Getting Started With Hand Tools Woodworking (Important Facts)

As a beginner in the woodworking industry, it can be challenging when deciding on which woodworking hand tools you should buy first. However, making the right decision regarding the selection of the tools will go a long way in determining whether the project will be a success or a failure. Luckily this piece will enlighten you on the ideal woodworking hand tools you should buy first.

1. What is a Hammer?

Like any other crafts, woodworking and carpentry have a specific type of hammer that best suits their functionality. There is a vast array of the hammer in the market; thus you should be very keen when buying one to choose specially built for woodworking purposes.

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Woodworking hammers are primarily designed for two main functionalities, that’s to pry and pound.

What are the functions of using Hammer?

For a woodworking hammer to perform optimally, several factors should be put into consideration:

  • Head design, including the weight and face size. Some of the hammerheads are smoothly designed to finish, while others are designed with serrated faces for fasteners and gripping nails, for instance, those used for framing.
  • Design of the claw, including curve and length. Hammers with pronounced and elongated claws are meant for finishing while framing features a straighter edge utilized to split wooden materials.
  • The design of the handle is very vital for comfortability and ease to use. Most woodworking enthusiasts prefer a composite or a wooden hammer handle as they produce minimal shock when hitting nails and wooden surfaces. On the other hand, hammers with steel handles are preferred mainly by framers. Although there’s immense shock, more weight is added by the steel, increasing the driving force. Additionally, the chances of steel handles breaking are very marginal.
  • The overall weight of the hammer is very paramount. The weight of the hammer is measured in ounces. Heavy-duty hammers weigh between 24 and 32 ounces, intermediate ones weigh between 16 and 20 ounces, while lightweight hammers weigh between 8 and 10 ounces.

Woodworking hammers differ in terms of functionality as well as composition. As a result, woodworking enthusiasts have a vast array of choices and are required to identify their purpose before making the purchase. The following types of hammers used for woodworking:

  1. Multi-purpose woodworking hammers
  2. Tough framing hammers
  3. Tack hammers

2. What is a Handsaws?

Handsaws are a key woodworking hand tool that any woodworker should have both the experts and the starters. Handsaws are easy to use for detailed and quick work to make precise and accurate cuts.

The impressive aspect about handsaws is that they come in lightweight, no power or batteries needed or any kind of cording. Handsaws are usually ready to go and are sold at reasonable prices.

Handsaws have been a helpful woodworking hand tool for a hundred years.

What is a hand saw used for?

They are steel-toothed blades with a wooden handle designed to make cuts through the slide back and forth action. First, however, it is important to note a vast array of handsaws, each designed for different woodworking functionality. Below are some of the designs of handsaws that you should consider buying:

  • Crosscut Handsaws: used for cutting wood across the grain
  • Ripping Handsaws: used for making cuts on the wood grain
  • Combined Handsaws: can be utilized for both crosscuts and rips
  • Coping Handsaws: They function the same way as bandsaws and jigsaws to make curved cuts
  • Backsaws: They feature braced cuts and rectangular blades for miter cuts
  • Keyhole Handsaws: Designed to make cuts on interior holes
  • Carcass Handsaws: These are stronger and larger backsaws
  • Dovetail Handsaws: Designed for fine dovetail joint work

It is ideal for woodworking enthusiasts to invest in high-quality handsaws that they can afford. Most woodworking frustrations are a result of dull or cheap blades. A handsaw with perfect teeth can make excellent cuts on pieces of wood, almost as good as an electric saw.

3. Woodworking Angles and Measuring Tools

In carpentry and woodworking, precise and accurate cuts result from various measuring and angle tools.

Therefore, it is ideal to buy top-quality measuring and angle tools with a high percentage of accuracy and easy to read and use. The following are the major angle checking and measuring tools that you should buy first:

1. What Are The Type Of Squares Measuring Tools?

It can be very challenging to undertake any woodworking and carpentry projects without a collection of squares. A perfect square allows you to verify and create a vast array of angles.

Most squares are specially designed with marking for measuring, which is precisely engraved on their surface. This feature allows the woodworkers to improve their accuracy. Below are some of the essential types of squares that you should have:

  • Try Squares; they are right-angle hand tools and smaller for quick and accurate verification of squareness.
  • Combination Squares are used for accurate confirmation of distances and angles.
  • Miter Squares, ideal for setting miter angled cuts
  • Framing Squares are big, right-angle tools for immense working surfaces
  • Bevel Squares allow you to reconstruct a prevailing angle and to transfer patterns
  • Speed Squares swiftly lets you confirm 45 and 90-degree angles

It is important to note that compasses, depth gauges, and dividers are technically not squares but rather invaluable and simple woodworking hand tools. They are classified on the category of measuring rules and tapes.

2. What Are The Type Of Tape Measures?

This is a vital woodworking hand tool that every woodworker should have within their reach at all times. If you are a starter in the woodworking industry, you should buy this first-hand tool.

