Newbie looking for guidance

Hi all...
I'm looking for some advice on tools and some simple beginner projects. I just moved out of an apartment and into a house, so I now have room to start building a modest workshop. I have your standard portable power tools (circular saw, jig saw, drill, belt and orbital sanders) which served me well while living in an apartment. But, they were really for minor repair work. I never really built anything from scratch.
Now that I have the space, I'd like to start woodworking. I love watching woodworking shows on TV but they make it seem way to easy. But, having just bought the house, I'm rather strapped for cash. And honestly I'm not really sure if this is just a passing fad or not. I don't want to spend a great deal of money on tools which may just wind up sitting my basement rarely used. So as a beginner who may quickly loose interest, what are the essential starter tools that I should be investigating?
And I would appreciate recommendations for simple beginner projects, especially ones where I could get by with what I already have. (A birdhouse, a very basic bookshelf, etc.) I'd almost prefer to build up a love of the craft first which would drive me towards purchasing better tools over time.
Regards, Dave
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Dave wrote:

I would suggest that you get a book entitled "Box by Box". It starts out very simple but if you can work all the way through it you'll have a pretty good set of skills. Caution--the lists of tools and materials need some editing--you'll find tools listed for some projects that you don't need--don't buy one until you can't figure out how to do a step without it. "Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking" is a very good "how to" book--they ways he teaches aren't the only way but he generally has several ways of going after any task--it's not a project book though and the way to learn IMO is to decide what you want to make and then make it, and if you need to practice a skill you'll know by the time you're done what skill you need to practice.
--
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--John
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Second and third Tage Frid books ! & II bound together. Fourth time reading found undiscovered things. Book III was nil for me.
On Mon, 2 Apr 2007 09:16:09 -0400, "J. Clarke"

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Dave wrote:

There are a ton of good books out there that will lead you through basic techniques with simple projects.
I got the woodworking bug a couple years ago when I bought a cheap ($100) table saw on a whim. When I started playing around and realized how many things you can do with that one simple tool that you can't do with the standard array of portable power tools, I was hooked. So I would start there, followed by a router/table combination. I wouldn't skimp too much on this, but for under $500 you can put together a pretty good setup, including an assortment of frequently used bits.
You can do a hell of a lot with a table say and a router. From there, the sky is the limit if you find yourself really enjoying the hobby.
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Go to the public library and read the various woodworking books. They will have several on getting started. Also go to Borders, Barnes Noble and read their woodworking books too. The getting started ones. I saw one by Taunton/Fine Woodworking about getting started and it seemed pretty good. Simple projects using modest tools most people already have. All of these have various tol lists. Most are not extravagant lists and after reading the various books you can figure out which of the tools suggested are really necessary.
As for tools, you do need certain tools to do the work. I think the table saw is essential. Without one you are trying to concoct some other way to do what the table saw does quickly and easily. If you have to make up work arounds that are inconvenient every time you want to cut something, your interest can quickly drop off. And you'll never really give yourself a chance to like woodworking.
I'm not saying having the nicest tools will make everything easy and get you to be a lifelong woodworker, but without the right basic tools at the start, the interest will never be kindled because it will be so tedious to do the simplest things. Imagine being a car mechanic, if that was your passion, and not having a covered garage or shed or anything to work on the tools. Laying on your back under a car on a gravel/dirt patch in the middle of winter, in a northern state. At night, no trouble light even. And your only tools are a Vise-Grip, screwdriver, and hammer. Kind of hard to even get interested in car mechanics if you don't even have the very basics.
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Just start by building projects you need around the house or shop. You will need cabinets and some sort of workbench even if it is just plywood on sawhorses.
The tools you have are enough to get you going but you will probably need a tablesaw rather quickly. I started out with a cheap benchtop from Sears then upgraded to an all cast iron contractor saw, both new. If I were to do it again I would buy a used contractor saw, you can find them on craigslist for $100-200. They are practically indestructable and can be had for the price of a new benchtop. Search around for tips on buying used power tools.
Go for projects that are simple to build confidence then move on to something like this: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/tool_chest_made_by_studley.htm
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RayV wrote:

Yes, of course. He'll need a set like that to build one of these:
http://www.workbenches.com/images/BenchColor/AmericanOpenDrawers.jpg
;-)
Hey OP ... Start simple. You might want to start with a simple workbench and use it as a base to extend the usefulness of the tools you already own with various jigs.
Use the internet to search for plans like you mentioned. There are tons of free plans and even the purchased ones are usually only about $10.00. Try your hand at birdhouses & feeders, planter boxes to spiff up that new house and so on. If you run out of ideas, but had the foresight to get married, you might brainstorm with yer missus.
Play. Sometimes you make really neat decorative or useful things, other times you make memories.
Just be careful ... otherwise those memories can be of how you watched your fingers go flying past you.
Bill
--
http://nmwoodworks.com/cube


