I created these hand tool buyer’s guides to help beginners who feel overwhelmed when trying to understand which hand tools they need first. It’s frustrating! Below you’ll see my summary list of the 20 basic professional woodworking hand tools that you should start to accumulate in order to start building the most basic woodworking projects. When you’re ready, you can follow the yellow buttons to visit each of the buying guides for each type of hand tool, to get help with understanding hand tool features, brands, & models. At the bottom of this page is a handy full list of tools that is sorted by “urgent”, “semi-urgent”, and “not-urgent” to buy.
Lots of good comments! I do think it is a bit of stretch to include a jointer and surface planner on the ‘basics’ list – we’ve got a slippery slope here! And a lot of different approaches – money, space, time, resources, etc. But lets plunge ahead. If you buy your wood already (or mostly) prep’ed, then the jointer & surface planner can be postponed. You definitely need a way to accurately measure linear distances (e.g. length, width) so a good ruler and tape measure. You need to be able to measure squareness – so you need a good combination square. You need to be able to mark the wood – so a good marking knife, an awl, some chalk, a fine pencil, etc. You should have some decent chisels (and good ones don’t need to cost a lot!). You will need to sharpen them (again not expensive – piece of plate glass and some sandpaper). You need a way to accurately cut your wood – a couple of good handsaws and a file or two for sharpening. You really should have a decent work surface/work bench/etc – a good first project by the way. Last of the basics – a good drill (3/8″ vs battery type). Lastly (I could go on but room is lacking), take a look at Paul Seller’s video’s for simple but highly competent work.
In the sixty years of woodworking I have found two tools of increasing necessity. One is a band saw. I can do most of my work with a band saw and hand plane. The second tool is a bow saw, or actually several bow saws. They will replace the band saw if required, though they are slow. One I made about twenty years ago has a one and a half inch wide rip blade and is about thirty inches long. I think the blade is from an old industrial band saw blade I picked up and sharpened into a rip saw blade. It works very well on ripping lumber, logs, etc. Though it tires me out to much to use it now.
This is a super cheap option for a pretty diverse tool. Like, how wrong can you go for $34, right? This tool rocks for doing cuts on larger pieces of wood that need to be more detailed than your circular saw will allow. For more detailed work I would totally go for a scroll saw, or even a band saw. But if you are building your tool box, this is a much more approachable item, both price wise and in terms of ability to be used in diverse ways. And, hey, woodworking isn’t exactly inexpensive, right?
I tried to write a book that contains all the essential information for the novice woodworker as well as some more advanced tips and tricks to jumpstart your existing woodworking skills. You won’t find any useless theories or unnecessary technical jargon to bog you down. What you will find is practical, hands-on information and advice that will save you hours of frustration (pretty good deal, huh?).
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I dedicate several chapters in this book to exploring the exciting world of tools. From age-old hand tools to the most modern machine for milling wood, Chapters 5, 6, and 7 cover them all (well, not all of them, that would be insane, not to mention take up the entire book). Not only do you get to see what tools are what, you also get a glimpse into how to use each of them safely and effectively.
The first step in developing woodworking skills is to be able to discern the best glues, joints (ways of connecting two pieces of wood), and fasteners to use. Whether you need a dovetail joint for a drawer front or a mortise-and-tenon joint for a table leg, Chapter 10 introduces you to the wonderful world of wood joints. With an understanding of the joints in Chapter 10, you can build any furniture project and make it strong and durable.
I’d like to add some type of sharpening system to your list. A simple sandpaper and slab system, stones, or the more expensive slow grinder system. Although listed, files should be in this sharpening/maintenance category as well. You’ll need these as soon as you purchase a majority of hand tools. They’ll be needed throughout each day of using the tools. Initial setup and routine maintenance will give better results with less fighting the grain and tool. Whether your a beginner or a master, the tools must be sharp and maintained.
The final step in any woodworking project is protecting the wood from moisture and damage. Chapter 18 includes lots of information about the most common types of topcoats. Because not all of them provide the same degree of beauty and protection, you get a chance to compare the pros and cons of each topcoat so that you can choose the best option for you and your project.
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I have used a Workmate successfully for years and I am in the process of building an upgraded replacement for the work surfaces. My replacement bench top will be a little longer, much thicker and it will have and extended apron between the two halves to greatly improve holding wood vertically for dovetailing. With this simple upgrade it turns the little Workmate into a very capable portable woodworking bench.
I agree, that’s a nice and easy set up to start with. I’d say a block plane it’s handy for small areas, and touch ups. A no.5 is excellent but a bit heavy and tiring sometimes. I find that a nice rabbet block plane (shoulder + block) with two irons with different sharpening angles it’s essential to me. One fine flat rasp and a medium flat file would complete my set.
I prefer the large size because it will cut the most sizes. Years ago I purchased a medium shoulder plane, but it didn’t cut the larger sized joints, so I sold it and purchased a large shoulder plane so I could cut and trim most sized joints. Most of your traditional woodworking hand tools can be vintage/used, but used shoulder planes can be very hard to rehab and get “square”, so I recommend spending the extra money on a new shoulder plane. See my recommendations in my hand plane buying guide.
This is a super cheap option for a pretty diverse tool. Like, how wrong can you go for $34, right? This tool rocks for doing cuts on larger pieces of wood that need to be more detailed than your circular saw will allow. For more detailed work I would totally go for a scroll saw, or even a band saw. But if you are building your tool box, this is a much more approachable item, both price wise and in terms of ability to be used in diverse ways. And, hey, woodworking isn’t exactly inexpensive, right?

Handsaws (often called “panel saws”) are long, thin saws with a comfortable wooden handle. They are used for rough dimensioning of your lumber. Although a “panel saw” is technically a smaller handsaw that fits into the panel of a tool chest, I’ll hereafter refer to this type of saw as a “Panel Saw” to differentiate them from the broad category referred to as “hand saws”. Panel saws come in two tooth configurations: “Rip” (cuts along the grain…like a chisel) and “Cross Cut” (cuts across the grain…like a knife). You will need both.


More than a decade ago I spent 2 weeks in Maine aspiring to learn furniture making. On my return home I started enthusiastically planning to turn my basement into a proper shop – with all the “essential” tools I had learned to use. My list reflected my engineer’s preference for buying quality and quickly exceeded $25k in power tools alone (table saw, band saw, joiner, thickness planer, drill press…) even before solving the power, lighting and dust challenges.

Some tools that are required for this project are Miter saw, drilling machine, pencil, tape measure, screws, etc. Those, who prefer a video tutorial instead, can visit the below link to a YouTube video tutorial that illustrates the process of creating a DIY Beer Bottle Crate. The video tutorial explains every step properly so that anyone can make a Beer bottle crate easily.

If you bought this superb polished table in a store, it would cost you a fortune, but our detailed instructions will help you make one for less than $100. And it looks like highly polished stone, but no-one would know it’s actually made from concrete with a wooden base. Also, you can embellish the top with leaf prints, like the table shown here, or personalize it with glass or mosaic tiles or imprints of seashells.

The final step in any woodworking project is protecting the wood from moisture and damage. Chapter 18 includes lots of information about the most common types of topcoats. Because not all of them provide the same degree of beauty and protection, you get a chance to compare the pros and cons of each topcoat so that you can choose the best option for you and your project.
If we are out of stock on something you have ordered, we ask you to be patient. We won't forget you or your order, and will ship the missing item within 24 hours after we get it in our warehouse (the expected date on your order is based on the information available at order time). You can cancel a backorder at any time by notifying us by phone, mail, fax or e-mail.
However, I would recommend that you either build a wooden workbench, or purchase one if you feel a workbench build is too advanced for you right now. However, I created the DVD “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench with Will Myers” so that even beginners can build a solid, portable, and very affordable workbench that will fit almost anywhere, using mostly or only hand tools. You can buy it in my store here. You can find Will’s free workbench plans for the Moravian Workbench here. Whichever path you choose, make sure you choose to either build or buy a heavy & sturdy wooden workbench, with at least a 3″ solid top, strong supportive base legs, and two strong vises.
A staple of every For Dummies book, Part IV presents the Part of Tens. Chapter 19 includes ten good habits to get into to make your woodworking experience safer. Chapter 20 offers ten woodworking pitfalls that almost everyone encounters at one time or another. (Oh, and ways to avoid or fix them, too.) Chapter 21 gives you some woodworking resources so that you can keep expanding your woodworking knowledge.
One of the most important aspects of woodworking is understanding the properties of wood. I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised about how many woodworkers I talk to who don’t know why wood acts the way it does. Wood changes with the weather and the stresses put upon it (such as when it’s stacked in a pile under a bunch of other wood). It expands and contracts and can twist, warp, or cup depending on the stresses that exist within it (from the direction of the grain in the board). Being able to look at a board and determine where those stresses are and how they may impact the board as it experiences changes in humidity requires some basic understanding of wood and how it’s made.

