Carpentry Tools – Planing and Cutting Tools

Tools for Carpentry – Planing Tools

Carpentry Tools - Planing and Cutting Tools Planes are used to bring down the thickness or width of wood stock to a uniform level. In special projects, some of the better wood — especially if it’s not a common commercial species — might be rough-cut or surfaced (planed) on one or two sides only. It’s up to you to custom-size your own stock unless you have a wood shop to do it for you.

Bench Plane

A hand-held tool with a blade set at an angle within a steel frame. The edge of the blade is adjusted to protrude slightly from a slot in the sole, or base, of the body. The variety of hand planes, and the jobs they do, is enormous — but for general shop work, a plane with a 1-3/4″ to 2″ blade and a sole 9″ to 10″ long is ideal.

Other planes may be mentioned in the instructions for the individual projects. A block plane is a small, hand-sized plane with a 2″ x 6″ body used for detail work.

Power Plane

This is a hand-held power tool made to plane large amounts of stock from a board’s surface quickly. A typical power plane has a two-edged rotary blade about 3-1/4″ wide and a sole between 10″ and 12″ long. Depending on its horsepower and the speed of its rotary cutter, a power plane can remove from 1/32″ to 1/16″ of wood in each pass.

Thickness Planer

A stationary tool used to plane rough-cut boards to a uniform thickness. A portable or “benchtop” planer is relatively inexpensive and can handle boards up to 12″ wide and 6″ thick, removing a maximum of 1/16″ of material with each pass.

A larger standing stationary planer can be three to six times more costly, and accommodate a board up to 20″ wide and 8″ thick. Higher-amperage or 220-volt service might be needed for these larger tools.


A large standing tool designed to level the face of a board and put a consistent and accurate edge on it in preparation for making a joint. A saw blade by itself cannot make a perfectly accurate cut because there’s no true reference on a warped board to work from.

Benchtop jointers exist, but most jointers are stand-mounted and built to handle boards 6″ to 8″ wide. A large fence designed to tilt right and left, 45 degrees each direction, allows the cutting of bevelled edges. The better jointers have a 1/2″ depth of cut and the ability to complete a 1/2″ rabbet.

Tools for Carpentry – Cutting Tools

Carpentry Tools - Planing and Cutting Tools The function of a saw is determined by the number, pitch, bevel, and angle of teeth on its blade. The higher the number of teeth per inch of blade (a measurement given in “points”), the smoother the blade’s cut will be. A saw with fewer points will make a coarser cut, but it will also cut more quickly. A backsaw, for instance, with 15 teeth per inch, is used for fine joinery work; a crosscut saw, given 8 teeth per inch, can make rapid cuts across thick lumber.

Power saws often use what are known as combination blades, which offer clean cuts both with and against the wood’s grain. Various other blades are made to cut sheet metal, composites, plywood, fiberboard, and other sheet products.

Crosscut Saw

A crosscut saw is used to cut across or against the wood’s grain. Though crosscut saw lengths vary, a 26″ version will work well for any hand-sawing you do, except through plywood. Crosscut saws are available with 7 through 12 points per inch, depending on how coarse or fine you wish the cut to be. The greater the number, the smoother the cut, and the more slowly it will be made.


A ripsaw is designed to cut with or along the wood’s grain. Most ripsaws are 26″ long and come with 41/2 through 7 points per inch. If you work without power saws, you’ll want to own both a ripcut and a crosscut saw. While it is possible to rip with a crosscut saw, you can’t make a cross cut with a ripsaw.


A fine-toothed handsaw used in joinery to make smooth, accurate cuts. The steel back frame fastened to the uppermost edge of the blade stiffens it and gives the saw its name. Backsaws can range in size from 4″ to about l4″ in length, and go under different names such as thumb, gentleman’s, and tenon saw, depending on their purpose.

