what should be my first power tool?

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Ah10201) wrote in message

I acquired my tools one-by-one, as needed for the project. When I got married, I received a hand saw as a gift. I then went back to college. During my college years, I added a hand drill and a skillsaw, total cost: $50. Using these two power tools I made a picnic table with 4 benches, a doghouse, some bookshelves, a waterbed frame and headboard, a computer workstation, etc.
Years later we bought our house and wanted to make a deck: I picked up a Ryobi sliding compound mitre saw. The skillsaw "could" have worked, and WAS working initially, but the "chop" feature, and mitre capability of the Ryobi were huge time savers.
Then I tried my hand at making a classical guitar, and thought a bandsaw would be handy. I traded the mitre saw to a friend who had a small 14" bandsaw. Somewhere in between there I got a router for Christmas. I also bought a small (14") Delta benchtop drill press ($79). That bandsaw and drill press (with sanding and planer attachments added later) were huge time savers, and to this day are often used. Oh yeah, a small Delta benchtop belt/disc sander too.
During guitar #2 I bought a used Crafstman TS for about $150. It was a direct drive with bad bearings, so I ended up selling it to someone who merely wanted to chop 2x4's (I needed to make exact cuts to the nearest 0.001" in Rosewood). Still don't own a TS, but have been borrowing a friend's, same guy who has my Ryobi mitre which is really miss; will probably buy it back! (indeed, we recently added a second deck and I had to borrow it back from him!)
While making my guitars, it became apparent that a thickness/drum sander would be SO useful, but alas, too expensive to justify, so I continued doing things by hand. More recently I began a project of making a full set of "mission style" furniture, so I finally picked up that drum sander, plus a Dewalt planer. These two additions have become real favorites; I can't imagine the time it would take without these tools. But they make a mess, and the 'ol shop vac just wasn't able to handle the amount of dust generated by the drum sander. So I had to buy a good dust-collector (Jet 650CK with 2 micron filter). I also "needed" a 6" jointer for my furniture project, so I bought that too (used for $175). At this point I should mention my 2003 tax return has been spent in advance!
Well, that's my long-winded way of saying, "pick a project and THEN decide what to to buy." I once read that famed luthier Jose Romanillos built his first classical guitar on his kitchen table using a few chisels and a knife. Today he receives something like $20,000 per guitar, and has a waiting list. Point: you don't NEED every tool stocked at Woodcraft to make something nice, though having them WOULD save time. I still don't own a TS, having loan of my friend's saw. For what I'm doing, if I had to choose between a bandsaw or a TS, I'd pick the bandsaw as it will make the same cuts I'm making with the TS. However, I DO plan to get a TS within the year, but note that it wasn't the first thing purchased!
Cheers,
Scott
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Rather than offer recommendations and joining the argument fray, I'll just relate some of my experiences. I have never worked wood professionally nor do I have 40 years experience. There are some really knowledgable and experienced people in this forum. That makes me more qualified to talk than them, because it wasn't that long ago that I was in your shoes.
I've had tools for working on cars and motorcycles for years. But my first official woodworking tool was a router, purchased explicitly to cut the slots for a big set of utility shelves in the garage. I used it extensively for about two weeks. Then I put it back in the box for almost two years. Only in the last few months has it been reborn. I discovered a router is really close to useless until you spend a lot more money on bits and a router table and something to suck up all the dust. Its one of those tools that cost $200+$1000. The $1000 is what you spend to make it really useful.
Last year, I went crazy and spent a lot of money on a table saw. I had used a table saw once in my life at the university wood shop to make some parts for a sail boat. So the first thing I discovered after getting it put together was that it didn't even have a blade. I got a blade and immediately begin using the saw. I've used it almost daily ever since. Its been one of the most enabling purchases I've ever made. Plan on spending at least a few dollars on a eye protection.
Other purchases I've made include
a drill press - you cannot build anything with it but it sure is useful. dust collector - the start of a long and frustrating lifetime project that means you are serious about woodworking. brad gun - one of the neatest tools I've ever encountered. Sometimes I think I could build anything with a table saw and brad gun. band saw - I just ordered this. I suspect I am going to find it to be as useful as the table saw. Had I known about Laguna band saws, I might have purchased it before the table saw.
Once you get hooked, you might as well include your hobby as part of your financial planning. Plan for your retirement and at least $10,000 for your hobby. That will get you started.<grin>
Bob

stepwise
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This article in Popular Mechanics, published in January, 1998, is what got me started in woodworking. Even though most of the tools discussed don't have a power cord, it got me thinking on the right track. The only tool I ever regretted buying was my Craftsman Router, but I still use it at least once a month.
Joe
http://popularmechanics.com/home_improvement/furniture/1998/11/tools_for_beginners /

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