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Essential Tools Needed for Woodworking | Complete Guide

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If you’re looking to develop your skills in a new craft, woodworking is a great choice.

Not only can you have a fantastic time, but you’re rewarded with useful and attractive objects that you created with your own two hands.

However, if you don’t know a lot about woodworking, it can be hard to know where to begin.

What tools are needed for woodworking? The tools that you need as a beginner include the following:

  • Chisels. 
  • Mallets and hammers.
  • Clamps and vises.
  • Files and rasps.
  • Screwdrivers and a drill.
  • Planers, planes, and spokeshaves.
  • Hand saws.
  • Router and router bits.
  • Tape measure and a combination square.

Of course, this list is going to vary from person to person. Different people are interested in different aspects of woodworking, after all.

However, this list is a great place to start if you are introducing yourself to the craft.

What Tools Are Needed for Woodworking?

As you gain more and more expertise in woodworking, you might end up expanding your list of tools.

However, you probably want to start with a fundamental set of tools when you are just beginning to navigate your newfound hobby.

The following is a generalized list of tools recommended for beginners just starting out in woodworking.


GREBSTK Professional Wood Chisel Set with Oxford Bag for Woodworking, CR-V Steel Chisel, Comfortable Beech Handle Wood Chisel, 4 Piece
  • Perfect for professional and beginner woodworkers.
  • Quenching treatment, high hardness, strong toughness, sharp edge, no curling and chipping.

There are many types of chisels that you can use for woodworking, however the most common are the bench chisels. These chisels can either have flat edges or beveled edges. 

Specialized chisels including paring and mortise are nice to have, but you can complete many projects without them.

Chisels come in an assortment of widths, so purchasing a set is usually the most budget-friendly option.

I’ve found that the Grebstk Set is just right for a wide variety of jobs and is sturdy enough to stand up to a good deal of abuse.

It includes an Oxford zippered bag, a safety cap for each chisel, and four sizes: 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch. 

Mallets and Hammers

If you think a hammer is a hammer, take some time to stroll through the tool section of a home improvement store.

You’ll find that options include different sizes, shapes, materials, and purposes.

Here’s what I recommend for beginners:

  • An old-fashioned carpenter’s hammer. Get a regular sized one and a smaller one as well to accommodate for different size projects.  
  • A rubber mallet. Mallets are also useful in woodworking, particularly for pushing parts of your project together without ruining the surfaces. 
  • A tack hammer. This thin-headed hammer is useful for driving in very small nails. Look for one that has a magnet on one end.
  • Needle nose pliers. True, they are not hammers, but you will want one to hold very small nails when hammering. Your fingers will thank you.

Pro Tip:  Hold a nail with your fingernails pointed toward the wood. That way, if you miss the nail, you will hit the fleshy side of your fingers, not your nails.

Clamps and Vises

Yost Vises LV-4 Homeowner's Vise | 4.5 Inch Jaw Width with a 3 Inch Jaw Opening Home Vise | Secure Grip with Swivel Base | Assembled with a Combination of Powder Coated Cast Iron and Steel | Blue
  • HOME VISE: Is the perfect tool for your home workshop. Made from heavy duty 30,000 PSI...
  • TECHNICAL SPECS: Jaw Width: 4.5" x Jaw Opening: 3" x Throat Depth: 2.6" x Pipe...

Clamps are essential for many woodworking projects. Essentially, a clamp anchors your project so that it doesn’t move around while you are working on it.

There are many different types of clamps, and your choice really depends on the particular project you’re currently doing. 

A vise plays a similar role to that of a clamp.

The most basic type of vise has two jaws that will hold your project and a screw that will pull the jaws either closer together or farther apart, in order to hold the project tightly.

Typically, a vise is attached directly to your workbench.

I wouldn’t want to do without my Yost vise. It’s held a multitude of all sorts of projects together for me over the years.

Files and Rasps

Files and rasps are essential to create refined and smooth woodworking projects.

