34 Beginner Woodworking Hand Tools

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As a woodworking expert, I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to have the right tools, especially when you’re just starting out. You might be asking yourself which hand tools are best for beginners in woodworking. Well, you’re in luck because I’m here to help!

In this article, I’m going to share with you a list of essential hand tools that should be in every beginner’s toolkit. So, let’s dive in and find out more!

Essential Hand Tools for Woodworking Novices

1. Bench Plane

A bench plane is used one of the most used woodworking tools for shaping, smoothing, and leveling surfaces. It consists of a flat, elongated body with a cutting blade, known as an iron, embedded at the bottom.

The plane’s body is typically made of wood or metal and has handles or knobs for gripping and maneuvering. The cutting iron protrudes from the body at an angle. You can adjust it to control the depth and thickness of the wood shaving.

Adjusting the blade and the plane’s angle can create a smooth, flat surface or shape the wood to a desired contour. This feature helps to regulate the type of cut and prevents tear-out or excessive digging into the wood, resulting in a smoother and more even surface.

bench plane

You can use common bench planes, such as low-angle jack planes, depending on the results. It enables you to shape and refine wood surfaces with precision and control.

A low-angle jack plane is a type of hand plane that has a low-angle blade orientation, typically around 12 to 20 degrees. A low-angle jack plane allows the plane to be more effective for certain tasks compared to traditional bench planes.

The low-angle jack plane typically has a shorter length than other bench planes, usually around 14 to 15 inches. A jack plane is designed to be versatile and can perform various tasks.

You can use a low-angle jack plane to handle difficult grains and end grains effectively. The low angle of the blade reduces tear-out and allows you for cleaner cuts on challenging wood surfaces. It is especially useful when working with highly figured or interlocking grains.

Moreover, the blade of a low-angle jack plane is typically beveled at a low angle, usually around 25 degrees. This bevel, combined with the low angle of the plane, creates a cutting angle that helps to minimize tear-out and produce smoother surfaces.

Using bench plane

As someone deeply immersed in woodworking, I’ve come to appreciate the nuances of using a low-angle jack plane. One of the standout features of this tool is its adjustable mouth, which lets you control the gap between the blade and the sole. This flexibility is key for fine-tuning the plane’s performance to suit the specific task at hand.

But it’s important to note that a low-angle jack plane can yield varied results, especially when it comes to the range of tasks it can handle.

2. Chisels

Chisels are versatile woodworking hand tools that remove material from a workpiece. It consists of a sharp blade of high-carbon steel and other durable materials attached to a handle. However, it is not considered one of the power tools for woodworking beginners.

You can find different variety of shapes and sizes of chisels designed for specific tasks, such as bench chisels. This tool is designed for general-purpose use on a workbench or a benchtop. It is a hand tool with a sharp, beveled blade attached to a handle.

The blade of bench chisels is typically made of high-carbon steel or tool steel, and the handle is usually made of wood or plastic. You can also use bench chisels primarily for cutting and shaping wood.

Bench chisels have a flat, wide blade that tapers to a sharp cutting edge, unlike mortise chisels. The blade is usually square or slightly beveled on the sides, which allows the chisel to reach into corners and tight spaces.

person using a chisel

The cutting edge is ground at a bevel angle, typically between 25 and 35 degrees, depending on the intended use and the user’s preference. You can use bench chisels for a variety of projects for woodworking beginners.

Bench chisels are often struck with a mallet or a hammer to provide additional force when needed, although they can also be used by hand. Bench chisels come in different sizes, typically ranging from 1/4 inch to 1-1/2 inches (6 to 38 millimeters) in width.

The wider the blade, the more material it can remove, while narrower chisels are better suited for delicate or detailed work. Then, struck with a mallet or hammered gently to apply force to the blade. This action allows the chisel to cut or remove material, creating the desired shape or cut.

3. Joinery Saw

A joinery saw, or a backsaw is a type of handsaw designed for precise lines and accurate cuts. It is ideal to use for mortise and tenon wood joints.

