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Hand Tools

ToolDescription
Angle Grinder A tool found mainly in metal and auto-body shops, it is useful to woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers, as well. Does well cleaning up pitted or rusted metal surfaces. Can smooth out welded seams and, when properly equipped, cut metal. Ideal at metal finishing.
Ball Pein Hammer Featuring a hardened head, it's used for striking cold chisels and punches for general metalwork. The ball pein was originally used to mushroom rivet heads. Sizes 8 to 32 oz.
Band Clamp For clamping round, oval and odd-shaped pieces. Features a nylon band and ratchet mechanism. The clamp is tightened by turning a handle. Can be adapted into a multi-angle (or corner) clamp by adding corner blocks, with the nylon band running through the blocks and final pressure added by the handle. Ideal for frames and objects with corners.
Band Saw The more versatile of the curve-cutting saws, the thin blade allows work to be maneuvered easily and accurately along a winding line of cut as well as in and out of tight corners. Able to make straight cuts such as rip, crosscut and miter and possibly bevel and compound miter (with a tilting worktable). Also excellent for re-sawing boards.
Belt Sander Reach for this tool when you want to save some elbow grease from a hand plane. Powerful and able to remove stock aggressively, this tool is fitted with a coarse abrasive belt that can grind down door edges and trim uneven frames. Comes in a range of sizes.
Bench Grinder Critical for a complete workshop, a grinder can buff, clean, polish, sharpen and remove rust, among many uses.
Bevel Edge Chisel For use in fine cabinetry work; features a chrome-vanadium steel blade and double-hooped boxwood handle. Boxwood is considered to be the best wood for tool handles because of strength and shock-absorbing qualities.
Block Plane Designed for trimming end grain. Also used for smoothing small wood pieces and for edge-planing plywood, particleboard and plastic laminate.
Bow Saw Ideal for pruning, landscaping work and sawing firewood. Tubular steel frame with blade-tensioning lever that snaps closed to form a handle.
Cabinet Rasp The quickest way to remove woodworking stock is with this. Has a round and flat face.
Cabinet Scraper Available in three basic shapes: rectangular, straight with concave and convex ends, and gooseneck. Works by cutting, not abrading, the wood. Excellent at smoothing wood. Sharpened by burnishers.
Calipers These two tools are designed for accurately transferring and measuring outside and inside dimensions. Invaluable to woodturners. The bowlegged caliper is used to measure outside dimensions, with the straight-legged caliper measure inside.
Circular Saw A voracious tool, the portable circular saw is critical to any building or framing project because it can cut lumber quickly, with power and with accuracy.
Chalk Line Useful for marking a straight line, this tool features a line that is reeled out from a chalk-filled canister, hooked at one end of the intended cut line, tensioned and snapped.
Claw Hammer Finish carpentry and light-duty nailing jobs. Features two sharp, beveled edges for gripping and drawing out stubborn nails.
Combination Square A valuable tool, equipped with a six inch long steel rule for marking 90-degree and 45-degree angles.
Compass Saw Similar to a coping saw, but more heavy duty. A thin blade set into a pistol-grip handle, it quickly cuts curves, circles and cutouts in wood, plywood and wallboard. Useful for cutting access holes when installing pipes and electrical boxes. A smaller version is the keyhole saw.
Compound Mitre Saw A mitre box and hand saw used in conjunction to make compound-angle (45 and 90-degree) mitre cuts. Also can be used with a measuring accessory for cutting frames. Basically a chop saw with a tilt mechanism added to the pivoting head. Mitres are set by rotating the tool's turntable and the head is tilted for bevel cuts. A great choice for working with moldings and trim. A sliding version has the in-and-out capability of a radial-arm saw that enables it to make most any kind of cut.
Coping Saw Has a narrow metal frame which supports a thin blade held in place with a hook, loop or pin on each end of the blade. Can be rotated in the frame to make intricate curved cuts. Makes a finer cut than a compass saw.
Corded Drill Maybe the most popular power tool ever, the corded drill is a true jack-of-all-trades. Bore holes in a range of materials, drive screws and nuts, brush away paint and rust, sand edges and stir paint – these are just a few of the tasks this tool can accomplish.
Cordless Drill All the benefits of a corded drill, but without a tether. Allows you to work on top of a ladder, on damp ground and without the tangles of a cord. The tradeoff is that a cordless may not be able to handle more rugged work or have quite the power of a corded.
Corner Chisel Used for cutting clean, sharp inside corners. Perfect for the serious woodworker and tool collector.
Cross-cut Saw Hand saw used to cut across the grain (the width of the material).
Deadblow Hammer Strikes blows without damaging the work's surface. The tool's hollow head is partially filled with small metal shot, which reduces rebounding.
Dovetail Saw The most important of the back saws (and one of the smallest). Almost entirely dedicated to one function: cutting dovetails, where a clean and accurate saw cut is the hallmark of fine work. Have three handle designs: closed, pistol-grip and a turned spindle-like handle.
Drywall Hammer Designed for installing drywall, this hammer has a milled striking face opposite a hatchet blade. Use the hatchet blade to score the drywall to permit snapping it along the scored line of cut.
Electronic Level This tool makes use of blinking lights and a beeping signal to indicate level, plumb, pre-selected and unknown angles.
Flooring chisel All-steel tool used primarily for ripping up old wood strip flooring. Used to notch house framing for installing cable and electrical boxes.
Framing Hammer For use by house framers. Features an extra-long handle, ripping claw and checker-board face that reduces glancing blows and flying nails.
Fret Saw And adjustable frame can hold blades up to six inches, which allows you to use broken blades. Similar to a coping saw but with a deeper "throat" which allows it a deeper reach to cut further away from the edge of the work. Great for fine, detailed work.
Hacksaw Cuts metal quickly and smoothly. Proper amount of tension prevents flexing during the cut. The handle provides knuckle protection.
Half-Round File Bastard-cut file that is double cut for fast stock removal and one face is round for working concave shapes. Classified as a machinist's file, it's also useful for fine trimming in wood.
Hammer Drill Specially designed to both rotate the bit and apply a pulsing pressure that breaks through masonry neatly, faster and easier than a rotary-action alone. Intended for concrete and other masonry work.
Hand Saw The most common and recognizable of all handsaws. Has a wide, tapering blade with teeth cut along one edge and a handle riveted to the wide end. Two basic types: crosscut and rip. Most effectively used to cut large, wide or thick pieces of wood.
Insulated Screwdriver Designed for use by electricians, the blade is covered in plastic sheathing with only the tip exposed. Only a protective measure because it should never be used as protection against a flow of electricity.
Jack Plane All-purpose and most useful of all bench planes. Used to smooth rough boards and flatten uneven surfaces.
Keyhole Saw A small saw with a short, narrow blade and a tight turning radius. Smaller than a compass saw, it can also cut light metal.
Long Tape (Fibreglass) Measures extended distances accurately. Tape is made of tough fibreglass that resists stretching and won't rust, kink or conduct electricity.
Magnetic-Tip Screwdriver Enables you to carry one screwdriver instead of four or five by storing five bits in the handle. The shaft is fitted with a magnet that allows the bits to hold steel screws securely.
Marking Gauge Used to lay out wood joint lines-of-cut. Designed for marking with the wood grain, it scribes a very fine, precise line more accurate than a pencil line.
Mitre Saw The power alternative to the mitre box, mitre saws are great for basic crosscuts for lumber and trim. Although not capable of bevelled or compound-angle cuts, they are simpler to use, durable and less expensive than compound or sliding compound mitre saws
Nail Puller Has a V-notch, which slips under the nail head and a long handle to provide extra leverage to pull up a nail.
Narrow-Belt Sander A good sander for narrow spaces and tight spots. Easy to manoeuvre, but doesn't do well on wide surfaces.
Needle Rasps Tiny rasps ideal for model-making or detailed carving and fitting. Come in varied shapes: rectangular, tapered, triangular, round, half-round and square. For metalwork, needle files are available.
Orbital Sander Great for finishing work, the square pad can sand inside corners. Should be used with care, because swirl marks can show up when sanding dense hardwoods. Accepts sheet sandpaper.
Pincer Essentially a large nail puller and cutter, a pincer is designed for removing brads and small nails. Can pull nails like a claw hammer.
Pneumatic Nailer Framing: Perfect for frame construction. The most powerful of the air-powered fasteners, it can drive nails up to 3-1/2-inches long. Pin: Used for attaching trim, carpet strips and mouldings. Finish: Useful for installing siding, flooring, door and window casing and most types of finish carpentry.
Pneumatic Stapler Can drive crown-style staples up to 1/2-inch wide and two inches long. Smaller models are great for installing carpeting, roofing felt, floor underlay and insulation.
Pruning Saw Excellent for trimming trees and bushes, the curved blade folds back into the curved hardwood handle for convenience.
Pry Bar Has a curved blade to fit behind moulding or between two sections of an object that are to be separated. The long handle provides leverage to pry the sections apart.
Quick-Action Clamps A workshop favourite designed for easy operation, the lower jaw slides easily on a bar and locks securely in position under the slightest pressure.
Random Orbit Sander This tool spins like a disc sander but moves in a circular orbit, like an orbital sander. This action chews through wood grain but doesn't leave cross-grain scratches. Can sand in any direction.
