Looking to build something in the garden? Tackling an outdoor DIY project? Learn which woodworking tools you can use and how you can use them.
The idea from this post came to me as I drilled holes and cut a piece of PVC pipe to upgrade my strawberry crate tower as a watering pipe to get water to each tier of the tower. I used:
- a hacksaw to cut the pipe to length
- a drill and a drill bit to drill holes in the pipe to let the water trickle out
- vice grips to snap off some of the webbing at the bottom of the intermediate crates to allow the pipe through
Traditional woodworking tools, both manual and power tools, can be used in the garden for many tasks. They may already be tools you have in your garage or workshop, so you are repurposing them for the garden. Or you might buy some of these tools for the garden and then use them for projects around the house.
Either way adding to your tool collection is always a good thing!
Read on for details and my recommendations from Amazon.
Safety Note: Before using any power tool, make sure you have read the manual that comes with the tool and make sure you are comfortable working with it. Safety equipment such as safety glasses or googles, hearing protection, dust masks and gloves should be worn. DO NOT take any risks and make sure you are not tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Accidents can happen so quickly.
You don’t absolutely need this tool, but it is a nice-to-have.
If you are building some type of garden structure or just need a board cut shorter for some reason, this is the easiest way to do so and will save you quite a bit of time. The mitre saw will also come in handy for other DIY projects around the house.
A compound sliding mitre saw is the best long-term investment, although they are more expensive than standard non-sliding saws. A sliding mitre saw will allow you to cut wider boards such as 2×6’s at 45° or 2×8’s at 90°. But for most homeowners and gardeners it is overkill.
My recommendation: Makita’s 10” Compound Miter Saw (model LS1040)
If you need a hole somewhere, you need a drill with appropriate sized drill bits. The drill can also be used to screw together things if you add in some drill bits.
I prefer a corded drill for most work. I simply have a long extension cord that reaches most parts of my garden or I bring the work to the garage if I can.
A cordless drill is great for the occasional smaller drilled hole and for driving screws. You do need to make sure you have a charged up spare battery for bigger jobs.
For drilling into concrete or brick, a more heavy-duty hammer drill is a good investment, along with appropriate drilling bits. If you can afford only one drill, then go with this one and use a long extension cord. I would not advise getting a heavy-duty drill that runs on batteries.
My recommendation: DEWALT DW511 1/2 in. (13mm) 7.8 Amp VSR Corded Hammer Drill
This is a handy tool for pruning trees, as long as you make sure the blade is clean if you are using the saw for other purposes. With the thin blade you are able to easily work between branches where a larger bowsaw for instance won’t fit.
You can then also use it to cut medium thickness branches to length to burn in a woodstove or fireplace.
With the right blades it can also be used to cut metal. Very handy for demolition work if you are removing an old wooden garden structure such as a deck or pergola, as it lets you cut through rusted nails and other fasteners as well as the wood. Or to cut rebar to length for strengthening concrete work you might be doing.
My recommendation: DEWALT DCS310S1 12-Volt MAX Pivot Reciprocating Saw Kit
This is a nice-to-have. The most common brand is Dremel although you can get rotary tools from other manufacturers.
Get a good assortment of attachments, so that you can drill, cut, grind, sand, etc. Accessory kits are good, but you might not need everything in the kit, so you can buy accessories individually.
There are many projects you can do with the help of a rotary tool.
The tool especially works great in the garden to sharpen tools with an appropriate grinding wheel. Or to take the burrs off a piece of metal or plastic pipe that you have cut.
Definitely get a cordless version that runs on a battery. Much more convenient in the garden. Just remember to charge up the battery!
Safety Note: Because these are high-speed rotary tools, make sure to wear safety glasses or goggles (as you should with any power tool). And be careful if cutting or grinding metal as there will be lots of sparks. Ensure you don’t set fire to dry mulch or nearby wood!
My recommendation: Dremel 8050-N/18 Micro Rotary Tool Kit with 18 Accessories
You may already have these tools, but if not I’ve provided links for good quality tools that will last a long time and of course can be used in the house or workshop as well.
Needless to say this is for measuring anything in the garden. Maybe you need to check to see if a new structure will fit in a space, measure your zucchini that you missed picking and is now baseball bat sized or find out what size a container is to ensure a plant will have enough space for it’s roots.
