Does your son or daughter want to start woodworking?
There are plenty of benefits, but what are the best woodworking hand tools to start with?
Here is my advice on the tools that young people need to get started… and also what to look for when you are looking for tools.
For convenience, I also include links to tools that I think are a good starting point.
Mostly these are the tools that I have in the school workshop, however they are not all the exact tools that I use. I live in Australia where the branding and some availability is different.
1a. Set Square
You are likely to have a steel rule around the house, but you may not have a square.
I tend to use an adjustable/combination square rather than a set square. It does more and I haven’t noticed a huge difference in price. Something like this one is a good start.
1b. Measuring Tape
Tapes are something a professional woodworker always has on hand, so your young woodworker will probably want to look the part with one. This one fits the bill nicely.
What your looking for when shopping for one is nothing too bulky, but looks sturdy enough to tell the correct measurement after being dropped a few times. With tapes, once they are out (the measurements aren’t correct) they are useless and need to be replaced. So don’t spend too much on one.
For the record the one I use I found at the local hardware for $5. When the measurements I get from it aren’t correct then I will throw it and get another one.
2. Woodworkers Bench Vice
Having a vice on hand is vital, and once you use one, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it
This little vice is a great piece of starter equipment. It’s easy to install (4 screws into your bench) and it is easy to put some protective blocks of wood in there (4 more screws).
In the workshop, I replaced some old larger vice’s with ones very similar to these. They are quick and easy to use as well as being quite tough. I haven’t looked back since. (The drawback on these is that they are a little harder to install, using 4 bolts into the table to secure them.)
If you want a ‘portable vice’ (which is one that you don’t have to screw into the bench) then here is an example of what to look for. I personally don’t think they are as good, but it may suit your circumstances better.
3. Tenon Saw
I use an expensive tenon saw in the high school workshop. Primarily because I can have the teeth sharpened.
But there isn’t much difference (apart from price) for this tenon saw. It’s the same size and does the same task. If I were buying a kit of tools for my young person I would go with this one.
In the shop, I use warrington hammers (which don’t have the claw at the end). But claws do come in handy just in case. If you can find one like this, for this type of price, get yourself one.
The mallets in the workshop look similar to these. They are an attractive looking and also practical solution. The Beech wood is hard enough but also soft enough if you know what I mean. The striking face is a good size also.
Marples has a good name when it comes to chisels. They don’t cost the earth either. Brands do matter when it comes to chisels because it’s all about the quality of the metal. And an average Joe or Jane (like us or me at least) doesn’t really know how to tell the quality of metal so I rely on brand names.
A little set like this in a decent brand will last. They aren’t the cheapest chisels but because they can cop a beating (literally) I recommend you spend a little more.
The great thing about these chisels is that the steel blade runs the whole length of the handle which means it isn’t weak at the join of the handle and the blade (where they usually break).
I have had chisels for home from other big brands snap and break. I have had my Stanley Fat Max chisel for at least 10 years shop and I haven’t had to throw it out.
6. Half Round File
Half round is a versatile shape when it comes to files. You can do quite a few things including all the projects that I do in the shop. I suggest you get a 12 inch long file with medium coarseness if you are only going to get one.
And this is about what you should be paying for one.
In my home and workshop, I buy Makita power tools. I’ve used them when I worked in a factory and out on site which was over 10 years ago and, I’ve never had an issue with them. I wish everything I bought was as good quality, reliable and well priced.
If you prefer another brand go for it, but don’t pay too much. The quality of the battery can increase the price quite quickly. But for the shop, you don’t really need to spend that much. (There will always be a charger available).
Here is an example of a starter drill kit I’d start with.
7b. Drill Bit Set
I use metal drill bits primarily. They are more versatile and are easier to resharpen.
When buying drill bits for the workshop, I buy in bulk. But you won’t need a set of 200. If you can find a decent set for around this price then buy them. Just make sure it goes up to at least ¼ or 6mm.
And don’t forget screw tips, here is an example of a good value comprehensive set.
7c. Hole Saw Kit
Having a set of hole saws can come in handy and give you more options with your wood and handy work.
The difference between hole saws and drill bits is the size of the hole. Drill bits will only do up to around 10-12mm (3/8 to 1/2 inches). Holesaws can do up to 50mm+ (1 1/2 inches).
The ones I have for home cost around $100. If you have that sort of money then go for it, otherwise, something like this for around this price is a good buy in my opinion.
8. Quick Grips
Clamping is an important part of woodworking. It also makes things a little safer.
The most versatile clamps are definitely quick grips. A couple of these will get your junior woodworker through their starter projects.
1. Ear Protection
These are the ear protectors that I wear. They are comfortable (which means they get worn more often) and do the job.
2. Safety Glasses
Clear lenses are important but as long as they meet the standards I usually buy inexpensive ones. I’m not sure the pricier ones are more safe, rather a fashion accessory.
If your child wears glasses then you will need to get ones that go over their glasses.
Tools that might make things even easier
OK so we are out of the best woodworking hand tools for kids, here are some tools that you might want to invest in to help make things even easier (or if you have everything else and are looking for Christmas presents 🙂
1. Half Round Wood Rasp
I use a rasp when I’m shaping. It saves time but it is harder to use and young people do have a hard time with them I’ve noticed.
Mostly because the teeth on them are quite aggressive, the rasp tends to catch a lot if you don’t have some power and strength behind it.
If you plan on shaping in a few of your future projects then a half-round rasp may save you some time.
Something like this with a handle already on it will make it easier to use.
Keeping it Simple
There’s nothing fancy about the tools above. And they are relatively safe as they are hand tools.
Thanks for reading
If you have any questions about buying or borrowing tools to start woodworking or anything woodwork related then you can contact me here.