Its stiffening rib on the back of the blade helps prevent the saw from bending or flexing during use, allowing for more precise cuts. It also has a thin, narrow blade with fine teeth set close together.

This configuration helps to minimize the tearing and splintering of the wood, resulting in a cleaner, smoother cut of your scrap wood project. You can choose from various sizes, with blade lengths ranging from around 6 inches to 16 inches.

Using joinery saw

4. Panel Saw

I’ve often relied on a panel saw for precise cuts, especially when working with materials like plywood or particleboard. When using this hand tool, it’s crucial to lay the board or large wood sheets flat on a table. Then, you work the vertical saw blade up and down through the material.

There are various types of panel saws to choose from, such as vertical, horizontal, and sliding table saws. It’s not a new tool by any means, but it’s ideal for tasks like cabinet making, furniture production, and various other woodworking projects.

5. Cordless Drill

A cordless drill, commonly known as a wireless drill, is among the most used woodworking hand tools for drilling holes and driving screws. Unlike traditional corded drills requiring a direct electrical connection, you can use cordless drills with rechargeable batteries.

Although some woodworking beginners consider drills power tools, you can use cordless drills with greater portability and flexibility. It also consists of a motor, a chuck, a clutch, and a battery. 

The battery pack is an essential component of a cordless drill and typically slides into the drill’s handle. The battery powers the motor and allows the drill to operate without being connected to an electrical outlet. 

But you can have a cordless drill with a charger to recharge the battery when it is depleted.Cordless drills are available in various sizes and power ratings, with different voltage options ranging from around 12 volts to 20 volts [1] or more.

person operating Dewalt DCK340C2 cordless drill

The higher voltage drills provide more power, allowing them to handle tougher drilling tasks. Some cordless drills also feature additional features such as variable speed control, LED lights for improved visibility, and hammer action for drilling into masonry.

6. Marking Knife

A marking knife is among the most-used woodworking hand tools for precision cutting to achieve clean markings on wooden surfaces. It has a sharp, narrow, pointed blade, often with a beveled edge on one or both sides.

A marking knife is ideal for scribing lines on the surface of the wood. The knife’s sharp point allows for accurate line placement, and the beveled edge helps prevent the blade from wandering off the line while marking.

Unlike a sharp pencil, which can produce lines of varying thickness and may smudge, a marking knife creates a thin, crisp, and permanent line. Other marking tools, such as several marking gauges, help you to achieve the results for woodworking beginners.

To use a marking knife, hold the handle and use the sharp point to score or incise the surface of the material along a desired line or mark. Using the marking knife shallow incision, you can create a groove that guides subsequent tools, ensuring accurate cuts or joinery.

Marking knife

In my experience with joinery, cabinetry, and other woodworking projects, I’ve found the marking knife to be an indispensable tool. The key to using it effectively is applying just the right amount of pressure to create a clear, distinct line without cutting too deeply into the material. This careful balance helps prevent tear-out cuts, ensuring a clean and precise finish in your work.

7. Workbench

A workbench is a sturdy table or platform designed for various types of woodwork where manual tasks are performed. It offers a flat, stable surface to work on. You can have a workbench with drawers, shelves, and built-in tools or equipment holders.

A workbench provides a designated area where tasks can be carried out efficiently, providing ample space for tools, materials, and workpieces. Depending on the user’s specific needs, it comes in different sizes, shapes, and materials.

A reliable workbench incorporates additional features such as clamps, vises, or adjustable height mechanisms to accommodate different woodworking.

8. Vise

A vise is another woodworking hand tool that a beginning woodworker must have in his or her shop. This tool holds an object firmly in place. It has two parallel jaws, one fixed and the other movable, that a screw or lever mechanism can tighten together.

It is commonly used by woodworking beginners to secure the gripping and immobilization of an object, particularly for cutting, shaping, or repairing. You can have it in various sizes and designs to accommodate different types of work and materials.


9. Clamps

Clamps are hand tools that hold two pieces of material together, typically while freshly glued, screws or other fasteners are applied to create a strong joint. It comes in various shapes, sizes, and types, depending on the specific application and material being worked on.

