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Hi Everyone!
I'm entirely new to woodworking and I really want to do this as a hobby for a while. Making tables, stools, etc. I have a miter saw, circular saw, orbital sander, jigsaw, drills and a few other misc. tools. There are still a ton of tools that I want to buy but as my pockets get shallower I have to pick and choose... So my question is, what are some tools that you all absolutely could not live without? Router? table saw? Planer? Ive been looking at them all but I cant decide what should come first. Any help is appreciated! Thanks in advance!
 

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Every tool has its place. The problem for most is figuring what kind of projects excites you and buying the tools to make these items fun....

What do you like to build? What's enjoyable?
 

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where's my table saw?
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Some of depends on the type of material you intend to use...

A table saw is the best for squaring and making parallel cuts in sheet goods like plywood OR in surfaced lumber like 2" or less, soft or hardwood.


A bandsaw is best for thicker wood like 3" or greater soft or hardwood AND making curves or small radius cuts.


A router will mostly be used to make profiles on the edges of boards, BUT with a proper jig, can be used to make mortises or dados.


A thickness planer is best used on rough lumber from a saw mill OR to make a any type of lumber a uniform thickness.


A jointer is really a companion to the table saw because it is dangerous to place twisted or cupped boards on the table... they may jam or kickback. The jointer will create a flat surface and a straight edge on any type of board which is what you must have against the fence and on the table!


That covers the major power tools typically found in most woodworking shops. These tools/machines can be a life time investment IF you choose wisely, BUT you will spend more money on quality. Used machines are usually good investments, but it's good to know WHY the seller is parting with them. They may have issues OR they just upgrading to better quality. A novice may not know what to look for in a used machine, so bring along an experienced friend or relative. With "shallow" pockets" you will probably want to buy used. I've had really good luck from Craig's List, but I know what to look for.

:vs_cool:
 

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Just figuring it out
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I was in your shoes not long ago, trying to decide what tools to buy and in what order to buy them. What I did was list out the things I wanted to make, and what tools I'd need to make them. For example:

Shop Table (plywood): Table Saw (track saw in a pinch), hand drill
End Table (hardwood): table saw, planer, router (for m&t joints)
Stools (hardwood): Table saw, lathe, router

If you list a wide set of projects, especially if you include those "shop projects" which can be a bit rougher than indoor furniture, you can then select them out in an order that is the best for learning as well as easier on the wallet.
 

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I am going to veer off topic just a bit. There are occasional gems to be found on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and I would recommend doing frequent searches there (perhaps reaching out up to 100 miles or so). I have added a dust collector, jointer, table saw and most recently a drill press to my workshop - each in great condition at a great price - which allowed me to increase my capabilities at a much more rapid pace than waiting for something new to fit into the budget. Another advantage of buying used is that if the tool is in great shape and you don't abuse it, you can often sell it for the same (or sometimes better) price that you bought it for.

My advice is that if you find a good tool at a good price, it is best to jump on it as quickly as you can because the best machines at the best price don't last long (just as I have found some great buys, I have also missed out on some). At the same time, use care to buy a quality item too and a poor tool will lead to poor work and much frustration. For new equipment, do your best to buy it while on sale if possible.

It can be difficult to say what tools in what order would be best - and much can depend on the choice of projects you wish to create - but I have found that with each piece of equipment I have added, the speed, efficiency and quality (not to mention the joy of woodworking) has increased measurably.

A couple years ago my "woodworking" shop consisted of a radial arm saw that I have had for 30 years and a cheaper contractor type table saw. When I retired and decided to get into woodworking, I began adding equipment and only recently reached the point that it is now. While a lot can be done with a small amount of basic tools, you will likely find that your interest and equipment will expand and grow over time - particularly as the pleasure builds.
 

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Village Idiot
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Must haves?

- A quality tape measure. I like Harbor Freight for a lot of things, this is not one of those things. Go name brand, get something in the 12-25 foot range. Bonus points if you find one that has fractional measurements
- A good pencil. Zebra-301 mechanical for me. Nice, fine lines are the key to good layout, and good layout makes for better products. A marking knife works too, but for my money a pencil is more versatile.
- A 1/2" chisel. A good all-around size, use it for a lot.
- Block plane. No need to get horribly fancy, honestly if youre willing to do some work truing the sole up and maybe replace the blade you can get by with Harbor Freight. Nothing beats a block plane for putting a quick chamfer on a piece

Everybody likes talking about the fancy stuff, but honestly youre kinda up a creek if you dont own a tape measure. Dont neglect the basic stuff!
 

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I think there are a lot more "wants" than "must haves", there is a lot of excellent work done with very little and a lot of garbage made with expensive equipment. Learn the basics and add to your arsenal as you progress.
I think I learned more with less as I had to figure out ways without. As time went on more tooling made things easier but now there a lot of wasted tooling sitting around. ..
 
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