It’s one of the cheapest woodworking tools in the market. In addition, this tool helps you easily measure the wood’s length for increased precision as you undertake your woodworking projects.

Below are some of the basic tape measures that you could choose from:

  • Retractable Steel Tapes: they are the most popular type of measuring hand tools. Their lengths vary from 12 to 30 feet.
  • Folding Rules: it is essential to note that they are not referred to as rulers. They are rigid measuring sticks used for increased accuracy; most of them are folded in multiple sections.
  • Straight Edges and Yardsticks are classified under the ruler category and effective for laying straight lines and for takeoffs.

To avoid the issue of getting your tape measure from rolling back up, it is advisable to buy a retractable one with a length of at least 25 feet. You could hook it at the other end of the wood you are cutting to orderliness and improved accuracy.

3. What Is A Chisel Used For?

Chisel assortment should be in every woodworking workshop as they are very fundamental. These are chisels used by woodcarvers by all woodworkers for saw cuts and to clean out joints. Some of the best chisels are made of chromium-vanadium alloyed steel or high-alloy carbon steel.

Chisels with hardwood grips are ideal, especially when they got metal caps on them. This feature is crucial as it helps the handle from being malformed when you hit it with a hammer or a mallet. 

Why we need it

A woodworker is required to have a vast array of chisels. For mortise work, the smallest chisels are perfect. For chipping out, you may opt to use 1½ inch, while for door hinges, ¾ and 1 inch may be ideal. If you want to cut a notch out of the lumber, you may use a corner chisel. It works much the same as the hole punch.

For optimal performance, most types of chisels are beveled on the cutting edge and on both sides. However, specialty chisels are only beveled at the cutting edge. Bevel is designed between 20 and 25 degrees downwards on one side of the length of the blade and level on the backside. The length of the blade should be between 4 and 7 inches. 

You must ensure the handle grip of the chisel fits in your hand. You will not be able to handle the chisel steadily if the grip is too small.

To avoid damaging the head of your chisel, always ensure you either use a wooden hammer or a mallet. It would be best if you were keen on the edge caps and ensuring that they are always sharp after usage, oil the metal part of your chisel. This helps to keep them in shape and to elongate their lifespan.

The use of a chisel encompasses the use of both hands. This gives a chance for control and power of the chisel as it trims away from the wood surface. Instead of using a grinder to sharpen your blunt chisel, you could opt to use stones. This helps to make it robust for a long.

4. What Is A Mallet Used For?

Most woodworking starters in most of the time, mistake mallets with hammers. Both hand tools are used for striking.

However, they vary in functionality. In most instances, hammers are steel-faced, but some are plastic or brass. On the other hand, mallets feature immense wooden heads and handles that are detachable to accommodate varying sizes of the head.

What differentiates mallets from hammers is their surface impression and striking shock. Mallets tend to be softer as compared to hammers. Rather than delivering the shock, mallets absorb it. Mallets are ideal for connecting wood joints as they leave marginal striking marks.

As a woodworking enthusiast is very vital to understand that steel hammers should not be used on chisels but rather to use mallets. Rough finishes are left on the wood surface when you use steel hammers, as the shock causes the chisel to jab or stab at the wood. Using a mallet to tap the chisel allows them to slice via the wood with regular pressure effortlessly.

5. What Is A Screwdrivers Used For?

Another essential woodworking hand tool that you should buy first is the screwdrivers. For any woodworking project is mandatory to have a good set of screwdrivers. For this reason, most of them are designed to belong and have square blades made of heavy-duty metals, thus increasing their torque.

However, you will need a full set of screwdrivers ranging from small to big ones for different functionalities.

If you are working on tight places or cabinets, you will require a screwdriver with a slim shank for you to screws positioned in the deep holes. This can be ideally undertaken using a cabinet screwdriver. A ratcheting screwdriver is also ideal if you are working in tight places.

High-quality screwdrivers can be ground flat when they get damaged. However, too much heat should not be applied during the process as it could interfere with the metal’s temper, thus weakening it.

6. Tips for Effective use of Screwdrivers

  • Ensure you use the correct blade size for the screw
  • It is hard to remove screws, fit the driver onto them, apply as much pressure on the screwdriver downwardly, and hit the end side with a hammer. In most instances, this technique pops the screw loose. This method also applies to stripped-out screws.
  • Use a shorter shank to increase the driving force
  • Before driving screws into hardwood, you should apply beeswax on the threads. You could also use soap if you do not have beeswax. This helps in the effortless driving of the screws.
  • To get more torque, you can use a crescent wrench on the blade
  • Some woodworkers magnetize the screwdriver by striking it and holding it up with a metal bar. It gets magnetic as the molecules are realigned. Be careful not to break the screwdrivers in the process.

4. What is The Level in woodworking hand tools?

Levels are important woodworking hand tools that a starter should buy first. A 48 inches level is ideal for woodworking projects. Most of the carpenters also use torpedo level, which is 8 inches. Most woodworking enthusiast mistakes plumb for level. However, the plumb is vertical while the level is horizontal.

