Woodworking is a craft that requires one to use many tools in making a perfect product. Of all the woodworking tools that you may be required to buy, the first ones are a selection of the fine quality basic hand tools. There are many talented woodworkers out there who will vouch for the quality work they can do with their hand woodworking tools alone – right from birdhouses to house furniture. There is no doubt about the fact that a combination of hand tools and power tools will help you to move the process faster. But, when you are just a beginner in woodworking, hand tools are the ones you should concentrate on and buy the power tools depending on what your projects need.
When buying hand tools, the last thing that you should do is search for them in tool catalogs. That’s because there will be too many of them listed there and at first glance you will find most of them useful. While most of them are meant for some job or the other, all of them are not essential for every wood worker. You need to customize your tool choices as per the projects you undertake.
Hand woodworking tools also helps you in connecting with the wood on a different level, so in case you have been looking to immerse yourself in wood work, here is a list of some of the basic and indispensable hand woodworking tools.
- Finish Head Claw Hammer
A hammer is an indispensable tool in woodworking. It is something you will need to use in every work you do. They are available in varied styles and sizes, but the claw hammer with a finish head is perhaps the most versatile. You should choose one that doesn’t feel too bulky or heavy in your hand. Most woodworkers find a 20 oz. model good enough.
- Screw Driver
As a woodworker you must have a good set of screw drivers, irrespective of the woodworking tools you use. Buying a cheap set is a waste of money as they will fall apart or break down soon. Invest in a good quality screw driver set – it will last for decades.
- Tape Measure
Any Woodworking project will need you to measure things and that is why having a good tape measure is also a must have. Choose a retractable tape measure that is 25” long and has both standard and metric marking, a locking mechanism and a hook at the end of the tape.
- Nail Set
At first sight, this woodworking tool will like a bunch of small reinforced nails, but they are mainly used to flush the nails or sink the nail heads just below the surface of wood
- Utility Knife
It is a versatile cutting device that can prove immensely useful for cleaning hinge mortise, marking a piece of stock, etc. Choose a utility knife that comes with a locking mechanism and has disposable and retractable razor blades.
When it comes to this woodworking tool, you will need a couple of them. Get a good set of bench chisels with wooden handle of sizes ¼“, ¾” and 1”, and a ¼“mortise chisel. You will need them quite often to clean your mortises and joints.
- Sharpening Stones
You will need to sharpen your tools every now and then. So, you must own some quality sharpening stones. Typically, waterstones are better as they are cleaner than oil stones. You can find them in a variety of grits like 800, 1200, 4000 and 6000.
- Combination Square
This is the tool you will need to mark out stock at 45 and 90 degrees. The best thing about it is that you can use it as a ruler and a marking gauge. It is advisable that you buy the best quality you can afford as this is one tool that you will use the most.
Before starting any project, you will need to check if a stock is perfectly horizontal or vertical and that is why you need to have levels. It is best to have levels in two sizes – a long one around 36” and a short torpedo level which is around 6”.
- Block Plane
A small block plane is another woodworking tool that every woodworker must have right from the beginning. This tool is used for chamfering edges, smoothing end grains and leveling joints. You can easily shave away thin slices of wood from the stock, thereby giving it a better finish. You can find block planes with standard angles or low angles. So, depending on whether you need it for using on end grains or face and edge grain, make a choice.
- Smoothing Plane
You will feel the need for a smooth plane when working on final planning of surfaces and also for shooting edges on short pieces. So, buy a quality one.
- Hand Saw
A beginner’s tool kit should also feature a couple of hand saws. There are quite a variety of them to choose from. But, first you should understand the basic of these saws. Typically, you will need saws that can cut both across and along the grain. So, choosing two types one with teeth filed crosscut and other with rip filed teeth should do the job for a beginner. Saws in the range of 8-10” length are good to start with.
With these 12 essential hand woodworking tools in your tool box, you will be off for a great start in woodworking. As your progress, you can expand your collection as per the needs of your projects. Before you set out to buy these, here is a vital piece of advice.
You must have heard the saying – you get what you pay for. That applies to buying these tools too. When buying these basic woodworking tools, never compromise on the quality. When you buy tools of good quality, it will hurt only once when you pay for it at the checkout. But, when you settle for cheap quality tools, it will hurt you innumerable times as they will break often, thus incurring a recurring cost. An inferior quality tool will not only cost you more money but will also cost you time and hamper your productivity.