Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 most enjoyable tools to use

The right tool for the right job always rings true, but some tools are more satisfying than others. If I could add two more, it would be a smoothing plane and an engineer’s square. What’s on your list?

1. Carving Gouge – I don’t think there’s a more satisfying woodworking tool to use than a sharp carving gouge. Having wood fibres effortlessly submit to a hand tool is a beautiful thing and the finished surface it leaves behind is icing on the cake. Using a chisel to do the same thing is almost as gratifying.

2. Planer – It’s loud and sends wood chips flying all over the shop, but to stand beside my 12” benchtop planer while it’s working is when I’m thankful for machines. Just knowing that decades ago this same task would not only take a long time but but also be physically demanding is enough to bring a smile to my face.

3. Jointer – For many of the same reasons I love my planer, a jointer is a lifesaver if you’re breaking out solid wood in any sort of quantity. Flat surfaces and square edges are the foundation of solid joinery, and when they’re easy to obtain it’s impossible not to get excited.

4. Spokeshave – Shaping wood by hand in three dimensions is a great feeling. Leaving those curved surfaces smooth is lots of fun. And the free-form aspect of using a spokeshave adds an artistic element to the process.

5. Plunge Router – Equipped with a sharp bit and paired with a simple jig, a plunge router can do so much and accurately, too. Strong joints are right around the plunge router corner.

6. Festool Domino – Mortises aren’t always easy to cut. They can also take a lot of time to ensure the mortise walls are paral­lel. Craftspeople have used mortising chisels for centuries, but none of them can cut a mortise as fast and accurately as someone with a Domino.

7. Belt Sander – Many woodworkers consider a belt sander a tool of brute force, capable of wasting away solid wood quickly and burning through veneer in mere seconds. While this can be true, if you’re comfortable and skillful with your belt sander it can smooth most surfaces quickly and accurately, making an ugly job a lot easier.

8. Spray Equipment – A finish is one of the most important aspects of a quality piece of furniture. It’s the first thing some­one sees or touches. Although a finish doesn’t have to be sprayed to be attractive, it’s sometimes the best approach. If you don’t have spray equipment an aerosol can will fill in quite nicely, especially for smaller, intricate projects.

9. Knife – I keep a cheap utility knife in my apron for opening boxes, cutting cardboard, cutting plastic and a hundred other uses. I also enjoy a nicely sharpened marking knife when it’s time to lay out joints. Why have one knife when you could have many?

10. Block Plane – Whether it’s chamfering an edge, smoothing an edge or fairing a slight curve, a sharp block plane that’s well tuned is satisfy­ing to use.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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