Being a woodworker for a number of years, I’ve collected a large assortment of tools over the years. Outside of being in my shop, I don’t have many other hobbies. Therefore, my wife hates when it comes time to buy a gift. She claims that I’m impossible to buy for. I can see her point. There’re endless options of tools available and if you don’t work with wood every day, the options can be very overwhelming.
I’ve put this guide together to give non-woodworkers some ideas on what to purchase for their woodworker friend or spouse. It’s easy to put some tools down like a table saw, but odds are, your woodworker already has one. My list includes tools that they may not already have or if they do, the item in my list is likely a significant upgrade to what they have. I’ve tried to include multiple tools across all price ranges.
Woodworker’s Gift Guide
- Klein Magnetizer – This is the cheapest item on our list, but don’t let the price or size fool you. This is a very hand tool to have around the house. Not all drill bits and screwdrivers are magnetized. This can make drilling/screwing difficult when in a hard to reach place because the screw won’t stick to the bit. With this magnetizer, this problem disappears! Simply rub the bit or screwdriver around in the “magnetized” circle and it will magically hold the screw in place on your bit. It also has the ability to demagnetize items, should you need it. What I like about this particular one is that it acts as a key chain so it’s always handy.
- Bessey Pipe Clamps – A woodworker can never have too many clamps. If you are buying for someone just starting out, there’s a high likelihood they haven’t purchased pipe clamps yet because these typically aren’t the first set of clamps one purchases. If you are buying for an experience woodworker, the Bessey models are an excellent brand for their quality and features. I haven’t multiple pipe clamps, but I’ll never turn away another set that’s being gifted to me!
- BucketBoss Tool Apron – A tool apron is something I never really considered needing. Once I got one though, I questioned why I never looked into getting one sooner. Before having this, I was constantly having to stop to look for a pencil, screw or whatever. I never had what I needed near me. After getting one of these as a gift, I tried it and fell in love. It’s rare that I’m not wearing this now when out in my shop.
- Rothco Mechanics Canvas Tool Bag – Everyone has seen the old metal (and more recently plastic) tool boxes lying around in a shop or on a work truck. In recent years, there have been new designs to hit the market such as the ones here from Rothco. These tool bags don’t even look like tool bags. They are made of heavy duty canvas material and will hold up under the toughest of conditions. These would make a nice gift for a tool guy that has everything.
- Equal Space Divider Marker – This simple tool has saved me much frustration over the past couple years. I wish I had this when I was hanging shelves and pictures in our new house a few years back. It works like an accordion and expands and contracts depending on your movement. Suppose you have a 40” shelf that you want to hand on your wall but the shelf doesn’t have the hanger pre-installed. Simply expand this marker to the edges of your shelf, and it will indicate equal distances across the shelf so you place your hangers in the perfect locations. This is awesome for anyone to have around the house.
- Black & Decker Portable Work Bench – I remember my dad having one of these when I was little. Not too long ago I was in his garage, and noticed he still had it! It’s at least 30 years old and still in usable shape. He has massive custom-built workbenches in his garage, yet, he still pulls this little table out and uses it quite often. The other nice thing about it is that it folds up and can be hidden behind a cabinet. This is definitely something a beginner could use, but an experienced woodworker could find some uses for one as well!
From $25 to $100
- The Hedgehog Spiral Featherboard – Statistically, the table saw is the most dangerous tool in a shop. One of the leading causes to mishaps is when a piece of wood pinches the saw blade as it’s spinning thus turning the board being pushed thru the blade into a missile headed directly towards the operator in a split second. A featherboard is highly recommended to help reduce the risk of a kickback. There’s several different styles and shapes available, but this is a good one on the market.
- Tacklife Digital Tape Measure – I picked up one of these about a year ago. I was a bit uncertain how well it would work being an off brand. I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I love it. It accurately measures up to almost 200 feet using a small laser beam. I ended up taking it to work and mapping out our entire 10,000 square foot office with it. It’s incredibility easy to use. Highly recommend!
- Hitachi Saw Horses – These are excellent for a new woodworker. They are incredibly strong and fold up so they don’t take up much space. A friend of mine has a set in his apartment that he pulls out to paint signs on from time to time. This is a great brand and the quality of these are very nice.
- GRR-Ripper Push Board – This is another tool that falls in the safety category. I think tools that promote safety are great gifts because they are usually skipped by the user for other sexier tools. The GRR-Ripper is used primary only table saws but can be used on other tools as well. It works be giving the user a handle to better grip boards and they push them thru a table saw. Using this tool move the user’s fingers a few more inches away from the spinning blade. Every inch the user can back away from the blade the better. This push board also helps prevent kickbacks as well by allowing the user to press down on the board as it goes thru the blade. I highly recommend every woodworker have at least one of these.
