Down below are the tools I own and the tools I plan to own. There are a few more tools in my shop than this, but these are the tools I consider my core set – ones that I have specifically for woodworking. Reading what others have written, these tools are all considered – for the most part – essential.
Where present (and working), links generally take you to high-end examples of the tool being produced and sold today. This price point isn’t always necessary, or advised. A lot depends on the woodworking you do, and what tools you need to get the most out of. In some cases, besides being cheaper, vintage tools are of a higher quality than what can be purchased new today.
Starting out, I didn’t know what all I didn’t have. I needed a place to start from. My initial list comes from Chris Schwarz and his book The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.
I’m reaching a point where I think I have a more educated opinion myself on which of these are necessary, and which aren’t. It all depends of course on what you end up making. There are a number of tools on this list that I don’t have, that I’ve never yet felt at a loss for not having. Panel Gauge? My 12″ combination square has always done the job just fine for me so far, and it wouldn’t occur to me that a Panel Gauge was something you could make or buy except it’s included in some lists.
So far this list has kept me busy. Other than experimenting with different sharpening techniques, I haven’t really ventured beyond it much.
As I try to do work now I refer to this list and ask myself how much a tool would have helped or made possible something I wanted to do. It can be hard to understand just how important a tool is until you’ve tried to do something without it. Also, a tool is only essential of course if I’m doing something that requires it.
So far I focus on hand-tool wood working. I own or have access to some power tools, including an old circular saws, an electric grinder, a lathe, a drill, and a job-site carpenter’s table saw. I use the electric drill pretty often – it’s just so easy to grab and use, and I’m doing this for fun, because I enjoy it, after all.
I most often use power tools to cut lumber to rough size as I’m starting a new project.
I would like to own a good band saw, and after that a drill press.
I do have some other tools – generally ones that were with me before I started woodworking. Now that I’m publishing this on the web, perhaps I’ll review things and insure my list here is complete. Eventually I may start to identify other tools, not listed here yet but which I’ve figured out would be a good fit for me. If that happens, I’ll list them here too.