Top 10 Woodworking Tools Every Carpenter Must Have

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Carpenter is someone who works with wood. They are artists who make a plane looking slab of wood into fantastic work of art from sculpture to furniture.

Just like any other artists, they need their tools to express their artistry. Being a carpenter is no easy task as one has to deal with loads of situation which requires a large number of devices.

Although I cannot list all the tools a carpenter will use in his or her lifetime, what I can do is contain the top 10 tools which are going to be needed on a regular basis regardless of the situation.

My Top 10 Woodworking Tools List Every Carpenter Must Have.

1. Claw Hammer

Claw hammer is probably the most straightforward household tool. It is very useful in woodworking like roof’s raw plywood for weather barrier of underlayment. A finished head counter balances the claw shaped metal body on the other side, which should be waffle-like. The other head is slightly rounded.

Its waffle-head leaves a mark on the wood when someone drives a nail in. This marking resembles the shape of a waffle hence the name “Waffle head.” However, this only happens if amateurs handle the hammer.

If you are having difficulties on driving nail inside, this may be because your hammer is poorly balanced. A poorly built hammer will feel heavier than it is due to the weight not being stable on both sides.

Usually, all you have to do is holding the claw hammer in your hand and allow the weight of the hammer head do all the work for you. Direct the surface towards the correct nail, and this should be more than enough to get the nail in.

By doing so, you will spare your muscle from overworking itself.

A claw hammer

Normal hammers purchased from any shop will weight around 567 grams. This weight makes the hammer just the right weight drive the nail inside the wood but also light enough to easily maneuver the hammer if nails need to be pulled out.

Wooden handles on claw hammers might make them look good, but they are not as durable as their solid metal counterpart if you are pulling out more nails than you are driving in.

Another problem with the polished handle is that it tends to be slippery which may cause more harm than good. The hammer must have the rubberiest grip to ensure maximum control for you without sacrificing too much comfort.

The wooden handle can minimize the stress on your hands and wrist if you are driving in a large number of nails with the hammer.

2. The Tape Measure

The tape measure is another useful item for a woodworker. It can be used for customized projects like creating and measuring your own billiard table or kitchen cabinets. I would suggest getting the retractable variant which is 25-feet long; it can be shorter, but longer than 25-feet is not advisable.

Because longer than 25-feet will land you in an awkward position while retracting the tape back in. When working on larger scales small variation in readings during measurement can have a hefty blow on your work.

3. The Utility Knife

A utility knife is another essential tool in a woodworker’s collection of tools needed for woodworking. These knives are usually used for a lot of things by a woodworker which ranges from making marks to scraping off some wood from the sides. They can also be used by an electrician as an alternative to cutting electric wires.

A good build and sound quality utility knife should be the choice here.

4. The Moisture Meter

Success for any woodworker depends on a quality moisture meter. Lumber mills will dry their products according to their products’ end destination; for example, wood which is harvested from North and shipped South will be drained or wetted depending on the moisture level in the South.

As if you start working on a wood which is too dry, the wood might crack. And if you work on a wood which has wetted a few days back, the finishing won’t be good.

For this reason, carrying a moisture meter is more important than it may seem to some as one has to be sure they are working with the right kind of wood which is suited for their environment.

Low-end moisture meter will have a pin of some kind that can enter the upper portion of the wood and detect the moister level of the wood. There are others which are pinless, and they are usually more expensive.

This is because they have sensors built in the body of the small device. The device might be small, but it has sophisticated hardware which allows it to detect moisture.

Another thing taken into consideration should be that settings should be present on the moisture meter which will keep record for different kinds of wood. Their moisture readings will be taken into consideration before moving on with the work. This is to ensure the inlay glue stays intact while joining them and making into one object.

Therefore, every kind of wood should be measured for its moisture before beginning the work. And to do so, you will be needing a moister reader which is capable of reading the moister level for all kinds of wood.

A set of chisels

5. The Chisel

An array of chisels will always be a part of the tool collection used by a carpenter. The use of chisels is not limited only for curving wood but also used for cleaning the joints of wood and giving final touches to wood surface after being cut with a saw.

Chisels usually have to go through a lot of beating for which high-alloy carbon steel is known to be the best for the build material of the body of the chisel. This one of the best tools to use if you are having woodworking like wood carving.

Always get the hardwood grip chisel with the metal caps.

