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Tools for the Building and Carpentry Trades

Having the appropriate tools is a critical part of completing all construction projects successfully. Using tools correctly keeps you and your fellow crewmembers safe while you perform your construction tasks. Maintaining tools properly gives you good performance and minimizes downtime caused by broken tools.

All types of tools, including hand, power, powder actuated, and pneumatic tools, are essential parts of your trade as a builder. To be a proficient builder, you must be able to use and maintain a large variety of field and shop tools effectively. To perform your work quickly, accurately, and safely, you must select and use the correct tool for the job at hand. Without the proper tools and the knowledge to use them correctly, you waste time, reduce efficiency, and may injure yourself or others.

This course describes many of the most common tools used by builders and carpenters. Their uses, general characteristics, attachments, and safety and operating features, including maintenance, are outlined.

When you complete this course, you will be able to:


1.0.0 Hand Tools

2.0.0 Power Tools

3.0.0 Powder Actuated Tools

4.0.0 Pneumatic Tools

Review Questions


A hand tool is a device, used for performing a task, which does not use a motor, but is powered solely by the person using it. builders use many hand tools; this section covers the main categories of tools.

1.1.0 Measuring and Layout Tools

There are many types of tools used to measure and lay out construction projects. Measuring tools include flat steel rules, measuring tapes, wooden folding rules, digital measuring devices, and measuring wheels. Squares are used to mark, check, and measure components of construction projects. Chalk lines are used to mark straight lines on large surfaces. Plumb bobs are used to check that project components are perfectly upright. Levels are used to check that project components are level and/or plumb. When you consider which of these tools to use, keep in mind the following points:

1.1.1 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Measuring Tools

Be safe with your measuring tools by using the following guidelines:

For all measuring tools:

For measuring tapes:

For digital measuring devices:

For wooden folding rules:

Steel Rule – The flat steel rule shown in Figure 1 is the simplest measuring tool. It is usually 6 or 12 inches in length but can be longer. Steel rules can be rigid or flexible, thin or wide. It is easier and more accurate to use a thin rule, since it is closer to the work being measured.

Figure 1 – Steel rule.

Flat steel rules can have up to four sets of marks, two on each side of the blade. Rules with four sets of marks are set up with divisions of 1/8” and 1/16” on one side, and divisions of 1/32” and 1/64” on the other side. The marks are longer for a division of 1/2”, scaling down in length from 1/4” through 1/64”.

Measuring Tape – A measuring tape, as shown in Figure 2 can come in any length from 6’ to 50’. The most common are 10’, 16’, and 25’. Shorter tapes usually have a curved cross section so they roll easily but stay rigid when extended. Longer tapes are usually flat and should be laid along a surface to avoid sagging in the middle. 

Figure 2 – Measuring tape.

A locking mechanism, such as a sliding button, keeps the tape locked in place while a measurement is being taken. Other locking mechanisms, such as levers and toggles, allow the tape to be retracted after measuring by simply squeezing them. In any case, a spring mechanism in the case automatically retracts the tape.

1.1.2 How to Use a Measuring Tape

Follow these steps to use a measuring tape properly:

  1. Pull the tape out to the desired length.
  2. Place the hook over the edge of the material you are measuring.
  3. Lock the tape in place.
  4. Record or mark the measurement.
  5. Unhook the tape from the edge of the material.
  6. Release the lock and rewind the tape.

Digital Measuring Devices – Digital measuring devices, as shown in Figure  3, are similar to conventional measuring devices, but their digital readouts make measurement readings more precise. They give you the ability to convert fractions to decimal or metric equivalents. A useful function of these devices is their ability to compensate for the size of the tape case when making measurements inside a window frame or door jamb. Some device have a memory function that holds a measurement; others have a voice recorder to keep track of multiple measurements.

Figure 3 – Digital measuring device.

Folding Rule – A folding rule, as shown in Figure 4, is made up of hardwood, steel, or aluminum sections, each measuring 6” to 8”. The sections are connected by spring joints that unfold for measuring distances.

Figure 4 – Folding rule.

Measuring Wheel – A measuring wheel, as shown in Figure 5, is made up of a wheel, handle, odometer, and a reset button to return the counter to zero. It is designed to take lengthy exterior measurements, as long as 10,000 feet. Measuring wheels can have collapsing or telescoping handles, different tread materials, and optional storage cases. Wheel diameters range from 4” to 25”, with the larger wheels suitable for rough terrain.

Figure 5 – Measuring wheel.

1.1.3 Squares

Squares are used to mark, check, and measure components of construction projects. Different types of squares are used for different projects. Some of the more common squares are carpenter (framing) squares, try squares, rafter angle squares, T-squares, and combination squares.

1.1.4 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Squares

Observe the following guidelines when working with squares:

Carpenter (Framing) Square – The carpenter square, shown in Figure 6, has a large arm, called the blade, and a small arm, called the tongue. The arms meet in a 90° angle. It has several scales etched onto the surface for quick reference: a diagonal scale, a board foot scale, and an octagonal scale. It has ruler increments etched on the inside and outside edges.

Figure 6 – Carpenter (Framing) square.

1.1.5  How to Use a Carpenter’s Square

To mark a line for cutting, use the following steps:

  1. Find and mark where the line will be drawn.
  2. Line the square up with the bottom of the object to be marked as shown in Figure 7.
  3. Mark the line to be cut, mark an x on the material to be cut away.
  4. Cut off the excess material.

Figure 7 – Using a carpenter (framing) square.

Check that joints meet at a 90° angle by placing the blades of the framing square along the two sides of the angle, as shown in Figure 8. If both blades fit tightly, the material is square. If there is any space between either blade and the side closest to it, the material is not square.

Figure 8 – Checking for square.

Try Square – The try square, shown in Figure 9, is an L- shaped tool used as a guide to lay out 90° cuts with pencil markings. It is also used to check that the edges and ends of boards are square, and whether a board is the same depth along its entire length. A try square has broad blades 6 to 12 inches long set at right angles.

2-9 – Try square.

Rafter Angle (Speed) Square – The rafter angle square or speed square, shown in Figure 10, is a three-sided, triangle-shaped measuring tool. It is used to draw perpendicular lines on boards to be cut, or to lay out angles for rafters, stairs, and other construction projects. It has degree gradations etched onto the surface for quick layout and cutting of lumber so you don’t have to perform angle calculations.

Figure 10 – Rafter angle square.

T-Square – The T-square, shown in Figure 11, is used to measure and cut drywall. Some table saws come with a T- square fence attached.

Figure 11 – T-square.

Combination Square – The combination square, shown in Figure 12, has a blade that can be moved through a head, which is marked for 45° and 90° angles. It is used for many purposes in woodworking and metalworking but mainly for measuring the accuracy of a right angle. The combination square may have a small level to check for level and plumb. This square can be used for measuring lengths and widths. It may also have a scratch awl for scribing a mark on the surface of your material.

Figure 12 – Combination square.

1.1.6 How to Use a Combination Square

Mark a 90° angle using the following steps. Figure 13 shows this process.

Figure 13 – Measure a 90° cut with a combination square.

  1. Set the blade at 90° (a right angle).
  2. Place the square so the head fits snugly against the edge of the material to be marked.
  3. Use the blade as a straightedge to guide the mark, starting at the edge of the material.

Mark a 45° angle using the following steps. Figure 14 shows this process.

Figure 14 – Measure a 45° cut with a combination square.

  1. Set the blade at a 45° angle.
  2. Place the square so the head fits snugly against the edge of the material to be marked.
  3. Use the blade as a straightedge to guide the mark, starting at the edge of the material.

1.1.7 Chalk Lines

A chalk line, shown in Figure 15, is a piece of string or cord coated with chalk used to mark a straight line on a large surface. It is usually contained in a case with a crank for rewinding the line after use. Some chalk lines have one pointed end so that they can also be used as a plumb bob.

Figure 15 – Chalk line. plumb bob.

1.1.8 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Chalk Lines

1.1.9 How to Use a Chalk Line

Follow these steps to use a chalk line properly:

  1. Gently shake the container to loosen the chalk and distribute it evenly in the case.
  2. Pull the line from the case. Fasten the hook ring to a nail at the starting point or have a partner hold one end of the line at the starting point.
  3. Feed the line out to the ending point and stretch the line tightly between the two points.
  4. Make sure the line is taut, pull straight away from the work, and then release the line. This marks the surface underneath the line with a straight line of chalk, as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16 Proper use of a chalk line.

1.1.10 Plumb Bobs

A plumb bob, shown in Figure 17, is used as a vertical reference line. It is a weight with a pointed tip on the bottom that is suspended from a string. It has been used since ancient times to ensure that constructions are plumb, or perfectly upright.

Figure 17 – Plumb bob.

1.1.11 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Plumb Bobs

Keep the plumb bob from dropping on its point. A bent or rounded point will cause inaccurate readings.

1.1.12 How to Use a Plumb Bob

Follow these steps to use a plumb bob properly:

  1. Make sure the line is attached at the exact top center of the plumb bob.
  2. Hang the bob from a horizontal member, such as a doorjamb, joist, or beam.
  3. When the weight is allowed to hang freely, and stops swinging, the string is plumb (vertical).
  4. Mark the point directly below the tip of the plumb bob. This point is precisely below the point where you attached the bob.

1.1.13 Levels

A level, shown in Figure 18, is an instrument used to indicate how level a horizontal surface is and how plumb a vertical surface is. Levels range from simple spirit levels and torpedo levels to more complex digital levels and laser levels.

Figure 18 – Parts of a level.

1.1.14 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Levels

You are not likely to have any personal injuries from using a level. However, you can damage this sensitive instrument if you don’t handle it carefully. Follow these guidelines:

Spirit Level – A spirit level, shown in Figure 19, is made of a lightweight, durable casing, usually aluminum or magnesium. It includes three vials nearly filled with alcohol, which is why it is called a spirit level. The bubble of air is used to check for level or plumb. Use the center vial to check for level; use the two end vials to check for plumb.

Figure 19 – Spirit level.

Torpedo Level – The torpedo level, shown in Figure 20, is a small level, generally 6 to 9 inches in length. Its name is derived from its boat-like shape, tapered at both ends. It is useful in small spaces where a larger level would not fit.

Figure 20 – Torpedo level.

How to Use a Spirit or Torpedo Level

Spirit and torpedo levels are easy to use. All you need is a careful eye to read it correctly.

  1. Place the level on the object you need to check. Lay it on a horizontal surface or hold it against a vertical surface.
  2. Check the air bubble in the vial. When the bubble is centered between the two lines on the vial, the object you are checking is level if you’re checking a horizontal surface or plumb if you’re checking a vertical surface.

Digital Level – The digital level shown in Figure 21 has two vials; one to check for level, the other to check for plumb. It also includes a digital readout for

Figure 21 – Digital level.

Laser Level – A laser level, shown in Figure 22, is used to level and provide reference lines for tasks such as setting foundation levels, establishing drainage slopes, aligning plumbing and electrical lines, and setting tile. It can be mounted on a tripod, fixed to pipes or framing studs, or suspended from ceiling framing.

Figure 22 – Laser level.

1.2.0 Fastening and Prying Tools

Fastening and prying tools are made to either put things together or take things apart. These tools include hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and pry bars.

1.2.1 Hammers

A hammer is a tool used to deliver an impact to an object. Hammers are mostly used to drive nails, fit parts, or break up objects. There are many types of hammers designed for specific uses, which vary in shape and structure. Most hammers include a handle and a head, with most of the weight in the head. The strongest, safest hammers have heads made of tough alloy (two or more metals) or drop-forged steel. The two main types of hammers are claw and ball peen.

1.2.2 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Hammers

Use the following guidelines when you work with hammers:

Claw Hammer – The parts of a claw hammer are shown in Figure 23 dowels. Use the two pronged claw to remove nails from wood.

Figure 23 – Parts of a claw hammer.

Bell-faced Hammer – The bell-faced hammer, shown in Figure 24, has a slightly rounded (convex) face. It takes some practice to become skilled with this hammer, but it can help you drive a nail head flush to the wood without marring the surface of the wood.

Figure 24 – Bell-faced hammer.

1.2.3 How to Use a Claw Hammer to Drive a Nail

Follow these steps to use a claw hammer properly when you drive a nail.

  1. Hold the nail straight, at a 90° angle to the surface you are nailing.
  2. Grip the handle of the hammer, holding the end of the handle even with the lower edge of your palm.
  3. Start with the face of the hammer resting on the nail.
  4. Pull the hammer back and tap the nail lightly a few times to start it.
  5. Move your fingers away from the nail, and then hit the nail firmly with the center of the hammer face. Hold the hammer level with the head of the nail and strike the face squarely. Deliver the blow through your wrist, your elbow, and your shoulder.

Figure 25 – Using a claw hammer to strike a nail.

1.2.4 How to Use a Claw Hammer to Pull a Nail

 Follow these steps to pull a nail with a hammer claw.

  1. Slip the claw of the hammer under the nail head. Pull until the handle is nearly straight up and the nail is partly drawn out of the wood.
  2. Pull the nail straight up out of the wood.

Finish Hammer – The finish hammer, shown in Figure 26, is a claw hammer used for cabinet making, finishing, and general carpentry. It has a lightweight head with a smooth face that keeps it from marring the surface of the wood. It has a curved claw for removing nails from wood.

Figure 26 – Claw hammer.

Framing Hammer – The framing hammer, shown in Figure 27, is a claw hammer with an oversized head used in framing carpentry. The larger, heavier head improves the user’s accuracy and decreases the number of blows required to fully drive the nail into the wood. This hammer may leave slight indentations in the surface of the wood, but that is not important in rough carpentry. The claw on a framing hammer is straighter than on a regular claw hammer; it is used to pry apart nailed boards.

Figure 27 – Framing hammer.

Framing hammers often have a milled or waffle face as shown in Figure 28, which helps prevent the hammer from slipping off the nail head if the nail is not struck precisely.

Figure 28 – Milled or waffle face.

