Top 40 Essential Hand Tools for Every Woodworker – Mastering Woodworking

In our list of 40 hand tools, you’ll find carpenter tools, woodshop tools, woodworking power tools, and the best woodworking tools. Tools for beginner woodworkers to professional woodworkers.

The carpenter tools are split into these four categories:

Essential Woodworking Hand Tools
Furniture and Storage
Power Tools You Should Own
Non-Tool Tools

Woodworking Tools List

#1: The Claw Hammer

Woodworking tools - Claw Hammer

Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded.

The other kind of head is the waffle head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.

The most commonly purchased claw hammer is the 20 oz. size. It’s heavy enough to drive nails but easily manipulated when pulling nails easily.

While wooden handles are picturesque, they may not stand up to the strain if you have to pull a lot of nails. Hammers with a steel handle, or even fiberglass, will be stronger.

However, these won’t absorb the vibrations from driving nails the way a hickory handle will. You’ll also need to ensure the fiberglass and metal handles have a rubberized grip for control and comfort. If you’re driving a lot of nails, the wooden handled hammer will be better for reducing stress on your hand and wrist, too.

#2: The Tape Measure

woodworking hand tools

The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. You start having problems getting it to roll back up any longer than that.

Since measurements on large-scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to ensure the “hook” or tab at the end is firmly attached, with no give. You’ll have as much as 1/8” variation when they get loose in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.

#3: The Utility Knife

Tools for woodworking - Utility Knife

A good >utility knife is another asset for the woodworker. There are many different kinds, but the kind that uses disposable blades is the most common. The blade retracts into the grip for safety. The woodworker will use the utility knife when cleaning out mortise joints or scribing wood, as well as many other uses.

#4: The Moisture Meter

Orion pinless wood moisture meters

A quality wood moisture meter is vital to the long-term success of any woodworking project you put together. Lumber mills try to dry their batches of lumber according to the intended end product destination. That is, if the wood is harvested in the wet Northeast but shipped to the arid Southwest, it will be dried more than wood kept in the Northeast for use by woodworkers.

The success of your woodworking project, from wood flooring to kitchen cabinets to fine furniture, depends on the correct moisture content levels of the woods you use for your area of the country.

Some moisture meters have pins that penetrate the surface of the wood. This can leave tiny holes that mar the surface and require filling. Others are pin-less. They have sensing plates that scan the wood beneath.

However, not all pinless moisture meters are the same – look for one that uses technology that is not affected by the surface moisture in the wood, such as Wagner moisture meters with IntelliSense™ technology.

Learn more about Pinless meters in our moisture meter guide.

#5: The Chisel


An assortment of chisels should be part of every workbench. Chisels are not just for woodcarvers. Any woodworker will need chisels to clean out joints and saw cuts. Look for chisels made of high-alloy carbon steel or chromium-vanadium alloyed steel.

Hardwood grips are best, especially if they have metal caps on them. This will keep the end of the handle from becoming malformed when you hammer on it.

You’ll need a variety of sizes in ¼” increments from ¼” to at least 1½”. The smallest chisels are best for mortise work. The ¾” and 1” will be best for door hinges, and the 1½” works well for chipping out. You can even get a corner chisel that cuts a notch out of the wood with the blow of a hammer, much like a hole punch.

Most chisels are beveled on the 2 sides and the cutting edge, but specialty chisels may only be beveled at the cutting edge. This bevel will be at 20 to 25 degrees down the length of the blade on one side and flat on the backside. The blade will be between 4” and 7” long.

#6: The Level


Every woodworker needs a couple of levels. You probably won’t need one of the 6-foot levels used in construction, but 48” is a good length for many of the woodworking projects you’ll do.

Usually, you’ll also need an 8” level too, usually known as a torpedo level. You’ll check the level and plum of your construction. Level means horizontal, and plumb is vertical.

#7: The Screwdriver


Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming useless.

You’ll need a long screwdriver with a square blade that is very heavy-duty. This gives you a lot of torque. You’ll also need a small and medium slot screwdriver.

For working on cabinets or tight places in woodworking, you’ll need a screwdriver with a thin shank so that you can reach screws that are inside of deep holes. This is accomplished with a cabinet screwdriver.

