But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things. (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY. In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine! (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
2 small Japanese pull saws, a western push saw, fret saw, set of chisels, bit brace with a roll of arbor bits, rabbet plane, side rabbet (trim) plane, 2 shoulder planes, 3 set of diamond stones, slip stone, multiple files, a rasp or two, 2 small bar clamps, a mini vise, hand scrapers, scratch beader with cutters, combination plane with cutters, smoothing plane, jack plane, block plane, combination square, steel straight rule, 12′ tape measure, small bottle of glue, a few short dowels, 2 marking gauges, and a few different marking instruments (awl, pencils, marking knife).
I created these hand tool buyer’s guides to help beginners who feel overwhelmed when trying to understand which hand tools they need first. It’s frustrating! Below you’ll see my summary list of the 20 basic professional woodworking hand tools that you should start to accumulate in order to start building the most basic woodworking projects. When you’re ready, you can follow the yellow buttons to visit each of the buying guides for each type of hand tool, to get help with understanding hand tool features, brands, & models. At the bottom of this page is a handy full list of tools that is sorted by “urgent”, “semi-urgent”, and “not-urgent” to buy.
Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Not only will you need Phillips and slot, or flathead screwdrivers, you’ll need star drivers and Torx drivers, too. A quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming absolutely useless.
I just moved overseas and had to give up all of my power tools due to space limitations and power incompatibility. Upon arrival the first power tool that I bought was a cordless drill/driver and the second was a circular saw. I then modified the saw to improve its performance for cabinet quality work by putting a zero clearance baseplate (just a piece of 1/4″ plywood screwed to the base) this allows the saw to cut plywood panels without tearing up the edges. I also bought a length of aluminum rectangle tube stock for a straight edge. Together the straight edge and the zero clearance baseplate makes the circular saw a fairly accurate tool for plywood construction projects. It’s not as easy to use as a Festool track saw but it cuts almost as clean and cost about 1/5th the price.
Bruce Lamo has done woodworking pretty much all his life, although never exclusively to make a living. He prefers making furniture and working with solid wood, but often uses plywood when making cabinets. This article originated when a few friends were considering buying tools that based on his experience, he thought would not be a good investment.
The most common bench tools in the woodshop are routers and sanders. We have already talked about routers to some extent. Orbital sanders have come a long way from the jitterbug style of old. New sanders leave a better finish, are quieter and last longer. At some point, probably right away, you will want a sander . No one likes to sand. It is tempting to buy multiple sanders to address an unpleasant task. Here again, I point to the hand tools. Learning to use a smoothing plane and a cabinet scraper will reduce your sanding to little or nothing and cut down your overall time to finish a project.
On both the belt and disk sanders, the workpiece is presented to the tool (the opposite is true of portable belt and hand-held disk sanders which are presented to the work; as a result, they are particularly useful in sanding oversized workpieces). On stationary sanders, an adjustable worktable or fence can be fixed in front of the sander to position the workpiece during sanding. Belt sizes vary greatly, with four-inch wide, two- or three-foot-long belts being usual, as are four- to eight-inch diameter disks.
Dan, I’m worried about you. The stress must be getting to you. Somehow you’ve lost your ability to count. By my estimation, your list has at least 29 items, some of which are actually “sets” of items, like chisels or crayons, which I only counted as one item. Perhaps you need a break from all that blogging, and time to get back to basics, like counting. I can help. Come over to my shop and we can count things like parts, items on the honey-do list, and for extra credit, screw holes. Don’t worry about making mistakes, I’ll guide you through it, and we can round up if necessary. Ha!
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.