Essential Woodworking Tool Lists: Create & Compare to Experts

It can be tough to know where to start when purchasing woodworking tools. Sears has done the hard work for you; below, you'll find our experts' list of the 10 best woodworking tools and why they chose them, as well as specialized tool lists for specific projects. Think you already know what a well-stocked workshop needs? Pick your 10 essential woodworking tools, and see how it stacks up against what our experts selected.

  • band saw
  • Card scraper
  • chisels
  • clamps
  • drill
  • drill press
  • Hammer
  • handsaw
  • jointer/planer
  • Lathe
  • marking knife
  • miter saw
  • pencil
  • Plane
  • pull saw
  • Router
  • Sander
  • sandpaper
  • screwdriver
  • square
  • Table saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Utility knife
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Make your Listsquarechiseltablesawtapebandsawjointerdrillrouterplanesanderclampshammerbacksawpullsawdrillpresslathemitersawhandsawmarkingknifepencilsandpaperscrewdriverutilityknifecardscraper

1. Sander

sander

2. Chisels

chisel

3. Square

square

4. Table Saw

tablesaw

5. Jointer/
Planer

jointer

6. Drill

drill

7. Router & Bits

router

8. Plane

plane

9. Measuring Tape

tape

10. Band Saw

bandsaw

11. Handsaw

Handsaw

12. Clamp

Clamp

13. Hammer

Hammer

14. Drill Press

Drill Press

15. Lathe

Lathe

16. Miter Saw

Miter Saw

17. Marking Knife/Pencil

Marking Knife/Pencil

18. Sandpaper/
Sanding Blocks

Sandpaper/Sanding Blocks

19. Screwdriver

Screwdriver

20. Utility Knife

Utility Knife

1. Sander

Although our experts agree you need a sander, each has his or her favorite style. The random orbital sander topped the list, but belt, disc and drum sanders also each had their proponents.

"A random orbital sander is a great tool for fast, efficient material removal. "

- Matt Weber, woodworking editor,
Extreme How To Magazine

"A combo disc/belt power bench sander. Sometimes sanding is all you need. A big power sander can remove a lot of wood very quickly. Depending on what you are shaping, the power sanders may be exactly what you need, and that will be all."

- Tom Brusehaver, woodworker

"After you use the band saw, a disc sander cleans off the edges and finishes it off by providing your project with a smooth finish."

- Bart McHale, CEO, Mac Cutting Boards

"You want your work to look nice and finished, even when it's still basic. Take off the rough edges with a palm sander."

- Justin DiPego, Senior Editor, DoItYourself.com

2. Chisels

Finding the right chisels isn't a question of type, but of size. Though most expert woodworkers would recommend getting a full set, each has a favorite size for different projects. Although they can't agree on the best size, they can agree that the best chisel is a sharp chisel.

"A good set of chisels is invaluable in the shop. Power tools can get you most of the way, but some clean-up is always needed on almost any type of joinery used. The key to a chisel set is to keep them sharp and accessible."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"Obviously, different sizes are needed for different little spaces, but if I could only own one, it would be the one I use most, the 3/4"-wide chisel. You can buy these at the local hardware store, but they can also be found used at yard sales. These work just fine!"

- Don Dailey, woodworker, TheSundayWoodcarver.com

"(Get) the best chisels you can afford of varying sizes, never to be used to remove paint."

- Caroline de Gruchy,
home renovations, Call Clive

"Excellent chisels: I would include planes with chisels. You need really sharp tools to do the fun stuff like dovetails, decorative carving, etc. No skill is more important to a woodworker than knowing how to keep your chisels and planes sharp."

- Pablo Salomon, artist/designer/woodworker

"A bevel edge (chisel) set that comprises the following: inch and a half, inch, three quarters of an inch, half inch and quarter inch chisels. This set should cope for most situations, depending on what you are doing then it should be fine—you may want to add a set of mortise chisels if you are cutting a lot of mortice and tenon joints by hand!"

- Jon Culshaw, woodworker/blogger, www.woodworkersuk.co.uk

3. Square

Squares are another area where the crowd splits. Although each has a favorite, the consensus is that you should always have at least one square on hand.

"OK, I'm cheating here by including several tools instead of one. But all of these layout tools are really indispensable when you're building something. With its adjustable head, the combination square is the most versatile, enabling me to mark offsets and measure depth as well as lay out exact 90 and 45-degree angles. The big framing square enables me to test the trueness of corners where built-in cabinetry needs to be installed; then it helps again as I'm marking up plywood for cutting and assembling cabinet cases. The Speed Square lives in my tool belt and gets used for general purpose layout work."

- Tim Snyder, former executive editor, Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines

"A square is necessary to draw the line you're about to cut so it fits perfectly. I personally just built a new kitchen table and this was an essential tool."

- John Ratzenberger,
actor and former professional carpenter

"Carpentry squares: from T-squares to combination squares. These tools help keep your lines straight and measurements accurate."

- Matt Weber, woodworking editor,
Extreme How To Magazine

"A combination square is a tool that is in my hand at least once a day, every day. Its limitation is its 12" length, but it can be used as a square, a level, a 45-degree square or a depth gauge. Some even come with a little scriber in it. Get a quality one and check that it is reliably square."

- Don Dailey, woodworker, TheSundayWoodcarver.com

"Another tool I use is a carpenter's square, which my grandsons call 'L' squares. They are 24" one way and 16" the other way. We use and set them for all angles. We have 15 to 20 permanently set, so that the angles stay perfect for years."