Get a couple of medium Phillips head screwdrivers and a stubby one, too, for those tight places. You may also want a ratcheting screwdriver.

Download Our Free Top 40 Woodworking Tools Guide

#8: The Nail Set

Nail Set
The next hand tool every woodworker should have is a nail set. In fact, you should have several sizes. They look like awls, and you use them to drive nail heads into the wood so they are flush or right below the surface. This allows you to fill the holes and prepare for staining or painting.

The nail setter will usually have either a convex or concave surface to grip the nail better and keep it from sliding off and marring the wood.

#9: The Sliding Bevel

Sliding Bevel

If you’re going to be measuring a bunch of angles, a sliding bevel, or T-Bevel, will be a handy tool. This is adjustable, and you can lock it at the angle you want to mark, making it much more time-savvy to mark multiple angles.

Shop Wood Moisture Meters

#10: The Layout Square

Layout Square

layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill.

The layout square is a triangle you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain.

You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when measuring for a bevel on a table saw or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle.

Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.

Ready to use your tools on some fun and easy woodworking projects? Check out our 50 awesome DIY woodworking ideas.

Last updated on April 9th, 2024


  1. Woodworking24hrs says:

    Thank you for sharing this comprehensive list of essential hand tools for woodworkers! It’s incredibly helpful to have a detailed breakdown of each tool’s purpose and importance.

    One suggestion I have is to include information about safety equipment. Woodworking can involve sharp tools and potentially hazardous materials, so it’s crucial for woodworkers to prioritize safety. Adding a section about safety goggles, dust masks, and hearing protection could enhance the completeness of your guide and ensure that woodworkers are well-prepared for their projects.

    Overall, your guide provides valuable insight into the must-have tools for woodworkers, from beginners to professionals. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to master the craft of woodworking

  2. Woodworking Tools says:

    This hands tool looks really good. I also bought a similar one.

  3. Leah Shan says:

    This list is a great resource for both beginners and seasoned woodworkers. The right tools not only make the job easier but also enhance the quality of the work. It’s great to see such a comprehensive guide. For those in the woodworking and construction industries, MHS in Perth can complement your toolset with our range of material handling equipment perth. With 30 years of experience, we understand the importance of quality tools and equipment in achieving the best results.

  4. Joseph from says:

    The inclusion of a wood moisture meter is a game-changer for me, as it’s crucial to consider the moisture content of the wood for successful projects.

  5. german says:

    #2 The tape measure is my favorite, undoubtedly very necessary in daily work.

  6. prnv services says:

    It’s a very good service best tools available thank you.

  7. Joseph from says:

    Overall, this guide has been an invaluable resource for me in discovering new tools and getting the most out of my woodworking projects. I highly recommend it to any woodworking enthusiast, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.

  8. Rob says:

    This was really helpful! God bless

  9. Kenneth Wafer says:

    A very informative and useful list of tools for every woodworker. I didn’t try some o them yet, but definitely try in future.

  10. SawsHub says:

    I am a novice, and I need this woodworking tool list. I want to build a small cabinet. I know this is just a start for me. Thank you for this detailed information; it is beneficial.

  11. Steve webb says:

    I’m a novice at best when it comes to woodworking but I do enjoy it.
    My question is: of all the places I’ve looked and people ( obviously they’re not professionals) other wise I’d have my answer.
    Is there a difference between a sander & a buffer? All the ones I’ve looked at say they’re both but I’m sure you don’t buff as fast as you sand, do you? And is there a difference between one you use on wood from one you buff a car with.
    I’m stumped

    • Ron Smith says:

      Steve, buffing vs. sanding is often an important distinction when we are talking about refinishing of a hardwood floor, with sanding being more aggressive and used not only to address the top finish but also to remove any deeper defects in the wood itself. Buffing with buffing compound can also be used to restore the finish in wood furniture.

  12. Smith says:

    Very informative and helpful article about tools. Also, add miter saw, drill machine some other tool. Thanks

  13. Elmer says:

    Thank you for the detailed information. It is very relevant for me now.

  14. wernhenry says:

    Is linseed oil a good option for wooden tool handles?

    Non-drying oils like coconut, almond, and olive oil aren’t as useful in preserving wood because they don’t harden when exposed to air. It’s hard to say definitively which oil is best for preserving wood but linseed oil is the most popular (click here to see it on Amazon). It’s cheap and dries quickly, too.


  15. Woodworking Bozeman says:

    Everyone needs a good claw hammer!

  16. inam Hussain says:

    Wow great. I wanted a Woodworking Tool College, even though I was a Woodworker myself, but I wanted to know if I could buy any new items that would come on the market. Thank you very much for your information

  17. Kitchen Interiors says:

    Nice info, I am very thankful to you that you have shared this special information with us. I got some different kind of knowledge from your web page, and it is really helpful for everyone. Thanks for share it. Read more info about curved edge console table online

  18. Carpenter in Jaipur says:

    This is a good article and the content is very useful.
    Wish to read more articles in the future.
    Keep posting, Thank You

  19. Faucet says:

    Thank You Share Best Information
    article with a clear explanation

  20. alain clairet says:

    le biseau coulissant est en menuiserie française la fausse équerre

  21. Eleczo - The Electrical Zone says:

    Thanks for sharing such an informative article with a clear explanation.

  22. Rob says:

    Awesome post, great information! thank you!

  23. Joseph Miller says:

    I followed after reading it…it’s really useful and great! It was helpful for my project on smart woodworking tools. Thanks a lot.

  24. James V. Jordan says:

    As a woodworking expert, I tell you what, You just mentioned the right tool that needs the most. Thanks for helping people.

  25. DIC TOOLS INDIA says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful post about woodworking tools. you give complete information on different types of woodworking tools. It’s very informative and helpful for us. keep sharing waiting for another blog.

  26. Anderson smith says:

    Thanks for this beautifully written post with great knowledge. I learned a few things that will hopefully help me going forward.

  27. david rasnick says:

    thanks for sharing this it realy helps me figure out what tools i need to add to my tool box 👍

  28. Joseph Miller says:

    Thanks for sharing the article. It is very Informative. Really helpful for a woodworker, It helped me a lot in developing my smart woodworking tools website.

  29. social network says:

    Good article! We will be linking to this great post on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

  30. Adnan Al Maliki says:

    Thanks for this in-depth review. I was looking for information about this but didn’t get any information what exactly
    I am looking for. Fortunately, I come across to your website and it helps to make my decision.
    It’s really made my day.
    Thank you again for this great article.

  31. Marilyn J Soto says:

    Thanks for your great resource. Such a helpful post you share helps me more and choose the perfect tools for my home mini task complete. By following your website a great safety ensure to using these tools.

  32. Felicity says:

    This is grate list. Most of the tools is very essential when work on the wood. I appreciate this post. Thank you for the post.

  33. Mims says:

    Wow! This is a very nice write up. I have most of what’s listed but I’ll definitely get a “Moisture meter”. Again, a really informative piece for any one in woodworking !

  34. David S. Miles says:

    A Complete list for Woodworking. The article help me lot. Thanks man…

  35. Eddie Stanley says:

    Thanks for explaining some power tools that could be good to have in a woodworking shop. I had no idea what a wood planer was or that it can be good for planing.

  36. francogrex says:

    sad list, 90% incomplete. No saw = no carpenter.

    • Ron Smith says:

      Our comprehensive list spans over 4 pages so this page only includes 1/4 of the Top 40 tools. Saws are found on pages 2-4. We’ve included links at the top and bottom of each of these pages so you can view the entire Top 40. Hope this helps!

  37. David says:

    Hi I’m new to your blog. It was very informative. Some of the tools you mention I have, but need more.Thanks for your post.

  38. John says:

    A person who has tools will never go hungry!!!

  39. gardenley says:

    Thanks for this beautifully written post with great knowledge. i learned a few things that will hopefully help me going forward.

  40. Tony Duke says:

    These tools are very essential. We badly needed these tools for various projects. I think this list also very helpful for beginners and other workers. Thanks for your awesome article.

  41. waleed ahmad says:

    Very Informational Post and useful tools.

  42. Henry Marzi says:

    Very helpful post. Thanks for sharing this post.

  43. Steve Nichol says:

    WOW..there is an array of woodworking tools are listed here. Though I have only a drill and some saw tools to do my little DIY project. I had been searching for more tools and here I am now. Hope this list will help me out.

