Some iPhone Apps for Woodworkers

Let’s face it, the iPhone is making massive inroads into the mobile phone arena.  It seems that walking down the road, if you see someone talking on a mobile then it is 50-50 whether it is an iPhone or not.  The phone aspect itself is obviously irrelevant to woodworking, but there is that small other feature of the iPhone particularly which is a little more relevant.  It is a computer, and a very portable version at that.  What’s more, software for it is easily purchased through the Apple apps (ie applications) store and that can be done directly on the phone itself, or through iTunes on the user’s computer.

The ease of accessing applications, and the cost (some free, and the majority being around $A1.19 (ie $US0.99)(although many reviewed here are $2.49)) has resulted in iPhone applications now equate to 99.4% of all mobile phone apps purchased.

Looking through my iPhone, I thought I might show you some of the woodworking related applications I have (and in no particular order).

There are a couple of conversion programs (there are a whole heap out there, but these are a couple I’ve stuck with), which allow you to convert from one measurement to another (and with a wide range of starting and finishing units to choose between)


ConvertBot ($A2.49), which uses a dial-interface to choose the starting and finishing units, then changes to a calculator-type screen for entering the measurement itself. Since that was released, another has become available that I prefer:


Convert ($A2.49) which has a very straight-forward interface, and without changing screens allows both the starting/finishing units to be selected (finger-scrolling), and the value to be entered via the numeric keypad.

Often though, in the workshop it isn’t just changing units from one to the next that we need (after all, if your plans are in imperial, you can always use an imperial rule if you don’t want to bother converting all the measurements to metric).  What is useful is being able to add and subtract measurements, particularly in an unfamiliar format (fractional inches being the obvious one).


ShopCalc is a mobile app that works in pretty much the same way as the FastCap calculator shown on here recently. You enter in whichever format you want, then add/subtract etc any other format, then finally display the answer in whatever format you choose.

Now inside the iPhone is an accelerometer. This device is like a spirit level inside the phone, detecting what orientation you have the phone in so it adjusts the display accordingly.  The accelerometer is surprisingly sensitive, and therefore allows a raft of woodworking opportunities.

One app, called iHandy Carpenter ($2.49) has 5 woodworking tools built-in, including a rule, spirit level, plumb bob etc.

Spirit Level

Plumb Bob

And a number of others, perhaps more suited to the carpenter/tradie than the home woodworker.  The spirit level for one, is the equivalent of the Wixey ($A70ish) for a fraction of the price.

Not only tool applications available, but also a whole stack of resources, including…..Stu’s Shed (through a mobile interface)

Stu's Shed on the iPhone

Superb small screen interface

And of course, we can’t not mention,,,,,the Wood Whisperer!

Wood Whisperer

There are a whole stack of other applications, of various levels of quality (and price).  If you come across any that prove really useful, please drop me a line!

Bear Creek's boardfoot calculator

9 Responses

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t mention I.D. Wood. ( It’s not really an app (more like an ebook), but it’s got pictures of wood types and their material properties and common uses.

    Having said that, ConvertBot has been whipped out pretty often while I’m working on a project.

    I also use Instapaper to capture tips and plans I come across while browsing around. It’s not really woodworking specific though.

    • Hi Jeffrey,

      I didn’t mention I.D. Wood because I was specifically referring to applications that I had decided to keep on my iPhone, rather than ones that I didn’t feel merited a mention. (And I deleted from the phone soon after installing)

      I discussed my opinions of I.D. Wood back in September and the comments made then still stand. Even more disappointingly is that in the last 4 months, they have added no additional timbers to their Applica…sorry, I meant eBook marketed as an App, and so there is still only 1 Australian timber listed. Eucalypt.

      The solitary written review on the iTunes Oz Store (not by me) is rather accurate, and rather negative. Curiously, any other website/blog that mentions I.D. Wood speaks rather positively about it – read into that as you will.

      Bottom line is there is so much that could be done with a decent wood identification iPhone app, and I don’t feel that I.D.Wood was a justifiable inclusion in this article.

  2. really surprised that Carpenters helper pro was not mentioned. it’s a full contruction calculator that lets you work in decimal or fractions. I use it constantly in the shop

  3. What about WoodMasterHD for the iPad? It’s a woodworking app that is probably the best app out there for woodworking. It’s got all the bells and whistles. Not sure if there is an iphone or android version but it’s a great app. Hope they do a version for the Windows phone tho. :/

    • I’m sure there are a lot more apps out there now- this post was written in 2010. WoodMaster was only released in Aug 2012, and at over $8, I’m not sure what they offer is any different to other apps out there- can’t tell enough from their iTunes advert.

      • I browsed through most of the woodworking apps (the ipad apps anyway) and Woodmaster is different than most of the others. Really impressed with this one and it was almost half the price of most other woodworking apps with a whole lot more functionality.They did a good job on this one.

        One a side note, I have been looking for a tool called a Slap-hammer. It allows you to pull an embedded screw housing from wood. Have ever heard of that? Have a wall unit that needs these housing pulled out. This tool would make it much easier than trying to drill it out.

        • Good to know, thanks for the background.

          As to the slap-hammer, I haven’t heard of one for screw housing extraction. The only one I know is more like a slap-stapler. On Google, it seems some are basically a vise-grip with a long side handle.

  4. Yes, I have WoodMaster for the iPhone and it is awesome! A little pricey but there is a ton of utilities in that woodworking app. Worth the price.

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