- Andrew Miller, mastercraftsman,
OakBridge Timber Framing

4. Table Saw

Table saws are the heart of many woodshops, helping woodworkers break down their lumber to get it ready for projects of all shapes and sizes.

"As you progress, your work becomes more custom, and you become less tied to the nominal dimensions of lumber. For ripping boards, you can't beat (a table saw)."

- Justin DiPego, Senior Editor, DoItYourself.com

"I use a table saw for miters, too, but this saw is absolutely crucial for accurate rip cuts."

- Matt Weber, woodworking editor,
Extreme How To Magazine

"If you are doing any sheet work, the table saw is what is needed. Usually it is cheaper to buy a 4'x8' sheet of plywood than to buy two sheets of smaller plywood. Also, the table saw allows repeatable cuts for cabinet work and other jobs."

- Tom Brusehaver, woodworker

"A table saw is a very universal tool. It offers very accurate precise cuts both crosscut and rip. You can also use the table saw to do grooves, rabbets and dados. With some calculating and patience you can create concave cuts."

- David McCloud, woodworker, M & M Woodworks

"Get the best table saw that you can afford. Various cutting guides and extensions are also available that you will want to get over time."

- Pablo Salomon, artist/designer/woodworker

"(The table saw) is one of the most ubiquitous woodworking tools out there, underscoring how essential it is."

- Sean Murphy, DIY specialist, Build.com

"The center of many woodworking shops is a table saw. Contractor' table saws are a great blend of the features of a high-end cabinet style saw and a portable job site' saw."

- Mark Clement, home improvement expert
and host of MyFixitUpLife

5. Jointer/Planer

Both jointers and planers likely would have made the list individually, but together they jump into the top half of the list. Especially for new woodworkers whose workshop space is at a premium, this combination machine can skyrocket the quality of your work while also helping you save money.

"These tools allow you to use rough-cut lumber, straight from the sawmill. The jointer makes an edge straight and smooth, and the planer makes the face and back straight and smooth."

- David McCloud, woodworker, M & M Woodworks

"A current trend among woodworkers is to use salvaged lumber and/or to cut your own lumber from trees knocked over in storms. In addition to a joiner or router table, you need a planer. While these tools will cost a few hundred dollars, one salvaged walnut tree will yield thousands of dollars worth of lumber."

- Pablo Salomon, artist/designer/woodworker

"One of the most essential tasks in woodworking is ensuring that boards are flat. A board installed in a project that is not flat will cause issues down the road, if not immediately. The jointer will ensure that you get straight and square surfaces for everything from edges for glue up to board faces. The planer is a great way to take lumber from rough stock to a relatively smooth surface. Each board of a project can be planed to the desired thickness to make your work flow more efficient."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"A planer (is essential), especially these days when so much available wood has been poorly dried. (They are) also good for planing down wood for reuse."

- Caroline de Gruchy,
home renovations, Call Clive

"A planer helps level out the surface of the wood after gluing and [helps] mill them to the exact thickness. While the planer and joiner are similar tools, each has a very unique function to help with your project. A joiner helps square off the edges. (It) helps with the details of your project to finish it to your specifications."

- Bart McHale, CEO, Mac Cutting Boards

"To save money, getting larger stock is the way to go. Running the large stock through a saw will leave a rough edge. The powered plane will clean up all the saw cut marks. Fine-tuning cuts will also save a great deal of time using the powered plane."

- Tom Brusehaver, woodworker

6. Drill

It's no surprise that the drill makes the list, or that most proponents put their votes behind the cordless option. But whether you prefer pneumatic or battery-operated, be sure to get bits and other attachments as well to help the tool reach its true potential.

"The drill is multipurpose: to drill starter holes, screw the pieces tight and set in the wall plugs for shelving, etc."

- John Ratzenberger,
actor and former professional carpenter

"A cordless drill is ...no good without things to go in it: bits, sanding disks, rasps, wire brushes, buffing pads, etc. Extra batteries are pretty much a must. A 3/8" chuck is preferred. A minimum bit set would include twist bits 1/8" (to pilot screw holes) and 1/4" (to drill holes for shelf pins). A set of "speed" bits is most useful for many projects."

- Don Dailey, woodworker, TheSundayWoodcarver.com

"Whether you're drilling for dowels or predrilling hardwood for screws, you'll need a reliable drill."

- Matt Weber, woodworking editor,
Extreme How To Magazine

"Another tool with quality and power is a pneumatic, variable-speed drill, which we use to do our mortises with a 1.5" drill bit. We also use a 1" bit for the pin or peg hole, which we offset to make a draw bore to make our joints "furniture-tight."

- Andrew Miller, mastercraftsman,
OakBridge Timber Framing

"This is probably the most useful tool in my collection. Sure, you can drill holes, but I use it for driving screws more often. Not just woodworking but general around-the-house type work. Occasionally I'll use other accessories in the drill as well, including sanding drums, polishing pads and the occasional screw removal tool."

- Tom Brusehaver, woodworker

"(Get a combination) drill and impact driver. Changing bits gets so tiring! The combo of drill and driver is key to saving headaches on big projects."

- Timothy Skehan, co-founder/woodworker, Surname Cycling Goods

7. Router & Bits

Chalk another one up to versatility. Routers can add depth and detail to your project in tons of different ways.

