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A Guide to Wooden Furniture Restoration Tools

Secondary Tools Needed for a Workshop

The secondary tools below are not necessary for repairs, but they can shorten your work time and offer lots of convenience if you have them available in your workshop. Consider buying these secondary tools when you've mastered the basic tools and when your budget permits.

Magnetic Tack Hammer. This tool is fairly inexpensive, and it will perform lots of tricks: positioning a tack or nail, operating in tight quarters, providing easy-to-swing weight. One end of the hammer is a magnet; the driving face of the hammer is on the other end. Good magnetic tack hammers have a built-in tack puller in the magnetic end, making tack removal easy in hard-to-get-into corners. Buy the 8-ounce weight.


Jack Plane, Jointer Plane. Jack and jointer planes are expensive, but they are a must for cabinetmaking and for extensive furniture repairing. These two planes, with their long beds, complement one another.

The jack plane is used first, for cutting and smoothing wood surfaces perfectly square. The jointer plane follows the jack plane, giving the surface a final smoothness to ready it for gluing or for a perfect fit. These planes can also be used to rough-smooth the faces of boards, although you should probably take this type of project to a millwork shop and have them run the job through a power planer.

Spiral Ratchet Screwdriver. Sometimes called a Yankee driver, this tool has a push-release handle that turns automatically on a spiral shank. You just push down on the handle to activate the tip or screwing end. Several blades (standard slot and Phillips-head) are included with the screwdriver; they are usually stored in the hollow handle.

The ratchet on the shank may be set to either drive or draw screws, or you can set the ratchet in a "no turn" position. A spiral ratchet screwdriver's main role in furniture repair is to drive/draw screws quickly. The tool can also be used for hundreds of household and automotive repair and maintenance jobs, which spreads out the cost.

Wrench Assortment. You won't need these wrenches often, but when you do they're worth the price. Various size sets are sold -- from three wrenches up to a dozen or so. Sizes range from about 1/8 inch up to 1-1/2 inches; the basic sizes are 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4 inch. Boxed-end wrenches are probably the best buy for furniture repairs.

Locking Pliers. With this pliers tool, you adjust a little knurled knob on one handle and then lock the jaws onto almost any object. This is the tool to use for extremely tough-to-turn nuts and bolts. You can pull nails with it, too. A range of sizes is available, small to large. Small and medium sizes are adequate for furniture repair jobs.

Nail Sets. You can buy many sizes of this tool. What it does is set or countersink nail heads below the surface of wood and other materials. The cost is very reasonable, and the small, medium, and large models will all come in handy. Nail sets are tempered steel, so you can strike them with a hammer. The shank is tapered to a flat point that fits the top of the nail head.

Dividers. This tool is used in mechanical drawing to divide a line. Dividers are also excellent tools in furniture repair to locate screw and center points for drilling holes. You can use dividers, too, to transfer accurate measurements of various small furniture parts.

Adjustable Wrench. A knuckle-buster if you aren't careful, an adjustable wrench can be very helpful as a backup for boxed-end wrenches and locking pliers. A knurled knob adjusts the jaw so it fits most nuts; you hold it on the nut while you turn the bolt with a wrench, pliers, or a screwdriver. The medium size is adequate.

Rasp and File Assortment. There are lots of little jobs in furniture repairing that need just a touch of a file or rasp to smooth materials. This is where an assortment of these tools comes in handy. Round files and rasps are handy tools to have for smoothing and enlarging holes.

Saber Saw or Portable Electric Jigsaw. Buy the variable-speed or two-speed-type for cutting almost any material. You can buy a blade assortment for wood, plastic, metal -- even concrete.

The saber saw (sometimes called a portable electric jigsaw) is the counterpart of a keyhole saw, and it will perform some of the tricks of a coping saw. Besides furniture repairs and cabinetmaking, the saber saw can be used for a good many home maintenance and improvement projects; it even has the capacity to cut two-by-fours.

Equipping your at-home workshop with the proper tools mentioned in this article can save you time with your furniture repair or restoration projects and help them progress more smoothly than anticipated.

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