
So have a go at it. Who knows where it might lead. Maybe some day you'll have a workshop like this one