The A-Z Guide of Hand Tools for Home Improvement
Woodworking is a vital part of every home improvement exercise as it gives you lots of possibilities and opportunities to add class, warmth, and style to the interior décor of your home. There is an iota of truth to the saying that adding some woodwork to the interior of your home will usher in some comfort and love.
Homes with lots of woodwork do not only look warmer but are also incredibly comforting than homes with other products. Wood is unique in every sense of the word as it has some attributes and a particular value that only experienced woodworkers – i.e., people who have taken woodworking as a profession or vocation or hobby – with eyes for such things can notice and sense instantly.
Remodeling – and woodworking – seem to go together which is true to a certain extent. Woodworking home improvement solutions can genuinely increase the value of your home in case it pops into your mind to sell your home in the future.
If you have doubts about your woodworking capabilities or don’t have so much confidence in your craftsmanship, the best option at this juncture is to get in touch with a local contractor or a woodworking firm since they are experienced enough to offer a helping hand in what you want to do to improve your home.
They will also be able to guide you through the entire process, or you can just stay back and watch them as they do their thing first hand.
But DIYers will tell you there is no fun in following that route, and they are right. So, if you like taking on challenges, all you need to do is to motivate and subject yourself to learning some information to ensure that you get the best of your home improvement project.
Wood and Its Importance
First of all, you need to be very familiar with different types of wood as each of them have specific characteristics and properties. This is vital to your home improvement endeavor as each type of wood has different difficulty degrees.
Therefore, knowing which type of wood are the hardest or the softest can make the whole woodworking process easier and enjoyable.
The next most crucial aspect to consider is the woodworking tools you will need for your home improvement project. Make no mistake about it; your home improvement endeavor will be next to impossible if you don’t have the right tools to make it happen. This is what this article is all about: various woodworking tools, the difference between power tools and hand tools, safety measures to put in place when operating an instrument, and so on.
So, sit back and have a good read as you go on a journey of discovery about the remarkableness of hand tools for woodworking.
Essential Woodworking Hand Tools for Home Improvement
These are the indispensable woodworking hand tools that are employed in home improvement projects:
- Hand Saw
- Tape Measurer
- Sharpening Kit
- Bar Clamps
- Quick Clamps
- Sanding Block
- Center Punch
- Block Plane
- Standard Shop Tools
- Framing Square
- Carpenter’s Square
Let’s get into more detail on the uses of each of these devices:
There are periods when it will be practically impossible for you to make use of a miter saw or a table saw, especially if you want to trim a dowel or a board. At such instances, the best option for you is to make use of a hand saw.
There are different types of hand saws viz. hacksaws, backsaws, cross-cutting saws, etc. You can use anyone that meets your requirement along with a miter saw or a circular saw.
You can buy a hand saw with a finish blade if you will be using it along with the power tools mentioned earlier. But for main crosscuts, a cross-cutting hand saw – which has fewer teeth, leaves a rough finish but does the job faster – is the best option.
All you need to do afterward is to hand plane and then sand after the sawing process.
There is the 12-inch ruler as well as the 18-inch version. A ruler is an implement that comes in handy for most projects, and you will use it in your home improvement project.
A ruler does what regular rulers do: they are useful for ruling straight lines, making quick measurements, finding the center point of a board or two, etc. It is also useful when measuring 2 points on a single board, not from the board’s end. The tape measurer makes it easier to measure from the end of a board.
Your woodworking workshop will not be complete if a good tape measure is absent. This flimsy length measurer is an essential hand tool, and wherever it is in your workshop, a sharp pencil must not be too far away as well.
The measuring tape is the “tool” of choice for marking your cuts. Some veteran woodworkers report using the measuring tape to mark up to 90% of anything they want to cut or check for squareness, etc. No woodworker can do without this delicate but highly useful tool.
Having a sharp chisel can do you – and your home improvement project – a world of good because it is a versatile tool. For instance, you can use a chisel to:
- Take off pieces of wood material
- Tidy up glue joints
- Clear up mortises
- Clean up dados and rabbets
- Removing dried glue from wood surfaces
- Reshape wood as required, etc.
