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Woodworking Tools & Supply Compendium

Updated on October 26, 2014

Understanding Tools and Supplies In The Woodworkers Shop

Do you consider yourself a woodworker? Is it just a hobby or a full time career? Finding the right tools and supplies for the job can eat up valuable time. I made this lens to speed up the process of buying woodworking tools and supplies so you can get back to the shop.

I will explain what these tools are for and why you need them in your woodworking shop. I will also describe the various supplies used in woodworking as well as material and hardware.

Woodworker's Guide To Hand Tools

If you have done home repairs and maintenance, you may already have the hand tools necessary to build most woodworking projects. Many hand tools make woodworking easier, but I don't recommend you go out and buy all of them right away. You only need the basics to produce quality wood projects.

Tape Measure

The tape measure should be at your side at all times while your working. Do not set it down, keep it in your nail pouch or clipped to your pocket. Get in the habit of putting your tools back in their original spot and things will go a lot smoother. For woodworking a 16' or a 25' measuring tape works fine.


The square is used for measuring as well as keeping angles true. The Framing Square is primarily used for 90-degree angles, while a speed square or T-bevel is for angles other than 90 degrees. A combination square is used for measuring; marking gauge, depth gauge, and centering screw holes.


The claw hammer is used for driving nails and pulling nails. It is also good for adjusting stubborn pieces of wood that will not line up. A mallet is used when a regular claw hammer might mar the finished surface of a project.

Nail Punch

Every woodworker should have a nail punch for driving finish nails below the surface without damaging it. Nails should be set below the surface so the holes can be easily filled. A typical nail punch set consists of a 1/32", a 1/16", and a 3/32" these will handle most woodworking jobs.


Levels are used for installing woodworking projects by keeping the plumb (vertical) and level (horizontal).

They range from 96" to 12"; a woodworker needs only a 24" and a 12", while the 48" comes in handy for setting cabinets.

Wood Chisels

A woodshop should have a ¼-, ½-, ¾-, and 1inch wood chisel set. Keep them sharp for best results in removing wood from hard to reach spots. They can be used in conjunction with a hammer or manipulated by hand.

Hand Saw

Handsaws are not used much due to electric chop saws and table saws, but they come in handy at times. A coping saw is used for cutting decorative curves in molding and other specialty instances. You might need a hacksaw for cutting metal screws and other hardware modifications.

Utility Knife

The utility knife comes in handy in the woodshop, make sure to keep a sharp blade, or it becomes unsafe for you and your project.


The two main types of screwdrivers you should keep on hand are Phillips head and flat head (slotted). An electric drill can strip out a screw head; this is where the hand held screwdriver comes in handy.


While the do-it-yourself woodworker can get away without having clamps, a professional woodworker will need an assortment of clamps to assure the job looks good. A 4" C-clamp is used for smaller applications, while a 48" bar clamp is crucial for gluing panels and manipulating troublesome material.

What Power Tools Do I Need?

In order to build most woodworking projects you will need a few power tools. Some are crucial, while others simply speed up the process. Remember to be safe when using power tools, never get in a hurry. Use good judgment and caution at all times, one mistake with a power tool can be devastating.

Miter Saw

Every woodshop should include a miter saw or chop saw. Used to cut lengths of plywood as well as moldings this tool is one of the most important.

Circular Saw

The circular saw is used for general rough cutting in a woodshop, unless you are good at cutting a straight line, which takes a steady hand. Rip guides and jigs can help in cutting straight, but it does not compare to the table saw. Keep a variety of blades on hand for different types of material. The more teeth the finer your cut will be, and make sure the blade is sharp to keep from splintering your project.

Probably the most important tool in a woodshop, the table saw performs like no circular saw can. With a fence to guide you, this tool can make perfect cuts in any type of material. Thin kerf blades are better for hardwoods, while more teeth cause less splintering. Change your blade often to prolong the life of your table saw, and keep it dust free around the motor by blowing it off daily.

Surface ground cast iron table with miter slots and beveled edge provides a sturdy, flat work surface


An electric drill is a proven timesaver in the woodshop, while a cordless drill can be invaluable. Make sure you choose a drill with 3/8" chuck and variable speed. Another great option is the keyless chuck, which makes changing bits lighting fast. If you purchase a cordless drill, make sure it has two batteries so you are not waiting on one to recharge to finish the task at hand.

Drill Bits

Every woodshop should have a drill index that contains 1/16" to ½" drill bits. For drilling larger holes, paddle bits are great. Keep your drill bits sharp to prevent unsightly splintering as well as stress on the drill. You can sharpen them yourself, or send them in to be professionally sharpened.

Nail Gun

Today woodworkers use nail guns because of the time they save. It will sink any size nail into the hardest material in a matter of seconds, even countersinking the head. If you are constructing a large project out of wood, the nail gun is the only way to go.

Jig Saw

If you cut arches or pockets in your projects, a jigsaw is necessary. Always use a sharp blade to extend the life of your drill and ensure a fine cut every time. Various blades can be purchased to cut other material like metal and ceramic, making the jigsaw a versatile tool in the woodshop.


