Woodworking Tips, Tricks and Techniques

 

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Hand Tools for a Home Woodshop

Hand Tools for a Home Woodshop

 Often, when setting up a woodshop for the first time, a certain amount of uncertainty, is bound to crop up. This is a normal response to an uncommon task.

 
 
 
 

Deciding on what tools to buy, and in which order to buy them are two major questions to deal with. Some are obvious, some not so obvious. The main thing to bear in mind, is not to buy junk. Buy good quality tools right from the start, or you soon will be replacing them. So it's actually cheaper to buy the good ones right away. Junk tools have a tendency to do junk work, and even a high amount of skill, can't offset the poor quality in tools.

The line below each item, "my choice", referres to if I could only have one, which one would serve the most purposes, with a single tool. The photos are links from which you can order the items.

 

Measuring Tools

Self-Lock Tape Measure
Self-Lock Tape Measure


The two main catagories in measuring tools would have to be a wood rule and the tape measure. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The tape measure is more convenient, but less accurate. The folding wood rule is less convenient, but more accurate. Both are available in many configurations, particulary the tape measure. For more on measuring devices and how to read them, click here.

My choice for an all purpose measuring tool would be a 16 foot tape measure.

Hammers

Vaughan® Hammers
Vaughan® Hammers



Sometimes certian tools will serve multiple funtions. For example, a hammer can be bought in a couple styles, and in several weights, varying from as little as 10 ounces for a cabinet maker, to 22 ounces, for a house framer. The "claws" or nail pulling end of the hammer's head may be curved to offer maxinium leverage in removing nails, or straight for being able to split lumber. In a home woodshop, the lighter option is probably a good one, as your not driving nails as a house framer would and if you miss the nail is less likely to do major damage. There's really no need for the extra driving power supplied by the heavier ones.

My choice for an all purpose hammer would be in the 16 ounce range, with the straight or "ripping" claws, as they're referred to.

Hand Saws

Japanese Universal Saw Set
Japanese Universal Saw Set


Hand saws are broken down into several major catagories. There's cross cutting, which as the name implies is used to cross cut wood, meaning to cut across the grain. There's ripping, designed to cut with the grain of the board. Then there's Western style saws, referring to hand saws commonly used in the United States which cut on the push stroke, and Japanese style saws, designed on the pull stroke. The Japanese style are becoming more and more popular as the blade of the saw is not being flexed when push through the wood. The pulling action can only cut straight, unless of course the blade is bent. 

My choice for an all purpose hand saw would have to be a double edged Japanese saw, with one edge for ripping and the other for cross cutting.

Squares

3-Piece Engineer Square Set
3-Piece Engineer Square Set


This is a tool that has many variations. There's the engineer's square as shown, which is an excellent tool for machinery set up, joint layout and drawing or scribing lines. Typically these squares range in size from 2 inches to 12 inches. Then there's a bevel square, which has a handle and movable blade. This tool is used to mark angles, or to transfer angles. Then there's the combination square. This square often has a sliding body on a blade. One side is square, while the other side is generally a 45 degree angle. These are also available in a one piece unit with no moving parts. These tend to be more accurate, and can be used for machine set up and joint layout.

My choice for an all purpose square would be the one piece combination square.

Hand Planes

Rockler/Groz Hand Planes
Rockler/Groz Hand Planes


As usual, many variations on these hand tools. Used to straighten and square edges, flatten the face of boards, pare joints, smooth surfaces and bring a level od precision to your woodworking that would be difficult to achieve without one, or six. General catagories are jointer plane, which is designed to straighten and square the edges of a board, these have long soles, or bottom surfaces, ranging from 20 - 24 inches. Jack planes are a general-purpose bench plane, used for general smoothing of the edges and sizing of boards. Jack planes are typically about 15 inches long. Bench planes are general purpose planes and are approximately 8 inches long, with the plane blade held on a steep angle. Block planes are handy due to their smaller size, roughly 6 inches long, making one handed use possible. These are usually a low angle plane which permits them to plane end grain. Molding Planes are used as the name suggests, with their cutting blade shaped in the desired shape of the molding. Shoulder planes are designed to plane the shoulders of tenons. I have barely touched on the types of planes available. There are literally hundreds of different styles of hand planes!

My choice for an all purpose plane would have to be a bench plane, although my personal favorite and the one I use most often would be a skewed low angle block plane.

Wood Chisels

Irwin Marples Blue Chip 6-Pc. Chisel Set with FREE $20 Gift Card - Limited Time Only!
Irwin Marples Blue Chip 6-Pc. Chisel Set with FREE $20 Gift Card - Limited Time Only!


So many types here as well. Western Style Wood Chisels or Japanese Style Wood Chisels is the first option to consider. Bench chisels, used for general woodworking, with the ability to be struck with a mallet. Dovetail chisels designed with low shoulders to fit into tight areas. Skew chisels for getting into corners. Mortise chisels, made much heavier duty for the abuse they take in cutting mortises. Paring chisels designed not to be hit with a mallet and able to really fine tune a cut. Great for paring precise woodworking joints.

My choice for an all purpose wood chisel set would be bench chisels. If money wasn't a consideration, it would be a set of Japanese chisels.

Screw Drivers

 

6 in 1 Screwdriver
6 in 1 Screwdriver




Screw driver sets are available, as are multi purpose screwdrivers as shown above. Slotted screwdrivers, phillips screwdrivers, square drive and a number of other types are readily obtained. Several brands offer lifetime guarantees. If one breaks simply return it to the store for immeadiate replacement. A good quality set will last a lifetime.

My choice for an all purpose set would be a Craftsman set from Sears. They're good quality and often sales on them make them a great value.

 

To be continued...

 

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