- Bosch Orbital Sander – All woodworkers need an orbital sander. They are small and compact so they are able to squeeze into tight areas. They are also a huge timesaver over hand sanding. There are cheaper options available online, but Bosch is a brand I really like and trust. If this fits your budget, then you really can’t go wrong with it. Odd are, if you are buying for someone that’s experienced, they are already going to have one of these in their shop.
- Vac Master Stainless Steel Shop Vac – A woodworker can never have too many shop vacs! I think I currently have 3 in my shop right now. I usually keep them tucked away under a bench or something and fire them up as needed. Shop vacs come in a wide range of sizes. This vac has a large capacity and a strong motor of up to 5 HP. The 12 gallon capacity will need to be emptied less frequently than smaller units which is nice!
$100 and up
- MD Building Digital Level – This is another gift for the guy who has everything. This digital level is top of the line. Since it gives a digital readout, it’s extremely accurate. I would not recommend this for someone new to woodworking. I think you could spend $100 on something that would be more beneficial. This particular brand and model is one of the best on the market.
- WEN Air Filtration System – Prolonged exposure to dust has been shown to significantly increase the risk of cancer in woodworkers. It’s important to put multiple layers of dust collection in place to reduce the risk of inhaling wood dust. One of the layers of protection that is recommended is an air filtration system. At the price point of this air filtration system, there is no reason a woodworker should not have on of these in their shop. This particular model works great in a small shop, perhaps the size of a 1 car garage or smaller. It’s relatively quiet and the noise that it does produce is “white noise” so it blends in to the background. For a complete review that I did of this model, please check out my article here.
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig – This is a great pickup for a beginner. Pocket holes are used to screw boards together while keeping the screws and their holes hidden. This is one of the easiest ways to key your screw holes hidden on projects, therefore it’s one of the first learned tricks for a beginner. This jig makes drilling the holes almost fool proof. If you are following plans off of one of the main DIY sites, odds are, they are going to recommend using pocket holes. One tip on this – You don’t have to continue buying the Kreg screws once you run out of the ones that come with the kit. Head over to eBay and get some generic ones that are much cheaper and typically sold by the pound!
- California Air Ultra Quiet Air Compressor – I use my compressor often, but even after all this time, it still scares me to death when it kicks on. I’ve never gotten use to it. The average compressor produces anywhere from 85 to 100 decibels of noise. This compressor from California Air measures at only 60 decibels which is very impressive. To offer some perspective, a normal conversation is about 46 dB’s, a clothes dryer is about 60 dB’s while a lawnmower is around 90 dB’s. As you can see, this is a significant improvement in noise for the garage. If the option is available, elect to go with the 1 HP model.
- Bosch Flexiclick Multi Tool Kit – The Flexiclick drill kit from Bosch is a drill on steroids. It has 5 attachments that easily are easy to interchange on the drill base. At 12 volts its plenty power for most jobs and the attachments give it increase functionality for those awkward spots that you need to drill into. I think the offset angle and right-angle attachments are the ones I use primarily. They allow me to drill a screw straight rather than at an angle which can sometimes cause problems. This set was just released in late 2017, so it’s doubtful that an experienced woodworker would have this. I think this kit would be valuable to anyone.
- Stiletto Titanium Hammer – This is a great gift for the guy that has EVERYTHING. Odds are, he doesn’t have one of these. Yes, $180 for a hammer is expensive, but this is the Cadillac of hammers. It’s made of titanium which is incredibly lightweight. It’s also built to reduce the shock and vibration that occurs when you strike a nail. If you are out of ideas, this may be one that wows him.
- Jet Air Filtration System – This is a more powerful air filtration system than the one I listed above made by WEN. This will push more air thru it and pull more dust from the air. Again, it’s important to add multiple layers of dust collection to a wood shop. This is one of those layers.
- Dewalt Scroll Saw – A scroll saw is used to cut small and intricate pieces out of wood. This is a great beginner saw and one that I began using first in my early teens. One important features of a scroll saw are the ability to quickly remove and re-attach the blade when you need to get to the center of a piece of wood but aren’t able to cut through it. This saw is rated very highly for that feature. There are cheaper scroll saws available, but this is the nicest one on the market right now. Just a note, this does not come with a stand. It’s relatively small though and building your own stand is easy, or you can also buy purchase one.