Whether you’re starting woodworking as a business or hobby your better off buying quality tools instead of the cheaper ones. They’ll hold up better and last longer.
When buying hand tools used ones are fine if they’re in good condition and they may even be better quality than new. Older tools were typically made better and seem to last much longer. My father has a set of chisels that are over 100 years old!
Don’t shy away from projects because you only have hand tools, that’s how the old craftsmen made everything. Power tools mainly just make the jobs easier and faster.
Don’t worry about buying everything at once, you can accumulate tools as you go. A hammer, saw, and sandpaper can go a long way in woodworking. Set up a monthly budget and before you know it you will have a shop Norm Abram will be envious of.
Basic Hand Tools
Saws – Keyhole Saw, is perfect in cutting holes in wood and curves. Cross Cut Saw has wide alternating bevel teeth perfect for rough cutting on wood grains. Rip Cut Saw is an aggressive, push stroke handsaw with sharpened teeth top. Backsaws are used for molding, trimming and fine woodcutting. Coping saws are perfect for cutting intricate patterns on wood. It has a sprung steel frame with a wooden handle that can be turned to tighten the blade. A coping saw is a pull stroke hand saw. Japanese saws are pull stroke saws made of very thin steel. It is known for its faster cutting power while producing less sawdust. Hacksaw is used in metal cutting such as thin tubing and drill rod with its 18 to 32 teeth per inch.
Screwdrivers– Most woodworking projects need a screwdriver. You should have various sizes of both Phillips’ head and flat head screwdrivers. Buy quality because the tips can break easily with cheap screwdrivers.
Wood chisels– Look for chisels ranging in size from 1/4″ to 2″ wide in 1/8″ advancements. They are available with wooden or plastic handles. Thin cuts can be made by pushing by hand; heavier cuts are made by tapping on the end with a wooden mallet.
Claw hammers– Hammers are available with many types of handles, wood, steel with rubber or plastic grips and fiberglass composition. The type of hammer you select should be a personal decision, hold the hammer in your hand as if to strike a nail, it should feel balanced, the grip should be comfortable. There are also different weights, 16 ounces is a good general-purpose choice, for heavier work perhaps 20 ounces.
Levels- Available in many sizes and shapes. They can be made of wood, aluminum or plastic. Some have fixed vials, others are adjustable. All levels have one or more vials for vertical and horizontal use, some have 45-degree vials. Inside the vial is a fluid with an air bubble, when the bubble is centered between the two indicator lines the surface is level. You’ll need a level to ensure your project turns out straight.
Framing Squares– You can layout and measure just about everything in the construction of a home from the basement stairs on up to the attic rafters. It may also be referred to as a steel square or a carpenter’s square. The most common size has a 24″ blade and a 16″ tongue, however, there are smaller sizes available but like some cheaper versions of the larger style, they do not have the framing tables stamped on them.
Triangle Square – They are available in different sizes in various materials, the double 45° and a 30° – 60° are the two shapes used most in laying out patterns.
Try Square – These squares have a steel tongue fixed into a wooden handle, they range in size from 3″ to 12″, some have inch scales on them others are blank. They are very handy for furniture and cabinet making as they are small enough to fit in confined spaces.
Nail and Screws – I would keep on hand various sizes of nails and screws. You will find you will need them for numerous projects.
Tape measures- For small projects in the shop 1/2″ wide ones are satisfactory but I would not recommend anything less than 3/4″ wide for a tape over 6 feet long as they cannot be extended out and remain firm. Some have highlighted indicators at each foot; others have them at 16-inch intervals which is handier in construction for stud layout, whereas the foot indicators are more useful in the workshop. The hook on the end is meant to be loose so that it will give an accurate measurement whether it is hooked over the edge or butted up to an edge.
Sandpaper – Have several grades available for the different projects you’ll be finishing. Fine grit paper is used for most wood plans. Medium is generally used for first sanding of softwoods and shaping. Coarse grit should be used for paint removal, rough sanding, and shaping.
Hand Plane – Block planes are used for straightening end grains. Smoothing planes prepare boards for finishing. Jack planes are for smoothing or leveling. Leveling planes are for flattening large surfaces and straightening edges.
Glue – Have a durable carpenter’s wood glue on hand to ensure your piece’s stability.
Clamps – Gluing requires clamping to ensure that the parts are bonded firmly in exactly the right position. You can never have too many clamps! You’ll use clamps to glue boards side to side and to hold projects together as joints dry. Buying pipe clamps that range from 18 inches to 8 feet wide should ensure you have the right clamp for most projects. Add a few hand clamps and small C-clamps for smaller projects, too.
Vises – Holding wood pieces steady on the workbench as you shape them with other tools will require a vise. Look for a vise with wood jaws or inserts or use smooth scrap wood to keep the vise from denting your projects.
Rasps – Rasps are used to file board edges and remove small amounts of wood. Two rasps, one fine and one coarse, should be all you need
Carpenter’s Pencil – Rectangular shaped pencil, about 1/4″ X 1/2″, with a 1/16″ X 3/16″ lead.
General Woodworking Saftey
Keep safety glasses around, even if you aren’t using power tools in your wood shop. When using a hammer or moving boards, objects or wood shavings can fly up quickly, putting you at risk of injury.
A basic first aid kit should also be readily accessible for workshop accidents, though you can significantly reduce your risk of shop accidents by always using your hand tools as they are intended. Using the right tool for the job saves wear and tear on the tools and on you.
Keep a shop vac around so that you can quickly clean up wood shavings and dust. Keeping dust and wood particles to a minimum will reduce the risk of shop fires and help keep the air clean.