Common clamps are Bar, C-clamps, Spring, Pipe, and Bench. It is a good tool for woodworking beginners should have before advancing to power tools.

10. Bevel

Bevel is one of the woodworking hand tools used to create a slanted or angled edge or surface on an object, typically through cutting or shaping. It removes material from the edge or surface to form a sloping or chamfered edge.

When using a bevel, you can have a more finished and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Beveling is commonly used on the edges of furniture or decorative moldings to add visual interest and eliminate sharp corners.

Beveling can be achieved through different techniques and tools depending on the material being worked on. You can observe that the angle or degree of the bevel can vary depending on the desired effect or functional requirements.

Depending on the specific application and design intent, you can have a slight chamfer to a more pronounced slant.

bevel wood

11. Router Plane

A router plane is a type of hand plane used in woodworking. It is designed for specific tasks such as flattening the bottoms of grooves or dadoes, creating rabbets or recesses, and leveling out uneven surfaces.

It is similar in appearance to a traditional hand plane but with a few key differences. The main distinguishing feature of this tool is the presence of a narrow, vertically adjustable blade or iron that protrudes through the plane’s sole.

You can adjust this blade to achieve the desired depth of cut. The blade is typically held in place by a clamp or a mechanism that allows for precise adjustments.

But some of these tools are considered power tools because of their interchangeable blades of different widths and shapes to accommodate various cutting tasks. It is often used with a straightedge or a guide to ensure accuracy and consistency.

It is reliable for woodworking tasks that require precise and controlled cutting. It can be used for cleaning up the bottoms of dadoes and grooves, fitting joints, leveling out surfaces, and performing delicate shaping tasks.

large router plane

I’ve learned that adjusting the depth of cut is crucial for achieving different levels of material removal. This allows for fine-tuning of the work, making a big difference in the final outcome.

While it’s true that it’s less commonly used than other hand planes like a smoothing plane or a block plane, I find its specific applications invaluable. It’s particularly reliable when working on joinery and fitting tasks where accuracy and precision are non-negotiable.

12. Coping Saw

A coping saw is one of the woodworking hand tools used in making intricate and detailed cuts. It consists of a thin, narrow blade stretched between a C-shaped frame, with a handle at one end. The coping saw blade is usually fine and has small, sharp teeth.

You can use a coping saw designed for cutting curves, creating notches, or removing waste material from making wooden joints. The frame of the coping saw allows for easy maneuverability and tight turns, making it suitable for precision work.

You must hold the handle firmly and guide the blade along the desired cutting path to use a coping saw. The frame can be rotated and adjusted to accommodate different angles and tight spaces.

BAHCO Coping Saw on wooden surface

The thin blade of a coping saw allows for tight turns and intricate cuts, making it a versatile tool for various woodworking projects.

By applying steady and controlled pressure, the coping saw can make accurate cuts with high precision. A coping saw is one of the versatile hand tools valued for its ability to make intricate and precise cuts in a wide range of materials.

13. Block Plane

A block plane is a hand plane that is designed to be used with one hand. It typically has a low-angle blade that is adjustable for depth and angle. You can use a block plane for trimming and shaping wood.

A block plane is ideal for working on the end grain and other difficult-to-plane areas. Also, a block plane is typically smaller than other hand planes, and block planes are designed to be portable and easy to use.

You can often use a block plane in smoothing rough boards, chamfering corners, and planing end grain. The low-angle blade of a block plane is particularly effective for cutting end grain, as it reduces the likelihood of tearing or splintering the wood.

Block Planer

A block plane is available, including a bench and jack plane, and even low-angle planes. You can find the block plane in different sizes, but they are generally smaller than other types of planes.

A block plane can be held with one hand while the other hand applies pressure to push the plane across the wood surface.

Also, you can use the additional features of a block plane, like a knurled adjustment knob, for blade depth. The block plane also has a lateral adjustment lever for aligning the blade and a rear handle for added stability during use.

Each block plane has specific uses and advantages; the choice will depend on the task.

14. Back Saw

A back saw is a type of hand saws specifically designed for making precise and accurate cuts for woodworking beginners. Its fine teeth characterize its reinforced back and rigid blade, allowing clean and controlled cuts.

