Carpentry and cabinetmaking tool buying guide
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester27 guides
Carpentry and cabinetmaking are vast subject areas! Starting with the irreplaceable wood chisel to the hand plane, and ending with the punch, gimlet and the bench chisel, this article will turn you into a real expert on woodworking tools! Sculpting, trimming, drilling: each tool has its use. To the planes!
- Hand plane
- Bevel chisel
- Cutting edge
What are the different tools of the carpenter and the cabinetmaker?
For example, the cabinetmaker must undertake extremely detailed work while the carpenter - always a hot topic for the carpenter - will be content with a slightly less precise result in his work, especially in the cuts.
Generally speaking, woodworking tools can be divided into three categories:
- Marking and tracing tools.
What are the main cutting and trimming tools?
Used for trimming and sculpting, the tools are often sized in relation to the nature of the work. As you can imagine, you will not use the same chisel to reproduce Mona Lisa's nose on an olive tree as you would to carve a mortise on rafters!
From 3 mm to 10 mm: These are detail tools, for sculpture, for example.
- From 10 mm to 30 mm: these chisel widths are intended for cabinet-making and carpentry.
- More than 30 mm: known as the "heavy hitters", these are intended for carpenters. There are also chisels referred to as "roughing" - they are composed of one piece and are very resistant.
Three things will be crucial: its size, the type of iron and the available settings.
The bench plane is intended for everyday work;
- The scrub plane, which thanks to its elongated shape allows for a quicker removal of material and facilitates the exertion of user's force. Perfect for "roughing"!
- The jack plane is further used for roughing: its iron is adjusted to penetrate the wood more efficiently.
- The grooving plane has an iron of the same width as the body of the tool. It is used for precision work, creating grooves or indents.
Spokeshaves and scrapers
The plane is used to roughen or chamfer. It's key factors are its size and the positioning of the handles - straight, curved, offset. Be careful with your knees, as this tool is operated by pulling it towards you!
The spokeshave is similar to a smaller hand plane and is mainly used by cabinetmakers. It's unique due to the fact that the blade's depth is adjustable!
The wood scraper, if well handled, will give you a much better result than conventional sanding! The only issue is that the blade will become dull very quickly, and the only way to fix it is to become a master sharpener!
How do I efficiently drill wood?
There are two different ways of drilling wood: drill bits and gimlets.
High helix drill bits
Low helix drill bits
Mainly used in carpentry, because of its long lengths and large diameters- it can go up to 650 mm. Its spiral shape provides perfect evacuation of the projected wood chips! Pay attention to the diameter, which is not necessarily compatible with your chuck.
Brad point drill bits:
Used to make holes (blind holes in carpenter lingo!) or pilot holes. Be careful not to overheat your machine when using large diameters because this type of drill bit requires a lot of power!
Gimlets, awls, augers
Very useful in shoemaking but can also be practical for certain cabinetmaking tasks. For this model, you simply have to choose size and diameter!
Simply put, it's a big gimlet conceived for heavy duty jobs and users. It can make sizeable holes but requires a second pair of hands!
What are the different marking tools?
A scriber traces on wood using its metal tip, dragged the length of the needed reference. Its important to verify its dimensions, in relation to the intended work. Its adjustement mechanism, either with screws or nuts must be solid, especially working with wood. Some of these tools could be considered real works of art but they are billed as such!
The punch marks the locations of any holes. It may be straight, angled or offset. Its ergonomics should be selected on the basis of the intended work.
Let us not forget the essential carpenter’s pencil - capable of marking wet wood or even chalk - a quick sanding is all it takes to make them all disappear! In cabinetmaking, ultra-thin tracing is used; HB grade pencils are preferred because they are very effective on all woods.
There are many other tools that could be useful, however this article summarizes the tools needed in you carpentry survival kit!
- How to choose your drill?
- How to choose your drill bits?
- How to choose your drill accessories?
- How to choose your chisel?
- How to choose your hand plane?
- How to choose your wood and boards?
- How to choose your wood saw?
- How to choose your hand tools for working with wood?
- How to choose your wood-caring products?
- How to choose your cutting machine?
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester 27 guides écrits
After a few years plying my trade in the construction industry, I decided it was time to get my national vocational qualification (NVQ) in carpentry. Although I enjoyed doing everything from renovations and painting to flooring and tiles, I found my true passion lay in working on a timber frame or designing a wooden house.
Everything about woodworking fascinates me. In fact, my dream is to one day build my own house in wood!
I’m also really into learning about new building techniques and tools: I stay up on all the latest innovations and tips and tricks, and spend a lot of my free time researching the performance of each new tool on the market, whether it’s for woodworking or some other building material. I'd be happy to put my knowledge to use by advising you and helping you with your choices.
Happy DIYing, everyone!
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