where do i start? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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where do i start?

My background is about 8yrs in residential remodeling, and I have the tools and experience for that sort of work, but any fine woodworking ive tried to do with those tools fights me to the end with results im not completely thrilled with.

Id like to try my hand at some cabinets, benches, small tables, etc. Id like to get your opinions on where to start improving and adding to my tools.

I read the forum all the time and each time come away wanting a new TS, planer, jointer, router table, dovetail jigs, drill press, DC, etc and then get overwhelmed and never start anything. I appreciate nice tools, and although used is a great deal, I would rather buy new and not worry that something is wrong...the catch being I do have a budget, and im going to have to do this a piece at a time. Once Uncle Sam comes through, Ive probably got about 700 or so to spend for now.

At this point i have basic contractor tools;
  • well worn ridgid portable TS...its ok, but its not sturdy and on its last legs. I dont trust it much, and any large sheet goods i rip w/ circular+straight edge and finish w router
  • DW 10" miter
  • DW fixed base router (no table)
  • PC circular/ Bosch jig saw
  • compressor, nailers, etc
  • Bosch cord/cordless drills (no drill press)
  • PC RO/belt sanders, buffer, etc.
Ill have a 15x15 unfinished basement to work in, but first id need to add some sort of DC to keep the wife happy.

Anyway, where would you start to get the most benefit for your money?

Last edited by redline9k; 01-25-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 10:37 AM
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The best place to start is a good, solid table saw. Some of the older contractor style saws can be found for right around $100 or so and then there is Sears and the like. Every once in a while the put their contractor saw on sale and they also have layaway in most stores.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 10:46 AM
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Well, it sounds like you've already got some good tools that probably just need some attention and/or counterparts to make them perform better. I agree with Mac that the cornerstone of most shops is a quality table saw. Cast iron contractor saws (used) can be had for under $200. Next, you can use that table saw, sanders and maybe your nailers to construct a router table for that fixed base DeWalt you have. You'll gain a lot of experience there in building drawers, cutting rabbits, dados, etc.

You're off to the races from there.

Ut Prosim
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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that was sort of my sneaking suspicion...ok, new TS first...

i know that a used one is probably a better deal, but I really dont have the knowledge to purchase a used TS, and would be happy to pay (and play with) a new saw.

Are there TS's in the 500-700 range that would be worth owning for the foreseeable future? I dont want to spend good money on something that needs to be replaced in 5 years. If I could get a much nicer saw for a little more $ I can go root around in the couch cushions some more.

Last edited by redline9k; 01-25-2012 at 11:22 AM.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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and of course, for giggles, i stop by my local CL and find this;


is this a decent saw i could count on for the foreseeable future? Im not sure what year its from, but does an older TS like this limit me with aftermarket fences/miters, etc?

Last edited by redline9k; 01-25-2012 at 11:26 AM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 11:52 AM
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thats a very well regarded TS, and its table size/miter slots are standard sized so that you could easily step up to a better fence miter gage, etc as you get deeper into WW., though those fences are known to be fairly decent. you could also build yourself, or buy a router table that replaces one of the wings on that saw if you wanted to save shop space.

You mentioned you have the ridgid job-site saw, did you happen to register for the lifetime service agreement on it? if so and theres anything mechanical that makes you question its safety they should be willing to fix/replace any components that are causing safety concerns.
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 03:42 PM
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Yo redline9k,
It is easy to understand your desire to buy "new" instead of "used". You stated you don't want to deal with having to search out a quality used saw, and worry about if you got the right saw at the right price in the right condition. Thus "new" makes it easy to just get started. However you mentioned a budget, and then you found the saw on CL, so the realization you might be able to get a decent saw, save money and use the money for more equip, is attractive after all.

Let me say, that any guy who has worked 8 years remodeling houses, has to solve a lot of problems to make things work, fit, look good, plus a very good knowledge of power tools, etc, in other words you have the right instincts and background to go buy "used", and make the right decision. Further you are way ahead of most of us who are white collar types and have taken up woodworking stuff as a hobby.

Back to the TS, ok your on a budget, but you don't want to buy something and have to replace it 2 years down the road. First sometimes that is unavoidable, not all our buying decisions will be good, and you might have to sell that item and upgrade. However it isn't hard to know which TS are worth buying. If you want to have an all around wood shop, you might want to consider a heavier TS like a hybrid or cabinet, which puts your purchase price for used in the $400-$700 range. There are a lot of contractor style saws that are very fine saws, in the under $400 range, and maybe that is the right place to start for you, but there are better hybrid or cabinet type you can find under $700 and you would use for decades.

