The Block Plane
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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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