Building up a comprehensive set of carpentry tools can be a lifetime’s work. With each new job you tackle you find you could do with just that one extra tool. As your skill as a carpenter grows you take on more advanced challenges and of course they require…more tools.
But if you’re just starting out and you want to gather together a few essentials that will come in useful for almost any carpentry project, the list below isn’t a bad place to start.
Somewhere to Keep Everything
I becomes rapidly annoying if you have weed out your tools from among your wife’s sewing gear in a disorganised kitchen drawer every time you fancy a spot of woodwork. A tool box is essential equipment for keeping your tools safe and easily accessible.
For ease of use when actually working on a project, you can’t beat a tool belt. Buy one that will accommodate the tools you use most often. Models to which you can add extra pouches for more specialised tools extend the flexibility of this elegant fashion accessory.
Bashing away at things is part of the fun of carpentry – don’t deny yourself. To start with, try a 16 oz. claw hammer (you’ll be able to pull out all those nails you bend). If you intend to do some heavier work you’ll need the grunt of a 20 oz. framing hammer.
Without some way to measure out your projects you might as well not even start. Tape measures aren’t expensive. You want the retractable metal sort (not that tangled cloth one your wife uses to measure her waist). A belt clip is useful, as is calibration in both imperial and metric.
If a carpentry project isn’t true and square it will probably be impossible to complete. And if you do get it finished, it’ll almost certainly fall to bits. Two types of square invaluable in the squaring process are a large L-shaped carpenter square and a smaller, triangular speed square.
For any sort of construction work (fences, for example) you’ll need a spirit level. The larger the scale of the project, the larger the level needed. A 2 ft model will suit most needs around the home. Framing better suits a 4 ft level.
Otherwise known as a Stanley knife, this tool has a thousand uses, from cutting string to trimming wood. Keep one in your toolkit and make sure you have extra blades – it’s no use if it’s blunt.
You’ll need a carpenter’s pencil to mark your cuts (don’t use a pen as it can bleed through paint).
For longer marking, a chalk line is useful. Basically a length of string covered with powdered chalk, it is placed over a surface and snapped against it leaving a perfectly straight line. The novice carpenter is unlikely to have great call for one, but at a later stage and for larger projects a chalk line is a very convenient marking tool.
Carpentry without a saw? Impossible, unless you work only with kitset furniture. You could buy a crosscut saw to cut against the grain, a rip saw to cut along the grain and a panel saw for finer work. But for a basic tool kit, just go with a universal saw – the disposable kind with hardened teeth give great value for money.
Although purists might shudder at the thought of joining wood with screws, you’re unlikely to do much work with wood without needing to drive in the odd screw here and there. Buy a small selection of both flat and Phillips head screwdrivers.
And there you have it. With the tools listed above you’ll have the basic equipment to get you through most carpentry jobs around the home. Good luck, and happy carpentering!
Learn more about carpenter’s tools in this video.