Pop Topic: 5 Tricks for Selecting Materials for DIY Projects on a Low Budget

guest circle ICONWriter: Paul Moore
Bio: Paul is an avid woodworker and the editor in chief of website Woodworkboss.com. Paul aspires to help fellow woodworking enthusiasts pursue this hobby, or even turn it into a successful career, by sharing informative tips and guides about woodworking.


Woodworking is a craft that has been around for ages, and it remains popular as a hobby and as a form of art today. For those just beginning to look into woodworking, it can seem overwhelming, with no clear start point or guidelines for what to do.

Moreover, woodworking can seem daunting in terms of money and time commitments—but it doesn’t have to be. In order to help beginning woodworkers tackle this brave new world, here are five tips for choosing woodworking materials on a tight budget!

1. Start Small

When you’re starting out in woodworking, you won’t need to buy enough lumber to build a small barn. Beginner’s projects are everywhere to be found on the internet–projects that won’t require a huge investment in terms of price or time constraints.

Don’t worry about buying out the store, but look at what you’ll need for your project before you even leave the house, and then make your purchases with a specific plan in mind. Start with small projects that you feel confident undertaking, and work your way up from there.

2. Have a Plan of Attack

Know where your project is going ahead of time to save time and money when shopping. Know whether your project requires hardwoods or softwoods—or maybe a mix of both—and then look into which specific wood will work best for you. This is where store employees can come in handy as well—don’t second guess what you’ve already planned out, but don’t be afraid to take their advice, either.

Considering the materials and tools necessary ahead of time will give you a leg up when it comes to planning your budget, as you won’t be tempted to make impulse purchases purely out of uncertainty.

3. It Doesn’t Have to be Mahogany

For a beginning woodworker, it can be tempting to get caught up in all the choices available at any lumber store—but there is nothing wrong with starting at the lowest price.

Softwoods like cedar, pine, or spruce tend to be less expensive when compared to hardwoods like hickory, oak, or walnut, but softwood makes up about eighty percent of all timber, and can be used for a variety of projects.
Again, take into consideration the specifications of your project, but be on the lookout for woods that have a lower price.

4. You Don’t Need to Buy Out the Store

This overlaps with points number one and two, but still is valid. When it comes to buying woodworking tools, you won’t need a lumber mill in your garage or apartment.

Start with the tools necessary for the task at hand—a few hand tools (hammer, chisel, hacksaw, some sort of table) at first—and then think about upgrading to a few power tools (drill, jigsaw, circular saw) once you’ve got a few projects under your belt.

There’s no need to break the bank for tools that you may only use once or twice, and the assorted hand and power tools listed above can set you well on your way to being a woodworking pro.

5. Think Outside the Box (When It Comes to, Well, Boxes)

Similar to point three, you might want to try experimenting with alternative sources of wood for your first projects. We’ve all seen the posts on various social media sites about “pallet tables” and other unorthodox methods of recycling, but the idea of using reclaimed wood is nothing new, and can be a fun way to branch out into woodworking.

Reclaimed wood can be purchased online for extremely low prices, and can even be found for free with a little bit of effort—try reaching out to local contractors or excavators, as they often have an excess of wood that you may be able to use.

There will be a difference in the quality of the wood procured at a lumber store and that of reclaimed or recycled wood, but if you’re on a budget or just trying to start things off in a new way, don’t be afraid to make use of the resources that others may have overlooked!

As you dive into the exciting world of woodworking, you”ll discover a wealth of possibilities that may seem overwhelming at first. But don’t let that keep you back–start small, think outside the box, and soon you’ll be ready to tackle each new project that comes your way!

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