Modern Carpentry Tools (Here’s What Carpenters Actually Use)

Modern Carpentry Tools (Here’s What Carpenters Actually Use)

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The Essential Carpentry Tools

As a carpenter, you’ll need the following tools for pretty much every job. There are some other tools you may need for specific jobs, but I’ll cover that in a separate section. For now, let’s get down to the basics.

Speed Square

A speed square is a triangular marking tool to help you make accurate 90° and 45° cuts with your circular saw.

It’s an essential tool for marking and cutting beams, but you’ll also find plenty of other uses for it too.

Carpenters love their speed squares, and you will too once you learn how to get the most out of them.

Tape Measure

A tape measure is another essential tool for carpenters. You’ll be using it all the time.

Get a 25ft one to start off with. That’s long enough for just about any job you’ll be doing, and it can be used to measure things that are longer than that by using the “double-ended tape measure” technique.

Yes, that’s what it’s actually called.


A good mainstream tool brand should be fine here. You won’t need to spend a lot of money on a carpenter’s hammer, but you’ll notice the difference between a cheap one and a more expensive one.

The fiberglass-shafted hammers are pretty good. They’re strong, lightweight, and absorb shock quite well. If you prefer wooden-handled hammers, then that’s fine too.

The carpenter’s hammer is a versatile tool, and you’ll be using it a lot for a variety of tasks, so it’s worth getting a good one.


You’ll be using a chisel a lot too. You’ll use it for cleaning out joints, but also for all sorts of other things too, like for removing excess wood after using your circular saw.

You’ll probably want a 1″ chisel to start with.

Circular Saw

A good circular saw is an essential tool for carpentry. You’ll be using it for all sorts of things, not just for cutting beams.

You’ll use it for all sorts of things like cutting sheets of plywood, MDF, or other sheet goods. You’ll also be using it for cutting notches out of beams, and all sorts of other things too.

A worm drive circular saw is more powerful and more durable than a sidewinder circular saw, but it’s also more expensive. The sidewinder circular saw is lighter and smaller, but still gets the job done just fine.

Power Drill

A power drill is another essential tool for carpenters. You’ll be using it a lot, and you’ll be glad that you bought a good one.

Li-ion batteries are a must-have for a power drill. They’re lightweight, hold their charge longer, and have more power than the old NiCd batteries.

There are a lot of other things you can do with your power drill too, like use it to drive screws, or use it with a hole saw attachment to make perfectly round holes.


You’ll definitely need a handsaw, because there will be times when you need to make cuts that you can’t make with a circular saw.

A good 20″ handsaw should be fine for most jobs. You might also want to get a 12″ one too, for smaller cuts.

Carpenter Pencil

You’ll be using a carpenter pencil a lot, so it’s worth getting a good one. The ones with the flat profile won’t roll away, and they’re easier to grip, so they’re a good option to go for. You can get mechanical ones too, but you’ll find that they’re not as nice to use.

Utility Knife

Get a good utility knife that takes standard blades, and you’ll be using it all the time. You can even use it to make quick cuts in place of a handsaw, although it’s not quite as nice to use.

Nail Puller

A good nail puller is a must-have tool if you’re going to be doing any kind of demolition work. It’s also useful for removing nails that are in too deep to get with a claw hammer.

The most common kind of nail puller that you’ll find is the “cat’s paw” kind. They work great and last a long time.

If you want something a bit more heavy duty, then look out for a “nail puller pliers” tool. They’re made to take a lot of abuse.

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