Sunday, July 26, 2015

PWU Intro Hand Tools: Tool List

In response to reader questions about my Popular Woodworking University online video course Intro To Hand Tools, here is a tool list. You can find a complete episode guide to the course here.

I've broken it up into several parts. First is the absolute minimum to get started. Second is the next most useful additions. Third is the complete list of everything shown in the course, by brand.

The strategy is to start simple according to your budget and the tools you are able to find, then add more specialized tools as you learn more about them and find them.

Where you can, get good quality antique or modern tools. Poor quality tools just lead to frustration and are a waste of money when you end up replacing them with better ones.

Flea markets and boot sales are an excellent source of old tools, you just have to be willing to clean them up and accept that every once in a while you'll get one that turns out to be unusable.

Minimum Starting List

This is the minimum set of tools to be able to perform at least one version of most of the skills covered in the course. You can find numerous variations on what constitutes the minimum starter set online, with a wide range of opinions, but this list is oriented towards what's covered in the course and getting you going on it.

You should have some version of the following:
  • Marking gauge.
  • Marking knife.
  • Square.
  • Rip and crosscut handsaws.
  • Jack, jointer, and smoother handplanes (metal or wooden bodies).
  • Small rip backsaw.
  • Bench chisels, at least 1/4" and 3/4".
  • Mallet.
  • Sharpening system.
The single rip backsaw (sometimes called a carcase saw) is sufficient to saw dovetails and tenons (both the crosscut shoulder cuts and the rip cheek cuts). A small crosscut backsaw will also do a reasonable job on these. In general, once the teeth are small enough (in the 12-15 ppi range), they are able to perform both rip and crosscut functions as long as they are good and sharp. There are also hybrid rip/crosscut backsaws.

There are a lot of sharpening systems to choose from (by "system" here I mean a particular set of sharpening stones and accouterments). If you don't already have something, you might want to wait until you've gone through the sharpening part of the course before deciding which one to buy.

If you can't get good antique or modern high-quality premium chisels, inexpensive home center chisels will be good enough to start, but you'll want to upgrade after a while. Similarly with hand saws. Some of the impulse-hardened combination tooth handsaws work well; the problem with them is they are not really made to be resharpened once they get dull, they are meant to be disposable.

For handplanes, I strongly recommend against the really cheap ones you find at home centers and hardware stores. This is where quality of materials and workmanship really counts. Cheap ones just lead to a lot of frustration.

Next Most Useful Additions

Adding these will give you more options and allow you to do at least one version of the remaining skills in the course:
  • Dovetail (rip) and tenon (rip and crosscut) backsaws.
  • Router plane.
  • Hand drill and bits.
  • Spokeshave.
The first two items here can be a significant boost. The first expands the backsaws to dedicated rip and crosscut saws in two sizes (dovetail saws are typically the smallest backsaws). The second gives you a lot of fine depth control for cleaning up joints.

From here there are a number of more specialized tools to choose from.

Complete List

This is the list of all tools shown in the course, by brand name. This doesn't mean you have to have all of these tools, it just means that if you have one (or a variation of one), the course shows you ways to use it.

Modern High-Quality Premium Tools
The list of high-end toolmakers is always changing, so these aren't the only good modern brands.

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks:
  • #4, #7 bench planes
  • #102 block plane
  • #140 skew block planes, left and right
  • Medium shoulder plane
  • 12" tenon saws, 10ppi rip, 13 ppi crosscut
  • 9" dovetail saw, 15ppi rip
  • 11" carcase saw, 14ppi crosscut
  • Socket bench chisels, 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4"
  • Mortise chisel, 1/10"
  • Boggs spokeshave
  • Dowel plate
  • Card scraper
Lee Valley/Veritas:
  • Small bevel-up smooth plane
  • NX60 premium block plane
  • Small router plane
  • Gimlets
  • Wonder Dog
  • Bench Pups
  • Chisel-point brad awl
  • Wooden jack, jointer, and smoother bench planes
  • Wooden scrub plane, iron 32mm wide
Gramercy Tools:
  • Holdfasts
  • Bowsaw hardware kit
  • Coarse cabinetmaker's rasp
Glenn Drake Toolworks:
  • Tite-Mark marking gauge
Hock Tools:
  • Burnisher
  • (also an excellent source of replacement plane irons)
  • Replacement plane irons

