Geoff's Woodwork 

for Students of Woodwork                                                       

My recommendation for a basic tool kit   with pictures     

To get together a good toolkit takes time and I'm afraid, somewhat expensive.  However if one is prudent with the selection you can buy some good basic tools leaving the less used and sometimes more expensive tools for when you can afford to buy them.    My priorities are tools for a semi-mechanised workshop for craftsmen who use the full range of available tools.  I expect however that the novice would start with hand tools and learn how to use them properly to full advantage and safety.   You do need the tenon saw, some chisels, a drill and marking out tools.   The mortise and cutting gauges may be bought later.    

Portable power tools and woodworking machinery are not excluded from my inventory.   All craftsmen need and use machinery to a greater or lesser degree and so do I.   This list and my other tutorials are providing the information for the hand tool part of the workshop.   I do believe that the hand tools and techniques are important and should not be considered redundant even in today's mass market.  A hand tool may often be used for a process accurately and certainly quicker than setting up a machine.   On the other hand machinery cuts out a lot of the repetition and drudgery out of production and produces accurate and consistent products.  Some notes on the selection at the bottom of this page.  >>>

If I have missed your favourite tool, perhaps you could let me know and I'll add it in or perhaps say why I decided to omit it.   I haven't included all the tools I have in my toolkit because it is a 'basic kit'.  I don't want to frighten off everyone with too much expense just yet.   It is however as complete as I dare 'basic kit'.   Some craftsmen would no doubt differ;  I could even re-arrange the order of buying some of the tools,  but this is a good start and discussion point to start you off.    There is also something in the saying  'there are more things sold to catch anglers than to catch fish'!  Perhaps it is similar situation for some woodworkers..............   

**  Available from : LV ~ Lee Valley    HH ~ Highland Hardware     WC ~ Woodcraft     LS ~ local  hardware store     AS ~ local antique, etc market.   In the UK - always check out APTC Tool Centre for availability and prices.
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Basic Tool  description

sets may be offered with different sizes

Approx price    (BPS)

Picture reference    North American  equivalent Approx price US $ where Avail **
Portable power tools to enhance this selection would be at least:  12V Battery Drill, 150mm (6 inch) circular saw and Orbital Sander.   I would make some jigs to cross cut boards with the saw.

Tenon back saw 12 inch x 10 - 12 tpi

  tenon saw     LV


Coping saw

coping saw   LV

Dovetail saw 8 inch 16 - 22 tpi

  dovetail saw     LV


Or  Gents 8 inch 19 tpi saw

gents saw   LV

Smoothing plane Stanley No 4 or 4 1/2

smoothing plane   LV

Block plane low angle Stanley No 60 1/2

  block plane low angle     LV

Shoulder plane Stanley No 92

shoulder plane   HH

Chisels, bevel, 6, 12, 18 and 25 mm

bevel chisels   HH

Drill bits, morse set 1/16 to 1/4  inch


Fortsner bits set 1/4 - 1 inch

fortsner pat drill   LV

Flat bit set  10 - 22 mm

spade or flat bits Spade bits LV

Countersink rose, and


Countersink snail


Bradawl  (square blade)

bradawls Flat LV

Marking Gauge

marking gauge   LV

 Marking Gauge  (to make pencil gauge)

pencil gauge    

Mortise gauge (with brass screw mechanism)

  mortise gauge     LV

Cutting gauge

cutting gauge   LV

Trying square,  6 inch

trying squares   LV

Mitre square 9 inch or

mitre square  

Combination Square (incls. 45  degrees)

  combination square     Stanley

Adjustable bevel 7 1/2 inch

adjustable bevel 3.5 inch LV

Hammer Warrington type 8 ozs only

hammer warrington type   LV

Mallet beech 5 inch only

mallet   LV

Pincers 8 inch

Nail pullers LV

Screwdrivers, Flat, 3 and

screwdriver flat   LV

Screwdrivers, Flat, 5 inch blade


Screwdrivers Posi-drive No 2 point

posidrive screwdriver Philips No 2 LV

Rule steel 300 mm


Oilstone, box and honing guide

honing set up   LV, WC

Nail punches, 1/16  and

nail punches   LS

Nail punches, 1/8 inch

 Portable power tools I would consider next is; Router, Jigsaw and Belt Sander.   Machinery: consider a Table circular Saw min 200mm (8inch) with slides to accept tooling and perhaps a  Bench hollow chisel Mortiser 
Next buy these:        