Bar clamps are available in different styles and lengths. You need good bar clamps to facilitate your glue-ups, especially if you are making woodworking jigs, furniture, workbenches, etc.
You can find clamps – and any other tool for that matter – at any home store in your locality or on Amazon.
A sharpening kit may look somewhat complicated, but it is pretty easy to figure out, especially if you are given to using a block plane and a chisel. You can hone your cutting tools effortless with the sharpening kit and get started with your project in no time.
There are many varieties of quick clamps in the market today, so you may have to do a little research to find the best and budget-friendly one for your woodworking project. Quick clamps can be used when sanding, doing joinery, gluing, planning, etc. They are easy to set up, quick to release, and can be stored easily.
Sanding by hand is a tedious task, but woodworkers have no choice than to do it. And since anything worth doing is worth doing well, you may as well get a sanding block to facilitate the sanding process.
Some sanding blocks come with steel faces – which keeps the sanding surface flat – and paddings for additional comfort. They also have Velcro on the face. Then get several sanding pads, each with a different grit which can be attached directly to Velcro face. Most of the time, the sanding pads are pre-cut so that they can fit quickly and correctly, ranging from fine to rough. This arrangement makes the entire sanding procedure quick and relatively painless.
Hand-sanding is a common practice in woodworking, and you will find little need for power sanders.
The center punch is another excellent hand tool that improves your accuracy when drilling holes. It is the tool to use when you need a hole that needs to be located in a perfect position. You can use the center punch to start the hole and then finish it off with a drill.
Skip over this step, and you will be surprised when you discover that the drill bit has shifted while drilling the hole, thereby ruining it. This is why the center punch is much-loved by woodworkers because it helps to prevent this nuisance.
So, the next time you are working with spruce, pine or any soft wood, especially when constructing rustic and inexpensive furniture, make sure the center punch is close by to facilitate the entire process.
A block plane is a handy tool for flattening the edges of boards, to chamfer edges or hand-shape round over edges on finished boards. It is a tool that is commonly used in woodwork including jigs and shop projects.
Standard Shop Tools
This set of tools may not fit into the woodworking arsenal, but they are worth the investment. Basic hand tools are always required for turning screws, bending steel hangers or backing up bolts.
They are also required when setting up or adjusting your tools from time to time. They include:
- Utility blades
- Allen wrenches
A good framing square allows you to square up projects during joinery as well as to create square cuts on large materials. It is also a handy implement to have in your woodworking workshop.
Go for a high-quality speed, combination or carpenter’s square as the benefits far surpass what you will get if you decide to go for a cheaper option.
The Major Differences between Hand Tools and Power Tools
When shopping for woodworking tools for home improvement, only two options are available: power tools and hand tools. Woodworkers, homeowners, and DIYers often have a difficult time distinguishing which one is better than the other. But the best answer to that question is that both are good, depending on the preferences, budgets, and needs.
Nevertheless, it pays to have a thorough understanding of the differences between these two categories of woodworking tools. It will help you to decide which one you should go for according to your budget, their drawbacks, advantages, etc.
Hand tools vs. Power tools
Hand tools are implements or devices that require the use of manual labor before they can be functional. Power tools, on the other hand, are tools that are powered by batteries, air compressor or electricity which allows them to function automatically with little human intervention.
Power tools also come with mechanisms and motors that make them run powerfully and efficiently than hand tools. Power tools also have a lot of moving parts for smooth operation, and their design is usually sophisticated while their manual counterparts have few moving parts and come with simple designs.
So, in a few words, hand tools rely on human power to function while power tools rely heavily on electricity and battery.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hand Tools
Hand tools have their advantages as well as their disadvantages. Let’s start with the advantages that woodworking Hand tools:
Advantages of Woodworking Manual Tools
One of the most important benefits of owning woodworking hand tools is that you don’t need to worry about electronic or mechanical parts breaking. Since hand tools have very few moving parts, they last very long compared to their powered opposite number.
