Like the title says, I want to get into basic woodworking to build some built-in storage cabinets for one wall in my master bath. I don't have a table saw and all that. Other than a pocket hole jig, what bare minimum tools can I get by with to make it?

I have a corded jigsaw, hand saws, a plastic Black and Decker mitre box that I just used to do some crown molding, cordless drill and impact drivers, corded power planer, corded orbital sander, corded oscillating multi tool.

I can buy a compact circular saw, and can buy a pocket hole jig. I'm willing to do with some inconvenience regarding not having the perfect tool for each phase of the job, in favor of keeping my tool inventory light and storable in my condo.

Am I grossly missing any tools to get the job done?

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    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. If you're willing to get a circular saw and learn to use it to its full potential then you'll be well set up for the basics of cabinet making. You'll want to get some clamps. Before that though, are you sure you want to try this route rather than buy in commercial stuff? It's hard to impossible to undercut the prices of factory-made furniture and cabinetry, although of course you pay a lot more for custom. Especially right now as I think lumber and sheet goods prices are still high due to Covid (although falling, from what I heard the other day).
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 18:12
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    Oh P.S. one detail you should include for potential respondents is the material(s) you intend to build with. There's quite a difference in what you'll need if building from plywood or particleboard versus solid wood of any kind (the latter requiring more tools and more skill & experience to build with, broadly speaking).
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 18:14
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    Thanks, @Graphus. Admittedly, I am not against factory cabinets. It's a galley bathroom with a bathroom door on the left and right. One long wall has the sink-toilet-bath, the other wall has nothing but a small linen closet on one side. That's the wall I'd like to build a shallow but wide cabinet system, fully closed by high0end looking doors, but with some sort of finesse in shape - the whole assembly-- such that there's a angled/triangular ease-in at each end to the cabinet system, not just a sudden rectangle stabbing you in the face as you walk in....
    – Perotin
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 18:24
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    @Graphus is right that you only really need a circular saw to build cabinet carcasses. A chop saw might be nice for face frame cabinetry, but isn't strictly necessary (and takes up space). The doors, drawer fronts and drawers are where things get a little more equipment-sensitive. I suggest you look into the online companies that will produce doors and drawers in custom sizes. (Having experienced this recently, I can say that you'll find considerable variance in price between different providers.) Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 3:41
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    You're going to want a decent shop-vac to clean up all the sawdust! I don't know if it's changed across the board, but I recently replaced a 20yo vac that sounded like a 707 on takeoff roll with a new one (with yellow & black branding) that is, frankly, about as quiet as your regular vacuum cleaner, possibly quieter. Maybe all brands are this quiet these days, maybe this one is "special", but your neighbors will appreciate you finding a quieter one as will your hearing in 20 years.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


The circular saw is probably the most important tool if you will build with sheet goods, for safety even many makers with table saws use circular saws for the first cuts.

Essential tools list:

  • Circular saw
  • tracksaw channel or DIY cutting guide + clamps
  • large blocks of dense foam (to saw on)
  • 4 bar clamp or parallel clamps
  • 1 or 2 corner clamps
  • pocket hole jig or dowel jig
  • drill
  • screwdriver with set of replacement tips
  • set of brad-point drill bits
  • Forstner bit for mounting cabinet hinges
  • large t-square or speed square
  • measuring tape

Not essential but I would also like:

  • jigsaw
  • saw with hardened teeth (not Japanese style)
  • set of cheap chisels
  • block plane
  • 1m steel ruler
  • large milled tooth file

I refer you to the China Tools series by Hooked on Wood on YouTube for recommendations on many of the above from BangGood including corner clamps, t-square, drill bits and pocket hole jigs .

See cutting on foam using DIY cutting guide here.

  • 1
    OP, worth noting that if you do get chisels and/or a block plane that you will also need some sharpening stuff right away. See What is the best way to get started with limited funds and space? I hadn't remembered it but my Answer may have some other stuff you'll find relevant and useful. If you do go this route I can highly recommend the cheap diamond plates sold by many vendors on AliExpress. You only need two, a coarse one and a fine one if you intend to strop.
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 7:51
  • @Graphus Thank you for persisting with my question and your answers. Dumb me, I forgot I got a cheap chinese amazon power planer, and I have an old handheld planer from my dad who passed away, but I don't know how to go about sharpening it. I got the power planer to shave some off my doors when hinge adjustment is almost there but not quite. And silly me I forgot I got a fire-sale ace hardware shop vac, some 100$ thing for 39 bucks. It's huge, I regret the purchase because it's tough to store, but it's powerful. Thank you-will continue considering these points this upcoming weekend.
    – Perotin
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 16:09
  • The hand plane you have, it's not that important what type it is (all sizes are useful to someone) but out of curiosity is it a block plane, a no. 4 or a no. 5? I'm betting it's one of those three sizes since they are what 99.9999999% of people have :-) You do have to be able to get the cutting iron very sharp for the plane to work properly and while I would recommend you aim to learn to freehand sharpen, initially it can be a good idea to use a honing guide so you get sharp now. You can make a cheap, effective one yourself, see here.
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 7:10

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