What is your indispensable hand tool?

Brian Patterson

Senior User
My two hands - use them more than anything else!

A square also qualifies but any measuring tool is indispensable. Nothing else can be used without them...


Corporate Member
Toss up between sharpening stones and my brain. Sorry Mike, you have both in good supply. Can't help you justify a new purchase.

Can't do much without a sharp edge.
When I don't have the "right" tool to do the job I can figure out the best way to proceed with the tools at hand.
It may not be best practice but it may be the only way to get the job done.

Then there was the guy I worked with years back. Said he had two books that allowed him to accomplish any task.
Check book
Yellowpages (like I said "years back")


Board of Directors, Vice President
Corporate Member
That should have read indispensable ”tools”. As my hand tool collection grows, and yes it’s still growing. I get a great delight from bringing tools back to life. They sometimes become indispensable for reasons that go beyond their use or their efficacy. That said, sometimes a tool becomes a department of tools. For example, a square. I have many squares, they have a specific purpose, they also match the scale of the work I’m doing. So there is a practical reason for having multiple squares. Mallets are the same, I have several mallets, different sizes and weights. They all have the same purpose but are scaled to the work at hand. I could go through the whole list and we would find that more or less that indispensable means many different things to many people. A really good question Mike, I’d be curious as to your list of indispensable. I’m always listening.

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
Yes, I think cluster of tools is perhaps more appropriate. My Starret collection gets very heavy use for layout and quality control. The Stanley hand planes are always employed when I am in the shop. I would not enjoy making dovetails without my Blue Spruce chisel. I make mallets, use them, give them away, wear them out, and make more. I have more dividers than friends.

But, I would have to say the workbench I built has grown to be my most used tool.

Pop Golden

Corporate Member
It varies, #1 would be my drawing table & T-square. Everything starts there long before shop time. On the other extreme it's my 16 oz. Plum claw hammer. A lot of things STOP their shop time there. LOL

Pop :cool:

Martin Roper

Tape measure. I must have 6-7 of them because I keep misplacing them.

I'm considering going metric and all of my old ones were Imperial so I just bought a new one with a metric side just when all the others were accounted for.

Barry W

Co-Director of Outreach
Corporate Member
Well, probably a toss - up between my claw hammer and my four pound sledgehammer. Sometimes a little force is required to make things fit. ;)

Phil S

Board of Directors, President
Phil Soper
Staff member
Corporate Member
1. Chromium oxide green dry pigment sprinkled on a piece of mdf - great for honing to a mirror finish, also fast
2. Shinwa Sokutei angle scribing square
3. Woodpeckers 6" Paolini pocket rule

But by far my most used is my criss-cross leg vise - holds incredibly well with just a spin of the wheel


I can't decide between my thingamajig or my whatchmacallit.
But I favor my do-hickey.

I probably use a 3/4 inch bench chisel far more than one would expect. I sure spend a lot of time sharpening it. I suppose I should use my marking knife and box knife, but darn is that Marple sharp!


New User
When I need a tool for a particular task or job it becomes my indispensable tool. Some of my tools hardly ever get used, but when I need them they once again become indispensable.

Matt Furjanic

Senior User
A good square and machinists 6“ and 12” rules. Also a good straight edge.

i guess that’s several things. Got carried away...


New User
Cody Alton
I'm just moving into more hand tool use. Actually ordered a lot of the basics the past couple weeks, marking gauge, marking knife, etc. So my opinion is limited.

I'd say right now my combination square. It gets used a lot.


Senior User
Trying to pick something more uncommon. I've had the same one for probably 20 years. Lost the locking nut. Still so darn useful I just use it without.


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