Hand tools also allow users to have a lot of control over their movements and are ideal for tasks that require work that is finely detailed such as the construction of musical instruments, cabinetry, decorative work, etc. These tools are also always available for use at all times without the need to recharge or replace batteries or even rely on power or fuel to operate.
Hand tools are also travel-friendly because most of them come in compact sizes and lighter weight compared to their powered counterparts.
The Shortcomings of Hand Tools
The most apparent shortcoming to making use of hand tools is that they are not as powerful as power tools. Additionally, it takes extensive periods to complete tasks using manual tools because of this significant lack of power.
It will take at least three to four hits with a hammer to drive home a six-inch nail into a piece of wood, but with one squeeze of the trigger of a powered tool known as a nail gun, the nail goes all the way in.
Additionally, handling manual tools require a lot more skill than most power tools out there.
And lastly, manual tools are somewhat less accurate than power tools since they require human power. Hand tools cannot be operated at high speed or else a lot of error may occur. This means that it is easier to make a straight and clean cut using a table saw (power tool) with high speed and a detailed guide than using a hand tool (handsaw).
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Power Tools
Power tools are available in homes and garages around the world. Here are some of the advantages of power tools and their drawbacks as well.
Advantages of Power Tool
The primary benefit that power tools have is their power as they are usually motor-powered or electrically powered. They run via electricity or battery, and are, therefore, more powerful than manual tools, and this contributes to several other benefits power tools offer.
With greater power comes greater accuracy as well as time saved on home improvement projects. Power tools are incredibly precise, and a few of them even come with guides that teach users how to make their usage more precise. Since they are quick, users will get to finish more jobs far more quickly than they would if they depended on manual tools.
Power tools are also capable of handling tasks that are almost impossible to carry out with hand tools. For instance, the jackhammer is an excellent example of a power tool. If you try to drive a nail into the rate using the popular conventional hand tool, i.e., the hammer, you will discover that it is a very strenuous task.
But not when you grab hold of the powerful jackhammer. This powerful tool can handle this task with ease and within a very short time, thus allowing contractors to quickly secure concrete anchors to walls while the walls are secured to concrete floors.
In most cases, although power tools are highly dangerous if mishandled, they are adjudged much safer than hand tools. For instance, it will take you several days to cut down a tree with a manual saw. But using a chainsaw will get the job done faster and is also more dangerous.
The Disadvantages of Power Tools
There are two main drawbacks associated with the use of power tools, and they are:
- Failing parts
- Absolute reliance on power
Power tools cannot operate without a power source, whether it’s battery or electricity. This means that these tools cannot be put to use if their power sources are depleted. Power tools are also much more complicated than manual devices.
Secondly, most power tools have mechanical parts which make them highly prone to failure, usually at unexpected periods. They require a lot of maintenance since they are equipped with gears, motors or engines, drive mechanisms, power connections as well as other components which wear out after some time.
Regular sharpening, oiling, replacing damaged parts as well as other repairs are required. Any damage to any of these sections results in total failure of the equipment.
The cost of maintaining power tools eventually increases with time as a result of constant repair and maintenance requirements.
Additionally, managing power tools is more dangerous, no thanks to their increased speed and power. DIYers need to extra careful when utilizing these mechanical tools and must, therefore, always put on safety gear any time they want to operate the tools.
On a final note, the decision of whether or not to use a hand tool or a power tool will depend primarily on the job as well as the power and level of accuracy required.
Hand Tool and Power Tool Safety Tips
There are a plethora of woodworking tools – from hand tools to power tools – and the use of each device will not be complete if the issue of safety is not discussed. Inappropriate use of any given tool can result in severe injury and the loss of an extremity or limbs, a finger, an eye or other body parts.
Emergency rooms have profound annual records of visits which occur because of accidents involving the use of power and hand tools. You don’t want to be part of that statistics to be chalked up in the records.
