Pro Woodworking Tips.com
Hand Tools for a Home Woodshop
Hand Tools for a Home
Often, when setting up a woodshop for the first time, a certain amount of
uncertainty, is bound to crop up. This is a normal response to an uncommon task.
Deciding on what tools to buy, and in which order to buy them are two major questions to deal with.
Some are obvious, some not so obvious. The main thing to bear in mind, is not to buy junk. Buy good quality
tools right from the start, or you soon will be replacing them. So it's actually cheaper to buy the good ones
right away. Junk tools have a tendency to do junk work, and even a high amount of skill, can't offset the poor
quality in tools.
The line below each item, "my choice", referres to if I could only have one, which one
would serve the most purposes, with a single tool. The photos are links from which you can order the
The two main catagories in measuring tools would have to be a wood
rule and the tape measure. Both have
advantages and disadvantages. The tape measure is more convenient, but less accurate. The folding wood rule is
less convenient, but more accurate. Both are available in many configurations, particulary the tape measure. For
more on measuring devices and how to read them, click here.
My choice for an all purpose measuring tool would be a 16 foot tape measure.
Sometimes certian tools will serve multiple funtions. For example, a hammer can be bought in a
couple styles, and in several weights, varying from as little as 10 ounces for a cabinet maker, to 22 ounces,
for a house framer. The "claws" or nail pulling end of the hammer's head may be curved to offer maxinium
leverage in removing nails, or straight for being able to split lumber. In a home woodshop, the lighter option
is probably a good one, as your not driving nails as a house framer would and if you miss the nail is less
likely to do major damage. There's really no need for the extra driving power supplied by the heavier ones.
My choice for an all purpose hammer would be in the 16 ounce range, with the straight or "ripping"
claws, as they're referred to.
Hand saws are broken
down into several major catagories. There's cross cutting, which as
the name implies is used to cross cut wood, meaning to cut across the grain. There's ripping, designed to cut with the grain of the board. Then there's
Western style saws, referring to hand saws commonly used in the
United States which cut on the push stroke, and Japanese style
saws, designed on the pull stroke. The Japanese style are becoming more and more
popular as the blade of the saw is not being flexed when push through the wood. The pulling action can only
cut straight, unless of course the blade is bent.
My choice for an all purpose hand saw would have to be a double edged Japanese saw, with one edge
for ripping and the other for cross cutting.
This is a tool that has many variations. There's the engineer's
square as shown, which is an excellent tool for machinery set up, joint layout and drawing or
scribing lines. Typically these squares range in size from 2 inches to 12 inches. Then there's a bevel square, which has a handle and movable blade. This tool is used to mark
angles, or to transfer angles. Then there's the combination square.
This square often has a sliding body on a blade. One side is square, while the other side is generally a 45 degree
angle. These are also available in a one piece unit with no moving parts. These tend to be more accurate, and can
be used for machine set up and joint layout.
My choice for an all purpose square would be the one
piece combination square.
As usual, many variations on these hand tools. Used to straighten and square edges, flatten the face of boards,
pare joints, smooth surfaces and bring a level od precision to your woodworking that would be difficult to achieve
without one, or six. General catagories are jointer plane, which is
designed to straighten and square the edges of a board, these have long soles, or bottom surfaces, ranging from 20
- 24 inches. Jack planes are a general-purpose bench plane, used
for general smoothing of the edges and sizing of boards. Jack
planes are typically about 15 inches long. Bench
planes are general purpose planes and are approximately 8 inches long, with the plane blade
held on a steep angle. Block planes are handy due to their
smaller size, roughly 6 inches long, making one handed use possible. These are usually a low angle plane which
permits them to plane end grain. Molding Planes are used as the
name suggests, with their cutting blade shaped in the desired shape of the molding. Shoulder planes are designed to plane the shoulders of tenons. I have barely
touched on the types of planes available. There are literally hundreds of different styles of hand planes!
My choice for an all purpose plane would have to be a bench plane, although my personal favorite and the one I
use most often would be a skewed low angle block plane.
So many types here as well. Western Style Wood
Chisels or Japanese Style Wood Chisels is
the first option to consider. Bench chisels, used for general
woodworking, with the ability to be struck with a mallet. Dovetail
chisels designed with low shoulders to fit into tight areas. Skew chisels for getting into corners. Mortise
chisels, made much heavier duty for the abuse they take in cutting mortises. Paring chisels designed not to be hit with a mallet and able to really fine
tune a cut. Great for paring precise woodworking joints.
My choice for an all purpose wood chisel set would be bench chisels. If money wasn't a consideration, it would
be a set of Japanese chisels.
Screw driver sets are available, as are multi purpose screwdrivers as shown above. Slotted
screwdrivers, phillips screwdrivers, square drive and a number of other types are readily obtained. Several
brands offer lifetime guarantees. If one breaks simply return it to the store for immeadiate replacement. A good
quality set will last a lifetime.
My choice for an all purpose set would be a Craftsman set from Sears. They're good quality and
often sales on them make them a great value.
To be continued...