Coping Saw

The steel-bow frame of a coping saw is “U” shaped. Avery thin blade, with 10 to 12 teeth per inch, is mounted between the tips of the U. This saw is especially useful for cutting curves because its frame can be angled away from the line of cut. It is designed to cut boards generally thinner than 3/4″.

Miter Box

A wooden or metal frame used in conjunction with a hacksaw to hand-cut miters in boards and trim. Specially designed compound miter boxes allow bevelled miter cuts as well.

Circular Saw

The motor-driven, hand-held circular saw has a 7-1/4″ blade which can be adjusted to cut at angles between 90 degrees and 45 degrees. When set to cut at a perpendicular, blade penetration is 2-1/4″; at 45 degrees, it’s reduced to 1-3/4″. The greatest drawback to a circular saw is that it’s heavy and unwieldy, which affects its accuracy.

Better quality circular saws are usually equipped with a carbide-tipped combination blade, but regular blades will do just as well if you sharpen or replace them regularly. A good blade can be installed on an inexpensive saw to improve its performance.

Compound Miter Saw

Sometimes called a chop saw or cutoff saw, this is a portable power tool that’s evolved through several stages. The least expensive version is similar to a circular saw, but mounted on a short table with a pivoting hinge. It pulls down to cut, and can be swung right and left 45 degrees to cut miters. The next level includes a bevelling feature that lets the blade tilt as well, allowing a compound bevel cut. The best model uses a slide mount so the blade and motor can be pulled down and forward up to 12″, much like a radial-arm saw, and can cut miters and bevels as well. Blade diameters range from 8-1/2″ to 12″.

Radial-Arm Saw

A stationary tool used to crosscut long pieces of stock on a large fixed table. It uses a powerful motor and 10″ blade suspended on a carriage from a beam which can be swung right and left, and raised and lowered as well. The blade can also be tilted to make bevel cuts. A pivot in the carriage allows the motor and blade to be turned 90 degrees for making rip cuts as well.

Table Saw and Dado Blade The table saw uses a heavy motor built into a frame and table. It’s weight and design gives a more accurate cut than a hand-held circular saw can deliver. The typical table saw has a pivoting carriage that holds the blade’s arbor, or axle. This construction allows the blade to be raised to a 90-degree cutting depth of 3-1/8″ —  and tilted up to 45 degrees, which gives a 2-1/8″ cut at that angle.

Generally, table saws are equipped with a 10″ carbide-tipped combination blade. Compact and portable table saws that use smaller blades, but which have the same features as the larger models, are also manufactured.

Table saws come with a rip fence, a long, straight bar that runs parallel to the exposed blade and can be adjusted to either side of it. The fence assures accurate rip cuts by guiding material into the blade.

A miter gauge, which is adjustable to 45 degrees on either side of its 90-degree midpoint, helps in making miter cuts by holding the stock at the correct angle as it’s passed through the blade.

A dado blade is a specially designed cutting tool that’s fitted to a table saw to make wide grooves and notches. There are two common dado designs. One uses an offset blade that wobbles to the right and to the left as it revolves. The other type uses two outer blades and a number of inner “chippers” that are stacked side by side to establish the exact width of the cut.


The hand-held jigsaw, sometimes called the saber saw, is the powered alternative to a coping saw and is used to cut curves, free-form shapes, and large holes in panels or boards up to 1-1/2″ thick. Cutting action is provided by a narrow, reciprocating bayonet-style blade which moves very rapidly. A shoe surrounding the blade can be tilted 45 degrees to the right and left of perpendicular for angled cuts.

The best jigsaws have a variable speed control and an orbital blade action; this action swings the cutting edge forward into the work and back again, through the blade’s up-and-down cycle. A dust blower keeps the cut clear, and the tool may also come with a circle cutting guide and rip fence as well.

Utility Knife

This inexpensive tool can be used to cut thin wood and material, and to scribe lines for marking. The best kinds have two or three blade positions, including fully retractable for safety.

06. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Hand Tools, Home Maintenance | Tags: , | Comments Off on Carpentry Tools – Planing and Cutting Tools


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: