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Important Basic Tools For Building Your Log Cabin

Aug 17, 2007
If building a cottage is the first large project you have attempted, you've probably been wondering what tools you should have. In the following paragraphs I am going to describe most of those that will be useful. Not all are essential.

You probably already own the essential ones. These are: hammer, screw driver, saw (crosscut, also ripsaw if possible), plane, bit and brace, chisel, pliers, file, try square, 6-foot rule, level, spatula. If you don't have all of these tools, I'd suggest that you get them.

Those odd jobs that you've been doing around the house have probably made you fairly familiar with the essential tools. But in case you have forgotten here is a quick review of how to use them.

The hammer is used to drive nails, to pull them out, and as a lever. When using the hammer to drive nails, be sure to tap the nail first in order to establish its direction, and then drive the nail home. Hold the hammer near the end of the handle so that you get the maximum force from the swing. When removing nails from finished work, put a block of wood under the head so that the wood is not marred.

Screw drivers come in many sizes and shapes. Have several types in your toolbox.

Saws are used to cut materials. The most common type is the panel saw. Depending on the set of the teeth, saws are usually classified as ripsaws or crosscut saws. You will use these saws to rip or cut most of the wood in your cottage unless you use power equipment.

Planes are used to smooth wood surfaces and to take off excess wood that is too little to be cut with a saw. There are many types of planes, but the two most common ones are the jack plane and the block plane.

The block plane is usually used for short choppy cuts. The plane should be held firmly and a steady pressure should be applied. Unless you are purposely making something concave, don't let up on the pressure near the end of the board - follow through. When cutting across the grain, work from the edges to the middle. Running the plane through will split the end wood.

The brace and various sizes of bits are used to make holes. The brace, a crank-like tool, is usually held at the top by the left hand, the right hand doing the cranking. Unless you have an angular cut, be sure to hold the brace perpendicular to the wood. Wood bits usually have screw ends. There are some exceptions. The screw helps to pull the bit through the wood. If the material being cut is thin, use a backup board to prevent splintering of the wood on the back.

Chisels are used to rout pieces of wood and in making mortises. They come in various widths from 1/8 inch to 2 inches. They may be used in your hands or with a hammer.

Pliers have many uses. They may be used to remove nuts from bolts, to pull out nails, and to hold various materials.

Files are steel tools with many ridges or teeth. They are used to smooth away wood or metal. You'll find them particularly helpful in removing jagged pieces of wood. You can also use them to do the rough sharpening of your tools.

Try squares are helpful in making square cuts of wood. Whenever you have a piece of wood to cut square, don't rely on your eye; use the try square.

The rule is used to measure distances. The 6-foot rule with an adjustable endpiece is particularly good. The sliding adjuster makes it possible to measure tight spots more accurately.

Levels are used to test surfaces for levelness. Use it often; don't trust your eye.

Spatulas are useful in spreading wood fillers and paint. They are helpful when puttying windows.

Shovels are used for digging. The ends taper. Spades have broad square ends.

Pickaxes are used to break ground that is hard. They vary in weight.

Sawhorses provide a place to rest boards or panels for cutting.
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