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Essential Woodworking Tools You Need

If you’re new to woodworking, then you might not be sure what tools you’ll need in your workshop. There are so many to choose from, and it can be tough to know what to get. Of course, some tools are very specific to one type of woodworking, but then there are others that you’ll find yourself using for almost all tasks. We’re going to look at the essential tools to have in your workshop now.

What are the Essential Woodworking Tools?

panoramic shot of woodworker measuring wooden plank

Before we get onto the list, it’s important to distinguish between the two categories of tools that you’ll be using.

The first category of tools is referred to as ‘hand tools.’ This is simply because they are powered by your own hands, rather than electricity or another external fuel.

This brings us to the second category, which is ‘power tools.’ This type of tool will usually be plugged into an electrical socket or will run on a rechargeable battery.

You may have the choice between getting a powered or a manual version of the same tool. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. A hand tool can be easier to control, and allow for more intricate work, but it can also require a lot more strength and force. Whereas a power tool can be used with minimal effort but in some cases, it won’t allow the same control over the task and, depending on what type of woodworking you’re doing, then this can be a problem.

Generally, nowadays, woodworkers tend to use power tools for a lot of tasks, and hand tools for the more intricate work, for measuring, and for keeping things in place.

Let’s have a look at the essential hand tools and power tools you’ll want to get to begin woodworking.

Essential Hand Tools

Collection of vintage woodworking tools on a rough workbench and blank copy space: carpentry, craftsmanship and handwork concept, flat lay

Manual Saws – Every type of woodwork will require manual saws, and the most important two saws to invest in are a jigsaw and a coping saw.

Chisel – A chisel is an extremely important tool for woodwork. Not only are they used for cutting wood, but they are also used for shaping wood.

Hammers – You’re going to need a high-quality claw hammer for woodwork so that you can both hammer in nails into wood and remove them.

Wooden Mallet – A wooden mallet is used in conjunction with a chisel. There are lots of types of wooden mallets on the market, but it’s best to purchase one that’s got a removable head and several different heads to choose from, so you can alter it for the different tasks you’re doing.

Screwdrivers – You’ll need standard Philips and flat-head screwdrivers in different sizes. If you’re serious about woodwork, then you’ll be best buying a screwdriver set with at least twenty pieces inside it.

Measuring Tape – There are lots of fancy measuring tapes around now, which have extra features such as a laser so that you can precisely measure and mark your wood. It’s up to you if you choose an advanced measuring tape like this, but you’ll certainly need some form of measuring tape.

Squares – Carpentry squares are also important for measuring, and you’ll be best buying a set of these squares, so you have several sizes to choose from.

Sandpaper – High-grade sandpaper is essential. No woodworker can live without it. Don’t cut costs by buying the cheap stuff. The better the quality of sandpaper, the smoother your finished article will be.

Manual Plane – A manual plane is also very important for smoothing wood. It’s possible to get a joinery plane or a molding plane, but if you’re just starting out, a simple bench plane will do the job.

Hand File – There are lots of different types of files – such as round files and flat files – and you’ll probably need each one for different tasks, so, once again, you’ll be best investing in a hand file set so that you have the right file for every woodworking job that you do.

Safety Goggles and Gloves – If you’re new to woodworking, then you’ll be learning on the job, and the last thing you want is for a woodchip to fly into your eye or to get a nasty splinter lodged in your hand. Get yourself some safety goggles and gloves and wear them as often as possible at the beginning of your woodworking journey.

Essential Power Tools:

Woodworking power tools including rectangular orbit sander, grinder and jig saw with wooden tool box at outdoor workshop.

Drills – When it comes to powered drills, there are a lot of options to choose from. Versatility is going to be the best option at the start, so try to find a powered drill that can double as an impact driver. This means you can use it comfortably for boring holes into wood, as well as driving screws into it. Invest in a drill-bit set too, and it might be worth getting a right-angle drill attachment too.

Orbital Sander – This is basically a powered sander that’s very important for large woodwork projects, such as making furniture.

Circular Saw When it comes to cutting large pieces of wood quickly and accurately, then a circular saw is the tool to use. Of course, if you’re doing intricate woodwork, then it won’t be that handy, but any large projects will require a circular saw.

Router Saw – If you don’t know what a rabbet or a dado is yet, then you might wonder why you’ll need a router saw too, but this is an essential power tool that every woodworker will need at some point, as it can be used to create decorative contours.

What About a Workbench?

Close Up Of Tools On Workbench In Workshop Assembling Hand Built Sustainable Bamboo Bicycle Frames

It might be difficult to imagine that a workbench can be a tool, but once you’ve started experimenting with woodwork, then you’ll realize just how much the workbench can aid your handiwork. It’s possible to purchase a ready-built workbench or a flat-pack workbench, but it could be a good first project to pick up some skills by designing and building your own workbench. The most important feature of a good workbench is its strength and durability. You’re going to be applying a lot of pressure to it, so it has to be able to stand up to that weight.


Now you know what the most essential tools are for woodworking. If you’re setting up a new workshop at home, then having all these tools inside it will mean that you’re prepared for every situation. A happy woodworker is one who has choices. The more tools you have available to you, then the more freedom you have to do what you want to do when you want to do it.

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