1.2.5 Ball Peen Hammer

The parts of a ball peen hammer are shown in Figure 29. A ball peen hammer is used on metal for tasks like riveting, center punching, and bending or shaping soft metal. The head of this hammer is soft and will dent if used to pound nails.

Figure 29 – Parts of a ball peen hammer.

1.2.6 How to Use a Ball Peen Hammer

Using a ball peen hammer is similar to using a claw hammer. Follow these steps:

  1. Grip the handle. Keep the end of the handle flush with the lower edge of your palm and the face of the hammer parallel to the work.
  2. Use the face for hammering. Use the ball peen for rounding off (peening) rivets and similar jobs.

1.2.7 Specialty Hammers

There are many types of hammers used for specialized tasks. This section describes the most commonly used specialty hammers.

Roofing Hammer – The roofing hammer, shown in Figure 30, is used to drive roofing nails. It has several special features, including a cutting blade for trimming shingles. A roofing gauge on the hammer is used to assure proper shingle spacing.

Figure 30 – Roofing hammer.

Rubber Mallet – The rubber mallet shown in Figure 31 is used to drive chisels or to hammer joints together. There are various shapes and sizes for accomplishing specific tasks.

Figure 31 – Rubber mallet. Leather

Mallet – The leather mallet, shown in Figure 32, is used for projects that need significant pressure and the final appearance of which would be marred by impact marks.

Figure 32 – Leather mallet.

Sledgehammer – The sledge hammer, shown in Figure 33, is used for projects that need great force, such as breaking up concrete or driving heavy spikes or stakes. A sledgehammer head is made of highcarbon steel, weighs between 2 and 20 pounds, and has a handle 14 to 36 inches long. The shape of a sledgehammer head depends on the job for which it will be used.

Figure 33 – Sledgehammer.

Tack Hammer – The tack hammer shown in Figure 34 is used to drive small nails and tacks, as in furniture upholstery. The tack hammer has a magnetic face that can hold small tacks, as well as a regular face for driving tacks.

Figure 34 – Tack hammer.

Drywall Hammer – The drywall hammer, shown in Figure 35, is used to set nails in drywall. It has a blade that can be used for both scoring drywall and cutting small holes. There is a notch in the blade for removing exposed nails.

Figure 35 – Drywall hammer.

Masonry Hammer – The masonry hammer, shown in Figure 36, is used for setting or splitting bricks and for chipping excess mortar from bricks. The striking surface is small, square, and blunt for breaking or setting bricks. The sharp surface is curved and chisel-like, for scoring brick.

Figure 36 – Masonry hammer.

Tile Hammer – The tile hammer, shown in Figure 37, is very similar to a masonry hammer, although it may be smaller. It has a sharp surface for scoring tile and a striking surface for breaking tile.

Figure 37 – Tile hammer.


Test Your Knowledge

1. What kind of head do the safest hammers have?

A. Welded and alloyed
B. Cast steel and chiseled
C. Chiseled and drop forged
D. Alloy and drop-forged steel

1.2.8 Screwdrivers

A screwdriver, shown in Figure 38, is a device used to insert and tighten screws or to loosen and remove screws. A screwdriver has a head or tip that connects with a screw, a mechanism to apply torque by rotating that tip, and a way to position and support the screwdriver. A typical manual screwdriver is made up of a  roughly cylindrical handle, with a shaft fixed to the handle, including a tip shaped to fit a particular type of screw. The handle and shaft support and position the screwdriver, and apply torque when rotated. The blade is made of tempered steel so it will resist wear, bending, and breaking

Figure 38 – Parts of a screwdriver.

There are many different types of screwdrivers, identified by the type of screws they fit. Some of the more common types of screwdrivers are flat head, Phillips head, clutch drive, TORX, Robertson, and Allen (hex).

1.2.9 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Screwdrivers

When using a screwdriver, you must follow many guidelines for your own safety and that of others, as well as for maintaining your tool. Use the following guidelines when you work with screwdrivers:

1.2.10 How to Use a Screwdriver

Use a screwdriver correctly so you don’t damage the screwdriver or strip the screw head. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right type of blade for the screw head. Different types of screw heads are shown in Figure  39.

Figure 39 – Types of screw heads.

  1. Make sure the screwdriver fits the screw correctly as shown in Figure 40. Table 2-1 shows what size screwdriver to use with various sizes of screws.

Figure 40 – Using correct size screwdriver

Table 2-1 Size of screwdrivers to use for different size screws.

Screw # (Size) Flat Slot Blade Width
Cross Slot Blade
0 3/32 No. 0
1 1/8 No. 0
2 1/8 No. 1
3 1/8 No. 1
4 3/32 No. 1
5  3/16 No. 2
6 3/16 No. 2
7 7/32 No. 2
8 1/4 No. 2
9 1/4 No. 2
10 5/16 No. 3
12 3/8 No. 3
14 3/8 No. 3
16 3/8 No. 3
18 1/2 No. 4
20 1/2 No. 4
24 1/2 No. 4
7/16 1/2 No. 4
1/2 1/2 No. 4
9/16 1/2 No. 4
  1. Position the shank perpendicular (at a right angle) to your work.
  2. Apply firm, steady pressure to the screw head and turn: clockwise to tighten (right is tight); counterclockwise to loosen (left is loose).

Flat (Slot) Head Screwdriver – The flat head screwdriver shown in Figure 41 is used to drive and remove standard slotted screws. It can have a round or square shank and ranges in size from 1/6” to 1/4”. The tip of this screwdriver is flared at the shoulder of the blade so that it is wider than the driver bar.

Figure 41 – Flat (slot) head screwdriver.

Phillips® Head Screwdriver – The Phillips® head screwdriver, shown in Figure 42, is used to tighten and loosen Phillips® head screws. It is the most common type of crosshead screwdriver, and ranges in size from 0 to 4, 0 being the smallest.

Figure 42 – Phillips® head screwdriver.

Clutch Drive Screwdriver – The clutch drive screwdriver, shown in Figure 43, is used to tighten and loosen clutch head screws, which are shaped like an hourglass. The clutch drive screw has extra holding power, especially for use in cars and appliances.

Figure 43 – Clutch drive screwdriver.

TORX Screwdriver – The TORX screwdriver, shown in Figure 44, is used to tighten and loosen six point star head screws. TORX head screws are used in cars, appliances, and lawn and garden equipment.

Figure 44 – TORX screwdriver.

Robertson Screwdriver – The Robertson screwdriver, shown in Figure 45, has a square drive that yields high torque power. It is useful to reach screws sunk below the surface of the material.

Figure 45 – Robertson screwdriver.

Allen (hex) Screwdriver – The Allen screwdriver set, shown in Figure 46, contains several sizes that are attached to and fold into a metal carrying case. It is also known as a hex key or hex wrench and is used on screws with hexagonal slots. It is useful for recessed socket head screws.

Figure 46 – Allen (hex) screwdriver.


Test Your Knowledge

2. What makes industrial screwdriver blades safe?

A. Tempered steel
 B. Torx®
C. Clutch-driven steel
D. Fiberglass

 1.2.11 Wrenches

A wrench is a tool used to provide a mechanical advantage when applying torque to hold and turn bolts, nuts, screws, and pipes. Wrenches are divided into two categories; nonadjustable and adjustable. Nonadjustable wrenches are made to work on a particular size bolt, nut, screw, or pipe. Adjustable wrenches are used to tighten or loosen any size bolt, nut, screw, or pipe.

1.2.12 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Wrenches

Follow these guidelines to use a wrench properly:

1.2.13 How to Use a Nonadjustable Wrench

Follow these steps to use a nonadjustable wrench:

  1. Find the correct size wrench for the nut or bolt.
  2. Pull the wrench toward you. Pushing the wrench away from you can cause injury.

Open End Wrench – The open end wrench, shown in Figure 47, grips on two sides of the nut or bolt head, with an opening that can access fasteners that a closed, or box, wrench might not reach. It has different size openings on each end. The opening should fit the nut or bolt exactly to prevent mutilating the edges of the fastener. They can come in sets.

Figure 47 – Open end wrench.

Box End Wrench – The box end wrench shown in Figure 48 has an enclosed head that provides more leverage by completely enclosing the nut. This wrench also comes in an offset model to give more room for your knuckles or to give clearance over obstructions. Some models have ratcheting capability.

Figure 48 – Box end wrench.

Combination Wrench – The combination wrench, shown in Figure 49, has a box wrench and an open end wrench on opposite sides of the same tool. The two ends are usually the same size.

Figure 49 – Combination wrench.

Allen Wrench – The Allen wrench, shown in Figure 50, is also known as a hex key wrench. It is a short, L-shaped tool designed to turn bolts or screws with hexagonal heads. Allen wrenches usually come in sets of different size wrenches.

Figure 50 – Allen wrench.

1.2.14 How to Use an Adjustable Wrench

Follow these steps to use an adjustable wrench:

  1. Set the jaw to the correct size for the nut or bolt.
  2. Make sure the wrench jaws are fully tightened on the nut or bolt.
  3. Pull the wrench toward you as much as you can. If you must push the wrench, keep your hand open to avoid pinching it.
  4. Pull so that the force is on the fixed side of the jaw.
  5. Make sure there is enough room for your fingers as you turn the wrench.

Pipe (Stillson) Wrench – The pipe wrench, shown in Figure 51, is also known as a Stillson wrench. It has jaws that bite into the surface of pipe to hold it for turning, and should not be used on plated pipes, since it would mar the surface. It is used to screw pipes into elbows or other threaded items.

Figure 51 – Pipe (Stillson) wrench.

Spud Wrench – The spud wrench, shown in Figure 52, is meant to work on a piece of piping found on older toilets and sinks which is called a “spud”. This wrench is used to tighten and loosen the collar, bolts, and other hardware holding the spud to the toilet or sink. The narrow jaws of the spud wrench are useful in tight spaces.

Figure 52 – Spud wrench.

Crescent Wrench – The crescent wrench, shown in Figure 53, has an adjustable end opening that comes in locking and nonlocking styles. The locking style can secure the jaws in the desired position, so when properly adjusted, it won’t slip. The nonlocking style requires frequent readjustment and is prone to slipping. The crescent wrench is used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts, but never on a fastener that has been rounded off. Make sure the movable jaw is located on the side where the rotation will be done.

Figure 53 – Crescent wrench.

1.2.15 Pliers

Pliers, as shown in Figure 54, are a special type of adjustable wrench that are scissor-shaped tools with jaws. The jaws usually have teeth to help grip objects and are adjustable because the two handles move on a pivot. Pliers are made of hardened steel and come with different head styles which determine their use. Pliers are used to hold, cut, and bend wire and soft metals.

Figure 54 – Parts of pliers.

1.2.16 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Pliers

Misuse of pliers can cause injury. Here are guidelines to remember when working with pliers:

Slip Joint (Combination) Pliers – Slip joint pliers, as shown in Figure 55, have adjustable jaws with two settings; one for large materials and one for small materials. They are used to hold and b wire and to hold objects during assembly operations.

Figure 55 – Slip joint pliers.

1.2.17 How to Use Slip Joint Pliers

Use slip joint pliers as follows:

  1. Place the jaws on the object you need to hold.
  2. Squeeze the handles until the pliers grip the object firmly.

Long Nose Pliers (Needle Nose Pliers) – Long nose pliers, also known as needle nose pliers, are shown in Figure 56. The pointed nose makes them useful for work in tight places where other pliers can’t reach. The jaws and cutting blades meet evenly.

Figure 56 – Long nose (needle nose) pliers.

1.2.18 How to Use Long Nose Pliers Use long nose pliers as follows:

  1. If the pliers don’t have a spring to keep them open, use your third or little finger to keep them open.
  2. Cut wire with the sharp cutter near the pivot.

Lineman’s Pliers – Lineman’s pliers, shown in Figure 57, are also known as electrician’s pliers; they are used in electrical, communications, and construction work. They are heavy-duty, side-cutting pliers used for cutting wire, with gripping jaws for holding, shaping, and twisting wire.

Figure 57 – Lineman’s pliers.

1.2.19 How to Use Lineman’s Pliers

Use lineman’s pliers as follows:

  1. When cutting wire, point the loose end of the wire down.
  2. Cut at a right angle to the wire.

Tongue and Groove (Channel Lock) Pliers – Tongue and groove pliers, also known as channel lock pliers, are shown in Figure 58. They have multiple size adjustments that make them good for gripping and applying limited torque to round, square, flat, and hexagonal objects. Their jaws may be straight, smooth, or curved. They are used mostly in plumbing and electrical work.

Figure 58 – Tongue and groove (channel lock) pliers.

1.2.20 How to Use Tongue and Groove Pliers

Use tongue and groove pliers as follows:

  1. Open the pliers to their widest position.
  2. Place the jaws on the object to be held.
  3. Determine which groove gives the best position.
  4. Squeeze the handles until the pliers grip the object firmly.

Vise Grip (Locking) Pliers – A vise grip, shown in Figure 59, is a type of locking pliers. One side of the handle has an adjusting screw used to set the size of the jaws. Some models also include a lever on the opposite side of the bolt to unlock the pliers by pushing the handles apart.

Figure 59 – Vise grip (locking) pliers.

1.2.21 How to Use Vise Grip Pliers

Use vise grip pliers as follows:

  1. Place the jaws on the object to be held.
  2. Turn the adjusting screw until the pliers grip the object.
  3. Lock the pliers by squeezing the handles together.
  4. To remove the pliers, squeeze the release lever.
Test Your Knowledge

3. What are the best-quality pliers made of?

A. Fiberglass
B. Hardened steel
C. High-carbon steel
D. Alloys

1.2.22 Pry Bars

A number of tools are made to rip and pry apart woodwork as well as to pull nails. In this section you will learn about ripping bars and nail pullers. Figure 60 shows the parts of a pry bar, which is used for heavy-duty dismantling of woodwork. The forked tip pulls nails out easily. The gooseneck hook end gives you extra leverage for pulling and prying. The chisel end is angled to give you prying leverage.

