10 Must Have Woodworking Tools and Why You Need Them [2023]

  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University

Come See What I'm Making on Etsy!

Check Out My Shop!

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

This is 10 Must Have Woodworking Tools and Why You Need Them, your guide to the ten most used woodworking tools, and how they can help you make better projects.

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

10 Must Have Woodworking Tools

10 Must Have Woodworking Tools and Why You Need ThemThere are a lot of tools that you could buy, and by the time you are all done you could spend a fortune and have yourself a ton of tools. However, just because there are a lot of tools out there, doesn’t mean you need them all.

When it comes to must have woodworking tools, there are ten that are right at the top of the list, and they can all make a big difference in your shop. Assuming you don’t have one of these tools on the list, getting it will make your projects come out nicer, faster, and easier.

This list starts out with hand tools, then moves into power tools. Obviously most people can’t afford all of these at once, so pick and choose the ones that will make the biggest difference as you add more tools to your shop.

Sanding Block

One of the best hand tools you can get for woodworking is a sanding block. It’s actually so important that I even have an entire post dedicated to showing you how to make one yourself. So, if you don’t want to buy one, just follow the tutorial and you’ll have one.

Come See What I'm Making on Etsy!

Check Out My Shop!

A sanding block helps you fix the one big problem with sanding, and that is it can take a long time, causing most people to either give up, or quit too early. This makes for a bad looking project, full of scratches, lumps, and sanding marks.

Instead of sanding with your fingers, a sanding block spreads out and increases the force that you apply to the sandpaper, directing the effort right where you need it. Not only that, but you won’t get low spots from using your fingers, and your arm will get less tired.

Concentrating the effort, the sanding block helps you get the most out of your sanding, and that means less of it, and less effort to get a nice looking surface. You’ll quit early a lot less, and you will not have to worry about someone pointing out scratches on your projects.

Hand Plane

A hand plane is the manual version of a thickness planer, and has worked just fine for millions of woodworkers over the years. Especially before machines were invented, hand planes were the only way to easily level a piece of wood.

As a new woodworker, I recommend making your first hand plane. When you make a tool yourself, you get an understanding of that tool that you will never have for a tool that you buy. In the beginning, this can make a big difference in how fast you learn.

Also, a hand plane can be used to level surfaces, break corners, bevel edges, joint wood, and so much more. They do take a little getting used to, and some practice, but they are worth it. Once you are good at using a hand plane, you might not even pull out the thickness planer for smaller jobs, because you’ll be able to do them faster by hand.

Chisel Set

Chisels are definitely on the list of the must have woodworking tools, and even a basic set can help you in a lot of ways. Mid range chisels are not really expensive, and though you don’t need a high end set, they can be a lot nicer, and if you plan on using hand tools, they may be worth it for you.

A small set of plain chisels that is a good place to start would be a quarter inch, half inch, and inch set, which is a wide enough range of sizes to do just about anything. Once you are used to working with these few sizes, you can add more if needed.

Come See What I'm Making on Etsy!

Check Out My Shop!

The smaller ones are good for getting into the corners of inlays, or tight places, and bigger ones are great for removing material. Don’t go too deep on your cuts, let the chisels do the work, and don’t forget to sharpen them for the best results.

Cabinet Scraper

Before sandpaper, there was the cabinet scraper. This is a thin piece of metal that you use in a scraping or dragging motion to remove wood. The edge of the scraper is burnished with a small edge that is very sharp, and as it drags across the surface, it removes material.

Cabinet scrapers are a must have when it comes to hand tools because they are the easiest way to smooth a surface, even better than sandpaper. Not only that, but they are faster, easier to use, and remove more materiel in less time.

A scraper is almost like a mini hand plane, with a very thin edge that you can’t really even see. However, even though you can’t see it, you will feel it as it cuts through wood and pulls off thin little ribbons as it smooths. The surface will be incredibly soft and smooth once you are done, and if you get good with a scraper, you might not even use sandpaper that much.

Combination Square

For hand tools, the last one that you must have is a good combination square. Most of your woodworking problems stem from measuring and marking, so the better you measure, the easier your projects will be. A combination square makes this really easy, and they are not expensive.

The nice thing about a combination square for woodworking is that if you pick up a bigger one, you can use it to measure and mark for a lot of your cuts. It has a square, a forty five degree section, a level, and a long ruler, typically around sixteen inches.

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

Learn to use it, and you will be surprised at how much your projects improve. The better you mark, the better you cut, and the better you cut, the easier things go together. This means less gaps, less wood filling, and less problems down the road.

Band Saw

Getting into power tools, the next on the list of must have woodworking tools is the band saw. I start with this one because if you don’t have a saw yet, this one is the best bang for the buck. I even recommend this one over a table saw in the beginning.

The band saw is a great addition to your shop, because it can do straight and curved cuts, all on the same machine. Yes, the straight cuts are not as good as a table saw in most cases, but you can sand a little and be in the same place really quickly.

Band saws are less expensive, the blades are easier to replace, and you can make all kinds of cuts on the same tools vs being stuck with one kind of cut, or buying multiple tools. This is a great way to start, because you can make a lot of things, and not have to buy a lot of tools.

Drill Press

Assuming that you don’t have a drill already, or even if you do, a drill press is a great addition to a shop, because it frees up your hands, and allows you to make perfectly ninety degree holes. The better the drilling, the easier things go together.

Even though it seems easy enough, it’s actually pretty hard to drill a perfectly straight hole through a board. Even with the best of practice, drilling by hand always leaves room for more error than drilling with a machine.

A drill press lets you drill perfectly straight holes every time, quickly, and repeatably. Once you have one, you will wonder how you lived without one. Also, a drill press comes in a lot of sizes, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money if you only make smaller projects.

Belt Disc Sander

A belt disc sander is a must have woodworking tool because it gives you the ability to quickly shape material, and the combination of the long belt and the smaller disc are more than enough for the majority of sanding tasks.

Come See What I'm Making on Etsy!

Check Out My Shop!

You can find a small belt disc sander without spending a lot of money, and in reality the more you spend only buys you a better brand of a larger machine. If you need either of those, spend away, but if you don’t, then stick to a regular bench model and you will be fine.

The versatility of the belt and the disc give you so many sanding options, and if you load them up with a 80 grit belt and disc, they will remove a lot of material quickly and easily. The machine comes in handy for a lot of things, and once you have one, you will use it all the time.

Thickness Planer

This is the tool that I bought for one little purpose, but quickly found out that the ability to make pieces of wood totally flat is a huge help in your woodworking shop. You can do it by hand with a hand plane, but machines always make things easier.

Even a lower price thickness planer is perfectly fine for smaller projects, and as long as you are not running hundreds of board feet through the machine, it will last a long time. Mine is a basic brand, nothing fancy, and it’s been in the shop for a decade now.

You can use a planer to flatten the faces of boards, thin pieces of wood, joint boards, and prepare surfaces for gluing. The better your surface prep, the easier projects go together, and if you are planning on making things like cutting boards, or chess boards, where there is a lot to fit together, the planer is a must have tool.

The Lathe

Now for the fun tools. For most shops, unless you are making things that have to be made on the lathe, you likely don’t need one, but once you have a lathe, it’s a real pleasure. The lathe allows you to make a lot of small projects, and if you make and sell your woodworking, this is a great machine to have.

There are tons of kits that you can find for making custom pens, cooking utensils, pool cues, canes, pizza cutters, and more. If you plan on making small woodworking projects and selling them, you can do a lot quickly with a lathe.

Look for a machine in the mid size, not too expensive, not not bottom of the barrel. You want a machine with good ratings, and one with a threaded spindle that you can buy a chuck for in the future. The really cheap lathes don’t have that option, so make sure you check before you buy.

People Also Ask

What is the essential tool for every woodworker? The one essential tool for every woodworker is a sanding block. There are so many things that a sanding block can help you with, and so many ways that it makes your projects turn out better. It’s an old fashioned staple in woodworking, and you should have one.

What is the tool most used in your woodworking shop? The tool that is most used in my woodworking shop is my lathe. Making lathe turned projects is a real pleasure, and the lathe makes it easy to get into woodworking. This one machine is easy to learn as a beginner, but can provide you a lifetime of challenges as you learn more and more about the wood turning process.

What tools do you need to start building furniture? Most furniture builders need a table saw, router, drill press, and miter saw. These tools allow you to cut wood to length, cut wood to width, and drill holes through wood. The router lets you put nice patterns on the edges of pieces of wood, and all of which work together for the furniture builder.

What is the most versatile woodworking machine? The most versatile woodworking machine is the band saw. It can make straight cuts, curved cuts, and even inside cuts if you are willing to cut and weld the blade. They can be found for a very low price for smaller models, but you can also find bigger machines too.

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

Must Have Woodworking Tools Wrap Up

a-beginners-guide-to-woodworkingThat was 10 Must Have Woodworking Tools and Why You Need Them, your guide to the ten tools that you really need to have in your shop.

I recommend starting out with a tool that looks like it will help you make the things you already make, and bring it into your shop. Learn the tool really well, and it will become a cornerstone of your wood shop.

If you have any questions about these ten must have woodworking tools, please contact me and I will do my best to help you.

Post Author-

  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
Buy My Books on Amazon

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

Come See What I'm Making on Etsy!

Check Out My Shop!


You Can Find My Books on Amazon!

woodworking and guitar making books

An Exclusive Member of Mediavine Home

Westfarthing Woodworks LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.