The Core Hand Tools – Home Decor Online Tips

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arrangement of hand tools

At the cost of a quality piece of large machinery, you can create a complete shop with hand tools.

For the cost of a quality piece of large machinery, a complete shop can be created.

Setting up a hand tool shop is a fraction of the investment in setting up a power tool shop. At the price of a single high-quality machine, you can buy all the manual tools necessary to build things, from raw wood to assembly and final surface finish. And this if you buy the new tools of the best quality available.

To do the same job with power tools, three to four machines are needed, a bunch of small motorized hand tools, as well as good dust collection to cope with all the small particles. In addition, space is needed to put everything.

And for the home joiner, hand tools can be as fast as power tools. Woodworking as a craft was fully formed long before the advent of machinery and electricity and people were not working slowly or inefficiently.

It may take some time to develop the skills to be skilled with hand tools, but it’s actually easier to get started with them than with machines. As long as your tools are sharp, they will give you results and the more you use them, the better you will become at controlling them.

One of the reasons people have turned so easily to power tools is that they have been convinced that it is much easier to learn how to set up a machine to perform a task that it can then repeat over and over than to learn the manual skills competent for that. same task. Nothing could be further from the truth – even your first attempts with a manual tool will give you better results than the first attempts to do the same with machines. And it has a much lower initial cost.

Layout and fixing tools

The list of hand tools needed for efficient work is not as daunting as one might think. As you build your kit, it’s important to understand that individual tools don’t count as much: the key is that you have the right set of tools.

Layout tools. For marking and measurement, the main tools include combination squares (12 “, 6” and 2 “are shown here, top left), a tape measure and a folding rule, a marking indicator (or two ), a chamfer indicator, protractor and dividers / compasses – and a pencil, of course.

The tools you get to fill this group completely depend on which ones work best for you and there may be special tools such as scrapers, rasps or molding plans that you will want to acquire in case of need.

In addition, you will need some measuring and marking tools for the layout. I recommend a couple of combination squares – at least 12 “and 6” (it’s also nice to have a 2 “or 4” one) and an awl. An inclination meter and a protractor will allow you to work with angles.

Two sets of dividers and a compass allow curves and also allow you to arrange the proportions and transfer the points to your stock. Two marking gauges allow you to transfer multiple dimensions without having to measure. With a folding rule and a tape measure, you can take specific measurements. The blade of your 12 “combo box can be straight when needed.

Secure (COURTESY). If you plan to use mechanical fasteners, you will need a brace or hand drill (and bits), a drill, a hammer and a pair of screwdrivers (or a driver with interchangeable bits).

And unless you only use all-wood joinery such as mortise and tenons or dovetail, you’ll also need a drill (like egg beater or brace) and a hammer, as well as some screwdrivers.

The basic tools for the preparation of the rough, the modeling and the carpentry can be divided into five groups: bench tops, detail and carpentry tools, saws, tools for curved works and sharpening tools.

Read: Precision tools for carpenters

Bench planes

The counter tops – the jack, the jointer and the smoothest – allow you to manage the sizing and finishing of the stock.

The jack plane it is between 14 ″ -15 ″ long, making it ideal for rough surfaces. As a medium-sized tool, it is large enough to make things reasonably flat and short enough to get there quickly.

A rough cut is the thickest and heaviest shave, and is typically between 0.004 “-. 010” thick, depending on how cooperative the piece of wood is. (As a reference, a piece of printer paper is approximately 0.004 “thick.) To use this heavy roughing table, sharpen the blade with an 8” -10 “radius; this will make it more like a cleaning table. .

A jointer plane has the large support surface (22 ″ -24 ″) necessary for flattening. It doesn’t matter if the card you’re working on is large or small; if you wish, take your jointer.

A flattened cut has an average thickness, between 0.002 “- 004”.

A smoothing plan it’s 10 “or less in length. It doesn’t cut more evenly than the other floors; it is simply a much shorter surface than a jack or jointer, so it allows you to make a subtle finishing pass faster than larger ones.

The finishing cuts should be as thin as you can get, typically less than 0.002 ″.

None of these numbers are set in stone, just know that your roughing cut will be the thickest shave, the flattening cut will be about half that and the finishing cut will be about half that again.

I like to prepare my planes for cutting before going to work, so I do test tests on a small piece of scrap to bring them to what I want them to be. The type of cut you need to take will tell you which planes to use for which task.

Read: Understanding bench planes

Remove, flatten, smooth. These three tools – the jack, the jointer and the smooth planes – allow you to tackle any stock preparation work, starting to finish.

Discard test. Run a small block of wood on top of the blade while setting a plan. This will tell you how far the blade extends and its position relative to the mouth.

Carpentry details and tools

These are tools for putting things together, cutting and adapting. A group of blocks, shoulder plane, abutment plane, milling plane, plowing plane and some chisels make up this group. Although there are fewer choices in carpentry and more specialized detail tools, the same principles apply for bench tops: let the work dictate the tool you are looking for. (Again, if there are options, I go to the bigger tool.)

A low angle block plane, about 6 “long (or shorter), it allows you to cut and adapt efficiently. It can also be used as a small smoothing surface if needed.

A large shoulder plane it is about 10 ″ long and has a blade that comes out of each edge of the plane’s body to allow cuts in the corners – a necessity when creating or cleaning rabbits or cutting the shoulders tenoned. The mass and dimensions of a large plan, such as no. 073, they give you more control than you get with his smaller cousins.

Carpentry planes. These tools are used to cut various joints and adaptations. Clockwise, from above, there is a plowing plane, a low angle block plane, a shoulder plane, a milling plane, an inclined rabbet plane, an oblique block plane and a rabbet plane of wood.

The plane of the rabbet the blade, like the plane of the shoulder, extends to the edges of the sole; it is an essential tool for the case because it often cuts the beats for carpentry. Often, these pass through the grain, so an inclined blade is preferable. The best vintage option for an inclined rake is no. 289 – but since it is not easy to find, an inclined wooden plane or an inclined block plane no. 140 would be a good option.

A large airplane router (like # 71) can be equipped with a variety of blade sizes to handle different tasks. It is ideal for creating a uniform depth for a dice or for cutting a tenon’s cheek.

A plow plane allows you to set a groove on the face or edge of a piece (e.g. for a drawer bottom or panel). You will need different blade widths for a variety of grooves. Tools such as combined plans no. 45 and n. 55, but a dedicated plow plan is the best choice for this application.

Airplane selection

Tall or short. If you are looking for versatility, consider a low (front) beveled top.

Wwhile the section on counter tops explains which type of top to use for each type of cut, it does not explain which top is the best in each category. This is where personal preferences begin to play.

I reach the heaviest plane of any category, because I find that a plane is heavier, the easier it is to use. I would like to take a no. 51/2 jack, a no. 8 jointers and one n. 41/2 smoother – but you also need to consider low-angle planes and high-angle frogs.

In very hard or highly figured woods, the actual higher cutting angles (the combination of the settling angle of the tool with the sharp bevel on the blade) work better than the lower corners. You can manipulate that corner on a beveled plane or at a low angle by sharpening at different angles.

On a low angle plane this angle of inclination is generally about 12 °, while the effective cutting angle can vary from 37 ° up to a scraping angle of 102 °, depending on the angle of inclination.

With the high angle frogs in the traditional style planes (tilted down), you can get higher angles by changing the frog or adding a rear bevel to the blade, which changes the angle of the blade. The higher angle of presentation means more resistance. Therefore, the larger the mass of the tool, the easier it is to use. These high angle cuts are important, because you get more control over tearing in hard-to-level woods with a higher angle cut.

As a general rule, it is much more important to have a jack, a jointer and smoother than to have specific instruments like a no. 62, a no. 8 and a n. 41/2 with a high angle frog. Your preference could be a no. 5, no. 7 and n. 4 or any other combination of tools. You may also need activity-specific tools, such as the smaller n. 3 smoother to manage surfaces that must be smooth but not perfectly flat.

Or, the versatility of the low-angle or inclined tops means that it is possible to choose one (or more) compared to the traditional-style counter tops. Let the type of work you do determine the exact tools you get. -DP


Chisel matrix. You will need various chisels based on the job you want to do, such as a 1⁄2 ″ and 1⁄4 ″ mortise chisel, a fishtail chisel to clean the semi-blind and 1⁄4 dovetail corners ″, 1⁄ 2 “and 3⁄4” bench chisels.

Chisels are relatively easy to understand: get the size and types you need.

