Best Hand Tools for Woodworking

September 18, 2022

Carpenter working on his woodworking project.

In any profession, the right tools are needed for the right hand; this is to make the user provides elegant and mind-blowing work with efficient and effective timing performance. These tools must not be taken lightly, because the product at the end of manufacturing depends on their presence, sophistication, and utilization to complement their user’s ability. For carpenters or any other profession that deals with the use of wood, these tools are necessary for an effective, efficient, and high-quality end product.  

Here are some of the essentially used tools that woodworker must-have. This article includes a brief description of the said tools. There are a lot of woodworkers tools out there, and in this article, we will only talk of the most important ones, tools that carpenters often use and need in performing their trade.

Essential Woodworking & Carpentry Tools List


A carpenter needs to be precise when cutting. They use pencils to make these accurate marks. One good pencil to have is a mechanical carpenter’s pencil. This pencil doesn’t need to be sharpened like traditional pencils. It looks like a utility knife that can come with a sharp edge to make precise marks. It is more expensive as compared to conventional pencils or chalks, but it is a good investment. This mechanical pencil can be used to make lines on rough and hard surfaces like stone or concrete.

Utility Knife

Having a utility knife is a must for a carpenter. It can be challenging to find a good utility knife for carpentry, but sticking with a utility knife that uses disposable blades is a great option. It is safer to use as the blade always withdraws into the grip when used. A utility knife is an essential tool as it can be used for different applications likes cleaning out mortise joints or scribing woods.

They are also known as utility knives and comes in different sizes, shapes, and added features. The most common type is the one with a removable blade that can be replaced when done. It has a lock-back mechanism that enables it to be folded, thereby limiting exposure to the environment. They are mostly used when cleaning, scraping, carving, scribing on wood.  Trimming knives are also important and are seen within the arsenal of many carpenters and woodworkers.

Nail Set

A nail set is a vital tool seen with many carpenters and woodworkers. It comes in different dimensions and is described to look like awls. They are utilized in driving a nail to the finished wood part. This is done to reduce splintering or any other form of damage that can result in a bad product. When the nail set is not used, the hammerhead has a very high tendency of striking the nail and the wood when it is near to it, which can cause damage to the finish. These nail sets are long and will hold the nail with either their concave or convex surface, and their head is large so that they can be hit with a hammer without damage to the wood. They reduce the occurrence of half-moon shape marks, which are as a result of the hammer mistakenly hitting the wood.

Block Planes

Block planes are used in many ways, making them an important part of woodworker tool packs. They are small and easy to carry from place to place, even with one hand. They are also made using metal parts so that they are resistant to degradative conditions. The tool is designed with the blade at a certain angle and direction. Making it the ideal tool in removing dried glue, in scrapping part of wood so that they can fit into the necessary parts, in smoothing and planning the wood surfaces. They can be employed with both softwood and hardwood.

Hand Saw

They are common with many traditional woodworkers; they come in different dimensions. Still, they are utilized the same way it is mainly employed by traditional woodworkers to give wood with an excellent finish.

For controlled cuts, especially on woods, a hand saw is a carpenter’s best tool to have. The hand saw is used for making finishing touches, not as powerful as power saws, but is an irreplaceable tool in carpentry. It comes in different types such as rip saw, coping saw, and hack saw, and depending on the cut or shape that you want to produce, you can choose from these different types of hand saws.

Circular saw

Circular saw is an important tool in the arsenal of a woodworker loved because of its portability, ease of operation, and cutting action. It must not be seen as the ring and hole saw, which features the same mechanism of operation but are totally different. It is an electric handheld tool that comes in different sizes and sophistication with each type for cutting many materials such as woods, plastics amongst others. The blade is connected to a motor and held near the material to be cut to deliver the cutting action.

Claw Hammer

When choosing a claw hammer, consider its weight and power. The most popular claw hammer that carpenters use is one that weighs 20 oz. (566.99gram). At this weight, it is easy to use to drive nails, and with enough force, it is easy to pull out nails too. Choose a claw hammer with steel or fiberglass handle for a more comfortable grip and easier use. Claw hammer with wooden handles can look better but doesn’t last long when used regularly. The downside of a claw hammer with a steel or fiberglass handle is its inability to absorb vibration when driving nails. Using it to drive nails for a period of time can cause strain to your hands. Get a claw hammer with a rubberized grip or handle for added comfort and control. A claw hammer with a wooden handle is best suited for driving nails as it won’t stress your wrist and hand.