Figure 60 – Parts of a pry bar.

1.2.23 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Pry Bars

Remember these guidelines when you use a ripping bar or nail puller:

1.2.24 How to Use Pry Bars

Follow these steps when you use a pry bar:

  1.  Use the angled prying end to force apart pieces of wood.
  2. Use the heavy claw to pull large nails and spikes.

Wrecking Bar – The wrecking bar, shown in Figure 61, is used for demolition, pulling nails, ripping wood, and other similar tasks. The length of the wrecking bar gives it better leverage for pulling larger and longer nails.

Figure 61 – Wrecking bar.

Chisel (Wonder) Bar – The chisel bar, shown in Figure 62, gets you into tight spots for prying, although it is not designed for heavy-duty prying. It is useful for removing nails with exposed heads and for prying paneling or molding without marring the surface. You can drive it into wood to split and rip apart the pieces.

Figure 62 – Chisel (Wonder) bar.

Flat Bar – The flat bar shown in Figure 63 is a small pry bar. It is usually 2” wide and 15” long, with a nail slot at the end to pull nails out from tightly enclosed areas.

Figure 63 – Flat bar.

Cats Paw – The cats paw, shown in Figure 64, is used to pull nails when the nail heads are buried beneath the wood’s surface. Hammer the forked chisel head into the wood surrounding the nail head until the nail head is positioned between the notches, and then pull it from below the wood surface.

Figure 64 – Cats paw.

Test Your Knowledge

4. What do you need to be sure to do when you use prying tools?

A. Keep a balanced footing
B. Hold the tool loosely
C. Swing firmly from above
D. Keep the material loosely braced

1.3.0 Sawing and Cutting Tools

Sawing and cutting tools are made to cut materials down to size. These tools include saws, chisels, and punches

1.3.1 Hand Saws

Choosing the right saw for the job makes cutting easy. There are many different types of saws, distinguished by the shape, number, and pitch of their teeth. The differences in saws give you the ability to cut across or with the grain of the wood, along curved lines, or through metal, plastic, or wallboard. A saw with fewer points or teeth per inch (tpi) will give you a slower, smoother cut. A typical saw is shown in Figure 65.

Figure 65 – Parts of a saw.

1.3.2 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Saws

Follow these guidelines when using saws:

1.3.3 How to Use a Saw

There are several steps you should use with any type of saw:

  1. Begin the cut by placing your hand with the thumb in an upright position pressed against the blade.
  2. Start sawing slowly at first to prevent the blade from jumping off the cut line.
  3. After the blade is engaged, use partial cutting strokes and be sure to set the saw at the proper angle.
  4. During the cut, apply pressure only during the down stroke.

Backsaw (Miter Saw) – The backsaw, shown in Figure 66, is also known as a miter saw. It is a thick-bladed saw with a stiff, reinforced back to provide rigidity for precision cutting. The backsaw can be from 10” to 30” in length and has 7 to 14 teeth per inch. It is used with miter boxes to cut miters.

Figure 66 – Backsaw.

Compass Saw (Key Hole Saw) – The compass saw, shown in Figure 67, has a narrow blade that tapers nearly to a point. This helps it to fit in tight spaces where larger saws would not fit. There are three or four blade styles you can change according to the cutting job. It cuts curves quickly in wood and wallboard.

Figure 67 – Compass (key hole) saw.

A key hole saw is a small compass saw with finer teeth, used to cut metal. Keyhole saw blades can come in a turret head model that can be rotated and locked in several positions to ease cutting in tight spots.

Coping Saw – The coping saw, shown in Figure 68, has a narrow, flexible blade attached to a U-shaped frame. Blade holders at each end of the frame can be rotated so you can cut at any angle. This saw is used for cutting irregular shapes, curves, and intricate decorative patterns.

Figure 68 – Coping saw.

Dovetail Saw – The dovetail saw, shown in Figure 69, is similar to a backsaw with its stiff reinforced back, but it is smaller with finer teeth. It is used for fine finish cuts, such as dovetail joints. It is commonly used for trimming molding and repairing furniture. It can also be used to cut plastics and laminates.

Figure 69 – Dovetail saw.

Hacksaw – The hacksaw, shown in Figure 70, is a fine-toothed saw with the blade held rigidly straight, with relatively high tension, in a steel frame. Many models can be adjusted to hold various blade lengths. Blades come in coarse, medium, fine, and very fine. They are usually used for cutting metal or plastic, but there are rod saw blades available that can cut through spring and stainless steel, chain, brick, glass, and tile.

Figure 70 – Hacksaw.

When you use a hacksaw, make sure the blade is secured with the teeth pointing forward, and that the frame is aligned properly. When you cut with a hacksaw, use the full length of the blade in each cutting stroke.

Crosscut Saw – The crosscut saw, shown in Figure 71, has teeth shaped like knife points to crumble out wood between cuts. It is designed to cut across wood grain and produces a smoother cut than rip saws. They can also be used to cut plywood.

Figure 71 – Crosscut saw.

1.3.4 How to Use a Crosscut Saw

The crosscut saw cuts across the grain of the wood, and will cut slowly and smoothly because of the number of points per inch (8 to 14). Follow these steps to use a cross cut saw properly:

  1. Mark the cut with a square or other measuring tool.
  2. Ensure that the piece is supported well with sawhorses, jacks, or other supports. Support the scrap end as well as the working piece so the wood doesn’t split as you get to the end of the cut. You can support the scrap end of a short piece with your hand, but will need other support for longer work.
  3. Place the saw teeth on the far edge of the wood, just outside the edge of your cut mark.
  4. Start the cut with the part of the blade closest to the handle. Pull the saw toward your body.
  5. Use the thumb of the hand not holding the saw to steady the saw and keep it vertical to the work.
  6. Place the saw at a 45º angle and pull the saw to make a small groove.
  7. Saw slowly and increase the length of the stroke as the kerf deepens.
  8. Keep sawing at a 45º angle to the wood.

Rip Saw – The rip saw, shown in Figure 72, has large chisel-shaped teeth, usually 5 1/2 per inch. Rip It is designed to cut with the wood grain, with teeth that are cross-filed to ensure the chisel point is set square to the direction of cutting. The ripping action of this saw produces a coarse, ragged cut not desirable for finish work.

Figure 72 – Rip saw.

1.3.5 How to Use a Rip Saw

The rip saw cuts along the grain of the wood. It has fewer points per inch (between 5 and 9 tpi) than the cross cut saw. This allows you to cut faster, but gives you a coarser finish. Follow these steps to use a rip saw properly:

  1. Mark the cut with a square or other measuring tool.
  2. Ensure that the piece is supported well with sawhorses, jacks, or other supports. Support the scrap end as well as the working piece so the wood doesn’t split as you get to the end of the cut. You can support the scrap end of a short piece with your hand, but will need other support for longer work.
  3. Place the saw teeth on the far edge of the wood, just outside the edge or your cut mark.
  4. Start the cut with the part of the blade closest to the handle. Pull the saw toward your body.
  5. Use the thumb of the hand not holding the saw to steady the saw and keep it vertical to the work.
  6. Place the saw at a 60º angle and pull the saw to make a small groove.
  7. Saw steadily and increase the length of the stroke as the kerf deepens.
  8. Keep sawing at a 60º angle to the wood.
Test Your Knowledge

5. What do the main differences between types of saws relate to?

A. Handles
B. Blades
C. Frames
D. Teeth

1.3.6 Chisels

A chisel, as shown in Figure 73, is used to cut and shape wood, stone, and metal. Chisels are metal tools with a sharpened, beveled edge. Chisels are either wood chisels or cold chisels; we wi discuss each type separately.

Figure 73 - Parts of a chisel.

1.3.7 Safety and Maintenance Consider for Chisels

Use these guidelines when you’re working with chisels:

Wood Chisel – The wood chisel, shown in Figure 74, is used for cutting deeply into wood. It should be used with soft-face hammers.

Figure 74 – Wood chisel.

Butt Chisel – The butt chisel, shown in Figure 75, is a type of wood chisel with a short blade. It gives you good control of your work, especially in tight spaces. It is used to set hardware on doors and door frames.

Figure 75 – Butt chisel.

1.3.8 How to Use a Wood Chisel

The wood chisel is used to make openings or notches in wooden material. You can use it to make a recess for butt-type hinges, such as the hinges in a door. Follow these steps to use a wood chisel properly:

  1. Use a pencil to outline the opening or recess to be chiseled.
  2. Set the chisel at one end of the outline. The edge of the chisel should be on the cross-grain line. The bevel should be facing the recess to be made.
  3. Strike the head of the chisel lightly with a mallet.
  4. Repeat the process at the other end of the outline, with the bevel of the chisel blade toward the recess.
  5. Make a series of cuts about 1/4 inch apart from one end of the recess to the other.
  6. Pare (trim away) the notched wood. Hold the chisel bevel-side down to slice inward from the end of the recess, as shown in Figure 76.

Figure 76 – Paring excess material with a chisel.

1.3.9 How to Use a Cold Chisel

A cold chisel is used to cut metal, as long as that metal is softer than the steel that the chisel is made of. You can use it to cut rivets, nuts, and bolts made of brass, bronze, copper, or iron. Follow these steps to use a cold chisel properly:

  1. Secure the material you need to cut in a vise.
  2. Use a holding tool to place the blade of the chisel where you want to cut the material.
  3. Hit the chisel handle with a ball peen hammer to force the chisel into and through the material. Repeat if necessary.

Cold Chisel – The cold chisel, shown Figure 77, is used only for cutting a chipping cold metal, such as unhardened steel, cast and wrought iron, aluminum,  brass, and copper; never on masonry

Figure 77 – Cold chisel.

Masonry Chisel – The masonry chisel, shown in Figure 78, is used to cut masonry, such as concrete block and brick. There are also masonry chisels with teeth used for cutting soft stone.

Figure 78 – Masonry chisel.

Flooring Chisel – The flooring chisel shown in Figure 79 is used to remove flooring material. It has a larger head to increase the striking area.

Figure 79 – Flooring chisel.

1.3.10 Knives

Several types of knives are used in construction. The most commonly used is the utility knife, which has a replaceable razor-like blade. Other types of knives are glass scrapers, glass cutters, and hook bill knives.

1.3.11 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Knives

Use these guidelines when you work with a utility knife:

Utility Knife – The utility knife, shown in Figure 80, is a general-use tool used to cut material such as drywall, laminates, and plastic. The handle of a utility knife is made of cast iron or plastic in two pieces, held together with a screw. The utility knife blade can usually be locked in one of three positions when in use, depending on the depth of cut needed, and retracts completely for safe storage.

Figure 80 – Utility knife.

Glass Scraper – The glass scraper shown in Figure 81 is used to remove coatings, paint, and stickers from glass and mirrors. It has a large ribbed control button for extending and retracting the blade. The track design of this blade minimizes clogging and gumming up from the debris caused by scraping.

Figure 81 – Glass scraper.

Glass Cutter – A glass cutter, shown in Figure 82, is a hand tool used for controlled breaking of flat or sheet glass. The cutting section is a wheel about 5 mm in diameter made of hardened steel or tungsten carbide, with the edge ground to a V-section. The cutter or glass is wetted with oil or paraffin, and then the cutter is pressed tightly to scribe a line where the glass will be split. The ball end of the glass cutter can be used to tap the waste side of the glass to break it. A cleaner break is made by bending the glass along the scribe line.

Figure 82 – Glass cutter.

Hook Bill Knife – The hook bill knife shown in Figure 83 is made of fine high carbon steel with an extra heavy blade. It yields accurate, even cuts when you are trimming gypsum board or making oddshaped cuts.

Figure 83 – Hook bill knife.


Test Your Knowledge

6. What does the safest kind of utility knife include?

A. A leather sheath
B. A blue blade
C. At least three blades
D. A retractable blade

1.4.0 Boring and Clamping Tools

1.4.1 Punches

A punch is used to indent metal using the impact of a hammer before you drill a hole. It can also be used to drive pins and to align holes in two parts to be joined. Punches are made of hardened and tempered steel. They come in various sizes.

Three common types of punches are the center punch, the prick punch, and the straight punch. The center and prick punches will make small locating points for drilling holes. The straight punch will punch holes in thin sheets of metal. A typical punch is shown in Figure 84.

Figure 84 – Parts of a punch.

1.4.2 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for

Punches and Nail Sets Use these guidelines when you’re working with punches and nail sets:

1.4.3 How to Use a Punch

A punch is used to help with drilling by making an impression in wood, plastic, or metal. This marks the area you will drill and acts as a guide so the drill stays in place as it goes through the material. A punch is used with a ball peen hammer or a sledge hammer, with enough force to make an indentation.

  1. Use a pencil to mark the location where you need to drill.
  2. Determine what size punch to use based on the size of the drill bit you will use. Some common punch sizes are 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 1/2, and 5/8 inch.
  3. Line up the point of the punch with the pencil mark you made.
  4. Tap the back of the punch sharply with a ball peen hammer or a sledgehammer.

Center (Nail) Punch – The center punch shown in Figure 85 is used to start holes in wood or metal or to align rivet or bolt holes. It is also used to drive rivets after the rivet heads have been removed. The point of a center punch has a short bevel.

Figure 85 – Center (nail) punch.

Prick Punch – The prick punch, shown in Figure 86, is used to make a very light starter mark that can be enlarged with a different type of punch, such as a center punch. It can also be used to mark layout lines. The point of a prick punch has a long bevel.

Figure 86 – Prick punch.

Straight Punch – The straight punch, shown in Figure 87, is used to punch holes in thin sheets of metal.

Figure 87 – Straight punch.

Tapered Punch – The tapered punch, shown in Figure 88, is used to remove or install pins, shafts, rivets, etc. or to align holes when inserting screws and bolts. It is used with a hammer.

Figure 88 – Tapered punch.

