To start off you only need either a 1/4″ or 3/8″ mortise chisel (or some size close to those). You don’t need a whole set of mortise chisels. Mortise chisels (also spelled “mortice”) are used for chopping mortises (rectangular holes) into the side of your board for insertion of a tenon. “Mortise and Tenon” is a very common and very strong joint that most people have heard of.

Thank you for this post. I am about three years into wood working with handtools. I didn’t want to be a handtool collector. I wanted a good set of tools I could use. Since funds were tight and I wasn’t sure if I would keep doing this, I wanted to build my tools slowly. What you outlined is more or less what I ended up getting and it has indeed served me well. One can easily do a lot with all of these tools. At some point about two years into the hobby, I had a much better feel for what I wanted to make and what I may or may not need beyond this.


Looking for a great gift for a friend or family member or maybe a Christmas gift? Recommended woodwork projects include a turned wood box with a lid or how to make a jewlery box. New to woodworking? Great! Check out these simple beginner’s woodworking projects. No matter the DIY woodworking project you can find your next gift idea in the wood craft videos listed below.
Last, but not least…but often left until last, let’s talk routers. If you already own Ryobi batteries, this is the no-brainer entry-level router for you. As you get into doing more router work you will learn there are different kinds of routers (trim, combination, and full size). Honestly, I don’t own this router, and when I first purchased a router a number of years ago I had no idea what I was getting. If I did it again I would start here and get comfortable with it, then decide from there what my main applications are. I will add that if you are using a router table, which I totally recommend (I use this one), you will need a full size. My old router is going out right now, and I will likely replace it with this Bosch model.
The very affordable coping saw (often around $20) is regularly used for rough cutting shapes in the board, but especially for removing waste from dovetail joints (one of the most common wood joints). An affordable coping saw will work just fine as long as you have plenty of replacement blades on hand (also very affordable). Read my hand saw buying guide for more detail on brands & features to look for when purchasing a coping saw. 
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