Newbie Info: Seeking Input on basic tool functions

Well, I've learned a TON in the last few days. I've a dozen books on hold at the library and a half dozen magazines and catalogues to look at. I'm still a little fuzzy on what "big" tools I need, which portable tools I could use in lieu of a stationary tool (mostly for cost considerations), and which hand tools to get. Could somebody kindly post a quick list of which tools serve which purpose. Here's an example of what I'd like to know:
Say I find a plan for something really simple, like some plans for a 9-piece console table that (according to Popular Mechanics) can be assembled with some relatively inexpensive portable power tools and mostly hand tools. If I want to buy stock, how do I select "good" lumber? How big should the pieces be? Do I just show up at Lowe's with a stock list and say, "Fill 'er up, please?" Once I get my stock home, how long should I let it acclimate to my environment? Once that's done, what are the steps to prepare the boards for working? As far as I've gathered, you run it through a thickness planer and a joiner I think? The books I've read all are still just a step beyond. They give instructions like, "Thickness plane the stock." Were it up to me, I'd run the board through once and be done, but then another book discussed the second and third planes.
I know absolutely NOTHING at this point, and all of the materials I've found are assuming I know fundamental things already. I think I may need to delay until I can take some classes. I need some instruction as if it were being given to somebody who hasn't even HEARD of this thing called "wood" before, because I haven't even learned much jargon yet.
So - can anybody suggest a good source of material? I'm eager to soak up some more knowledge, since the classes I'm taking won't be available for a month or two yet. I'd also like to start acclimating myself to the tools and what they are used for and how they're used and start compiling a list of things to research for purchasing.
Thank you all!
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Oh boy, religious war time! There are almost as many opinions as there are woodworkers. In the end, what tools you "need" depends on what you want to build, how much effort you want to put into it, how much money you want to to put in to it, the space you have, and on and on.
Personally, I would stay away from the box stores (Lowes, Menards, Home Depot) to buy lumber. On the other hand, you can go in with the plans and say 'gimme what I need'.
Buying lumber this way, you will not need to worry about planing it. Jointing should not be necessary either.
See if you can find another woodworker to talk to close to you. Look for Community Education classes.
Depending on what you want to build, a table saw is probably going to be the center of your shop - don't skimp. Get a good router (variable speed, colletts for both 1/2 and 1/4 inch bits). You will need a sander, a random orbit will probably serve best. Gotta have a drill - 3/8 will do for most things. Hand tools -- A few chisels (set of four to start), a sanding block, screwdrivers, rubber mallet.....
Then -- BE SURE TO GET EYE AND EAR PROTECTION AND USE THEM ALL THE TIME!!!! Always think safety when in the shop.
Now, ask some specific questions. A general attempt to teach you everything will go on for days. Be ready for conflicting opinions on tools and techniques. You will have to develop your own style. Start out simple and learn to fix mistakes (which you'll make plenty of sorry to say).
Woodchip

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You forgot to issue a fatwa against infidels who stain mahogany.... :-) -- Ernie
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and
As a newbie myself - I think you'll want to *invest* in a good table saw. If not your first big-stationary-tool purchase, it's on the Top 3 list. Hand tools include router, drill, sander, jigsaw, plane. Benchtop tools could be: drill press, thickness planer, etc.

9-piece
If
Getting things "same and square" has been my number on challenge. In the beginning, no matter how hard I tried my corners were never 90 degrees and my parts would vary by an 1/4th inch over 48". After about a year, I'm done to a delta of 1/32nd of an inch over 48". Better but still bad enough to cause some unsightly gaps!
The only thing that helps (I believe) is practice, practice, practice!

Buy inexpensive materials first. You'll be amazed at the mistakes you'll make! I've still got projects that I have absolutely no earthly idea how one shelf ended up at 5 1/8" instead of 5 5/8ths...
Also if you start practicing with materials like MDF - you'll have stock with a edge (or four) square reference edge. Or find projects that you can assemble from 2x4, 4x4 lumber. Have you built your workbench yet?

Lowe's and HD will annoy you quickly. The good wood they stock is very expensive. And their dimensional lumber (2x4...) is mostly crap. You'll spend an hour sorting thru the pile for some straight boards. Your best bet is to find a hardwood dealer in your area.

If its construction lumber from Lowes, let it sit for a couple of weeks. I just can't find straight 2x4's at our Home Depot, so I buy their 2x10's and rip the straight stock out of the middle. Still pretty cheap for practicing.

thickness
JoinTer. Thickness planer's are (IMHO) Tier II tools for a newbie. They take some experience to use well and you can buy S3S / S4S wood. I figure, you've got other skills to master, so hold off on learning about planers for a little while.
Jointers are Tier III, in my humble opinion. The inexpensive ones are very limited, the expensive ones are big and heavy. And they too take practice to get acceptable, repeatable results from.
If you can't find classes - hit the bookstore and look for "Weekend Projects" and "Furniture from 2x4's" books. Then buy some inexpensive wood and start practicing!!!
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LOL! I'm still trying to figure out how the front overhang on my workbench wound up in back. -- Ernie
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Ernie Jurick wrote:

My first project is actually going to be more carpentry than wood working: we're building two walls in my basement to actually wall off my woodshop space. I've got a track record as a home improvement disaster and my wife weeps when I get out the hedge trimmer. I expect to share, repeatedly, in these kinds of mishaps.
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How else does one learn?
wrote:

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Then put a nice Compound Miter Saw on your "buy" list.
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The Roll top desk I made about 10 years ago ended up with two left had tracks for the top (rolling section) to slide in... who thought of the fact that the sides had to be mirror images of each other... I will NEVER forget that mistake... Dumb beginners mistake ( after almost 25 years in the hobby).....
Bob Griffiths
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