Nail Set – The nail set shown in Figure  89 is used to countersink nails before the nail holes are filled with putty, plastic, wood, etc. to create a smooth surface. They range in size from 1/32” to 5/32”; using the correct size nail set avoids enlarging the nail hole. The pointed end of the nail set should be cupped or hollowed out to avoid splitting the nail head.

Figure 89 – Nail set.

1.4.4 Hand Drills

There are a number of hand drills available to create holes in wood. They include augers, push drills, hand drills, and awls.

1.4.5 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Hand Drills

Use these guidelines when working with hand drills:

Auger – The auger, shown in Figure 90, is also known as a bit brace; it is used to drill holes in wood. You apply pressure to the head, which is mounted on ball bearings so it can turn freely. You rotate the handle clockwise to create the drilling action. The chuck holds drill bits that have either square or hex shanks. The direction ratchet keeps the tool turning in one direction.

Figure 90 – Parts of an auger.

Push Drill – The push drill shown, in Figure 91, is used to drill holes in wood. You push down on the handle, causing the bit to rotate clockwise and cut the hole in the wood. When you release the pressure, the handle springs up and the bit rotates counterclockwise, clearing the bit as it comes out of the wood.

Figure 91 – Push drill.

Hand Drill – The hand drill, shown in Figure 92, is used to drill holes in wood when you want total control of the drill, particularly in materials that tend to split. You hold the handle and turn the crank, which turns the pinion gears on the shaft. This amplifies the circular motion of the crank into circular motion of the drill chuck and drives the bit into the wood.

Figure 92 – Parts of a hand drill.

Awl – The awl, shown in Figure 93, is used to mark wood. It is a steel spike with its tip sharpened to a fine point. The tip of the spike is drawn across the timber, leaving a shallow groove. It is also used to mark a point by pressing the tip into the timber.

Figure 93 – Awl.

1.4.6 Clamps

Clamps are devices for holding work. They come in many sizes based on the maximum opening of the jaw, from 1” to 24”. There are many varieties to use for different purposes.

C Clamp – The C clamp is the most common type of clamp, with a C-shaped frame made of forged steel or cast iron. It is used mostly to clamp metalwork. An adjustable screw changes the jaw opening, controlled by turning a wing nut or a sliding cross-pin handle as shown in Figure 94. The size of the C clamp is its jaw capacity, which is the largest object the frame can accommodate when the screw is fully extended. The depth of the throat is another important measure which determines how far in from the edge of the material the clamp can be placed.

Figure 94 – C clamp.

1.4.7 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Clamps

Use guidelines when you work with clamps:

1.4.8 How to Use Clamps

Use a clamp as follows:

  1. Open the clamp and place it loosely around the work you are clamping.
  2. Protect the surface of wood you are clamping by placing pads or thin blocks of wood between the wood surface and the clamp.
  3. Tighten the clamp’s pressure mechanism. Take care not to force the clamp past a snug fit.

Locking C Clamp – The locking C clamp, shown in Figure 95, has wide-opening jaws that give you the versatility to clamp a variety of shapes. You turn the screw to adjust the pressure and fit the work, and it stays adjusted for repetitive use. A guarded release trigger quickly unlocks the clamp and protects your work from accidental release.

Figure 95 – Locking clamp.

Spring Clamp – The spring clamp, shown in Figure 96, is a versatile clamp designed for use with thin materials. It has two metal jaws with a steel spring giving it 1”, 2”, or 3” jaw openings. It can hold round or odd-shaped objects. Use spring clamps when you need only moderate pressure.

Figure 96 – Spring clamp.

Hand Screw (Cabinetmaker’s) Clamp – The hand screw clamp, shown in Figure  97, is made up of two hardwood clamping jaws that you adjust to the work by tightening two opposing steel screw spindles. You can adjust the jaws to a variety of angles, with sizes up to 10”. The hand screw clamp is used to clamp wood, metal, plastic, and fabric.

Figure 97 – Hand screw clamp.

Bar Clamp – The bar clamp, shown in Figure 98, has a clamping device built on a flat steel bar. The size of the largest object that can be held between the bar clamp jaws is determined by the length of the bar. The final clamping load is applied by screw pressure. Use the bar clamp to clamp large objects.

Figure 98 – Bar clamp.

Pipe Clamp – A pipe clamp, shown in Figure 99, can be mounted to standard threaded or unthreaded pipe. You can clamp from one end or both ends, since you can position the jaws at the ends of the pipe or anywhere along its length. A hardened steel set screw holds the head firmly on the pipe, but you can easily loosen it. Pipe clamps are used to hold boards together while gluing. They can also be quickly converted to use as a spreader.

Figure 99 – Pipe clamp.

Web Clamp – The web clamp, also known as a strap or band clamp is shown in Figure 100. This clamp applies even clamping pressure around irregular shapes or large objects. It uses a springloaded locking fixture to hold objects tightly. The web clamp is commonly used on cylinder shapes and to hold chair legs when they’ve been glued. Inspect a web clamp before using it. If the web is frayed or cut, discard the clamp.

Figure 100 – Web clamp.

1.4.9 Vises

The bench vise, shown in Figure 101, is mounted on a workbench or table, and is used to hold work pieces securely in place between two flat jaws. It is available in stationary or swivel models; the swivel model has a sliding spindle lockdown to hold the vise at different angles. The threaded spindle adjusts the jaw openings when you turn the sliding cross pin handle.

Figure 101 – Parts of a bench vise.

1.4.10 Safety and Maintenance

Considerations for Vises Use these guidelines when you work with vises:

1.4.11 How to Use a Vise

Use a vise as follows:

  1. Turn the sliding cross pin handle counterclockwise to open the jaws.
  2. Place the work in the open clamp.
  3. Turn the sliding cross pin handle clockwise to clamp the work.
  4. Turn the sliding cross pin handle counterclockwise to release the work.
Test Your Knowledge

7. When you saw an object, you should saw as close as possible to the jaws of the vise.

A. True
B. False

1.5.0 Smoothing Tools

Smoothing tools are used to smooth wood surfaces so that they can be finished with paint or stain. They include planes, scrapers, files, and rasps.

1.5.1 Planes

Planes are used for smoothing and jointing lumber. There are several types, including jointer and fore planes, jack planes, smooth planes, block planes, and rabbet planes. A typical plane is shown in Figure 102.

Figure 102 – Parts of a plane.

1.5.2 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Planes

Use the following guidelines when you work with planes:

1.5.3 How to Use Planes

Use a plane as follows:

  1. Place the wood level and firmly in a vice.
  2. Rub a little candle wax on the bottom of the plane to help it glide more smoothly across the wood.
  3. Plane in the direction of the grain. If the plane sticks while you use it, the grain is probably in the opposite direction. Reverse the wood in the vise and try again.
  4. Make sure that a very small portion of the blade sticks out from the bottom of the plane, making adjustments with the depth adjustment screw. This will help you plane small portions at a time, which will give you a better result.
  5. Start with the plane at one end of the wood and push it firmly across the entire length of the wood. Lift the plane and move it back to the starting position so you don’t blunt the blade.
  6. Keep the plane straight by pressing down on the knob at the beginning of the stroke and pressing down on the handle at the end of the stroke.
  7. Always use a sharp blade. Sharpen the blade with a bench grinder.
  8. When you are not using a plane, rest it on its side.

Jointer Plane – The jointer plane, shown in Figure 103, is used to straighten the edges of boards in an operation known as jointing. It is also used to flatten the face of a board. A jointer plane is usually 20 to 24 inches long. A similar but shorter plane about 18 inches long is known as a fore plane.

Figure 103 – Jointer plane.

Scrub Plane – The scrub plane, shown in Figure 104, is used to remove large amounts of wood from the surface of lumber in the first stages of preparing rough stock, or when the thickness of the board needs to be reduced significantly. Unlike most planes, it is used in diagonal strokes across the face of a board.

Figure 104 – Scrub plane.

Jack Plane – The jack plane, shown in Figure 105, is used for general smoothing of edges and sizing of wood. The name comes from the saying “Jack of all trades”, since this plane performs the work of both smooth planes and trying planes. It is usually about 15 inches long with a blade that has a moderately curved edge. When you prepare stock, the jack plane is used after the scrub plane and before the smooth plane.

Figure 105 – Jack plane.

Smooth Plane – The smooth plane, shown in Figure 106, is the last plane used on a wood surface. With proper use, the finish from a smooth plane is much better than you can achieve with sandpaper or scrapers. This smooth finish comes from planing the wood off in strips. The smooth plane is 9 to 10 inches long and is meant to be used with two hands.

Figure 106 – Smooth plane.

Block Plane – The block plane, shown in Figure 107, is a small hand plane with the plane iron set at a much lower angle than that of other planes. It is used to plane across the grain at the ends of boards, otherwise known as blocking in. It is also used to shave thin pieces of wood from small surfaces in awkward areas. This plane is small enough to use with one hand, sometimes at an angle of as much as 45°.

Figure 107 – Block plane.

The block plane is a tool with many uses, including cleaning up components to make them fit within fine tolerances. Rounding square edges, otherwise known as chamfering, and removing glue lines are some other uses for this plane.

Rabbet Plane – The rabbet plane, shown in Figure 108, is used to make rabbet joints on the ends of boards. The blade on this plane protrudes by a very small amount from the sides of the plane so that the plane doesn’t bind on the side of the cut. This helps make the side of the rabbet joint perpendicular to the bottom. This plane is used for long grain cutting and is meant to remove large amounts of material quickly.

Figure 108 – Rabbet plane.

1.5.4 Scrapers

The scrapers shown in Figure 109 are woodworking shaping and finishing tools. They are sometimes known as card scrapers, the most common about the size and shape of a postcard. They are also known as cabinet scrapers, because they leave a cleaner finish than sandpaper. Scrapers remove small amounts of material, especially where tricky grains might cause a planer to tear out chunks of material. This prepares the wood for any finish paint or stain.

Figure 109 – Scrapers.

1.5.5 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Scrapers

Use these guidelines when you work with scrapers:

1.5.6 How to Use Scrapers

There is preparation involved in using a scraper. Follow these steps to use a scraper properly:

  1. File the edges. Most scrapers are stamped from sheets of steel, which leaves the edges ragged. Keep the file at a 90-degree angle to the body of the scraper for the best results.
  2. Smooth the edges. If you are using the scraper for finish work, you need to smooth out the filed edges with a stone. Lay the stone on your work surface and rub the scraper on the side of the stone until the scraper edge is smooth.
  3. Draw a burr. Apply a thin layer of lubricant along the blade of the scraper. Hold the scraper in a padded bench vise, and then use a burnishing tool or a screwdriver to bend the scraper slightly along the entire edge. The angle of the burr depends on what you will use the scraper for; fine finishing uses a 5° angle, removing paint and lacquer uses a 10° angle.
  4. Use the scraper. This takes practice to get right, but there are a few tips to help you.
Test Your Knowledge

8. What should you always do when you use a plane?

A. Use both hands
B. Plane across the grain of the wood
C. Plane with the grain of the wood
D. Plane around any knots


1.5.7 Files and Rasps

Files and rasps are used for cutting, smoothing, or shaping materials. Files have slanting rows of teeth and rasps have individual teeth. Both are usually made from a hardened piece of high grade steel. The size of a file or rasp is determined by the length of the body; it does not include the handle. Sizes vary between 4 and fourteen inches. Handles are separate from the file, and can be used interchangeably with different files. A typical file is shown in Figure 110.

Figure 110 – Parts of a file.

The shape of the file or rasp you use is partly determined by the area you want to file. They are available in round, half-round, square, flat, and triangular shapes. Another factor in deciding what file to use is the material you will work on. Files for soft materials have teeth that are very sharp and spaced wide apart. Files for hard materials have teeth that are blunt and spaced close together. Files are classified by how their teeth are cut. Table 2-2 shows types of files along with their uses.

Table 2-2 – File types and their uses.
Type Description Uses
Rasp-cut file Teeth cut individually, not attached to each other.  Used for aluminum, lead, and other soft metals as well as wood, to remove excess material. These files give you a very rough surface.
Single-cut file A single set of straight-edged teeth run across the file at an angle. Used to sharpen edges, like rotary mower blades.
Double-cut file Two sets of teeth crisscross each other. Three types are available:
  • Bastad (roughest cut)
  • Second cut
  • Smooth
Used to cut fast.

1.5.8 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Files

Here are the guidelines to remember when working with files and rasps:

1.5.9 How to Use Files

Follow these steps to use a file properly:

  1. Secure the material you are filing in a vise at about elbow height.
  2. Stand back from the vise a little with your feet about 24 inches apart. Put your right foot ahead of your left if you are right-handed; your left foot ahead of your right if you are left-handed.
  3. If you are right-handed, hold the file with the handle in your right hand, and hold the tip of the blade in your left. If you are left-handed, hold the handle in your left hand and the hold the tip of the blade in your right.
  4. For regular work, hold the tip of the file with your thumb on top of the blade and your first two fingers under it. For heavy work, use a full-hand grip on the tip.
  5. Apply pressure only on the forward stroke.
  6. Raise the file from the work on the return stroke to keep from damaging the file.
  7. Keep the file flat on the work, as shown in Figure 111. Clean it by tapping lightly at the end of each stroke.

Figure 111 – Using a file.

Veneer Knife File – The veneer knife file, shown in Figure 112, is designed for sharpening veneer knives. It has a thin, rectangular shape with 2 round edges.

Figure 112 – Veneer knife file.

Square File – The square file, shown in Figure 113, is handy to use on slots and keyways, both rectangular and square, and for surface work. It has four equal sides, which taper toward the point.

Figure 113 – Square file.

Triangle File – The triangle file, shown in Figure 114, is used for clearing out square corners and filing taps and cutters. It is triangular in cross-section and has fairly sharp corners.

Figure 114 – Triangle file.

Flat File – The flat file, shown in Figure  115, is used by machinists on metal for rapid stock removal. It is a rectangular file tapered in width at the point and lightly tapered in thickness at the point.