The back saws derive their name from the stiffening strip of metal or wood along its spine, which provides rigidity and prevents the blade from bending or flexing during use. This feature enables the back saw to cut more precisely than other saws.

Robert Larson Two Cherries 520-6020 10-Inch Brass Back Dovetail Saw

You can observe that back saws typically have a thin blade with a crosscut or rip teeth. Crosscut teeth have a series of small, sharp teeth designed to cut across the grain of the wood, providing smooth and clean cuts.

However, the fine rip teeth, on the other hand, have larger, more chisel-like teeth optimized for cutting along the grain of the wood, making them suitable for making long, straight cuts. But, this other tool is not considered one of the power tools to start woodworking.

You can use it in woodworking projects that require accurate joineries, such as making tenons, dovetails, and miters. It has a compact size and precise cutting ability making it a preferred tool for fine woodworking tasks where accuracy and clean cuts are essential.

15. Japanese Pull Saw

A Japanese pull saw, also known as a Noko Giri or a Dozuki saw, is a type of saw that is used for woodworking and carpentry.

Unlike a Western-style saw that cuts when pushed, a Japanese pull saw cuts on the pull stroke. The blade of a Japanese pull saw is thinner and narrower than a Western saw, and it is made from high-quality steel that can be hardened and tempered for durability.

The teeth of the saw are also designed differently, with finer and more numerous teeth that make it easier to cut through wood smoothly and accurately.

SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Hand Saw

Its handle, typically crafted from wood, is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand. This saw is a go-to tool for making precise cuts in a range of projects, whether it’s cabinetry, furniture making, or general carpentry. The ease and precision it offers make it a valuable addition to any woodworker’s toolkit.

16. Flush Trim Saw

A flush trim saw is one of the specialized hand tools used in woodworking to trim or “flush” the edges of one material to match the contour or surface of another material.

It is commonly used to trim the excess material from veneers, laminates, or edge banding to make them flush with the surface of the substrate. The flush trim saw typically consists of a handle and a blade with fine teeth.

The blade is usually narrow and has teeth on one or both sides. The teeth are designed to cut in one direction, allowing the saw to remove material efficiently while minimizing tear-out or splintering.

To use a flush trim saw, you would align the blade along the edge that needs trimming and carefully guide the saw along the surface, cutting away the excess material. The saw’s teeth cut through the material, leaving a clean, flush edge.

It requires precision and control to achieve an accurate and smooth cut. Flush trim saws are commonly used in woodworking projects where precision is essential or two materials must be seamlessly joined or aligned.

using flush trim saw

17. Ripping Handsaw

A ripping handsaw is specifically designed for making rip cuts in wood. Rip cuts are parallel to the wood grain. It has a long, narrow blade with many teeth per inch (or TPI). 

You can observe that the teeth are shaped and angled to cut wood grain, creating a chisel-like edge, which helps to remove the wood fibers more effectively as the saw is pushed through the wood.

Compared to a crosscut handsaw, a ripping handsaw has teeth optimized for speed and efficiency when cutting with the grain. It is commonly used in woodworking tasks such as ripping boards, cutting lumber, or preparing rough lumber for further processing.

18. Crosscut Handsaw

A crosscut handsaw is one of the beginner woodworking hand tools used to cut wood perpendicularly. Using its alternating-pattern teeth, you can cut across wood fibers than along them.

You can also achieve a clean and precise cut across the grain because of the bevel in its teeth that helps clear wood particles. Various sizes are suitable for cutting thick and thin wood.

Although there are power tools, hand tools are more reliable for cutting precision and control.

crosscut saw

19. Combination Handsaw

A combination handsaw is one of the versatile cutting hand tools that combines the features of rip saws and crosscut saws. It is also considered one of the best power tools for woodworking. You can cut straight and along the wood grain and also across the grain or crosscut.

You will notice that a combination handsaw has a handle at one end and a blade with teeth along one edge. Also, you can find its sides are different. One side may have larger, more widely spaced teeth for ripping, while the others may have smaller, finer teeth for crosscutting.

