Basic Woodworking Tools List for Beginners

Here is list of some basic woodworking tools for beginners in 2021. The bare essentials for your workshop.


There are few woodworking projects that don’t involve a drill. Drills are portable, and either cordless or plugged in.

Alternatively, get a manual or hand drill and skip the need for power. Drills create pilot holes for screws, through-holes for dowels, and holes for chair parts.

Once your woodworking progresses, a drill-press can bring your work to the next level of precision.

Below is a group of hand tools, including hand plane, chisels, back saw, block plane, mallet, ruler.

basic woodworking hand tools
basic woodworking hand tools

A commonly available cordless drill, suited to most woodworking applications.

cordless drill
cordless drill


Unless doing light wood-carving, you will need a workbench to work on.

It should handle pounding with a hammer and be rigid enough for hand planing tasks.

You can purchase a workbench or make your own. Your first workbench need not be fancy; it only needs to be sufficient to begin woodworking.

As well as providing a sturdy surface, a workbench also needs a way of clamping a work piece in position, most commonly a vice.

Vices are relatively inexpensive and, in their simplest form, mounted to a workbench surface.

The vice will be your most used tool. It prevents wood from moving when shaping or creating joinery.

Woodworking vices are rugged, withstand heavy use, and are available in several sizes.

Purchase a larger one than you currently need to avoid outgrowing its capacity – this lowers the cost of replacing it with a larger version early on in your woodworking.


Chisels shape, remove wood, and create recesses. Fine work is achieved with chisels: they create mortises for tenons or make a recess for installing a hinge.

They slice wood in a paring action or remove wood when struck with a mallet. Chisels are available individually or as a set of commonly used sizes.


Clamps are a large component of woodworking. They brace wood together for gluing, hold wood while using hand tools, and are used to assemble furniture pieces.

Clamps come in various lengths and capacities depending on the application. Some clamps operate with one hand; others need two hands to tighten. Invest in clamps of different capacities early in your woodworking.


Hammers are available in several formats. Light hammers drive small nails into wood, or are used for delicate assembly.

Large, heavy hammers pound mortise chisels to create square openings. A mallet is a hammer unique to woodworking, and is often found on workbenches.

A wood mallet is a good choice when outfitting a first set of woodworking tools as they excel at fine, delicate paring when used with chisels.


Another valuable tool in the workshop is the level. It tests if your work is perfectly horizontal or vertical and is essential in furniture making.

Levels are made of wood, metal, or plastic, and range from two feet to six feet in length.

A bubble in a glass vial indicates whether plumb is achieved. A good level should be one of your first woodworking tool purchases.

Marking gauge

A traditional method to lay out lines to guide chisels and saws uses a marking gauge, which speeds up identical, repeat operations.

A simple tool, it consists of a fence that slides on a beam and tightens with a thumbscrew.

The etched mark or line is defined by a sharp pin, or in modern versions, a circular disk with sharp edge.


You should own two types of saws; a ripsaw and crosscut saw. Ripsaws cut along the grain or parallel to it, and crosscut saws cut perpendicular to the grain.

In other words, a ripsaw makes a board narrower, and a crosscut saw shortens a board.

The teeth arrangement and number of teeth per inch (TPI) define the function of a handsaw.

Coarse teeth (low TPI) are used to rip wood, while fine teeth (high TPI) are better at cross-cutting and fine work.


A ruler is a must in a workshop. Rulers measure board dimensions, mark where cuts are made, and ensure furniture parts are similar in dimensions.

The expression ‘measure twice and cut once’ applies. A spring-wound tape rule is the tool for measuring and marking long lengths of wood.

Hand planes

Hand planes address multiple woodworking tasks. Wood must be smoothed, squared, and fitted, and different hand planes perform these tasks.

Specialized joinery hand planes also create grooves and rabbets in wood.

Hand planes consist of a blade set at a defined angle in a metal or wood body. The blade protrudes beneath the sole to create a slicing action.

A knob raises or lowers the blade to adjust the depth of cut. Hand planes cut on the forward motion (pushed) and are pulled back for the next stroke.

They are used with one hand on the front knob, while the other grips the rear handle or tote.

Several versions of hand planes tackle different tasks.

You should begin with three planes: the jack plane, smoother, and low-angle block plane form a good basic set.

As you progress, determine which hand planes you need next.


In furniture making, saw cuts and joints need to be at right angles to each other (square).

The metal square performs this function when laying out work, making saw cuts or preparing parts at a 90-degree angle to each other.

If all parts of your project are made square, the final piece is certain to come out square with sides at 90 degrees to each other.

Ideally, two metal squares are necessary in your woodworking.

  • Combination square for small work
  • 8 × 12inches (200 × 300mm) carpenter’s square for wide boards and furniture-making

The combination square determines if your work is square or not.

A combination square has a sliding head with 90-degree and 45-degree angled sides for mitres.

The head is removable, leaving the blade free to use as a ruler or straight edge.

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