Holding a wooden handle for too long can make your palms sweaty, so it is best to wear gloves when driving or pulling out nails.

Claw hammer has two heads; the first one is the “V” shaped head used to extract. The second head is the rounded end that is made of steel and is used to drive nails.

Tape Measures

Before starting a job, a carpenter uses a measuring tape. Woodworking requires precision, and it always means having an exact measurement before cutting. Invest in a tape measure that offers high accuracy when it comes to measurement. Get an electronic tape measure that can help to measure wood pieces and a tape measure that has different measurements available such as centimeters, meters, and feet. There are tape measures that also come with millimeters in case you need it for small dimensions.

Even though it does not function in many activities while a woodworker works, the tape is an essential part of a carpenter’s arsenal. It is used in measuring with the metallic end clamped on an edge and used in taking the measurement. Many types are using different units; however, it is advisable to get a measuring tape having the meter and foot units.


Drills are important in two major applications among woodworkers, i.e., in fastening of bolts and in drilling little holes in woods. These applications depend on the component utilized when it is being used. The drill is simply the powerhouse, and it comes in different dimensions, speed, and power; the components are the ones to determine the action been carried out. With a drill bit, the application is in the making of holes. While with a driver, the application is in the driving of bolts and others into the wood.


For making precise cuts, or to chip an opening when doing woodwork, you need to have a stainless chisel. You must have a complete set of chisels to make it easier to do any woodwork project. The smallest chisel has a size of ¼ inches, and it can go as long as 2 inches. Chisels are often used to chip woods like for door hinges. Chisels are also used in doing fine woodworking projects.

Corner chisels can be used to make a hole punch with the help of a hammer. This tool is easy to maintain. Always keep its edges sharp and apply oil regularly. Chisels with wood handles should be wrapped in metal to add protection against regular hammering. Carpenters often use a chisel to position prying deck boards when attaching it to its frame.

The Level

For home projects, you can use small levels and not those 6-foot levels that construction sites often use. Any DIY woodworking projects can use a 48” level. Some carpenters also have an 8” level or torpedo level for their other woodworking projects. The level is the horizontal surface of your construction, and the plumb is the vertical surface of your construction. It is used to ensure that what you are building is in level or plumb.

Choose a level that is made of brass-edged wood or metal. It should come with a precise bubble reading for level and plumb. You know you have a correct level or plumb if the bubble is in between the lines. A level can also make readings for a string level and laser level.

Quick Clamps

Whether you are making marks or cutting, you need a clamp to keep your wood or lumber in place. Quick clamps can do this job as well as secure and hold pieces of wood or lumber so you can saw or cut them effectively. There are different types, sizes, and designs of clamps that you can use depending on the woodworking step you need to do. Quick clamps are very useful when making 90 and 45 degrees cut.

Carpenter’s Square

Despite the introduction of many high-end woodworking tools, carpenters can’t let go if their carpenter’s square. A carpenter should always carry a 6-inch model of a carpenter’s square to make precise angle cuts. This tool is often used with a table saw. Invest with a metal carpenter’s square because it doesn’t lose shape over time, unlike its plastic counterpart.


It is also known as a saw-horse and is an essential tool of many carpenters and woodworkers. It is generally referred to as a carpenter’s best friend due to heavy reliance associated with its presence. The workbench, according to its name, is where most activities are performed; an example of such activities is cutting. It comes in different sizes, which have different features and addons and are used in different scenarios. There is a light model, which is portable. These utilized in small installation processes such as doors and framings. The more improved model has many features such as the clam and alterable surfaces which you can change to suit your need. There is no size limit, with the workbenches desired depending on the workspace present.

It is to be noted that a tool absent from this list does not make it less important; the omission might be due to the specificity or other reasons. All these tools discussed are standard tools found in the arsenal of many woodworkers and carpenters.

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