Woodworking is the activity or skill of making useful and functional products from different types of wood. It is both art and science, as it is a skill used for making chairs, cabinets, fine tables, decorative items, and instruments.
There are different techniques of woodworking like wood carving, joinery, carpentry, and woodturning. Wood was one of the first materials used by humans.
And it is associated with the development of men’s aspirations. Our ancestors with their limited tools carved and made products that are still relevant.
Modern men need those skills and craftsmanship to rejuvenate their curiosity and creativity. Building things up with bare hands can give you the fulfillment that even an expensive car can’t give you.
Technology has brought new machines and tools used for woodworking, but the fundamental aspects have remained the same. Woodworking hand tools are still relevant for professional carpenters and artists, as they give control and freedom to create products from ideas.
Image by Graham Hobster from Pixabay
In this article, we will discuss common hand tools used for woodworking.
Top of the list is the carpenter’s pencil. They are an essential part of any carpentry or woodwork. They are different from ordinary graphite pencils as regular pencils are soft and can easily snap when working on rough surfaces.
Carpenters pencils are made bigger to get a comfortable grip and they have a strong lead core to make them sturdy, and easy to mark on rough surfaces, such as stones and wood.
The most common uses are for drawing lines. marking areas for cutting and marking areas for making notches in the material for measuring and planning. They are usually hexagonal or flat so that they don’t roll away.
The Claw hammer is one of the most visible tools of carpenters, mostly visible on the workbench. Interestingly it is also versatile as it is used to remove nails and act as a pry bar for wood boards.
The handle of the claw hammer should fit in the hand and the length should be comfortable for elbow motion. Make sure you don’t go for heavy heads as they can strain your muscles after prolonged use.
Though hammers with round heads are superior for driving nails and they are safer for use. If you are mature and you need a hammer for woodwork at home, go for claw hammers for their versatility.
Retractable Measuring Tape
A retractable tape is an essential tool for woodworkers. Taking a precise measurement is a fundamental part of woodworking and any variation in measurement can cause accuracy problems in the long run.
A retractable aluminum meter is used in many areas of the project, from wood pieces to the area where the finished product will be placed. When you buy a retractable measuring tape make sure to get one with a big hook or tab at the end. It is convenient to carry in a pocket or you can check for tapes that can be attached to a belt.
Chisel- Set of Chisels
Chisels are sharp metal blades attached to wooden or metal handles used for carving wood into different shapes. They come in a variety of shapes according to their uses. Most of them are used to break parts and shave away extra wood materials.
It is advisable to use a mallet instead of a hammer for driving the chisels. Another use can be for making circular shapes on lathe or woodturning machines. Highly skilled professionals have sets of chisels for carved paintings sculptures and figurines.
Level – The Level
Every professional carpenter needs a level. They are simple instruments used to determine whether a surface is a level or plumb (vertical). Amazingly, levels are one of the most critical instruments for carpenter masons and other blue-collar workers.
Various types of levels are available but the most used ones are the bubble or spirit levels. you can check the level and plumb of your woodwork. Here level means horizontal and plumb means verticle.
Reading the level is easy, you have to check whether the bubble is exactly between the lines to check for a level or plumb surface. Carpentry is a work of precision, being off for even a fraction can hamper the results.
A set of screwdrivers are an important tool used in woodworking. Other works like furnishing and construction involve driving screws. Power drills can come in handy for driving screws but some manual screwdrivers can be used for detailed work.
Try to buy sets of Both Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers as they are most commonly used. Moreover try to use exact matching screws and screwdrivers, as wider screwdrivers can damage the screws.
Also, go for longer shanks between the metal blade and the handle as they help to apply more torque when turning the screw. And if you have a budget you can buy a wall holder for the set of screwdrivers.
Block plane – Hand plane
Hand planes are the most visible and oldest tools of the trade. They are an absolute necessity for a woodworker. They can be used as a basic tool for rough work and or as detailers for minute finishing work for wood shaping.
Thin shaving of wood can be removed using this tool for leveling the surface of the wood plank. Generally, hand planes are used for reducing the thickness of wood, flattening the surface of the wood, and imparting a smooth surface to a rough piece of timber wood.
Usually, hand planes are metal blades fastened to a long flat firm body with a diagonal handle for pushing the hand plane. Dragging them across a wood surface will create a flat surface removing the thin shaving of wood.
Various sizes of hand planes are available in the market. Carpenters usually go for light easy-to-carry hand planes for narrow planks. While heavy planes are sued for beams and thick wood.
A workbench is a specialized table where the works of woodworking are done. Most of them have a flat surface with cabinets for hand tools accessories, vises, clamps, and other power tools. Most professional carpenters prefer to build their workbench according to their requirements. Nowadays you can get it online.
Clamps are fastening devices that hold objects tightly together to prevent separation or movement. An inward pressure of clamps helps to secure and grip the objects together.
They are very useful for carpenters as they allow you to free your hands to perform other tasks like sawing, cutting, or other tasks more efficiently. The tools are available in various shapes and sizes which you can use for different tasks.
Sanding blocks are used to hold sandpapers which are used to sand a piece of furniture, wall, or any other surface. They are used to give a smooth surface for painting varnishing or other resurfacing. Using sanding blocks makes it easier to grip the sandpaper and move it in any direction as needed.
Measuring squares are devices used to check the right angle’s correctness while drawing lines on materials for cutting or making holes. They consist of two straight-edge metals that are connected at right angles to each other. Carpenters and machinists mostly use them in their work.
18-Inch Metal Ruler
Rulers are essential for drawing and itching lines on any plain surface. They are also used for making precise measurements.
