What are the best Woodworking Tools?


Recommended Posts

I am just getting started into woodworking and I was wondering if anyone knew what the highest quality tools were? What are must have tools for a beginning woodworker? My major focus is furniture building. I would greatly appreciate any information you could provide me.

I think that the planes that Philip Marcou (New Zealand) makes are way up the list in quality. I have several of them.

An example:

joraft-albums-my-photos-picture2750-marcou-3.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a broad question and boils down to the question: How much do you want to spend?

A $20 Groz plane will do the same job as a $200 Lie-Nielsen or a $2,000 Bresse or similar custom plane maker.

A set of cheap plastic handled chisels will do the same job as a $1,000 set of Japanese chisels.

An Irwin saw can do the same job as a Bad Axe saw.

"The Best" is highly subjective.

As far as building furniture with hand tools, you will likely need a saw (or two) for crosscuts, rips, dovetails, etc. A couple of planes. A set of chisels. Layout tools like a square, rule, marking gauge. A way to drill holes. A bunch of clamps.

If you think about the building process, you can picture the tools you'll need.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am by no means an expert on hand-tools, but I do have some nice Japanese chisels and Lie-Nielsen planes and my recommendation to you would be to buy the best you can afford and then learn how to sharpen and hone those tools really well. You can spend thousands on a custom plane, but if you can't sharpen it, it's worthless (in my opinion).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would recommend you order Chris Schwarz's "The Anarchists Toolchest". It goes through every tool that the author feels should be part of a well equipped hand tool shop.

Best and highest quality are indeed subjective, but Lie-nielsen tools & Lee Valley/Veritas Tools as high quality as anything. They are not cheap but they are but they are not "one off" boutique tools either (not that there is anything wrong with those if you can afford them). Some of Woodcraft's "Woodriver" brand of tools are, their planes in particular, are quite good as well, and less expensive.

Of course, there are a lot of very high quality vintage tools out there as well made by Stanley, Sargent, and Miller Falls just to name a few.

Before investing a ton of money in anything, do as much homework as possible. Comb through the woodworking forums, buy some books and/or DVDs, search for reputable woodworking blogs. The info is readily available with just a quick search.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ditto on "The Anarchist's Toolchest". I have not read this book myself, but it claims to identify the basic set of tools that a furniture maker needs, and also how to identify good tools. Check out this link for more from the author:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/chris-schwarz-blog/psst-hey-troublemaker-wanna-buy-a-book

If I'm not mistaken, there's also an electronic version available if you're surprised by the price of the print version.

-- Russ

Link to post
Share on other sites

A $20 Groz plane will do the same job as a $200 Lie-Nielsen or a $2,000 Brese or similar custom plane maker.

I've never used a $20 Groz, but I do own a $40 Buck Brothers, and I can say from experience that there's no comparison between working with that and working with a Marcou.

Quote:

"Owning a Marcou is like owning a Jaguar.

You might not need one to get to work every day, but its beauty and performance make you lust wildly for it."

Christopher Schwarz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gawd, you'll never get agreement on this subject!! :D LN and Veritas are really on mid-price tools in relation to what is out there. Then again, price is not everything.

Will a Groz work as well as a Marcou? On soft and straight grained Pine, yes it will. Would you want to use the Groz in place of the Marcou? :lol:

If you want to sort the ranking of planes, take them to the gnarliest hardwood with interlocked grain. Will a Groz plane that without tearout ?

The thing is, not everyone needs a plane like this, but when you do .....

I have some killer tools. They have taken me many years to put together. In some cases I have built my own. Some will argue that they are unnecessary to build furniture, that basic tools are all one requires. This misses the point. I build a lot of furniture, and they give me much pleasure when I do so, especially the ones I built. Isn't pleasure what it is all about?

I waited three years for these Kiyohisa slicks:

6.jpg

A joinery saw and carcase saw that I built:

JoinerySaw_html_m5bf2546b.jpg

Tools are beautiful for all sorts of reasons. Here is a plane I got from Jim Krenov:

The James Krenov Smoother_html_34926643.jpg

The newly-released Small BU Smoother from Veritas is one very sweet plane, as is the LN#3 ..

BUand3-1.jpg

Regards from Perth

Derek

www.inthewoodshop.com

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a broad question and boils down to the question: How much do you want to spend?

A $20 Groz plane will do the same job as a $200 Lie-Nielsen or a $2,000 Bresse or similar custom plane maker.

A set of cheap plastic handled chisels will do the same job as a $1,000 set of Japanese chisels.

An Irwin saw can do the same job as a Bad Axe saw.

I think you are confusing will do and can do. You can't seriously believe that a majority of groz planes out of the box will do the same work as a Lee Valley, Lie Nielson etc? Is it possible to tune, tweak and file a groz into a usable plane? Maybe so if you know what you are doing. I'm not really sure you can even get them to that point because of quality issues with the blades. And even more for someone new to hand tools has no base line to tune his tools to or knowledge on how to tune them. I'd say the same goes for all your examples.

To the OP's question. My opinion is that LV/LN are a great qaulity tools at a good price point. They can get you started in hand tools if you don't have anyone local to learn from. If you have local wood workers I'd say call them. Getting time using a well tuned set of tools with someone who knows how to use them is invaluable in helping you figure out what you want.

