Michael Connolly, WIR Contributor

Hunched over a large sheet of plywood with a tape measure in hand, you check the measurements once more. The mark is made; a pencil line is pulled across the wood. The saw starts. The shredding sound pierces the air, only fresh Southern Yellow Pine will calm the screech – nothing smells better than pine, and nothing is as rewarding as a project.

Lovely imagery, right? Before you embark on your woodworking journey, double check your toolbox for these five everyday carpenter tools.

Tools that Belong in Your Tool Box

tape measurer


Tape Measure

There are three basic parts to the tape measure: the housing, the blade, and the hook.

The housing is the container of the tape measure. Usually, it made of plastic but some can have metal parts too. The blade is the yellow tape part with the measurements on it. A good tape measure will have a protective coating on the blade to keep scratches from marring the measurements.

Lengths range from 12’ to 36’, but standard sizes are 12’ and 25’. At the end of the blade is the hook. Just as it sounds, the hook is the metal lip that bends down to grab the wood so you can pull the tape measure back. Some tape measures have a hook on the bottom and the top of the blade.

Price: $5 to $20



(Freeimages.com/Ove Tøpfer)


The three bubble levels will help you ensure your vertical and horizontal planes are perfect. The third bubble level is used to measure 45-degree inclines.

The bubble level is also known as a Spirit Level because the liquid in the glass tubes is filled with a colored spirit, or alcohol to prevent freezing and expansion issues in cold weather climates.

Price: $5 to $30



speed square

(Image via WikiMedia Commons/Norvell IP)

Speed Square

This is a great tool when you need to make angular cuts, especially when you have to make many of them.

Price: $8 to $20





2-in-1 Screwdriver – Let’s point out a few things I learned the hard way. It’s called a 2-in-1 Screwdriver. Meaning you can


(Image: Apex Tool Group)

pull out the head and turn it around for a different shaped head (Philips and Flathead/ Slot). There are many screwdriver sets available. I have learned—from personal experience– to keep it simple, the more parts I have, the more parts I seem to lose. I stick with the basic 2-in-1 because a 6-in-1 can easily turn into a “where did I put that” tool.

Price: $3 to $10




(FreeImages.com/Brandon Blinkenberg)

Claw Hammer

If you don’t already have a hammer that can pull nails out of wood, get one. Also pay attention to the part of the hammer that makes contact with the nails. You won’t always use your tools the way they were designed. Sometimes you have to be creative and nudge/ hammer things into place, and you don’t want round circles/ evidence of your creativity left behind.

Price: $5 to $30


This list does not address the safety items that should always be in your toolbox, check out this blog for a list of suggested safety items you should always have.


(Images via FreeImages.com/redster, via FreeImages.com/Ove Tøpfer, via WikiMedia Commons/Norvell IP, via Apex Tool Group, via FreeImages.com/Brandon Blinkenberg, via FreeImages.com/Luis Brito)