Advanced Joinery Minimum Required Tool List: 

Download Required Tool List & Buying Guide PDF Here

*For manufacturer & purchase suggestions on the following required tools, please consult our Buying Guide below

  1. Chisels - 1/4" through 3/4" bench chisels 
  2. Mallet
  3. Dovetail Saw
  4. Combination Square
  5. Marking Knife
  6. Steel Bench Rule
  7. Random Orbit Sander & Abrasives
  8. Quick Grip clamps (minimum 2)  *Irwin Quick-Grip 12" mini bar clamps are highly recommended*
  9. Card Scraper
  10. Extension Cord - 15'-25' recommended
  11. Hearing protection
  12. Safety glasses
  13. Dust mask
  14. Phillips head screwdriver
  15. Awl

Additional recommended, but not required, tools to bring to class: 

Note: We have at least 3 or more of all the items below for shared use in class. Students are not required to bring the tools listed below, however, all will find it individually useful to bring the additional tools so they are available to you on a use at-will basis.

  • Plunge Router (1hp to 3+hp)   *1/2" chuck recommended
  • 5/16" two flute straight cutting bit
  • 3/4" O.D. - Router Template Guide to fit your router
  • 5/8" diameter & carbide height, 14-degree, 1/2" shank dovetail bit
  • Shoulder or Rabbet Plane
  • Cordless drill with: phillips head driver bit and 1/8", 1/4", & 5/32" drill bits

JD Lohr Woodworking Tool Buying Guide

If you need to purchase any items on the list, consult our buying guide to help make informed decisions. Remember that Jeffry Lohr has no affiliation or sponsorship from any tool manufacturer so the following guide is influenced wholly by a master's experience.

Chisels

There are many types of woodworking chisels - Butt; Bench; Firmer; Paring; Mortise; Dovetail; Skewed and more, described for their function. Initially, a set of bevel edged bench (also known as cabinet) chisels are the most versatile, and are the first set you should consider. A set of five or six of these will cover most woodworkers for their entire woodworking careers. Sets can be purchased that usually contain 1/4” through 1”. If available, it’s worth purchasing a 1/8” as well. You will need to bring  1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2” and 3/4” chisels for your project. They don’t need to be matched sets, nor do they need to be new - pre-war tools are generally made from excellent quality steel, and are the mainstay of our shop. However, whatever you bring, it goes without saying that they must be sharp. Brand new, out of the box is not sharp. We mean sharp, with the backs properly flattened, the way you were taught.  Look after your chisels once you’ve sharpened them. They are some of your most important tools - don’t leave them rattling around together in a bag with their blades knocking up against one another. Wrap them individually in cloth, or leather.

To begin with, you certainly don’t need anything fancy or expensive. However, to an extent, you get what you pay for in terms of steel quality. If you’re serious about your woodworking, you need better steel than you’re going to get in a $15 set of four from one of the big chain stores, or you’ll spend more time sharpening them than using them. If you are a more experienced woodworker, you will already understand the benefit of having a good set of chisels in your shop.

Moderately priced brands we like, in no order of preference are: 

  • Irwin Blue Chip (aka Marples)
  • Footprint 87 Series
  • Garrett Wade Cabinetmaker's chisel set
  • Narex bench chisel set
  • MHG

Middle priced chisels that we like, again in no particular order, are:

  • Stanley 750 Series "Sweetheart" bench chisels
  • Pfeil Swiss Made
  • Two Cherries
  • Hirsch chisels are made in the same plant as Two cherries - no difference
  • Robert Sorby “London Pattern”

If you want the best Western style chisels available, look at:

Finally, if you can find a set of pre-war Stanley 750 or Buck Bros. chisels in salvageable condition, ignore all the above.

 

 

Dovetail Saw

If you don't already have a reasonable dovetail saw and you are looking to purchase one at some time before the course,  you have a choice - Western or Japanese. The former cuts on the push stroke, whereas the latter cuts on the pull stroke. Which you use depends entirely on your own preference - we like both, but you should go with one, practice with it and stick with it.

 

 

Western Saws

There are two types of handle - pistol grips (open or closed) or straight handles (aka ‘Gents’ saw). The most important thing is that the handle should feel right for you and the angle it places your hand with respect to the angle of the blade should be comfortable. With pistol grip handles, it really is important to try before you buy to make sure the handle fits your grip. Not so important for straight handles.
Given the above, all the following cut very nicely:

  • Crown
  • Veritas (Lee Valley) molded spine dovetail saw (either 14 or 20 tpi)
  • Pax - pistol grip Thomas Flinn dovetail saw
  • Lie-Nielsen - pistol grip or straight grip
  • Wenzloff & Sons  - pistol grip (good for small hands)
  • Adria - pistol grip
  • Grammercy  - pistol grip (good for big hands)
  • Independence Tools - now sold as Lie-Nielsen

 

 