"The only portable power tool on my list, the router is essential to creating molded edges, as well as cutting a variety of joints (box joints, miter joints, dovetails, dados, etc.) with accuracy. I use a trim router with interchangeable plunge router base more than any of my other four routers."

- Walt Hansen, woodworker, restored a Danish fishing boat for the Holocaust Museum

"A router is another tool that has many uses. The obvious use for the router is to create edge profiles for table tops and other surfaces, but the router can also be used to create mortises, tendons and dovetails, and even to flatten boards with a router sled."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"Amateur and professional woodworkers alike use routers to create precise cuts and profiles into their wood pieces. The maximum motor HP is 1-3/4."

- Sean Murphy, DIY specialist, Build.com

"Trim router. For most woodworking, especially for beginners, a full-dress router is a lot of tool. A trim router, however, is compact, easier to use and plenty powerful for trimming chamfers, bevels, round overs and bull noses of all sorts on projects."

- Mark Clement, home improvement expert
and host of MyFixitUpLife

8. Plane

When it comes to silky smooth ends, low-angle block planes are the tops. Though bench, shoulder and jack planes have supporters, the low-angle block plane was the most popular option with our experts.

"The design of the low-angle block plane I use today hasn't changed in over a century, and there's still no better tool for quickly chamfering sharp corners and trimming joints and edges for better fit and appearance. The plane's low bevel angle (which explains the name) enables you to trim tricky end grain, adding even more versatility."

- Tim Snyder, former executive editor, Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines

"For squaring ends and flattening stock, I'd suggest a low-angle jack plane and a couple blades sharpened to different angles."

- Michael T. Lauer, cabinet furniture maker

"I use my low-angle block plane just about every day for some small or large job. The low haggle makes it great for smoothing tough end grain on wood or for rounding or breaking sharp edges on furniture. Although it can't be expected to do all that larger planes do, it's by far the most versatile."

- Don Dailey, woodworker, TheSundayWoodcarver.com

"A hand plane is another that is hard to nail down to just one tool. The essentials for me are the jack plane for rough work, smoothing plane for surface prep, a block plane for details like chamfering and end grain and a shoulder plane for clean-up of tenon shoulders and many other tasks."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"A low-angle block plane is the most essential smoothing tool in any tool chest; I use my block plane with such frequency that I keep it in a pocket of my shop apron. It is always handy to smooth off a saw cut, ease an edge or clean up end grain. The low-angle blade design makes this an ideal tool for smoothing end grain. Bench planes come in a variety of styles, each of which has a specific purpose. "

- Walt Hansen, woodworker, restored a Danish fishing boat for the Holocaust Museum

9. Tape Measure

A tape measure is often the first tool people buy, thanks in large part to its versatility. From dorm rooms to complex worksites, tape measures are a go-to tool.

"A tape measure that fits in your apron or tool pouch—and in your hand—is key. The more you have to fumble with a tape or can't depend on its accuracy, the more trouble you'll have. A good tape measure that projects far enough and retracts quickly enough (without feeling like it's going to take a finger off) can help dial in everything from rough cuts to copes in chair rail to peace of mind."

- Mark Clement, home improvement expert
and host of MyFixitUpLife

"'Measure twice, cut once' is one of the most important rules of woodworking!"

- Dan Spangler, editor, MAKE Magazine

"A tape measure becomes extremely useful when doing larger projects like doors, blanket chests and house interiors and structurals. It is not only necessary for laying out dimensions, but you can ensure right angles of large structures by measuring the diagonals and ensuring they are equal."

- Vivek Nagarajan, professional woodworker,
The Deodar Duo

"Many woodworkers find that a tape measure is not accurate enough for finer woodworking projects, but I use one all the time for general measurements like picking out stock and laying out project dimensions. For accurate measurements a ruler is much better and is always on my bench."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"A tape measure and a rule. (It's) cheating a bit, but if you're working with large lengths of timber, then a tape measure is a must for measuring out exactly what you need to cut! For more precise marking out (joints, etc.), use a steel rule."

- Jon Culshaw, woodworker/blogger, www.woodworkersuk.co.uk

10. Band Saw

"The easy way a band saw can tackle one of woodworking's most difficult problems, irregularly shaped objects, lands it the last spot on our list. Another team player, band and table saws can pair up to help you rip almost any lumber.

"The band saw is another tool that is extremely versatile and could be used in place of the table saw. The band saw is not only used for curves and radiuses but can also be used to re-saw boards to thickness."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"A scroll saw and/or band saw are the saws you would use to cut curvy things; an example would be cutting the outline of the state you live in for the makings of a clock. The scroll saw differs in that it is capable of cutting inside cuts without breaking the outside frame."

- David McCloud, woodworker, M & M Woodworks

"A good band saw with a variety of blades will allow you to do those curved cuts and also to rip thicker material than your table saw can handle."

- Pablo Salomon, artist/designer/woodworker

"I'd say this is higher (on my list than many tools), since I use it more. I got along for many years without a band saw, so I let it slide down a little. (There is) nothing better for those quick cuts or minor curve cuts. The band saw can be left ready to go, and just be handy anytime you need to cut a dowel into 1-inch parts."

- Tom Brusehaver, woodworker

"A band saw is useful for cutting irregular and curved shapes, such as ripping small pieces of stock and for re-sawing thin strips from larger pieces of wood. This is a very helpful for us, as the designs of our cutting boards are made from using this tool."