  44. Robert Terry says:

    Hey dear, Thank you very much for sharing such a kind of excellent stuff. I am glad to have your blog. I am a fan of your blog. “The Utility Knife
    Tools for woodworking – Utility Knife: A good utility knife is another asset for the woodworker. There are many different kinds, but the kind that uses disposable blades is the most common. The blade retracts into the grip for safety. The woodworker will use the utility knife when cleaning out mortise joints or to scribe wood, as well as many other uses.” Really, this tools is very important for every woodworker. Be the way, your writing style is very handly and live. I love it. Please keep posting such a kind of fantastic stuff more and more.

  45. Mohmad says:

    Well, a jointer is used for flattening the wood. In case you have an uneven timber, you would need to use a tool to flatten it, and that is exactly what a jointer achieves. In fact, you are expected to use a jointer along with a planer for better results.

  46. Danish Khan says:

    What changed into your proudest challenge as a carpenter and what function did you play in its success?

  47. Sam says:

    very informative .

    as a beginner this article helps me a lot .

    thank you very much

    off to share in twitter

  48. David Bradford says:

    My father was a joiner in the UK (1933 to 1983). He had a shallow ‘sling’ made from a strong woven material, with handles, for carrying his smaller tools and materials. What would this have been called?

  49. Myreviewcenter says:

    Hi Ron, It look such an informative article with a good list of woodworking tools. For the beginner, this article is too helpful. It helps to boost knowledge about woodworking. Keep sharing.

  50. Robert Terry says:

    Hey dear, Thanks a lot for sharing such great stuff on woodworking tools. I have got some fantastic tools in your post. Most of the woodworkers do not about the essential tools for woodworking. I do hope this post will be more useful for the new and old woodworker.

  51. Sam Maxi says:

    Huge collection of woodworking tool. Really it’s a very helpful post I think. I gained some knowledge about woodworking toll from your post.

    Thanks for the share.

  52. Mathew says:

    Very Informative article. There are so many tolls in woodworking but I familiar with 5 or 6 tolls but after reading your article I discovered various tools of woodworking. Its really help me to boost up my woodworking knowledge. Thanks.

  53. Syed Munajir says:

    Hello, Thanks for sharing useful information. I started Looking for woodworking. your article is very informative keep posting

  54. Aminul says:

    Very Informative. Really Helpful post for a woodworker, especially, who have just started their woodworking career.

  55. Gil says:

    Hey Ron,

    I’m not a professional carpenter, but I have a hobby – building small wood crafts, and recently I came across an interesting site. I am hesitating whether to purchase the following kit:

    I wanted to ask if anyone had tried it and was it really worth an investment?


    • Ron Smith says:

      Hi Gil,

      While the purchase is up to you, there are plenty of free woodworking plans available online that don’t require payment. Also, there are many books that are available if you are interested in projects (we suggest you check out Amazon). Lastly, we’d encourage you to do some research on what other people have thought after purchasing the plans to see if it is worth your money.

  56. Erik says:

    When buying woodworking tools, be sure to inspect them closely before parting with your money. Yes, there will be some wear on them, but they should not be worn out. Hammer handles should be tight in the hammer-head. Saws should be still sharp, not bent or missing teeth.

  57. Annie R. Debnam says:

    Hey Ron, such an informative article you had shared. All the information you had perfectly given here. By reading this, I got clear about all the power tools.those are very essential. Your tips will help me a lot to buy and use those materials correctly.thanks for sharing this.keep posting this type of helpful articles. 🙂

  58. george says:

    Hey Great Article,Thanks. 4 months ago, I started looking for woodworking.The industry is extremely interesting,but I have problems with how I can do it.My uncle who has been doing more than me in this industry,has suggested to me to follow Teds plans.Do you think it’s a good move to follow these plans??I keep reading good reviews about Teds plans but I am unsure if it will still work on me.At this time I can purchase these plans at a very low price,so if possible can you leave me feedback on wether I should do it or not. It would mean a lot coming from an expert in this field.

    Teds plans that my uncle used –

    Again your article was great!

    • Ron Smith says:

      George, Wagner has very little familiarity with Ted’s plans. We strive to experts in the field of moisture measurement instrumentation for wood.

