Rob Cosman’s Top 10 Hand Tools

At the end of each workshop I teach I usually give the students my top ten tool list. I wish someone had been there to guide my early purchases. A lot of these tools I make myself however that has grown from students wanting the tools I use and creating the demand. Some of the tools I helped other companies design and I now offer them for sale on my site
The skew block plane can be found here
The router plane is here


Seth's Project Woodworking says:

Rob, have you ever thought about tapering the blade on your saws like the lie Nielsen ones? I own a lie Nielsen tapered dovetail saw, and I find that the taper is super useful, and would love to see you incorporate it into your saws! It would be incredible to have the taper, fine teeth to start, and that heavy handle. Would definitely have to buy one 🙂

Nick Wright says:

Who makes the marking gauges?

Isai Torres says:

The apron that you are wearing is awesome, I am currently active duty military (Army). I am stationed at fort Bragg, NC with the 20th Engineer Brigade which is that patch with the White Castle and red borders. #Airborne #AirAssault

Nico 76 says:

Actually, the two most important tools are talent and experience. It doesn’t matter how expensive your tools are, if you don’t at least have some talent everything you make will suck. No tool can change that. A true craftsman can make the most beautiful things with the cheapest tools. But this is the trend these days, all you youtube “experts” pushing expensive tools and all the gullible amateur wood workers believe everything you say and they go out and spend big money on tools. It’s shameful, really. And that Trend diamond plate is rubbish. Atoma is so much better.

Anthony Hernandez says:

Seems like alot of bias when it comes to pushing products. Maybe just me?

K Rabenaldt says:


Green Building says:

i think Mr Cosman forgot the router plane.. Hehe.. Thats 1 of the most important plane too, how come he passed that one..

Mr abi Mohammad says:

Great Video thanks for that … can you tell me where they sell the wood river plane in Ontario ? Toronto if it’s possible… thanks

jc51373 says:

Surprised you didn’t include a no No. 62 LA jack in the plane category. good coverage either way, helped me out on the chisels.

CrimeVid says:

All very expensive tools for what they are, but I most disagree with the initial purchase of a ridiculous sharpening set up, for what that could cost you could buy a used Stanley no 4(or 5), your three basic chisels and a couple of fine tooth hard point saws,and have more than enough money to buy a Norton double sided “India” oilstone the sharpener that generations of joiners have found quite adequate for a lifetimes work (Ok you can have an old belt to make a strop with !). I remember the very few much loved tools my father used to make the the kitchen and tables in our first house (I have some of them still). I feel strongly that this array of over important tools hides the fact that they won’t make you a joiner just by spending the money, what you need is ten years practice and some aptitude.

Paul Frederick says:

No one should be buying new bench or jack planes today. There’s so many out there for cheap to buy used. I’ve never paid more than $20 for a used jack plane. At the peak of the market you’d better believe I’m getting a Stanley Bedrock plane. I’ve paid as little as a dollar for a mint condition No. 4 too.

boatrat74 says:

I think a smaller “smoother” size bench plane really should be included in this list, especially for anyone doing anything other than house furniture, or anything planed in place (at potentially awkward angles)away from the bench. No matter what else I had in my kit, I could not do without either a #3 or a #4.

I was just raising this same objection with Matt Estlea on his “What planes do you need” vid the other day. Different focus there, as he was only speaking of essential planes, not a whole kit of all necessary tools… but my conclusion is the same. He ended with a low angle jack (#5 size, I believe the old Stanley number was a #62), and a block plane, as his vital “first purchase” recommendations. Even MORE so here, with your choice of the 5-1/2, I say you need a #3 or #4 for those common in-between tasks, where a “Jack Plane” is too big, and a Block plane is a bit too small. You CAN get by with nothing in that in-between size, but why make life hard on yourself? There’s a reason the #4 is SO common on the antique market. The old-timers used that one at least as much as the #5 (the latter generally referred to as the “most versatile”). Point being, you really should have both.

Hudson Valley says:

question: Rob, did you ever make a video you didn’t make a dollar on? or promote a product on you or sponsor? just a learning video period? just curious

Phillie_B_30 says:

Excellent! Mr Cosman is a great teacher and master craftsman, we need more people like him in the industry.
Thank you for your time, knowledge and sharing!!

sTu 3pldeuce says:

Nice apron. Great tips. Where’d you get the 10th Mountain patch?

OzoneEditions says:

Good video. This information lets me fill in some of the gaps in my tool chest and gives me recommendations for upgrades of my existing hand tools.

BF Florida says:

Great feedback and fair review.. One tool I think it should be added in this collection is scraper card.. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us Rob.

Chem Cody says:

Nicely done Rob. You audio is SOO much better! Thank you!

arty says:

none of those tools had triggers, are they cordless?

Corey Matheson says:

Another great video Rob! It’s quite apparent; you are passionate about your craft and desire to pass on years of experience to others yearning to learn more. You have a personal and financial investment in the videos that are well made and put them out to everyone for FREE.

