Posts: 27
Registered: ‎01-14-2010

Hand Tools & How To Store Them

Hypothetical for everyone. 


I have my power tools pretty much purchased to have the shop set up the way I want.  I've got a TS / RT mobile table, RAS for wider cross cuts, a CMS for miters, and a drill press.  However, my hand tools are a mishmash of hand-me-downs and partial sets. 


If you could start your shop over, what hand tools would be on your required list?  Also, what's the best method you've found to store them? (Hanging on peg board, in drawers?)  Let's not limit it to woodworking tools either.  What socket sets, pliers, screwdrivers, etc. would you stock your set with?

Honored Advisor
Posts: 4,129
Registered: ‎11-07-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

A block plane is a good place to start, preferably low angle (it will be a little more versatile). 

Japanese pull saw.

Marking knife. I use an X-acto knife.

Lay out tools. Rules, tape measures, squares and straight edges.

The majority of my non woodworking tools are Craftsman. I won't buy any Craftsman power tools, but I think that their automotive hand tools are an excellant buy.


My auto tools are stored in Craftsman roll away tool chests.

Lay out tools for the most part are hung on the outside face of a cabinet door for easy access.

Handsaws and planes are stored inside wall cabinets (I don't use them much). Planes are stored with the irons retracted (if possible), on their sides or in trays made so that the irons can't be knicked. 

Rick Mathison
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Honored Advisor
Posts: 1,878
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

When I built my shop cabinets, I built four drawer units, one combo unit and several door units.


The short drawer unit stores all of the saw paraphenalia (blades, tenon jig, dado insert, etc.).  The CMS lives on this unit when it is in the shop.


I have one drawer unit near the drill press.  It stores drills (hand, yankee, brace and bit), drill bits and all of the drill stuff (including sanding drums).

I have two drawer units dedicated to hand tools and assorted stuff.  A drawer for planes, a drawer for files/rasps, a drawer for chisels, a drawer for hammers, etc.

The combo unit has drawers for sharpening stuff and abrasives.


The door units store tools that are too big for drawers in their cases - biscuit joiner, routers, sabre saw, glue gun, Dremel set, saws, etc.  The socket sets live in tool boxes in the door units.


I hung the clamp guides on the wall as well as the triangles, squares, carpenters squares, levels, long rules, etc.  The clamps are hanging on a shelf.


Required hand tools-

Planes - various

Chisels (mortise and paring)

Hammers - 3 lb sledge, carpenter's hammers, framer's hammer, dead blow hammer, etc.

Drills - 1/2", 3/8", Brace and bit, etc.

Spokeshaves - various

Drawknives - a couple

Measuring devices

Pliers, wrenches, Allen wrenches

Screwdrivers (Phillips, Robertson, flat).


LOTS of other tools.  It really depends on what you want to do.

Senior Contributor
Posts: 261
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

All of these tools get used in conjunction with a machinists vise and a bench vise both of which are bolted to the bench.


I would want to start with an 8" folding rule and a 12" steel scale. My 6" dial caliper gets used a lot. These are in a jewelry box with velvet lined drawers.

Then I would get 6" and a 12" combination squares. Mine are in a special rack I made for them on a shelf over the bench.

A carpenter's framing square hangs on the left end of my bench.


Next would be a set of chisels ... at least 4 widths up to 1". With these you will want a wooden mallet to tap them with.

A set of screw drivers, flat and Phillips.

All of these things live in drawers right over the work bench.

Pencils, a compass, chalk, nail sets, and center punches are in another drawer.


I keep a utility knfe, a rasp, a pair of scissors, a big knife I made from an old file, and a small fine file in another drawer.


A set of drill bits up to  3/8" dia is on the shelf in a home made carousel.


A claw hammer and a dead blow mallet get their share of use in my shop. These, along with the chisel mallet hang in slots cut into a shelf over the bench.


