12 Tools Every Carpenter Needs

12 Tools Every Carpenter Needs

Putting together a comprehensive set of carpentry tools can be a lifetime’s work. With each new job you tackle you find you could do with just that one extra tool. As your abilities as a carpenter grows you take on more challenges and of course they require…more tools.
But if you’re just starting out and you want to gather together a few essentials that will come in useful for most carpentry projects.

#1Tool Belt

For ease of use when actually working on a project, you can’t beat a tool belt. Buy one that will accommodate the tools you use most often. Models to which you can add extra pouches for more specialised tools extend flexibility.

Bashing away at things is part of the fun of carpentry — don’t deny yourself. If you intend to do heavy work you’ll need the grunt of a 20 oz. framing hammer. I prefer the framing hammer by Estwing.

Tape Measure
Without some way to measure out your projects you might as well not even start. Tape measures aren’t expensive. You want the retractable metal sort. I prefer a 25′ to 30″ carpenters tape by Stanley tools.

If a carpentry project isn’t true and square it will probably be impossible to complete. And if you do get it finished, it’ll almost certainly fall not reflect well on your character. Two types of square invaluable in the squaring process are a large L-shaped carpenter square and a smaller, triangular speed square. I recommend you purchase both.

Spirit Levels
For any sort of construction work you’ll need a spirit level. The larger the scale of the project, the larger the level needed. A small torpedo model will suit most needs around the home. For larger framing tasks I recommend a 4 ft level.

Utility Knife
Otherwise known as a Stanley knife, this tool has a thousand uses, from cutting drywall to trimming pencils. Keep one in your toolkit and make sure you have extra blades stored inside the utility knife.

Marking Tools
You’ll need a carpenter’s pencil to mark your cuts and layout.

Carpentry without a saw? Impossible, unless you work only putting together IKEA furniture. You could buy a crosscut saw to cut against the grain, a rip saw to cut along the grain and a panel saw for finer work. But for a basic tool kit, just go with a universal saw. I recommend a Stanley Fat Max carpenters saw.

I recommend a basic combination screwdriver. Home depot sells a nice unit by Buck.


  1. Rogers Reno on January 16, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    I couldn’t Live without my favorite hammer. Best part of my morning strapping that sucker on
    – Roger

  2. Lanre Olan Enilo I on January 16, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Can carpentered evaluate on buildings and suggest repairs especially in the city’s!

    • Richard Offutt on May 6, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      Yes a carpenter has the skill and knowledge to evaluate buildings and suggest repairs. However if you need to know what is legal for the city I suggest that you get a building permit and ask if there are any codes to follow doing your project. Should you hire a licensed Carpenter he will take care of the permits and codes to follow.

  3. Kevin Morris on January 16, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    i subscribed because this looks more like your old stuff

  4. Richard Dowd on January 16, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    where’s the tape measure, chalk box,pliers or side cutters,nail set,and ..pony clamp.???hmm.

  5. Ian Ide on January 16, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Spent the majority of my life doing home renovations of many types. The cats paw and screwdrivers spent the majority of time at the bottom of the tool box. Cats paw just isn’t that useful, your mileage may vary but pulling nails is a huge waste of energy and time; get a reciprocating saw and cut the nails.

    The combo style screwdrivers always filled with sawdust/grit which made it difficult to switch to other bits; tossed it in the trash not to long after I got one. Me and the guys would always encourage the "new" guys to get rid of theirs and get a standard set; 10/10 they didn’t listen and 10/10 they would be throwing theirs away and getting a decent set. You only need perhaps 3-5 screwdrivers for 95% of everything. But, if you are only a part time home gamer, the combo style screwdriver will do the trick. Make certain to clean them out now and then though.

    If I’m just pounding nails (framing) there is very little in my pouches. If I’m doing siding there is a different set of tools. Electrical, again different. There is no definitive "set" of tools for general anything. It totally depends on what you are trying to accomplish. You may want to consider a decent 25′ tape, a chalk box, a strong pry bar, a flat bar, a 7 1/4" circular saw, and perhaps a inexpensive 10" mitre saw (not required but VERY handy). When you start getting more serious, toss in a cheap table saw and that will expand what you can do.

    Also save your wrists a bit and don’t get some monster hammer, a 16oz wooden handle does good and the vibration absorption of wood truly helps. Get a long handled 20oz if all you are doing is framing. You have nothing to prove so if you aren’t a full time framer, you don’t need to be a He-Man and prove how cool you are by using the biggest hammer. Technique goes a long way to driving a nail…

    You do have a good list for a start though, most of what you have listed will get used a lot and that is what is important. People find different uses for many tools. Hell I hardly ever use a framing square unless I’m building stair stringers or marking anything wider than a 1×6, even then I’d use the speed square for marking (its just such a handy item).

  6. David Duarte on January 16, 2019 at 8:45 pm


  7. Heidi Tanton on January 16, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    What about female carpenters…..

  8. Michael Mac on January 16, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    chalk box?

  9. Vicky Hill on January 16, 2019 at 9:01 pm

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  10. Tony Mikesell on January 16, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    4 foot level in tool bags get real no one carries a 4 footer

  11. Alexander R on January 16, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    the hammer fool. lost respect

  12. Anthony T on January 16, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    You dont have the tools mate. You dont have our respect.

  13. NLDHGRockStaR on January 16, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    respect??? hahaha.if you would show up at my jobsight with only these tools i would send you right back home to pick up the rest of your tools, if you dont have ‘m ,don’t bother…. just stay there..

  14. jasper thomas on January 16, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    you dumb ass no tape measure no chalk box

  15. keath dean on January 16, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    What carpenter needs a screwdriver? Knowledge, skills and a good work ethic are what sets the best Carpenters apart from the guys who just want to collect a check. Estwing all the way!

  16. curt sundell on January 16, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    You’re correct in specifying what level of carpenter you’re hiring. I never looked at his tools cause he may have had hi shit stolen yesterday. I just asked them if they could do three things. Cut a set of stairs, hang a door, and build a sawhorse. If they can’t do those three tasks, they’re not a carpenter. I remember a number of years ago I showed up at a jobsite looking for work and the "lead" guy asked what I did. I said I’m a carpenter. Dude then says are you a framer, plater , sheeter, joister, lay out? I can’t say what I told this guy, but I got back in my truck and left. By the way I personally preferred a 22 Earwig. It’s a question of mass vs velocity 🙂

  17. Richard Dowd on January 16, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    real carpenter doesn’t swing a Metal estwing framer.

  18. IamNemoN01 on January 16, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Cat’s Paw. Frankly it looks more like a camel toe than a cat’s paw; but that name’s already taken. ;^)

  19. El JERO on January 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Where’s the measuring tape? And chalkline

  20. Domus deBellum on January 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    synthetic bags stretch and distort shape(us leather), steel shaft hammers ruin the elbows of thousands of framers every year(use wood shafts), a screwdriver for your toolbox, yes. for your bags, no. you also forgot that the driver is also a 1/4 and 5/16 nut driver

  21. Lance Keiser on January 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    No tape? No chalk line?

  22. Alan Holden on January 16, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    torpedo levels are for children. 4 foot level a must , DeWalt framing Hammer, much lighter , easier on the elbow, and if it breaks it’s covered by DeWalt

  23. Houston on January 16, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Tools don’t make the tradesman skills do. You could have the most expensive tools and highest quality, but no be worth a damn at work. You could have the cheapest tools, but have the skills that make you outperform
    the men next to you.

  24. Riza Khan on January 16, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Tape measure?