What’s in the Bag – Basic Tools for a Workshop

In Gear by Dan0 Comments

When you are getting started, it’s hard to decide what to buy, or what you need to have in your toolbox or tool bag. So, I thought we’d have a quick look at the collection that most of us end up with at some point, or the basic tools for a workshop. In the future, we will add to this with specialty hand tools, power tools and more! Tag along and let me know if you think I missed anything…

Safety Stuff

  •  Safety Glasses
  • Ear plugs or Ear muffs
  • Dust mask
  • Basic first aid kit

Click here for more safety gear recommendations

Measuring and Marking Stuff

  • 12′ tape measure – 1/2″ wide blade, this one fits in a pocket and is light weight
  • Combination square – The head slide on the rule, so you can make multiple marks at the same distance. It also lets you check for square and mark at 45 degrees.
  • Rafters square – 16″x 24″ – a larger square for checking angles and marking larger items.
  • Speed square – 7″
  • 6″, 12″ and 36″ rules – measure, mark and draw straight lines

Hand Saws
It feels like the days of the handsaw are long gone, soooooo many electric saws to choose from… but the more I build things the less I think this. Am I likely to rip a board, or build a full piece of furniture with hand tools, not likely, but I do admire the guys who do. What I am recommending as a first purchase is a small and aggressive cross cut saw like the Stanley 20-045 15-Inch Fat Max Hand Saw. This type of saw makes quick work of cutting any wood to size. Short enough to fit in a toolbox, but a real work horse when you need it. Having this in my kit means I don’t have to drag out a power saw for a quick cut.

  • 15″ Hand saw – The FatMax from Stanley is aggressive and good for general use
  • Japanese pull saw – finer cuts
  • Coping saw – cut circles and other shapes

General Hand Tools
You’ll need a good hammer for hanging pictures, driving nails or knocking things apart. I like a 20 oz hammer for general use. You want to try a couple out to find one that “fits”.

When looking at hammers it’s important to remember that a heavy hammer will wear you out, but it does a lot of the work for you (it requires fewer blows to drive a nail). A light hammer requires extra blows, so it can be more work.

I also like the anti-vibration handles, but they cost a few dollars more. You also need to consider the use. Both types of claw hammer will work well for you. The curved claw hammer is a great hammer for pulling nails (the extra curve helps with leverage). Rip claw is better for helping pull things apart (the straighter claws let you wedge and pry more).

  • Hammers
    • Curved claw hammer – 16 oz
    • Finish hammer – 8 oz
    • Dead blow hammer – 1 lb
  • Screwdriver set, or bit set – (flat, Phillips, square, torx)
  • Basic Bench Chisels – 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″
  • Pliers – slip joint, needle nose, side cutters
  • Utility knife
  • Pry bar – 15″
  • Level – 24″
  • Brad point drill bits (1/8″ to 1/2″ in 1/8″ increments) – great for wood
  • Twist bits – (1/16″ to 1/2″ in 1/32″ increments) – general use


Wrenches & Ratchets

  • Combination wrench set
    • Standard (1/4, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 5/8 and 9/16 inch)
    • Metric (6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 millimeter)
  • Socket set with ratchet – 1/4″ & 3/8″ drive with ratchet handle and extension – Standard and Metric

Miscellaneous Stuff

  •  A Book of wiring instructions
  • Electric current tester – simple one for checking if the current is live
  • Staple gun – hand power
  • Clamps – (you never have enough) mixed sizes of adjustable clamps and clips
  • Saw horses
  • Portable work bench

Power Stuff

  • 1/2″ cordless drill/driver
    • These can be corded or cordless. If you go cordless, go for 18v to 24v for plenty of power. Look at combination sets
  • Jig saw
  • Circular saw with blades (71/4″ – 24 (rough) and 40 (smooth cross cut) tooth
  • Palm sander – 1/4 sheet or orbital
  • Shop Vacuum

A Place to Store Stuff

  • 5 gallon bucket with tool liner – These line the bucket with canvas pockets for storing everything. Easy clean up at the end of the day
  • Tool Bag – a canvas bag for holding a little bit of everything
  • Tool Box – You can choose a carry around box or a large tool chest, depending on your needs
  • Tool Chest – They lock, they have wheels, they take up space, but boy can you be organized

This is a general list to get you started. When shopping for tools, be a smart shopper. Do your homework. Buy the best tools you can afford, cheap tools will need replaced sooner than later.

So, what did I miss? What would you add to the tool bag?

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