Best Woodworking Tools: Must-Haves for Your Toolkit

Woodworking is a beautiful and versatile skill to have. A once commonly taught subject in schools, it’s now more common for people to learn by other means. The past several years has seen a resurgence in the number of people researching woodworking online. There’s a reason for this. With the right amount of patience and practice, a woodworker can become a powerful DIY force. This post is a list of the best woodworking tools.

Imagine being able to craft your own table, or prepare cupboards for your new kitchen. Or better yet, you’ll know you’re doing something right when you can look at a daily problem and think, “what can I build to solve this?”.

A bad worker blames their tools, but a shoddy tool kit won’t get you very far either. This page outlines the most important tools to have in your kit when working with wood.

Best Woodworking Tools: What Every Woodworker Should Have

This page lists what we feel are the essential tools any worker should have in their kit. We also make a recommendation for amazon products that demonstrate a high level of quality and value for money.

Workbench

Your workbench is the backbone for your projects. It provides support for the material you work on, keeping things steady for the best possible cuts. A good workbench is simple and sturdy.

So many aspects of woodworking take place around the workbench, that it’s hard to imagine a good woodworker without one. Larger framing projects will often rest on top of the workbench, and any gluing will usually take place here too. Large tools can rest on top of this foundation.

Depending on the tools you add, this can make you a seriously versatile woodcutter. Things like repairing, drilling, sanding, securing fittings, and any other number of tasks are made easier by a workbench. If it requires a work surface of any kind, then it probably needs a high-quality workbench.

If you’re looking to get into woodworking, we recommend that finding a good workbench is the first step to take. This will provide a reliable foundation for you to build your craft on.

It’s possible to build your own workbench if you have the skills. If you want to guarantee you’re working with something reliable, we recommend the Bosch PW600. This is a fantastic bench with plenty of extra features to make your work easier. The 200kg capacity and 4 adjustable clamps definitely catch the eye.

Bosch Work Bench PWB 600 (4 blade clamps, cardboard box, max. load capacity: 200 kg)

Measuring Tape

Many beginners underestimate how important it is to find a reliable tape measure. Even the smallest margin of error can cause the biggest headaches during projects. As a woodworker, you’ll need more from your tape measure than most people. You’ll need to quickly and accurately determine the measurements for your projects. It’s important to find a tool that suits your needs.

Your priorities with a measuring tool should be accuracy and length. If you need to measure more than 30ft, then it’s no good buying a tape with a 25ft capacity. Look for tools that also include laser-measuring systems. These can seriously boost your measuring capacity and provide precise, reliable measurements instantly.

We recommend the General Tools LTM1 2-in-1 tape measure. Its 50 ft total capacity and impressive accuracy make it well worth a look.

General Tools LTM1 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure, LCD Digital Display, 50’ Laser Measure, 16’ Tape Measure, Gray

Pencil

What’s wrong with just using any old pencil? Well, it won’t take long for the smooth edges of normal pencils to drive you up the wall! When woodworking, you’re constantly picking up and putting down your pencil to take small notes, as well as marking the cutting lines on your wood. The rounded edge of normal pencils means they roll away from you and get lost very easily.

Of course you can make do with a regular pencil, but if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.

Carpenter’s pencils have flat edges so they stay put when you place them down. They also have the right softness of lead for visibility on wood.

The Silverline 250227 is a fantastic option and can be bought in bulk for more forgetful woodcutters!

Silverline 250227 Carpenters Pencils and Sharpener - Set of 13

Hammer

It’s true that plenty of woodworking tasks can be achieved without a hammer; screws and glue are sometimes enough. However, a good quality hammer can make a real difference.

For construction projects that require wooden pieces to be nailed together, you’ll need a decent hammer. For certain applications where brute force is necessary, a mallet is probably best. For more precise tasks with some wiggle room, a hammer with nail-pulling claws is what you’ll need.

Many woodworkers rely on a hammer somewhere between 16 and 20 oz. Cabinet and other furniture makers might be better off with a 12 oz tool.

The Thor – 712R has both a soft and hard faced striking material. This makes it adaptable to a variety of different tasks. It’s worth picking up in our opinion.

Thor - 712R Soft And Hard Faced Hammer Wood Handle 650G

Screwdrivers

Naturally, screwdrivers are used for tightening and loosening screws in and out of wood. They are a very important tool to have when woodworking. Screwdrivers consist of four main parts: the handle, shank, blade and tip. Check reviews that discuss these elements of the specific products you’re considering. The most common type of screwdriver head are the phillips and flathead. Make sure you’re using the right screws with the right driver.

It can be difficult to know which size and type of screwdriver you’ll most likely need. We recommend the Wilde Tool SW7 screwdriver set. This should cover the overwhelming majority of tasks you’ll need a screwdriver for, and the tools in this kit often exceed ANSI specifications.

Wilde Tool SW7/VP 7-Piece Wooden Handle Screwdriver Set-Vinyl Pouch

Power Jointer & Thickness Planer

A common question for beginners is which tool to prioritise, a power jointer or a thickness planer? We’ll discuss the purpose of each tool first, and then see if we can answer that question.

Both of these tools are great when working with rough lumber. The power jointer is often used first to flatten a single face and square up one edge of the lumber you’re working on. Next, the planer makes makes sure that the second face of your wood is parallel to the first, as well as making it nice and flat. Making sure that your faces and pieces are parallel is very important for making sturdy and reliable furniture.

In an ideal world, you’d buy both tools and maximize productivity. We do understand though, that these are expensive pieces of equipment and sometimes you have to prioritize. In general, it’s probably best to go with a planer first. A jointer is great for making one flat edge and one flat face. Other than that, their use is limited. A planer is a little more versatile, so you should be able to get by with just a thickness planer.

Planers provide great control over the thickness of the material you’re working with, so they can be used on any project when you need to change the thickness of your wood.

DEWALT offers an excellent thickness planer with two speed settings for improved versatility. We definitely recommend checking it out:

DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-Inch (DW735)

Once you’re ready to expand your tool kit, this power jointer from Porter-Cable has brilliant variable speed settings, and is one of the top-rated power jointers online:

PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)

Circular saw

Circular saws are mainly used for precision cutting, particularly in metalwork and woodwork. There are many different types of saw with their own unique applications. The type of woodworking you do will determine the kind of circular saw that might prove useful. Whether you’re mitering, ripping, creating crosscuts or tackling lumber, the right circular saw will make it easy.

There are many other kinds of circular saw that can transform your workflow. Check out our buying guide to learn more. Below are some examples of other circular saws.

For brilliant cuts in soft lumber and plywood, a sidewinder circular saw is a fantastic option. The name sidewinder comes from the placement of a motor on one side of the tool.

If your work involves longer, more substantial crosscuts, miter cuts and plunge cuts, then consider picking up a worm drive circular saw.

If you’re a carpenter, a hypoid circular saw is an excellent tool to add to your kit. Hypoid saws tackle wet and hard lumber very well.

Biscuit joiners are perfect for joining pieces of wood together without any visible holes.

If you work with large quantities of lumber and often need to size them down quickly, a miter saw is what you need.

Jigsaw

Cutting shapes into wood is easy with a good jigsaw, especially when the cuts you’re making are more intricate and complex. There are several types of blade available for jigsaws.

In general, a universal blade is suitable for most types of woodwork. If you ever need to work on projects that use elements like a gingerbread trim or lots of beveled cuts, then definitely consider picking up a jigsaw. Use our 2020 buying guide to find the best tool for your requirements.

In our opinion, the powerful DEWALT DW317K is tough to beat.

DEWALT Jig Saw, Top Handle, 5.5-Amp (DW317K)

Handsaw

Sometimes all the horsepower in the world can’t beat the efficiency of a good handsaw. For finer cross cutting, or mitering delicate moldings, using a power tool might prove more cumbersome. You’d often have to fumble with setting up the right jig to hold the workpiece in place and if you’re not careful, the excessive power of your tool could ruin your hard work.

A good quality handsaw is a reliable option for more delicate situations.

Our top choice might surprise you. We love the Japanese SUIZAN 6-inch Saw thanks to its seriously durable design.

SUIZAN Japanese Hand Saw 6 Inch Dozuki Dovetail Pull Saw for Woodworking

Pocket Hole Jig

A fundamental skill to learn in woodworking is joining two pieces of wood together. There are a variety of different ways to achieve this and pocket hole joinery is one of them. It’s a popular method because its affordable, reliable and easy to learn.

Pocket hole joinery involves drilling a series of holes that are used to join pieces of wood together. It’s possible to create these holes without any help, but it can be very difficult to maintain accuracy. That’s where pocket hole jigs come in. These handy tools guarantee that your drill bit is entering the wood at the correct angle, allowing for brilliantly joined pieces every time.

If you’re looking for a great tool for pocket hole joinery, we recommend the convenient Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 320.

Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 320

Right Angle Clamp

The next time you look at a piece of furniture, count the number of right angles you see. There’s a lot, right? Holding together two pieces of wood at a 90 degree angle is one of the most common tasks in woodworking. You’ll need a good right angle clamp for this.

Look for options that are lightweight and sturdy. If woodworking is something you’re interested in, it’s very likely that a right angle clamp will come in handy.

The following option from WETOLS has a unique design that’s very easy to use:

WETOLS Angle Clamp - 90 Degree Right Angle Clamp - Single Handle Corner Clamp with Adjustable Swing Jaw Aluminum Alloy for Woodworking, Photo Framing, Welding and Framing - WE705…

Power Drill

There are many applications in woodworking where a power drill can come in handy. If you need to make plunge cuts, a good drill can make a convenient hole in the centre of your cutting piece for easy blade access. If your joining method involves screws, then a power drill will make the holes you need quickly and efficiently.

Any aspect of woodworking that involves screws, joining or holes will benefit from a power drill. Consider the portability of any drill you pick up. If your work sees you moving between multiple locations often, then a lighter drill is what you need. Corded drills tend to be more powerful, but can be cumbersome. Cordless drills are great for portability, but make sure the power and battery life are up to scratch.

The DeWalt DCD780C2 Compact Cordless Drill is certainly an investment, but it comes with modular payment options and is a formidable machine.

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver Kit, Compact, 1/2-Inch (DCD780C2)

Wood Jointer

It’s a frustrating reality that most lumber you buy from big-store retailers is not perfectly uniform. Variations in thickness and length can make projects involving joinery difficult. A wood jointer can solve this problem. This tool makes your wood perfectly flat and resolves any issues like warping or inconsistent thickness.

Good quality jointers can cost as little as $400, but quickly creep up to $1500 depending on the bells and whistles you’re interested in. If you can afford one, a good jointer can make your life easier. However, it’s not worth rushing out to buy one if you haven’t bought the basics yet.

If you’re in the market for a jointer, you can’t go wrong with the PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer.

PORTER-CABLE Benchtop Jointer, Variable Speed, 6-Inch (PC160JT)

Drill Press

The main reason many woodworkers use a drill press is maintaining accuracy. They require a fair bit of space, but if you’ve got the room they can be worth it in the right context.

We’ve already mentioned that making holes in wood is a very common task for woodworkers. If you need your holes to be identical in size, then a drill press is what you need. The precise depth, width and angle of your hole are easy to control using a good drill press.

If you’re a hobbyist that doesn’t mind some irregularities in their small-scale builds, then a drill press might be less necessary. If you need to make a lot of identical holes quickly, then a drill press is for you. The absolute best option in terms of versatility and quality is the WEN 4212 in our opinion.

WEN 4214 12-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press,Orange

Orbital Sander

Sanding, polishing and finishing: these are the areas where an orbital sander comes in handy. There are mountains of different wood sanders available on the market and it can be difficult to know which ones are useful for woodwork. If you can only afford one type of sander, we definitely recommend an orbital sander.

The versatility of an orbital sander makes it stand out above the rest. These tools don’t tear through wood as roughly as other options, leaving you with a perfect finish every time.

So is a sander always necessary? That depends on how impressive your want your builds to be. Rough and messy edges, or unsmooth faces on your wood can stick out like a sore thumb. If you care about a quality finish and an end result that is slick and professional, it’s worth considering a good sander.

The DEWALT DCW210B Orbital Sander was very comfortable to use in our tests.

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B)

Shop Vac

One of the most important things for accuracy and safety when woodworking is managing dust and debris. Not only can dust make it harder to see where you’re cutting, low visibility significantly increases your risk of injury. Particulates like sawdust can also cause serious harm if inhaled regularly.

In our opinion, it’s very important to find a good dust management tool. Shop vacs are designed to handle the debris common in most workshops.

Our favourite is the DeWALT DXV06P 6 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac. It can handle both wet and dry messes and is very reliable.

DeWALT DXV06P 6 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac, Yellow

Moisture Meter

Also known as moisture detectors, these handy tools are used to determine the level of moisture present in a material. Moisture level can affect the viability of working with certain types of wood. Wood that is too wet will be unreliable and cause problems down the road.

Even for hobbyists, knowing the moisture level of your wood can be handy. Consider how much it would matter to you if you encountered problems like rot or warping. If this bothers you even a little bit, then it’s worth considering a moisture meter.

This meter from Tavool is nice and accurate at an affordable price.

Wood Moisture Meter - Digital Moisture Detector Moisture Tester, Wood Humidity Tester Detector Damp Tester Dampness Meter for Wood Firewood Walls Timber Logs Floor

Biscuit Joiner

Biscuit joiners can be an effective way to join multiple pieces of wood together. Biscuit joinery is a specific method, and is very popular among woodworkers. But is a biscuit joiner necessary?

That depends. If you’re going to be working with a lot of edge-joining panels for things like table tops, then a biscuit joiner can be a godsend. These tools cut half-oval slots into your workpieces. You then glue a football-shaped “biscuit” that allows you to clamp the joint more tightly together. In the right context, biscuit joiners are great, as they can help keep your wood steady.

However, options like pocket screw or pocket jig joinery are favoured by many workers.

If you do a lot of joinery for applications like table tops, consider this offering from VonHaus. An ergonomic design and easy-to-adjust settings are noteworthy here.

VonHaus 8.5 Amp Wood Biscuit Plate Joiner with 4' Tungsten Carbide Tipped Blade, Adjustable Angle and Dust Bag - Suitable For All Wood Types

Center Scriber

Woodworking often involves a lot of assembly work. This assembly relies on accurate and trustworthy markings. It’s possible to find the center of your wood pieces by measuring in more traditional ways. However, this can be time consuming if you do a lot of assembly work.

A center scriber, or center marker, can quickly find the middle of your pieces for you. Good scribers come with variable thickness gauges and magnetic bases that conveniently adhere to certain tools.

If accurate markings are important to your work, consider this model from Weewooday.

Center Scriber Line Scriber Woodworking Marking Offset Marking Tool Marking Center Finder Tool Wood Scribe Marking Gauge Fits Standard Wooden Pencils (1, Blue)

Multi Mark Tool

Another handy tool when making measurements and preparing for assembly is a multi-mark tool.

Consider this use case: you’re measuring the width of a wood piece and need to quickly transfer this measurement to another part of your build without losing accuracy. A multi-mark tool can do this.

How about making sure your work is level, switching between different scales or taking accurate length measurements? A multi-mark is perfect for this too.

These tools are generally inexpensive, so it’s definitely worth picking one up.

The Kreg KMA2900 is one of the most versatile and well designed measures we’ve come across.

Kreg KMA2900 Multi-Mark Multi-Purpose Marking and Measuring Tool

Digital Protractor

As if there weren’t enough measurements to consider already, woodworking also involves measuring a variety of different angles. More traditional protractors are designed to accurately determine angles. Even in experienced hands, these can be slow and tiresome to use.

Digital varieties instantly measure angles with a high level of accuracy. They’re not absolutely necessary if you already have a manual tool, but they can save you a great deal of time!

The lock and reverse functions on this angle finder from General Tools are great.

General Tools 822 Digital Angle Finder Rule, 5-Inch

Shaping Disk

Wood shaping disks, or wood carving disks, are used with a right-angle grinder in the workshop. Their purpose is to level out and adjust the surface of your wood .

If your projects involve wood with a variety of unique shapes and lines, or you often find yourself dealing with irritating highspots and irregularities, then a tool with a good shaping disk is for you.

If levelling your wood perfectly flat is what you’re interested in, then a thickness planer might be more appropriate.

These Kutzall Extreme Shaping Discs are far from the cheapest option available, but they’re unlikely to disappoint.

Kutzall Extreme Shaping Disc - Medium, 4-1/2' (114.3mm) Diameter X 7/8' (22.2mm) Bore - Coping Woodworking Angle Grinder Attachment for DeWalt, Bosch, Makita. Abrasive Tungsten Carbide, SD412X70

Wood Lathe

These are a type of lathe specifically designed for woodworking. They are used to drill, face, turn, deform and cut wooden workpieces. The wood piece you’re working on is fixed to the tool and rotated quickly. It then makes contact with a stationary cutting implement.

Are wood lathes strictly necessary? As is often the case with this type of question, it depends on the type of work you’re doing. Wood tuning is a subset of woodworking that benefits greatly from a wooden lathe. In fact, if wood tuning is the only thing you care about, the main thing you’ll need is a lathe!

Examples of great applications for lathes include crafting bowls and other objects with smooth, aesthetic curves.

We think the WEN 3421 mini wood lathe is a brilliant option for beginners.

WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8' by 12' Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe

Nail Gun(Brad Nailers vs Framing Nailers)

There are an uncountable number of potential builds that might require the speedy application of the right kind of nail. If accuracy and speed are at all important to you, then a nail gun is definitely worth picking up.

A commonly asked question among beginner woodcutters, is which type of nail gun is best. The answer is, you guessed it, that depends.

A brad nail gun comes in handy for applications that use thinner nails. Let’s say you’re working on a project where you’re worried about splitting the wood. Or, perhaps you want to make sure your nail heads aren’t too large. In this context, a brad nailer is exactly what you need. These guns are usually designed for 18 gauge nails and are a less intrusive reliable way to speed up trim work, panelling or casing work.

What about framing nailers? Let’s say being dainty isn’t going to cut it. Maybe you’re working on a heavy-duty project like building large wooden frameworks for your builds. You’re going to want a framing nail gun. These tools take heavier, larger gauge nails and are a godsend in the right context.

Our top-pick brad nailer is the DEWALT DWFP12231.

DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch (DWFP12231)

The best framing nailer out there in our opinion is the NuMax SFR2190.

NuMax SFR2190 Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2' Full Round Head Framing Nailer Ergonomic and Lightweight Nail Gun with Tool-Free Depth Adjust and No Mar Tip

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all tool kit for every woodworker. Your demands in the workshop will determine the toolkit you need. Out best advice would be to closely consider the type of work you’re hoping to do. The clearer you are about your requirements, the easier it will be to pick a suitable set of tools. Use the recommendations on this page for high standards in quality and reliability.