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The Weekend Woodworker's Top Hand Tools

Feb 27, 2008
Woodworking can be an enjoyable and rewarding hobby or profession. When setting up a woodworking area, it's important to stock the right tools and follow some practical safety rules to make the most of your woodworking projects.

Nearly everyone has used a hammer at some point in time. And hammers come in many shapes and sizes. The most versatile and helpful to the woodworker is the claw hammer, which features a smooth, slightly rounded finish head. Choose a hammer that is not too heavy but fits comfortably in your hand, such as a 20 ounce model.

An invaluable woodworking tool, the speed square is the quickest and easiest tool for making a square line for an end cut. The triangular-shaped measuring tool is designed to assist the woodworker in making square marks or angles on stock. It can also be used to mark any angle up to 45 degrees or measure up to six inches. Speed squares are available in 6- and 12-inch models and the aluminum model is nearly indestructible.

The 25-foot retractable tape measure is a woodworker must. Be on the lookout for certain features when choosing a tape measure. Tape measures include both standard (imperial) and metric markings. Your tape measure should also have a locking mechanism that allows you to pull out a length of tape and lock the unit so that it won't retract. Also choose a tap measure whose hook at the end is slightly loose on its rivets (this is by design), which will allow the woodworker to take inside and outside measurements.

No woodworker should be without a utility knife as well. The razor-sharp knife is useful for cutting thin material and it can also be used for cleaning out hinge mortises or scoring before making a cut with a power tool.

No matter how many power tools a woodworker may have, the chisel remains one of the most versatile tools in the wood shop today. Its likely precursor was the sharp rock used to carve wood in prehistoric times. The most commonly used chisel is the bevel-edged chisel that features a blade four to seven inches and a 25-degree bevel on three edges. The chisel's sharp-cutting edge can be guided through wood stock with a handle that has been specifically created to aid the tool in its cutting task.

Woodworkers often need to determine if their piece of stock is perfectly level (horizontal) or plumb (vertical) and the level is the tool for this job. Woodworkers most often reach for a full-length, 48-inch level that features two glass-encased bubbles on each end of the level. The other most-often used level in a woodworker's shop is the torpedo level, which is between eight and ten inches in length. This level is ideal for examining level and plumb on small objects.

Like the claw hammer, screwdrivers are a necessity to the woodworker. Consider acquiring a variety of sizes in your woodshop, including the #1, 2, 3 sizes of Phillips and Flathead, as well as several with a square head, Torx, and star drivers.

Resembling a small, round chisel, nail sets are used to sink nail heads flush or just beneath the wood's surface. A nail set allows the woodworker to sink a nail into the wood without causing a dent or bruise in the wood. Nail sets come in a variety of sizes, based on the size of the nails being driven.

Finally, every woodworker needs a block plane in his or her woodshop. A small block plane is a device used for shearing small amounts of wood away from the stock. It's also invaluable for cleaning up edges during assembly.

Safety
Like any other pursuit, safety in woodworking is mostly common sense. However, failure to follow the rules can greatly increase the chances of injury. To begin, always wear safety equipment, especially safety glasses. Avoid loose-fitting clothing and wear clothes that can protect you from flying wood chips. Before beginning a blade change on your power tools, disconnect the electricity to the power tool. Use sharp blades and bits, as a dull cutting tool can be dangerous. Always work against the cutter - a router bit or saw blade should cut into the stock not with the stock. Especially important, never reach over a blade to remove cut-offs.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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