15 Essential Woodworking Tools

A nail in a piece of wood.

Woodworking is not only a fun hobby, but it can be extremely useful for constructing furniture, completing home DIY projects, and making simple improvements around your house at a low cost. But to effectively work this craft, you need to be equipped with the right tools. Keep reading to learn about all the essential woodworking tools to stock in your garage.

1. Tape Measure

You’ve heard the old saying, “measure twice, cut once,” and that can be applied to the woodworking craft. You can’t do much measuring without a tape measure, however, and you’ll want a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Ensure that it has a “hook” tab at the end of it that is firmly attached. You won’t want it to come loose and create inaccuracies while measuring.

2. Screwdriver

This may seem obvious, but it’s so important that we just couldn’t leave it out! You’ll actually need a few go-to screwdrivers, such as a Phillips-head and a slot or flathead driver. Splurge on a quality set of them, as those made of soft metal are likely to become useless after you put them to work. These will be vital in projects such as installing cabinetry, when you’re doing woodwork in tight places, and so on.

3. Claw Hammer

A claw hammer.

This is probably the most basic tool, and it’d be pretty difficult to conduct any woodwork without one! You’ll want a properly balanced hammer, with a claw on one side of the head that is counterbalanced by the finished and rounded head on the alternate side. A 20 ounce hammer is perfect for a variety of woodworking projects, as it’s heavy enough to drive nails, but can also be manipulated while pulling them out. Wooden handled hammers are quite common, but they may not be the most durable over time. Instead, opt for one with a steel or even fiberglass handle.

4. Hand Saw

Hand saws are not to be overlooked, and having a few of quality to choose from will prove to be highly useful. While you’re probably thinking that a power saw is more effective, keep in mind that a hand saw makes it easier to feel the wood’s response under the blade, so it’s nice to have some of these for particular projects.

5. Level

Although you probably won’t need a six-foot level for household woodworking projects, you should still be equipped with 48-inch and eight-inch (or torpedo) levels. The best are made of either brass-edged wood or metal, so keep that in mind as you shop for yours.

6. Saw Horse

A saw horse being used to cut wood.

This is an absolute must, as saw horses make it much easier for any woodworker to have a stable spot to do their work. These can typically hold up to 500 pounds and have a myriad of uses: they provide backup when you’re sawing, drilling, nailing, or screwing and they also extend your work surface.

7. Moisture Meter

This may not be an item that immediately comes to mind when you think of woodworking, but it’s important nonetheless. This item ensures the long-term success of your project, alerting you if your material has any inconsistencies in its dryness that conflicts with your goals or with the necessary moisture levels for wherever your physical location may be. Find a meter that has settings for different species of wood so that you find exactly the information you’re looking for with every test.

8. Vacuum

Whether you get one specifically made for a workshop or just one for household use, a vacuum will be necessary to get rid of sawdust during and after projects. When it’s blowing back up in your face it could be distracting and even dangerous, so get a vacuum to make cleanup a breeze.

9. Clamps

Wood clamps.

Most woodworking projects require these, so you’ll want to have a stockpile of them. The most important clamps to have on hand are those that work with 45 and 90-degree joints as well as pipe clamps. Furthermore, C, F, and K clamps are important. You’ll also want to have a few quick grip clamps, varying in size. Finally, hand screw clamps are some of the most common, and they’re great to have around for projects that require you to hold items and apply pressure to them.

10. Circular Saw

A highly versatile tool, you’ll want one of these for all of your woodworking needs! These make it easier and less cumbersome than it is with a hand saw to cut wood for certain projects.

11. Power Drill

This is another no-brainer (bonus points if you get one that is conveniently cordless). These powerful tools typically have two different speeds to choose from and fit differently sized bits, which means they’re a great tool for a variety of projects.

12. Palm Sander

A hand sander.

More often than not, the wood you’re going to use for any DIY project will require sanding to finish the job. A palm sander uses a small sheet of paper that can squeeze into even the tightest of places, ensuring that you don’t leave a rough inch on your finished product.

13. Router

Routers are useful in helping you shape the edges of your wood as you work, making them an essential. A wide range of bits to attach to this tool means that you’ll easily be able to create any shape. For beginners, try a stationary base router.

14. Safety Equipment

You can’t perform any woodwork without vital safety tools. This includes work gloves, safety goggles, and ear plugs. Stay safe while you work—no excuses!

15. Tool Storage System

The more organized you are, the more efficiently you’ll be able to work through your projects! Find a storage system that fits in your space and that will help keep your work area neat and tidy. You’ll love being able to easily find everything you need!