I use at least 3 hand planes, a little block plane, one with about a 10" base, and one about 16 or 18" long. I can never remember what they are called but those are their sizes. Also, a rabbet plane is very handy to have for final sizing of tenons. These are in a drawer right next to the bench, laid on their sides, and nested in a plywood insert cut to their individual shapes to prevent them from banging around in there. There is also a Stanley scraper but it doesn't get much use.


I also have a selection of hand saws hanging on nails in the joist above and to the right of the bench. There is a 24 point cross cut, a back saw, a coping saw, a hack saw, a Kobalt 18" cross cut saw, and a Japanese saw.


Everything is within arms reach.


Under the bench on a shelf is an electric drill for drilling, another one for chamfering, a cordless screwdriver, and 5 elecric sanders with various grades of paper on them. Change over time is virtually zero.


Part of my schooling was designing of work places to keep motion to a minimum. It Reduces fatigue and increases efficiency. I apply the principles on a daily basis as I did all through my previous life.






Honored Advisor
Posts: 3,468
Registered: ‎10-26-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

[ Edited ]

Interesting question and some good answers.  


I've seen all sorts of systems:

- Tool cabinets, large and small ( )

- Pegboard

- Shelves / cubby holes 

- Drawer units, either shop-built or mechanic's style

- Classic carpenter's boxes ( )

- Tool totes, from bucket wraps, to open top ( to shop-built (e.g, or

- Large floor tool chest such as "Benjamin Seaton's" or

- Tool trailers / vans


I don't know that I've ever seen the ne plus ultra system.   Part of it depends upon your tools, work space, and work, I think.  I have a combination of most all of these.


I suggest browsing The Toolbox Book,


I do onsite furniture repair work.   I've tuned my system to a single, but heavy, tote that contains what I need 90%+ of the time:

- 10 oz rip hammer

- Deadblow hammer

- Metric and imperial wrench set, ratcheting box end.  One adjustable for a second wrench when needed.

- Metric and imperial hex wrench sets

- Multi-tip screwdriver (I've had many, but currently a "Pic-Quik")

- Utility knife

- Four-in-one file/rasp

- Sanding block

- Diagonal cutter (akaDikes)

- Square, combo square

- 16' tape measure

- Flashlight

- Pliers - Needlenose, small, waterpump (aka "Channellock")

- Scissors

- Microdriver set containing all sorts of drivers, metric and imperial sockets ( )

- Nail sets and center punch

- Awl

- Staple puller (needed for upholstery)

- Small F and Quick Clamps

- Nail puller

- Pry bar, painters

- Chisel set, 1/8 mortising, 1/4 - 1" bevel edge

- Cordless drill and driver, driver bits, drill bits, pocket screw kit, countersink bits

- Pull saw

- Glue bottle


I realize this is somewhat specialized and limited.  In my workshop, I have additional:

- Shop apron

- Block and smoothing planes

- Sanding blocks, sandpaper file, sandpaper cutter

- Scrapers (#80 and card scrapers)

- Squares : framing, combo (starrett), and engineer's

- Rulers/straightedge : 6" pocket and 18"

- Drawing accessories - triangles, French curves, small and large compasses, pencils, erasers

- 1/4" and 3/8" socket wrench set

- Sanders, drills, routers and accessories and bits

- Many more clamps of various types


Honored Advisor
Posts: 4,156
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

The first thing I would start with is a good size air compressor with a couple of air hoses and a blow gun.  Not only good for the shop but it would come in handy to keep the tires inflated. Next get yourself a large tablet and nail it on the wall. Make a list  of things you needed last week and next time you go to town get the things on the list. What you build in your shop will not be the same as any one else. Some of the things mentioned to you I never use and some I don't even own.

  I have three of four tap and die sets. Does everyone here on Wood have some, I doubt it.


I put three decks around my house here at the lake and never ever thought one time I needed bigger cordless drills than the 12 and 14 volt drills I used.  Some guys don't think they are big men unless all they own are the 24 volt and larger drills.