Reciprocating Saw An indispensable tool for contractors and remodeler's, the "recip" saw will chew through most any cutting task. Ideal for demolition tasks, such as wall removal. Can cut through wood, metal or plastics easily. Great at cutting rough openings, cut-outs for plumbing and heating ducts and can even prune tree branches.
Right-Angle Drill Allows you to reach around a corner or into a confined space to bore holes or drive screws. Great for smaller jobs such as drilling pilot holes or driving screws inside a cabinet.
Rip Hammer (Fibreglass, Wood and Solid Steel) Great for rough carpentry work, this 22-oz. hammer has a straight ripping claw. Many workers prefer fiberglass-handled tools because they are virtually unbreakable and more shock-absorbent.
Router Portable power tool that, when fitted with one of a myriad of bits, can do such things as cutting cabinet joints (dado, rabbet, etc.), trim plastic laminate, shape decorative edges, mill mouldings and carve signs and plaques.
Rubber and Plastic Mallets Use these mallets to strike blows without damaging the surface. Useful for assembling furniture parts, setting dowel pins, metalwork, etc.
Sabre Saw If you need the ability to follow curved or straight lines, cut metal (as well as plastic, brick, etc. with the right blade) or enclosed holes, reach for this tool. A popular tool, the unique design provides relatively-safe cutting.
Scroll Saw (or Jigsaw) Freehand curve-cutting machine (along with the band saw) with fine-tooth blades that can cut intricate patterns and smooth edges in thinner stock. Operates with little vibration, quick blade changes and easy-to-operate clamps. Is stationary, as opposed to a sabre saw, which is portable.
Sharpening Stones Blocks of natural or artificial stones that have been dressed or smoothed. Used with an oil or water lubricant to sharpen blades of woodworking tools such as chisels and planes. Most are rectangular in shape and come in many grades, from coarse to fine.
Sliding Bevel Square (or T-bevel) Indispensable for marking, transferring and checking angles. Helpful when marking odd angles and dovetail joints and when cutting a board to fit an existing angle.
Smooth Plane Designed for general-purpose planing; often used after the jack plane for final polishing.
Spring Clamp Ideal for holding mitred corners, each jaw has tiny teeth that grip and hold angled work pieces, irregular mouldings and tough-to-clamp joints. The "paperclip" of the workshop, ideal for small work and light pressure.
Square File When needing to make a round hole square, this is the tool. The long, tapered profile makes it useful for cleaning up right-angle shapes such as slots and keyways.
Steel Straight Edge Worth the price and a staple of most workshops. Etched gradations provide better accuracy. A T-Square is formed by adding a head to this tool.
Stud Sensor The essential tool for locating wall studs. Crucial when hanging heavy objects.
Surform Tools Versatility and speed make these tools the good choice for shaping wood, body filler, fibreglass, aluminium and other soft materials. The round Surform is ideal for roughing out tight curves and shaping holes.
Tack Hammer Perfect for driving small brads and tacks. Has a magnetised head that holds the tack for one-hand starting. Goes easier on the thumb and forefinger.
Tenon Saw Fine-toothed hand saw used to cut tenons and other wood joints accurately. Similar to a back saw, but shorter to offer greater control.
Three-Way Edging Clamp Used to apply and repair mouldings, decorative trim and edging. C-clamp design with a third screw that applies right angle pressure to the edge.
Torpedo Level No tool box is complete without one. Back-pocket size makes it ideal for work in restricted areas.
Trammel Points Allows you to scribe a large diameter circle or arc, or transfer measurements that are too great for dividers.
Two-Handed Screwdriver Features a unique double-grip handle that allows you to apply extra high torque. Can work in deep holes and narrow spaces.
Universal Clamps Designed for cabinet framework, these clamps can be secured to the edge of a work to hold two pieces together. Ideal for holding drawer supports, shelves and butt joints.
Upholsterer's Hammer The magnetic face of the hammer makes it easy to start upholstery tacks and small nails. Also called a tack hammer.
Warding File Designed for shaping and trimming notches in locks and keys. Double cut on the faces and single cut on the edges. The tapered profile makes it useful in situations where an ordinary file won't fit.
Warrington Hammer The woodworker's choice of hammers, it has a cross-peen which enables you to start small nails and brads, then finish hammering with the opposite end.
Wood (Lignostone) Mallet Use this mallet for striking wood and plastic-handled chisels and gouges, for installing dowel pins and assembling wooden parts. Have tremendous resistance to cracking.
Woodworker's Vice Indispensable for the workshop. A solid investment for a workbench. Has smooth jaws designed to not damage wood.