- Bart McHale, CEO, Mac Cutting Boards

11. Handsaw

"Of course there are power tools to do any kind of cutting. However, until you can afford them, you can do good work with a proper handsaw. I would suggest having a good crosscut saw, a jig saw, a dovetail saw, etc. And there are times when it is just enjoyable to use hand tools."

- Pablo Salomon, artist/designer/woodworker

"Dovetail saw, back saw or tenoning saw—these are different names for essentially the same saw, which allows precision cuts for a variety of joints, including tenons, dovetails, miters, etc."


- Walt Hansen, woodworker, restored boat for Holocaust Museum

"There are a variety of saws. A dovetail saw is great for very precise shallow cuts. A tenon saw makes deeper cuts. "

- Michael T. Lauer, cabinet furniture maker

"A variety of handsaws is essential in the shop. The dovetail saw has a fine cut that is mainly used for hand-cutting dovetails but also works great for detailed cuts. A carcass saw is used for crosscutting with a fine cut. Panel saws can be purchased for either crosscut or rip. I find that I most often use my dovetail and carcass saws."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"Folding pull saw. I actually have two versions of this saw  one for super-fine cuts and the other for general-purpose cutting. These Japanese-style saws (which are designed to cut on the pull stroke, thus the name) are much more compact than traditional Western saws, and they cut quickly and accurately. The folding feature helps to protect the teeth."

- Tim Snyder, former executive editor, Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines

12. Clamps

"An extra set of hands is more than a convenience. Clamps of various sizes hold your work in place while you work, and become more and more necessary as your work becomes more detailed or more complex."

- Justin DiPego, Senior Editor, DoItYourself.com

"Locking C-clamp. This is an odd-looking tool—sort of a cross between a pair of pliers and a clamp. But I count on this critter to quickly clamp boards to a worktable so that I can cut them accurately."

- Tim Snyder, former executive editor, Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines

"Clamps, clamps, clamps. From C-clamps to pipe clamps, they hold the project in shape while you join the wood."

- Matt Weber, woodworking editor,
Extreme How To magazine

"Assembly will require a variety of clamps; the size, shape and quantity depends on what you are assembling. For some types of assembly, a pin nailer is fantastic."

- Michael T. Lauer, cabinet furniture maker

"Clamps hold the wood together while the wood dries. They are essential for starting your wood project when using glue or any adhesive material."

- Bart McHale, CEO, Mac Cutting Boards

13. Hammer

"I don't use a nail gun. Never have, don't want to. I feel I'm doing a better job if I hit the nail, and I think that the nails hold better. I don't feel like a carpenter if I'm using a nail gun."

- John Ratzenberger,
actor and former professional carpenter

"Hammer and Chisel. The most ancient tools, I'm including these as a single item. As skills improve and you want to make your work cleaner, chisel out the notches you cut with the circular saw or chamfer out the area where hardware will sit."

- Justin DiPego, Senior Editor, DoItYourself.com

14. Drill Press

"A drill press is not the most respected of shop tools, but [it is] one that can be used for many tasks. The obvious drilling of holes is not the only task the drill press excels at. The drill press also works great for roughing out mortises, [and] most of the wood can be removed with only a little cleaning up to follow. Another great use for the drill press is to use it with a drum sander chucked in; this is a great way to shape [and] sand hard-to-reach curves."

- Chris Adkins, woodworker,
High Rock Woodworking

"While a good handheld drill can do most things, for really accurate drilling, a drill press is great."

- Pablo Salomon, artist/designer/woodworker

"The main advantage of a drill press over a hand-held drill is it requires much less effort to do the job. Newer versions of the drill press are portable, have variable speeds and are very powerful."

- Sean Murphy, DIY specialist, Build.com

15. Lathe

"Lathe. If you do furniture you will need it; otherwise it's just fun to watch."

- Caroline de Gruchy,
home renovations, Call Clive

"Lathe. Use it to turn wood into shapes such as peppermills and bowls. It can help create functional parts to finish off your project."

- Bart McHale, CEO, Mac Cutting Boards

"For jobs that require spinning a material you're working with on its axis, nothing is easier to use or more convenient than a lathe. These tools have been around for centuries, and modern-day lathes help to make this kind of work very efficient."

- Sean Murphy, DIY specialist, Build.com

16. Miter Saw

"Miter saw. You can set the stops for cutting repetitive lengths, plus you'll need precise miters for crown molding and trim. A miter/cutoff saw cuts very precise angles for, say, a picture frame."

- Matt Weber, woodworking editor,
Extreme How To magazine

"A sliding compound miter saw cuts woods to lengths and angles. It helps with the angles of the corners and the edges. A sliding versus standard (miter saw) is nice to have for versatility."

- David McCloud, woodworker, M & M Woodworks

"You can cut angles with your circular saw, but as you do more work, (a compound miter saw) brings you repeatability, precision and efficiency."

- Justin DiPego, Senior Editor, DoItYourself.com

"For anything from cross-cuts to crown molding to cutting studs for a treehouse (who says woodworking has to happen inside?), a miter saw is key to cuts from rough to finish. I prefer the mac-daddy-style sliding compound miter saw."

- Mark Clement, home improvement expert
and host of MyFixitUpLife

17. Marking Knife/ Pencil

"You can use a pencil, but a marking knife gives you a clean-cut line."