Appropriate safety measures help in minimizing the risk of injury while you get the jobs done much faster.
Personal Protective Equipment
This is the first and most crucial step in the entire equation. Donning personal protective equipment is a must. You may not need to get fitted out just because you want to make use of a manual or hand tool such as a wrench or screwdriver, but you need to wear protective gear before you use power tools like a saw, drill, and a variety of other tools which may or may not be powered.
Personal protective equipment includes the following:
- Safety goggles or protective face shield designed to protect your eyes and face respectively
- Boots – preferably a pair with steel toes – that will protect the feet from any form of injury
- Hard hats to protect you from potential falling material
- Thick gloves to safeguard your hands
Do not neglect the use of safety gear; if you do, your risks of injury will be exponentially high.
Always Read the Instruction Manuals
Most power tools come with instruction manuals because they can be dangerous at times. Inappropriate running of a power tool can bring about severe consequences.
So look out of the manual of the woodworking power tools as most manufacturers usually add them to the product. If you fail to read the manual before operating any power tool, you are exposing your life to unnecessary danger.
Manuals usually contain information that will not only show how to use the tool it came with, but also how to significantly reduce the risk of injury, and boost up the safety of the user. The manual may also recommend the best personal protective equipment to wear when using the tool.
Inspection and Maintenance of Tools
High-quality tools require maintenance and routine inspection. Always make time to inspect any tool before putting it to use.
Check to see if there are any cracks or breakage on the machined bodies of your power tools. Tools that can go out of order must be checked every day before using. This will help to prevent silly injuries from occurring.
The work environment is also a major safety hazard; therefore, do your best to ensure that the environment stays safe, whether you are using an electric drill, a saw or just a manual hammer.
The environment includes the workspace as well as the people who are somewhere within the vicinity of the working area.
One common hazard that has somehow duplicated itself across various woodworking workshops around the country is the use of power tools which require air compressors for power. The hose can cause a severe risk of tripping and fall for any casual individual within the workspace as well as the user.
Therefore, make sure you keep the compressor hose in view and always warn any person who is about to enter the workspace about the hose so that they can circumvent it easily.
Hand tools safety 101
The following are safety measures to put in place when using any of the following hand tools for your woodworking home improvement projects:
A hand tool such as a hammer can also pose a severe risk of injury as well. If it is not used correctly, serious injuries may occur, especially to the hands and fingers.
Here are some of the recommended safety tips when using hammers in your woodworking project:
- You should never use a hammer on another hammer
- On no account should you strike a surface at an angle
- Always use a well-sized hammer for the job. Ensure it has a face which is not less than 3/8 inches bigger in diameter than the striking surfaces
- Always scrutinize the handle of your hammer for any form of defects and if detected, replace the handle immediately
- The hammer should always be inspected for defects or cracks before usage
When you work with a hammer, make sure your hands stay clear from the striking zone as much as possible. Before you make the first strike, make sure that you hold the nail in place and then strike with enough force to push or drill the nail into the wood slightly.
There are several varieties of wrenches out there – from socket to adjustable wrenches – but all are designed to achieve almost the same thing in different situations. Following the tips that will be outlined below will help you gain leverage whenever you need to use a wrench while keeping you from harm.
