18 Woodworking Tools That Should Be on Your Wishlist

18 Woodworking Tools That Should Be on Your Wishlist

Handyman
By Dikran Seferian July 11, 2022

It’s not the tools that make a craftsperson, but the difference they make is pretty big. Kicking off your woodworking journey with the right kit will enhance your experience while saving you a good deal of money down the line; they say “buy once, buy right” for a reason. Fortunately, getting started with this noble craft isn’t all that expensive. A few hundred dollars will buy you a whole set of quality woodworking tools and equipment that would last for many years. If you’re planning on setting up your own woodwork space, there’s a list of tools you’ll need in order to start off. 

3 Master Builder-Approved Woodworking Rules

Master builders go by three fundamental principles about working with wood. Keeping these in mind will allow you to take your woodworking hobby (or job) to the next level.

  • Never scrimp on tools and equipment; get the best quality you can possibly afford.
  • Use the right woodwork tool for the job. Using a screwdriver as a chisel is a huge no.
  • A good craftsman never blames his tools.

Woodworking Tools and Equipment You Need to Have

1. Solid Workbench

A decent workbench is where your woodworking journey begins.

A decent workbench is where your woodworking journey begins.

Often overlooked, no good woodworking project ever made it past the planning stage without a well-made workbench. Yours should be sturdy, large enough to fit your projects, and include at least one vise.

2. A Reliable Level

Levels are must-have tools in pretty much any woodwork shop. But whichever you choose, a reliable level will allow you to check the vertical plumb and horizontal level of just about anything you ever build. You can go for one of the old-school bubble levels or the fancy laser-guided ones. 

3. Steel Measuring Tape

Make sure the measuring tape you get is of good quality. Avoid using the flimsy, cheap measuring ones as they tend to be inexact, sloppy, and unreliable. And whether you’re building a DIY cabinet drawer or perhaps a blanket ladder, don’t forget the golden rule: measure twice, cut once.

4. 16 oz. Claw Hammer

Hammers are among the oldest tools invented by humankind, dating all the way back to the Stone Ages.

Hammers are among the oldest tools invented by humankind, dating all the way back to the Stone Ages.

Any carpenter would have a set of different hammers in their woodwork shop. One type you’ll definitely need, however, is a steel-handled, rubber grip claw hammer from a reputable maker. Wooden handles are great if you like the retro feel, but steel or fiberglass means you won’t have to replace that wooden handle every now and then.

5. A Set of Files

Consider buying your files in a set and make sure they have ergonomic handles. You may also want to get a wide enough variety that you can tackle any filing job.

6. Sharp Set of Chisels

Chisels come in several forms so consider getting a complete set.

Chisels come in several forms so consider getting a complete set.

Make sure not to buy cheap chisels; they'll get dull. And when you sharpen them, they won’t stay sharp for long and you’ll mess up expensive wood. Instead, get the priciest set of chisels you can afford. It goes without saying that when it comes to woodworking tools, you really do get what you pay for.

7. 12-Point Crosscut Saw

No better tool that cuts wood has ever been invented unless you’re talking about one of those high-end laser table saws. To test out your crosscut saw, grab a pencil and draw a straight line across a foot-wide piece of scrap wood. Then, use the saw to cut through the line. Do it again and again until your cut is perfectly straight. No pencil marks should be left on the wood.

8. Combination Square

This versatile woodwork tool will tell you when your ninety-degree angles are actually 90°. Every woodworking project will require a combination square or a carpenter’s square. Square corners are the first requirement of good workmanship, especially if you’re building something like a DIY picket fence

9. Power Drill

Power drills are incredibly versatile tools you need to have.

Power drills are incredibly versatile tools you need to have.

It’s safe to say that a good electric drill, whether corded or cordless, beats just about every hand drill ever made. The lithium-ion batteries in the new generation of cordless drills make them light, powerful, and long-lasting. While you’re at it, make sure to get a good set of drill bits — once again, the best you can afford.

10. Various Screwdrivers

Aside from serving as tools for woodworkers, a set of screwdrivers can be useful for a range of general household tasks — practically anything that involves screws. The most common types of screwdrivers are flathead, Phillips, and Torx. You can find these tools in various lengths and sizes so consider having a set of each type. Just make sure not to use them as chisels or you’ll find yourself back in the hardware store pretty soon. 

11. Smoothing Plane

While you may be compelled to go ahead and buy a power planer, bear in mind that it can take up a great deal of space. And if you’re a beginner, it can be somewhat of an overkill. A basic smoothing plane, on the other hand, will do just fine. As with other wood tools, always go for the better quality. Chances are a low-grade smoothing plane is more trouble than it's worth.

12. Orbital Sander

Having an orbital sander will save you hours of tedious sanding by hand.

Having an orbital sander will save you hours of tedious sanding by hand.

While it would make sense to just use sandpaper if you’re a beginner, an orbital sander can make your life so much easier. You’ll mainly use this woodworking tool to smooth down a wooden surface, but it can also come in handy for polishing in addition to removing paint. Corded varieties are lower on the price spectrum than their cordless counterparts.

13. Wooden or Rubber Mallet

A mallet is essentially a type of hammer that typically features a rubber head — although ones with wooden heads are also common. While they may be similar to hammers, mallets aren't meant for driving nails but rather pushing pieces of wood together. If your projects involve joinery, a mallet will definitely come in handy. These woodworking tools are also useful for knocking chisels into the wood.

14. A Set of Clamps

When you’re working with wood, you’ll need a set of clamps for just about anything. Whether you’re gluing panels, holding down a board, or doing a final assembly, clamps will essentially serve as a third hand. You’ll find various types including bench clamps, bar clamps, and C-clamps. Since they’re all quite affordable, consider investing in a variety of clamps because chances are they’ll all come in handy.

15. Circular Saw

Circular saws are a must-have in every woodworking shop.

Circular saws are a must-have in every woodworking shop.

A circular saw is one power tool you’ll find in almost every beginner’s toolbox. As the name suggests, circular saws come with a round blade with sharp teeth that cut through wood. These tools for woodworkers come in different power ratings and can be either corded or cordless.

16. Electric Jigsaw

A decent jigsaw is something every woodworking beginner needs to have. Also known as saber saws, these power tools are useful for making straight, curved, or serpentine cuts. To get a better idea of what a jigsaw can do, simply picture a jigsaw puzzle. This woodwork device basically features a reciprocating blade that’s easy to guide. You can operate a jigsaw with one hand and hold the piece of wood with the other.

17. A Trusty Toolbox

A neatly organized space is key when you’re working with wood. Having said that, you’re going to need something that carries all your woodwork tools — though probably not the power tools. A toolbox allows you to store and organize your chisels, screwdrivers, hammers, and anything else that fits. You can find toolboxes in various sizes and materials.

18. A Few Sawhorses

A pair of sawhorses will often come in handy when you’re working with large pieces of wood.

A pair of sawhorses will often come in handy when you’re working with large pieces of wood.


In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a type of horse. But as the name might suggest, a sawhorse is a four-legged piece of equipment that provides balance and support when you’re sawing long pieces of wood. You’ll typically use sawhorses in pairs, but it’s not uncommon to find a dozen lying around in a woodworking shop. While sawhorses are commercially available, you can brush up on your carpentry skills by building one yourself. And soon enough, you’ll be able to tackle some fun DIY projects.

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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