They are shaping tools that can remove more material than sandpaper can in the same amount of time.

A rasp has individual teeth. You’ll find these available in varying degrees of coarseness, so choose according to how much you need to shave off.

A file is like a rasp, except it will give you a finer finish. Just like a rasp, a file has teeth, except the teeth are much smaller and will leave you with smoother wood.

Screwdrivers and a Drill

There are different types of screwdrivers that you can use and each type has compatibility with a different type of screw head.

The type of screw you will be using depends on the nature of your project.

Obviously, the screwdriver will need to be compatible with the screw so that it can lock in with the screw and screw it into the wood. 

quality screwdriver set will ensure you’re able to tackle any screw you run across.

A power drill, either the plug-in type or a cordless model, will save you a ton of time and effort.

My drill of choice is the cordless model by Black and Decker. For setting screws and drilling holes, that drill is my best friend.


Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Hand Planer, 3-1/4
  • Powerful planer with 6.5 Amp rating and 16,500 RPM speed for fast stock removal and smooth...
  • Spring-loaded stand elevates tool to protect blade and tool resting spot; special shape allows...

A planer is a tool that you used to create wooden boards of uniform thickness. It will also ensure that the boards are completely flat on each side.

Planers can be manual, handheld devices, but most of the ones that are used nowadays are power planers.

With these, you set the cut depth, turn on the machine, and then feed the wooden board through the machine to achieve your desired thickness. Easy as can be.

I use my Bosch electric planer all the time. 

Planes and Spokeshaves

These are both shaping tools. Planes are used to shape wood by removing small slivers at a time and smoothing out the surface. They really are a must-have tool for your toolbox.  

Spokeshaves are hand tools that you use specifically for curved pieces of wood. You can use a spokeshave on a flat surface, but it’s generally more efficient to use a plane for that.

A spokeshave is not a requirement but is excellent if you plan to work with any kind of curved wooden surfaces.  

Mine happens to be by Swpeet.

Hand Saws, Router, and Router Bits

For any sort of cutting work, whether it’s straightening edges, cutting boards down to their final size, or doing some cross cuts, a basic hand saw is, of course, indispensable.

A router is a tool that you will use to hollow out an area in a piece of wood. I’d recommend sticking with a name brand product like a Dewalt router.

Router bits have different shapes and help you make cuts into the wood in order to form a type of groove.

Combination Square and Tape Measure

In order to accurately measure dimensions on pieces of wood, you will definitely need a retractable tape measure.

combination square will also come in handy.

This is a measuring instrument that you can use in order to measure different angles and is commonly used to make sure that 90-degree angles are accurate.

Sharpening Tool

Your planes and chisels are two tools that will need to be sharpened eventually.

sharpening stone is a handy way of doing so and will save you an embarrassing trip to the local hardware store to ask for sharpening help. 

What Kinds of Projects Can a Novice Woodworker Do?

If you are looking for projects to do that will immerse you into the world of woodworking but not be too overwhelming, you should start with a couple of simple, basic projects.

Practical items such as birdhouses, stands for outdoor plants, shoe racks for the mudroom, candle holders, and bookshelves, to name a few, are typically perfect first-time projects to try.

Sawinery has an inspirational list of 100 projects just right for beginners.

It’s important to remember that safety comes first with all these projects. If you can, find someone who has more experience in woodworking to help you through your first few attempts.

Final Thoughts

Woodworking can be a lot of fun, and it can be gratifying to create something that not only looks good but has purpose as well.

Therefore, it is essential to have the right tools when you are starting out.

Of course, as you acquire more experience and skills in this craft, you can add more and more tools. It’s good to start off with the basics, though, and build on this base over time.

One final recommendation I would share with any beginner is to know for sure and have on hand all tools that will be needed for your project before you get started.

I know from experience that it just plain stinks to be all fired up to begin and to go to the trouble of laying out all the equipment only to realize that you’re lacking a critical tool.

Get your basics together first, then dive in headfirst to a hobby that is sure to quickly win you over.

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