Link to post
Share on other sites

i will agree with skunk that the original question is too broad. lots of quality tools out there that run the range of prices. do you need that 2000 dollar brese plane probably not when a LN or LV works out of the box and is considerably cheaper. Groz are decent planes if you are willing to take a little time getting them tuned up. Woodriver is another affordable brand that I find to be good quality and dont need a tune up just hone the iron and go same with LN and LV. I buy a lot of antique tools but then that in itself is another hobby buying one that I need to refurbish and tune. so to summarize if you want something that works out of the box go with Woodriver, LN or LV. if you are willing to do a little work antiques and groz would be fine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would recommend you order Chris Schwarz's "The Anarchists Toolchest". It goes through every tool that the author feels should be part of a well equipped hand tool shop.

Here's a fun photo I shot of Chris with Philip Marcou at WIA 2010. Chris is checking out one of Philip's new planes. Note the look on his face. :)

joraft-albums-wia-2010-picture5229-show026.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a fun photo I shot of Chris with Philip Marcou at WIA 2010. Chris is checking out one of Philip's new planes. Note the look on his face. :)

joraft-albums-wia-2010-picture5229-show026.jpg

For $2000 I'd expect to make that face as well. They look like great/perfect planes. But the price is way up there. One can build a pretty good array of saws and planes from LV/LN for the cost of one plane from Marcou. But if you want the best It would be hard to argue that his planes belong near or at the top of the "Best" list.

Link to post
Share on other sites

the best tool is you man. i have seen some amazing furniture made with just something as simple as a hatchet, hand saws, rasps, and sand paper. while some tools work better then others is up to you to make them work correctly spend the time to learn how to sharpen, tweek, and work the tool correctly.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am just getting started into woodworking and I was wondering if anyone knew what the highest quality tools were? What are must have tools for a beginning woodworker? My major focus is furniture building. I would greatly appreciate any information you could provide me.

The two questions aren't necessarily related. Highest quality are probably going to be outside the price range of what you'd want as a beginning woodworker. I would probably look in the Lee Valley range to start with as they're a little less expensive typically than Lie Nielsen, but you wouldn't go wrong with either. Their quality is good, and as a novice you'll likely find them more user friendly than getting your hands on some old (or the new) Stanleys, Wood River etc. Not that those are bad, but they'll likely require some tuneup work out of the box, and if you aren't familiar with how the tools should perform in the first place that may be a bit difficult. The LV/LN stuff is usually pretty good to go out of the box, with maybe a little sharpening required. They find the nice medium between the lower priced stuff that needs work, and the sky's the limit priced stuff that may not justify the cost expenditure at this time (or ever to be honest).

You can get good work out of just about anything. I've taken a crappy Buck Brothers jointer plane from Lowe's that had the lateral lever snap off the first time I touched it, and gotten tissue paper shavings from it for instance, but it's not worth the hassle. If you go with the LN/LV stuff they can easily fall into the first and last tool you'll need category.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For $2000 I'd expect to make that face as well. They look like great/perfect planes. But the price is way up there. One can build a pretty good array of saws and planes from LV/LN for the cost of one plane from Marcou. But if you want the best It would be hard to argue that his planes belong near or at the top of the "Best" list.

Marcou planes go for $3000 and up. But still, you can get several Marcous for the price of one of Karl Holtey's planes.

The same story goes for many things in life. How many Kias can you get for the price of one Mercedes? And still, there are plenty of customers for both. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gabriel, since you’ve already gotten a lot of input on your first question, with a few on the second question, I’m going to focus on your second question. A couple of people mentioned Chris Schwarz's book The Anarchist Tool Chest as far as what tools to obtain to get started. In that regard, if you don’t have the book, I would recommend spending $12 and purchase this DVD. It is an add-on to the The Anarchist Tool Chest book. You can read the explanation on the webpage. Of course you could purchase the ePub or Kindle version of the ATC for $16, but he doesn’t mention brand names in the book. All I needed is the DVD and not the book. Your decision.

An item to note on this page I’ve pasted here: “An 11-page supplies list of the tools in my chest with direct web links to all of the suppliers of the tools – plus more notes on why I chose particular tools (and I offer a few alternate brands as well).” As you’ll read, the DVD also has a video of Chris pulling out each tool from his tool chest and discussing that particular tool.

As long as we’re talking hand tools only, you could print out the 11 page list and use it as a check list for the process of obtaining your tools. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy used hand tools, but in regard to used hand planes, I would stick with pre-WWII planes since the quality dropped after that. After confirming that, make sure the plane is in decent physical shape, and has ALL the parts to it. Be prepared to replace the original blade iron in the process of reconditioning and tuning.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Marcou planes go for $3000 and up. But still, you can get several Marcous for the price of one of Karl Holtey's planes.

The same story goes for many things in life. How many Kias can you get for the price of one Mercedes? And still, there are plenty of customers for both. :)

I agree. And if it sounded like I was saying the planes are over priced I didn't mean it. Any craftsman is due what his items are worth to the users. I was more arguing that unless the OP takes baths in $100 bills that getting in at the LV/LN price point might be more advantageous to building his toolbox up than starting at a Marcou plane. And definitely better than starting with Groz/buck brothers from Home Depot.

Link to post
Share on other sites

... I was more arguing that unless the OP takes baths in $100 bills that getting in at the LV/LN price point might be more advantageous to building his toolbox up than starting at a Marcou plane. And definitely better than starting with Groz/buck brothers from Home Depot.

I don't take baths in them, but I do use $100 bills to light my $500 cigars. rofl.gif

Seriously, I couldn't agree more. The original question was: "What are the best woodworking tools"? Had it been: "What are the best VALUES in woodworking tools", my answer would also include Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.