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Essential Woodworking Hand Tools Every Artisan Needs

Timber Knowledge Tips & Guides
01 January 0001 min read

When starting out in woodworking, it can be tempting to focus only on the big power tools and machinery. However, expert woodworkers know that there are some basic hand tools for carpentry or joinery that no workshop can do without. 


Selecting the right tools is paramount, affecting both the process and the end product. Understanding these essential woodworking hand tools will ensure you can measure, mark, cut, shape, and join wood with ease.


You can understand more about the importance of good quality hand tools from top furniture craftsman and hand plane fanatic, Richard Buckingham, who shares his expert knowledge on woodworking tools in our video interview.


Measuring & Marking Tools

Measuring and marking are essential steps in any woodworking project. A good set of measuring and marking tools ensure that you can accurately measure the length, width, depth, and thickness of a piece of wood or two pieces coming together.

Tape Measure

A reliable retractable tape measure is the most basic and essential measuring tool used to accurately gauge distances and sizes. It’s important to get one that is durable and easy to read with clear increments.


Squares are vital for precise angles, alignment, and measurements. They come in various sizes, shapes, and materials, with the most common type being the combination square which measures both 45-degree and 90-degree angles.

Marking Gauge & Marking Knife

With its adjustable pin, a marking gauge scribes a line parallel to a reference edge, ensuring consistent width pieces. A marking knife works with a straight edge to create exact markings.

Sliding Bevel

A sliding bevel, or bevel gauge, is a wood hand tool used to set and transfer angles in woodworking. With an adjustable blade that locks in place, it's invaluable for fitting joints and replicating precise angles.

Cutting Tools

Cutting tools are used to cut shapes into woodworking projects, making them pivotal for a successful outcome. 

Hand Saws

When it comes to hand saws, there is a wide variety of options for any job. For instance, with its larger teeth, the rip saw is designed for cutting wood in the direction of the grain, while crosscut saws cut across it. 

Bench Chisels

Bench chisels are used for cleaning up wood joints and making precise cuts. They come in a range of shapes, sizes, and blade styles to suit a variety of projects, making them one of the most versatile woodworking hand tools available.

Planing Tools

Planing tools are used for smoothing and shaping wood. They come in a variety of sizes and styles making them perfect for any woodworking task.

Bench Plane

The bench plane is a versatile tool that can handle a wide range of woodworking tasks. It is particularly useful for flattening and smoothing large surfaces, making it an essential tool for general-purpose woodworking.

Block Plane

The block plane is smaller and more compact, making it easy to manoeuvre. It excels at tasks that require precision and control, such as trimming end grain, chamfering edges, and fitting joints.

Smoothing Plane

The smoothing plane provides a flawless finish, designed for final surface preparation and removing tool marks or imperfections. Its fine blade ensures precision, making it crucial for professional-looking results.

Striking Tools

Striking tools are vital components of any carpenter's toolkit. They are used for driving nails, breaking apart materials, and fitting parts together, among other tasks.

Mallet & Hammer

  • Mallet: A mallet, typically made of wood or rubber, delivers controlled blows and is  especially useful for driving chisels. 

  • Hammer: Hammers, especially those with a claw, serve a dual role, allowing for nailing and removing nails. 


Boring Tools

Boring tools drill holes and cavities in wood and are essential hand tools for joinery and fittings.

Brace & Bits

A nod to traditional woodwork tools, these hand-powered drills are perfect for heavy-duty hole-making. The brace, combined with various bits, allows for holes of different sizes, providing torque and control.

Eggbeater Drill

An eggbeater drill, also known as a hand drill, offers precise control when drilling small holes, especially in delicate pieces. Unlike power drills, the manual operation reduces the risk of splitting the wood or damaging the workpiece.

Awl, Gimlet & Auger

  • Awl: The awl is indispensable for marking or initiating holes, guaranteeing exact placement before larger operations.

  • Gimlet: The gimlet excels in boring holes, especially in confined spaces, acting quicker than an awl for most tasks.

  • Auger: The auger is typically paired with a brace and is adept at efficiently carving out larger holes and removing material. 

Sharpening Tools

Sharpening tools are vital for ensuring that blades remain in top condition.

Whetstone, Honing Guide & Strop

The trinity of sharpness — a whetstone, honing guide, and strop — improves the performance of a woodworker’s tools and also extends their lifespan.

  • Whetstone: Whetstones, often made of granite or synthetic materials, are used for grinding and sharpening the edges of tools like chisels and plane irons.

  • Honing guide: This hand tool helps maintain a consistent angle while sharpening, guaranteeing uniformity and precision.

  • Strop: Usually leather, the strop is used for the final polishing and honing of an edge. It helps in achieving a razor-sharp finish and removing any burrs.


Woodshop Direct: Where Quality Meets Craftsmanship

In conclusion, hand tools like saws and bench planes are essential for any woodworker. With the right tools and materials, you can achieve precision in your creations. 

At Woodshop Direct, we supply not only high-quality woodwork accessories and carpenters’ tools in the UK but also the finest woods - perfect for every project. Explore our range today and enhance your craftsmanship.