Best carpenter's tools


1. Standard saw

 hand saw hand tool saw 

A good-quality hand saw is worth every penny you spend and should not be overlooked. They are simple and easy to use - the fundamental carpenter's tool. You don't have to use power tools for every cutting job and in many cases you won't want to. Being able to feel the response of the wood beneath the saw blade is what carpentry is all about.


For many carpenters, having a selection of hand saws at their disposal is the backbone of their craft.


2. Coping saw

 coping saw hand tools carpenter 

The coping saw is a hand tool that allows you to cut intricate shapes and irregular lines. Frequently used for cutting mouldings and shaped joints. 


3. Hack saw

 hack saw hand tools carpenter 

The hack saw is a staple of the carpenter's toolbox. It is robust and durable and will cut through nearly anything. It is particularly useful for carpenters who need to remove existing bolts and frames.


4. Tenon saw

 tenon saw hand tools carpenter 

The tenon saw's rigid blade and fine teeth make it an excellent tool for cutting with great precision and for neater cuts. A must for cutting tenon joints.


5. Rip saw


Designed specifically for cutting across the grain, a rip saw's coarse teeth won't give you a neat finish but it will cut very quickly making it very useful for fast timber frame work. This saw should be part of any carpenter's arsenal.


6. Keyhole saw

 keyhole saw hand tools carpenter 

A keyhole saw's long narrow blade is used to cut small, often awkward shapes and holes in a variety of building materials. 


7. Spirit levels (large, medium and small)

 spirit level 

These tools give you accurate measurements of the flatness of a surface. Having a selection of spirit levels will stand you in good stead for jobs of varying levels of accessibility. 


8. Screwdriver set

 screwdriver set hand tools 

It is not always practical to whip out the power tools, so having the option for manual driving is a great asset. A set of high quality screwdrivers will provide you with years of service. Cheap screwdrivers tend to be made from softer metals and the points will strip out after just a few uses. When you need to pry something open, use your pry bar NOT your screwdrivers!


9. Tape measure

 tape measure 

A tape measure is a handy gadget that typically extends up to 5 metres, though there are longer models. Accuracy is key with any kind of measurement, so making sure the "hook" on the end is securely attached is important. The tape will extend stiff and straight for ease of use and will coil up into a pocket-sized box. Easily clips to a tool belt.


10. Claw hammer

 claw hammer 

A claw hammer is probably the most basic tool in any household or workshop. It has a heavy blunt end for striking and a rounded claw end for prying and removing nails. The most common sizes available are between 16 - 20 oz. 


11. Wood mallet

 wood mallet hand tools 

A wood mallet is typically used by carpenters to drive wooden workpieces together or to drive dowels. Favoured because it will not damage the striking end of cutting tools like chisels as a metal hammer would.  


12. Quick clamps

 quick clamps 

A woodworker can never have too many clamps. You'll need them for making 45 and 90 degree joints, not to mention a wide variety of carpentry tasks. Quick grip clamps are simple to use and provide that vital extra pair of hands when you need them most.


13. Table saw

 table plane power tools 

The table saw is the real workhorse of any carpenter's workshop, so invest in a good one. You'll use it to rip, groove, join, shape, square, mitre, and slice - a quality one that suits your needs is essential.


14. Pry bar

 pry bar hand tool 

A pry bar is a must-have tool for any carpenter. It can pry open pretty much anything if the right leverage is applied, and if nothing else, it will save you damaging your screwdrivers.  


15. Pencil


Arguably the greatest tool on this list. The humble pencil has various uses and applications, from marking measurments on your workpiece to filling in the crossword at lunchtime. Will fit snugly behind an ear for easy access.


16. Large clamps

 g clamp c cramps 

Clamps are extremely useful tools and are used in many carpentry tasks. They can be used to hold, secure and grip anything that will fit between their jaws and will allow you to keep both hands free while working. They come in a wide range of designs and models.


17. Door lift

 door lift lever foot lever door tool 

This simple looking tool makes fitting doors a breeze. The tapered front end of the door lift slips neatly under boards and doors and holds them securely in place. 