Japanese Saws

A Japanese tenon saw is known as a Dozuki. It typically has a finer tooth count than the equivalent Western Dovetail saw - usually between 18 - 30 tpi and comes sharp and ready to go right out of the box. For dovetail use, remember that you ideally need a rip-cut saw - most Dozukis have a crosscut tooth pattern with a secondary bevel - these will cut a dovetail acceptably, but slower than a rip pattern. They do make superb general purpose detail saws, though and we use them for dovetails without issue. Some Dozukis come with a rip, or modified rip pattern specifically for dovetails; however, these will not crosscut particularly well. Our three Dozuki recommendations are: 

 

 

Mallets

You will need to bring a small/medium wood or brass headed mallet with you to class. Any smaller mallet will do - our preference is for a carvers mallet (the round type) as opposed to the English pattern/carpenters mallet (the square type), but it doesn’t really matter - just bring what you have. Ideally, you’ll want something between a 10oz and 16 oz weight or thereabouts, or a weight that you’re comfortable with. There’s no hard and fast rule here. What won’t do is a dead blow mallet (the sort that looks like a large hammer and has lead shot inside it), nor will a solid rubber mallet.

 

 

Combination Square

Every woodworker should have one of these. The 12” is the most useful, but a smaller one (3”, 4” or 6”) is also handy. If you don’t already have one, the 12” is the way to go. If you have a smaller double square (4” or 6”), a fixed engineers square, or a wood and brass T-square, bring that too (but don’t buy specially).
Our favorite is our old (1960s) Craftsman, but be warned that the modern Craftsman's aren't as finely made as the quality of the steel is just not as good. The same applies to the Empire brand that you’ll find in Home Depot or Lowes. For this course, squares with a protractor head attachment or a centering attachment are not required- the square head is all that is necessary.
Good combination square brands are:

  • General Tools (Ace Hardware, Amazon). NOTE: General Tools, NOT General
  • Starrett (the forged version is better than the cast iron, but both are excellent)
  • Brown & Sharpe (thebestthings.com)
  • Rockler (their own brand - ‘Only@Rockler’)
  • Pinnacle (Woodcraft)
  • Woodcraft’s own brand\

 

 

Steel Rule

You can always use the one on your combination square, but they’re a little bit on the thick side for accurate transfer of measurements, and we don’t particularly like taking them out of the combination square. If you have a good, readable thinner rule, bring that too, whatever its length. We like to have a 24” around the shop and we use 6” rules all the time. All are nice-to-haves, but one will suffice. If you have good rules, please look after the edges - don’t just throw them into a bag with other large lumps of metal.
Here are some of the many available:

 

 

Marking knife

You will need a single sided marking knife for the course. By single sided, we mean that the beveled edge is only on one side of the blade, and the other face is completely flat (like a chisel) so you can scribe right up to a perpendicular face. For instance, unlike an X-acto knife where the scalpel blade is sharpened from both sides of the blade, we like the Veritas style of knife as it can mark both left and right handed.
Marking knives are available in a wide price range, but the cheapest work exactly the same as the expensive ones:

 

 

Sander

Bring your own random orbit  5” finishing sander and a sufficient supply of aluminum oxide sanding disks in the grits: 80, 120, 180, and 220. Of course, Home Depot or Lowes won’t sell you all these grits, so we use Klingspor as they’re the cheapest and best for what we need. The website is:  www.woodworkingshop.com

Remember you’ll need to specify how many holes your particular brand of sander has in its base. No matter what you have, Klingspor will have the sandpaper for you.   

Our favorite sander continues to be the Makita B05010/B05030 which is available from allprotools.com for approximately $64. You don’t need to get a variable speed sander, as you’ll be using it at its max speed all the time. The variable speed versions are about $30 more expensive.

 

 

Extension cord

Please bring your own three pin (12 or 14 gauge) extension cord around 15’ long.


*Not Required Tool Resources & Suggestions for Optional Tools

 

Shoulder, Fillister or Rabbet Plane

Truing tenons is always best and most easily done with this tool.   For basic to more higher end reference to such planes, you are looking at some configuration as referenced in the photo to the right.

This plane is not absolutely required for the course as we do have a number of these planes in the shop for shared use. If you don't come to class with one of these, you will get by but it is helpful to have one in your tool collection at some point if you are serious about woodworking.
 
With planes such as these, you can invest anywhere from $35 to $265.  You do get what you pay for, but the suggestions below are under $200 price point.  Although any of these will do the trick, some certainly better than others, I do believe it best to have some mechanism (either thumb screw or cam lever arm) that will mechanically fine adjust the plane iron.  The $35 Bull nose is a lower end tool that lacks this feature but if you get familiar with setting it up, it can work reasonably well.  The others listed below all have some adjustment mechanism which makes them work more easily.  Although I am loath to heavily endorse any specific manufacturer, I will say that if you're planning to invest in a good quality low angle block plane, you can't go wrong with the $175 Lie Neilsen rabbet block plane.  All Lie Neilsen planes are expensive but the thing that takes a bit out of the sting of the price of this particular plane is that it is both a good quality block plane as well as a rabbet plane which makes it a very handy, multi-use tool.  See recommendations below.


Rabbet / Shoulder Plane Suggestions:

  • Stanley #75 Bull Nose Plane
  • Stanley #78
  • Stanley #92 shoulder plane
  • Lie Neilsen rabbet block plane
  • Lee Valley - Veritas medium shoulder plane