Figure 115 – Flat file.

Rat-tail File – The rat-tail file, shown in Figure 116, is used for smoothing wood or metal. It can be used for removing stock from round holes to make the holes larger or smoother. It is a thin round tool with small sharp teeth.

Figure 116 – Rat-tail file.

 Rasp – The rasp, shown in Figure 117, is used to shape wood. It has individual teeth that are rougher than those of a file, as it is used for rapid removal of wood stock.

Figure 117 – Rasp.


Test Your Knowledge

9. Files are classified by which aspect of their teeth?

A. Width
B. Angle
C. Taper
D. Cut

1.6.0 Concrete Tools

There are a number of tools used in concrete projects. These include screeds, floats, trowels, edgers, and groovers.

1.6.1 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Concrete Tools

Remember these guidelines when working with concrete:

Vibrator – The concrete vibrator shown in Figure 118 is used to consolidate concrete after it has been poured. Concrete vibration is important in removing air pockets in the mix. It is performed before the surface is finished.

Figure 118 – Concrete vibrator.

Wood Screed Board – The wood screed board, shown in Figure 119, is used to cut off excess wet concrete to bring the top surface of a slab to the proper grade. It is a straight 2” by 4” board about a foot longer than the width of the area you are working on. Start screeding the concrete as soon as you’ve finished pouring and vibrating it. Rest the screed board on the concrete forms and use a sawing motion while you pull the screed board toward the end of the poured area. Pour fresh concrete into lower areas and repeat the screeding process.

Figure 119 – Wood screed board.

Power Screed – The power screed, shown in Figure 120, is used to cut off excess concrete from the top surface of a concrete slab. It is useful for screeding large concrete slabs that would be difficult to screed using a wood screed board.

Figure 120 – Power screed.

Bull Float – A float smoothes the surface of freshly laid concrete by applying pressure to the concrete’s surface. This pressure levels ridges and fills voids left by the screeding process by pushing the aggregate down and allowing the liquid to rise and dry, leaving behind a smooth surface. The bull float, shown in Figure  121, is used to float large areas of concrete. A bull float is generally 42” or 48” long and 8” wide. It has handle sections that come in 5’ or 6’ lengths that can be joined together so they will reach 15’ to 20’ over a slab.

Figure 121 – Bull float.

Darby Float – The darby float, shown in Figure 122, is used to level concrete on smaller areas, with a surface that is generally less wavy than that created with a bull float. It is usually made of magnesium or aluminum.

Figure 122 – Darby float.

Magnesium Float – The magnesium float, shown in Figure 123, is another option for smoothing smaller areas. They range in length from 12” to 16”, with widths from 3 1/8” to 3 1/2”.

Figure 123 – Magnesium float.

Steel Trowel – A trowel produces a hard, smooth, dense surface on concrete and is used immediately after floating. The steel trowel, shown in Figure 124, is used to increase the wear resistance of the concrete. Multiple trowelings allow the worker to apply increasingly greater pressure to make the concrete denser. Each successive troweling should be done with a smaller trowel tipped at a greater angle than the last troweling.

Figure 124 – Steel trowel.

Concrete Whirlybird – The concrete whirlybird, shown in Figure 125, is a walk-behind power trowel. It is useful for troweling large concrete surfaces.

Figure 125 – Whirlybird.

Edger – The edger, shown in Figure 126, is used to round the edge of the slab after the bleedwater disappears from the concrete surface. Edging is done mostly on patios, curbs, sidewalks, and driveways to give a tight, clean-looking edge that resists chipping.

Figure 126 – Edger.

Groover – The groover, shown in Figure 127, is used to cut joints in concrete to control the location of cracks that might form as the slab contracts. The groove sizes range from 1/4” to 1/2” wide and are usually 1/2” deep.

Figure 127 – Groover.

Concrete Saw – The concrete saw, shown in Figure 128, is used much like the groover, to cut joints in concrete to control the location of cracks. It is used for large concrete projects.

Figure 128 – Concrete saw.


Test Your Knowledge

10. Why is it important to clean concrete tools immediately after use?

A. To keep the tools from corroding
B. To keep the edges sharp
C. To avoid concrete build-up
D. To prevent metal tools from rusting

1.7.0 Masonry Tools

There are many tools used in masonry projects. These include trowels, jointers, chisels, and line blocks.

1.7.1 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Masonry Tools

Remember these guidelines when working with masonry:

Pointing Trowel – The pointing trowel, shown in Figure 129, is used by bricklayers for pointing up their work, as well as for patch work and for cleaning other tools. The length of pointing trowels ranges from 4 1/2” to 7”.

Figure 129 – Pointing trowel.

Mortar Trowel – The mortar trowel, shown in Figure 130, is used for spreading mortar on a surface before laying brick or block.

Figure 130 – Mortar trowel.

Convex Jointer – The convex jointer, shown in Figure 131, is used to strike joints in brick and block walls, giving the joints a neat, finished appearance. Each end of the jointer is a different size, with popular sizes of 1/2”, 5/8”, 3/4”, and 7/8”.

Figure 131 – Convex jointer.

V Jointer – The V jointer, shown in Figure 132, is similar to the convex jointer. It has one turned up end for easy use.

Figure 132 – V jointer.

Slicker – The slicker, shown in Figure  133, is another type of jointer for finishing mortar. It has a ridge that leaves an even depression in the mortar.

Figure 133 – Slicker.

Rake Out Jointer – The rake out jointer, shown in Figure 134, is used to remove old mortar when you are repointing masonry. It is offset to throw mortar out as you rake the joint. The tab at the end helps you rake the corners.

Figure 134 – Rake out jointer.

Mason’s Chisel – The mason’s chisel, shown in Figure 135, is used to cut masonry such as concrete block and brick. There are also masonry chisels with teeth used for cutting soft stone.

Figure 135 – Mason’s chisel.

Line Block – The line block, shown in Figure 136, is used to hold mason’s line to keep masonry construction level.

Figure 136 – Line block.


Test Your Knowledge

11. What tool is used to cut brick and concrete block?

A. Chisel
B. Jointer
C. Mortar trowel
D. Pointing trowel

1.8.0 Interior Finish Tools

There are numerous tools for finishing interiors. These include rasps, saws, drywall tools, sanders, trowels, and various types of cutters.

1.8.1 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Interior Finish Tools

The diversity of tools used for interior finishing jobs is reflected in the safety and maintenance considerations for these tools. In general, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Drywall Rasp – The drywall rasp, shown in Figure 137, is used to perform minor trimming on drywall panels that are too tight for the space they are going into. A good drywall rasp is self-cleaning.

Figure 137 – Drywall rasp and blade.

Circle Cutter – The circle cutter shown in Figure 138 marks a round hole to be cut in drywall. This is most commonly used to cut holes for ceiling mounted lighting fixtures.

Figure 138 – Circle cutter.

Drywall Saw – The drywall saw, shown in Figure 139, is used for cutting drywall that has already been placed. It can be easier to place the drywall and then cut out window openings in place. This saw has a sharp point to get the hole started.

Figure 139 – Drywall saw.

Keyhole Saw – The keyhole saw, shown in Figure 140, is used for cutting small openings in drywall, such as openings for electrical boxes, pipes, and lighting fixtures. It is often used in conjunction with a circle cutter.

Figure 140 – Keyhole saw.

Drywall Lifter – The drywall lifter shown in Figure 141 is used to lift and hold sheets of drywall into place while it is being attached to the wall or ceiling. You may also hear this tool referred to as a board lifter.

Figure 141 – Drywall lifter.

Putty Knife – The putty knife shown in Figure 142 is used for scraping surfaces or spreading material such as plaster. Widths vary from 1 ¼” to 6” or more, depending on what the putty knife will be used for. Stiff-blade knives, usually .040" thick, are used for scraping. Flexibleblade knives, usually .020" thick, are used for spreading.

Figure 142 – Putty knife.

Finish Knife – The finish knife, shown in Figure 143, is used in drywall work to smooth mud and tape seams. The steel blade makes the tool easy to clean when the job is complete. The handle is usually made of a material such as polypropylene so that it will hold up to exposure to chemical cleaning agents.

Figure 143 – Finish knife.

Mud Pan – The mud pan, shown in Figure 144, is used for mixing and holding mud for drywall taping, texturing, and patching. Mud pans have watertight seams and range in length from 10” to 24”.

Figure 144 – Mud pan.

 Clinch-On Cornerbead Tool – The clinch-on cornerbead tool, shown in Figure 145, is used to install cornerbead on walls covered with drywall.

Figure 145 – Clinch-on cornerbead tool.

Inside Corner Tool – The inside corner tool, shown in Figure 146, is used to finish inside corners on drywall installations. It is a one piece, flexible, stainless steel tool with a 103° angle that flexes to 90°.

Figure 146 – Inside corner tool.

Outside Corner Tool – The outside corner tool, shown in Figure 147, is used to finish outside corners on drywall installations. It is a one piece, flexible, stainless steel tool with an 80° angle that flexes to 90°.

Figure 147 – Outside corner tool.

Hawk – The hawk, shown in Figure 148, is used to hold drywall mud right before it is applied. It can carry a larger amount of mud than a trowel can from the mud pan to the wall or ceiling where it will be applied.

Figure 148 – Hawk.

Pole Sander – The pole sander, shown in Figure 149, is used to sand drywall joints. The attached pole helps reach joints that are difficult to reach with a hand sander, such as those on ceilings or high walls.

Figure 149 – Pole sander.

Hand sander – The hand sander, shown in Figure 150, is used to sand drywall joints.

Figure 150 – Hand sander.

Mud Masher – The mud masher, shown in Figure 151, is used for mixing drywall mud. The 24” handle makes this a good tool when you are mixing mud in a 5 gallon bucket.

Figure 151 – Mud masher.

Mastic Trowel – The mastic trowel, shown in Figure 152, is used to apply mastic to walls and floors before ceramic tiling. The smooth edges are used to apply a thin coat of mastic to the surface. The notched edges are used to ridge the mastic for better adhesion to the tile.

Figure 152 – Mastic trowel.

Notch Trowel – The notch trowel, shown in Figure 153, is used to apply mortar to surfaces. The flat side of the trowel is used to apply a skim coat to a surface. The notched side is used to comb the mortar.

Figure 153 – Notch trowel.

Rubber Surface Trowel – The rubber surface trowel, shown in Figure 154, is used in tile grouting.

Figure 154 – Rubber surface trowel.

Tile Nipper – The tile nipper, shown in Figure 155, is used to make circular cuts in ceramic tile. This tool is best used to take small bites, or nips, from the tile; large nips can cause the tile to break. Eye protection is critical, as sharp tile fragments can fly from the cut in any direction.

Figure 155 – Tile nipper.

Tile Cutter – The tile cutter, shown in Figure 156, is used to make straight or angled cuts in ceramic tile. A scoring wheel makes a score across the tile surface, which can then be broken along the score line. Tile cutters come in various sizes to accommodate various tile sizes. The beams holding the scoring wheel can be adjusted for height to accommodate  various tile thicknesses.

Figure 156 – Tile cutter.

1.9.0 Brushes

Several types of brushes are used in construction, including paintbrushes and wire brushes.

1.9.1 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Brushes

It is important to keep all brushes clean and dry when they are in storage. Methods of cleaning paintbrushes depend on the type of paint for which they are used.

Paint Brush – The paint brush, shown in Figure 157, is made up of a handle that holds bristles, which are made of natural or synthetic fibers, and comes in various sizes and shapes. A paint brush is used to apply paint to a surface. Paint brushes in construction are generally used to paint the interior and exterior of houses.

Figure 157 – Paint brush.

Wire Brush – The wire brush, shown in Figure 158, is a tool consisting of a handle and a brush made up of a large number of steel or brass wire bristles. It is an abrasive tool, used to clean rust and remove paint from surfaces. It can also be used to clean wire rope and chain. Wire brushes will leave marks on soft surfaces and can transfer oil and dirt if they are not kept clean between uses.

Figure 158 – Wire brush. 


Test Your Knowledge

12. What abrasive tool is used to clean rust and remove paint from surfaces?

A. Drywall rasp
B. Finish knife
C. Wire brush
D. Mastic trowel

- To Table of Contents -


Your duties as a builder include developing and improving your skills and techniques when working with different power tools. In this section, we’ll identify and describe the most common power tools that are in the builder’s workshop or used on the jobsite. We’ll also present safety precautions as they relate to each power tool. You must keep in mind and continually stress to your crew that power tools can be dangerous, and that safety is everyone’s responsibility.

2.1.0 Shop Tools

As a builder, you might be assigned to a shop. You will need to know some of the common power tools and equipment found there.

2.1.1 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Shop Tools

There are a few guidelines that apply to all power tools used in a shop.


Shop Radial Arm Saw – Figure 159 illustrates a typical shop radial arm saw. This saw has a circular saw blade that cuts by rotating the blade toward the operator. It can make a variety of cuts, including crosscuts, rips, and miters. With accessories, this saw can also make dadoes, sand, shape, saber saw, surface, and route. The length of the top arm limits the length or width of the cut.

Figure 159 – Shop radial arm saw. Tilt-Arbor

The procedures used to operate, maintain, and lubricate any shop radial arm saw are found in the manufacturer’s operator and maintenance manuals, along with the safety precautions to be observed. The primary difference between this saw and other saws of this type (field saws) is the location of the controls.

Table Saw – The tilt-arbor table saw, shown in Figure 160, is named for its ability to tilt the saw blade for cutting bevels by tilting the arbor. The arbor, located beneath the table, is controlled by the tilt handwheel.

Figure 160 – Tilt-arbor table saw.

2.1.2 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for the Tilt-Arbor Bench Saw

Observe the following safety procedures when operating a tilt-arbor bench saw.

2.1.3 How to Use a Tilt-Arbor Bench Saw

To rip stock, remove the cutoff gauges and set the rip fence away from the saw by a distance equal to the desired width of the piece to be ripped off. Place the piece with one edge against the fence and feed through with the fence as a guide.

To cut stock square, set the cutoff gauge at 90° to the line of the saw and set the ripping fence to the outside edge of the table, away from the stock to be cut. Place the piece with one edge against the cutoff gauge, hold it firmly, and feed it through by pushing the gauge along its slot. To cut stock at an angle other than 90°, also known as miter cutting, the process is similar, except that the cutoff gauge is set to bring the piece to the desired angle with the line of the saw.

For ordinary ripping or cutting, the saw blade should extend above the table top 1/8 to 1/4 inch plus the thickness of the piece to be sawed. The vertical position of the saw is controlled by the depth of cut handwheel. The angle of the saw blade is controlled by the tilt handwheel. Except when its removal is absolutely unavoidable, the guard must be kept in place.

The slot in the table through which the saw blade extends is called the throat. The throat is contained in a small, removable section of the table called the throat plate. The throat plate is removed when it is necessary to insert a wrench to remove the saw blade.

The blade is held on the arbor by the arbor nut. A saw is usually equipped with several throat plates, containing throats of various widths. A wider throat is required when a dado head is used on the saw. A dado head consists of two outside grooving saws, which are much like combination saws, and as many intermediate chisel type cutters (chippers) as required to make up the designated width of the groove or dado. Grooving saws are usually 1/8 inch thick, so one grooving saw will cut a 1/8 inch groove, and two used together will cut a 1/4 inch groove. Intermediate cutters come in various thicknesses.

Compound Miter Saw – The compound miter saw, shown in Figure 161, is used to provide smooth crosscuts and beveled cuts of wood molding, trim, and other materials. This saw uses a circular blade that is pivoted to the correct angle then dropped onto the material. It has a large compass scale marked in degrees to show the angle of the cut.

Figure 161 – Compound miter saw.

Tile Saw – The tile saw, shown in Figure 162, is used to cut tile and stone. This saw is also know as a wet saw and uses a diamond tipped circular blade cooled by a continuous stream of water contained in a reservoir. It can operate either like a radial arm saw or a table saw.

Figure 162 – Tile saw.


Test Your Knowledge

13. Material should be fed to a table saw blade at what speed?

A. As fast as possible
B. No faster than you can pull
C. As slow as you can
D. As fast as it can cut freely and cleanly

2.1.4 Band Saw

Although the band saw, shown in Figure 163, is designed primarily for making curved cuts, it can also be used for straight cutting. Unlike the circular saw, the band saw is frequently used for freehand cutting. Sanding attachments and sanding loops are available for sanding on irregular or curved surfaces.

Figure 163 – Band saw.

The band saw has a band or loop-like blade that comes in various widths and strengths for various cutting purposes. It has two large wheels on which the band turns, just as a belt is turned on pulleys. The lower wheel, located below the working table, is connected to the motor directly or by means of pulleys or gears, and serves as the driver pulley. The upper wheel is the driven pulley.

The saw blade is guided and kept in line by two sets of blade guides, one fixed set below the table and one set above with a vertical sliding adjustment. The alignment of the blade is adjusted by a mechanism on the backside of the upper wheel. Tightening and loosening of the blade is provided by another adjustment located just back of the upper wheel.

Cutoff gauges and ripping fences are sometimes provided for use with band saws, but you’ll do most of your work freehand with the table clear. With this type of saw, it is difficult to make accurate cuts when you use gauges or fences. The size of a band saw is designated by the diameter of the wheels. Common sizes are 14, 16, 18, 20, 30, 36, 42, and 48 inch diameter wheel machines. The 14 inch size is the smallest practical band saw. With the exception of capacity, all band saws are much the same with regard to maintenance, operation, and adjustment. A rule of thumb used by many Builders is that the width of the blade should be one eighth the minimum radius to be cut. If the piece on hand has a 4 inch radius, the operator should select a 1/2 inch blade. This doesn’t mean that the minimum radius that can be cut is eight times the width of the blade; the ratio indicates the practical limit for high speed band saw work.

Blades for band saws are designated by points (tooth points per inch), thickness (gauge), and width. The required length of a blade is calculated by adding the circumference of one wheel to twice the distance between the wheel centers. Length can vary within a limit of twice the tension adjustment range.

Band saw teeth are shaped like the teeth in a hand ripsaw blade, which means that their fronts are filed at 90° to the line of the saw. Reconditioning procedures are the same for a hand ripsaw, except that very narrow band saws with very small teeth must usually be set and sharpened by special machines.

2.1.5 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Band Saws

Observe the following safety procedures when operating a band saw:


Test Your Knowledge

14. A clicking sound develops while you are cutting material with a band saw. The sound is an indication of what blade problem?

A. Binding
B. Crack
C. Pinch
D. Too small

2.1.6 Drill Press

The drill press, shown in Figure 164, is an electrically operated power machine originally designed as a metal working tool. Accessories such as jigs and special techniques make it a versatile woodworking tool as well.

The motor is mounted to a bracket at the rear of the head assembly and designed to permit V belt changing for desired spindle speed without removing the motor from its mounting bracket. Four spindle speeds are obtained by locating the V belt on any one of four steps of the spindle driven and motor driven pulleys. The belt tensioning rod keeps proper tension on the belt so it doesn’t slip.

Figure 164 – Drill press.

The controls of all drill presses are similar. The terms right and left are relative to the operator’s position standing in front of and facing the drill press. Forward applies to movement toward the operator. Rearward applies to movement away from the operator. Specific instructions on how to safely use the drill press are found in the manufacturers’ documentation. The on/off switch is located in the front of the drill press for easy access.

The spindle and quill feed handles radiate from the spindle and quill pinion feed hub, which is located on the lower right-front side of the head assembly. Pulling forward and down on any one of the three spindle and quill feed handles, which point upward at the time, moves the spindle and quill assembly downward. Release the feed handle and the spindle and quill assembly return to the retracted or upper position by spring action.

The quill lock handle is located at the lower left-front side of the head assembly. Turn the quill lock handle clockwise to lock the quill at a desired operating position. Release the quill by turning the quill lock handle counterclockwise. However, in most cases, the quill lock handle will be in the released position.

The head lock handle is located at the left-rear side of the head assembly. Turn the head lock handle clockwise to lock the head assembly at a desired vertical height on the bench column. Turn the head lock handle counterclockwise to release the head assembly. When operating the drill press, you must ensure that the head lock handle is tight at all times.

The head support collar handle is located at the right side of the head support collar and below the head assembly. The handle locks the head support collar, which secures the head vertically on the bench column, and prevents the head from dropping when the head lock handle is released. Turn the head support collar lock handle clockwise to lock the support to the bench column and counterclockwise to release the support. When operating the drill press, ensure that the head support collar lock handle is tight at all times.

As you face the drill press, the tilting table lock handle is located at the right-rear side of the tilting table bracket. The lockpin secures the table at a horizontal or 45° angle. This allows you to move the table to the side, out of the way for long pieces of wood. The table support collar allows you to raise or lower the table. Turn the tilting table lock handle counterclockwise to release the tilting table bracket so it can be moved up and down or around the bench column. Lock the tilting table assembly at the desired height by turning the lock handle clockwise. When operating the drill press, ensure that the tilting table lock handle is tight at all times.

The adjustable locknut is located on the depth gauge rod. The purpose of the adjustable locknut is to regulate depth drilling. Turn the adjustable locknut clockwise to decrease the downward travel of the spindle. The locknut must be secured against the depth pointer when operating the drill press. The depth of the hole is shown on the depth scale.

2.1.7 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Drill Presses

Observe the following safety precautions when operating a drill press:


Test Your Knowledge

15. On a drill press, which of the following features allows you to regulate drilling depth?

A. Table lock handle
B. Head lock handle
C. Adjustable locknut
D. Head support collar handle

2.1.8 Woodworking Lathe

The woodworking lathe is, without question, the oldest of all woodworking machines. In its early form, it consisted of two holding centers with the suspended stock rotated by an endless rope belt. It was operated by having one person pull on the rope hand over hand while the cutting was done by a second person holding crude hand tools on an improvised beam rest.

The actual operations of woodturning performed on a modern lathe are still done to a great degree with woodturner’s hand tools. Machine lathe work is coming more and more into use with the introduction of newly designed lathes for that purpose.

The lathe is used in turning or shaping round drums, disks, and any object that requires a true diameter. The size of a lathe is determined by the maximum diameter of the work it can swing over its bed. There are various sizes and types of wood lathes, ranging from very small sizes for delicate work to large surface or bull lathes that can swing jobs 15 feet in diameter.

Figure 165 illustrates a type of lathe that you may find in your shop. It is made in three sizes to swing 16, 20, and 24 inch diameter stock. The lathe has four major parts; bed, headstock, tailstock, and tool rest.

Figure 165 – A woodworking lathe with accessories.

The lathe shown in Figure 165 has an iron bed and comes in assorted lengths. The bed is a broad, flat surface that supports the other parts of the machine.

The headstock is mounted on the left end of the lathe bed. All power for the lathe is transmitted through the headstock. It has a fully enclosed motor that gives variable spindle speed. The spindle is threaded at the front end to receive the faceplate. A faceplate attachment to the motor spindle is furnished to hold or mount small jobs having large diameters. There is also a flange on the rear end of the spindle to receive large faceplates, which are held securely by four stud bolts.

The tailstock is located on the right end of the lathe and is movable along the length of the bed. It supports one end of the work while the other end is being turned by the headstock spur. The tail center can be removed from the stock by simply backing the screw. The shank is tapered to center the point automatically.

Most large lathes are provided with a power-feeding carriage. A cone-pulley belt arrangement provides power from the motor, and trackways are cast to the inside of the bed for sliding the carriage back and forth. All machines have a metal bar that can be attached to the bed of the lathe between the operator and the work. This serves as a hand tool rest and provides support for the operator in guiding tools along the work. It may be of any size and is adjustable to any desired position.

2.1.9 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Woodworking Lathe

Lathe turning can be extremely dangerous. You must use particular care in this work. Observe the following safety precautions:

In lathe work, wood is rotated against the special cutting tools illustrated in Figure  166. These tools include turning gouges, skew chisels, parting tools, round nose, square nose, and spear point chisels. Other cutting tools are toothing irons and auxiliary aids, such as calipers, dividers, and templates.

Figure 166 – Lathe cutting tools.

Turning gouges are used chiefly to rough out nearly all shapes in spindle turning. The gouge sizes vary from 1/8 to 2 or more inches, with 1/4, 3/4, and 1 inch sizes being the most common.

Skew chisels are used for smoothing cuts to finish a surface, turning beads, trimming ends or shoulders, and for making V cuts. They are made in sizes from 1/8 to 2 1/2 inches in width and in right handed and left handed pairs.

Parting tools are used to cut recesses or grooves with straight sides and a flat bottom, and also to cut off finished work from the faceplate. These tools are available in sizes ranging from 1/8 to 3/4 inch.

The toothing iron, shown in Figure 167, is basically a square nose turning chisel with a series of parallel grooves cut into the top surface of the iron. These turning tools are used for rough turning of segment work mounted on the faceplate. The points of the toothing iron created by the parallel grooves serve as a series of spear point chisels. The toothing iron is made with coarse, medium, and fine parallel grooves and varies from 1/2 to 2 inches in width.

Figure 167 – Toothing iron lathe tool.


Test Your Knowledge

16. When operating a woodworking lathe, which of the following practices is safe?

A. Standing to one side when starting the motor
B. Making adjustments with the motor running
C. Using calipers on irregular surfaces while the lathe is in motion
D. Milling stock freehand

2.1.10 Jointer

The jointer, shown in Figure 168, is a machine for power planing stock on faces, edges, and ends. The size of a jointer is designated by the width in inches of the cutterhead, sizes range from 4 to 36 inches.

Figure 168 – Six inch jointer.

The planing is done by a revolving cutterhead equipped with two or more knives as shown in Figure 169. Tightening the set screws forces the throat piece against the knife for removal.

Figure 169 – Four-knife cutterhead for a jointer.

The principle on which the jointer functions is illustrated in Figure 170. The table consists of two parts on either side of the cutterhead. The stock is started on the infeed table and fed past the cutterhead onto the outfeed table. The surface of the outfeed table must be exactly level with the highest point reached by the knife edges. The surface of the infeed table is depressed below the surface of the outfeed table an amount equal to the desired depth of cut. The usual depth of cut is about 1/16 to 1/8 inch.

Figure 170 – Operating principle of a jointer.

2.1.11 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Jointer

The jointer is one of the most dangerous machines in the woodworking shop. Only experienced and responsible personnel should be allowed to operate it, using the following basic safety precautions:

The level of the outfeed table must be checked frequently to ensure the surface is exactly even with the highest point reached by the knife edges. If the outfeed table is too high, the cut will become progressively shallower as the piece is fed through. If the outfeed table is too low, the piece will drop downward as it leaves the infeed table, and the cut for the last inch or so will be too deep. To set the outfeed table to the correct height:

  1. Feed a piece of waste stock past the cutterhead until a few inches of it lie on the outfeed table.
  2. Stop the machine and look under the outfeed end of the piece. If the outfeed table is too low, there will be a space between the surface of the table and the lower face of the piece. Raise the outfeed table until this space is eliminated. If no space appears, lower the outfeed table until a space does appear.
  3. Run the stock back through the machine. If there is still space, raise the table just enough to eliminate it.

Note that the cutterhead cuts toward the infeed table. To cut with the grain you must place the piece with the grain running toward the infeed table. A piece is edged by feeding it through on edge with one of the faces held against the fence. A piece is surfaced by feeding it through flat with one of the edges against the fence. This operation should be limited to straightening the face of the stock. The fence can be set at 90° to produce squared faces and edges or at any desired angle to produce beveled edges or ends.

Only use sharp and evenly balanced knives in a jointer cutting head. The knives must not be set to take too heavy a cut because a kickback is almost certain to result, especially if there is a knot or change of grain in the stock. You must be securely refasten the knives after the machine has been standing in a cold building over the weekend.