A vast array of high-quality levels are either made of metal or brass-edged wood. There will be a bubble reading for plumb and another one for level. Thus, you have a plumb or level surface when the bubble is precisely between the lines. Woodworkers mostly use this type of level. However, you can also get laser levels or string levels.

5. What is The Moisture Meter Used For?

For the long-term success of any carpentry and woodworking project, you need to have a wood moisture meter. According to the intention of the end products, most lumber mills tend to dry the batches of lumber differently.

Others tend to dry more than others. From fine furniture to kitchen furniture to wood flooring, the moisture meter is essential for determining the correct levels of moisture content.

Although some moisture meters are pin-less, some have pins that infiltrate the wood surface, leaving tiny holes that ruin the surface, requiring a filling. The pinless ones have sensing plates that are utilized in scanning the wood beneath. 

An ideal moisture meter should be able to account for the varying species of wood through its settings.

For example, although oak is a hardwood, ebony tends to be a harder density of the wood. Therefore, if you opt to utilize both types of wood for your inlay project, you will be required to determine the levels of moisture content of each of the species so that the inlay glue joints you use may stay intact. 

6. Sanding, Planing, and Filing Woodworking Hand Tools 

When pieces of wood are cut or trimmed to a rough shape, they require significant work to present an impressive, finished appearance. Regardless of the quality and how fine the blades you saw are, you will still require some planning, sanding, and filing supplies.

Below are some of the finishing woodworking hand tools that you should buy first.

1. What Is a Hand Files Used For?

Hand files are most of the time the ideal woodworking hand tool for smoothing and shaping wood. They are pretty long-lasting despite being inexpensive, especially if you purchase one made of high-quality steel. Also, rather than sharpening them when they get blunt, it is always ideal for replacing them. Below are some of the types of hand files that you could choose from:

  • Rasps hand files have coarse teeth and are rough-edged. However, they are perfect for the removal of the immense amount of wood for overall shaping before further smoothening it with finer files.
  • Mile hand files, these are flat on both faces. They have fine teeth on one side and coarse ones on the backside. They also feature toothed edges ideal for tight spaces.
  • Half-round hand files have a curved face on one side and flat surfaces on the other. This makes them perfect for curved and straight surfaces.

Hand files also serve the purpose of sharpening other woodworking bits and blades in your workshop. Metal files are usually made of high-grade steel and feature extremely fine teeth. Always ensure that you get value for your money; thus, you should buy a robust high-grade hand file for increased durability.

2. What Is Planes Used For?

Rather than grainy, sanding woodworking tools, planes are tools for cutting. The various types of planes shave off wood fibers using fixed blades, allowing them to take shape and become smoother progressively. The blade depth and sizes play a significant role in determining the amount of material that can be removed at a go.

You will come across various types of planes. However, this should not intrigue you. For instance, jack planes and rabbet planes are both used for shaving wood. However, they significantly have varying applications. Below are some of the types of planes that you should choose from when buying one.

  • Block Planes: These types of planes are stout and smaller. They are ideal for tight work, especially where smooth joints are needed.
  • Jack Plane: They are also referred to as jack of all trades and removes a significant amount of material at a go. They are used both jointing and smoothing. Both straight edge and curved edge are available.
  • Rabbet Planes: Ideal for making right angle grooves lengthwise on board edge grain. 
  • Joining Planes: They serve the same functionality as jack planes. However, they are designed to join pieces together and smooth edges. Usually, joining hand planes have extended frames.
  • Spokeshaves: This type of hand plane is ideal for curved surfaces. Initially, they were designed for wagon wheel spokes. However, they are nowadays used by all woodworkers for various projects.
  • Scraper Planes: Designed to make super-smooth finishes by scraping off fine fibers on wood. They are also referred to as cabinet scrapers.

3. What is Utility Knife Used For?

A utility knife is another essential woodworking hand tool that a starter should consider buying first. There are a vast array of utility knives, but the ones with disposable blades are the commonly used. For safety, the blade withdraws into the grip.

Most woodworkers and carpenters use utility knives to scribe wood or clean out mortise joints, among many other uses.

4. What is a Nail Set Use For?

A nail set is another crucial woodworking hand tool that you should have at all times; you should have different sizes. They have an owl-like appearance and are used in the driving of heads of the nail into the wood so that they are right below or flush the surface.

This allows you to fill the holes in preparation for painting or staining

The nail setter typically has either a concave or convex surface to effectively grip the nail to keep it from marring and sliding off the wood.

Bottom Line

If you are a woodworking enthusiast and seeking to venture into this industry, it is paramount that you get the right advice on which woodworking hand tools you will buy first. Failure to this will lead to the purchase of unnecessary hand tools or of poor quality. Luckily, with the above information and woodworking tips, you can never go wrong!


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Sokna Chan

Welcome to Carpentry is my passion. I understand that it can be challenging for those seeking to venture into this industry, especially if you are a novice. I hope you enjoy and get a lot of ideas from my website. Thank you so much for your time.

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