Newbie tool advice needed

I am thinking about getting started in woodworking (white collar guy looking to produce something tangible). I've been reading this newsgroup, looking through some of the popular WW magazines, and read the woodworking for dummies book. For background, the only saw I've ever used is a jigsaw playing around. So I am the most novice you can think of.
I've read the advice on buying quality tools vs. the "intro" tools. But I have a bunch of intro tools as gifts or inherited (Craftsman table saw, router and table, some off brand 8 1/4" compund miter saw, old small drill press, a ripsaw/circular saw - can't remember the correct term, a small bandsaw, and a couple of power sanders). Since I've never done any work, I'm sure I'm going to have a big learning curve - and who knows if I'll want to even stick with it. So...
Should I stick with these inferior tools for starters to try the hobby out and hone my skills? Or am I wasting my time with the lower end tools?
Thanks for your opinions.
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Corey, Since you already have the tools, albeit cheap ones, I'd keep using them until they eventually break/wear out, or you outgrow them. As each one needs replacement, buy the best quality you can afford/justify. A tool that only gets used occasionally doesn't need to be top notch. But depending on the type of work that you finally feel comfortable with, I personally like as high quality as possible for the major food groups like table saws, planers, band saws, etc.
So use the Craftsman stuff and don't fret over making mistakes. I'd rather make my mistakes with the intro tools that the high $ toys.
                            My .02                             Mark
Corey wrote:

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That's about what I started with, the cheaper tools to get my feet wet and decide how serious I wanted to get into woodworking. After about 2 1/2 yrs. and having a strong desire to build bigger and better quality items including furniture for the house I starting buying better quality tools. Last fall I bought the Jet contractor saw with cast iron wings to replace the small Delta benchtop. (I kept the benchtop since I help my son in-law with some side carpentry jobs and it's easy to throw in the back of the pickup and go). SWMBO bought me the Dewalt 734 planer for Christmas and a small Delta jointer. Just jump in there and get your feet wet and enjoy. Watch Norm - New Yankee Workshop and David Marks and work safe. When working with a saw, if it doesn't feel right don't do it.
--
Mike S.
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I agree with Mark. One can make crappy furniture with expensive tools too. Use what you have for now. Learn to measure and mark out your work. Start with small, simple projects first, like a shelf, simple box, or step stool. With pratice you'll learn the capabilities (or lack thereof) of each machine and know what to upgrade as the need arises. Buy tools as you need them for a specific project(s). Rather than buying them on speculation that you'll use them. This goes for large individual items and small things like drill bits and chisels. Buy the specific bit or chisel you need to complete the task rather than a whole set where you'll maybe use only a few items at most.
Two things I noticed you didn't mention having: a jointer and planer. These are essential to get your wood parallel, flat and straight. These or a set of hand planes. I have a set of hand planes for this myself. Partly because I don't have the room, but also they're *much* quieter, cheaper and produce much less dust. Besides there's something very meditative about producing tissue thin shavings by hand.
Layne

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I just discovered this site at about.com. You and any other newbies out there may find it helpful, I know I do.
http://woodworking.about.com/cs/powertools/a/powertools01.htm?PM=ss13_woodworking http://tinyurl.com/2hxw6
Richard
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I'm a newbie myself (and also the white-collar guy looking to do something tangible besides drug development). I too started out with entry-level stuff. My biggest, biggest mistake was buying a really cheap-o TS. My old B&D jigsaw, my free, very-old DeWalt circular saw were fine for a few projects. As they broke down and/or started needing more precision, then I upgraded to a Milwaukee jigsaw, in the interim, I bought a Skil circular saw. Still not the greatest saw in the world, but when I put in a Freud blade, it was like somebody gave me this amazing, brand new machine. I have a Delta ShopMaster chop saw (their entry level stuff). Again, a Freud blade made a huge difference. I am still using my ultra-sh*tty Crapsman tablesaw. But I am learning how to cut dados and rabbets with it, and so for that, it's pretty useful. It's a good learning tool.
My SWMBO has noticed that I actually might be able to do some stuff, and she has made a list of things to make. Before I tackle even a quilt chest, I am making a portable bench for my Crapsman TS to sit on, which I will sell the saw with. A good project that is forgiving. She gave me permission to buy a new TS, and after I finish my bench and build a sand box for my daughter, the Crapsman is outta here.
You don't need a Unisaw at this stage, but you can get a decent TS for around $500 or less. My advice, as a novice, would be to buy as much TS as your checkbook and common sense will let you. Avoid portable saws (I have found that you will need the weight), but a lot of people claim that the Ryobi BT3100 is exceptional saw for a small price tag. I am buying better stuff as my ability grows, but you can make do for the beginning projects that we all tackle.
And then my last bit of newbie advice, buy the best blades you can get your mits on. Maybe you and I don't need a Woodworker II, but at least buy Freuds.
Enjoy,
Dave in Dallas
On 4/18/04 20:11, in article 3HFgc.19933$G snipped-for-privacy@nwrddc02.gnilink.net,

