25 Essential Beginner Woodworking Hand Tools

beginner woodworking hand tools

Every woodworking expert was once a beginner. Deliberate practice makes you a woodworking expert. In woodworking, we use hand tools and power tools both to get the exact result we want.

Even though power tools are more efficient and easier than hand tools, better to practice with hand tools to get good experience especially when you’re a beginner.  

As a beginner, hand tools are so important to learn woodworking tips, techniques all other basic things about woodworking than power tools.

When I was a beginner, I was wondered what hand tools I really need to start woodworking.

So, I have researched and Here’re the 25 Beginner woodworking hand tools.

  1. Ripping handsaws
  2. Crosscut handsaws
  3. Combination handsaws
  4. Backsaws
  5. Carcass handsaws
  6. Coping handsaws
  7. Dovetail handsaws
  8. Keyhole handsaws
  9. Marking gauge
  10. Clamps
  11. Jack planes
  12. Block planes
  13. Joining planes
  14. Rabbet planes
  15. Scraper planes
  16. Spokeshaves
  17. Finishing hammers
  18. Framing hammers
  19. Tack hammers
  20. Hand files
  21. Mallet
  22. Chisel set
  23. Sharpening tools
  24. Squares
  25. Tape measures

So, in this article, we’ll go through beginner woodworking hand tools separately and discuss their functionality and how much they’re important in woodworking to get to know about woodworking skills and techniques.

At the end of this article, you’ll be able to figure out which tools you should buy first according to the type of your woodworking project.

Because the types of woodworking tools you need to have before starting the project depend on the type of woodworking project.

So, let’s jump in!

1. Ripping Handsaws

Handsaws are considered the most basic woodworking tool every woodworker has.

Among different types of handsaws, ripping handsaw is the one that woodworkers mostly used.

It is nearly 26 inches in length with 5 teeth-shaped blades per inch.

Ripping handsaw is also known as tooth saw, because teeth-shaped blades are alternate between left and right bending sides.

It can cut parallel along the direction of the wood grain.

Ripping handsaw is so simple and easy to use when precision cuts are required. They are cheap and provide excellent results.

Most importantly, ripping handsaws are versatile and helpful for beginners to learn how to make cuts get the shapes we want from wood pieces.

The blades of the ripping handsaw are evenly placed.

When you’re using ripping handsaw make sure to hold the wood firmly to avoid wood movements during cutting.

Here’re some useful functions of ripping handsaw,

  • Able to cut preciously with the wood grain.
  • Can make clean cuts with push strokes along the wood grain.

I highly recommend ripping handsaws as a beginner woodworking hand tool because of its multifunctional capabilities.

2. Crosscut Handsaws

Crosscut handsaw is also known as rip cut handsaw. Crosscut handsaws are important to cut across the wood grain.

It has teeth-shaped blades that are positioned backward with bevel edges.

When cutting both push and pull strokes happen to make a clean and accurate cut.

If you want to cut a wood log perpendicular to its wood grain, crosscut handsaw is the best tool you should go with.

The blades of crosscut handsaw are staggered.

As a beginner in woodworking, there’re occasions you face cut with wood grain and cut across the wood grain.

To cut with the wood grain you need to have a ripping handsaw and to cut across the wood grain you need a crosscut handsaw.

As you can see different woodcutting techniques need different equipment.

Here’re some useful functions of crosscut handsaw,

  • Able to make a clean and accurate cut across the wood grain.
  • Can make cuts with both push and pull strokes.

Crosscut handsaws are easy to sharpen and breasted blade edges and taper ground improve its performances.

3. Combination Handsaws

Combination handsaw is a multifunctional handsaw that can do both crosscuts and rips. That means using a combination handsaw you do the tasks of both ripping handsaw and crosscut handsaw.

Combination handsaw has a flexible, thin blade with a rigid back to handle well.

The blades of the combination handsaw are equipped with both layouts which are evenly placed and staggered.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking and tight on a budget better to go with the combination handsaw rather than spending money for both ripping and crosscut handsaws.

Because with combination handsaw you’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone.

Here’re some useful functions of combination handsaw,

  • Able to make clean, precious, and accurate cuts both across the wood grain and along the wood grain.
  • Can make cuts with both push and pull strokes.

Tip: As a woodworker, you need to know the Points Per Inch (PPI) value of the handsaw along the blade.

  • If the PPI value is high that means a higher number of teeth which are helpful to give clean, slow and fine cuts.
  • If the PPI value is less that means a lower number of teeth which are helpful to give aggressive, less fined, and faster cuts.

4. Back Saws

Back saws have thin metal blades with fine teeth that run along the top of the saw blade which are useful to make clean slow and fine precious cuts.

Back saws are important when making wooden joints because of their fine accurate functionalities.

The tooth configuration of backsaws can change the job of the saw. It has rectangular-shaped blades with braced backs that can use for milter cuts.

Here’re some useful functions of combination handsaw,

  • Able to make a clean, precious, and accurate cut due to fine teeth.
  • Useful when making wooden joints

5. Carcass Handsaws

Carcass handsaw is mostly used to make furniture carcasses. Carcass handsaws are also kind of backsaws that are larger and stronger than regular backsaws.

As a beginner carcass handsaw will serve you best.

Carcass saw is 11”-14” long and has a PPI value of 14-16.

Carcass handsaw is a crosscut field saw with a pretty good amount of depth and length. It is useful when cutting tenons, dovetails, and everything in between.

Both hardwoods and softwoods can be cut with a carcass saw with 250 hang angle.

Here’re some useful functions of combination handsaw,

  • Useful for cutting small boards, miters, and anything in between.
  • Useful when making wooden joints
  • All other general uses of workbench

Carcass handsaw is not good enough for fine cuts, but it serves best to make deeper cuts.

6. Coping Handsaws

A coping handsaw is considered one of the most affordable handsaws (under $20), especially for beginners.

It is used for removing waste from dovetail joints and for rough cutting in the boards.

The handle is comfortable and you can get fine cut with its sharp blades.

But the cutting speed is slow and won’t buckle under a decent amount of tension. Therefore, the handsaw won’t jump off the kerf at the end and won’t damage the pin or tail.

It comes with a pack of replaceable blades which are useful and cheap. Because of having a tall frame and a thin blade, the coping saw is good for cutting curves.

The waste that occurred because of the chisel can be removed by using a coping handsaw.

Here’re some useful functions of combination handsaw,

  • Useful for curve cuttings in small boards.
  • Useful for removing waste from dovetail joints.
  • Able to make cuts with pull strokes.

Under beginner woodworking hand tools, let’s jump into dovetail handsaws with their uses.

7. Dovetail Handsaws

Dovetail handsaws are used to make hand-cut dovetails and many other woodworking tasks such as notching a drawer or shelf to fit in a dado on a case side.

If you’re on a tight budget dovetail handsaw is well enough for a while.

With dovetail handsaw, you’ll be able to cut joinery along the direction of the wood grain. It has fine rip teeth that use to cut dovetails by hand.

The dovetail saw is equipped with a solid brass back with the finest steel blade. The dovetail saw has a PPI value of 15.

The first thing you need to know is how to handle the dovetail saw.

Many people wrap all their fingers around the handle which is an incorrect method.

The proper method is to wrap the middle, ring, and warp little fingers around the handle with a forefinger along with the brass back.

This method is a very comfortable and natural way of handling the dovetail saw.

Before you directly head into a large project, it’s a wise idea to start with some scrap wood to practice saw cutting.

After you learned the proper sawing technique, you’ll be able to make smooth cutting with ease.

Here’re some useful functions of dovetail handsaw,

  • Able to make small precise cuts that are extremely neat
  • Use for joint making
  • Have good control and handling than many other handsaws.

8. Keyhole Handsaws

Keyhole handsaw is also known as compass saw which is useful for cutting holes in softwoods. It has a small, pointed blade that can also use to cut holes in a wall to install a new switch.

The specialty of a keyhole saw is various blades can be fitted such as 5 to 15 inches.

Keyhole handsaw has about 5 to 20 points per inch (PPI) and 8 to 10 points per inch models are the common ones.

To cut using keyhole handsaw move the saw forward and backward slowly through the line.

Never apply excess pressure because the blade may be jammed and make it difficult to remove.

Keyhole handsaws are inexpensive but sharpening cost more than you expect.