  59. It’s nice information. Good suggestion for begin woodworker

  60. BusinessHAB says:

    This is a very nice work.Thanks for this wonderful post.

  61. Esther says:

    Wow! So nice,, Thank you for sharing your knowleged. I’m a student of agricultural mechanics and wants information about all this. So i have learned of your information. Thank you and God bless..

  62. Diederick Benjamin Ackerman Snr says:

    Very interesting information about tools .

  63. Toakai Teairi says:


  64. Carl Sheffer says:

    As a DIY’er I can appreciate this list of hand tools for many projects. Simple tools every woodworker should have in their shop.

  65. Hey, This is a very great suggestion for woodworking beginners. I have was found a very good tools list information for my woodshop. Thanks for sharing this one.

  66. Great post !! Thank you so much for sharing this post with us, It’s very informative for me 🙂

  67. Seah Moon Ming says:

    Very interesting subject, thank you for posting.

  68. Steav Smith says:

    I was looking for information regarding this and finally got one. Thanks for sharing the information with us. The article was a great help to me.

  69. Shannon says:

    Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community
    in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on.
    You have done a outstanding job!

  70. onalethata nkemelang says:

    very helpful site

  71. gearknows says:

    Hey well wrote. what do you think when it comes to wood cutting? which tools do you prefer?

  72. Maritess Batuigas says:

    Thank you for the information Ron. God bless!

  73. johnson wade says:

    Thank you so much.

  74. HI, this is a great article! I love working with wooden products and tools. In the last decade this kind of work is growing more and more, but unfortunately not for everyone! Nowadays us woodworkers can do a lot of new things thanks to advanced technology. I get real pleasure from creating gorgeous things out of wood.

  75. eddy says:

    great advice. the best website for D-T construction tools. couldn’t have added more detail to that piece of information

  76. DIYFan says:

    Couldn’t agree more on the moisture meter. This tool is overlooked all too often!

  77. Thomas says:

    Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 ymjvp

  78. Chukwuemeka Amadi says:

    Pls, I need the price list for all the products.

  79. Princy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such a useful information. I am thinking of starting new business of wood working. I think these tools are perfect for initial level. I have bought all this tools. I can do all basic work with these tools.

  80. hamza says:

    HI thanks for sharing this informative article ,

  81. Joshua says:

    Great list. That list for have every woodworker, but If you want to make at home woodworking projects. Then 10 tools should be you have.

  82. Clay says:

    The radial arm saw is the most under recognized tool there is. People feel a compound miter saw replaces this but this can do so much more. Try doing dados on a compound miter. I wouldn’t trade my Delta Model 10 for anything.

  83. I found this list helpful. But one thing – no power tools required? If you keep an oscillating tool in your list it will be great I think.

    • Ron Smith says:


      Thanks for the feedback. We’re glad you found the list helpful. Please note that this page contains only 10 of the 40 top tools for woodworking, displaying only hand tools. You can find the next 10 here: There are links at the bottom of each article to the next group of tools so you can view the entire list. Hope this helps.

  84. Sam says:

    Not more nor less, Important and most effective list of hand tools with great insights on each.

  85. Jon says:

    Hi Ron,
    I appreciate the information. Is the next 30 all linked at the bottom of each page? Looking forward to seeing the rest of your articles.

  86. Saúl Higuita says:

    Me gustaría saber más acerca de herramientas de trabajo en mi taller de carpintería.

  87. KAiya BUdd says:

    There are only 10 it said 40!!!!1

  88. Jason says:

    what about Oscillating tool as a woodworking tool?

  89. Gary says:

    Not to mention the humble carpenters pencil!

  90. Best cordless screwdriver says:

    I’m curious you didn’t mention about electric screwdriver. Electric screwdrivers are very easy when compare with the normal ones which required force to do the job. If these are not pricey then I think we must not waste our energy for that.. : )

  91. Great write up for woodworking fans and DIYs. I probably have only half the list but my tool set grows everyday thanks to !

  92. Roland says:

    Just a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.

    • Tommy Muse says:

      Yes, I’m a junior at my local career center and you are correct, the hook needs to be able to move freely about 1/16 of an inch so you can get the correct measure whether you are hooking on to the end of a board or even pushing against it.

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