Bob Vila's 7 Essential Woodworking Tools

As any homeowner will attest, there is always something to fix at home. If it involves woodworking, you’ll want to equip your workshop with the right set of tools. Here are 7 essential woodworking tools to get any job done—or, at least, on its way.

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  1. The Block Plane

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    For smoothing end grain, a block plane is unsurpassed. It fits right in your pocket, making it handy for fitting and trim work. If you have only one plane, this is probably your best choice.

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  2. Tape Measure

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    When it comes to marking, measuring, and laying out, the tape measure has a thousand different uses. For your workshop, make sure that you have at least a three-quarter-inch-wide, 10- or 12-foot-long tape. I find a small (6-foot-long, half-inch-wide) pocket tape goes with me almost everywhere.

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  3. Try Square

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    A try square helps mark offcuts, identify what’s square (and, equally important, what isn’t), and belongs on your workbench at all times. There are numerous designs to choose from, but the most versatile is probably a combination square.

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  4. Torpedo Level

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    It’s small, portable, and invaluable for a great many leveling-off or plumbing-up tasks around the house and yard.


    Related:  Levels

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  5. Bevel Gauge

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    Angle cuts, anyone? The bevel gauge takes the guesswork out of matching an existing angle; it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and useful indeed.


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  6. The Hammer

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    I find that for the sort of finish work more often encountered in a workshop, a fairly light hammer (perhaps 14 or 16 ounces) with a smooth, belled (slightly convex) face is good. A wooden mallet is handy, too, for driving chisels, fitting workpieces, adjusting planes, and many other little tasks.


    Related:  Types of Hammers

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  7. Chisels

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    A set of sturdy chisels will become invaluable to you over time. Good chisels are worth the added investment: They keep their edges and are safer to use (sharp tools require less pressure to drive and are less likely to break free when forced). On the other hand, top-of-the-line chisels are probably not required for the average Saturday-morning, let’s-fix-the-broken-toy kind of workshop.


    Related: Sharpening Chisels

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  8. Handsaws

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    No matter how many highly engineered power saws I collect, there will always be a place for handsaws in my workshop. Perhaps we don’t need quite the same range that were required before electricity, or even steam power, became commonplace, but I’d recommend a minimum of a good crosscut handsaw, a hacksaw, a small backsaw (like a dovetail or a gentleman’s saw, or perhaps the Japanese equivalent, a dozuki), and a coping saw.

    Related:  Basic Saw Cuts

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  9. For More...

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    If you're interested in more about tools, consider:


    10 Great Woods for Woodworking


    How To: Make Homemade Clamps


    How To: Install Pegboard in Your Workshop

    DeVos Custom Woodworking

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