My son wants to start doing some woodworking. He has little experience. His
plan is to buy a Table Saw, Sliding Compound, some hand tools etc. He
doesn't have a whole lot of money so he obviously won't be able to start off
with top of the line equipment.
He's not looking to build any museum pieces for some time, just some
storage, maybe an entertainment wall-unit, his wife wants him to build her
some shelf units for their family room, maybe some picture frames, picnic
table and some outdoor furniture like Adirondack chairs, etc.
I'm more into building than fine woodworking, but I told him a Table saw,
Drill Press, Plunge router w/ table, a cordless drill, a belt and vibratory
sander, and some handtools.
Does anyone have any ideas, suggestions maybe some web-links to basic shop
| My son wants to start doing some woodworking. He has little
| experience. His plan is to buy a Table Saw, Sliding Compound, some
| hand tools etc. He doesn't have a whole lot of money so he
| obviously won't be able to start off with top of the line equipment.
| He's not looking to build any museum pieces for some time, just some
| storage, maybe an entertainment wall-unit, his wife wants him to
| build her some shelf units for their family room, maybe some
| picture frames, picnic table and some outdoor furniture like
| Adirondack chairs, etc.
| I'm more into building than fine woodworking, but I told him a
| Table saw, Drill Press, Plunge router w/ table, a cordless drill,
| a belt and vibratory sander, and some handtools.
| Does anyone have any ideas, suggestions maybe some web-links to
| basic shop set-ups, etc?
Just a thought - you might consider an inexpensive benchtop band saw
for a birthday or Christmas gift for making items like the Adirondack
chairs. If he becomes serious about woodworking, then he'll probably
replace it with a better tool, but even the inexpensive one will make
some stuff _much_ easier.
Other than that I think your list makes a good starter kit.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Glad to have another hobbyist join the club! Most people cut their teeth
doing general around-the-house fix-ups before getting the gumption to
try a "museum piece".
But as for your question, were you asking for lists of tools that would
be recommended for a successful "minimal" shop, or were you asking for
shop layouts (an organizational question)?
If you meant recommended tools, you're going to get quite a few
responses, each flavored by everyone's expertise or preference. I'll
chip in my two cents worth... I'd go with the following, pretty much in
this order until you've reached your major tool budget
** Table Saw - Probably the most-used tool
** Power Drill - Probably tied with the table saw
** Sander - Can get by with a hand/block sander, but a palm sander will
save your son time and frustration
** Circular Saw - This is a poor-man's sliding compound, so you might
not need this for your son, but it comes in handy when cutting large 4x8
panels down to size by yourself
** Router - Most cabinet work can be improved by better joints, and the
router is pretty darned hard to beat for speedy and accurate joint formation
The last here are optional toys, and depend on what your son thinks he
will get into
** Bandsaw - This would allow him to either cut fancy curves into pieces
if used with a thin blade, or to economically reduce the size of large
boards if used with a thick blade
** Scroll Saw - Kind-of a mini-bandsaw, just for curve/scroll work
** Jigsaw - Great for free-hand cutting jobs, and cheap to boot.
Essentially a power hand-saw.
** Drill Press - Great for mortising
And as for hand tools, he might have some of these, but here's my
preferred list anyway...
** Claw hammer
** 6" Speed Square
** Retractable tape (he's gotta already have one of these...)
** Level (you want those cabinets level, right?)
** Screwdrivers (all 3 sizes of all 3 types, Flat, Phillips (cross) and
The rest are small-ticket items that I'm sure he'll pick up on his own
as the need arises...
Good luck to you and your son! Maybe we'll see him on here!
Oh yes, I forgot to mention: SAFETY!
A $5 pair of clear glasses, a $5 package of dust masks, and a $30 pair
of over-the-ear hearing protectors.
All those power tools make a ton of noise, and though none of them
(except maybe the router) are overly loud on their own, over extended
periods they can cause damage. Wood dust (particularly that of certain
species) has been shown to be carcinogenic. And even I have been glad to
have been wearing goggles, my worst (though not that bad) experience
being given a big welt and cut under my right eye as a small corner/tip
of wood was kicked back into my face with enough force to stun me for a
moment! My father even heard the slap over the machine noise!
> My son wants to start doing some woodworking. He has little
> plan is to buy a Table Saw, Sliding Compound, some hand tools etc. He
> doesn't have a whole lot of money so he obviously won't be able to
> with top of the line equipment.
Learn to walk before trying to run.
Buy tools on an as needed, project by project basis.
Buy a decent contractors saw with the BEST fence money can buy (I like
Equip it with a good combination carbide tipped blade.
Buy safety equipment as needed.
Set up the saw and play with it.
When you have that piece of wood in your hand and reach for the next
tool you don't have, it's time to go shopping.
My guess is that within 30 days, you will find a 6" ROS, cordless
drill and possibly a saber saw in your future.
After that, probably a router kit.
If you get this far, you are probably hooked.
Trying to forecast and purchase your tool needs ahead of time can get
to be VERY expensive in terms of money and storage space in a hurry.
If you have money burning a hole in your pocket you just have to
spend, buy CLAMPS.
Above all, be safe and have fun.
I'll throw in another vote for this idea. Your collection of tools
depends a LOT on what type of furniture you're building - I'd
recommend starting with a few small projects that can be completed
with very basic tools, and see what type of work you like doing, and
build your tool collection accordingly AS NEEDED. It's easy to spend
a lot of money on tools because they're nice and they look neat, which
may or may not end up being useful.
For me, space is very limited, so I don't have a table saw, but a 16"
bandsaw doesn't take up much floor space, and is very effective for
rip cuts and a variety of other operations. A very short list of
other tools/equipment I use on almost every project includes:
workbench, shop vac, handheld circular saw, cordless drill, drill
press, router + table, jack plane, low-angle block plane, chisels, and
a variety of clamps.
I'd also strongly suggest getting your son several books - used or
library can save money, and look in the archives here or Amazon
reviews for specific suggestions. I'd suggest something on properties
of wood (often found in intros to other books), something specifically
on the major tool(s) he starts with, some joinery/techniques books,
something with a lot of pictures of wood and completed projects for
inspiration, and a good finishing book. A published plan or book with
plans can be a good place to start also.
Good luck, and remember that for most of us making furniture is a more
rewarding hobby than tool collecting,
So far, responses have listed a lot of power tools, but no jointer or planer -
not even a hand plane. No chisels, no scrapers.
IOW, what you've got is a list of carpentry tools, not woodworking tools,
although of course they can be used for both.
But hardwood, unlike construction lumber, comes in random sizes and rough
edges. Your son will be reduced to buying a limited selection of hardwood at
Home Depot, etc. at greatly inflated prices per board foot. A few hundred
board feet purchased like that and he'll have spent the money required for
the jointer and planer :-).
But I do agree with the poster that said buy tools as you need them. Don't go
out and get a fully equipped shop to start with. Your son may find out he
doesn't like woodworking :-).
It's turtles, all the way down
First of all, safety gear. That includes keeping crap out of your
lungs, either via a good mask, or a collection set-up along WITH a
mask...you can walk on a wooden leg, eat with false teeth, but you
can't see a thing with a glass eye.
As Swingman and a few others have pointed out in the past, THE most
important thing in building stuff like you mentioned, is BE SQUARE!
(And be in a position to be repeatable...tables have 4 legs, shelves
have many levels the same etc...)
Squareness, and derivatives of 90 degrees are an absolute requirement
for things to fit.
So, my list probably focuses more on that facet of woodworking:
A good quality table saw with a good fence (I think Biesemeyer and
clones are simple, cheap and rugged.)
A contractor saw from General comes to mind. Surprisingly good quality
saws can be had in the 'contractor' variety. I would rather have a
General contractor saw than a Delta (new) Unisaw. But enough about me.
Make a nice-sized outfeed table and side extensions, making sure it is
all flat and square. The Biesemeyer fences can be had with nice long
rails which allow you to build extensions between them.
The side extensions make great router tables and you get to use the
fence of the saw. You will need a router.
Then, make an accurate sled for the table saw. That will do a lot for
cutting smaller things to length and SQUARE. (A sliding CMS is nice,
but no need right away. It is portable.)
Next, a biscuit jointer, maybe augmented by a Kreg pocket-cutting jig.
You can do a lot, and save money, by going the dowel route.... that's
an option... but bicuits are easy to learn and pocket-holes are very
The Kreg lets you build things without the hefty investment of a load
of clamps... but you WILL need clamps.