This dual-patterned blade allows you to use the same type of saw for different cutting applications without needing multiple saws. You can use it conveniently and more efficiently, preventing the switching of saws.

20. Carcass Handsaw

I’ve often turned to a carcass handsaw for specific tasks like cutting carcass or frame joints. What sets this handsaw apart is its fine or crosscut teeth, characterized by their narrow or shorter spaces in between. This unique feature allows for more precise cuts, giving me complete control during the cutting process. It’s a tool that I find indispensable for detailed joinery work.

21. Dovetail Handsaw

A dovetail handsaw is one of the beginner woodworking tools for making precise and intricate cuts. It is commonly used in woodworking projects, particularly by joining two pieces of wood together, like dovetail joints, providing strength and aesthetic appeal.

Robert Larson Two Cherries 520-6020 10-Inch Brass Back Dovetail Saw

You can tell the difference between a dovetail saw with its size of 8 to 10 inches or 20 to 25 centimeters in length. It also has a solid brass back and fine-toothed crosscut pattern blade, meaning the teeth are angled to cut across the wood grain.

The teeth are usually filed in a rip pattern, which means they have a chisel-like shape to make efficient cuts. The grip of the dovetail saw is comfortable, providing you with control and precision in cutting.

22. Keyhole Handsaw

A keyhole handsaw, commonly known as a drywall saw is one of the woodworking hand tools used particularly for cutting. You can use it primarily for making small, intricate cuts in various materials. It is named after its distinctive keyhole-shaped blade.

The keyhole handsaw typically consists of a narrow, pointed blade with sharp teeth on one edge. The blade is attached to a handle, often wood or plastic. The handle is designed to provide a comfortable grip and control while using the saw.

You can use this hand tool for cutting small openings, such as keyholes or other intricate shapes, in thin materials like drywall, plywood, paneling, or plastic. The narrow blade allows for precise control and maneuverability in tight spaces.

keyhole saw

When using a keyhole handsaw, the blade is typically inserted into the material at the desired starting point. Then a back-and-forth motion is used to cut through the material.

The teeth on the blade cut as you push and pull, making it effective for cutting in both directions. Therefore, you can rely on the keynote handsaw for making small, detailed cuts in various materials. It is valued for its versatility and ease of use in tight spaces.

23. Marking Gauge

One of the woodworking hand tools is the marking gauge. It is a woodworking tool that accurately marks lines or distances on wood or other materials. It is commonly used to mark cutting, joinery, or layout work measurements.

This tool is ideal for creating a precise and consistent reference line during woodworking. The basic design of a marking gauge consists of a beam or bar that can slide through a headstock or fence.

The headstock or fence typically has a marking point or a sharp spur at its end, which protrudes slightly from the face. This marking point scores or scratches the material’s surface, leaving a visible line as a reference.

marking gauge

To use a marking gauge, adjust the distance between the marking point and the headstock to the desired measurement. The gauge is then pressed firmly against the edge or surface of the wood, and the marking point is drawn along the material to create the line.

This line can guide you in making accurate cuts, marking out joinery work, or positioning other components. Using this tool, you can achieve accurate and consistent measurements and layouts.

24. Joining Plane

A joining plane is one of the woodworking hand tools that is mainly utilized for shaping and smoothing wooden surfaces. A smoothing plane is specifically designed for flattening and joining pieces of wood.

A marking gauge is helpful when using this tool to successfully achieve your desired result. It’s also very easy to find as you can purchase it from a lumber yard or hardware store near you.

The joining plane (or smoothing plane) typically consists of a flat, wide, and long body made of wood or metal, known as the plane’s sole. It has a sharp blade or iron positioned at the bottom, which protrudes slightly from the sole.

jointer plane

Its blade is adjusted to create a thin shaving when the plane is pushed across the wood surface. By skillfully manipulating the plane, a woodworker can remove material and create a smooth, flat, and even surface.

This tool is commonly used in tasks such as preparing wooden boards for joining, smoothing out rough surfaces, and leveling wooden bodies and components to achieve precise fits. They are essential hand tools for woodworking, particularly in joinery and furniture making.