Here’re some useful functions of dovetail handsaw,

  • Use to make internal cuts
  • Use to cut small shapes, as piercing material
  • Use to make holes in drywall, boxes, pipes
  • Able to make small openings

9. Marking Gauge

Making gauge is a basic woodworking hand tool that is available in every woodworker’s kit.

There’re several marking gauges available in the market which use for different purposes.

  • Traditional marking gauge

The traditional marking gauge is inexpensive and really useful for joinery tasks. It uses a pin to work on the surface.

  • Cutting gauge

The cutting gauge uses a knife to work on the surface. It is useful to make clean cuts without tearing off the surface.

The cost is a little bit higher than the traditional marking gauge.

Basically, every type of marking gauge is worthful to maintaining the wood steady until the job is done.

Well sharpened gouges are useful to make parallel lines to show exactly where the flat wood needs to be cut.

Here’re some common functions of marking gauge,

  • Able to make precise lines
  • Make the woodworking cuttings much easier
  • Useful for both experienced and beginner of woodworkers

10. Clamps

Clamps are useful to hold joints that are freshly glued. 10 – 12 inches clamps are perfect to hold most of the joints.

Clamps are useful until you learn how to not use them.

With experience, you’ll learn to do things without using any clamps. Until then having G-clamps, F-clamps are useful to learn many woodworking stuff.

For big projects, ¾ inch 4 high-quality clamps are recommended. Most of the clamp sets are inexpensive and work like a third hand when holding boards together especially when you’re drilling or screwing.

Here’re some common functions of clamps,

  • Useful to hold glued joints
  • Useful when drilling and screwing
  • Essential woodworking hand tool for every beginner in woodworking

11. Jack Planes

Planes are used to cut rather than sand or abrasing. There’re several types of planes are available in the market.

All the planes have a fixed blade to shave off the wood fibers to make them smoother.

Planes can be categorized according to their application.

Every beginner of woodworking should know the applications of each plane type to use them correctly during their woodworking projects.

When it comes to jack planes, they have both curved and straight edges which are useful when jointing or smoothing the wooden surfaces. Blade size is a matter of fact that can understand how many materials can be removed at a time.

Jack planes are also useful to flatten rough wooden surfaces and shape them until it reaches their final size.

The low-angle jack plane is lighter and easier to use.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking I highly recommend low angle jack plane rather than a conventional bench plane because of its great handling.

The mouth opening is also easy to adjust than other types of planes.

Here’re some common functions of jack planes,

  • Jack of all trades useful when shaping and jointing
  • Provide maximum support of cutting edge
  • Able to make deep cuts by removing the stock

12. Block Planes

Block plane is used to make clean and small shavings for joinery and woodturning. It is perfect for the tabletop edges, the chamfering, and the fine-tuning of wood drawers.

Most importantly the mobility of block planes is high because they can carry around your belt.

The 6-inch low angle block plane is so useful for slicing. Block planes are stout and small.

Low-angle block planes are more versatile than other types of block planes because of their great performances in a small space.

Here’re some common functions of block planes,

  • Useful for tight work
  • Able to make small clean cuts
  • Useful in woodturning and making smooth joints
  • Able to trim wooden surfaces

13. Joining Planes

Joining planes act like jack planes. They are useful to make the surface smooth and to join pieces together.

Joining planes are also used to flatten the surfaces of large boards and straighten the edges of the board.

Joining planes have long lengths which are useful to go through uneven surfaces by skimming off the random spots to make it smoother and flatter.

Most joining planes are 20 -24 inches long and made from wooden bodies. Joining planes made from metal bodies has higher durability than the ones made of wooden bodies.

Here’re some common functions of joining planes,

  • Able to make smooth cuts
  • Able to join wood pieces together
  • Flatten and smoothen the surface

14. Rabbet Planes

Rabbit planes are useful to cut right angles along the direction of the wood grain. it is designed to make fine-tune rabbets.

There’re main two types of rabbet planes are available in the market. Such as the skew rabbet plane and adjustable rabbet plane.

Both have similar features but plane iron is bedded in a skew rabbet plane. This will reduce the cutting angle and make the slicing neat and easy along the wood grain.

Adjustable mouth open option Is available in both skew rabbet plane and adjustable rabbet plane.

