New to woodworking, want to make sure I don't go down the wrong path - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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New to woodworking, want to make sure I don't go down the wrong path

I'm new to woodworking, so I'm starting out with virtually no tools. I'm hoping to get some help with building my tool collection while also not wasting money on unnecessary things. I think I could very easily spend too much money getting started.

I have cheap non-woodworking hand tools. I also have a Rigid 15" drill press and a Craftsman 10" bandsaw. These were bought before I had a real interest in wood working. I'm pretty much starting from scratch.

I'm still not sure if I want to go the hand tool or power tool route. I think I'd prefer the power tool route, because I have limited time and it seems like I may be able to get more done this route. On the other hand, I'm a night owl and can't run power tools at night due to noise so hand tools have the advantage there.

The basic things I think I'm lacking right now are
1) a way to joint and plane wood
2) a way to make straight accurate cuts

I'm thinking about spending a bit of money just to get tools that enable me to start being able to do things. I've been thinking about getting the Rigid 4512 table saw and the Jet 10" jointer/planer. This is about $1000, which is a significant amount of money.

1) Is it a good idea to spend that sort of money to get started? I just want to get some tools that enable me to start doing stuff.

2) Are those overkill for a beginner? I'm rather afraid of buying cheap junk or used junk and having a bad experience as a result. In order to prevent that, I'm willing to spend a bit more to get started. I still don't want to waste money though.

As you can see, I really don't have a good grounding as to how to get started buying tools. Could really use some advice from you guys.

Thanks
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post #2 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 01:19 AM
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A table saw and jointer is not a unreasonable start. I would certainly recommend it. Personally I think you would probably be better off with a 6" jointer with a longer bed. The 10" Jet is too short in my opinion. You would be doing more work edge jointing than running the face of the wood. Not only that running the face is extreamly dangerous for a person just getting started. It would be much better for you to purchase a small surface planer and would do a better job.
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post #3 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 08:57 AM
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Are you going to buy rough wood? If you're going to start out buying wood from Lowes/HD that is surfaced on all sides (S4S) or planed wood from a dealer (S2S) you can skip the jointer for now. I have been buying S2S mostly, myself, so I don't have a jointer. I did buy some rough lumber recently and am going to try my hand at planing it by hand once I get my hand tool bench done... maybe afterward I'll decide to go back to S2S or get a jointer, but it'll be fun learning how to surface it by hand either way.

Certainly a table saw will be useful no matter what route you go... even if you end up doing mostly hand tools eventually, you probably won't want to rip plywood down with a hand saw.
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post #4 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 09:09 AM
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Much is made of having massive amounts and specific tools , but you need to analyze what you are interested in building and morph from there. I have tools from when I did construction, and also from my automotive bodywork days that I rarely use any more.

I have a good Delta Unisaw, air nailers, Paslode airless nailers, compressors and everything available to build homes, or restore cars.
I don't build anymore (might later) yet I do mess with cars, (and will again soon).

I make live edge furniture out of some pretty radically grained slabs and log cuts, and nearly all of those tools are sitting and gathering dust. I haven't used the table saw in 3 years.

So my first necessary tool for my furniture was an electric chainsaw, and I had some sanders and grinders. I'm in business with just the basics and as a project sells, I analyze what would make the processes easier and
""Out Of The Profits ONLY !"" I add to my tool stock pile.

The biggest mistake I see is artisans/contractors/builders, dumping loads of money on tools and accessories and 90% of what they buy is rarely used. You would be surprised what can be done with minimal tool outlay. I don't suggest buying junk tools but I do suggest being frugal in your purchases and looking for used tools. Many I see are on Craigslist or in Pawn Shops, and even Garage Sales. Sometimes you have a definite need and must splurge for a specific piece.

Those with the most toys don't necessarily win.

Last edited by Da Aardvark; 03-26-2013 at 09:14 AM.
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post #5 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 09:36 AM
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I second Gilgaron; you can skip the jointer for now. I've had a table saw from day one, so I can't imagine life without it. But I worked for more than 10 years without a jointer. You can make jigs to joint boards on the table saw, and you can buy lumber that needs so little surface work that sanding will get the job done.

When you do get a jointer, do all you can to make sure it's the only one you ever buy. My grandfather bought a 6" bench top and replaced it with a larger 6" floor model, then replaced again with an 8". That was a lot of cash for two jointers that haven't been used since. I took his advice to go straight for an 8", and I'm surprised how often I use all that width.
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post #6 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 09:55 AM
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Leros - I'm pretty much in agreement with Gilgaron and walnutavenue. I have a jointer and some rough lumber, but a lot of times I end up buying finished lumber. If you go with the rough (a bit cheaper - but not a whole lot) lumber, you will also need a planer.

Absolutely, start with a good table saw (the work horse of most wood shops). Some folks will advise on a good miter saw, I've never owned one but borrowed one from a cousin to do some outdoor work on the house. Miter saws are great for working outside the shop but not necessary in the shop if you have a table saw. I respectfully accept all critiques from those who will differ with my assessment of the miter saw. We woodworkers know there are different methods of doing the same task and we all think ours is the best. It's only the best for ourselves.