As a hobby woodworker, I value your opinion of tools regardless of whether you are a reseller or a retailer of tools you manufacture yourself. Yes, you have a bias on tools you produce and rightly so, but also highlight other manufacturers as well. Your tools receive high marks in favorite woodworking magazines. Years of experience has taught you what tools and practices get the best results in the least amount of time and effort.

I appreciate your “Top Ten List” for what it was intended to be, not the least expensive, but the most effective and “why.” For myself, quality is more important than quantity. How a tool performs and feels in hand has immeasurable value. I am blessed to have a good job and can afford quality tools every once in a while. Life is busy; time in the woodshop is precious and limited.

Your videos are brutally honest and candid. While working on a project and you make a mistake as we ALL do, you show them. Mistakes aren’t edited out. Instead, methods on how to make corrections are explained. It shows integrity. Thank you for all the great videos.

JTMarlin8 says:

He has a lot of pieces of flair.

NCharlesworth86 says:

What sort of input did you have in the design of the plane and chisels? They look like the same design that’s been around for 100 years? I’d love to know the refinements younmade

Skisworkshop says:

Great video Rob.  Thank you for the well explained suggestions. Cheers!

Jay Visnansky says:

Great video Rob. I’ve picked up a number of tips from your videos. If you would, take a look at my channel and subscribe. It sure would help me. Thanks in advance.

Daniel Miller says:

Great video! Thanks for the recs.

joe fran says:

a little bias?

Joe Dirt says:

Holy shit, thats an FMF Corpsman patch. Awesome!

Sampo Kemppainen says:

Remember guiz. Don’t learn any carpentry. It’s more fun to buy the most expensive stuff and magically make cool joints and boards.

NoodleBukkit says:


rusty Shackleferd says:

Where can I get your stones! Cant find online…

Linda Ultreras says:

Thanks Rob much . 🙂

Fearsome Warrior says:

Picking up mortise chisels has been creeping up higher on my list. Knowing to care about the sides for registering is great to know. Also I think you mention using the mortise gauge that you should use the width of the chisel blade to match the width of the mortise itself. Very helpful information. I will probably buy a Narex set with 4, 5, 6, 8 , 10, and 12 mm sizes. 80 bucks seems reasonable.

Jim Bo says:

There are lots of approaches for beginners. When I teach I recommend using decent wood even for absolute beginners. Using cheap softwood can be demoralising. The same applies to tools. However, not many beginners want to outlay large amounts of money. At that stage they don’t know if they will persist, or whether they want a few power tools. They might neither have the skill to renovate second hand antiques. There are old tools on eBay that come ready to use, if you look carefully. So a newbie can set up for a few dollars each for a tenon saw, chisels, Stanley block plane and a number5. A square is absolutely essential. Again old ones are better and cheap. A small fine tooth hardpoint saw covers a lot of the work. After a year or two then start treating yourself to Robs recommendations. They aren’t expensive considering a lifetimes use.

Budo 's Workshop says:

I have all these saws by a old well known maker they have been recut three times in my life and set and sharpened countless number of times and they all still have more blade on them then yours do new why are your blades so small

Steven Jaynes says:

Nicely done Rob.

Belle City Woodworking says:

Excellent Video Rob!

Carbonite Gamorrean says:

The low angle block next to the 7? what brand and model please ?

Russell Fulmer says:

A lot of great info. Thank you,

NagantG17 says:

I think this is a great list. If anything, for those like me who are easing in and buying tools when they can, I’d say a great place to cut down on initial cost is in the saws. Japanese saws are a great way to get the saws you need to get started for less than the price of one quality western style saw.

spentacle says:

Those little router planes are known in Scotland as a “Granny’s Tooth” plane

Ben McCartney says:

Incredibly valuable information. Thank you! Question: How would you feel about a No. 62 low angle plane instead of the 5 1/2″ plane as a starter?

Scooter Rat says:

Thanks Rob, this helped a lot in making decisions about which hand tools to focus on getting first.

MisterWonka says:

Did you ever try a Rali plane? If so what do you think of it?

Joe H says:

What’s with the rank patch and all the other patches.

slcphoto says:

Tried to visit the IBC website ( but my security software said the site wasn’t ‘private’ and wouldn’t let me go there. Might be something to check out…

Beau Wilkerson says:

Like the EOD crab you’re wearing. What officer branch were you? Awesome video! Just like all of the videos you produce.

Bum Custard says:

I didn’t see a big hammer for encouraging fitting of any big peg into smaller holes ?


If U Don’t Mind How Much 5 Day WoodWork 101 Class Cost & Where??? Retired Gov’t Water Mechanic & Inspector Want Build Live Edge Color Epoxy Art (:-)

cartola48 says:

“Top 10 tools” proceeds to show 50 tools hahahahahahahaha thanks, great video

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