One Day Later

Thanks for the great advice! I went to a local "Woodcraft" store and spoke to an employee who has been doing professional cabinetry for a few years and enjoyed woodworking as a hobby his entire life, and he echoed a lot of what you had to say here. He sponsors a "Woodworking 101" series of classes where he goes over the safe use of power tools and basic techniques, as well what the different models are capable of and what you will/won't need, etc. For $40, it sounds like a deal to me, especially for something like a table saw that you could easily drop a grand or more on. I was impressed to note that he didn't always recommend the most expensive thing they sold. He showed me the Bessey clamps, explained why he preferred them, but pointed out the price and what the difference is. He told me the Swiss chisels are (again, in his opinion) the best bang-for-the-buck high-end chisel but somebody started out would do well with a 6-pack of Marples.
My shop will be 15x17, and if I needed to, I could resize it to add another 13x8 section. Should I build my wall to include that part now? It sounds like a foregone conclusion that we end up consuming as much space as possible.
The fellow at Woodcraft also mentioned dust control systems and the variable humidity (I live in Missouri - it's REAL humid. Sometimes.) and recommended a few systems that I felt were reasonable.
I'm leaning towards purchasing my first workbench - it's a chicken-or-the-egg deal. I need a workbench, but I'm not sure how to build one, and even if I did know how, I don't have a workbench to use to work on one. :) The Woodcraft guy said benches are fairly easy to knock together - I saw somebody mention
I went and got myself a library card and requested about a dozen books on woodworking and craftsmanship. The Tage Frid one was among them, so I think I've got a good start with reference materials and reading.
We've got both Woodcraft and Rockler (I live in St. Louis), so it sounds like those are good resources.
Here's my list of starting basic equipment: Circular saw, drill/bits, backsaw, chisels, c-square, bench plane, sharpening stone, orbital sander, as many clamps as reasonably possible, straightedge, marking guage, doweling jig, block plane, file, workbench, dust control, safety glasses
For stationary equipment, I'm eying a table saw and thickness planer. The guy at the store recommended one other piece of "large" hardware to start with but I forget what it was. I also don't know what half of the stuff does yet, which is why I thought a tech school class might be worth it.
Thanks again for all the input! If anybody has any other words of wisdom or caveats on the learning curve, I'd love to hear them. You'll probably be hearing a lot from me, I tend to ask a lot of questions before I leap into something.
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On Sun, 27 Jul 2003 03:16:44 GMT, "Ben Siders"

Hi Ben,
As others have said, building a workbench allows you to hone the skills you'll use on every other project that comes out of your shop.
I wanted to add that this idea is true for every fixture in your shop. Tom Watson did a wonderful post here recently on "Your shop _is_ a tool." Google the group, it's well worth the read.
If you look at your entire shop as a tool, you'll find that everything you build for it becomes a means to improve your craft. Building "utility" drawers for the bench? Dovetail them. A "professional", who has time constraints to worry about, might glue-and-screw them together, but for us hobbyists doing that would be a wasted opportunity to improve our dovetailing technique.
The journey _is_ the destination. Welcome to the wRec.
Michael Baglio Chapel Hill (who's closing on a house in 2 weeks, and trying to figure out how to shoehorn a shop into a 1/6th acre back yard. ;> )
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Ben Siders wrote:

Buy a workbench? For a beginner, making one will be good practice. You say you don't have anything to work ON? Ok, your first project should be building a set of sawhorses. (for instance: http://christophermerrill.net/ww/shop/sawhorses.html )
Throw a sheet of plywood on the sawhorses...and you have a workbench for building your workbench. There are LOTS of plans online for making clamps, too. Again, an excellent way to practice your skills.

Not a bad list. Personally, I'd put a GOOD jigsaw in place of the circular saw - since I got a good one, I can't keep it out of my hands!
Where's the router? 3rd project would be the router table ;)

He probably said jointer. I could live without mine - with a simple router jointing jig. Although now that I have it, I DO use it a lot. I'd buy the planer first, though.
Just my 2cents. Chris
************************************ Chris Merrill snipped-for-privacy@christophermerrillZZZ.net (remove the ZZZ to contact me) ************************************
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Plan on using the space. Just trust us on this one thing, if nothing else.

what you learn building your own will pay dividends when you start doing more detailed work. Also, you can customize a bench built by you to fit your size, shape and the way you work.

at Woodcraft is at least a full cut above that at Rockler (Sorry, Charlie, but it's the plain truth). I don't have Woodcraft here. I got to visit one while I was back in Colorado Springs, and I've got to say, I miss it.

jointer is the other half of a planer, and the two go hand in hand. This is true, but there is an alternative jointer. It's called a #7 bench plane. I'm finding I turn to my #7 more often than I turn on the Delta 6" jointer. It really ends up being easier if I don't have to rip the boards so they will fit the tool, and a lot of the stuff I'm doing is with boards wider than 6". To move up to a large jointer gets into real money, so the $360 (show price) I spent on the Lie-Nielson #7 doesn't seem so much. As for dust collection, I only turn that on to suck up the shavings when I'm done, because a hand plane does not generate significant airborne dust.
In a way, there's a bit of philosophy in the route you take here. Learning and using hand tools will give you a much better understanding of the wood you are working with. There will probably be more failures, but they may also be more easily fixed failures. You can rather rapidly turn a board into a useless piece of firewood with a power tool, but it take much more effort to really bung up the wood with hand tools. I use both, but more and more I get more enjoyment out of hand tools than power tools. Now the tablesaw and planer, I consider those essential. I'm not Conan. I respect the work he does, but I have no desire to rip 500-1000 linear feet of hard lumber just to build a bench. You may find that to be the way you eventually want to go, and if so, more power to you.

Cheers, Eric
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