- Michael T. Lauer, cabinet furniture maker

"Another tool I use when perfect accuracy is needed is a utility knife with the tip slightly ground to a small square, and using it instead of a pencil, by making a light impression on the wood. You can also put pencil marks on each side of this light impression, so that you don't lose the mark. This is a very small and economical tool. I use it when accuracy of 1/128 or better is important."

- Andrew Miller, mastercraftsman,
OakBridge Timber Framing

18. Sandpaper/Sanding blocks

"Adhesivebacked sandpaper (80 grit/120 grit/180 and/or 220 grit). You will need sandpaper for sure, and you can stick it to blocks with spray adhesive, but I like the rolls with adhesive on it. Pieces can be cut to any size and shape and stuck on. It might not seem essential until you start using it, but then regular sandpaper becomes unbearably frustrating to use."

- Don Dailey, woodworker, TheSundayWoodcarver.com

"Once you get the shape as you want, then you need to finish it. I know some people can do all their shaping with a chisel; I can't. Using a block will help manage the shape."

- Tom Brusehaver, woodworker

19. Screwdriver

"Whether it's putting on a new license plate or fixing your new remote control, it's always handy to have a screwdriver close by."

- John Ratzenberger,
actor and former professional carpenter

"There are quite a few different versions of this tool. The best ones I've found include a ratcheting mechanism and can store at least six different stubby bits inside a hollow handle. It's great to have a single screwdriver that can handle just about any type of screw head you'll find."

- Tim Snyder, former executive editor, Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines

20. Utility knife

"No way you can do without one of these. It's the go-to tool for all kinds of package-opening, cutting and trimming tasks. I like the small folding version that holds a single blade."

- Tim Snyder, former executive editor, Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines

"A utility knife—you know, the kind you can't bring on airplanes. The ones with the fixed blade are best, although you can't put them in your pocket. It's good for just about everything from opening boxes to scoring a line before a saw or router cut for a crisp, clean result. Buy a box of 100 blades!"

- Don Dailey, woodworker, TheSundayWoodcarver.com

Hand Tools

Handsaw

Cabinetry Tools

Cabinet

Timber Framing Tools

House Frame

Tools for Custom Guitar Making

Guitar

Working with Reclaimed Wood

Wood Pallet

Boat Building Tools

Boat

1. Combination Square

square

2. Adjustable Bevel

chisel

3. Band Saw

bandsaw

4. Table Saw

tablesaw

5. Low-Angle Block Plane

plane

6. Bench Plane

tape

7. Chisel

chisel

8. Tenoning Saw

backsaw

9. Router

router

10. Card Scraper

cardscraper

1. Utility Knife

utilityknife

2. Low-Angle Block Plane

plane

3. Combination Square

square

4. Chisels

chisel

5. Cordless Drill & Bits

drill

6. Sabre Saw

backsaw

7. Router & Bits

router

8. Workmate Bench

pencil

9. Small Bar Clamps

tablesaw

10. Sandpaper

sandpaper

11. Plate or Biscuit Jointer

jointer

1. 12-inch Band Saw

bandsaw

2. Oscillating Belt Sander

sander

3. Fein Shop Vacuum

sander

4. Sander

sander

5. Delta 3/4 HP Dust Collector

sander

6. Turner Radial Arm Drill Press

drillpress

7. Old 12-inch Table Saw

tablesaw

8. Old 20-inch Band Saw

backsaw

9. Bosch 3.25 HP Router

router

10. Craftsman 1/4 HP Router

router

1. Low-angle Block Plane

plane

2. Multi-Bit Screwdriver

screwdriver

3. Folding Pull Saw

pullsaw

4. Utility Knife

utilityknife

5. Vise-Grip Locking C-Clamp

chisel

6. Compact LED Light

tablesaw

7. CHANNEL LOCK Pliers

bandsaw

8. Torpedo Level

jointer

9. Tape Measure

tape

10. Squares

square

1. Chisel

chisel

2. Carpenter's Square

square

3. Utility Knife

utilityknife

4. 14-inch Saw

pullsaw

5. Bandsaw

bandsaw

6. Drill

drill

7. Planar

plane

1. Rip Blade

Make your List

2. Bridgeport Nail Puller

square

3. Metal Detector

chisel

4. Box Joint Jig from Incra

tablesaw

5. Calipers

tape

6. Drill & Impact Driver

bandsaw

7. Ratcheting Box Wrenches

jointer

8. Sharpening Stone

drill

9. Oil Free Compressor

router

10. Chapman MFG Tool Kit

cardscraper

1. Combination Square

No one knows boats quite like Walt Hansen, who restored a Danish fishing vessel for display in the Holocaust Museum. Hansen trusts these 10 tools to keep him afloat when building a boat.

Starrett is the best, but lower priced combination squares can achieve comparable results. They help you lay out precision right angles and 45 degree angles and can be put to a host of other measurement and layout uses. A tool cabinet is not complete without 12" and 6" combination squares.

2. Adjustable Bevel

This essential tool is necessary to determine, duplicate and lay out the various angles found in boats.

3. Band Saw

I would also rate the band saw as the most important fixed power tool, essential for re-sawing thick lumber, ripping long boards and cutting curved pieces commonly required in boat building.

4. Table Saw

The table saw is important for ripping long boards, cutting dados and making repetitive cross cuts with a high degree of accuracy.

5. Low-Angle Block Plane

The most essential smoothing tool in any tool chest, I use my block plane with such frequency that I keep it in a pocket of my shop apron. It is always handy to smooth off a saw cut, ease an edge or clean up end grain. The low-angle blade design makes this an ideal tool for smoothing end grain.

6. Bench Plane

Bench planes come in a variety of styles, each of which has a specific purpose. My favorite is the Stanley No. 5, which helps me create long, straight edges.

7. Chisel

While there a wide variety of chisels that perform many different tasks, I have a set of Stanley Sweetheart chisels that I use for paring, mortising and other clean-up chores. As with all cutting tools, a razor sharp edge is the key to smooth, accurate cuts.

8. Dovetail Saw, Backsaw or Tenoning Saw

These are different names for essentially the same saw, which allows precision cuts for a variety of joints, including tenons, dovetails, miters, etc.

9. Router

The only portable power tool in my list, the router is essential to creating molded edges, as well as cutting a variety of joints (box joints, miter joints, dovetails, dados, etc.) with accuracy. I use a trim router with interchangeable plunge router base more than any of my other four routers.

10. Card Scraper

Also known as a cabinet scraper, this handy tool allows you to remove just the right amount of material to achieve a shiny, smooth finish on most hardwoods.

Walt Hansen, a woodworker, restored a Danish fishing boat for the Holocaust Museum.

1. Utility Knife

When building beautiful cabinets is the task of the day, 30-year woodworking veteran Don Dailey keeps these 11 tools close at hand.

You know, the kind you can't bring on airplanes. The ones with the fixed blade are best, although you can't put them in your pocket. It's good for just about everything from opening boxes to scoring a line before a saw or router cut for a crisp, clean result. Buy a box of 100 blades!

2. Low-Angle Block Plane

I use mine just about every day for some small or large job. The low haggle makes it great for smoothing tough end grain on wood or for rounding or breaking sharp edges on furniture. Although it can't be expected to do all that larger planes do, it's by far the most versatile.

3. Combination Square

This is a tool is also in my hand at least once a day, every day. It's limitation is it's 12" length, but it can be used as a square, a level, a 45-degree square or a depth gauge. Some even come with a little scriber in it. Get a quality one and check that it is reliably square.

4. Chisels

These are some individually and in sets. Obviously, different sizes are needed for different little spaces, but if I could only own one, it would be the one I use most, the " wide one. You can buy these at the local hardware store but they can also be found used at yard sales. These work just fine!

5. A Cordless Drill & Bits

This is one that the main tool is no good without things to go in it (bits, sanding disks, rasps, wire brushes, buffing pads, etc.). Extra batteries are pretty much a must. A 3/8" chuck is preferred. A minimum bit set would include twist bits 1/8" (to pilot screw holes) and 1/4" (to drill holes for shelf pins). A set of "speed" bits is most useful for many projects.

6. Sabre Saw

(These are sometimes called a jig saw, but that's really a different tool.) This handy tool can do a lot. It can cut all kinds of curves and straight lines (with a guide fence) and be equipped with blades to cut wood, plastic and metal. I prefer corded to cordless for this one.

7. Router & Bits

Again, the router is useless without bits. These are very available and can be found for competitive prices in just about any shape or profile. The router is arguably one of the most versatile hand-held power tools. In conjunction with a bearing-guided trim bit and a straight edge, very precise cuts can be made without needing a circular saw (not on this list, by the way).

8. Workmate Bench

I admit I haven't always had or needed this. A well-constructed set of saw horses and a piece of plywood make a fine portable work bench, but the built-in vise makes the Workmate very versatile and helpful for those working alone and without a more serious workbench.

9. Small Bar Clamps

A minimum set of two at least 6" long is required and can be used in many ways to help you when an extra "hand" is needed to hold your work. Eventually, you will need multiple kinds and sizes of clamps, but two is a minimum.

10. AdhesiveBacked Sandpaper (80, 120, 180 and/or 220 Grit)

You will need sandpaper for sure, and you can stick it to blocks with spray adhesive, but I like the rolls with adhesive on it. Pieces can be cut to any size and shape and stuck on. It might seem like an essential until you start using it but then regular sandpaper becomes unbearably frustrating to use.

11. Plate or Biscuit Jointer

One extra tool I would try to smuggle in would be a plate or biscuit jointer. This tool is a held-held power tool that requires the wooden biscuits to be of any use, but it can allow you to create strong, invisible joints with great accuracy and little effort.

Don Dailey, a woodworker from Huntington, NY, has worked for more than 30 years as a cabinetmaker, woodworker, wood carver and, most recently, a wood turner.

1. Craftsman 12-inch Band Saw

Building guitars from scratch is a process that can come down to millimeters. Custom acoustic guitar maker Jim Worland chooses these 10 tools for such a delicate project.

This is a wonderful tool for cutting intricate shapes.

2. Ridgid Oscillating Belt Sander

The only tool of its kind. It's great for sanding intricate shapes.

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3. Fein Shop Vacuum

I use this all the time to keep my shop neat. It's very quiet, unlike most noisy shop vacs.

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4. Performax 16-inch Thickness Sander

This sander is great for sanding thin guitar woods.

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5. Delta 3/4 HP Dust Collector

This tool keeps the fine dust out of the air and keeps the shop from turning into a mess of dust and shavings.

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6. Walker Turner Radial Arm Drill Press

A huge old industrial drill press.

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7. Old 12-inch Table Saw

I don't know what brand it is, but it weighs a ton and cuts perfectly smooth.

