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Here's a list of commonly-used tools here at the shop, tried and tested by me and countless students that have taken classes at Essick Woodworking School. Students often leave the class with a wish list of items they would want to add to their own shops at home. These can be woodworking gifts to yourself, or for the woodworker in your life.

This list does include affiliate links which help the school, but nothing is on here that hasn't been well-used and appreciated at the shop.  I'll be updating this page often, so check back soon.  

Under $30

Quick Corner Templates 

These are a real time-saver for layout and design work. No more looking for the right sized cup or can!


Bahco Scraper

This little scraper gets my highest recommendation. It's a high-quality, versatile tool that you'll want to have on hand.

Bahco Scrapers

Round Hook and Loop Hand Sanding Pad

This hand sander gets points for convenience---it can use the same 5" hook & loop sand paper that you use for your random orbital sander. 

Round hook and loop hand sanding pad

Bob Smith Super Glue

This is a great super glue that I came across. Trust me, it really works. 

Bobs Super Glue Finger Job

Gyokucho Razorsaw

A quality, reasonably-priced saw with replacement blades available. This particular model has two sides (fine tooth and coarse tooth) and is especially suited for flush cuts.

Gyokucho Razorsaw - double sided

Gyokucho Razor Dozuki Saw

Another great saw at a reasonable price with replacement blades. This one has the added stiffness of a back saw. 

Gyokucho Razorsaw - Dozuki back saw

Wixey Digital Angle Gauge
Super handy for setting your table saw blade angles.

Digital Angle Gauge

Taytools 12" Center-Finding Ruler

One side of this ruler helps you find the center of a measurement and the other helps you dial in the angle on your bevel gauge. 

center finding ruler

Under $50

Measuring / Set Up Blocks

Really handy for setting table saw and router height (and multiple other uses!).


Klingspor Sandpaper Sheets

Students are always wondering why the sandpaper in the shop works better, and this is the type I use. A high quality, long-lasting sandpaper. 

iGaging Dial Caliper

I usually pick this one up before I grab up the digital. Digital is great, but since we mostly work with fractions in the shop, the dial with the fractional measurements is usually the most helpful.

iGaging Dial Caliper

Milwaukee Scissors
It's not easy to find a decent pair of scissors for the shop, but a student brought me a pair of Milwaukee Jobsite Scissors and they're my favorite

Milwaukee Jobsite Scissors

Under $100

Mag Switch Featherboard

A great way to save your left hand on the table saw or band saw! Use this convenient magnetic featherboard tool to apply pressure against the fence, leaving your fingers safely out of the way.

Magswitch Featherboard for Tablesaw

Makita Orbital Sander

A great all around sander that is easy to hold and works well for flat and freehand sanding. 

Makita Orbital Sander

Jet Parallel Clamps

Of all the parallel clamps used for woodworking, Jet Parallel Clamps are my favorite. Easy to adjust, but most of all, a better grip for maximum torquing pressure.


Jorgensen Bar Clamps

When other clamps can't supply adequate pressure, these will. 


Pony Clamps

My go to clamp for chair-making. Deep throat and also good for offset clamping as one end can rotate around the pipe. 


iGaging Combination Square Set

Probably one of the most useful tools in the shop. This is a reliable set that does the job, but if you can afford an upgrade (and really, you can't have too many of these lying around), the combination sets from Starrett (link below) really can't be beat. 

iGaging Combination Square

King Arthur Tools Roughing Disc

The Holey Galahad roughing disc by King Arthur Tools is my favorite for doing rough shaping. It attaches easily to an angle grinder and the holes in the disk let you see the work while you're shaping.

King Arthur Tools Holey Galahad shaping disc

Over $100

DeWalt Router

Of the 20+ routers I've accumulated over the years, this is hands down my favorite router of all time. It's good for 90% of all the routing you'll ever need to do, and it comes with both a plunge and a fixed base. 


Festool Track Saw

I've owned this track saw for over twenty years, and it's just as accurate as the day I bought it. 


Ryobi Angle Grinder 

I've got a few of these and I love using them at the school for making sculpted furniture. The reason I like this one so much (and I've tried them all) is because of the trigger functionality. 

Ryobi Angle Grinder

Mirka Random Orbital Sander

This tool has changed many students' attitudes towards sanding. It's the Rolls Royce of sanders for flat work with excellent dust collection. One of my favorite tools in the shop and perfect for getting a beautiful finish on flat surfaces. 

Mirka Orbital Sander

Festool Domino XL

I'm saving my highest praise for this tool. The most revolutionary tool in the shop, this is my go-to tool for joining furniture. Easily sets plunge depth, size and height to accurately join just about anything. 

Festool Domino XL

Mirka Abranet Sanding Disks

These are sanding disks that go along with the Mirka sander. They're a mesh sanding disk (much less likely to gum up) and come in 80 grit all the way up to 1000 grit. 

Mirka Abranet Sanding Disks

Festool Rotex Dual-Mode Sander RO 150

This is the sander I start with for rough grits on larger sculptural pieces because of the dual mode option which lets you choose between the circular/grinding mode and the random orbital mode.

Festool Rotex Dual Mode Sander

Festool Rotex Dual-Mode Sander RO 90 DX

Similar to the Rotex 150 this sander is dual-mode but its smaller size makes it ideal for getting into smaller spaces or for sanding bowls on the lathe. 

Festool Rotex Sander

Arbortech Carving Tool

This is a great carving, sculpting and sanding tool. This is a quality tool with lots of accessories, made by a great company. 

Arbortech Carving Tool - Great tool for sculpting in wood

Fein Shop Vacuum

A very "fine" vacuum. Been using these for many years, and love them, especially the "auto" feature: you can connect your tool and this vacuum will turn on automatically every time the tool starts working. 

Fein Shop Vacuum - helpful auto feature

Saw Stop Table Saw

A great table saw, with the added benefit of stopping upon contact with the skin, preventing injuries. Many different models to chose from for whatever you need. I've had mine in the shop for 14 years, and let me just say... it's been tested.

Saw Stop Table Saw

Saw Stop Saw Cartridge

This is the cartridge that gets replaced every time the Saw Stop engages. 

Saw Stop Table Saw Cartridge

Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig

I've had mine since they first came out close to 20 years ago, and Kreg keeps improving this very helpful tool. Easy to set-up, and very functional tool. 

Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig

Starrett Combination Square Set

Probably one of the most useful tools in the shop, and these combination square sets from Starrett are as good as it gets. If you can afford it, treat yourself. You won't regret it. 

Starrett Combination Square

Makita Die Grinder

One of my favorite sculpting tools in the shop. The best thing about it is that it can go slow enough to use a drum sander attachment with it, which isn't the case with other die grinders. 


Grex Pin Nailer

The Grex Pin Nailer is a great tool for attaching trim pieces, making jigs & patterns, and setting something up for glueing. The tiny pin nails you use for it (" to 1 3/16" length) leave a discreet hole that can barely be seen.

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