Each hand fed jointer should be equipped with a cylindrical cutting head, the throat of which should not exceed 7/16 inch in depth or 5/8 inch in width. It is strongly recommended that no cylinder be used in which the throat exceeds 3/8 inch in depth or 1/2 inch in width.

Each hand fed jointer should have an automatic guard that covers all the sections of the head on the working side of the fence or gauge. The guard should automatically adjust horizontally for edge jointing and vertically for surface work, and it should remain in contact with the material at all times.


Test Your Knowledge

17. Setting jointer knives at too heavy a cut can cause which of the following problems?

A. The jointer to stop
B. Gaps in the spindle
C. Kickback
D. A sharp edge to form on the outfeed table

2.1.12 Surfacer

A single surfacer, also called a single planer, is shown in Figure 171. This machine surfaces stock on one face, the upper face, only. Double surfacers, which surface both faces at the same time, are used only in large planing mills. The single surfacer cuts with a cutterhead like the one on the jointer, but on the single surfacer, the cutterhead is located above instead of just below the drive rollers. The part adjacent to the cutterhead is pressed down against the feed bed by the chip breakers just ahead of the cutterhead and the pressure bar just behind the cutterheads. The pressure bar temporarily straightens out any warp a piece may have; a piece that goes into the surfacer warped will come out still warped. This is not a defect in the machine; the surfacer is designed for surfacing only, not for truing warped stock.

Figure 171 – Single surfacer.

If you desire true plane surfaces, one face of the stock, the face that goes down in the surfacer, must be trued on the jointer before feeding the piece through the surfacer. If the face that goes down in the surfacer is true, the surfacer will plane the other face true.

2.1.13 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Surfacer

Observe the following safety precautions when operating a surfacer:


Test Your Knowledge

18. A piece of material becomes stuck during surfacing. Which of the following procedures should you follow to remove it?

A. Stop the surfacer and lower the feed bed
B. Stop the surfacer and push out the material
C. Keep the surfacer running and pull out the material
D. Keep the surfacer running and use another piece of stock to push out the material

2.1.14 Shaper

The shaper is designed primarily for edging curved stock and for cutting ornamental edges, as on moldings. It can also be used for rabbeting, grooving, fluting, and beading. For shaping the side edges on a rectangular piece, a light-duty shaper has an adjustable fence, like the one shown on the shaper in Figure 172. For shaping the end edges on a rectangular piece, a machine of this type has a sliding fence similar to the cutoff gauge on a circular saw. The sliding fence slides in the groove shown in the table top.

Figure 172 – Light-duty shaper with adjustable fence.

 On larger machines, the fence consists of a board straightedge, clamped to the table with a hand screw, as shown in Figure  173. A semicircular opening is sawed in the edge of the straightedge to accommodate the spindle and the cutters. Whenever possible, a guard of the type shown in the figure should be placed over the spindle. For shaping curved edges, there are usually a couple of holes in the table, one on either side of the spindle, into which vertical starter pins can be inserted. When a curved edge is being shaped, the piece is guided by and steadied against the starter pin and the ball bearing collar on the spindle.

Figure 173 – Heavy-duty shaper with fence and guard.

Figure 174 shows a flat cutter for a shaper. When it is in use, the cutter is mounted on a vertical spindle and held in place by a hexagonal spindle nut. A grooved collar is placed below and above the cutter to receive the edges of the knives. Ball bearing collars are available for use as guides on irregular work where the fence is not used. The part of the edge that is to remain uncut runs against a ball bearing collar underneath the cutter. Cutters come with cutting edges in a great variety of shapes.

Figure 174 – Three-wing cutter for a shaper.

2.1.15 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Shaper

When operating a shaper, observe the following safety precautions:


The spindle shaper is one of the most dangerous machines used in the shop. Use extreme caution at all times.

2.2.0 Portable Hand Tools

In addition to using power shop tools, you will be required to operate different types of portable hand tools in the field. You need to understand the safety precautions associated with them.

2.2.1 Portable Power Drills

Portable power drills have generally replaced hand tools for drilling holes because they are faster and more accurate. With variable speed controls and special clutch drive chucks, they can also be used as electric screwdrivers. More specialized power driven screwdrivers are also available; these have greatly increased the efficiency of many fastening operations in construction work.

The two basic designs for portable electric drills are the spade design for heavy-duty construction, shown in Figure 175, and the pistol grip design for lighter work, shown in Figure 176. Sizes of power drills are based on the diameter of the largest drill shank that will fit into the chuck of the drill.

Figure 175 – Heavy duty portable power drill.

Figure 176 – Light duty portable power drill.

2.2.2 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Portable Power Drills

Use the following guidelines when working with portable power drills:

The right angle drill, shown in Figure  177, is a specialty drill used in plumbing and electrical work. It allows you to drill holes at a right angle to the drill body.

Figure 177 – Right angle drill.

2.2.3 Portable Electric Circular Saw

The portable electric circular saw is used chiefly as a great labor saving device in sawing wood framing members on the job. The size of a circular saw is determined by the diameter of the largest blade it can use. The most commonly used circular saws are the 7 1/4 inch and 8 1/4 inch saws. There are two different types of circular saws; the side drive shown in Figure 178, and the worm drive shown in Figure 179.

Figure 178 – Side drive circular saw.

Figure 179 – Worm drive circular saw.

Circular saws can use many different types of cutting blades, some of which are shown in Figure 180.

Figure 180 – Circular saw blades.

Combination Crosscut and Rip Blades – Combination blades are all purpose blades for cutting thick and thin hardwoods and softwoods, both with or across the grain. They can also be used to cut plywood and hardboard.

Crosscut Blades – Crosscut blades have fine teeth that cut smoothly across the grain of both hardwood and softwood. These blades can be used for plywood, veneers, and hardboard.

Rip Blades – Rip blades have bigger teeth than combination blades, and should be used only to cut with the grain. A rip fence or guide will help you make an accurate cut with this type of blade.

Hollow-Ground Blades – Hollow ground blades have no set. They make the smoothest cuts on thick or thin stock. Wood cut with these blades requires little or no sanding.

Abrasive Blades – Abrasive blades are used for cutting metal, masonry, and plastics. These blades are particularly useful for scoring bricks so they can be easily split. 

Make sure that the abrasive blade you choose has an RPM rating at or above the RPM rating of the saw. If the blade RPM rating is lower than the RPM rating of the saw, the blade can shatter or break, possibly causing injury or damage.

2.2.4 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Portable Electric Circular Saws

Observe the following safety precautions when operating a circular saw:

Figure 181 shows how versatile the circular saw can be. To make an accurate ripping cut (A), set the ripping guide a distance away from the saw equal to the width of the strip to be ripped off. Then place it against the edge of the piece as a guide for the saw. To make a bevel angle cut up to 45° (B), just set the bevel adjustment knob to the angle you want and cut down the line. To make a pocket cut (C and D), a square cut in the middle of a piece of material, retract the guard back and tilt the saw so that it rests on the front of the base. Then, lowering the rear of the saw into the material, hold it there until it goes all the way through the wood. Then, follow your line.

Figure 181 – Different ways to use a circular saw.


Test Your Knowledge

19. When cutting materials with a portable electric circular saw, you should use which of the following procedures?

A. Hold the saw with the right hand and guide the work with the left hand
B. Hold the saw with both hands firmly against the work
C. Hold the saw with both hands after removing the blade guard
D. Hold the saw with both hands lightly against the work

2.2.5 Saber Saw

The saber saw, shown in Figure 182, is a power-driven jigsaw that cuts smooth and decorative curves in wood and light metal. Most saber saws are light-duty machines and are not designed for extremely fast cutting.

Figure 182 – Saber saw.

There are several different, easily interchangeable blades, as shown in Figure 183, designed to operate in the saber saw. Some blades are designed for cutting wood and some for cutting metal.

Figure 183 – Saber saw blades.

The best way to learn how to handle this type of tool is to use it. Before trying to do a finished job with the saber saw, clamp down a piece of scrap plywood and draw some curved as well as straight lines to follow. You will develop your own way of gripping the tool, which will be affected somewhat by the particular tool you are using. On some tools, for example, you will find guiding easier if you apply some downward pressure on the tool as you move it forward. If you don’t use a firm grip, the tool will tend to vibrate excessively and roughen the cut. Do not force the cutting faster than the design of the blade allows or you will break the blade.

You can make a pocket cut with a saber saw just like you can with a circular saw, although you need to drill a starter hole to begin work. A saber saw can also make bevel-angle and curve cuts.

2.2.6 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Saber Saw

Observe the following safety precautions when operating the saber saw:

2.2.7 Portable Reciprocating Saw

The portable reciprocating saw (sawzall), shown in Figure 184, is a heavy duty power tool used for a variety of woodworking maintenance work, remodeling, and roughing in jobs. You can use it to cut rectangular openings, curved openings, along straight or curved lines, and flush.

Figure 184 – Reciprocating saw.

Blades for reciprocating saws are made in a great variety of sizes and shapes. They vary in length from 2 1/2 to 12 inches and are made of high speed steel or carbon steel. They have cutting edges similar to those shown in Figure 183.

2.2.8 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Reciprocating Saws

Observe the following safety precautions when operating a reciprocating saw:

Before operating this saw, be sure you are using a blade that is right for the job. The manufacturer’s instruction manual shows the proper saw blade to use for a particular material. The blade must be pushed securely into the opening provided. Rock it slightly to ensure a correct fit, and then tighten the setscrew.

To start a cut, place the saw blade near the material to be cut. Then, start the motor and move the blade into the material. Keep the cutting pressure constant, but do not overload the saw motor. Never reach underneath the material being cut.

2.2.9 Router

The router is a versatile portable power tool that can be used free hand or with jigs and attachments. Figure 185 shows a router typical of most models. It consists of a motor containing a chuck into which the router bits are attached. The motor slides into the base in a vertical position. By means of the depth adjustment ring, easy regulation of the depth of a cut is possible. Routers vary in size from 1/4 to 2 1/2 horsepower, and the motor speed varies from 18,000 to 27,000 rpm.

Figure 185 – Portable router with edge guide.

One of the most practical accessories for the router is the edge guide. It is used to guide the router in a straight line along the edge of the board. The edge guide is particularly useful for cutting grooves on long pieces of lumber. The two rods on the edge guide slip into the two holes provided on the router base. The edge guide can be adjusted to move in or out along the two rods to obtain the desired lateral depth cut.

2.2.10 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Router

Observe the following safety precautions when operating a router:

There are two classifications of router bits. Built in, shank type bits fit into the chuck of the router. Screw type bits have a threaded hole through the center of the cutting head, which allows the cutting head to be screwed to the shank. Figure 186 shows a few of the most common router bits.

Figure 186 – Router bits.

2.2.11 Portable Power Plane

The portable electric power plane, shown in Figure 187, is widely used for trimming panels, doors, frames, and so forth. It is a precision tool capable of exact depth of cut up to 3/16 inch on some of the heavier models. The maximum safe depth of cut on any model is 3/32 inch in any one pass. The power plane is a high speed motor that drives a cutter bar, containing either straight or spiral blades, at high speed.

Figure 187 – Portable electric power plane.

2.2.12 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for a Power Plane

Observe the following safety precautions when operating a portable power plane:

2.2.13 How to Use a Power Plane

Operating the power plane is a matter of setting the depth of cut and passing the plane over the work.

  1. Make careful measurements of the piece and where it is to fit, and determine how much material has to be removed.
  2. The stock being planed should be held in a vise, clamped to the edge of a bench, or otherwise firmly held.
  3. Check the smoothness and straightness of all the edges.

If a smoothing cut is desired, make that cut first and then recheck the dimensions. Make as many passes as necessary with the plane to reach the desired dimensions. Check frequently so you don’t remove too much material. The greater the depth of the cut, the more slowly you must feed the tool into the work. Feed pressure should be enough to keep the tool cutting, but not so much as to slow it down excessively. Keep wood chips off the work because they can mar the surface of the stock as the tool passes over them. Keep your hands away from the cutterhead or blades when a cut is finished.

The L shaped base, or fence, of the plane should be pressed snugly against the work when planing; assuring that the edge will be cut square. For bevel cuts, loosen the setscrew on the base, set the base at the desired bevel, and then retighten the setscrew.

2.2.14 Portable Sanders

There are three types of portable sanders: belt, disk, and finish sanders. When using a belt sander like the one shown in Figure 188, be careful not to gouge the wood. The size of a belt sander is usually identified by the width of its sanding belt. Belt widths on heavier duty models are usually 3 or 4 inches. Depending on the make and model, belt lengths vary from 21 to 27 inches. Different grades of abrasives are available.

Figure 188 – Belt sander.

The disk sander, shown in Figure 189, is a useful tool for removing old finish, paint and varnish from siding, wood flooring, and concrete. For best results with a disk sander, tip the machine lightly with just enough pressure to bend the disk. Use a long, sweeping motion, back and forth, advancing along the surface. When using a disk sander, always operate it with both hands.

Figure 189 – Portable disk sander.

Finish sanders are used for light and fine sanding. Two kinds of finish sanders are available. One operates with an orbital (circular) motion as shown in Figure 190; the other has an oscillating (back and forth) movement as shown in Figure  191. Finish sanders use regular abrasive paper (sandpaper) cut to size from full sheets.

Figure 190 – Orbital finish sander.

Figure 191 – Oscillating finish sander.

2.2.15 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Portable Sanders

Observe the following safety tips when operating portable sanders:


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Powder actuated tools are used in construction to join materials to hard substrates such as concrete and steel; they are also known as direct fastening tools. Each of these tools hold a charge of gunpowder, which is ignited and blows the fastener into place.

