Putting together a comprehensive set of carpentry tools can be a lifetime's work. With each new job you tackle you find you could do with just that one extra tool. As your abilities as a carpenter grows you take on more challenges and of course they require…more tools.
But if you're just starting out and you want to gather together a few essentials that will come in useful for most carpentry projects.
For ease of use when actually working on a project, you can't beat a tool belt. Buy one that will accommodate the tools you use most often. Models to which you can add extra pouches for more specialised tools extend flexibility.
Bashing away at things is part of the fun of carpentry — don't deny yourself. If you intend to do heavy work you'll need the grunt of a 20 oz. framing hammer. I prefer the framing hammer by Estwing.
Without some way to measure out your projects you might as well not even start. Tape measures aren't expensive. You want the retractable metal sort. I prefer a 25' to 30" carpenters tape by Stanley tools.
If a carpentry project isn't true and square it will probably be impossible to complete. And if you do get it finished, it'll almost certainly fall not reflect well on your character. Two types of square invaluable in the squaring process are a large L-shaped carpenter square and a smaller, triangular speed square. I recommend you purchase both.
For any sort of construction work you'll need a spirit level. The larger the scale of the project, the larger the level needed. A small torpedo model will suit most needs around the home. For larger framing tasks I recommend a 4 ft level.
Otherwise known as a Stanley knife, this tool has a thousand uses, from cutting drywall to trimming pencils. Keep one in your toolkit and make sure you have extra blades stored inside the utility knife.
You'll need a carpenter's pencil to mark your cuts and layout.
Carpentry without a saw? Impossible, unless you work only putting together IKEA furniture. You could buy a crosscut saw to cut against the grain, a rip saw to cut along the grain and a panel saw for finer work. But for a basic tool kit, just go with a universal saw. I recommend a Stanley Fat Max carpenters saw.
I recommend a basic combination screwdriver. Home depot sells a nice unit by Buck.