18. Bradawl


A bradawl is a simple tool incorporating a sharp, pointed metal shaft that is used to mark an indentation in wood for a nail or screw to go in.


19. Nail puller

 nail puller 

The nail puller does exactly what it says it does. Designed to remove difficult nails from timber. 


20. Retractable trimming knife

 retractable trimming knife 

The retractable trimming knife is one of the most useful tools you will ever own. It has multiple applications and there are many different makes and models. A carpenter will use a retractable trimming knife when scribing wood, cleaning out mortise joints, or just sharpening their pencil.


21. Marking gauge

 marking gauge 

The marking gauge is used to mark parallel lines on a workpiece prior to cutting. It is used in many carpentry tasks.


22. Sliding bevel

 sliding bevel 

If you need to set an angle and mark off a lot of timbers then there is no better tool than this simple sliding bevel.


23. Metal rule

 metal rule 

The simple metal metre rule is used to measure distances between two points. The straight edge can be used to rule lines. Thoroughly useful to carpenters and DIYers of all levels of ability.



24. Long tape

 long tape 

The long tape is essentially a tape measure with extra reach. They are very handy to have around, especially when working on large projects like setting out timber framed buildings.


25. Nail punch set

 nail punch set 

All carpenters should have a set of nail punches. In fact, they should have a range of different sizes. They are used to drive nails flush with or just below the surface of a workpiece so that the resulting cavity can be filled with wood-filler and smoothed off, leaving the nail heads undetectable and the wood ready for painting or staining.


26. Bench vice

 bench vice 

If you don't own a bench vice then you're at least one tool short of a full compliment. Having one of these at your disposal is like having an extra pair of strong hands. Great for holding workpieces securely so that you are free to work with both hands.


27. Block plane

 block plane 

The block plane can add many levels and versatility to your workpieces. It can flatten a piece of wood or add a curve to it. It can square your work, chamfer and soften those sharp edges. A thoroughly useful tool that should be in every carpenter's toolbox.


28. Ball pein hammer

 ball pein hammer hand tools 

The ball pein hammer is traditionally a metal-working hammer, but is often used by carpenters to strike punches, chisels and nails.


29. Carpenter's square

 carpenters square 

This handy little tool is used to mark out right-angles and square lines. A carpenter's square has various applications in carpentry, such as laying out rafters and staircases.


30. Combination square

 combination square 

The combination square is a versatile tool used for measuring and scribing right angles and parallel lines, it also serves for making mitres and as a depth gauge, height gauge and level. Make sure you buy a metal one. Plastic ones are cheaper but they are fragile and likely to warp. 


31. Set of wood chisels

 wood chisel set 

An assortment of wood chisels should be part of every carpenter's collection. They have multiple applications and are not just used by wood carvers. Chisels are used to clean out joints and neaten up saw cuts. Investing in some high quality chrome vanadium steel chisels is well advised, as these will give you great longevity and sharpness from your tools. Molybdenum chisels are even more effective but will also be more expensive. Hardwood handles are best especially if they are capped with metal, as this will help keep the handles becoming damaged by frequent hammering.


32. Whetstone


Whetstones are used to sharpen tools that have dulled over time. Keeping your tools sharp will increase your work rate. Sharp chisels are essential for clean cuts.


33. Cordless combi drill

 cordless combi drill 

This power-tool will allow you to drive screws as well as drill holes. It has the advantage of being cordless so it can be used anywhere. It is interchangable, rechargeable and easy to use. Standard equipment for any carpenter.


34. Power drill

 cordless combi drill 

The key word here is power. Cordless drills are fine for general use, but if you want a drill that can take the tough jobs, a corded, mains supplied power drill is essential.


35. Mitre saw

 mitre saw 

Investing in a good quality mitre saw will be the best decision you make this year. They are used to make quick, accurate crosscuts in a workpiece at a chosen angle and although they may seem bulky, mitre saws are relatively compact and lightweight, making them easily portable from job to job. So, whether you are a professional carpenter or an avid DIYer, these cool tools are a must. Some models even have a laser to guide your cuts.


