Saturday, October 24, 2015

The basic tool list

During Woodworking in America this pass September, Dyami Plotke from the Modern Woodworkers Association asked me if I could do one thing differently to the business what would it be? My response was I would buy a lot fewer hand tools and smaller power equipment. Since returning home from my travels I have been on a mission to reduce the load. Over the years I fell into the trap of collecting, all too common in the woodworking community these days.

Which brings me to the commonly asked question, what do I recommend for hand tools? Well before I get into my preferred hand tool list,  I must inform you that I am not a hand tool only woodworker. I enjoy my machines but they are very basic. For power tools I have a 12inch Powermatic planer, 8 inch Powermatic jointer with quick movable guard, Powermatic 66 table saw, 14 inch Delta Milwaukee bandsaw, 20 inch Delta Milwaukee variable speed scroll saw, and 3  Delta Milwaukee drill presses. From the 3 drill presses 2 of them are bench top versions and the other is a 17 1/2 floor model. Between the 2 bench top drill presses the Homecraft model is set as a mortiser.  I do own other equipment but they are rarely used and I will be selling them at some point.

With this basic set of machinery mentioned above my essential hand tool list can be seen below.

Tool list:

12 inch Starrett combination square
Stanley 12 foot tape measure
Chris Vesper bevel square
Surgical handle with blade. I am using this set up as my marking knife.
Dovetail saw
Tenon saw
Coarse rip saw
Crosscut saw
#4 Smoother Lie Nielsen
#5 Fore/jack plane
#7  Edge/jointer plane
#102 Lie-Nielsen block plane.
 #60 1/2 Lie-Nielsen block plane
At one time block planes were for carpenters, but this isn't true anymore since Lie-Nielsen perfected the tool.
Shoulder plane. Either Clifton 3110 or Lie-Nielsen medium size version.
Set of chisels 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/4.
Mortise Chisel 1/4, 5/16, 3/8. Buy these when you need them.
Router plane #71. I own the Stanley version, but boy do I love the Lie-Nielsen version.
Small router plane #271. Purchase all the blades that are available.
Cutting gauge with knife.
Knew Concept fret saw.  Hands down the best around. All others can't compare.
Bit brace.
Drill bits 1/16-1/2 by 1/32nds or 1/64ths.
Card scraper.
Bastard file
Phil Lowe burnisher
Stanley #80 cabinet scraper
Sharpening stones. These days Shapton ceramic stones are the best and very reasonable.  The grits I recommend is 1000, 5000, and 8000.


Nicholson #49 and #50 rasps. I recommend the ones made in USA.
Half round Grobet #0000 file
Lie-Nielson #62 low angle jack.

Now I am not saying to go out and buy all these tools, but the selection will allow you to make just about anything. I hope this helps.




  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Great post, Freddy. You clearly gave the question more consideration than I ever have and reached a wonderful conclusion.

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  4. Nice list, but no hammer or mallet?

    1. Pete,

      Thank you for the obvious items that should of been on the list.

  5. Pete,

    Thank you for the obvious items that should of been on the list. I have since added the two items and others.