- These are the tips as recommended by experts:
- Always choose and use the right wrench for the job
- Do not strike with a wrench. That is not what it is designed for
- Resort to using socket wrenches when working on stuck fasteners or for final tightening
- Always examine every wrench you intend to use for damage or cracks
- Always use manual or insulated wrenches when working within the vicinity of electrical components
As funny as it may sound, the use of a hand tool such as a screwdriver also requires proper operation as well. Follow these tips:
- On no account should you use a screwdriver as a prying device
- Only make use of a screwdriver that fits the hand properly
- Use manual or insulated screwdrivers when working close to or on electrical components
- Get rid of screwdrivers with damaged handles or tips
- Always use your two hands when making use of a screwdriver: one positioned on the handle for twisting and the other placed on the metal part for guidance
- Always use screwdrivers with non-sparking properties near combustibles
Pliers are essential tools which can cause severe injury if underestimated. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that the wrong hands do not get hold of or use a pair of pliers for anything. Other safety measures for the use of pliers include:
- Using pliers at temperatures that has no impact on the hardness of the tool
- Never using pliers as a tool for striking surfaces or nails
- Never using pliers as a substitute for wrenches
- Choosing appropriately-sized pliers for the job at hand
- Using only pliers with non-sparking attributes when working near combustible materials
Power Tools Safety 101
You must be very cautious when using power tools for your woodworking home improvement project. Every move you make – or don’t make – counts when you have a powered tool in your hands. The tips outlined below are to guide you on how to stay safe even as you operate a power tool:
- Do not climb a ladder with the power tool’s source of power attached
- Seek adequate training about the use of the power tool via its instruction manual or by watching videos on YouTube
- Do not operate a power tool unless you are sure you know how it runs
- Keep all electrical tools far away from combustible materials
- If you are struggling to reach the area or getting hampered by the length of the cord of the power cord or out of reach, resort to using a hand tool
- Always point the power tool away from your face and your body when in use
- Always use the right power tool for the job as the wrong tool exposes you to potential injuries
- If you need to walk or cover a particular distance before you start using the power tool, keep your finger off the tool’s trigger
- Never discard any safety measure put in place by the manufacturer
- Do away with power sources during maintenance procedures or when refilling
- Always use the safety gear recommended or as advised in the power tool’s instruction manual
- Always use the power tool with your dominant hand and never attempt to operate it with the weaker hand to avoid injury
- Always examine the power cord of the motored tool you want to use for damage or breakage before using it
- You should only make use of the attachment recommended by the manufacturer of the power tool and fitted explicitly for such a tool
- Keep all power tools out of reach of children – as well as inexperienced users – and in a safe and secure location
- Proper maintenance of power tools – and hand tools as well – is highly crucial. Always follow appropriate procedures if the power tool jams unexpectedly by switching off and disconnecting the power source before trying to find out what went wrong
- You should only operate a power tool on a material that is acceptable and secured tightly. This means that you should not, for instance, use a saw to attempt to cut through a material – such as diamond, etc. – since the blade is not suited for such a task
- Always maintain a tight grip on the power tool to avoid potential dropping and subsequent damage or injuries
Best Hand Tools for Home Improvement Recommendations
BLACK+DECKER BDCD220CS 20-volt Max Drill/Driver and Circular Saw Kit
- Features 310 in-lbs. of torque. two-speed gearboxes for increased versatility. LED work light. 11 position clutch and lightweight for easier use
- High torque motor. 5-1/2″ Blade. Tool Free Depth of Cut and Bevel adjustment and compact design for ease of use
- Lithium-Ion Battery
- Always Ready. holds a charge up to 18 months
- Included Components: (1) LDX220 Drill/Driver, (1) BDCCS20 Circular Saw, (1) 20V MAX* Lithium Ion Battery, (1) Charger, (1) Soft Bag, (1) 5-1/2″ Fast Cutting Circular Saw Blade, (1) Double Ended Bit
- Features 310 in-lbs. of torque. two-speed gearboxes for increased versatility. LED work light. 11 position clutch and lightweight for easier use.
DEWALT DCD777C2 20V Max Lithium-Ion Brushless Compact Drill Driver
- BRUSHLESS MOTOR: Longer motor life and 30% more runtime than brushed
- INCREASED VISIBILITY: Has built-in LED with 20-second delay after trigger release
- ERGONOMIC DESIGN: Compact (752 in front to back) and lightweight (26 lbs) design fits into tight areas
- COMFORT GRIP HANDLE: Provides ideal balance and tool control
Woodworking can be a very satisfying and challenging trade. With even beginning woodworking skills you can begin to really craft your home into a place of beauty and unique style. Use this guide to grasp the fundamentals of woodworking and approach your next project with skill and confidence! Happy woodworking!