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The Wood Nerd’s Tool Box

My first “grown up” woodworking project was a small tool box. I still use this toolbox every time I’m in my shop. It holds all the small parts I don’t want to lose.

I built this box in my living room with the following tools.

For this project, I purchased the wood as 1/4″ thick boards from the local big box store, which saved me the trouble of having to resaw and thickness standard 3/4″ stock.

Handsaw – When selecting a saw,be mindful of these two saws characteristics:

Tooth Count – This is generally expressed in Tooth Per Inch or TPI. As a general rule of thumb, you want to have 3-4 teeth engaged in cutting at all times. This means that tooth count is directly proportional to stock thickness. A saw with fewer TPI will work better in thin stock.

Tooth Type – Generally speaking, saw teeth are either crosscut filed, which means designed to cut across the grain or rip filed, designed to cut with the grain. It is unlikely that you will find anything but crosscut saws at the hardware store because they are the most versatile and can do both jobs.

I got lucky with my first saw, it was just right for sawing through the thin red oak stock I picked for the toolbox. Here is a link to The Lumber Lab affiliate store where you can get a saw very similar to what I started with. One drawback to saws like this with hardened teeth is that they cannot be resharpened, which is why I don’t have that saw anymore. I now have a couple nice old saws that I’ve learned to resharpen.

Tack Hammer – I chose glue and nails to hold the toolbox together. With the 1/4″ thick stock I didn’t want to use long nails which made holding the nails difficult. Luckily almost all tack hammers come with a magnetic end, which holds the nail to the hammer, saving your fingers from a good bruising. Link to The Lumber Lab store for tack hammer. This isn’t the cheapest one, but this hammer is so versatile it’s worth every penny and has a better magnet than most.

Block plane – I forget where and by whom I was first introduced to the hand plane, but I am forever indebted to the source. Soon after I went out and bought my first standard angle block plane. I sharpened the blade using the stones I had for keeping my hunting knives sharp and I’m continually impressed by this tool’s usefulness.

In the time since I bought my block plane, Stanley has introduced a and much improved line of their woodworking tools, including their block plane. If I was starting out from square one today, I’d get their latest offering. Here is a Lumber Lab affiliate link.

Woodburning pen – While certainly not necessary, I used this too for embellishment and to personalize the project. This model comes with all the tips you will need and is made by Weller, a company that also builds quality soldering irons, available in The Lumber Lab amazon store (also an affiliate link.

Moving on from this project, which was all butt joints, I started learning about new joinery methods. I designed my next few projects specifically to learn a new joinery technique with each one. For these next projects, a good set of bench chisels was an absolute necessity.

Bench Chisels – These tools can perform a wide variety of tasks in the wood shop. A high quality set will take you far, so don’t make the mistake I did and purchase discount tools, they will only frustrate you. These Irwin chisels are a great starter set, here is The Lumber Lab amazon store link.

Other common tools that are helpful when crafting projects from wood are:

Tape Measure

Mechanical Pencil


Drill and twist bits


Clamps or Tape

With these basic tools, we will be able to enhance our electronics projects by custom building wooden enclosures for them.

What’s missing from this list are the large stationary machines that do the heavy, loud, dirty work of transforming rough sawn wood into useful boards. Unless you want to start a cabinet shop, the large expense of buying those tools new cannot be justified.

Now if you noticed above, I intentionally wrote in a loophole. Buying large machinery new is costly, which is why I feel so luck to have basic electronics knowledge. This has allowed me to purchase large machines what were in need of repair to and fix them up. I have therefore outfitted my shop with some very nice machines on the cheap. In fact, there is a good chance that the older a tool is, the more it will be used in my shop. My favorite bandsaw dates back to the ’50s and my tablesaw is ’70s vintage. And my favorite hand tools are all from antique stores.

In summary, I advise those just starting out to pick a small starter project and then get the tools you will need for that project. Buy new where you can afford it and used when you have the knowledge about how to repair it.


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