One other point you said you have tried to get going on building woodworking stuff but it hasn't happened. You might be like the guy down the street from me, he is a cabinet maker, that's it! He won't do anything else with his tools & equipment. It's not fun for him, it is work. He is booked on cabinet orders, and the last thing he wants to do for relaxation is start up his table saw, and turn on another power tool. You might suffer from a little of this, you work with power tools, saws, etc all day, and while you might have the desire to put your practical knowledge to use in woodworking, the desire to get dirty and breath more sawdust just isn't easy after you did it all day. This might explain a little why buying "new" is more attractive even though you are on a tight budget. Buying "used" takes a certain amount of energy, and is a challenge, rather than face that hurtle (challenge), it's easier to go buy it new even if it may mean buying a budget model, and a Pro carpenter like yourself knows that quality tools & the right tool make the work go easier so, it grinds against you to step down in quality due to budget restraints.

All the above is a big guess, I don't have a clue, and if I'm wrong please ignore what I suggest.

If you are serious about woodworking, then acknowledge it is a hobby. Allow yourself time to enjoy it, this includes buying the right tools. Your money was hard earned and in your business you wouldn't buy junk just to get by, if you have to buy entry level until you have more money, buying "new" means you take the hit on depreciation so if you buy an entry level piece of equip, and want to upgrade you get stuck with losing 20-50%. If you buy a "used" item for the same price chances are you are buying something better than the "new" entry level, and if you want to upgrade you often can get your money (equity) back and maybe even a small profit (provided you bought the used item right), or for a tiny loss. Bang for Buck is usually greater buying "used", however you have to have the patience to wait for the right deal to show up and then move in and scoop it up. The last thing you want to do is go into debt buying equipment. Often buying new lends itself to debt, the buying juices are flowing and while you might have the cash for the entry level, for a couple of hundred more you can get the better model, so out comes the credit card, and you promise yourself to use the cash to pay off most of it. Unfortunately that cash usually doesn't quite get to the CC company at least not all of it.

If having the energy to go into the garage to do woodworking is difficult after a hard day at work, then budget your time the way you budget money. Plan your relaxation, and stick to it, you do that already with work, plan when to do the projects and how much time it will take. You know when the work load is light, and you might have energy to do something with wood at home.

Anyway, didn't mean to preach, just an old fart, who struggled and still does with the desire to get started...

oh yeah,
What to buy first considering what you have..

Good Table Saw
Good Router
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks yocalif - your right for the most part. Although my only problem with "starting" is the belief that having the right tools makes any job more professional.

For example, I can install 1400 lf of crown with basic hand tools and take my time and make it look really nice, but having the miter saw with a nice blade, nice coping saw, nailer, etc make the job look that much better in a fraction of the time.

I guess my comment about finding motivation to start was meant to say I keep getting bogged down thinking that all of these nice tools will make my projects turn out way better than if i started them today with my current setup so I was really looking for ideas on what I *need* that will show in the quality of my finished work versus just things that would be nice to have.

I do agree, I think a TS is probably the first place to start. Ive looked at CL on and off for a long time and the time ive spent searching decent saws is starting to be more trouble than just paying more for a new one. I would like to stick w/ the contractor sized saw just for its portability. I have an ok sized shop but the TS will have to move out of the way depending on what else is going on.

So, given all that, if I dont come across a good saw (and get to the seller first!), are there any contractor saws in the sub 700 range that you guys would enjoy using for the next few years?
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 05:28 PM
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Five years ago when I had to retire because of a botched neck surgery I was in the same boat as you are now. Starting out with a filthy cluttered garage and no clue as to what purchase to get back into woodworking. I didn't even think about Forums for advice I just went out and bought a new $350.00 Craftsman TS and cleaned up my garage. It was fine for about a year building work benches and junk for the garage. But then my interests got tweaked and it was time to build some more intricate projects. This is where the frustrations began. Ripping a board and having one end 1/16" longer than the other etc... To make a long story short, I finally bought a Steel City Hybrid with a Granite top and a Incra Fence system. The same goes for my router,drill press,chop saw,jig saw, and other "start me out" tools. So what I am saying is if you are serious and plan to stay with it, if you buy junk you are eventually going to speend more money when you get frustrated with their results. Just my humble 63 year old opinion.
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 05:32 PM
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I have this saw. Its a smidge over your budget but its a very good saw and is capable of fine woodworking. I absoslutely love it and would buy it again.


This one also gets pretty good reviews around here. I have no experience with it personally but most of the people who own them are very happy with them.


RRBrown, knottscott and many others were banned, they didn't just leave. They were banned for standing up to the new owners that are destroying this site. Come join us all at woodworking chat, the best new woodworking site on the net!!
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post #11 of 14 Old 01-25-2012, 07:24 PM
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I'm one of those with the ridgid R4512, and i like it alot, and I'm one thats had a delta and a couple different Cman used saws. The used machines for example, the bevel scale was just a ball park..spent more time after the fact dialing it in, where as the r-4512 Ive been able to without fail turn the bevel to where i want it on its gage, verify it and its been right on every time. its also nice to know say the arbor bearings or motor go out either to simply age/use that i can take it in and have it repaired free of charge forever basically.
The stock fence on the R4512 i cannot comment on, as mine has never had it's on it..the day it came off the freight truck i mounted up a delta T-2, and i also replaced the sheet metal extensions with home-made units topped with Formica, though i have seen a few guys having good results taking cast iron wings from other saws and mounting up to the R4512.
Yes someday id love to upgrade to cabinet saw, but for now the R4512 meets my needs as far as accuracy and flexibility with limited shop space.
One other thing, quite a few have had success using the harbor freight R4512. So IMO if you consider the R4512 brand new at 400 bucks, lifetime service agreement, riving knife, accuracy its a hands down winner over buying a used machine. Yup sorry fellas, i really said that..lol
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post #12 of 14 Old 01-26-2012, 03:01 PM
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redline9k, having the right tools and quality can make all the difference, it makes doing things a joy and not drudgery. Yet one man's drudgery is another man's play time. Sort of like cooking, I love to cook, my sister can't stand to be in the kitchen, unless it is getting something already prepared out of the fridge.

For some getting used equip or tools at a price others just don't think is possible is fun challenge. For you it might be drudgery, unless a deal falls in your lap, which btw they can. I bought a new Ryobi portable TS as my first TS, and knew after one cut it was a stupid purchase, (never thought to check out woodworking forums, I was too busy.) I used that saw for 88 days, and was going to take it back on the 89th day, I decided to look on CL and there was a Craftsman hybrid 22114 the seller wanted to trade for a portable TS, so I gave him the Ryobi ($230) plus $50 cash and end up with a 4 year old TS for $280, that deal fell into my lap. At least make the effort to seek out used, and if you gave it a decent effort and no banana then a new TS is the answer.

Here are some in your area. Note I can only recommend what I use or have owned which is the C-man 22114 & 22124, however major brands like Grizzly, Jet, Powermatic, General International, etc, all make excellent TS. As for the prices sellers are asking you will have to do your homework or ask on the forum for help. Personally I prefer to look for newish looking equipment and properly working, not someone else junk. However sometimes a diamond might look like a piece of coal, and with a little elbow grease and a some calibration, you end up with a gem at a bargain.

Jan 25 - Jet Table Saw/10" Contractor Saw - $325 (north county)
Jan 24 - table saw contractor saw 10" - $500 (st charles )
Jan 14 - Grizzly Table Saw - $825 (Wildwood, MO)
Dec 17 - Delta 10" Table Saw - $400 (Ballwin)
Jan 23 - Masterforce Table Saw (obo) - $500 - (Dwight IL)
Jan 11 - CRAFTSMAN 10" TABLE SAW 1-1/2 HP HEAVY DUTY WOODWORKING - $998 * this is a fine example of a seller who has way over priced his TS, that saw has steel wings is a cheaper version of the 22114 and could be found brand new on sale for $400, the fence is the weak spot. Maybe $300-350 if in perfect condtion.
Dec 13 - Delta 10" table saw with unifence - $475 (Columbia)
Jan 22 - Table Saw - $550 (Boonville)
Jan 23 - Woodtek 10" Contractor's Table - $300 - (Ozark) *I have no clue about woodtek, but the fence looks like a biesemeyer, if so it is a good deal. Buy the saw for the fence then find a better saw that needs a good fence and exchange the fences and get rid of the woodtek.
Jan 8 - Delta 36-979 10 Inch 1-1/2 HP Table Saw - $400 - (Willard) *you want new, you want a contractor TS. Ask members if this saw is any good?

Of course you aren't going to drive around looking, but comparing these various saws and looking up info on them will give you a better idea what you really want. Get all the info from seller over the phone including extra pics if necessary. Personally I am not driving more than 25-50 miles unless I am making a real score. Many of the above are way over priced, and require an effort by you to educate the seller, but be sure you did your homework and know where the market is.


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post #13 of 14 Old 01-26-2012, 04:05 PM
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I agree, tablesaw is the foundation. Get something solid enough that you'll be happy with it for a long time.
This place sells used machinery and if you surf through now and then you can find some good deals if it's near enough to you:

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post #14 of 14 Old 01-26-2012, 08:17 PM
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You might consider looking up a local group of hobby wood workers. Many are old codgers same as those of us here that are happy to lend advice and for the price of a coffe go with you to look at a tool. From this point and as long as you are interested in wood working,any time you find yourself in the company of someone experinced with hand tools,I strongly advise getting all the help you can on chooseing quility tools,how to sharpen and use them. There will come a time you will want to complete a project useing as few if any power tools possiable. There is usualy a project large or small in my shop at some stage of completion waiting for me to figure out how to proceed useing a hand tool when I could use a router,power planer or other power tool and knock it right out or it may not be worked on again until I need the uneque pleasure and relaxation that comes with useing a hand plane,scraper,hand sanding or such.
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