Metal rulers are often the first choice for students, artists, architects, and woodworking professionals. Mostly they are preferred for their weight and durability.
It comes in lengths ranging from 6 to 18 inches and they have both millimeter and inch markings. Woodworkers mostly use it for making accurate measurements and laying out lines for cutting purposes.
A center punch is a tool used to create a dent or hole in a wood surface, so they are easy for drilling. The dent or the hole created by the punch allows the drill machine to stay at one point without slipping.
Mostly, they are used for any hard surface. Good punches are made from metal rods with a narrow tip at one end and a broad flat “Butt” at the other. Woodworkers typically use a ball peen hammer to drive the punch.
One of the most used tools in woodworking is the hand saw. They’re also known as panel saws, which are used to cut pieces of wood into different shapes.
They have two parts-the handle made from wood and a steel blade with a series of sharpened teeth.
Hand saws are irreplaceable tools for traditional woodworking. Learning how to use a hand saw is simple as it is not a precision tool and they are used for cutting a larger piece of wood.
Utility knives are not exactly knives, but they are an essential part of the carpenter’s arsenal/toolbox. They are versatile cutting devices used for scribing marks on pieces of wood, cutting boxes, opening cans of wood paints just about anything where a knife is required.
A utility knife should be lightweight, easy to grip, and have a locking mechanism. Look for utility knives with metal casings and replaceable stainless steel blades which are safer and more convenient to use. And the good thing is you can carry it in your pocket.
A Sliding Bevel also known as a bevel gauge is a device used for setting angles as well as transferring angles. It is different from a square gauge as square gauges are fixed and set to a 90-degree angle.
The uniqueness of a sliding bevel is that it can be set to any angle and transferred to another piece. the device is composed of two parts, the stock, and the blade.
The stock part is made from wood or plastic, while the blade is made from hardened tempered steel. A variety of angles can be marked by adjusting the position of the blade. This is a useful tool for woodworking to mark lines in a piece of wood.
Nail sets also known as nail punches are used by carpenters, woodworkers, and metalworkers. They are mostly used to drive the nails so that the nail head is slightly below the surface.
In carpentry, the nails are driven with one or two strikes of the hammer to come in level with the surface of the wood, then the nail set is used to finish the driving of the nails.
They prevent the marks of the hammer on the wood piece. Moreover, they are also used for poking small holes for screws and drill bits in woodwork and metal works.
Mallets are similar to hammers in their function. But they are better at tasks like jointing. They are best with a chisel set, for driving the sharp heads for creating wood piece designs.
As chisels and other tools require force, it s better to drive them with mallets. moreover, the wood or rubber head of the mallet will not damage the chisel handle.
It is also preferable to use a mallet for doing furniture assembly as it will not damage the surface of the wood while driving or pushing. When you are opting to buy mallets go for mallets with comfortable handles which will allow a firm grip.
A Back saw is a type of hand saw used in woodworking projects. It is different from a typical handsaw as its use is different from other hand saws. They are used for cutting precisely. Example for cutting joints or groves in wood and for simple cutoffs.
Most backsaws are smaller in length with a hardwood or plastic handle. Typically, a metal-reinforced back edge is added for better control and more precise cutting. The stiffening rib on the edge keeps the blade from bending while cutting but they also limit the depth to which they can cut.
Curve Cutting Saw
Coping shaws are curve-cutting shaws used for making curved cuts on various ranges of wood. They are used for cutting unusual shapes and curves.
Mostly used for creating molding for coped joints. They are occasionally used to create fretwork, though they are not able to match the intricate cuts of fretsaw. The blades of the coping saw are thicker and they are not able to cut intricate cuts on wood.
Coping saws are used by experienced carpenters or woodworkers as they test the skills of the person handling them. Sometimes it is difficult to control and requires lots of practice.
Sharpening stones or whetstones are simple blocks shaped stones used for sharpening the edges of tools such as chisels, knives, plane blades, etc. Edges of the tools get sharpened by grinding or honing against the abrasive surface of the whetstones.
They come in various sizes, shapes, and material compositions. The design of stones can be flat for flat edges or any other different shapes for complex edges used in woodworking or wood turning. Most of them are made from natural and artificial materials with levels of abrasion. Thus, sharpening stones are an essential part of a carpenter’s armory.
Manual hand drills are a tool used to make holes leveraging manual power – by using your hand. Depending on the type, manual hand drills transfer the motion of your hand into torque that spins the gears or the drill bits directly.
Only a few professional carpenters are using manual hand drills as power drills have taken their place. Hand drills are the best solutions for simple drilling tasks and give that extra bit of control that you need for doing delicate or precision drilling. They are so best for pre-drilling and drilling wood prone to splitting.
Despite all the limitations, manual drills are still used because they are affordable, and they don’t need any electric power apart from your hands. Moreover, they are safer than power drills, and they offer more control for drilling where you need control and accuracy.
A making gauge is also known as a scratch gauge. They are sued in woodworking and metalworking for marking lines for cutting and other purposes. The marking gauge uses a reference edge or surface for drawing a line parallel to the edge. Most importantly they are sued to make exact measurements for cutting. Professional carpenters love this tool.
A spokeshave is a handheld tool used to shape and smooth the surface of the woods in woodworking. They are used for shaping cartwheel spokes, chair legs, paddles, bows, and arrows.
It consists of a blade fixed to the body of the tool which has handles for both hands. Since it’s a small tool they are not suitable for the large surface of the wood. And they are either pushed or pulled depending on the surface of the wood.
These are some of the basic woodworking hand tools for anyone who is interested in carpentry or any other forms of woodwork. In order to learn a new skill you have to jump in and take action to explore the area. I hope this list of tools can help you take the first step.
Best of luck!