Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Three Tools Every Shop Needs

We have seen people fall in love with one tool buy it and then have it sit in the corner of a garage because it was not the right first, second, or even third major tool purchase a starting woodworker should make.

A frequent question posed to Glen and me is, "What tools do I need to get started?" Well there are a few more questions that we need to ask prior to answering:

  1. What will you be doing in your shop? - If you answer I will be making pens, tops and kids toys the tools needed are different than if you will be making furniture projects, etc.
  2. How big of a space do you have? - Have you begged half of the garage away from the spouse or do you have a big barn to turn into a shop.
  3. How much money do you have to spend? - Always a factor.

Let's assume that you want to do furniture projects, you have little space, and a limited budget (this is how I started my shop after I moved away from my Dad). Here is my list of major tools needed - I like to call it bare minimum - in order of purchase:

  1. Table Saw - the work horse of the modern shop - spend the dollars here - with a good table saw you can do a lot. My budget = $1,600
  2. Joiner - try to buy an 8" longbed joiner. The key to good furniture is starting with squared and true wood. = My budget = $850
  3. Thickness planer - here is where I chose to save some money. The bench top planers currently on the market are great for the single person shop. My budget = $275 - $350
  4. Dust Collector - You got to clean up and for the money these things take the drudgery away from cutting wood. My budget = under $350
  5. Hollow Chisel Mortiser - They run under $300 and are a great specialty tool.
  6. Bandsaw - Once again agreat work horse in the shop used for many things even in some ways it shouldn't. My budget - $675 or less
  7. Lathe - You have to be able to turn legs, feet, and finials eventually. (Have no budget because I don't have one in my home shop yet.)
  8. Dual Action Sander - This is a big one - it really reduces the sanding drudgery of woodworking - but to have this you need a large scale compressor. Most people who do wood for a hobby do not buy this tool. If you have the money and space it is a must have.
  9. Mitre Saw - Highly useful tool that helps you do all the cross cutting. To get the full use from this you need long bench space but it should not discourage you from buying it. My budget = $325
  10. Open - I think that this is where we should stop - my next piece would be a Hi pressure - Low Volume sprayer for finishing but this is something most people can do without for a long time. For most people applying the finish by hand is sacred and I do not want to stir them up.

Those are my top ten. The first three are the main stationary tools you should aim to buy. I hope this helps.

Steve

16 Comments:

Blogger JustAWoodworker said...

Why wouldn't you purchase a miter saw before a lathe or dual action sander?

Seems you would use this tool on every project you would ever build.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Steve Huey said...

When I do most projects I can use my table saw for cross cuts and find that most miters don't have the same accuracy as my table saw does.

Because I use my table saw for a lot of cross cutting I go for the lathe first and I hate sanding so much that I like as much help in that area as possible.

For tools 4 - 10 it comes down to budget and types of projects.

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