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Your favorite shop-made hand tools

5272 Views 22 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Metrotek
I have recently been bitten by the bug to build some of my own tools. On the top of my list are some planes, a mallet, and a matching marking knife and awl set. I still have a few other projects to get out of the way first, but I was mostly curious what your favorite shop made hand tools are (feel free to post pictures!) and which you find most useful. So come on, Lumber Jocks, let's hear about 'em!
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I have made two mallets, one of which is a deadblow. They are monsters! You can check them out on my project page. I have also made a sanding block to match. Love my hand tools, I use them every day on a project.
Smoothing plane is at the top of my list for "glad I built it"
Mallet of course. Dovetail saw (the thinks you get from sears are just kits in my book)
Scraping shaves are handy.

I have intentions to make a rabbet plane, plow plane, marking knife (several), doweling plate, carving and plane adjusting hammers…......(you get the idea once you start making your own tools you are in for a lifetime of projeccts.

WORKBENCH, I almost forgot that.
Yeah! Workbench has to be at the top of my list.

My next is a work in progress, a grinding fixture for grinding my lathe tools. The one I'm making will work on the principle of the Wolverine Jig. I have already tested some grinding with it held together with clamps and can't wait to get it done. But, alas, I can only work on it after midnight as long as I have to work two jobs.

The biggest one I plan is a 16" bandsaw. I bought the Mathias plans and will get on this right after Christmas. Well, I suppose that's not a hand tool.

Okay, how about a set of carving tools for small carving. Used dowels for handles and the biggest cut nails (masonry type) I could find for the blades. These work surprisingly well.
I haven't made many shop made tools, but what I have made I simply love…

So far it has been 2 mallets, 1 turned, and 1 rectangular with a turned handle. I have a Disc sander attachment / table I rigged up for my lathe, and I have also made what can best be described as a "Sanding Float" which works far better than I anticipated.

I do have a few projects in mind when time permits. I want to build a wooden plane, not to mention turn handles for screwdrivers and chisels. I believe Lee Valley has the hardware kits for those projects…

I have a BIG shop made tool project that is underway, slowly, but underway none the less. I am building a shop made 24" wide drum sander. I have the drum made already. I initially tried cutting out 3/4" MDF disks but they disintegrated before I could glue them up. I have since moved on to using a hole cutter and jointing / planing scrap 2×6 stock to get my 4" disks (1" wide) hogged out. I have the disks cut, but need the threaded rod, nuts and washers to bring the drum all together. Once that is one piece, I will clean it up on the lathe and set it to the side to be able to epoxy in the rod.

I am working with a metalworking friend of mine to fab up a carriage, and elevation mechanism as I am trying to build this as a cantilever type sander. He has some ideas, I have some of my own… My biggest problem is what bearings to use…
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I made two marking gauges; one from scratch and the other from a donor for the metal pieces. Workbench. Two mallets. Shooting board. Sawbench. Sharpening station - yep, the whole thing is useful and a bigtime workhorse in my shop. I have an infill plane kit I have yet to tackle, but that's rising on the project list. The tools you build yourself are the ones to be proud of.
Start with the basics, marking knife, marking gauge, trammel. Depending on your style/type of woodworking move on to tools that you would use the most. If you're into hand tools, don't forget winding sticks. By all means, a sharpening stations should be high on the list.
Ripthorn-Thanks for asking. I've made a couple of planes: an open tote jack, a closed tote fore that I made into a razee and a block plane. I've also made a few sliding t-bevels: a small one and a real big one where the blade is 24 inches long, and my claim to fame is a cobolo handle bevel square with a 12 in blade that awhile back you would have seen on The New Yankee Workshop wall above the radial arm saw and Norm using on a few projects: the garden arbor, high chair, butterfly table, playhouse door, louvered shutter jig just to name a few. Thanks again, bob
These depth gauges see a lot of action for me. My scratch awl gets used several times a day.

Brown Wood Rectangle Automotive exterior Font


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Take a look at the first book on this web page. There are some interesting plans for basic tools of all sorts.
Great link, Gary. I'll have to check that out. As for my, my favorite shop-made tool has got to be my chisel mallet pictured below. I love the aesthetics of it and how it feels and works.

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Sorry, forgot to say, the link is to my website.
Brandon, what wood did you make that out of. I like it. I may try my hand a making one!
My favorite is a chamfer plane that I made not to long ago. Works very well and I have used it a lot since I made it.

I will also say my shooting boards and bench hooks are by far my most used. They are probably considered jigs but a jig is a tool right?
I make lots of shop made tools here are but a few.

Wood Sculpture Line Artifact Rectangle

Oh yes and my homemade brand. MIKE

Wood Gas Hardwood Machine Metal


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I don't make shop tools…although I did make a handle one time for a putty knife….is that a shop tool ?

One item that over the years I keep making over and over are various carving chisels. They are a quick project, the material cost is very modest and they look good and it is satisfying to use chisels you made yourself. Because they are made iexpensively its easy to treat yourself to a variety of fishtail styles and widths that if your budget is tight you might be reluctant to buy store bought (but once you start using them are really handy).

Easiest to find scrap metal that gives good heat treat that I have found are various coil springs . Over years I have accumulated lots of old coil springs from various applications in various sizes 1/8" (ordinary wind up coil spring from garage door) up to 5/8" diameter (some sprt of truck spring…the older are easier the newer ones have plastic coating that is a pain to get off).

One spring that is especially convenient for gouge style carving chisels is approx 3/8" diameter and the coil is maybe 6" x 48" long ( came out of an industrial overhead door) . You can forge these with a actelylene torch but its easier cheaper and more convenient if you put together a simple propane forge. Handes are typically turned from something grabbed from wood pile (burning logs) and the ferrule is usually short section of copper pipe.

another shop made tool that I have made again again are gravers (use 1/8 square HSS lathe tool bits and turn the wood handles). The ones shown are ground to be iused for engraving but the method could be used to make very small wood carving chisels. The trick to these is to take a short length of carbon steel and make a sort of "chuck" ...just drill a hole so when a square taper is ground on the end of the HSS lathe tool that it will jam into the hole …the HSS is harder than the carbon steel ferrule or chuck and will "bite and lock in place" the taper allows it to jam tightly and as you use pushing it jams tighter.This trick of the chuck or furrule to grip the small 1/8 square bit and prevent it from being driven deeply into a wood handle could have application for some sort of marking took or awl or scribe for woodwooking
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I'm having fun using my treadle lathe. So far just practicing because I have never used a lathe before. But I do have a project coming up that will require turned legs. I have pictures posted on my project list. A set of hollows and rounds planes is next on my list to make.
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