Gadgets for the New Carpenter

I covered all the power tools I use on a regular basis in my Power Tools for the New Carpenter post.  There are a few other tools and gadgets I use when building cabinets and buit-ins that help me get professional results.  If you are a new carpenter and want to have everything on hand for that next project, these are some items I would consider getting ahead of time.

gadget guide for the new carpenter

Kreg Jig Jr. pocket hole jig  ($40)  For when you don’t want to screw through the front of the wood you are attaching to another piece of wood.  This allows you to screw from behind and pull that front piece of wood back securely to the wood behind it.

Gadgets for new carpenter



With that you’ll need a face clamp ($20).

gadgets for the new carpenter


Square check  for tape measure.  ($3)  Squaring up your cabinet “box” is VERY important!  This keeps the tape measure in exactly the same spot on each corner and keeps it from sliding off.  I do have some trouble with the entire square check falling off when working alone but if you have a helper, they can hold it in place easily.  If you work alone, you put it back in place 3 times, swear a couple times and somehow get it done.  Still, this little $3 tool makes the process as easy as possible.

Gadgets for new carpenter


EZ Mark Line Cords  ($3)  For when I staple the back onto my cabinet.  It saves some time so I don’t have to measure and mark where all my shelves are.  Just line up the cords with the shelves and staple below (or above, depending on how you place your cord.)

easy mark cords



Assembly square  ($6)  I have two of these.  I clamp them on my cabinets while I secure the shelf to the side.  It makes sure everything is going together square.

Gadgets for new carpenter



With those you’ll need some clamps.  I’ve purchased cheap clamps in the past and I won’t do that again.  I bought two Irwin clamps a few years before I bought six cheap ones from Harbor Freight tools.  All six of the cheap ones have broken and fallen apart but the Irwin clamps are still great.  I’ve since bought about a dozen more Irwin clamps in 12″ and 6″ lengths.

Irwin Clamps  ($20 for four 6″ clamps)

gadgets for the new carpenter

RipCut ($40)  This goes on your circular saw so you can make quick cuts under 24″ wide.  If you are making multiple cuts the same width it is a huge time saver.

Edited on  5/14:  Several of my clients have complained that their RipCut kept falling off their circular saw or it wouldn’t fit on in the first place.  I never had that problem personally but it’s worth noting.

gadgets for new carpenters



Corner Clamp from Harbor Freight tools ($9.99)  I also have two of these.  Sometimes I use these and sometimes I use the assembly squares.  Depends on where I’m working and what I can find.  I like them both.

Gadgets for new carpenter


Rafter Square ($16)  These come in different sizes but I have the 12″ and love it.  If I could find one that was 18″ I would LOVE that even more.  But, I’ve never seen one that big so I make do.  This square has a lip on one edge so it sits on the edge of the wood you are marking and ensure that you have a square mark every time.  You can use it for marking  and for cutting.  It’s also a great tool to have to check square on boards that have been cut for you (you know they don’t always get cut square).

It is important to note that not all squares are square — check yours to make sure it is before using it.

Gadgets for new carpenter



These are all workshop favorites.  Not sure they all warrant their own post but they are must haves in my shop all the same.  I’ll definitely write more about some of these… sometime in the future.  ;-)

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  1. was looking at those HF corner clamps. do you still find them useful? I’d be looking to use them while pocket-holing shelves and cabinet bases

  2. Nancy Williams says:

    Those EZ Mark cords are really cool but the prices on everything have really gone up since you posted this!

  3. Ed "Sawdust Guy" says:

    When you want to use the square check by yourself, try a little double-sided tape to hold it on the corner. It’s the next best thing to another set of hands.

  4. Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess says:

    Sandra, thanks for these tool/gadget recommendations! I still use the gloves and ventilator you recommended a few years back, and these are just the recs I was looking for. :-)

  5. Feral Turtle says:

    I put three of them on my wish list! Thanks so much. Cheers.

  6. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    Drool! I haven’t heard of some of these things and they are SO CHEAP and would have saved SO MUCH headache and heartache. I’m adding them to my amazon basket right now! (ie: ez mark line cords).

  7. Great list! After reading this I am going to get me some of those assembly squares and a square check.

    PS – what happened to your cabinet making tutorial. I went to pull it up, and it says “page not found.”

    • Unfortunately one of them lost all the pics during my “down” time. I’ll try to fix it and get it back up but I unpublished it for now. It’s not much of a tutorial with only half the information. :-(

  8. BTW, I’m so glad your blog is back. I’ve missed it.

  9. I have most of those and find them invaluable. But the EZ mark line cords are new to me. What a handy gadget! Gotta get me one of those!

  10. I have three of those items. Maybe I should get some of the others. :)