This wood bench plan is sponsored by The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product. All ideas and opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. My neighbor saw a cute wood bench at a local restaurant and wanted one for her house.  She snapped a few pics for me, … [Read more...]


Products and systems by Lamello have always been Products and systems by Lamello have always been designed for longevity and reliability. This legendary durability is combined with environmental stewardship in view as strict environmental regulations at our production site in Switzerland ensure that all resources are used with consideration many of them stemming from sustainable husbandry and management. ...  More + Product Details Close
Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill. There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on. Learn all about these options (along with some suggestions on what to look for when shopping) in this article on corded power drills.
Summertime means loads of fun playing games outside with family and friends. We love to bring out yard games like Kubb, Croquet, and Danish Ball. My kids love to play the traditional Jenga. I thought it would be fun to make a giant sized version for the yard. The traditional Jenga pieces are 1.5 cm thick, 2.5 cm wide and 7.5 cm long, making the Giant Jenga pieces couldn't be … [Read more...]
In researching the Sloyd tool cabinet shown at left I found some old tool catalogs from Chandler & Barber of Boston (a primary supplier of Sloyd paraphernalia), including one from 1900 complete with a list of pricing for all the tools in the cabinet. This got me thinking. According to the Federal Reserve’s website, $1 in 1900 should be worth about $27 today. Yet a straight monetary conversion doesn’t paint a complete picture since some tools that were common back then are a specialty today, and vice versa. So I created a spreadsheet that includes columns for the original hand tool prices, those same prices adjusted for inflation and actual prices for similar tools from today’s retailers. Click here to see that spreadsheet.

​Luckily, we have also managed to find a detailed video tutorial of the Barn door project that illustrates the process of building a Barn door of your own. The steps and instructions in the video tutorial are different from the source links listed above. Actually, you can make different types of designs for your Barn door depending on which one you can afford easily and DIY on your own.
This Farmhouse Side Table post is sponsored by The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product. All ideas and opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. Building a new farmhouse side table to go along with my farmhouse coffee table has been on my list for a … [Read more...]

If we are out of stock on something you have ordered, we ask you to be patient. We won't forget you or your order, and will ship the missing item within 24 hours after we get it in our warehouse (the expected date on your order is based on the information available at order time). You can cancel a backorder at any time by notifying us by phone, mail, fax or e-mail.

Sometimes Grandparents can be hard to buy gifts for, they seem to have everything already. But hey you can't go wrong with darling gifts of grand kids, right!?! In this post I'm going to share a couple of ideas for personalized photo gifts. To make the photo gifts, I will be using Photoshop Elements 2018. I have been using Photoshop Elements ever since I graduated from trying … [Read more...]
Just for the record, a jointer and planer are not from the ICDT kit – the philosophy on that column is, indeed, beginner AND basic (hence the Workmate). The tools we suggest in the ICDT manual are for those who are working at a kitchen table or in a backyard; the tools the editors would recommend for someone who is quite sure he or she wants to pursue serious furniture making would be rather different.
I’m not sold on the need for a power jointer for flattening a surface. That said, I do have a Shopsmith 4″ jointer.. It’s great for jointing edges, and perhaps flattening the occasional rails and stiles, but it of course is inadequate for surfacing wide boards. Would a six inch jointer be better…..not by much. So what do we do? Go to an eight inch, or better yet a ten inch jointer? Now we’re getting into really big, heavy, and electrically hungry machines that are not really suitable for the small shop that is likely to be in a small shed or garage.
Whether you're new to woodworking or you've been doing it for years, Woodcraft's selection of woodworking projects is one the best places to find your next big project. Whether you're looking to make wooden furniture, pens, toys, jewelry boxes, or any other project in between, the avid woodworker is sure to find his or her next masterpiece here. Find hundreds of detailed woodworking plans with highly accurate illustrations, instructions, and dimensions. Be sure to check out our Make Something blog to learn expert insights and inspiration for your next woodworking project.

Block planes have become one of the most oft-used tools in a woodworker’s workshop. Some traditional woodworkers even keep them in their aprons! These little planes can be used to trim your joints, put chamfers on board edges, trim end grain, etc. I would recommend finding a low angle block plane, because the low angle lets you cut difficult grain more easily.

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