Precautions to Take When Buying Cheap Woodworking Items

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Precautions to Take When Buying Cheap Woodworking Items

For some individuals, woodworking is a hobby that allows them to work with their hands and create things, while for others it is a career or life passion. Regardless of the reason individuals choose to engage in woodworking, the results can range from something simple like a shelf or spice rack to more ornate items, such as beautiful pieces of furniture. While there is a big difference between knowing how to cut and shape a shelf and building a table, chair, or bed entirely by hand, the basic premise is the same, and individuals who choose to work with wood can eventually gain the knowledge and skill to create more ornate pieces.

Working with wood involves the use of a variety of tools, some simple and inexpensive and some more complex and quite expensive. Individuals just getting into woodworking can definitely begin with the more inexpensive items and work their way up once they have learned how to use those. While some woodworkers may be tempted to purchase cheap woodworking items, such as tools, precautions must be taken to avoid buying cheap items that simply do not work or hold up.

Brief History of Woodworking and Woodworking Tools

Early man began working with wood as soon as he was able to fashion axes to cut trees down to a more manageable size and use other tools to shape the wood. Early woodworking involved mainly making tools with wooden handles as well as fashioning utilitarian objects. As humans began fashioning more intricate tools, the tasks they were able to achieve with these tools also increased in complexity. Individuals could hollow out logs for use as cribs or shave a wooden surface down to make a table. By as early as 2000 B.C., Egyptians were crafting furnishings out of wood, proof that the art of woodworking has been around for quite some time.

Over time, woodworking, and furniture making specifically, grew to an art form. Individuals began to cherish pieces made from wood and pass them down from generation to generation. Certain styles of woodworking came to represent specific eras throughout history and these antique pieces are still prized today.

During the 20th century, many people began shying away from woodworking. This was mainly because it became too time consuming and expensive. Machines could produce pieces in a fraction of the time at a lower cost than an individual could by hand, so woodworkers became a dying breed.

Woodworking Tools

The tools used for woodworking have improved significantly throughout the ages. Early tools were just as primitive as the products created using them. Many of early man's tools involved a roughly hewn wooden handle with some type of sharp blade at one end. When man began learning how to work with various metals, tools themselves improved in both quality and function. These new metal tools were stronger and could accomplish more than earlier tools without breaking.

The invention of electricity led to electric tools that could cut, shape, and smooth wood more quickly and efficiently than hand tools, which revolutionised the woodworking industry. Over time, toolmakers found ways to make these electric tools smaller and more portable so that woodworkers were not limited to their woodworking shops when working. Cordless power tools also gave woodworkers more freedom by allowing them to use their electric tools anywhere even when no electrical outlets were available. While these portable tools are used by most woodworkers, those working with larger pieces also still use the larger tools, such as table saws.

Common Woodworking Tools

The tools that are most commonly used for woodworking can be divided into three main categories: hand tools, electric tools, and machines. Which woodworking tools an individual needs depends on what type of item he or she plans to make as well as what type of wood is involved.

Typically, beginner woodworkers should start by investing in a set of hand tools and some electric tools. This should allow beginners to work with a wide range of wood types and craft a variety of items without investing an extensive amount of money. More expensive items can be added in as needed over time to help defray the cost.

Hand Tools

The term hand tool refers to any non-electric tool. Common hand tools used by woodworkers include hammers, saws, clamps, planers, and chisels. Additional tools that are used by a wide variety of individuals, not just woodworkers, include tape measures, screwdrivers, utility knives, and levels. Many individuals may already have many of these tools at home, which means fewer tools for a new woodworker to invest in. Hand tools are typically less expensive than electric tools, though accumulating a full set still represents quite an investment.

Electric Tools

Electric tools include both corded and cordless tools, such as drills and saws. Electric drills come in both corded and rechargeable cordless models in a variety of power ratings. Individuals who plan to use their electric drill extensively in their woodworking may want to opt for a corded model because these drills are typically more powerful than their cordless counterparts.

As for saws, there are a variety of electric, or power saw, including circular saws and band saws. Each type of saw is ideal for a range of purposes, so individuals should take a few minutes to determine which types of saws best suit their needs before making a purchasing decision. Sanders are another common electric tool used by woodworkers. As the name suggests, a sander smoothes the surface of the wood to remove any rough edges or splinters.

Woodworking Machines

The term woodworking machine refers to larger electric tools, such as lathes, mortisers, and drill presses. There are also a variety of larger saws that fall into this category because they are large and must remain stationary. Of all three categories, the woodworking machines are definitely the most expensive, so beginner woodworkers may want to hold off on many of these items until they are sure they need them.

Precautions for Buying Cheap Woodworking Items

The old adage "you get what you pay for" is true of most situations in life, including woodworking tools. Often, cheap tools and machines are inferior and tend to break very quickly. Inferior products may also damage the wood itself, so woodworkers should exercise caution when working with new tools, especially those that were much cheaper than other brands of the same tool.

While it is definitely possible to find cheap tools that do not fall apart or damage wood, prospective buyers should be careful when shopping for cheap tools. Before purchasing any tool, buyers should inspect the tool, looking for any visible flaws. Individuals may also want to compare the heft and feel of the tool with others to determine if it is a tool they want to take a chance on.

Another problem woodworkers may encounter when shopping for cheap tools is that the tools or tool accessories are not compatible with their existing tools. For example, a cheap set of sockets may not fit properly onto an existing socket wrench or a specific size drill bit may not produce a hole that is the exact size. To avoid this possibility, prospective buyers should measure to ensure the item is the size it is supposed to be. Prospective buyers may also want to bring their existing tool to the store when shopping to make sure the accessories are compatible.

Shopping for Cheap Woodworking Items

Prospective buyers can find woodworking hand tools and electric tools at local hardware or home improvement stores, though the selection of any one item may be limited due to the large inventory of products home improvement and hardware stores carry. For a greater selection as well as for larger woodworking machines, prospective buyers should shop online.

Sites such as eBay carry a large selection of hand tools, electric tools, and woodworking machines in a variety of price ranges, so individuals can always find the perfect tool at the right price. When shopping for cheap tools, prospective buyers may want to read reviews online or ask other woodworking enthusiasts about specific brands so they do not end up wasting their money on cheap tools that fall apart quickly.

Buying Cheap Woodworking Items on eBay

If you want to look at the listings that are currently available on eBay, go to the site's main page and type woodworking tools into the search box. Once the search results load, you can browse the listings or narrow down your results using the filters on the page. If you are looking for a specific type of tool, you could also enter that information into the search box. For example, if you are looking for a planer, search for that keyword to only see listings for planers.

Before making a purchasing decision, prospective buyers should read through the listings carefully to determine exactly what is included in the listing. Prospective buyers should pay attention to the brand name of the item so they know whether they are purchasing a quality tool or not. Prospective buyers should also review the seller's shipping options, especially for larger items, which could cost quite a bit to ship. Returns policy is another item individuals should read before making a purchase; this way they know if the item can be returned or not.


Individuals who enjoy working with wood can make a whole host of items, from small figurines to elaborately carved furnishings provided they have the knowledge and the right tools for the job. Though a complete set of woodworking tools can quickly add up, many individuals already have some of the essential tools in their toolbox already. Another way to save some money on a set of woodworking tools is to only purchase the essential items now and add in additional items as they are needed.

While cheap tools are often considered a bad idea, the truth is there are some cheap tools that are just as good as more expensive tools. Knowing which cheaper tools are reliable can help a prospective buyer keep costs down when adding tools and machines to his or her woodworking toolbox. Using this knowledge, individuals are sure to find the perfect woodworking tools and machines on eBay.

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