25. Rabbet Plane

A rabbet plane is one of the beginner woodworking hand tools designed for creating rabbets or a groove or recess cut. This cut is commonly into the edge or end, typically to join it with another piece or to receive a panel or glass.

This tool is different from block planes and is considered a special tool with precision and accuracy. It has a unique feature that allows you to cut a narrow, low-angle blade that extends across the full width of the plane’s body.

The blade has a cutting edge on one side and a fence or depth stop on the other side, which helps guide the plane along the edge of the wood and control the depth of the cut.

rabbet plane

Using a rabbet plane adjusts the blade’s depth to match the desired depth of the rabbet and sets the fence to control the width of the cut. The plane is then pushed along the edge of the wood, with the blade cutting into the wood and creating the rabbet.

You can repeat this process as necessary to achieve the desired depth and width of the rabbet. Depending on your woodworking projects, you can use different sizes and designs of rabbet planes.

26. Scraper Plane

A scraper plane is specifically designed for smoothing and leveling surfaces. It is primarily used to remove fine shavings and to smooth out irregularities, such as rough spots, tear-out, or milling marks. You can use a marking gauge for better results with this one tool.

Unlike block planes, this tool has a feature unlikely with traditional bench planes. When using a scraper plane, its blade is sharpened with a hook-shaped edge, sometimes called a “scraper blade” or “cabinet scraper.” Or, you can use a sharpening jig to sharpen planes.

This hook-shaped edge is created by burnishing the blade or using a specialized scraper plane burnisher. Therefore, when using a scraper plane, apply downward pressure on the tool and pushes it across the wood surface.

Scaper plane

This way, the hook-shaped edge of the blade helps to shear off very thin shavings of wood, resulting in a smooth and even finish. This is an ideal tool for difficult wood grain or highly figured woods and a reversing tear-out caused by other tools.

You can use different sizes and designs of scraper planes, but most have a flat sole. Its blade at the other end is adjustable, giving you control of the cutting depth and angle of the tool.
This will allow you to achieve your desired result, particularly the smoothing effect.

27. Spokeshaves

A spokeshave is a tool for shaping and smoothing curved surfaces. You can find a small, narrow blade with handles on either side of the tool. The blade is typically held at a slight angle to the surface and is used to remove thin shavings of wood.

While using this tool, you can the handles easily gripped by both hands, allowing the user to have control and apply pressure as needed. You can adjust the blade depending on the depth variations, allowing for fine or coarse shaping.

This tool also uses a marking gauge to guide in shaping and smoothing the wood surfaces.

This tool is commonly used for shaping chair legs, rounded handles, and other curved or rounded wooden joints. It is considered one of the versatile hand tools that can create smooth and precise curves, making them valuable for woodworking projects.


28. Finishing Hammer

A finishing hammer can be used primarily as a woodworking hand tool to drive or remove nails. You can use it for tasks that require precision and control, particularly for finishing work or delicate installations.

This hammer is one of the hand tools with a smaller head compared to other types of hammers. It is lightweight, weighing 12 to 16 ounces or 340 to 454 grams. It is made of steel and has a smooth or slightly textured face to prevent damage to the surface from being struck.

You can also distinguish a finishing hammer from wood, fiberglass, or steel materials, providing a comfortable grip and better control. The length of the handle can vary but is typically around 12 to 16 inches or 30 to 40 centimeters.

This unique feature allows you to drive nails more precisely, reducing the risk of overdriving or damaging the workpiece. You can also use this tool during installing trim, molding, or other delicate woodwork, where power tools or heavier hammers may be too forceful.

29. Framing Hammer

As someone who frequently tackles heavy-duty tasks like framing houses, installing large wooden beams, and driving nails into lumber, I’ve come to rely on a framing hammer. This tool stands out with its long handle, which usually measures around 16 to 20 inches. This length gives it the leverage and power needed for these more demanding jobs, making it a staple in my toolkit for these kinds of projects.