8. Old 20-inch Band Saw

Again, I don't know what brand this is, but it's huge and heavy and great for re-sawing large planks of wood into thin pieces for guitars.

9. Bosch 3.25 HP Router

I keep a big pattern-cutting bit in this and use templates to cut out oddly shaped parts.

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10. Craftsman 1/4 HP Router

The Craftsman router is super easy to change bits with its chuck locking feature. I have several and use them a lot.

Jim Worland produces handmade, custom acoustic guitars at www.worlandguitars.com.

1. Low-Angle Block Plane

Former executive editor of Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines Tim Snyder loves to create pieces with just hand tools. Here are the 10 hand tools he considers a necessity.

The design of the Stanley block plane I use today hasn't changed in over a century, and there's still no better tool for quickly chamfering sharp corners and trimming joints and edges for better fit and appearance. The plane's low bevel angle (which explains the name) enables you to trim tricky end grain, adding even more versatility.

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2. Multi-Bit Screwdriver

There are quite a few different versions of this tool. The best ones I've found include a ratcheting mechanism and can store at least six different stubby bits inside a hollow handle. It's great to have a single screwdriver that can handle just about any type of screw head you'll find.

3. Folding Pull Saw

I actually have two versions of this saw—one for super-fine cuts and the other for general-purpose cutting. These Japanese-style saws (which are designed to cut on the pull stroke, thus the name) are much more compact than traditional Western saws, and they cut quickly and accurately. The folding feature helps to protect the teeth.

4. Utility Knife

No way you can do without one of these. It's the go-to tool for all kinds of package-opening, cutting and trimming tasks. I like the small folding version that holds a single blade.

5. Vise-Grip Locking C-Clamp

This is an odd-looking tool—sort of a cross between a pair of pliers and a clamp. But I count on this critter to quickly clamp boards to a work table so that I can cut them accurately. It's got a wide clamping capacity, and Vise-Grip's quick-locking action saves loads of time compared to screw-type clamps.

6. Compact LED Light

Old-fashioned flashlights are huge compared to the compact LED flashlights I've bought—one for the house and one for my traveling toolkit. If I need to go up into an attic, down in a basement or any place where visibility is scant, I depend on my pocket-sized LED flashlight.

7. CHANNEL LOCK Pliers

For gripping versatility, you can't beat these adjustable pliers. I don't normally bring a mechanic's socket set to a jobsite because I can count on my straight-jaw CHANNEL LOCKs to get a solid grip on any nut or hex-head bolt.

8. Torpedo Level

I use bigger levels, but not as often as I use this one. In fact, in a pinch, I clamp this stubby level to a straight board and get the same performance my 2- or 4-foot level delivers.

9. FastCap AutoLock Tape Measure

If you thought all tape measures are pretty much the same, it's time to think again. The folks at FastCap have incorporated a bunch of innovative features into tape measures designed by pros for pros. I love the erasable notepad on the tape and the built-in pencil sharpener.

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10. Squares

OK, I'm cheating here by including several tools instead of one. But all of these layout tools are really indispensable when you're building something. With its adjustable head, the combination square is the most versatile, enabling me to mark offsets and measure depth as well as lay out exact 90- and 45-degree angles. The big framing square enables me to test the trueness of corners where built-in cabinetry needs to be installed; it helps again as I'm marking up plywood for cutting and assembling cabinet cases. The speed square lives in my tool belt and gets used for general-purpose layout work.

Tim Snyder is the former executive editor of Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines and the coauthor (with Norm Abram) of two New Yankee Workshop books. He currently writes about woodworking and home improvement for different magazines and websites

1. Chisel

Andrew Miller, mastercraftsman at OakBridge Timber Framing, shares the 7 essential tools he can't live without when timber framing.

A chisel is a must in my work with OakBridge Timber Framing. I use a 1.5" flat chisel the most, a 2" flat chisel and a 3/4" corner chisel. These are made by Barr Machinist from Idaho. They know how to put the right temper on them to keep a sharp edge. I keep an eye open for any other chisels, but I have not found any better ones.

2. Carpenter's Square

Another tool I use is a carpenter's square, which my grandsons call L squares. They are 24" one way and 16" the other way. We use and set them for all angles. We have 15 to 20 permanently set so that the angles stay perfect for years. Each shop has a set of 15 to 20; we set them at a 12/10 pitch. When we buy these squares, they are not perfectly square, and have not been for the 59 years that I have worked in construction of carpentry. We have a local genius machinist who makes them perfect.

3. Utility knife

Another tool I use when perfect accuracy is needed is a utility knife with the tip slightly ground to a small square, and using it instead of a pencil, by making a light impression on the wood. You can also put pencil marks on each side of this light impression so that you don't lose the mark. This is a very small and economical tool. I use it when accuracy of 1/128 or better is important.

4. 14-inch saw

Now, for power tools, we use a Mafell 14-inch saw, which is made in Germany. It is very accurate and its settings are from 0 degrees to 60 degrees. It has a table that is perfectly flat and straight. It comes with a quality rip fence. We use it for valleys, hips and for angle cuts. It is also good for ripping beams. I have not experienced a better saw for this type of cutting.

5. Band saw

Another quality and accurate tool is the hand-held Mafell band saw, which we use for numerous sizes of curves or rounds. It is a big time saver.

6. Drill

We also use a 1" bit for the pin or peg hole, which we offset to make a draw bore to make our joints furniture-tight.