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Bill in Detroit wrote:

Why does this make me laugh so much. I need help. Bad Andy
--
:: Clever Sig here ::

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Dave wrote:

Howdy Dave,
Just my humble 2 pennies worth, but you'll probably want to go with a contractor saw to start and then a router. You can do just about anything with them.
Craigslist is great for hunting them down in your area, or the classifieds will have folks selling them relatively cheap. You can even find folks who are selling their entire shops for a great price.
Go with simple home fix up projects and when you want to move on to some other ones do a couple searches on the web for simple projects. There are plenty of free plans available. There are great resources mentioned above too.
Good luck!
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here's an example http://newjersey.craigslist.org/tls/304268798.html
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Hey, congrats on the new house, and welcome to the club! I started with fewer tools than that a few years ago, and now I'm totally hooked. My recommendation would be to pick out some basic projects, and to buy tools you absolutely need for each project. I always recommend the book that got me started: "The Complete Book of Woodworking: Detailed Plans for More Than 40 Fabulous Projects" (Amazon.com product link shortened)75528486&sr=8-2 This book has a good background of wood, tools, and techniques, and then gives basic plans for some fairly straightforward projects. I started with a step stool, which I made with just a circular saw, jigsaw, and drill. I borrowed a friend's router, but that isn't even necessary if you follow the plan as written. I still use the stool frequently as a "shoe-putting-on seat", and my wife likes it to reach stuff on top of the fridge. In contrast to most opinions here, I don't think a tablesaw is absolutely necessary. If you have space and cash, by all means go for it, but I'd suggest a router and router table might be a better "first major tool" purchase. (Totally depends on what you want to make, though - again, I'd recommend starting with a project and picking out tools accordingly, rather than starting with a bunch of tools, as fun as that sounds.) Anyway, shop space is very tight for me, so I went with a bandsaw, router table, and circ saw guides instead of a TS for now. I've also enjoyed discovering hand tools - you can do an awful lot with a Japanese Ryoba (2-sided) saw, a well-tuned block plane, and a few chisels. Keep in mind when thinking about your tool budget that lumber can be expensive, and don't forget consumables like glue, sandpaper, finish, screws, hardware, drill bits, router bits, saw blades, etc. etc. etc. Most of all, have fun woodworking! See what you can build with the tools you have, look at your local library or used bookstores for woodworking books, search the archives here, see if there are any local clubs or classes, and learn whatever you can! Enjoy, Andy
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Start by building a sturdy and heavy workbench. It can be made from standard available stock. Buy the tools you need to build the bench, but buy the highest quality tools you can find. If I had to choose between a $45 chisel and a cheap $45 electric drill, I'd pick the chisel. Your workbench will prove to valuable for all future projects. When you have the money add a hefty vice. Tools made in USA, Canada, England, Germany are generally better than those made in China or Taiwan.
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Dave wrote:

Dave,
I'd recommend getting good used power tools, especially if you don't mind tinkering a bit. And if you want something you can get your money back out of, buy old tools. For example, an old DeWalt Radial Arm Saw from the 50's may set you back several hundred, but unless you take a sledge to it, you're going to be able to get your money back out of it. And there's a lot of knowledge and newsgroups out there, too. (Not trying to start a RAS vs. table saw - just posting what I know.)
Cheap tools generally aren't worth it unless you don't care about accuracy. For example, I use my cheap (< $100 new) Craftsman table saw to cut shingles, brick, or anything else that I hope will kill that crappy saw.
Don't be fooled by a simple bookcase. Build a prototype out of cheap pine, and you'll have to figure how to mount the shelves, how to construct and attach the back, and support for long shelves.
--
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
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The simplest project to start with that can be accomplished with an apartment dweller's tools would be a tool tote (if you haven't already made one). Either plywood or pine, as you prefer. You'll get a lifetime of use out of it. Other easy household projects: a rack for housekeys, a display shelf for some nice bit of glassware or something, cat scratching posts or a dog house (as appropriate), simple picture frames and all manner of benches, hooks and cabinets for your would-be workshop. You can learn skill building on those "out of sight" workshop projects without pressure from the rest of the family, too. In addition to your current tool inventory you'll need a decent block plane, a fine tooth backsaw, and a couple of chisels. Something more advanced might be a picnic table and bench, outdoor planter boxes, an outdoor worktable to put next to the BBQ -- all of which may also be accomplished with your current tool inventory and the hand tools just mentioned. When you decide to kick it up a notch you can invest in a table saw, router and drill press. They just make some things go faster, that's all. And if you get that far you won't need a great deal of advice after that. Good luck,
J.
Dave wrote:

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