Episode No. 19 Four must have hand tools!

June 30, 2006

Hey everyone, once again thanks for coming back to Matt’s Basement Workshop. For this episode I decided it was time to get away from design and construction for a couple of shows and return to talking about tools. Rather than giving another broad overview of one or two groups I decided to narrow it down. Back in episodes 11 & 12 we talked about hand tools. I broke them into general categories and gave you a somewhat brief outline of each one, but I didn’t really make any suggestions about which ones are really essential to the amatuer. Well today’s episode is just that, I’m going to talk to you about what I think are the four most important hand tools, human powered hand tools that is, that every amatuer needs to have in their shop.

1. A good reliable combination square

2. A rasp and file, both flat and rounded

3. A very good set of chisels – I recommend buying only the 3 most basic sizes 1/4″, 3/8″ or 1/2″ and a 1″ chisel. You can always add more to the set as you need them.

4. A very good block plane – I recommend a low angle block plane

Remember, with all four of these tools a really cheap price on a no name brand will equal a really cheap tool. There are plenty of good mid priced tools that will handle all your needs but there are no good, low priced tools that will ever come close.

Most beginners are very reluctant about sharpening their own chisels and plane blades but it’s really easy once you learn the basics. I learned to sharpen mine thanks to an amazing article by Christopher Schwartz at Popular Woodworking Magazine so I’m including a link to a PDF file of the article. Take a look at it, I’m sure you’ll learn a lot also. I’m planning on doing a sharpening episode in the very near future based on the article, so if you take a look at it you’ll get a sneak peek.


Until next time, Straight grains and sharp blades. Matt

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