Chisel in different sizes are needed by a carpenter to work magic on the wood. These chisels will range from ¼” to1 ½”. Small chisels are good for working with mortise work.

There are even chisels for cutting notches with a hammer blow, this chisel is named “Corner Chisel”.

Two sides and edge of most chisels are beveled whereas specialty chisels will mostly be beveled on the edge

Getting the chisel which you can hold comfortably is always the right thing to do as if the chisel has a longer grip holding to chisel as your work will be rather difficult, and if the chisel is too small you might hurt your hands with the hammer.

While working with the chisel, always use a wooden hammer as using a claw hammer will destroy the chisel and will also make the work tougher than it already is.

Oiling caps at the edge is always a good idea as those tools go through a lot, this helps the chisels to last for a more extended period.

This tool involves the use of both hands if only a little bit of force is needed, you can always use your hands to stock the chisel while holding it with the other. It is also recommended using for dovetail jig to join the wood pieces together.

I would advise the use of stones to sharpen your chisels instead of grinders.

6. The Level

Woodworkers usually need two or three levels although you won’t be requiring those 6-foot long levels which are used by builders. 48″ will be a standard length for most of the projects that you will be taking on as a carpenter.

Another level that you would be needed is an 8 inch one which is also known as the torpedo level. The horizontal and vertical ratings are taken with the device.

A good quality level is made from either brass-edge wood or metal. Reading will be shown with a bubble which will be there for both horizontal and vertical axis. Then, a perfectly vertical or horizontal surface is reached by the object you are measuring.

Woodworking tools on display

7. The Screwdriver

A toolbox which doesn’t have screwdrivers would be a nightmare for carpenters. You will need Phillips, slot, flathead screwdrivers, star shaped and one more named as torx drivers. You should buy the screwdrivers with the body of the screwdrivers being made from fine metal as most are made using low quailty metals.

You should have a large screwdriver which is with a straight blade. This long screwdriver should be heavy-duty as this will give you torque. Small and Average torque screwdriver is also advisable. You may also need a socket wrench with a point socket and point nut set.

A think shanked screwdriver is required as well to reach tight spots while working or projects. Philips head screwdriver and a sturdy one too should be acquired for reaching tight spots.

A retractable screwdriver is optional, and it’s more of a luxury product, not something that is a must need. High-quality screwdrivers can later be melted once they are completely worn.

Though high temperature while melting may make the metal brittle for which, before you melt them and cast them into something new, be sure to know the melting point of the metals used in the screwdriver.

Here are some of the tips for making best out of the screwdrivers:

  • Using the blade which fits perfectly the tip of the screw is the key to lessen your efforts.
  • For a screw which is stuck, try fitting the screwdriver in the screw and apply downforce while hitting the screwdriver with something heavy. By doing so the screw will be loosen and sometimes will even make the screw pop .
  • To drive the screws in easily, use beeswax or soap on the screw before you thread it in hardwood.
  • By using a short shank, you will be able to drive the screw in with less effort.
  • More torque is obtained using a bow shaped wrench.
  • Holding a screwdriver up and striking it with a metal bar can magnetize a screwdriver. This action may break the screwdriver.
  • Pray bar and the screw driver should be kept together to increase productivity.

8. The Nail Setter

A nail setter is very important, and multiple sets of different sizes should be present near you. They have a similar look to an awl and they are used to get the nail into the wood to make them flush by driving them deep in the wood.

Doing so gives you the opportunity to prepare for painting etc. Nail setters will help you to grip the nail better.

9. The Sliding Bevel

Also known as T-Bevels this is a great tool for measuring angles. This hand tool can be adjusted and can be looked in place if necessary.

10. The Layout Square

Combination square or a layout square come in two sizes; 6″ or 12″. The six-inch version of the layout square is more popular among carpenters as it is easier to carry around.

Combination square is in the shape of a triangle which is used to mark cuts on wood. If the short part is taken, angles can also be measured with the combination square.

Existing angle can also be determined using the layout square. Make sure you buy the one made from metal. The ones which are made from plastic are not only brittle but also may bend, which will render them completely useless.

Handling wood


Although there are maybe 30 other tools needed during the work of a carpenter as per my knowledge, these are the ones that a carpenter will lack on a regular basis which is essential for any service on a business. Therefore, these were my top pick tools which are a must have for a carpenter.