Carpentry Tools (What You Need to Get Started)
It isn’t always easy to know where to start with woodworking, but one of the first steps to mastering this craft is understanding the tools of the trade.
In this article, you’ll find a curated list of essential tools that every starting carpenter should have. From common tools such as hammers, saws, and screwdrivers, to specialized ones like chisels and hand planes.
1. Claw Hammer
This is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a hammer, and it’s definitely one of the most essential carpentry tools there is.
The claw is used for pulling up nails, and the flat edge is used for hammering them down. Get a 16 oz one, since it’s a weight that’s good for most jobs.
2. Tape Measure
The metric system is best, but if you’re in the USA, you’ll need one that measures in imperial units. Get one that goes up to 30 feet, because you don’t want to have to measure something multiple times just because you bought one that was too short. You’ll be surprised at how often you need to measure distances that are longer than you think.
3. Spirit Level
A spirit level is a level with a bubble in it. The bubble has to be in the center for what you’re doing to be level.
This is so important for doing things like hanging shelves or installing curtain rods, because if you don’t make sure they’re level, they’ll look terrible.
4. Screwdriver Set
You’ll be needing two kinds of screwdrivers: flathead and Phillips. Flathead screwdrivers are like a minus sign, and they’re used for flathead screws. Philips screwdrivers have a four-pointed star on the end, and they’re used for nine out of ten screws. Get a set, because the screws you’ll be dealing with will come in all different sizes.
5. Power Drill
A power drill is optional, but having one will save you a lot of time and effort.
Screwdrivers require a lot of force to tighten screws, and it’s awkward to get enough torque with a normal screwdriver, because you’re having to twist it sideways.
Drills, on the other hand, can be set to drill in screws at any speed you like. They’re also good for drilling holes, obviously.
Make sure you get one with a bunch of different drill bits, because you’ll need different kinds for different kinds of screws, and also for drilling holes.
6. Chisel Set
A chisel set is good for all kinds of things. You can use them to pry things apart, to clean up woodwork, or even to remove screws that are too stripped to remove with a screwdriver.
You’ll probably only be needing the flat one and the one that has a curved tip, so don’t worry about the others.
7. Safety Glasses
Don’t be an idiot. Get some safety glasses. They don’t have to be anything fancy, but you definitely don’t want to be blinded by a splinter or something.
8. Hand Plane
For a beginner in carpentry work, a “No. 5 Jack Plane” is often recommended. Jack planes are versatile tools that can accomplish a wide range of tasks, hence the old saying “jack of all trades.” The No. 5 Jack Plane has a medium length, allowing it to both flatten rough wood and remove high spots, creating a smooth surface.
9. Dust Mask
Dust masks are a lot less intrusive than a respirator, and they protect you from the same stuff: dust and particles that you don’t want to be breathing in. They’re also disposable, which is handy.
10. Wood Glue
Wood glue is really strong, and it’s good for all kinds of things. If you’re sticking two pieces of wood together, wood glue is what you want to be using.
The only thing you need to know is that you’ll need to clamp it together somehow until the glue sets. You can buy special clamps for this kind of thing, or you can just use some wood and a couple of G clamps. They’re cheap.
11. G Clamps
G clamps are useful for all kinds of things, but the main thing you’ll be using them for is to clamp together wood that you’re gluing.
The good thing about G clamps is that they can hold a lot of pressure without needing to be tightened too much, and they’re adjustable, so you can use them for all different widths of wood.
I thought I’d leave the most obvious one till last. The most basic handsaw for carpentry work is the “crosscut saw.” It’s a versatile tool used to make cuts across the grain of the wood.
A crosscut saw has a relatively thick blade, with large beveled teeth that are excellent for both rough and fairly fine work. They are designed to cut on the push stroke and are exceptionally useful for a variety of woodworking jobs.