It’s best to get a longer tape and put up with a bit more bulk as outdoor spaces are so much larger.
My recommendation: Stanley Tools FatMax 33-740 40-Foot Tape Rule with BladeArmor Coating
However if you really want to measure long distances in your garden on a regular basis you may need a longer, wind-up reel.
My recommendation: Stanley 34-793 200-Foot Open Reel Fiberglass Long Tape Rule
A level lets you make sure a surface is level horizontally or absolutely straight vertically.
Use it to check if a container is level so that when you water the water doesn’t spill over the edge. A shorter level is usually better here.
Use it with a straight edge to let you find out the slope of the land, perhaps to check drainage or to add stairs. No need to get a longer level for the odd occasions you need a longer one.
My recommendation: Stanley 42-240 24-Inch Professional I-Beam Level
A string level also comes in handy for really long distances.
My recommendation: Stanley 42-193 3 Inch Line Level Plastic
A carpenter’s pencil is more robust than a regular pencil, making it much better for marking cut lines on wood and other rough surfaces such as concrete or brick.
The only downside of such a pencil is sharpening it. You can use a utility knife to sharpen it, but it is a bit crude to do it that way. Therefore get yourself a sharpener as well to make it easier.
My recommendation: Irwin Tools 233250 Carpenter Pencil Sharpener
There are so many different types of clamps on the market.
The most versatile ones are the spring clamps and you can get them in an assortment of sizes.
You can use them to clamp row covers onto supports, hold plants to stakes and act as a temporary third hand while you drill holes or put in screws to secure something.
My recommendation: Fasmov 4-1/2 inch Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps Photo Studio Backdrops, 12 Pack
A rubber or wood mallet is handy to knock wood or bamboo stakes into the ground. There is less of a chance of damaging the stake than using a metal hammer.
My recommendation: STANLEY TOOLS 57-522 18-oz Rubber Mallet
A hammer will let you knock a metal stake or rebar into the ground. And of course to hit a nail on the head if you are building something! The claw also comes in handing for prying things apart or removing nails. A great multi-purpose tool.
My recommendation: Stanley STHT51238 16-Ounce Steel Nail Hammer
I mainly use my screwdriver if I need to tighten a screw on a tool. But it also comes in handy if you need to install a screw to hang up a tool or to tie a string or net to for a trellis.
Get a good selection of bits that store in the handle.
My recommendation: STANLEY 68-012M All-In-One 6-Way Screwdriver
A slower version of the reciprocating saw but can be more precise. Use it to cut metal.
My recommendation: Stanley STHT20138 Solid Frame High Tension Hacksaw (12in / 305mm)
Wrenches and Sockets
These will come in handy to maintain your garden tools and to tighten bolts that have come loose on decks and other garden structures. Sometimes you may need both metric and imperial. So best to get a set that has both.
A good quality wood rasp (basically a woodworker’s file) allows you to shape wood to remove sharp edges on raised beds and file pointy ends on thin garden stakes.
My recommendation: TEKTON 6695 10-Inch Half Round Wood Rasp
A metal file will help you keep your garden tools sharp, everything from hoes to shovels and spades to axes.
My recommendation: Nicholson 06706N Axe File, 8-Inch
These come in handy whenever you have something stuck that won’t unscrew and a regular wrench doesn’t do the trick.
These can also be used as a temporary low capacity clamp.
And some come with a built-in wire cutter so that you are not tempted to use your good pruners to cut wire!
My recommendation: IRWIN 07-7WR Vise-Grip 7-Inch Curved Jaw with Wire Cutters
This comes in handy to attach netting to wood supports for an instant trellis or to secure row cover to wood supports or directly to your raised beds. Or anytime you need to attach plastic sheeting to make or repair a greenhouse or hoop tunnel.
My recommendation: Stanley TR150 SharpShooter Heavy Duty Staple Gun
So as you can see woodworking tools do have their place in a gardener’s tool collection. Make sure to get permission from the woodworker before you borrow his/her tools, otherwise you might get into trouble. And clean off any dirt before returning them!
Or better yet, build your own woodworking tool kit for use exclusively in the garden to keep the peace.
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC