Starting a small home shop on the cheap

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Bob,
You might want to get one of these? http://phoenix.craigslist.org/tls/176624462.html
At $3800.00 it is more than I like to spend on a car but it is nice :-)
Craig
www.vintagetrailersforsale.com

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Here is a similar question to the rec.brainsurgeon group that I posted to.

I am poking fun at you a little bit here. It really sounds like you are a true beginner at this and with that in mind no answer is going to be right for you. Starting off with the suggestion of which Cabinet saw to buy, sheet goods capable you are clearly uneducated enough to even consider trying to put together a list of all the tools you need or want. A cabinet saw is not needed to cut up sheet goods. A cabinet saw is not for building cabinets from sheet goods. A cabinet saw is a saw that sets on its own cabinet. You can easily cut sheet goods with a contractors TS. I will say that you are on the right track in considering the TS as you first purchase as probably 98% of all wood workers will end up with a TS. From there, which ever direction you go in you wood working adventure will dictate what tool comes next. Buy your tools as you have a need and buy the best that you can afford.
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OK, several posts state something along the lines of "Buy used - there is a glut available." I've been looking for some good used equipment and have had very little luck.
Any suggestions on the best places to find good used equipment?

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I keep hearing that too. Hearing, not seeing. Most all my stuff is new, otherwise, I wouldn't have anything.

a
had
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wrote:

It's not all that common , and it requires a bit of work. If I get two good used bargains a year, I think I'm doing well.
I have had the most luck from:
Your workplace, if your workmates all know about your WW interest, you might be offered machinery that was bought years ago, and is now sitting unused, or the old lathe that is around at grandpa's place, now that he no longer uses it.
Auctions, but know your price limit and stick to it. And inspect the machinery well.
Wanted adverts in the local trading or community papers.
Barry Lennox
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My experience has been that you have to work at it, and be very, very patient to get what you want. I've found that there are very few people out there shouting to the heavens for someone to come buy their pristine, and often well loved, tools at filthy cheap prices. Word of mouth is about the only way you find these things, and you have to work to get the word out you are looking. The only piece of hardware I own that I purchased new is my Delta benchtop drill press and a 1980 Penny's TS that was replaced on Sunday. All other major hardware is inherited or purchased used.
Over the last couple of years I have picked up a used Jet 14" BS with mobile base, blades and variable belt speed option. It was, and is, immaculate except for one kinked blade that came with it. I picked up the height extension from someone who never installed his. I also picked up a Jet lathe with mobile base, extra faceplates, Nova chuck, a dozen or so tools and some nice wood for not much more than the BS. This was also in extremely good condition.
This past Sunday afternoon my older son and I unloaded a Jet cabinet saw into the shop. It came with mobile base, router lift, router fence, blades, etc. It is not immaculate. There are three BB-sized dings in the extension table and a couple chips on the laminate edges. I can live with abuse like this. My ability to be patient to find what I wanted was due in a major part to the fact that I am upgrading tools, and not looking for a first tool. I would have paid more, or been satisfied with poorer maintenance if I really needed a TS and did not already own one.
None of these purchases qualify as gloats. The sellers were happy, and so was the buyer. I only dikkered on one of the deals, the others I paid the asking price. I ended up paying about half retail, which I think is reasonable for good equipment in good condition. The extras that came with each purchase were the cream on top.
I spent a lot of time looking for these tools. I posted some "Wanted to Buy" notices at the local WW club meetings, I checked second hand and used tool/equipment/junk shops. I talked to people in the local woodworking and hardware stores. I made sure many of my friends, acquaintances and co-workers knew I was looking to upgrade my equipment. I followed up on posts here on the Wreck, on some of the *.forsale newsgroups on Usenet, craigslist, the weekly local "for sale" advertizement publications, newspaper ads, etc.
I found plenty of tools for sale, eliminated almost all those that weren't of the caliber I wanted with just a phone call or email for more information, and later passed on one band saw and several table/cabinet saws because of (what I perceived as) neglect or inability to agree on price. But I spent dozens of hours searching for tools in the condition I wanted over the last couple of years. I am surprised that I ended up with so many Jet brand tools though. The BS and lathe are nice pieces of hardware. Haven't fired up the CS yet.
There were some side benefits to all this looking, besides making a few new friends and meeting some colorful characters. I picked up about 30 old wood-bodied planes from one guy who had a TS for sale. Didn't get the TS. I was given a 24" Rockwell jig saw that was going to be scrapped since it hadn't been used in years. It works fine after a thorough cleaning. I now have a pretty good starter collection of Stanley #11's and a few other metal planes I'm still trying to figure out how to use and two separate boxes of pen turning supplies for $15 and $25. SWMBO has started to give me "The Look" (tm) when she sees me pull into the drive with any old beat up looking cardboard box in the truck. As I write this I just realized that I have yet to come across a deal on wood like I read about here on the wreck. Nobody has offered me a single board yet at a bargain price. Gotta work on that.
Well maintained, good quality tools are out there. All it takes is some patience and effort to go find them. If you need it NOW, you're in a world of hurt. Dumb luck is your only hope. If you can wait 6 months or more, there is some awfully good hardware out there at a reasonable price.
My $1/50.
Regards, Roy
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I belong to the local woodworkers' club, and get emails offering used equipment several times per week. Not everything is 'top-of-the-market', but the pricing is right, usually. Folks are often coming in, going out, changing specialties and upgrading gear.
There are maybe 350 to 400 folks on the email list.
Several of our folks hang out at owwm. I got a nicely rebuilt Delta 8" jointer from the mid-50's at a very reasonable price last year, so he could start on some new projects.
craigslist.org often has stuff, if they are active in your area.
Just don't slide down the fancy old handtool slippery slope...
Patriarch
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Geez, if you buy all that hardware new then you're not just satisfying a hobby, you're going into business.
With all due respect, you sound over-eager. Look for used cast iron tooling on eBay or at local garage sales and put the money you'll save into an extra mortgage payment every year so that when you retire (okay, let's indulge that fantasy) you'll retire sooner and have more full days of woodworking ahead of you.
The tools you buy will have a lot to do with the available space in your workshop. You don't say what amount of floor space you are going to be able to devote to this hobby so I am going to use the "husband's half of the two car garage" for a measurement because those Taunton books kind of assume that you've got a 25'x25'x outbuilding to spare for this sort of thing. I shall assume only that you park "your" vehicle in the driveway, not in "your half" of the garage.
In said space you'll be lucky to fit a 10" RAS, 8" table saw, two drill presses, wood lathe, metal lathe, shaper, workbench with built-in router table and side/end vises, scroll saw, 4" benchtop jointer, belt/disc sander, clamp racks, shop vac (don't forget the mess!!), grinder, sharpening station -- and the most space consuming things of all -- scrap bins!! Buckets and buckets of them. Dammit, with global warming it ain't cold enough in winter anymore to consume all the scraps, assuming you can let yourself part with them. Clutter is going to overwhelm you. Oh, and then there's shelving for fasteners, hand tools, jigs, and space for sheet goods, raw lumber, etc. You're going to put everything on wheels, too. And did I mention space for applying dust-free finishes to those lovely heirlooms you'll be creating?
Now, with that stuff in hand, you're going to want to buy decent jack, scrub and jointer planes, and you'll want to make frame/fret/bow saws with interchangeable rip and crosscut blades, because you'll have no room for a big ass bandsaw, and you'll find that you won't need it or the 13" planer or 8" jointer or miter saw or five routers or 10" table saw with four-foot wide wings for the sheet goods you won't be able to maneuver by yourself without introducing errata in your would-be glue line edges -- since you're going to be in possession of these cheaply made "neanderthal" tools that work at least as well and quickly as their modern motor powered descendants -- and which are skill building woodworking projects in their own right. If you feel like splurging, do so on a dedicated mortiser or biscuit joiner.
Don't ask me how I know this but you need to find the right balance for you between electric powered and human powered tooling. It's a personal thing. Everybody will pursue it differently. But I've seen crap emanate from "toolie" shops and beautiful works of art from the humblest and poorest of garages.
If you are contemplating making a run of kitchen cabinets from really nice 3/4 plywood then buy or build a panel saw, and if you can't devote a wall to it then hang the sucker from the shop ceiling (on pulleys of course so that you can lower it when necessary). With this one tool, carefully calibrated, then you can handle sheet goods with aplomb. You won't cut full sheets of plywood accurately any other way unless you have a lot of floor space and a Taunton-style ball bearing sliding table or unless you really enjoy hand cutting oversize parts with a circular saw and finishing them up on a table saw and router (with appropriate jigs and carbide cutters).
J.
John Doe wrote:

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Yeah, right. Have you priced shipping cast iron tools? I find the bargains are always 1000 miles away from where I live and the shipping wipes out the bargain price - not to mention lack of warranty, dealer service, etc. I've NEVER seen a garage sale that had good cast iron tools for sale. I think they are right there with all the other urban legends.
People who purchase good deals in used stationary equipment are lucky and do not live where I live.
Bob
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do
I agree. Obviously there is good used equipment out there somewhere. I have never been able to locate it either. I have bought used once... I did not know what to look for.... I overpaid for a crapsman monotube lathe. I had never used a lathe before. How could I possibly assess its quality or appropriateness for the task?
It worked, but it was no gloat.
The thing about buying used is that you already have to be experienced to sort out the junk from the good stuff. I suspect luck plays a major role as well.
Buying used is for people who want a project.... phase one... spend the next 18 months shopping and phase 2 is some level of refurb. It's tough enough for a newbie to assemble and tune a table saw out of the box with proper documentation, vendor support and a warrantee.
Suggesting that the used market is appropriate for a newbie is poor advice.
To the OP....
There has been lots of good advise to far. I have a couple comments and some repetition:
Re Cabinet saw: No table saw is really sheet goods capable out of the box. It's just unsafe to run 4x8 sheet of anything through a table saw without plenty of auxillary support. Build an outfeed table *and* precut sheet stock down to a more managable size with a circular saw.
Buy a decent circular saw and a decent jig saw. Expect to pay close to $150 for each. You can expect these to last the beter bart of your lifetime. Not because these are so much indespensable for a woodworking hobby, but if you are a homeowner, you will want to have these over time. I good jigsaw will also do alot (not all) of what a bandsaw will do for you.
Good advise that I think is worthy of repetition:
Buy tools as you need them. Woodworking skills are *evolutionary* .. tool buying should be as well. It takes time to set up and get to know each tool.
Workbench is a necessary tool and an excellent first project. Build one; it won't be you last; don't over-think it... just do it.
Grizzly is not really low end. I think you will find more differences between classes of machines than maufacturers. That is a would *much* rather have a griz cabinet saw than a powermatic contractors saw.
Cheers,
Steve
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Patience makes for good luck. I would not (and do not) pay to ship cast iron from Oklahoma to the East Coast either. And as I have relatives in roughly a 100 mile radius of where I live, I frequently arrange to pick items up and make a family outing of the remainder of the day -- that way the gas money is not fully counted against the purchase price of the tool. Sure, it's an excuse. But it works for me.
J.
Bob wrote:

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wrote:

