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Hand Tools-My Essential 15

Hand Tools-My Essential 15

I am passionately interested in making classic furniture, some call it “The Golden Age of Cabinetmaking”, others call it Sheraton, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Adams, Queen Anne, Shaker, Federal, Victorian or Phyfe and many call it ugly old boring stuff that great-granny uses......

Where I can, I make use of hand tools; where I absolutely need to, I use the noisy dangerous kit. Over the years, I have reduced my reliance on machines for a number of reasons, but mainly because I believe that I have reached the stage in my woodcraft where I prefer to take the tool to the wood, rather than carry the wood to the tool! 

I take immense pleasure and gratification in shaping wood by hand. There are quite a few positives to this approach, my coffee does not get a porridge of sawdust and shavings in it, I can listen to music or have a conversation whilst I work and mostly I gain a vast sense of personal achievement in the process.

Whether you make pallet furniture, post modern, art furniture or period reproductions, we all use basically the same methods and tools to differing degrees. My own reality is that every day I continue to learn an immense amount from the 18th century furniture makers.

Think about it: Whether you were a furniture maker in 1764, or are making furniture in January 2018, a hand saw is still a hand saw, a chisel still performs exactly the same purpose that it did a few hundred years ago, a hand plane is still basically a chisel held in a specific position in a jig, what about a try square....90º has been 90º since the dawn of time and flat still means flat!

Every year there are a plethora of new whizbang gizmos and gadgets entering the market, all promising to turn us into incredible woodworkers overnight, or even sooner. I openly admit that I cannot do without certain basic tools, often simple tools and these are generally the ones that have stood the test of centuries of time. I also get excited when a new & sensible hand tool arrives on the market. These are most often not entirely new inventions, but rather new takes on traditional tools, and I hope to explore many of these in upcoming blog posts.

I will show you mine, if you show me yours. Let's start with the fifteen essential hand tools that I absolutely can't do without.

Here is my list:

  1. 4” Double Square
  2. #62 Low Angle Adjustable Mouth Jack Plane
  3. Bench Chisels (Bevel Edge/Mortise/Paring/Dovetail)
  4. Wheel Marking Gauge
  5. Set of Various Profile Cabinet Scrapers
  6. Homemade Low Angle Spokeshaves
  7. 5” Fretsaw
  8. Dovetail Saw (20 TPI Rip Cut)
  9. Carcass Saw
  10. Large Router Plane, Full Cutter Set & Inlay Kit
  11. #4-1/2 Adjustable Mouth Smoothing Plane
  12. Scrub Plane
  13. Set of Ceramic Waterstones
  14. Shooting Plane
  15. Low Angle Adjustable Mouth Block Plane

It was really difficult to make these choices, really difficult!

Please let me know what your list consists of. I would also be intrigued to know why you chose the specific tools that you did, and if any of them have interesting stories behind their patina.


Maybe next time we could choose favourite saws, power tools, brands, homemade tools, marking and measuring, dust extraction, your favourite woodworking reference books, websites, YouTube channels, bloggers, craftsmen & women, stationary machines, tell me.

By the time I do my next post, I hope that we will have begun a multi-way discussion, I am learning not only how to blog, but also how to continually improve my woodcraft as well.

Until then, let's make shavings, not dust!

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Tobias Lochner - February 4, 2018

Thank s very much for your kind words.

James Florence - January 31, 2018

Wise words. I look forward to your future blogs.

Brandon - January 31, 2018

Nice Blog Mr. Tobias. It is also a pleasure to know you.

Brian - January 30, 2018

Nice first post Guy… !

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