Here’re some common functions of rabbet planes,

  • Able to cut along the direction of wood grain
  • Useful to make fine-tune rabbets
  • Useful to clean grooves and dados.
  • Comfortability and workability are so high which is important for beginners in woodworking.

15. Scraper Planes

Scraper planes are used to put the final finish on wooden surfaces. With scrapper planes, you’ll be able to clean up all the messes that happened due to other types of planes.

It is small and very comfortable to use and doesn’t tear off the wood.

Scraper plane is made from fine wood fibers which are also known as cabinet scrapers.

With scraper planes, you can get a super smooth surface rather than using any sandpapers.

Sharpening is the difficult part of scarper planes. Having an angular blade angle makes it easy to deform or burnish into an aggressive hook or burr.

Normally scraper planes come into action after the surface has been prepared with a smoothing plane.

With a scraper plane, you’ll be able to bring out the wood grain rather than sandpaper would.

Here’re some common functions of scraper planes,

  • Able to super-smooth surfaces
  • Able to take thin curls
  • Can use for final leveling and smoothing

16. Spokeshaves

Spokeshaves are specially designed for curved surfaces. For curved surfaces, spokeshaves perform different tasks like smoothing the edges to sharping spindles

There’re main two types of spokeshaves available in the market. They are the bevel-up version and bevel-down version.

Bevel down spokeshaves is the common ones that are useful for steep cutting and fine shaving.

Here’re some common functions of spokeshaves,

  • Smoothen the curved surfaces
  • Useful when making cartwheel spokes, chair legs, bows, arrows, and paddles
  • Flatten complex shapes of wood

17. Finishing Hammers

Hammer is a universal woodworking tool that every woodworker should have. The main tasks of the hammer are pound and pry.

Even though hammers are specialized for only two tasks, the way that accomplish depends on several things. Such as,

  • Hammerhead design size and weight
  • Claw design length and curve
  • Total weight
  • Handling

When it comes to finishing hammers, they are pretty much useful for any task, and it’ll be your first choice as a beginner when it comes to hammer selection. They are so handy and easy to use.

The finish hammer is a lightweight smooth-faced tool that is useful when driving nails, tacks. Finishing hammers are perfect for small woodworking projects as they weigh only about 10 -14 ounces.

Here’re some common functions of finishing hammers,

  • Able to drive nails and tacks
  • Useful when installing cabinets, doors, and handrails
  • Able to drive 4d to 8d finish nails and box nails

Under beginner woodworking hand tools, let’s jump into framing hammers with their uses.

18. Framing Hammers

Framing hammers are useful for tough purposes. It is huge and important in larger woodworking projects like driving and removing large nails.

Framing hammers weigh around 20 – 30 once and have long handles.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking you need to have good practice with finishing hammers before moving into framing hammers. Because the handling is quite difficult especially when you’re a beginner.

The heavyweight and long handles of the framing hammer are important to give more power to the hammer stroke.

The Hammer head is big and milled with a waffle-like grid which uses useful to prevent glancing blows.

Nowadays framing hammers are replacing with nail guns because of their difficulties when used.

But framing hammers are still able to teach pretty good woodworking lessons for any woodworker which will be helpful in their future projects.

Here’re some common functions of framing hammers,

  • Useful for larger woodworking projects
  • Able to drive large, long nails
  • Powerful stroke is important for heavy carpentry work

19. Tack Hammers

Tack hammers don’t have claws and are useful for small woodworking projects.

It is super light in weight and useful for furniture frame making by securing upholstery fabric using small nails or tacks.

Tack hammers are usually available in two faces. Most of them are magnetized and those heads are useful to drive nails with precision.

The tack hammer is a weight around 5 to 8 ounces and the handle is nearly 10 inches long.

It is so much difficult to drive small nails and tacks using a regular hammer which can cause breaking of nails and surface.

But with tack hammers, you’ll be able to drive nails and tacks with greater precision.

Here’re some common functions of tack hammers,

  • Able to drive small nails and tacks
  • Useful for small woodworking projects
  • Use to make seats, chairs, and soft padding

20. Hand Files

Hand files are used to shape and smoothen the wood. they are inexpensive and easy to use.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking hand files are great tools to learn lots of techniques in woodworking.

Because of having quality steel, the durability of hand files is high but once the steel turns dull, better to replace it with a new one rather than sharpening.

