There are very few things more rewarding than putting down your tools, stepping back and taking in the sight of a woodworking project that has finally been completed after hours, days, weeks, or even months of toil. We are absolutely hooked on this feeling – which is why we do what we do – and now we find that the only thing which rivals the sense of fulfilment we get from doing carpentry ourselves, is helping others realise that they have a passion for it too.
If you have made your way to this page then it is likely that you have already felt the call of carpentry, but are unsure where to begin and what you'll need to get started; fortunately for you we have the answers. Woodworking is a very exciting activity to undertake but before you can really sink your teeth into it, you will need to invest in a set of tools.
As is often the case, the more money you spend on your tools the better they tend to be, which means they ought to produce better results. This is why we would urge you not to scrimp on the cost, as bad tools will cost you more in the long-term; not only because they will need to be replaced more often, but because a poor quality tool can damage the material it is working on.
Fortunately, as you're just starting out, and you will probably be undertaking smaller more simple projects to begin with, you will not require that many tools, just the basics; and better still, you will never ever stop using these tools, you will just add more to your woodworking toolbox. So spending time and money on buying the right tools is definitely worth it.
Woodworking Tool List
So what kind of carpentry tools will you need to start out with? You do not want to start out with anything too big, and it is necessary when you first start out to get a feel for the working with wood, which is why for your first few woodworking projects we would suggest you use only hand-tools when necessary.
Marking & Measuring
Before you can start sawing and drilling you will need to work out and mark down where on the wood you will be doing your work.
Cutting & Sawing
- Combination Square – Used for measuring out angles, this is one of the most important pieces of carpentry equipment. A poor quality combination square can ruin your project from the get-go, so make sure you pick up one that is accurate and well made.
- Marking Gauge – Whilst not one of the most essential pieces of equipment, marking gauges do come in handy, and they will never cost you more than £10 so why not?
- Tape Measure – When it comes to measuring out your wood and deciding where to cut, accuracy is key. Make sure that your tape measurer comes with a hook and can be locked firmly.
Once your wood is marked out clearly you will need tools that can cut away the marked out sections. Just remember, the sharper the better.
Planing & Sanding
- Scribing Knife – A precision cutting tool that makes cutting joint shoulders by hand easy and accurate.
- Tenon Saw – Used for cutting tenons and joints, these saws are rigid and designed to cut along the wood's grain. The top of the blade is fitted with a guard, so you can guide it with your hand.
- Coping Saw – A handy tool with a rotatable blade, this saw is best used for cutting corners and curves. You will need to have spare coping saw blades at the ready, as you will go through a few.
- Panel Saw – A large saw that can be used for some of the more unrefined jobs. It is ideal for cutting away large amounts of material to more manageable sizes, which can then be touched up and neatened.
Once you have sawn your wood you will be left with a rough surface that will need to be smoothed down. If you decide you do not enjoy planing, you can always order planed all round timber in the future to minimise the amount you need to do.
Bits & Pieces
- Sand Paper – Great for levelling out slightly uneven surfaces, sandpaper is available in a variety of grades. Just to be safe, you will want at least 3 different types on hand, one rough, one medium and one fine.
- Jack Plane – A strong choice for beginners, this is a good general-use plane that will give wood a good-looking, flat finish. No. 5 or 5.5 is the ideal sized Jack Plane for beginners.
- Smoothing Plane – Perfect for neatening up the wood before putting on the finishing touches, when you're just starting out the No. 4 or 4.5 smoothing plane is what you'll want to use.
The tools listed above are the main tools you will need, and you ought to be able to get them all for between £150 and £200, if you look in the right places. There are just a few more tools you're going to need though before you get your first carpentry project under-way.
- Chisels – A useful, all-round tool, chisels are incredibly versatile and fun to use (especially in conjuncture with a wooden mallet).
- Drills – Getting a handheld, battery-powered drill will save you a lot of time, just make sure you find one you are happy to use, as you will be using it a lot.
- Sharpeners – Your tools will become dull, and therefore less effective with use, which is why it is a good idea to invest in several sharpening stones.