Other Modern Tools
  • Mortise chisels, 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4", 1"
  • Dual-pin marking gauge
Crown Tools:
  • Card scraper
  • Square-blade birdcage awl
  • Sharpening jig
BAHCO (formerly Sandvik):
  • Card scraper
  • Carving knife (used as marking knife)

Sharpening Supplies

  • Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) sandpaper, 4.5" roll, 80, 120, 320 grits
  • Wet-dry sandpaper, 9"x11", 600, 1000, 1500 grits
  • 3X sandpaper, 9"x11", 60, 150, 400 grits
  • Oilstones, 8"x3"x1/2", coarse, medium, fine India stones, translucent Arkansas stone; IB8 8"x2"x1" coarse/fine combination India stone
  • Waterstones, 8"x3"x1", 220, 1000, 4000, 8000 grits
  • Waterstones, 8"x3"x1", 1000 and 10000 grits
  • Duo-Sharp combination diamond plates, 10"x4", x-coarse/coarse (black/blue), medium/fine (red/green)
  • Dia-Sharp diamond plates, 8"x3", xx-coarse, coarse
  • Dia-Flat diamond lapping plate, 10"x4", xx-coarse
  • Saw files, 4", 5", 6" double extra slim, 6" extra slim, 6", 7" slim, 7" regular taper
  • Mill bastard file, 10"
  • Gold stropping compound
  • Diamond Sharpener, medium, fine, super fine grits

Antique Tools
Several of these once-legendary brands have declined in modern times, though Stanley has revived some of its higher-quality lines recently. In general, pre-World War II tools are the best, since that was the time when professionals made their living with them.

Starrett is the shining exception to this decline. Long a maker of high quality precision woodworking and machinist's measuring tools, they are one of the few companies whose quality has survived the transition to power tools. Their tools of any vintage are excellent.

  • #2-#7 bench planes 
  • #32, #26, #35 transitional bench planes
  • #18 block plane
  • #90 bullnose shoulder plane
  • #71 router plane
  • #78 duplex rabbet plane
  • #79 side rabbet plane
  • #48 tongue and groove plane
  • #147 match plane (come-and-go tongue and groove plane), 5/8"
  • #45 combination plane
  • #42X saw set
  • Defiance chisels, 5/8", 3/4"
  • #18 sliding T bevel square, 6"
Fray and Pigg:
  • Spofford braces, 8" and 12" sweep
Russell Jennings:
  • Auger bits, 4/16" to 16/16" in 1/16" increments
Miller's Falls
  • #2 eggbeater drill
North Bros.:
  • #41 Yankee push drill
  • Combination square
  • Engineer's square, 4"
  • Ratchet brace, 9" sweep
  • 26" crosscut saw, 8ppi
  • 12" joinery saw, 14ppi crosscut
  • 26" rip saw, 6ppi
Spear and Jackson:
  • 8" joinery saw, 16ppi rip
  • 16" bowsaw, 9ppi rip
  • #100 saw vise
  • #105 saw vise
  • Paring chisel, 3/4"
  • In-cannel paring gouges, 1/2", 3/4"
  • Socket bench chisel, 5/8"
John Bull:
  • Oval bolstered mortise chisels, 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2"
  • #781 brass-bound folding rule, 24"
A. Mathieson and Son:
  • Wooden wedge-arm plow plane
G. W. Denison and Co.:
  • Wooden moving fillister plane
Charles Nurse and Co.:
  • Pair of wooden match planes, 5/8"
  • Wooden jack, jointer, and coffin smoother planes
  • Wooden skew rabbet plane, 3/4"
  • Wooden spokeshave
  • Dividers
  • Wooden Sheffield brace, 8" sweep
  • Coping saw

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