5 Must Have Essential Hand Tools for Woodworking

Although hand tools are more popular with beginner woodworkers, it is still great to have some essential ones even as your skills advanced or you get the more efficient power tools.

But, in most instances, a basic set of the commonly used ones is often enough.

Here we provide an overview of some hand tools that need to be part of your woodworking tools arsenal.

1. Chisel

Photo: Hurricane

Chisels are quite popular tools among woodcarvers, but they can work for any woodworker given how good they are at cleaning joints.

Provided the chisel is sharp enough, it can quickly clean out wood waste from mortises and joints.

With proper technique and correct chisel types and size, you can make some of the cleanest and most precise notches and cuts in wood. The most common chisel sizes are 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1-inch.

Besides choosing the right size, you also need to make sure what you buy is made from a durable material like chromium-vanadium alloyed steel or high carbon steel.

Additionally, the handle should be hardwood and with caps on the ends of the handle to ensure it does not deform easily.

2. Plane

A plane is a must-have tool as it seems to come in handy for almost every project you tackle in the workshop.

This hand tool helps you shave off thin strips of wood from your workpiece when you want to clean up the edges for a smooth finish.

When using a plane, the blade size and the depth you set determine the amount of material you shave off.

While the block plane is the most popular type, there are still many others such as jack, scraper, joining, spokeshaves and rabbet planes, which are ideal for different uses.

3. Hand Saw

Hand saws will always have a rightful place in any woodworking shop as they offer detailed and precise cuts. These saws are simple to use, and you just need to put in a little elbow grease to make the cuts.

Other things that make the hand saws quite remarkable is they are not bulky and will not include annoying cords like the power saws.

Additionally, these hand tools do not require batteries or a power outlet to work, and they are highly affordable.

These saws include a simple steel blade with teeth and a wooden handle at their most basic design.

But, they come in different types for different purposes, such as ripping handsaws that cut with the grain and backsaws with rectangular blades for making miter cuts.

4. Screwdriver


A manual screwdriver is always the tool to get when you want to get the fine-tuning feel when driving in screws. It might not give you the speed or effortlessness of a power driver, but it gives you more control over how you sink in the screws.

Screwdrivers are also available in much smaller sizes that come in handy when you need to drive in screws in tight and hard to reach places where it is not possible to use a power driver.

Every serious woodworker needs to have at least a basic set of screwdrivers that includes different types such as flathead, square, hex and Philips. If you also have the screwdrivers in various sizes, the better.

5. Utility Knife

Utility knives are fantastic to have in the workshop as there is always something to cut with one. They feature a locking mechanism that keeps the blade rigid when cutting, and they use disposable blades.

A utility knife is quite a versatile tool as you can use it for everything from marking stock to cleaning up mortises.

When buying one, make sure what you choose is heavy-duty enough, and something that comes with a good metal case is always perfect.


Power tools have primarily replaced hand tools in most workshops. However, some like the chisels, planes, and hand saws still have a significant role in the workshop.

Therefore, it is always great to keep them around as you never know when these manual tools will be crucial for the success of your woodworking project.