Tools for Carpentry – Clamping, Drilling, Chiseling and Routing Tools

Tools for Carpentry – Clamping Tools

Clamps are used to hold parts to each other or to a bench so that you can mark, drill, or cut them, and they also serve to hold glued parts together as the glue dries. Used with strips of wood, clamps can be made into saw and router guides or extended to clamp over a large area.


Tools for Carpentry - C-clamps C-clamps get their name from the basic “C” shape of their steel frames. One end of the “C” (the anvil) is fixed; it doesn’t move at all. The other end is fitted with a threaded rod and swivel pad. When the threaded end is tightened, whatever is between it and the fixed end is tightly gripped. Pads or scraps of wood should be used between the jaws and your work so that the work isn’t marred when the clamp is tightened.

C-clamps come in a variety of styles and sizes, but in general they’re small; woodworking C-clamps are usually limited to a 12″ jaw opening, but for the projects in this section of this website, a 4″ or 6″ size is fine.

Bar and Pipe Clamps

These clamps are made to span long or wide pieces of wood frame, panels, or doors, or to grip several pieces of wood that are placed edge-to-edge. Their frames are simply steel or aluminum bars, or sections of iron plumbing pipe that are several feet in length. At one end is a fixed head, equipped with a short, threaded rod and a metal pad. At the other end is a sliding tail stop which can be locked in any position along the bar or pipe to accommodate the work.

Pipe clamps are less expensive, but more flexible, than bar clamps, and can be made 6′ or more in length. Pipe-clamp kits are sold that include only the fixtures; you purchase the pipe and have its end threaded at a local plumbing supply store.


A vice is just a bench-mounted clamp. It can be used to hold work pieces together or to hold stock securely while you work on it. A woodworker’s vice has smooth, broad jaws which are usually drilled so that facings can be installed to prevent marring fine work. Better wood vices include a dog; this is a bar that slides up from the vice’s movable jaw to hold work against a similar stop mounted on the bench itself. The dog extends the vice’s effective jaw opening by 24″ or more. Some vices also make use of a half-nut to provide quick-slide opening and closing; tightening occurs only once the work is in place.

Drilling and Boring Tools

Cutting clean holes through wood requires the use of drills and bits suited for the job. Holes can be functional or designed with special features such as a tapered countersink opening or an internal shoulder.

3/8″ Variable — Speed Reversible Drill

Though you can bore almost any hole with a hand drill, there’s little reason not to own this versatile power tool, which operates more quickly and with less effort than a manually operated drill. For most any project, a drill with a 3/8″ chuck capacity and a motor amperage of 3.5 amps or greater will do just fine. Cordless versions are made and are good for driving screws and drilling small holes, but they may not be suitable for continuous, heavy-duty work.

At a small extra cost, you can get an electric drill with a variable-speed control. This feature allows you to govern the speed of the drill’s motor by simply varying the pressure you exert on the tool’s trigger. A reversible motor is included with this option, which permits you to take screws out just as quickly as you insert them.

Stop Collars

When you need to control the depth of a drill bit’s penetration, use a stop collar. These are metal (or sometimes plastic) rings that tighten onto the drill bit’s shaft. When the bit sinks into the wood, the collar hits the wood’s face and stops the bit from going any deeper. Stop collars are sized to fit different drill-bit diameters.


A project’s appearance and function can suffer when the head of a screw protrudes above the face of the wood. In order to hide these heads, a countersink is used. These angle-faced bits cut shallow, slope-sided holes into the surface of the work, creating a recess into which the screw’s head rests, flush with the face of the work.

Brace and Bit

This is a two-handed drill that operates like a crank. At the top end is a handle that allows the crank to pivot and keeps it in line. At the lower end, a two-jawed chuck grips a spiral boring bit, or some type of expansion bit. The working hand turns the grip on the crank to slowly bore the opening. A brace is especially useful for drilling deep or large-diameter holes cleanly and accurately.

Speciality Bits

A variety of drill bits are made to accomplish specific tasks. Forstner bits are used to drill clean, flat-bottomed holes when a fine cut is called for. They are made in 1/4″ to 2-1/4″ diameters. Spade bits (used with power drills) bore quickly and make rough but effective holes through wood. They’re designed with a center point and two flat cutting edges and come in 1/4′ to 1-1/2″ diameters.