36. Circular saw

 circular saw 

The circular saw is one of the most versatile power tools you can own, and buying a good quality one is important. They have various applications, and with the correct clamps in place can be just as accurate as a table saw. Circular saws can be used for a variety of tasks, and keeping a range of different blades will provide you with the versatility for many jobs.


37. Bench grinder

 bench grinders 

If you don't own a bench grinder yet then get one, you will be stunned how often you use it. It will keep your chisels sharp, as well as remove burrs from those screwdrivers you used to pry open paint tins. The bench grinder is fairly cheap and will pay for itself in no time when you're flying from job to job because your tools are so sharp. 


38. Angle grinder

 angle grinder 

The small (115mm / 4.5") hand-held angle grinder is an extremely useful power tool and should be in every carpenter’s collection. It is used for cutting, grinding and polishing. Various attachments and applications include: diamond blades, wire brushes, sanding discs, polishing pads and grinding wheels. It can also be used to remove excess material from an object, or simply for cutting through a workpiece and is incredibly versatile and powerful. You’ll wonder how you ever got by without one. 


39. Nail gun

 Nail gun 

The nail gun has almost completely replaced the humble hammer as a means of driving nails into timber and other materials. The first nail guns were introduced in the 1950s and have quickly taken over as the tool of choice amongst builders, especially when fixing architrave. There are various models available powered by compressed air, electromagnetism, gas, or even small explosive charges. The nail gun is a powerful tool and can increase your work rate tenfold by dispensing up to 200 nails per minute.


40. Electric router

 electric router 

The router is considered by some woodworkers to be the single most versatile power tool going. It is used to rout out (hollow out) an area in the face of any timber. Often used in all areas of carpentry, especially cabinetry. The electric router's motor-driven spindle allows cutting, trimming and shaping wood to very specific depths and designs. Get one with no regrets.


41. Electric planer

 electric planer 

The electric planer is able to flatten, reduce the thickness of and impart a smooth surface to a rough piece of timber. You can use your manual plane to finish but for volume work your power planer will save you hours.


42. Jig saw

 jig saw power tools 

The jig saw will allow you to cut curves and patterns in your chosen material. Electric ones are more powerful than battery operated models. Try and find one that fits your hand comfortably, otherwise you may lose control of your jig saw.


43. Electric pad sander

 pad sander 

These sanders are brilliant for sanding in those tight corners and small spaces. Buy rolls of sandpaper and cut to length this will save a lot of money rather than buying proprietary sandpaper. A must-have tool for any woodworker.


44. Table plane

 table plane 

The table plane is used to produce a flat surface along a board's length and turns rough hewn timber into neatly planed planks. You can feed a piece of bowed timber into this machine and it will come out the other side with a perfectly flat surface. Quicker than using an electric planer and ideal for use on longer workpieces.


45. Air compressor

 air compressor 

An air compressor is a device that turns power (usually from an electric or petrol motor) into kinetic energy in the form of compressed air. It has many applications and is typically used to power your nail gun.


46. Oscillating multi-tool

 multi tool oscillating 

The oscillating multi-tool is one of the best power tools on the market today. It has a wide variety of applications and attachments that make it one of the most versatile tools you will ever own. One of its many functions is the plunge cutter attachment, which can cut through a piece of solid oak in seconds. Because of its design, the plunge cutter can start cutting at any given point on your workpiece, allowing the user to quickly, cleanly and accurately cut without wasting time drilling starter holes.


This machine can cut, sand, buff, polish, grind, saw, rasp and even scrape. No carpenter should be without one.


47. Workmate/saw horse/workbench

 workbench saw horse workmate  

These useful objects are so familiar to any workshop that they are easily overlooked. Many workbenches are tools in their own right. They have adjustable surfaces and clamps, standard square edges for measuring and many other attributes. They have multiple applications, from providing somewhere to saw your timber to a place to rest your mug of tea.

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