Plough plane  Stanley 10 blades

plough plane Clifton multiplane WC

Rebate Plane  Stanley No 78

shoulder plane   LV

Cork blocks  qty 10 (extra for profiles)

cork block cork sheets  

Marking knife  Sabotier

Lee Valley LV

Scraper, rectangular and

scrapers   LV

Scraper,  gooseneck

set of three LV

Dovetail templates 1 in 6 and

dovetail template    

Dovetail templates 1 in 8

combination NV

Clamps G ~ as many as you can afford

 Sash Bar Clamps

  'G' or 'C' Clamps

sash bar clamps

C Clamps

pipe clamps each


Drill hand double pinion is required in addition to Electric/battery drill

  hand drill     LV

Handsaw hard point 22 inch ~ 10 tpi

panel saw   LV
Portable power tools I would consider next is; Planer, Biscuit Jointer and router table.  Machinery: Planer/ thicknessor.  I had a 100mm (4 inch) planer with top thicknessor attachment  for a long time.
then buy these:        
Jack Plane, No 5 jack plane
Sash Mortise chisels, 6,8,10,12,15 mm   sash mortise chisel  
Bevel edge chisels 8, 10, 22 & 30 mm   bevel chisel    
Firmer Gauges, 12 mm   firmer chisel   LV
Scribing Gauges, 6, 8, 10, 12 mm   scribing gouge    
Spoke shaves, flat and round bottom round spokeshave  

flat spokeshave

Bull-nose rebate plane   bullnose shoulder Stanley 90 LV
Side rebate plane   side rebate plane Lie Nielson WC
Router hand plane   hand router     AS
 I would not buy a Bandsaw until I had bought all my portable tools and the above machinery.   I would consider  buying a Radial Arm Saw as an additional (and prized) resource.   A Chop or Mitre saw is very useful and some quite cheap to buy early.   There are far more hand tools, portable power tools and machines that we would also like to have but when you get to that point it is dependent on your preferences and pocket.

Some notes regarding the selection:

The Portable Router (electric) .   Some woodworkers may think that a portable router (power tool) makes the plough, rebate, moulding planes and the hand router redundant.  This is not so.  A craftsman needs these and would often use the hand tools in preference to the setting up and adjustment of the router.   The portable router however is excellent for production and repetitive work once it is set up.

The Portable Planer (electric).   Some woodworkers could use this in preference and in place of a Jack Plane.   Trimming doors, edging, rebating and surfacing thinner boards, etc.  However a Jack Plane can plane and clean up the wider board and frames.  A portable (electric) plane can be rather rough at times and leaves planing lines across a wide board or frame.  (Unless you are very experienced and able to set up and control it perfectly!)   It is possible but site carpenters would find it more useful than a cabinet maker.

The Bench Plane.   For economy I would buy two sets of blades and back iron for the  smoothing plane.  One for finishing and the other for rough work until I could afford to buy the Jack and Jointer planes.

The Hand Drill.   There are also needs for a hand brace and bits and a double pinion hand drill.   Perhaps not at first.  The electric or battery drill although excellent for production, and inserting screws, etc. does not accommodate the precision and light weight required for tiny holes, i.e. less than 1/16th of an inch.  A case in point is using a veneer pin with its head cut off to pre-drill a hole in a thin lathe can only be used in a small hand drill.    (unless you use an expensive precision chuck).   A site carpenter would obviously not agree with this and I would concur with him for this type of work.   It is called 'horses for courses'.

Drill Bits.    Morse drill bits are cheap, handy and convenient for using in the hand or powered drills.  However the cutting angle is designed as a general purpose compromise for metal work.  The drill best used for wood should have a much longer angle.   There are now coming available 'spur' or 'dowel' drills.  These have a point and 'lip and spur's' which give a positive location and help to cut the sides of the hole.   A neater more accurate hole is produced.   If you have to use a 'morse' drill then ensure that you 'locate' the position of the proposed hole by making a small hole with a sharp square edged bradawl first.    Flat or 'spade' drills are cheap and cheerful.  Keep them sharp and make sure that you drill from the front and then the back without 'breaking' through otherwise you will get untidy spelching.   They do not work well unless the point is always located and supported.     You can also get a combination auger that is supposed to work in all types of drills, hand and powered.    True they do but when used in a powered drill the screw point can pull the drill in very quickly and out of control.   This is because the screw at the tip is designed for a hand feed and not for machine driven.   Machine bits usually have a point.     I would 'blunt' the screw a bit if I used it in a powered drill to slow down the feed.    There is no such thing as a 'multipurpose' tool!    Fortsner and their cousins the 'sawtooth' bit are excellent for shallow clean cut holes.   They are also good for shaping (concave shapes on the side/edges) and making shallow hollow boxes especially when used in a pillar or bench drill with depth control.

Dovetail Saw.   Dovetail saws are very expensive.   Dovetails may be cut with a tenon saw but not the finer ones without a little extra care.   I bought Gent's saw for my workshop until I could afford proper dovetail saws.   Some Gent's saws can be too fine and you can't get them sharpened so choose a tooth pitch about 16 to no more than 22 tpi.    I notice there is a trend for dovetail saws to be cut with rip teeth.   This is a good step but I would also like a 'rip' Tenon Saw too.    I have managed so far without either.

Sash Mortise Chisels.   I have also included, near the end mortise chisels.   They are again quick, accurate and easier to use than sometimes setting up a mortiser although I would prefer this machine for the larger and especially in the harder woods.

Marking Gauges.    In the early days buy a number of cheap wooden marking gauges.   They can easily be converted into pencil and cutting gauges or even a rudimentary mortise gauge with a little ingenuity.   I think that you will find that they will still be in use when you have bought the proper ones!

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16th December 2003  - 19th December 2009