Do not skimp on clamps. Better a few good ones than too many crappy
ones. Cabinet Masters in my shop, but Bessy makes great clamps too, as
does Stabil. ( Big clamps clamp small things, small clamps clamp only
small things.. anything below 48" is 'small'.) Pipe clamps are okay
for some dirt-work, like laying up boards, which you'll machine later,
but they suck for assembling finished goods, they won't keep things
Unless you're going to buy pre-dimensioned materials, such as plywood
and hardwood from HD etc, you will need a planer. Delta makes a nice
13" that I am very pleased with. IIRC its number is 22-580.
Then, a drill press can be made to do a lot of work.
The rest, as Lew Hodgett pointed out, will make their requirement
known out of thin air as the need arises.
The hard part is justifying the cost of things that aren't 'obvious'
in their role. Such things as quality saw blades and clamps.
The stuff you'll need for finishing? Sky is the limit.
Buy a contractor's table saw with a cast iron top (no aluminum!). A decent
router (mounted in a router table), finish sander and cordless drill. That
should get him started.
I made this table with only the above tools when I started out in a VERY
Poppycock & balderdash!
Now try to envision the results when a craftsman, by your definition,
has access to quality equipment.
Many things woodworkers accomplish, would be nigh impossible without
the assistance of decent tools.
Imagine, if you will, the attempt to take off a strip of 1/8" x 1 5/8
x 96" off the side of a 2x4 with a hand-saw.
Put that hand-saw in the hands of a skilled craftsman and compare the
results *I* will get with relatively ordinary table saw.
I agree that there will be a difference if both of us were to use a
However, the end result of a decent wood working project will be
accomplished more easily and better by a semi-skilled craftsman with
proper and adequate equipment than by Maloof with an ax.
..unless the end result was SUPPOSED to look like a piece of Maloof ax-
work... and that is assuming Maloof is a craftsman as opposed to an
I have seen the result of "craftsman" who have access to the highest
"quality equipment" who produce nothing but crap, time and time again. High
quality tools don't guarantee quality craftsmanship. Recommending to
someone starting out that they "need" a Beissemer fence is just flat out
You are kidding me, right? A Biesemeyer, or clone, is one of the most
basic, fundamentally 'must have' pieces of equipment in any woodshop.
There is nothing exotic or expensive about it. In fact, I don't think
a more basic piece of gear exists. How are you going to achieve ANY
kind of accuracy unless you have a good fence?
They wouldn't BE 'craftsmen', now would they?! They are just posers.
Give a monkey a Leigh dovetail jig, and he's going to be a monkey,
Quality equipment will yield a better result than crap equipment, as
long as we keep the monkey out of the equation, right? If we take a
reasonably competent woodworker and let him loose in a good shop, I am
confident he will produce a better product than if he was in a shop
full of crappy gear.... I mean, let's face it, we agree more than not.
Buying a Festool Domino will not guarantee that some clown won't use
it to polish a turd.
Now you're being silly. Only seasoned pros know how to make use of
those properly and can make those pieces of machinery pay. A
Biesemeyer (or better), however, is just one of those things you can't
live without, lest you start making junk!
My fence is 12-foot long. Is that weird?
|| Now you're being silly. Only seasoned pros know how to make use of
|| those properly and can make those pieces of machinery pay. A
|| Biesemeyer (or better), however, is just one of those things you
|| can't live without, lest you start making junk!
| I live without a Bies every time a make a project. My stuff is FAR
| from junk.
|||| There is nothing exotic or expensive about it. In fact, I don't
|||| think a more basic piece of gear exists.
||| More basic than a Beis fence? Have you seen mine?
|| Is there a fence which is MORE basic than a Biesemeyer? (Not
|| including a stick)
| YES! My fence.
|| My fence is 12-foot long. Is that weird?
Hmm. This is beginning to look like a religious war. Seems to me that
even true masters might choose different tools to suit their
individual talents, personal preferences, and the tasks they take on.
For all users, from new apprentice to master craftsman, the major
advantage of power tools is productivity (getting more work done in
There does seem to be a relationship between quality tools and quality
of result, but I'm fairly certain that a major component of that
relationship is the level of knowledge and experience of the person
who chooses the tool.
Note that I said: "the person who chooses the tool" and not: "the
person who purchases the tool".
[ Dos centavos ]
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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