I will make this short and sweet. The only tool that really matters is your brain. The next best tool is the one that is in your shop, not at the store/warehouse. Put down the books and the excuses and go make some saw dust. The rest you'll figure out as you go along.
-Leuf
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Is this for real? Not counting hand held tools, you can surely get into hobby woodworking in a "serious" way without buying all that equipment at once. FOr the tables, bookshelves, etc you mention, just get a decent tablesaw and get started. The rest of the stuff you can get as you gain experience enough to decide what you really need and want. Most people, if they waited til they could buy a jointer, planer, bandsaw, etc til they started, would never GET started.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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I followed this advice to a T 3 years ago. I purchased a nice table saw and made those wonderful precision cuts and thought I was in heaven. You should have seen the look on my face when I tried to assemble my work and discovered that a 6" c clamp won't hold everything! I laugh at the concept that it only takes a few tools to get started doing wood working. Aside from your average birdhouse, doing anything of any size is going to require more bits and pieces than one ever imagined. Layout, clamping, and sharpening things come to mind. Oh yeah, then there is dust collection.
I've collected a list of one-liner sage advice that makes me laugh.
"Your best tool is your brain" "Go with a few quality hand tools" "Pick your project and then buy the tools to do it" "build a workbench first" (count the absolute minimal number of tools required to do this - surprise!)
The fact is that, no matter what path you choose or what advice you follow, you will spend more money on this avocation than you ever conceived. If you choose to spend money to save time, you will sink a fortune into it.
Bob
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Can't agree more Bob!
Woodworking is a lot about details and having the tools to produce those details cost a lot. Over the last 10 years I have increase my project complexity as my pool of tools increased.
The funny part is, even though I have almost everything a woodworker can dream of, it doesn't look like I will ever stop buying new tools/accessories. It's more fun when you can afford it though.
The advice of looking for used tools is also not a viable option. Before jumping in woodworking, I've looked at all the classifieds possible and never really turned out anything good. You'll find plenty of crap though. If by any chance, you do find great tools, don't worry, their owners know how much they have paid for them and they won't give them to you. It's not rare to pay up to 80% of the price new when very good tools are concerned. For example, I purchased brand new a General 3HP cabinet saw for 2450$. If I happen to find one used but recent, it will easily sell over 2000$. In that case, it's not worth taking a chance for so little difference.
On the other hand, crap will sell easily at 10%-20% of its original cost but who wants crap for woodworking?
Greg D.
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Greg D. wrote:

For some people it is. Scrounging is a skill in itself, that some people have and most do not. But people with that skill don't ask what tools to get, they've already scrounged everything they think they need.

--
--John
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On Tue, 04 Jul 2006 13:01:43 -0400, "J. Clarke"

You are actually right. I have a friend like that. He spends all his weekends hunting all the garage sales of the neighborhood. Over the span of 5 years, he collected all sort of junk paid less than 5$ piece. He filled up his basement until he couldn't even walk downstairs. He had to use his garage door to get in the basement.
Then, getting fed up of all this mess after he realized he would never use all this junk <Doh!>, he finally called a guy recycling junk. The guy left with a 10 wheeler full of junk and gave him 100$.
Moral of the story: he spent hundreds of dollars scattering the neighborhood in search of junk but never paid more than 5$ each. He sold it all back for 100$ to a guy who will send it to a dump yard and get paid for the steel. In the meantime, he had no basement for 5 years.
Wow, this is really smart!
The same people claiming they make huge savings in finding those used tools forget one very important thing. How much have they spent the rest of the year hunting and looking for them?
It's like people claiming they're making money at the Bingo. They forget to mention all the money they spent previously before winning the 500$ jackpot once in a blue moon. When all the figures are known, they're always at loss.
Greg D.
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Yeah, but all the fun he had hunting for that stuff was priceless.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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To all,
My thanks for the many and varied advice. To give a little bit more information (and thanks for all who have replied); this is truly going to be in the 'hobby' category. I'm within eight years of retirement and would love to start something I've always wanted to do before I get to that fateful day and walk out of work going "ok, now what am I going to do?".
Part of the reason I've waited this long is work, raising children and making sure that my family never wanted for anything (yeah, I know, there's one cliche for the books). Now, as to why woodworking, I've spent my entire life (up to now), in the electronics/computer/IT field. But there's always been this desire to take a raw piece of wood and make something that's a one of a kind in this world. Anyone (in my opinion) that can look at a *good* piece of furniture and not be amazed at the wood grain, the finish, the play of light on the top, sides and mouldings is lacking something somewhere in their soul (ok, poetic side back in its corner).
Now, as to the questions (asked of me) and the reason for my original post. Yes, it's going to be a half-of-the-two-car-garage workshop. I have two walls in the garage (with cars in) that are 4 feet deep by 25 feet long, plenty of space to store tools against the wall. Add to that a section in the garage of about 20'x12' that stores nothing today. I figure I can store a full table saw (with in and outfeed tables) there easily.
I also have a 7.5' tall 30'x24' crawlspace that shares a wall next to the garage (the town planning board nixed the idea of taking out 1.5' of dirt and pouring a pad in there)that will be perfect to house a compressor and vacuum system to be piped into the shop where needed.
My first project(s) planned are cabinets for the garage, converting a basement into a home theater and probably (with some help from a general contractor) finishing off a 800SF walk up attic to turn it into a library (in following this newsgroup, I'm sure with some experience over time <and a lot of questions asked here> I can make cabinets better and cheaper than at the BORG). With those under my belt, I may even tackle the kitchen and replace the cabinets there.
And finally, in closing, I've been the old classified adds search and most of the used tools I've looked at were either to worn out or to close to new prices for me to bother. I'm not an expert (I freely admit that) and my biggest fear is buying a lemon and not even having a warranty to fall back on. So, for the money I have to spend I can outfit (with a budget in reserve for all the 'other stuff' such as blades, sanders, chisels, router bits, Etc.) a good 'full' shop using Grizzly or almost all of my wish list using one of the more expensive lines (Delta, Powermatic, Etc.).
To all of you that have replied my thanks, you've all given me some great advice (well, I'll skip the one about always having four car payments, but with my last car being 20 years old and two kids that travel 80 miles a day to college, it was necessary) and a lot to think upon before I pull the trigger and decide to jump in with both feet, or ease into the pool.
Bob H
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wrote:

Well, now that you've filled in the story a little- if you've got a little nest egg you can tap, I'd go for the best cabinet saw you can get, a good compound miter saw with a stand, a good router (and make your own table) a drill press, 6-8 bar clamps, a good pile of smaller clamps, and a standard array of carpenter's tools. You will have to buy more stuff than that, but those are the tools that are tough to work around (others may disagree) I like Delta for the stationary tools, myself- but stay away from the "Shopmaster" line, they are garbage. If they say "Industrial", they're pretty nice. Porter-cable makes a nice line of routers, variable speed is good if you want to make raised panel cabinet doors.
Basic rule of thumb is that you tend to do okay if you stick with the brand names. If you start getting the store brand or some knockoff, it's a crapshoot- sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Do you need a compressor? Probably not- but they are nice to have. Might be worth waiting until you get the rest of your toys, though.

Depends on what you're going for- but with all those cabinets to make, it might not be a bad idea to get yourself a pocket hole jig. Come to think of it, the compressor is looking like a better idea here too- a pin nailer and an HVLP gun got a long way towards making your life easier with the projects you've got in mind. If you were just making jewelry boxes or furniture, it's not that important.

Grizzly really isn't a bad line of tools, and you save a lot of $$$. As noted above, I like Delta, but Jet, Powermatic, General, and Yates-American have their fans as well.

Ease in. Put all that money aside, and get the tools one at a time for a little while after you get a saw or two and a drill press. Two good reasons for this you might not have considered- first is that you have to assemble most of your tools. My table saw took 3 hours to put together and adjust, and required a fair amount of heavy lifting. Doing that several times in a row in one sitting seems like a bit much in my book. Second- you need to learn how to use your new tools. Jumping around on 6 or 8 new machines like a kid in a candy store may sound like (and even be) a lot of fun, but it may be more to keep track of than you bargined for, and it's worthwhile to spend some quality time with each new tool as it comes into the shop not just for safety reasons, but also because it gives you a chance to explore all the features and operations you can perform with that tool.
Anyhow- good luck, and enjoy your new hobby.
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