Another must have tool for any workshop is a workbench. Start simple on this item. Some folks love their robo benches and European benches.
These are serious benches which will cost you a few $1000's to build. But for a starter, go simple, like a few couple of sheets of plywood doubled up on a simple frame. You can drill holes through them for clamping capabilities etc., but keep it simple. You'll grow into the bench of your dreams once you have a direction. A few basics are all you need in a workbench, like make sure it is a very flat surface and secured! Most European benches are secure and stable by their own massive weight, but my basic bench was a flat door on a 2X4 frame I anchored into the floor of my shop. Some simple benches are not free standing and are screwed into a wall or post. Flat, stable and simple to start with.

You will need basic measuring tools, circular saw, saber saw, sanders and some basic hand planes. You will need clamps and cordless hand drill. There are lots of tools out there and in our shops and we can't live without them.

I tend to be long winded, but my last advise is take baby steps. Come up with a simple project you can accomplish and need and only buy the tools you need to accomplish that project. And if you screw up, relax... we've all been there. It takes time to learn and even the best woodworkers still make lots of mistakes... we are all learning how to hide them. You've chosen a great site to ask for help... enjoy your journey and welcome to our wonderful world of woodworking!

Its' never hot or cold in New Hampshire... its' always seasonal.
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post #7 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 10:26 AM
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All the above advice is good. And I went a long time without a jointer.

But in terms of an overall approach, the way I've gone about it is to buy tools based on the project. Think about what you can make with what you already have. A little table? A workbench?, etc. With a little table saw and drill press you could do a lot. With each project you'll get a better idea of what tools would have made the process easier/better. As you take on new projects consider which ones would require you buy a new or better tool. That may influence what project you take on. Said another way, I use each project as an excuse to buy another tool. I factor it into the "cost of the project". But I've bought too many tools that sat for too long before I used them because I didn't have a specific use in mind when I made the purchase.
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post #8 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 10:40 AM
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Well I dont know what kinda budget that you have to start and I also do not know what kinda space you have but let me start with Jets 10" planer/jointer (not a good one). I normally like Jet but I think they dropped the ball on this one. I do agree that you may want to buy a wider jointer (I started with a 6" and just upgraded to a Grizzly 12"). I do not know anything about the Ridgid Table saw but I do know that Ridgid has some pretty good tools.
Once again not knowing your budget I would buy the best that you can right now with the budget that you can, that is what I did. The 4 main tools that I use all the time are: Compound miter saw, jointer, planer and table saw. You may have good luck in your area going to auctions that are selling quality tools, ebay is another good source of getting the same tool that you would buy retail for up to 1/2 the money and so is Craigslist. In order to buy used tools you have to know what you are buying so if you know nothing about the tool to tell if it is good or bad then buy new.
Another thing if you are new to woodworking you may want to think about learning about honing your skills through a school such as Marc Adams School of Woodworking www.marcadams.com, I take classes there from time to time. They give you a skillset that you just can get at the same pace by trial and error. The instructors there are top notch and they also help you after the class.
In order to build a shop of high end tools can cost a ton but building your collection a little at a time starting with better tools and upgrading as you go along will be fine.

Rob

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post #9 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 10:43 AM
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post #10 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 10:46 AM
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post #11 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 11:04 AM
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Here's my take, coming from a different perspective than most of the folks here.

Don't buy a table saw right away. Don't buy a jointer right away. Don't, in fact, buy any big expensive tools right away.

Buy a reasonable quality circular saw (probably around $100) and some extruded aluminum for a guide. I recommend two pieces, each a bit over four feet long, and a way to join them together. With that, you can cut down any size plywood to any other size plywood, without needing to be able to maneuver the sheet over a table saw. With some practice, you can get extremely accurate: my last shop project was building a plywood cabinet, and the largest deviation I saw was under 1/32" over four feet. For practical purposes, that's straight. Total investment, under $200. Add a really good rip and a really good crosscut blade -- you're at $300 or less, and you can rip or crosscut basically anything, though thin stock may require building a cradle to keep the saw flat. Then again, for ripping thin stock, you could easily use the band saw you already have.

Next, find a project. A bench is a good one. Figure out how you're going to build it, and if there are tools you're missing, buy them. Try to find a design that will work well for both power tools and hand tools, since you're not sure which way you're going yet.

Now you've got a way to cut stock to size, a few other tools, and a place to build things. Now pick other projects -- shop cabinets, end tables, little boxes to give away on boxing day, whatever -- and figure out what tools you're missing. Buy those, and start experimenting.

As to the hand tool/power tool debate: I like hand tools. I find them more satisfying, and either just as fast or only a little slower. Your mileage may vary. But think carefully about your shop space: I started moving towards hand tools because I wanted to work in the house when it was cold out, and that meant big power tools weren't really going to work for me. Once I started experimenting with hand tools, I found I just plain liked them better, which pretty much made the decision for me.

And whichever way you go, if it's not working for you, change it!
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post #12 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 11:31 AM
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From another fairly new guy

I started a couple years ago when my better half got me a jigsaw and a circular saw for Christmas. I built several napkin holders, my first 5 board bench and a little bookshelf with just those tools. I've been buying tools (router, mitre saw - just got a portable table saw last month!) one at a time since then.

I've also purchased of other fun stuff (Kreg pocket jig, dremel 8200, etc) too - as needed.

I'm glad I didn't rush out and buy a bunch of stuff (I tend to do that when I get into something new) but rather I looked at projects I wanted to do then figured out what was needed (versus my budget) to get them done.

That said - having a table saw (I just got the portable DeWalt table saw as my space is limited) makes it a lot easier/faster than using the jigsaw and circular saws as my "goto" tools.

Below is a picture of my latest project - first one with the table saw.
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Last edited by Mdreibelbis; 03-26-2013 at 11:50 AM.
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post #13 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 11:42 AM
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I particularly like the comments from learnbydoing and amckenzie. Don't go "tool crazy" before you know what you need and/or want. There are lots of ways to do things in the shop. However, everyone needs to start somewhere. Building a workbench would be a great project to get you going. Maybe a simpler design on a smaller scale would be appropriate for starters. If you go the circular saw route, be sure to invest in a good quality blade as well. Also, if you want to build cabinets or simple boxes, check out Kregs pocket screw systems. For around $50, you can have a pretty easy to use joinery method. For a beginner, it will also give you some quick results...but only if it fits the type of project you want to build.
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post #14 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 11:47 AM
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+1 for Mdreibelbis's reply as well.
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post #15 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 01:02 PM
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I think the choce between power and hand tools is crucial to deciding your direction. You also should really think the type of sawdust your situation and shop can handle.

Without good dust control, power tools like routers, jointers, planers and table saws create very fine wood dust that gets in the air and gets on EVERYTHING, including your lungs. Then there is also the noise and need for eye, ear and lung protection.

On the flip side, hand tools result in bigger chunks of wood ... curls from hand planes and small blocks and chips and the like from chisels. There is significanlly less fine dust floating around in the air. And the tool expenses are generally lower.

The fine dust issue was my main reason for going with primarily hand tools. That and the fact that I am also a night owl and hand tools at midnight are much less intrusive in my home and neighborhood.

Last edited by Chris Curl; 03-26-2013 at 02:11 PM.
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post #16 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leros View Post
2) Are those overkill for a beginner?
It wouldn't be over kill to get a shop that is all Martin Northstate and Felder. Overkill is not the thing to avoid. Under-kill is.

You get sub par machinery and you will spend your money twice.
Except the second time you'll have learned some expensive lessons.
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post #17 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff View Post

It wouldn't be over kill to get a shop that is all Martin Northstate and Felder. Overkill is not the thing to avoid. Under-kill is.

You get sub par machinery and you will spend your money twice.
Except the second time you'll have learned some expensive lessons.
To a point, you are correct. Any woodworker would love to have their dedicated dream shop right out of the gate. Just like any 16 year old male would love to have a Ferrari or vintage GTO as their first set of wheels. Sometimes, however, want and need have to come to some agreement, especially when you realize that there is such a thing as diminishing returns. For example, will my DeWalt 12" miter saw cut much worse than the Kapex that sells at more than 3x the cost?
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post #18 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff View Post

It wouldn't be over kill to get a shop that is all Martin Northstate and Felder. Overkill is not the thing to avoid. Under-kill is.

You get sub par machinery and you will spend your money twice.
Except the second time you'll have learned some expensive lessons.
The other good point this raises for the OP is to consider what power you have available for your work. Nothing like plugging in a new piece of equipment and having to learn about what full load amps are after tripping the breaker multiple times. Or finding that you need to spend another $2k to run the proper electrical service to your shop.
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post #19 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Aardvark View Post
...
The biggest mistake I see is artisans/contractors/builders, dumping loads of money on tools and accessories and 90% of what they buy is rarely used. You would be surprised what can be done with minimal tool outlay. I don't suggest buying junk tools but I do suggest being frugal in your purchases and looking for used tools. Many I see are on Craigslist or in Pawn Shops, and even Garage Sales. Sometimes you have a definite need and must splurge for a specific piece.

Those with the most toys don't necessarily win.
+100. It is especially germain if you replace "artisans/contractors/builders" with "hobbyists"
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post #20 of 48 Old 03-26-2013, 03:00 PM
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I agree with getting a circular saw and some guides. A circular saw is one of the most used tools in many shops.

There are also the "little" things that a beginning shop will need. Often these tools don't plug in but are by there nature, must haves.

Marking and measuring.
Assembly areas/tables/storage cabinets or shelves
Clamping/vises
Hammers/mallets
Saw horses
Joinery pocket hole jigs/doweling jigs
Hand saws rip/crosscut/dovetailing/coping
Drills
Sanding
Finishing materials.
Circular saw and cutting guides
Jig saw

Give a lot of thought on the type of projects that you think you will build. Starting off with cabinets for the shop or simple boxes will give
you practice in joinery techniques.

Also do a lot of research on table saws,joiners/planers and other larger purchases before you commit to them. You likely will
change your mind several times over the course of this research.
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