Screw bits are countersink/pilot drills that combine the hole-drilling and countersinking processes in one operation. The better versions of these bits use what’s known as a tapered bit, which follows the contour of a standard wood screw; they also include a stop collar. These combination bits are made for screw size Nos. 5 through 12. This type of drill bit is particularly versatile because it allows the woodworker to countersink a fastener flush with the wood’s surface, or to counterbore the hole to give the screw a deeper penetration where desirable.

Extension bits, and extension shafts made to fit spade and other types of power bits, allow you to bore holes deeper than a normal-length bit would allow. The extra-length bits come in diameters from 3/16″ to 3/4″ and usually are 18″ long; the spade bit extension shafts come in 18″ and 24″ lengths and are made to fit standard 5/16″ and 7/16″ power-bit shanks.

Chiseling and Routing Tools

Joinery and decorative work both rely on tools that are able to make sharp, detailed cuts, or create consistent shapes along an edge or on the face of a piece of wood. Regardless of whether these tools are hand or machine-operated, they use a sharp cutting edge to do their work.


The standard mortise chisel is fine for most general woodworking projects. This cabinetmaker’s tool is used to clean up joints and mortises, shave glue and grain from a joint, or simply remove layers of wood from one spot. A set of four or five bevel-edge chisels for hand or mallet work, in sizes from 1/4″ to 1″ wide, is a good choice.


A router’s job is to cut grooves and rabbets, shape edges, and make slots, and it does that work easily and quickly. Rounded or chamfered edges can be cut with a router and a roundover or chamfer bit. Similar edges can be cut with gouges, rasps, and sanders, but it takes some time and often results in visible inconsistencies.

Router bits are held in a collet on the end of a shaft, which in turn is supported by a flat base and housing. The shape of the bit determines what type of cut will be made in the work, and handles on the housing allow the operator to control the direction of the bit.

The simplest routers have 3/8″ collets, external clamp-depth controls, and low-amperage motors. More sophisticated models are known as plunge routers; these allow vertical entry into the work for precise cutting and have 1/2″ collets, variable-speed 12to 15-amp motors, and variable-depth controls.

In a better-equipped workshop, routing work is done on a router table, which is just a stand with a cast surface that uses a heavy-duty 1/2″ router inverted and mounted from the bottom. An adjustable fence and a special see-through guard allow you to guide the work through the exposed bit safely.

A shaper is a stationary routing tool that uses a powerful motor and a 1/2″ or 3/4″ spindle to handle work beyond the capability of a table-mounted router — such as moldings, heavy raised panels, and hardwood trim.

Router Bits

The design and shape of a router bit dictates what form the finished edge or groove will take. There are over 200 router-bit styles available for various types of work, though for the projects in this section of this website only a few may be needed. When cutting or shaping an edge, a router bit with a ball-bearing pilot at its tip is used. The tip rolls along the edge below the part of the wood being cut, assuring a high degree of accuracy.

Groove or slot-cutting bits cannot use pilot tips, so a guide or temporary fence is often used when routing a channel. This guide is a device that clamps onto the base of the tool and acts as a moving fence to keep the router and bit following the edge of the work.

Either type of bit is set vertically by adjusting the router base to control the depth of cut.

Laminate Trimmers

The high-pressure laminates used to cover counter-tops and other surfaces need special cutting equipment that doesn’t shatter or chip the material’s delicate edges. Though you probably won’t be using laminate products unless you’ve had some experience with them, it’s nice to know how they’re managed.

Motorized laminate trimmers are basically compact routers with special bits and bases designed to cut perfect seams and edge joints in surface laminates and veneers.

A hand-held trimmer is a small block with one or two blades that fits around the edge of a board to cut the banding that covers the edge so it meets the surfaces without gaps or high spots.

Joining Tools

Once boards and components are prepared for joining, several tools can be used to complete the joint. Small hacksaws and chisels are the traditional means of doing this, but newer methods have also developed in the interest of saving time.

Dowelling Jig

This is a precision frame used to center holes on the edge of a board up to about 2″ thick. Various-sized holes correspond to the diameter of the dowels being used, and the jig allows these holes to be placed exactly on the mating pieces, so the edges of the joined boards are aligned both vertically and horizontally. It’s used mainly for edge-joining and certain framing applications.

Biscuit Joiners

The biscuit, or plate, joiner is just a high-speed rotary saw with a blade about 4-1/8″ in diameter and 4mm thick. The cutter is set on a vertical axis so it cuts horizontally as it plunges into the edge of the work. An adjustable miter fence permits joinery on square and bevelled edges, and a depth adjuster sets the plunge level to correspond with the size of biscuit to be used. There are three different sizes of biscuits (Nos. 0, 10, and 20) which range in length from 2-1/8″ to 2-9/16″ and in width from 1-1/8″ to 1-7/8″.

Hammering and Setting Tools Hammers

The hammer you’ll probably use in finishing work is a lightweight tack hammer, 3-½ or 6 ounces in weight. A claw style will do, but even better is a Warrington hammer because it has one traditional flat face and one elongated peen for starting the small brads used to set trim.

Nail set

A nail set is simply a fine-pointed punch used to set the head of a finishing nail or brad below the surface of the wood without enlarging the nail hole.


If you need a larger hammer for chisel work or setting joints, an 8″ wooden carpenter’s mallet of 12 ounces or so would do well. Plastic headed mallets are also used for this type of work.

Screwdriving Tools

The screw fasteners used throughout the section of this website have a No. 2 Phillips head, which gives a positive and usually slipless grip. Larger Phillips-head screws (No. 12 and up) are driven with a No. 3 Phillips screwdriver tip.


A screwdriver can come with a variety of tips, but a 6″ or 8″ No. 2 Phillips driver with a molded or wooden handle is the one to use on the No. 6, No. 8, and No. 10 Phillips-head screws usually used in this section of this website’s projects.

If you choose to use traditional slotted screws, a 3/16″ and a 1/4″ straight blade are needed. Square-drive screw heads naturally use square-tip drivers.

Power Drivers

Most woodworkers use power-drive bits in combination with cabinet or drywall screws to save time. These bits — used with hand-held drivers or 3/8″ variable-speed power drills — have a short, six-sided shank which slips easily into the drill chuck. The tip can be a Phillips or straight-bladed design, though a square-drive tip to fit matching screws is another option.

Sanding and Smoothing Tools

To properly finish a piece of wood, it’s often necessary to level surfaces by removing material, and to smooth the grain. Files and rasps cut or round edges and small areas; sandpaper prepares the wood for its final finish.

Rasps and Files

Wood rasps are coarse-cutting hand tools used to make the first cut in removing wood stock for shaping or rounding. A finer cabinet rasp is made for second-cut work. Rasps come in three styles: flat on both sides, half-round on one side, and round.

Wood files are less coarse than rasps and are used for finer smoothing and finishing work. Like rasps, they’re about 10″ long; they usually come in round and half-round cross sections.

For the projects in this section of this website, only a flat rasp might be needed. But in general, two grades of files are good to have on hand. These are a 10″ or 12″ bastard-cut file, one step finer than a coarse file, and with a half-round back which allows it to be used on inside curves and arcs; For finish work, a smooth-cut file, which is the least coarse of the group, and especially suited to hardwoods.

Sanders and Sandpaper

Sanding can be done by hand or with power sanders. If you choose to sand by hand, you’ll want to purchase a hand-sanding block.

The hand-held orbital finishing sander — called a palm or pad sander — has a palm grip and either a round or square pad to which sandpaper is attached. The orbiting mechanism uses a 2-amp motor to be effective. For convenience, the round styles use self-adhesive paper on the pad rather than mechanical clips.

Sandpaper and the replaceable pads for palm sanders come in a variety of grits to indicate the size of the abrasive particles on the paper: coarse (No. 60), medium (No. 80), fine (No. 150), and very fine (No. 220). Other finer grits are also manufactured. Standard garnet paper is suitable for woodwork and is unique in that the abrasive particles continuously break away, exposing fresh material as they do; aluminum-oxide sanding sheets, however, are more durable and less likely to clog up with waste.

Dust Collectors

Sawdust can be an irritant and even a hazard over time. A dust mask or respirator will filter material, but a shop dust collector will remove sawdust at the source and contain it in a canister for later disposal. A moderate investment will allow you to move air at 500 or 600 cubic feet per minute through a 4″ tube from a single source.

06. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Hand Tools, Home Maintenance | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Tools for Carpentry – Clamping, Drilling, Chiseling and Routing Tools


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: