I was recently asked what I thought were the essential tools for greenhorn carpenters and what it would cost to buy them. It’s a good question. I have my opinions, but so does everybody else who’s been in the trenches. I asked several coworkers who are former carpenters, and we developed a list of core carpentry tools—specifically, the tools that a carpenter needs often enough to keep in a tool belt, itself the first item on the list. I then headed to the nearest home center and bought everything on the list, with the goal of keeping the total under $200.
I got my start in carpentry more than 20 years ago, so although some of my choices are decidedly old school, my emphasis was on high-quality, affordable tools. You should feel free to choose tools based on your budget and on what feels right.
When you go tool shopping, buy good stuff, because there’s nothing more frustrating than struggling with bad tools. Assuming you don’t lose them, you might still be using some of them 20 years from now.