You've just sparked another holy war :-).
For most woodworking tools, stay away from Sears. Even further away from
Harbor Freight. For hand tools Lie-Neilson and Veritas are hard to beat, but
Sorby has some decent chisels. For power tools, Powermatic, General, and
Festool are hard to beat, But Porter-Cable, Jet, Bosch, and DeWalt aren't far
behind. On the low end, Rikon does pretty well, at least we haven't had many
complaints, and Ridgid has some nice stuff as well. Triton makes a good
router and Incra has some nifty measuring tools.
Note that these are my opinions and I'm sure I've left out some toolmakers
with good products. Probably some that we carry :-).
It's turtles, all the way down
On Thu, 05 Apr 2007 09:57:49 -0400, Corner of My Mind
Brands are a good place to start. Where a tool is made says a lot
when comparing woodworking tools. For example, a pair of shoes made
in China is usually a good deal, but a tool made in China is
questionable. I bought a grinder stand in China, but quality in a
stand is usually not too important. There are tool reviews in
magazines you can use as a guideline. If you get the chance to use
tools of varying quality that will tell a lot. A cheap tool of low
quality will perhaps cost more in the long run because you will have
to replace it in the middle of a project--a very frustrating
experience. Be careful what you buy at Harbor Frieght. Soon after
woodworking for awhile you will soon realize the importance of
sharpening tools and the skill to do it.
Oddly enough, in tools that are not designed for hand use, weight is a
good indicator of quality. Even there, it can serve as one useful
indicator. A heavier tool generally has more and thicker metal ... it's
made to last longer. There is a good chance that bearings and such were
chosen to complement that innate sturdiness.
Lots and lots of folks will diss a Craftsman cast iron top table saw.
But even more own and use them. It's not a cabinet saw by any means ...
but they are available used for about $100-200 all the time. Some might
take the tack that so many of them on the market is a clue that they are
not worth much ... but Sears sold a TON of these saws - there are a
jillion of them still in use. So they come on the market fairly often.
People die, retire, lose interest or upgrade all the time. Rarely are
they trying to sell their problem. The saws being sold are often decades
old ... and still working just fine. I bought a model that was perhaps
15 years old for $150. I knocked some light rust off the top, aligned
everything and popped on a new belt and I was in business. Eventually I
plan to upgrade the rip fence ... but the saw is staying.
I use a number of Harbor Freight tools ... as do many on this list. I
have a jointer, planer, 14" bandsaw + riser kit, router, 2 lathes and a
dust collector from them. As a newbie, that put a lot of capacity in my
shop for <$1,500.
Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
"Many of the Asian imports, such as machine tools, available from Harbor
Freight are also imported and sold under different brand names by other
United States tool distributors, usually at somewhat higher prices
(sometimes justified as buying better quality control). Several of these
products, such as the perennially available 7"x10" metal-cutting
mini-lathe and the 4"x6" horizontal/vertical metal-cutting bandsaw, have
achieved near-legendary status among metalworking hobbyists."
The only purchase of that group I regret is the planer. The moving table
design makes it hard to add an auxiliary table. It has NO provisions for
dust collection but I was able to handle that with a pair of tin snips,
a piece of Plexiglas and a universal dust collection port from either
Rocklers or Woodcraft. But, these design flaws aside, it planes wood
flat and parallel ... and that's what I bought it to do. My next planer
will have a moving head / fixed table design.
I got a cheapo drill press based on its quill travel and price point
from an Ace hardware. In time, a shop built table more suited to
woodwork was added adapted from plans published by Shop Notes (larger
than, and bolted to, the original metalworking table, with excellent
dust collection and ) and I will probably keep it until it fails
completely before upgrading to a sturdier machine. Drill presses are not
intended for precision work, so a SMALL amount of run-out is acceptable.
It drills holes through wood and that's why I bought it. You may hear
fanatics talk about sub .001" run-out on their quills; but let me make
two points: 1) the quill doesn't cut anything ... the run-out needs to
be measured at the drill point and 2) wood itself can't hold a tolerance
of .001" and, AFAICT, never needs to. So the argument is moot. Probably
99% of the holes I drill actually benefit from being slightly oversize
in order to allow bolt clearance or glue room. And the rest, like
pre-drilled screw holes, don't matter.
I have since replaced a wing of my table saw with a shop-built router
table and a Milwaukee 8650 (?) router.
I will be upgrading the lathe in the near future but all the turned work
on my website was produced by
primarily using these cutters:
(Note that, due to its high minimum speed of 600 rpm, any extra capacity
gained by turning its head cannot, IMHO, be safely used. I would NOT
want an unbalanced 24" rough blank spinning at 600 rpm in the same room
with me. Things are exciting enough with a 12" blank in the same
condition and would be 4x worse at 24")
Depends on the kind of work you want to do. Turning is a whole 'nuther
game. Many of us woodwork for years without ever turning--but I for
one occasionally get the itch. Fundamentals of woodworking sounds like
a good into course, although heavily power tool oriented.