The head of a framing hammer is larger and heavier than a regular hammer, usually weighing between 20 and 32 ounces or 567 to 907 grams. You must increase the force when striking the hammer to strike nails or drive them into the wood.

The face of a framing hammer is typically serrated or textured to prevent the hammer from slipping off the nail head during use. Its claw hammer on the opposite side of the head is curved and designed for prying and removing nails.

This tool also needs a marking gauge to perfectly frame the wood and nails in woodworking.

30. Tack Hammer

A tack hammer, known as upholstery or a magnetic hammer, is ideal for driving small nails or tacks into surfaces. This hammer usually weighed around 4 to 8 ounces or 113 to 227 grams for precise control and accuracy when working with small fasteners.

The head of this hammer is often dual-ended, having a flat face and the other side slightly convex, magnetized face. The latter helps you hold nails or tacks in place, making it easier to position them accurately.

This hand tool is versatile for different surfaces, particularly wood. Using this tool, you can achieve your desired result with accurate balance, control, precision, and striking force.

Using tack hammer

31. Hand File

A hand file is one of the hand tools with a long, narrow, flat steel piece with rows of parallel teeth or cuts along its surface. This is one of the woodworking hand tools used to shave or shape the material being worked on efficiently.

You can use hand files in various woodworking projects such as shaping, smoothing, and refining wood surfaces. Also, you can use various common hand file types: flat, half-round, round, triangular, and square.

Depending on your woodworking, you can achieve your desired results using different hand files.

32. Mallet

A wooden mallet is a handheld hammer-like instrument used in various applications, particularly woodworking, carpentry, and metalworking. It consists of a handle and a head made of wood, rubber, or metal.

This is one of the hand tools that creates precise and controlled blows without damaging the surface. Compared to a regular hammer which quickly causes dents or marks, a mallet has a clean finish to your wood projects.

You can use a mallet with a paring chisel and other cutting tools, which need sharp and accurate strikes. A mallet can be used for delicate or fragile objects that could break under the force of a regular hammer.


I’ve found that although this tool is quite versatile, it really shines when used for cutting wood. It allows for controlled, precise results, which is crucial in fine woodworking. To achieve the results I’m aiming for, I often use a marking gauge in conjunction with a mallet. This combination ensures accuracy and efficiency in my work.

33. Squares

The squares hand tool, commonly known as combination square or carpenter’s square, is a type of measuring tool used in woodworking. It consists of a metal blade, usually steel, with a straight edge and a handle at a right angle.

The blade is often marked with measurement increments, such as inches or centimeters, to assist in precise measurements. You can also use it to mark and check right angles during construction, layout, and fabrication tasks.

The straight edge of the blade is placed against an edge or corner, and the handle is used as a guide to create a square or mark a straight line. Squares hand tools come in various sizes, typically ranging from 6 inches to 12 inches in blade length.

Woodworking Squares

There are different types of squares that you can use in woodworking applications.

Square Type



Able to make precise angles and distances


Useful for bigger woodworking projects for correct angles

Miter square

Useful for angled miter cuts

Speed square

Able to check 45- and 90-degree angles quickly

Try square

Able to verify squareness quickly

34. Tape measures

Tape measures are flexible hand tools that determine the length or distance between two points. It typically consists of a long, thin strip or ribbon made of metal, fiberglass, or cloth, which can extend and retract from a housing or case.

The tape itself is marked with units of measurement, usually in inches and feet or centimeters and meters, allowing users to obtain accurate measurements. Tape measures are commonly used in woodworking, in addition to a marking gauge.

You should know how to read a tape measure correctly to provide a convenient and portable way to measure the lengths, widths, and heights of objects or spaces. Tape measures may feature additional markings, such as stud markings for locating wall studs and locking mechanisms to hold the tape once extended.

tape measure and pencil

To use a tape measure, extend the tape from the housing, align one end of the tape with the starting point, and extend it to the desired distance. You can read the measurement off the tape when it intersects with the other end or object being measured.


Woodworking requires attention to detail and a high level of craftsmanship, which you can achieve using these beginner woodworking hand tools. These hand tools are easy to maneuver and provide precision and control during your flourishing woodworking journey.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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