 Now if you were my next door neighbor I would tell you  how to stock your shop so I would know where to go borrow all the tools I didn't have. I might even name brands so I could borrow my favorites.

   Some like all their stuff hidden in drawers. I seem to waste less time if everything is out in plain sight. You got to be your own person.

Senior Advisor
Posts: 1,688
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

The first "hand tools" I would buy would be eye protection, hearing protection and breathing protection. I would keep them in a place that keeps them 1. handy upon entering the shop, and 2. clean.


Do nudists play strip poker?
Honored Advisor
Posts: 4,174
Registered: ‎12-31-2009

Re: Hand Tools & How To Store Them

[ Edited ]

After you get your protective tools, the next investment should be a good set of general use measuring tools.  Rules, tapes, calipers, squares, bevel gauge, protractor, etc.  But good quality and it should last you forever.  As far as storage goes; it depends on where you are, how you're going to use the tools, and what level of protection they need.  If you are going to be in and out of a toolbox all day every day you will probably want something with ball-bearing slides.  If you are in a damp-ish area, you will want to take measures to either dry it out or measures to prevent rust on your tools.  if you prefer to have your tools out and about, you can pegboard as many of them as you have room for.   I find that a lot of small tools are easily stored in a box / drawer which would not hang well.  Then again; how you do that will also be determined by what other tools you have.  wrenches (adjustable, open end, closed end, offset, ratcheting, 6 point-12-point -spline end), pliers (including channelock, vise-grip, long nose, side-cutter, lineman, fence plier, etc), snap-ring tools, screwdrivers of all shapes and sizes (or tips)...if you use them...square, phillips, flat, hex, torx, name it...  hammers, mallets, sledges, soft-blow, non-sparking (copper, brass, alum, lead, bronze)...  you do any kind of work you need the non-sparking you're talking a whole 'nuther (expensive generally) world of tools.   Hand saw for wood (push or pull style), coping, drywall, hacksaw, keyhole, hole saws with mandrels, etc.  punches; chisels for  metal or wood, i have an SAE and metric set of taps & dies - depends on what kind of projects you get into ....  you want theads on a piece of metal that didn't have them...there you go...make your own.    Sockets of all shapes and sizes 1/4-3/8-1/2 wrenches in various  combinations with extensions or offsets or crowsfoot, in 6-8-12 point.  take your pick.  I have found that the new spline sockets do a nice job on square plugs on the lawn tractors where my hands won't fit with a wrench.  planes, spokeshaves (have several), drawknives...multiple sizes and shapes for different projects.   The kids used spokeshaves to shape their bokken they wanted.  Cut the from some ash i had laying around.

Drill bits, router bits, step-drills, saw blades...what's your project?  add the tool to your collection.  If you find it at an unbelieveable price, you may want to get it anyway (that's how i found some really nice table saw blades some time back).  Have an idea about making a jig perhaps...?  Look for the unusual or unexpected when you are out.  I bought some fire-damaged plastic cutting boards that make great runners on the tablesaw.   Sharpening equipment? - stones, sandpaper, wheels, jigs for holding plane blades, etc.  Levels, plumb-bobs, chalk-line?  Gauges (screw-pitch, drill bit size, wire gauge) - if it has to be a certain can measure it.  Marking tools - pens, pencils, felt-tip, mortise gauge, awl or knife edge, etc.  Brushes for cleanup or finishes in various sizes and materials.  Various cutters and scrapers.  Hold-downs and clamps (I've heard you can't ever have enough), strap, spring...  Vises - wood, metal, drill-press...    You will often find a tool which you get for one project will be used many times over the years.  I know i have over the last 40+ years and (unfortunately Smiley Very Happy ), there are still lots of tools i don't have.    Files and rasps.  Keep well separated so you're not banging cutting edges of one hardened tool against another.


bottom line is this....didn't really matter in toto what i wanted.  I ended up with what i needed to get some project done.  there are still a lot of things i would LIKE, i just can't justify buying them because i want to look at them.