Powder-actuated tools come in either low-velocity or high-velocity types. Low-velocity tools introduce a piston into the chamber. The propellant acts on the piston, which then drives the fastener into the substrate. A powder-actuated tool is considered to be low- velocity if the average test velocity of the fastener does not exceed 492 feet per second. In high-velocity tools, which are now illegal to manufacture and/or sell in the United States, the propellant acts directly on the fastener, very similar to how a firearm works. Although high-velocity tools are now illegal to manufacture and sell, some that were made decades ago are still in use in the shipbuilding and steel industries.

Powder-actuated fasteners are usually nails made of high-quality, hardened steel, although there are many specialized fasteners designed for specific applications in the construction and manufacturing industries. Powder actuated fastening is a unique and very cost-efficient method used in a variety of construction situations from home building to large urban structures.

Powder-actuated technology was developed for commercial use during the Second World War, when high-velocity fastening systems were used to temporarily repair damage to ships. In the case of hull breach, these tools would be used to fasten a plate of steel over the damaged area.

3.1.0 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Powder Actuated Tools

Powder actuated tools are very dangerous, and it is critically important that they are used properly and safely. OSHA requires that safety training be completed by any user before they work with powder actuated tools. A summary of OSHA requirements follows:

The Powder Actuated Tool Manufacturers' Institute, Inc. (PATMI) is an association that provides a common industry voice for manufacturers of powder actuated fastening systems. With operator safety as the primary goal of the organization, PATMI stresses training, certification, and safety awareness.

A few powder actuated tools available for building construction are shown in Figure  192.

Figure 192 – Powder actuated tools.


Test Your Knowledge

20.Powder actuated tools can be used in an explosive or flammable atmosphere.

A. True
B. False


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Pneumatic tools are driven by gas, usually compressed air supplied by a gas canister or compressor. The amount of pneumatic, or air, pressure required to operate the tool depends on the size of the tool and the type of operation you are performing. Check the manufacturer’s manual for the proper air pressure to operate the tool. Pneumatic tools can also run on compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) stored in small canisters, which allows for greater portability. Pneumatic tools are generally cheaper and safer to run and maintain than the equivalent electric power tool. They have a higher power to weight ratio, allowing a smaller, lighter tool to accomplish the same task. The most common pneumatic tools used in construction are nailers and staplers.

4.1.0 Safety and Maintenance Considerations for Power Nailers and Staplers

The power nailer and power stapler are great timesaving tools, but they are also very dangerous tools. Observe the following safety precautions when using them:

4.1.1 Power Nailers and Staplers

There is a wide variety of power nailers and staplers available. A heavy duty nailer, shown in Figure 193, is used for framing or sheathing work, finish nailers are used for paneling or trimming.

Figure 193 – Heavy duty nailer.

There is also a wide variety of staplers, like the one shown in Figure 194, that you can use for jobs, such as fastening sheeting, decking, or roofing.

Figure 194 – Heavy duty stapler.


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Determining the right tool for the job is an important skill. Whether you and your crew are working with stationary power tools in the shop or with hand tools in the field, using and maintaining tools properly is critical to the safety of all crewmembers.

A hand tool is a device for performing a task that is powered solely by the person using it. builders use many hand tools; the main categories are measuring and layout tools, fastening and prying tools, sawing and cutting tools, boring and clamping tools, and smoothing tools. Hand tools, as well as power tools, are included in concrete tools, masonry tools, and interior finish tools.

You will also work with different power tools, including shop tools and portable tools. Shop tools include table saws, band saws, drill presses, lathes, jointers, surfacers, and shapers. Portable tools include circular saws, saber saws, reciprocating saws, routers, power planes, and sanders.

Many fastening tasks are now performed by powder actuated tools, which are used to join materials to hard substrates such as concrete and steel; they are also known as direct fastening tools. Each of these tools hold a charge of gunpowder which is ignited and blows the fastener into place.

Some fastening tasks are performed with pneumatic tools. These tools are driven by gas, usually compressed air supplied by a gas canister or compressor. The amount of pneumatic, or air, pressure required to operate the tool depends on the size of the tool and the type of operation you are performing.


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Review Questions

1. What is the simplest, most common measuring tool?

A. Digital measuring device
B. Flat steel rule
C. Measuring tape
D. Wooden folding rule

2. What is the main use for a carpenter’s square?

A. Squaring up sections of work
B. Placing nails along a beam
C. Measuring 360-degree angles
D. Reaching areas where hammers won’t fit

3. What is a combination square used for?

A. Test work for squareness
B. Measure lengths, width, and angles
C. Check level and plumb surfaces
D. All of the above

4. What is it the term for something that is plumb?

A. Vertical
B. Horizontal
C. At a 30-degree angle
D. Bobbed

5. When you check whether a surface is level, what do you gauge?

A. Amount of bubbles
B. Horizontal surface
C. Spirit
D. Vertical surface

6. What does the shape of a sledgehammer head depend on?

A. The torque of the sledgehammer
B. Whether the sledgehammer is single-face or double-face
C. The composition of the head
D. The job the sledgehammer is intended to do

7. What is a screwdriver identified by?

A. The length of its handle
B. Its torque
C. The type of screw it fits
D. The width of its tip

8. What might happen if you use the wrong size screwdriver head for the job? You might

A. Strike a live wire
B. Strip the screw threads
C. Twist the shank of the screwdriver
D. Damage the screw head

9. What are wrenches used for?

A. Pound nails into wood
B. Turn screws, nuts, bolts, and pipes
C. Pry open fittings on drains
D. Strip threaded pipe

10. What are pliers generally used for?

A. To pry open objects that are stuck together
B. To turn nuts or bolt heads
C. To hold, cut, and bend wire and soft metals
D. To substitute for wrenches in tight spaces

11. Why should pliers NOT be used on a nut or bolt?

A. They will round off the edges of the hex head.
B. They are not strong enough.
C. They are designed only for tightening.
D. Their jaws will not open wide enough.

12. What is the wrecking bar used for?

A. Gripping large metal objects for demolition
B. Heavy-duty dismantling of woodwork
C. Hammering nails
D. Breaking up concrete

13. What can you use a chisel bar for?

A. To pry apart steel beams
B. To split and rip apart pieces of wood
C. To break apart concrete
D. To make ridges in wood beams

14. What saw would you choose if you wanted to cut metal?

A. Ripsaw
B. Compass saw
C. Hacksaw
D. Crosscut saw

15. What type of saw cuts with the grain of the wood?

A. Dovetail saw
B. Rip saw
C. Crosscut saw
D. Hacksaw

16. If a chisel is going to cut metal, how must the metal you are cutting relate to the metal of the chisel?

A. It must be softer
B. It must be harder
C. It must be colder
D. It must be warmer

17. When you use a utility knife, why do you place a scrap under the object you are cutting?

A. See the object more clearly
B. Keep the blade sharp
C. Protect the surface under the object
D. Automatically unlock the knife blade

18. What is a punch used for?

A. Cut metal
B. Cut wood
C. Indent metal
D. Indent oilstone

19. A bit brace is also known as

A. An auger
B. A push drill
C. A hand drill
D. An awl

20. A sharpened steel spike used to mark wood is

A. An auger
B. A push drill
C. A hand drill
D. An awl

21. What are clamps sized by?

A. Length of the handles
B. Distance between the metal bar and the shoe
C. Maximum opening of the jaw
D. Kind of pad you insert to protect the work

22. What do you need to use to protect the work when you are clamping soft materials?

A. A web
B. Pads
C. A rack
D. Pipes

23. What kind of tool is a vise?

A. Measuring and gauging
B. Holding and gripping
C. Slicing and sawing
D. Ripping and prying

24. When you use a bench vise, which way do you turn the sliding T-handle screw to clamp the object?

A. Clockwise
B. Counterclockwise
C. Downward
D. Upward

25. Besides smoothing lumber, what is a plane used for?

A. Reducing
B. Shaping
C. Seaming
D. Jointing

26. What is a scraper used for?

A. To remove large amounts of material at one time
B. To smooth wood before a finish is applied
C. To remove paint from windows only
D. To rough up the surface of wood

27. Files have slanting rows of teeth; what type of teeth do rasps have?

A. Smooth
B. Individual
C. Coarse
D. Wire

28. What do you need to do when you clean files?

A. Brush in the opposite direction of the line of teeth
B. Use an old toothbrush
C. Brush in the same direction as the line of teeth
D. Use soap and water

29. What tool is used to consolidate concrete after it has been poured?

A. Screed board
B. Float
C. Vibrator
D. Whirlybird

30. What is a screed used for?

A. Consolidating concrete
B. Cutting off excess concrete
C. Smoothing the surface of concrete
D. Rounding the edge of concrete

31. What is a line block used for?

A. Aligning block at corners
B. Holding mason’s line to keep masonry level
C. Blocking off excess mortar
D. Lining block to keep it waterproof

32. What is a drywall rasp used for?

A. Smoothing the surface of drywall seams
B. Roughing the surface of drywall to make finishes adhere
C. Minor trimming on drywall panels to make them fit tight spaces
D. Cutting holes in drywall panels for electrical boxes

33. Which tool is used to hold drywall mud right before it is applied?

A. Mud pan
B. Inside corner tool
C. Hawk
D. Mud masher

34. On a tilt-arbor bench saw, the saw blade for ordinary ripping and cutting should extend how far above the table top?

A. 1/32 to 1/16 inch plus thickness of material
B. 1/16 to 1/8 inch plus thickness of material
C. 1/8 to 1/4 inch plus thickness of material
D. 1/4 to 3/8 inch plus thickness of material

35. Which combination of grooving saws and chisel-type cutters makes up a dado head?

A. One saw and one cutter
B. One saw and two cutters
C. Two saws and one or more cutters
D. Three saws and two cutters

36. The band saw is primarily designed for which of the following cuts?

A. Freehand
B. Curved
C. Straight
D. Miter

37. How is the size of a band saw designated?

A. Tooth points per inch
B. Width and gauge of the blade
C. Diameter of the wheels
D. Cutoff gauges and gears

38. How is drill press speed changed?

A. By a two-speed control switch
B. By the location of the V-belt
C. By a variable speed control knob
D. By changing the drive pulley

39. At what maximum angle from horizontal can you tilt a drill press table?

A. 10°
B. 25°
C. 30°
D. 45°

40. The size of a wood lathe is determined by what factor?

A. The diameter of the stock that the lathe will accommodate
B. The circumference of the stock that the lathe will accommodate
C. The length of stock that can be mounted on the lathe
D. The horsepower of the lathe motor

41. When a jointer makes a cut deeper at the beginning of the cut than at the end, you should adjust the jointer by

A. Raising the infeed table
B. Lowering the infeed table
C. Raising the outfeed table
D. Lowering the outfeed table

42. The fence on a jointer can be set to produce beveled edges at which of the following angles?

A. 45° only
B. 60° only
C. 75° only
D. Any desired angle

43. How should you true a warped board and plane its top surface if the available tools include a jointer and a single surfacer?

A. Simply feed the board once through the surfacer
B. Feed the board through the surfacer, then turn over the board and feed it through again
C. True one face of the board on the jointer, then feed the board through the surfacer with the true face down
D. True one face of the board on the jointer, then feed the board through the surfacer with the trued face up

44. When shaping an edge on a shaper, how should you feed the stock to the cutter head?

A. Feed stock in the same direction as the spindle is rotating only
B. Feed stock against the rotation of the spindle only
C. Feed stock in the same direction as the spindle is rotating, then reverse and feed against the rotation of the spindle
D. Feed the stock through in either direction

45. If turned or irregular edges are to be shaped, you should remove the straight fence and replace it with what component?

A. A starting pin placed in the table top
B. A C-clamp with a hand screw
C. A three-wing cutter
D. A straightedge board

46. Which of the following characteristics distinguishes a standard drill from a specialty drill?

A. Spade design
B. Pistol-grip design
C. Right-angle
D. Variable speed

47. The size of a circular saw is determined by what factor?

A. The size of the motor
B. The size of the smallest blade
C. The size of the largest blade
D. The size of the guard

48.  Hollow-ground blades have no set and make the smoothest cuts on thick or thin stock.

A. True
B. False

49. If you do not maintain a firm grip on a saber saw during cutting, the saw will tend to

A. Burn the wood
B. Overheat
C. Excessively vibrate
D. Stop cutting

50. To start a cut with a saber saw, what technique should you use?

A. Press the blade into the material and start the motor
B. Pull back on the blade and start the motor
C. Start the motor and push the material into the blade
D. Start the motor and push the blade into the material

51. Which of the following router features allows you to guide the router in a straight line and is particularly useful for cutting grooves on long pieces of lumber?

A. The depth setscrew
B. The depth ring
C. The chuck nut
D. The edge guide

52. Safe operation of any portable power plane requires a single pass cut to be less than what maximum depth?

A. 1/8 in
B. 1/16 in
C. 3/32 in
D. 1/4 in

53. To get a bevel cut using a portable power plane, what action should you take?

A. Loosen the base, set base at desired level, then retighten
B. Tilt the planer to the desired angle
C. Tilt the material to the desired angle
D. Adjust the blade to the desired angle

54. Which of the following sander types is ideal for removing old finishes from wood flooring, siding, and concrete?

A. Belt
B. Disk
C. Orbital
D. Oscillating

55. When using a disk sander to remove old paint, what method should you use?

A. Lay the disk flat on the surface and apply light pressure
B. Lay the disk flat and apply heavy pressure
C. Lay the disk on its edge and apply enough pressure to bend it at a 45° angle
D. Tip the machine slightly and apply just enough pressure to bend the disk slightly

56. Powder actuated tools can be used with no special training.

A. True
B. False

57. In case of a misfire with a powder actuated tool, what should you do?

A. Turn the tool over and check the barrel
B. Have the crew leader check the barrel
C. Hold the tool in the operating position for at least 15 seconds
D. Remove the tool from the work surface

58. All air-powered nailers use the same air pressure.

A. True
B. False

59. Which of the following is NOT a safety consideration for pneumatic tools?

A. Use the correct air pressure.
B. Use any size fastener that you have.
C. Point the nose of the tool away from your body and other people.
D. Disconnect the air supply when you load the tool.

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