There’re several hand flies types available in the market. They’re

  • Rasps with rough-edged tools
  • Half-round flies
  • Mill files

Hand files are also used to sharpen woodworking blades and other materials. They have fine teeth made of high-grade steel.

Here’re some common functions of hand files hammers,

  • Use to shape and smooth the wood
  • Use to sharpen woodworking blades
  • Useful to sharp both straight and curved surfaces

21. Mallet

Both mallets and hammers are striking tools, but mallets are useful for totally different applications than hammers. The striking shock of the mallet absorbs itself than delivering it to the outside.

Mallet is soft and leaves less striking marks than hammers do.

Because of its shock absorbance, the mallet is a perfect woodworking hand tool for tapping wood joints together with minimal striking marks.

Never use steel hammer on chisels. Leave the job for mallet because it let them smoothly slice through the wood.

Here’re some common functions of the mallet,

  • Useful to tap wood joints together
  • Able to do the functions with minimal strike marks
  • Useful when working with chisels to prevent jabbing at the wood.

Under beginner woodworking hand tools, let’s jump into a chisel set with its uses.

22. Chisel set

Chisels can be used for shaping, joinery, carving, paring, and many more woodworking activities.

Selecting a quality set of 6 chisels is a challenging task because most of the chisels available in the market are junk and frustrating to work with.

A quality set of 6 chisels improve the quality of your woodworking project by teaching you many woodworking skills.

I recommend bevel chisels for beginner sin woodworking to get an idea about how to use chisels and how to sharpen them correctly.

Because bench chisels and mortise chisels are so unique and the learning range is narrow.

Here’re some common functions of chisels,

  • Able to join wood pieces together
  • Shaping wood surfaces
  • Useful in carving and other decorative purposes

23. Sharpening Tools

Sharpening tools are essential to use woodworking tools over the years. All cutting tools in woodworking will lose their edges over years.

Therefore, you need to have good knowledge about how the sharpen them even If you’re a beginner in woodworking.

When it comes to sharpening stones, water stones and diamond plates are the popular ones.

If you’re on a tight budget I recommend buying water stones, because diamond ones are expensive.

Those sharpening mediums will last over years and are able to sharpen any woodworking tools as you expect.

Here’re some common functions of Sharpening tools,

  • Flatten and sharpen chisels
  • Sharpen planes with ease
  • Useful to keep woodworking tools fresh as new over years

Under beginner woodworking hand tools, let’s jump into squares with their uses.

24. Squares

Squares are useful for a quality woodworking project to create and verify angles.

Squares have measuring that marked on their surface which is pretty much useful to make woodworking projects with correct coordinates.

Here’re some common square types that use in woodworking with their applications.

Square TypeApplication
Try squareAble to verify squareness quickly
Combination squareAble to make precise angles and distances
Speed squareAble to check 45- and 90-degree angles quickly
Miter squareUseful for angled miter cuts
Framing squareUseful for bigger woodworking projects for correct angles

25. Tape Measures

Every woodworker should have a measuring tape hooked in the belt. They’re useful to measure distance or size.

It is a beginner woodworking hand tool that requires most of the time for different purposes.

Here’re some tape measures that woodworkers use for different woodworking activities.

  • Retractable steel tape
  • Folding rules
  • Flexible tape

The retractable steel tape is the common one that comes in lengths from 12 to 30 feet. Measuring tapes are useful for both small and large woodworking projects to get the shape, size, and distances we wish.

So, that’s all about beginner woodworking hand tools. Hope I have covered everything you wanted to know from A to Z.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Beginner Woodworking Hand Tools

In this article I have covered all you wanted to know about 25 beginner woodworking hand tools with their specialties, uses and how to use them, and many more.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking it’s good to know about every type of woodworking tool and how to use them.

It’s a quick learning process to become good at woodworking.  

I highly recommend using the quality product when you’re buying woodworking hand tools because most of them are junk and it’s a nightmare to work with them.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about the best 25 beginner woodworking hand tools that are important for every woodworker with various functions.

So, let’s begin your woodworking journey with new tools. Get the best out of those tools.

One day you’ll become a pro at woodworking. Have fun in woodworking!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

1 thought on “25 Essential Beginner Woodworking Hand Tools”

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