Someone else mentioned hand tools. I agree with a caveat: if you don't
learn to sharpen them properly, and get some instruction on use, you
will probably frustrate yourself, and have a harder time creating okay
results than you can with power tools. However, if you learn to use
them well, you will be much better at reading wood, which will make
you a better power tool woodworker. IMHO, you will do your best work
eventually by using both power and hand tools effectively.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
I must have been blind. It is right there on the top of the second
page. I wonder if I didn't "detect" that it was there because of the
background color being different for that class versus all the other ones.
DAGS for the rec.woodworking FAQ. The URL used to be posted
periodically but I seem to recall just the mini version has been
posted recently. Might be helpful.
On Thu, 05 Apr 2007 09:10:55 -0400, Corner of My Mind
Nose around a bit. I took the router class at the local Woodcraft and it
consisted of the 'instructor' (a term I don't normally abuse) running
(not walking) through a number of jig projects complete with photocopied
(with the publishers name obscured) excerpts from ShopNotes magazine.
I basically got nothing out of the class, which ended early. NO hands-on
time. ALL show & tell. Overpriced by about $70.00.
I was hoping to add to my knowledge, but I think I came out of there
knowing less than when I went in.
Rather than listen to that instructor again (he teaches about 1/2 of
their classes at present), I just buy tools and try to figure them out.
It's cheaper and safer that way.
I am not telling you not to take classes from there, but walk in with
your eyes wide open.
Oh...NO!!! That is _NOT_ what I wanted to hear!!!
I was really leaning towards signing up and was actually going to drop
by after work today to sign up and take a look around the store.
I was expecting hands-on time as well as much more than show and tell.
Thank you for telling me this even though it just shattered my expectations.
Remember that Woodcraft is a franchise operation. Go to the store near you.
Talk to them and find out what the class is like. If possible, talk to some
customers who have taken the classes.
All I can tell you is that Bills comment certainly doesn't apply to the
Woodcraft I work for. I went to his web page to find out where he was, but
couldn't (Bill, I kept getting "This can be managed under Documents - Site
Documents in the admin control panel." on the contact and about us pages).
Offhand, I can't think of a single class at our store that isn't hands on. In
the turning, carving, scroll saw, woodburning, cabinet making, etc. classes
the students each complete a project and take it home with them.
And I certainly didn't want to warn him off every Woodcraft class ...
just to let him know that he needs to be an alert consumer.
Thanks for the 'heads up' in re my web site. I hadn't noticed the "About
Us" and the "Contact" links at the bottom of the shopping cart page.
That will likely be fixed before you read this.
Drop back to http://nmwoodworks.com and click on the "Legal Matters"
button at the top of the page for the information you were seeking. The
Canton store is the closest to me.
For a router class, I had expected that there would be several routers,
not just one with a half-dozen guys gathered around for a glimpse. I
would not try to teach computers to six people if my computer was the
only one in the room.
I've had professors that would prefer to teach computers with only one
computer in the room. They get nervous when they're talking about
something and someone's busy looking up Regular Expressions for his
Programming Languages course rather than the Java the prof is droneing on
about. *innocent look*
Of course, computers aren't very much like routers. One computer is
basically the same as the other, while routers have different shapes and
sizes and purposes. I'd expect to see a half dozen routers in a just
"here's what's available" demonstration.
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
*Ahem* Gotta disagree with you there. <g> My two plunge and two
fixed-based routers do pretty much the same thing, spin a router bit. My
five active PCs differ more in purpose, capability and use than my routers.
Throw in my programmable PDA and three programmable calculators and the gap
is even wider. Here's a photo of my "3 HP trim router" laptop and my "table
mounted, hydraulic lift, laser aligned, water cooled, power fed, 4 HP
router" desktop. ;-)
Community college or vocational school (e.g. BOCES) is one potential
source. Another source would be to seek out a non-profit community
theater group and sign yourself up as an apprentice carpenter. (Look for
a group that builds their own sets of course. And groups that don't pay
their members are going to be much more likely to take you in.) They
usually have a couple of members who are pros, or just plain
accomplished amateurs, who'll show you the ropes (literally!), and
especially how to cover up your mistakes. :-> Just be prepared to do
other things in addition to building sets (e.g. like carrying costumes
and props, selling tickets, ushering). You'll learn basic skills and
maybe make some new friends. After that you can grow your woodworking
hobby in whatever direction you like.
If your dad, granddad or uncle didn't take you under his wing when you
were a kid then your chance at a one-on-one craftsmanship tutorial is
long gone, I'm afraid.
Corner of My Mind wrote:
I like most of those ideas, but the free
volunteering may not work out so well.
They're in the business to make money
and many won't want to stop to train
someone. You may luck out tho.
There's a local guy here who runs a
top-notch school. As it turns out, an
old friend of mine. I have been planning
on taking a class or two from him, and
would aim in that direction rather than
the community college/high school route.
He's more expensive than the community
college courses, but offers somethings
they can't afford to do and that is
bringing in professionals who have
specialized in one thing or the other.
He offers beginner's courses and from
what I've heard they are excellent. It's
something else that you can think about.
Most of the private schools run evening
courses, and I think they are good bang
for the buck.
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