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Find an adult education class and/or community college program in your area, and take some classes. The best part is that, in addition to safely learning to use the toys, you get to play in their shop with the other adult kids. (And some of these boys and girls qualify for retirement benefits ;-))
In our area, one of the stated goals is to help people understand what tools they might want for their own use and shops, without spending huge dollars. You can experience the difference between an old Stanley plane, well-tuned, and a Lie Nielsen. You come to understand what a shoulder plane, or a rabbet plane, or a scrub plane or a jointer plane or a filister plane might be used for, without having to buy one of each. You learn that there are sometimes many correct ways to solve a woodworking problem, all of which involve trade-offs of one kind or another.
I've never spent more than $65 on any one class. I've ALWAYS gotten my money's and time's worth. And met some really nice people, too.
The guy who taught my most recent class was a marketing guru in the oil industry for his whole career. Another fellow was a program manager for high tech systems for the government. One teacher demonstrated power tools for Sears for over a decade. They all had a lot to teach.
Welcome to the hobby. Enjoy using what you have. Keep your credit card in the drawer at home for a while, until you have a small success or two with the tools at hand.
Patriarch
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I can't agree more with this advice. I made the mistake of loading up my shop with tools I didn't fully understand how to use properly and safely.
If you take classes, you'll learn the basic stuff like sharpening and marking. It doesn't show much but it makes a tremendous difference on the end results. Also, you may have access to the school's shop for your own projects for a minimal fee. It's a way to get access to professional grade tools.
The tools you have at the moment are most probably enough until your skill level improves. Until then, you'll learn quickly their drawbacks and you'll eventually know what you want.
My 0.02
Ben


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All of the tools you mention will do their basic jobs just fine but may require a bit more attention during operation to be sure they are doing it accurately.
Despite what many would have you believe, woodworking has nothing to do with how much you spend on tools and only slightly more on the tools themselves. There are thousands of woodworkers out there doing some outstanding work with far less in the way of tools then what you have, better work then a lot of people with far more then what you have.
Big expensive tools are not magic carpet rides to the promised land, just a plusher ride.
What woodworking does have to do with is knowledge and skill developed through study and practice, attention to details, and, learning to work with the tools you do have, not the ones you'd like to have.
Learn how to work with what you have.
--
Mike G.
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On Mon, 19 Apr 2004 09:37:55 -0400, "Mike G"
A common misconception of non-wooddorkers though.

Then you'll know what you really NEED. <G>
Ditto on the classes, if only for basic safety.
Barry
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Actually, a very accurate summation of the point and one many can't seem to get through their heads when a newbie asks about tools..
--
Mike G.
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The difference in the higher quality (and price) tools is that they're more likely to be accurately aligned out of the box, they're more likely to stay aligned in use, and they're more likely to be accurate in their adjustments (e.g. when you set it to 45 degrees it will be 45 degrees each time, not 44.5 once and 46 the next).
So, for your tablesaw, drill press, and mitersaw, plan on investing time getting them aligned, and plan on double checking the alignment every time you use them. Same thing for the bandsaw, and be aware that small bandsaws tend to break blades alot, and there's not much you can do about it. There's not much can go wrong with a circ saw or a power sander, so you're OK there.
Eventually you'll figure out which tools you use most, and get annoyed with always checking the alignment, and then you can buy a better quality one.
Your Sears router is a special case, tho. The Craftsman routers have a particular bad reputation for changing the bit height setting while running. If you find yourself needing a router for your projects you may want to go ahead & get a better one.
John
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Corey wrote:

Use what you've got until you run into something they won't do. Do learn how to tune your saw--if it's a cheapie you'll get lots of practice and it's a good skill to have.
--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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Corey wrote:

looking
I
drill
work,
out
"J. Clarke" writes:

Sounds like a game plan to me.
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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Books (brain tools) for the shop! Check your local library first, although they are handy to have handy as references. I'm listing them in a suggested order of purchase:
-- These two first --- Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)82454139/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/104-0021163-3615145?v=glance&s=books&nP7846>
Mastering Woodworking Machines: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)82454237/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-0021163-3615145?v=glance&s=books>
-- Next you'll need this to properly use hand tools ---
Lee's sharpening book: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)82454139/sr=8-2/ref=pd_ka_2/104-0021163-3615145?v=glance&s=books&nP7846>
--- Pick up one or both of these next ---------
Flexner's excellent finishing book: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
Jewitt's brand new, up to date, and overall excellent finishing book: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)82454266/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-0021163-3615145?v=glance&s=books>
-----------------------------------------------
These books have techniques in them that could save you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars over the years.
Barry
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