DIY Woodwork Tools & Materials

One of the best investments any do-it-yourselfer can make is a portable workbench: they fold up for easy storage, and they have a vice for holding wood and other materials securely when you saw, drill or plane.

  • Measurements can vary from one rule to another so use the same one throughout the entire project.
  • The familiar try square is used for marking lines that run at right angles to edges and faces. Professional woodworkers generally use a carpenter's steel square. This is basically a single piece of 'L'-shaped heavy gauge steel that is engraved with various measurements: metric on one side, imperial on the other.
  • The line of cut is best marked out with a marking knife. The scored line not only gives a much more positive position for the cut but it also severs fibres in the wood providing an ideal starting point for the saw or chisel, and reduces the potential for chipping the end of the wood.
  • A tenon saw is the best all-purpose saw for cutting straight lines. It is usually 30cm (12in) long and has 13 to 15 teeth per 25mm (1 in).
  • Chisels used in woodworking are of three types: mortise, firmer and bevel-edged. The first type is for making deep slots for mortises and ranges in size from 6mm to 12mm (1/4in to 1/2in). Bevel-edged chisels are lightweight. They should never be used with a mallet. Firmer chisels come in a range of sizes: 25mm (1 in), 13mm (1/2in), and 6mm (1/4in) should meet most or all requirements. Chisels and smoothing planes need regular sharpening if they are to be used efficiently and safely.
  • To keep cutting tools in first-class order, use a combination oilstone. This has coarse/medium or medium/ fine grade surfaces. It is lubricated with oil and used to sharpen blades. Alternatively, a diamond stone, which has a grid of durable diamond particles set in plastic can be used.
  • Striking tools - hammers and mallets - are needed for a number of purposes. Mallets are used to drive chisels into wooden joints, while hammers are used to drive joints together or to nail joints. Mallets have a 'springier' striking action than hammers, which are used for sharper blows. Useful hammers to have in your tool box are a claw hammer (the claw is for removing nails) and a lighter pin hammer. A nail punch is also a handy tool to have.
  • Hand screwdrivers are available in a wide range of styles and prices, from flat tip to star head, it is important to remember to use the right tip width for each task.
  • When you need an extra pair of hands to hold your work, a 'G'-clamp is ideal. These range in size from 25mm (1 in) to 300mm (12in).
  • A hand drill is still an essential item and there are a number to choose from. The Archimedean drill, also known as a fret drill, is used for boring small-diameter holes in thin-section wood. Braces are available with sweeps of 150-300mm (6-12in) with or without a ratchet. You'll also need an assortment of drill bits. A power drill should ideally have a reverse action - for taking out screws - and variable speeds for coping with all types of bits and materials.
  • For smoothing wood, a medium-sized smoothing plane about 225mm (9in) long will enable you to tackle a range of jobs.
  • Final smoothing of wood before applying a finish such as a varnish or wax, involves wearing away wood fibres with abrasive materials such as glasspaper. The particle sizes are graded as 'grit' and these are numbered. In general, work through the grades, starting with the coarser grit up to the finer ones until the wood is smooth and there are no visible sanding marks left. Abrasive papers are graded from Very Coarse, Coarse, Medium, Fine, to Very Fine. You can buy rubber sanding blocks with a detachable foot and hidden spikes, which hold the abrasive paper firmly at both ends. These are less hard on your hands than a piece of abrasive paper wrapped around a cork sanding block as the paper does not curl up around the sides.
  • The glue you use will depend on what you want to achieve.


  1. Chisel and punch set
  2. Bradawl
  3. Power drill
  4. Measuring tape
  5. Tenon saw
  6. Try square
  7. Sander
  8. Rubber-headed mallet
  9. Wood saw
  10. Wood drill bits
  11. Adjustable workbench
  12. 'G'-clamp
  13. Marking knife
  14. Combination oilstone
  15. Hammers
  16. Screwdrivers
  17. Braces
  18. Plane
  19. Abrasive papers
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