Learn 10 money saving woodworking tips from a frugal woodworker!
Woodworking can be an expensive hobby, especially when you first start out. There’s always another tool you need and another project to build. As someone who loves woodworking, but doesn’t love to spend money this has been a hard reality for me!
Over the last 6 years since I started my woodworking journey, I’ve found lots of little ways to save money and keep building. I know that starting out with woodworking can be a financial strain, but with these tips it doesn’t have to be!
1. Start Small
My first money saving woodworking tip is that you don’t need everything right away! There will always be a new tool to lust over. Start small with basic tools and work your way up to purchasing more expensive wood shop items. I go over what tools you need to get started and what you don’t need in Essential Woodworking Tools for Beginners.
2. Get Organized
How many times have you bought something new for your woodworking shop only to later realize it was an item you already had. You just couldn’t find it.
I am so guilty of this! It’s why I have 5 levels, 3 stud finders and an endless supply of Phillips head drill bits.
I am finally coming to terms with the fact that having an organized shop is not just something that is convenient, but something that can save me money. Knowing where your tools are in your shop will help you keep track of what you have and prevent you from buying multiples of the same thing.
3. Product Warranties
If you’re purchasing your woodworking tools new, look for products with warranties. My table saw and miter saw are Kobalt brand from Lowe’s. I chose this brand because they offered a lifetime warranty on their large tools at the time I made my purchases. (I’m not sure if the lifetime warranty is still offered.) I actually used that warranty when a fence broke on miter saw. I took the miter saw into a Lowe’s store, showed the manager the damage and walked out with a brand new miter saw, no questions asked. I was amazed at how easy it was!
I don’t often purchase extended warranties on my tools, although this can be useful. Instead, if I’m purchasing new tools I look for brands that offer longer warranties. You may pay more initially for these tools, but it’s worth it if you ever need to use that warranty.
4. Look for Sales & Discounts
If you’re in the market for new tools, plan your shopping around holidays and sales. Most large home improvement stores will have sales that take place during holiday weekends. I’ve found the best tool sales to be Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend and Black Friday.
Additionally, know if you qualify for a discount. As a military family we get a 10% discount on purchases at Lowe’s and Home Depot. This is an amazing discount that has saved us tons of money!
Lastly, use coupons. My local Lowe’s prints coupons on the bottom of their receipts for $5-$15 off of a future purchase. I always use these!
5. Reuse wood from old projects
I have been woodworking for a long time. Over time some of my old projects have become no longer necessary – like garage shelving and a few other projects that just aren’t my style anymore. These projects that I no longer need aren’t trash, they’re lumber for new projects!
The old garage shelving turned into my garage work bench, a blanket ladder and the 2x4s for my DIY Outdoor Plant Shelf. These are all projects that I was able to create without buying any new lumber.
6. Buy Secondhand
Many of my tools have been purchased secondhand and it has saved me so much money! I’ve purchased tools through Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and I even bought my first chop saw through a sale ad in the local newspaper – yep those still exist!
There are lots of places you can find secondhand tools, and I totally recommend building up your tools this way. You can find them for sale online like I have done for most of my tools, but there are also good finds at yard sales, estate sales and some secondhand stores like the Habitat Restore.
7. Keep Scrap Wood
I keep almost all of my scrap wood. The pieces that are too small to be useful become blocks to keep my son busy while I’m working on projects. Long skinny pieces get cut down into stir sticks for paint and stain. Scrap wood can be used to prop pieces up for painting or staining. It can be used to test stain colors. And, of course, it can be used on future projects.
I love having wood on hand whenever I want to start on a project and the amount of scrap wood project tutorials you can find online are endless! Some of my favorites are this Easy Square Handle Caddy, DIY Fox Wood Quilt and DIY Geometric Wall Art.
8. Know What You Have
A lot of the projects I make are based on what I have in my scrap wood pile. I wish I had an endless supply of money to spend on woodworking projects, but the truth is I’m a stay at home mom with an expensive hobby. So before I start creating plans for my next woodworking project, I check my scrap pile to see what I have available. Then I create my woodworking plans based on what I have on hand.
9. Be Strategic With Your Boards
When you cut boards for your projects, you want to be strategic so that you can get the most out of each board. Ideally, you want to use the whole board, without any scraps leftover.
For example, say your project requires two 25” boards, two 36” boards and one 22” board. If you are strategic with your cuts you can get all of these cut pieces out of two 6’ boards. If you don’t plan your cuts ahead of time, you could end up needing to purchase additional boards to get all of your cut pieces.
Plan your cuts before you start and you won’t need to use as many boards.
10. Use Cheaper Wood
Nearly all of my woodworking projects are made from pine. It is incredibly affordable and, as a soft wood, is very easy to work with. Some of the most inexpensive boards you can get are pine 2x4s, which I’ve used for many projects like this Simple 2×4 Bench. (It can be built for less than $15!) Check out some of the cheapest woods you can use!
Also, think out of the box a little bit when purchasing wood. I’ve made many, many projects using inexpensive fence pickets. These are cheap and already weather-proof for outdoor projects. Some of my fence picket projects include simple wedding centerpiece boxes, Fox Wood Quilt and DIY Geometric Wall Art.
Using cheaper wood is a great way to save money on woodworking projects, especially when you are just starting out. It feels a lot better to mess up an inexpensive pine board than it does to ruin an expensive type of wood. (trust me)
11. Ask for Gifts!
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas on what you want around the holidays, asking for woodworking tools and gear as a gift can help you save money.
(BONUS TIP) Reuse screws
Did you know that you can reuse screws? I always save screws and they always come in handy. If you are building your projects using wood glue (which you should totally be doing) the glue is actually a stronger hold than the screws. Often I will construct a project using wood glue and screws for all of the joints. After the glue has dried the screws aren’t really necessary anymore. The project is being held together by the glue, not the screws. So I have actually removed screws from completed projects to use on new projects.
I wouldn’t recommend doing this on joints that are going to be holding a lot of weight. The joints should be fine with just glue, but I get a bit nervous. Instead, I mostly only remove screws from decorative pieces.
Money Saving Woodworking Tips
Woodworking can be an expensive hobby, especially when you are first starting out. But, there are lots of ways you can save money when stocking up your wood shop and buying supplies for your next project. These 10 money saving woodworking tips are some of the ways that I am able to continue woodworking while sticking to a budget.