For rounding and creating decorative edges, the router is the only way to go. Routers also make dadoes and grooves or flutes, so make sure you have one in your woodshop. Low horsepower models are great for the do-it-yourself woodworker, but if you are a professional, you will want a router with high horsepower to ensure longer life span.

Router Bits

A good selection of router bits is essential in creating beautiful work in the woodshop. A few of the must have bits are; round-over, flush trim, and cove. Include a chamfer and rabbeting bit for more specific projects. A mortise bit is generally used for setting hinges in the wood giving it a flush look.


If you have a lot of sanding to do get an orbital sander, this will pay for itself in valuable time. Vibrating sanders are great if you just have a small amount to sand. If you are a career woodworker, the orbital sander is necessary. Sandpaper comes in different grits for various stages of sanding. Fine grits are used for the final sanding process, while course grits are used for removing irregularities and excess glue seepage.

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A Look at Woodworking Material

Woodworking materials come in many types, try to start a list for reference if you are a beginner. As time goes by you will use the reference list less often. Soon you will be knowledgeable with every wood species as well as the different types of material.


Plywood comes in 4' x8' sheets of varying thickness, this is ideal for creating cabinet walls, floors and shelves. Thinner stock is generally used for cabinet's back and drawers. It is available in any type of wood finish. Plywood is layered using thin sheets of veneer glued together and pressed flat making it ideal for woodworking projects.


Medium Density Fiber or MDF is a great product; it never warps bends or twist like plywood. The only drawback is its weight, which can is around 95 lbs. per 4x8 sheet. It comes in any species of wood like plywood. It consists of tiny fibers glued and pressed into a flat sheet; a thin veneer is applied to the flat sides when a specific wood type is needed.


Lumber comes in hardwood or softwood varieties, in many different species. Generally ¾" thick but can be special ordered in thicker stock. It is used in making the face frames and doors on cabinets, as well as smaller woodworking projects.


Molding comes in any species of wood and is used for dressing up cabinets and other wood projects. It can add detail as well as hide seams and plywood edges. Some common types of molding include; base, casing, crown mold, chair rail, and shoe or quarter round.

Fasteners and Adhesives for Putting It All Together

Knowing which type of fastener to use during each phase of a woodworking project is important. Nails, screws, and glue hold it all together. However, you must use the right one for each application.


Nails are used in conjunction with glue to create a bond that lasts a lifetime. Nails range from 5/8" up to 2 ½" Smaller nails are called brads, while the larger ones are called finish nails. Carpenters use larger nails called box or common nails these range from 1"-6".

Wood Screws

Wood screws are ideal for fastening material that need added strength. Generally used in places not visible when finished, wood screws take longer than nails to install. They range from 1"-3" with a Phillips head for easy installation. Square head screws are commonly used for cabinet installation; they are less likely to strip out.

Wood Glue

Carpenter or wood glue can set up in a matter of minutes making it ideal for many wood projects. Weatherproof wood glue is used for outdoor application as well as indoor woodwork that is in a wet location.

Am I Going To Need Hardware?

Hardware is used in many instances in woodworking. It is typically made from metal and polished with a variety of finishes. Some hardware is common to woodworking, while other types are more specialized.

Knobs & Pulls

Knobs and pulls are used to open cabinet doors and drawers. They come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. Wood, ceramic, metal and plastic knobs and pulls come in any color you can think of. They are generally fastened with machine screws through a hole drilled in the door or drawer.

Drawer Slides

Drawers need drawer slides to function properly. They come in many lengths from 12" to 30" and beyond, a cabinet will generally only need drawer slides in the 12" to 24" range. Full extension drawer slides are a bit more expensive, however the finished product is much nicer.


Hinges are used to hang doors so they open and close properly. Decorative hinges come in a variety of shapes and finishes. Often they are self-closing, so no latch is needed.

Catches and Latches

Catches and latches are more decorative than functional, since the invention of self-closing hinges. They are typically is in specialty wood projects. A magnetic catch is useful for applications that do not merit externally mounted hardware. They can be push button types so it's easy to reach up and open a door with a push.

Shelf Standards and Clips

Adjustable shelves in cabinets are held in place with shelf standards or a hole drilled for shelf clips. The shelf standard is a strip of metal with notches for the clip; this fits in to a dado in the cabinet wall.

Now That You Have Everything You Need, Let Me Know How Your Project Turns Out

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a very interesting lens for woodworkers. Thank you for useful information. If you want to turn woodworking from the hobby into a real business, you might be interested in this article:

    • hysongdesigns profile image

      hysongdesigns 6 years ago

      very nice lens on some basics, just note that not all of your links are showing up ;-( I've added this to my lens about wood vs plastic moldings

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Capital tool industries is a long established company producing quality Gear Cutting Tools

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Capital tool industries is a long established company producing quality Gear Cutting Tools

    • profile image

      mohawkvidtz 9 years ago

      Great resources.I'm sure you are professional wood worker

    • profile image

      BirkeloArt 9 years ago

      Nicely done, and very comprehensive.