A carpenter who works in the field moves around a lot, so perhaps the first item on a list of carpenter tools should be a tool belt. The belt has pouches, rings and holders for a number of tools, most of which are basic and required for every job. Some tools are job specific or too big for a tool belt, so they are relegated to a tool chest or the truck until they're needed.
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Hammers Are De Rigeur
Carpenters often need more than one hammer.
– Used for structural work. The head weighs from 20 to 24 ounces.
– Used for more delicate trim work. The head weighs 16 ounces or less.
– Used for driving nail heads below the wood surface, a pointed rod about 3 inches long.
When the Job Involves Demolition, You Need a Pry Bar
Prying pieces of wood apart and extracting nails are jobs that require special tools.
– About 6 to 12 inches long and is so named because its prongs are sharp like the claws of a cat. It is for extracting nails.
- Crow bar – A long metal rod with a hooked end for major prying jobs.
- Flat bar – Sometimes called a wonder bar, it's a flattened out, smaller version of a crow bar.
Carpentry Tools for Measuring Distance and Angles
Every carpenter carries a selection of tools for making measurements. These are carpenter instruments with names that every pro recognizes:
- Tape measure – Some carpenters carry two: a 16-foot one for rough work and a 10-foot one for detail work.
- Speed square – A right-angled piece of plastic or metal with ruler graduations on one of the sides forming the 90-degree angle and angle graduations on the hypotenuse.
An L-shaped ruler used in roofing and framing. The long side is usually 2 feet in length.
- Combination square
– A small, adjustable framing square with a built-in spirit level.
Levels Are Carpenter Tools for Measuring Plumb
Carpenters need a level to make sure a wall is straight or a table is level.
- Framing level
– It's 1 to 4 feet long and is usually in the truck or tool chest when not being used.
- Torpedo level
– It's about 6 inches long and is the one kept in the tool belt.
Carpentry Tools That Cut It
Carpenters use power tools to do most cutting, but occasionally they need to do it by hand. Some common cutting tools include:
A sharp, retractable knife for cutting drywall, string and other things.
Anvil snippers have cutting blades and cut nails and wire. Tin snips have bypass blades and cut sheet metal, vinyl and other materials.
A pointed handsaw with a fine-tooth blade that can double as a hacksaw. It fits in the tool belt and has a number of emergency uses.
A piece of metal with a razor-sharp beveled end used with a hammer for cutting and shaping.
Carpenters Make Their Mark With These Tools
Carpenters need to draw cut lines and make marks when positioning items to be fastened. Here's what they use:
A flat pencil with a dull point for making easy-to-see marks and lines.
Chalk line –
A retractable length of string in a chalk container for marking long, straight lines.
Some Carpentry Tools Work Better With Power
Battery-powered hand tools have become so efficient that they are virtually indispensable to carpenters. The ones you find most often on a job site include:
The power drill is used more often for driving and extracting screws than a screwdriver.
Circular saw –
Smaller and more maneuverable than a plug-in saw, this is for ripping, cross-cutting and mitering wood.
A maneuverable, reciprocating saw for cutting curves.
A small, orbital sander for shaping and smoothing wood.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.