7. Planer

A very beneficial, accurate, quality tool is the Mafell 12.5" planer. It runs at 8,000 RPM and does a smooth job. It is a must for timber framing. The blades have cutting edges on both sides, and are discarded when worn out.

Andrew Miller is the mastercraftsman at OakBridge Timber Framing , all Amish-owned and -operated by three generations of family. Miller has been a woodworker for nearly 60 years.

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1. Thin Kerf glue line rip blade

Utilizing reclaimed materials can save you thousands of dollars, while helping save the planet in the process. Timothy Skehan, co-founder of Surname Cycling Goods, says these tools are essential to keep his business recycling.

We are often making a lot of skinny strips of wood for our fenders and boxes, and this blade not only saves us a ton of material in the long run with its thinner kerf, but also leaves a smooth surface ready for glue-ups.

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2. Bridgeport nail puller

This thing is a relic! I think ours was made in the 1920s, and the design is perfect for getting tricky nails out of all the reclaimed materials we used. They still make them almost exactly the same, but back then they were made with American steel and are way stronger.

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3. Metal Detector

For finding the aforementioned nails. Saves us all kinds of blades and injuries.

4. Box Joint Jig from Incra

There are many ways to create a box joint, but with the amount we do, it is excellent to have such a well-tuned tool to make sure of perfect joints every time.

5. Calipers

One can never be too precise. From everything to fastener diameter to material thickness and finer applications like our metal work projects, this thing sees a lot of use.

6. Makita Brushless Drill and Impact Driver

Changing bits gets so tiring! The combo of drill and driver is key to saving headaches on big projects.

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7. Ratcheting Box Wrenches

Amazing for installing our accessories, working on tools, whilst keeping one's wrists intact. We also work on our bikes at the shop a lot.

8. DMT Sharpening Stone

This tool makes sharpening a breeze, saves a huge amount of time and keeps our blades sharp as a tack. Also, I take it home to sharpen the knife collection.

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9. California Air Tools Oil Free Compressor

For powering everything from nail guns to our half-panel laser cutter, this is the best compressor we've run across—and [it's] QUIET! Let's not forget the waterless shower at the end of the day to get rid of all that dust.

10. Chapman MFG Tool Kit

Last but certainly not least, this little gem has every bit you could ask for and functions as a screwdriver as well as a low clearance ratcheting wrench. Truly brilliant design for its simplicity. Perhaps the most-used tool in the shop.

Timothy Skehan is a co-founder and woodworker at Surname Cycling Goods. He also teaches classes at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.

Experts weigh in on the best woodworking tools

Creating a list of essential woodworking tools sounds like it would be relatively simple. We put together a plan: scour the Internet for woodworking experts, from tradesmen to professional writers to weekend warriors, and ask them what their top 10 list would be. In the end, we'd have the perfect tools list that would help new woodworkers looking to build a workshop, but allow experienced woodworkers to have fun comparing their lists to the others'.

Many woodworkers said it was tough to whittle their list down to 10; even then, the compiled list came in at 75 tools. Many were variations on one another, but each expert wanted to pull for one style. New woodworkers need a plane, but do you want a block or jack plane? Yes, sanders are important, but is oscillating or belt the best way to go?

Saws were an area of major contention. Experts listed no fewer than 13 different saws, both power and hand varieties. If you count each separately, the vote was so spread out that no handsaws would be represented in the top 20. But if we combine similar styles, what saws go together? You can't put all handsaws together; a coping saw and a backsaw can hardly be treated as the same thing. But are a coping saw and a jigsaw close enough, despite one being a hand tool and the other generally a power tool? To avoid leaving them off the list entirely, most handsaws were put into the same category, with variations shown in the experts' quotes.

Underappreciated tools

As for things that didn't quite make the list? Safety supplies took an early hit.

"To make things a little easier, I'm going to stick to hand tools, and leave out a couple of safety items like dust masks and a good first-aid kit. (But please don't go without these two essentials.)" wrote former Fine Homebuilding executive editor Tim Snyder.

Other safety supplies such as goggles, earplugs and an apron also were mentioned in introductions, but rarely made it onto lists. Likewise, cleaning materials such as a brush, a broom and dustpan combo and a vacuum got one vote apiece, as did all-purpose materials such as a ladder, an LED light and duct tape.

Once you have a few tools to get you started, most say that buying tools is best done on a per-project basis. So we also built out specialty lists, based in different areas of woodworking our contributors had expertise in. Sometimes those were broad, such as hand tools-only woodworking or the art of cabinetry. Other experts offered a fascinating view into tiny subsets of the woodworking community; guitar-making and working with reclaimed lumber.

The most important tool of all

Of course, you can't underestimate the cornerstones of woodworking: patience and perseverance. Actor and former professional carpenter John Ratzenberger was excited to share his thoughts because he loves celebrating American craftsmanship, a tradition he fears is disappearing from American culture. He is even working on creating a new show, American Made, to celebrate that home-grown spirit and encourage more people to get back to the basics.

"When I teach people and show people, a lot of people have the understanding that they're not handy at all, that they can't do something. I always find that it's because they're using the wrong tool for the job," said Ratzenberger. "That's what built America, self-reliance; you just did it. Figure it out."

Fellow woodworker Larry Covert agrees. "(My number one tool is) patience. Frustration can drive a beginner to never finish that first project. Take a deep breath, and keep working it until it is just right."

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