Chisels with a beveled edge are very versatile; you can use them to hit or match. Get a range of sizes so you can handle a variety of activities (3⁄4 ″, 1⁄2 ″ and 1⁄4 ″ tools would be a good start). If you plan to cut mortises, get adequate sized mortise chisels.

Oblique or fishtail chisels are useful if you need to get into angled areas, such as a semi-blind dovetail grip, but are not strictly necessary.


Five saws. While you can get by with less, these five saws will simplify your life. From the left is shown a 12 ppi circular saw, 7 panel saws for tearing, tenon saw, carcass saw and dovetail saw.

Perhaps of course, you need saws to cut the boards to size and cut the joinery. A saw should be comfortable in your hand – and while you may want to try to get by with just one or two, having three types of saw and at least one panel saw will make your job easier when you need to size panels or cut panels down.

On the left is a close-up of a cross saw (left), with teeth optimized for cutting through the grain. The saw (right) has teeth shaped for cutting with wheat.

Here are the three saws that I recommend:

  • Dovetail saw. 9 “-11” long, 15-18 stitches per inch (ppi). This is a small fine-toothed saw, typically filed with a tear-off tooth, for dovetails and other small joinery.
  • Carcass saw. 11 “-14” long, 14-16 ppi. This fine-toothed cross-toothed saw is useful for cutting miters and small boards for a long time and for working like cutting shoulders on a nut or tenon.
  • Tenon saw. 14 “-16” long, 10-12 ppi. This large coarse-toothed thread saw is useful for cutting tenon cheeks and for cutting large dovetails.

The panel saws are available in both pull and cross filings, and are approximately 20 “long, toothed from 7-12 ppi depending on the application. If you can only have one panel saw, make it a circular saw; a saw cross-toothed will cut better than a cross-toothed saw.

If you intend to cut any curves, we also recommend a saw or a saw for hats; for detail work, it’s nice to have a fret saw or a jeweler.

Construction: project of the handmade saw cabinet

Curved work

Curve cutting. If you plan to work with lines other than straight lines, you will need a way to cut the arcs. In the saws, it is a bow saw, a coping saw and a fret. You may also want a small knife and a spoke holder or two, and one or more rasps.

Curved work tools are more specialized. Not only do you need the saws I just mentioned, but you will also find the use of a combination of spoke spokes, knives, scrapers and rasps. Rasps and knives allow you to create rough curves (when a band saw or a saw is not suitable). And for the best finishing results, I would turn to a spokesperson or scrapers whenever possible.


Good sharpening equipment – and the ability to use it to create a good edge – is essential for woodworking with hand tools. It doesn’t matter which medium or method you use; the important thing is that your tools are as sharp as possible.

To get the most out of your tools, you need to know what Sharp really is.

A cutting edge is simply the intersection of two uniformly smooth surfaces. The bevel must be sharpened on the roughing stone to the point where a deburring is raised on the back of the blade, then sharpened on both bevels and the back on the finishing stone. There are many ways to do this. The important thing is that you get the highest possible polish and that both the back and the bevel have the same level of polishing. If you achieve this, you will have an advantage.

Keep your system simple. I recommend using a sanding guide (more on that in a minute) with a # 1,000 grit roughing stone and a # 8000 or # 10,000 finish stone.

Simple system. Two water stones and a sanding guide (or some sharpening system) should be the most used tools in your shop.

I prefer the seabed, but you can use any means or method; just remember that you have to keep the stones flat and bring both the back and the bevel to the same level of final polish.

So why a sanding guide? It makes possible a system-based sharpening process rather than skills. If you follow a system, you get consistent and repeatable results as you develop your sharpening skills. If you count on the ability to sharpen freehand (i.e. sharpen without a mask), you may be frustrated with less than acceptable results and give up long before developing that skill.

Significant connection

With a little practice and the right group of tools, you can build extraordinary things. You can choose a mixed approach to woodworking, using power tools in some cases and hand tools in others.

Or you can choose to work only with manual tools. Either way, you will get more precise results, your finished surfaces will be cleaner and you will be able to work faster than you ever thought possible.

I think one of the most valuable things in all of this is that for a relatively minimal kit, you can start and build things in any space you have available, and you are connected to your work in a more meaningful way.

Power tools allow you to bend the wood according to your will, even if it will only stay there if you wish.

Hand tools help you learn what wood wants to be and allow you to help it become that.

Product recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools that we find essential in our daily work in the shop. We may receive a commission from the sales indicated by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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