Carpentry Hand Tools
There are a few carpentry hand tools that are essential for building most carpentry projects. As you browse the hand tool section at your local hardware store, you will see that there are quite a few hand tools that are available.
Some of these tools are perfect for very specific purposes, but not very useful to carry around with you all day long.
The list of essential carpentry hand tools that you will find in my tool belt are the following:
- Chalk Line - (for marking long straight lines on wood, concrete or metal)
- Carpenter's Pencil - (a thick-leaded pencil for marking on wood)
- Utility Knife - (for sharpening your carpenter's pencil and general cutting, etc.)
- Tin Snips - (for cutting metal flashing)
- Wood Chisel - (for chiseling wood or for use as a pry-bar)
- Torpedo Level - (for quickly leveling short spans)
- Nail Puller - (for pulling nails from wood - even good carpenters make mistakes)
- Speed Square - (for marking angles on wood - 0 to 90 degrees)
- Tape Measure - (a 25 to 30 foot tape measure works well)
- Hammer - (depending on your needs, you may need more than one kind)
The Essential Carpentry Hand Tools
Chalk line: Use a chalk line to "pop" lines on a slab for marking the location of walls or floor tile. You can also use a chalk line on rafters for marking the starting point for roof decking; for marking floor joists for floor decking; for marking straight lines on plywood; basically, for marking straight lines on just about anything.
Red and blue are common chalks colors. I prefer blue, but many carpenters prefer red because it is easier to see and doesn't seem to wash off as easily as blue does.
Carpenter's Pencil: Use a carpenter's pencil for marking on wood or other rough material. The carpenter's pencil has a large lead diameter to prevent the point from easily breaking.
You can sharpen your carpenter's pencil with a razor knife, or you can use a special sharpener that is made for carpentry pencils. I like the latter because it puts a consistent point on the end.
Utility knife: Use a utility knife, razor knife, or box cutter to quickly remove packaging from materials delivered to a job site. There are two types of utility knives that I own; the retractable blade type with a compartment that holds replacement blades, and the folding style that fits easily in your pocket.
I use the retractable blade style in my tool bag because it fits nicely in its own pocket and is easy to grab when I need it. I use my folding style utility knife at times when I need my knife and I'm not wearing my tool belt.
Tin snips: Use tin snips to cut metal flashing to the size and shape you need. They are also handy for cutting the metal bands that typically bind lumber packages together for delivery.
Wood chisel: Use a wood chisel for chiseling off that part of a cut that your circular saw can't cut. As a builder of over 200 decks, I can say that a wood chisel is extremely useful as a wedge for prying deck boards into place before fastening them to the framing.
If all boards were perfectly straight, we would never need to do this, but wood is rarely perfect. Deck boards come in all shapes; bowed, cupped and crooked. For these boards, the chisel is the perfect tool.
Torpedo level: Use a torpedo level for leveling small openings where a 2 foot or 4 foot level would not fit.
The speed square, tape measure, carpenter's pencil, chalk line, razor knife and wood chisel make up a collection of hand tools that fit nicely in your tool pouch and are all essential carpentry hand tools.