Don't get to feeling special. I would willingly give good odds that, at a
minimum, ninety five percent of everyone posting to this news group, no
matter what they have now and including myself, started off the same way, if
not with even less.
Your odds are probably fairly good. There's always a few who have more
dollars than brains, who go out and spend thousands on <whatever> and then
abandon it because they tried to turn shit into gold. There's no substitute
My fisrt tools were an old Gilbert Handyman kit, really not much more than a
toy, that my dad gave me when I was a kid. This was about 1978 or so, and
he'd had it since the 50's. The next was a B&D pad sander, and I still have
it. That was in 1982 or so. I was 12. I built a lot of "stuff" as a kid
using crappy old hand tools in my dad's basement.
I can't confess to being one of the poor, but I will say I'm frugal. I
inherited a lot of really solid old cast iron machinery in excellent shape,
and what I've bought, I've needed, and bought on sale or used, and heeded
the saying "buy once, cry once". While I don't discount the usefulness of
inexpensive tools for the hobby or occasional user, I feel that if I buy the
absolute best I can afford, and a bit more, and have that tool for a
lifetime, then whatever I paid for it was worth it.
The OP shouldn't need to have an inferiority complex, but should be able to
skillfully use what he has and can afford, and that will make all the
You're definitely not alone. I have some good, some cheap.
- Ryobi 180PL Router w/ self built table
- Ryobi 10" benchtop drillpress
- Ryobi 5" ROS
- Ryobi finish sander
- Ryobi 18V drill w/ only 1 working battery
- PC laminate trimmer
- Freud biscuit joiner
- Skil 7 1/4" circular saw
- Skil jigsaw
- Makita LS1013 10" SCMS (I love this saw!)
- Skil 10" benchtop table saw
- floor standing belt/disc sander ($100 from my uncle)
- Ryobi 10" benchtop surface planer (long term loan from my dad)
- Ryobi 6" (?) benchtop jointer (also on loan from my dad)
All this in a 12x22 foot oddly shaped shop.
I built it up over time. My next major purchase will be a bandsaw
(getting tired of driving to my parents to use my dad's), and then I
will probably upgrade the table saw.
I'd love to have the setups some people here have, but I'm just in this
as a hobby. Never made a dime at it, so it's kinda hard to justify
spending thousands of dollars on equipment.
email@example.com (Bob) wrote in message
You suck! I wish I had a bandsaur.
Aside from that you have about the same set up that I have (er, well I
have a DP and a lathe, so I guess that puts me ahead by one major
power tool :-).
With the exception of a ROS which my wife paid full price for,
everything else that I bought was either garage/estate sales or close
out sales where I got 20% or more off regular price.
Oh yeah (drive by Gloat coming), recently a relative on my wife's side
of the family decided to get rid of all his old tools from his
contracting days, and figured I could probably use them. So I have a
steady supply of hand tools and power hand tools that keep arriving in
dribs and drabs, every couple of weeks. (Now if I can just figure out
what to do 3 drywall screw guns.)
Some of us have had our tools for years, and most were made better then. (Wood
lathe was my first tool-28 years ago when I was 14, and I still have it). I
love to find upgrades-used, and some repair work is usually necessary. Yes I
do buy new, but I relate to people who don't have a bunch of tools.
Actually, when you look at what is available today that isn't true.
Professional quality tools of today are every bit as good as they were way
back when. It's just that those tools aren't everyman affordable and we have
added a lower level of tools, the weekend warrior level.
Any questions there take a look at what Lie Neilson and Veritas is turning
out or look at the quality of a contractors saw compared to what you got in
a contractors saw even ten years ago.
Don't let price of tools get to you, my best most used plane is a 2 dollar
Russian made plane that I have spent a few hours "fixing up" it's a piece of
junk but does well for what I want it to do. I started out with a skill
brand skill saw, a b&d yellow saber saw and 3/8" drill. I now have one
wall of my shop with tools valued at about 20 grand hanging around on it,
about 15 grand of them are tools that I have picked up for free and their
only function is to hang around and look pretty. It has taken 30+ years to
get them there so I leave them and every once in a while I find a use for
one of them. Many of my tools are scrounged and it has only been in the
past few years that I have bought with out looking so hard at the budget.
You will get there when you need to get there so on the way enjoy the tools
you have and learn how to use them, it's 3/4 of the fun.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob) wrote in message
So I'm not the only low budget wood worker out there. I live for last
years model, yard sale specials, and the refurbished power tool. Last
month I made my biggest purchase ever when I splurged $370 ( a product
return and on sale) for a 13" planer. Before that most things were
sub-$100 with the exception of the $190 (on sale) TS I bought last
year. When I go to Sears to look at tools I first go to the parts
department to see if there are any refurbished deals to be had. I'm
now in the market for a good, inexpensive joiner. "Good" and
"Inexpensive", are those terms mutually exclusive when talking about a
In the family I married into we have 5 men between 20-30.
All in the home building stage of life.
It is off that we have all purchased houses that needed some attention
and all of us (bar 1). For tools.. we informally (men would *never*
plan) take stoke of ALL of our tools and will try not to duplicate
anything major. That does not always happen though - men and tools, I
now own three drills.
It was my *turn* last time so I purchased a nice Bosch router. We
share tools and trade sweat with each other while working on our
houses. At one of the houses we store most of our collective lumber.
I have grown in confidence and like to think my skill has increased.
Apart from the construction work in all the houses, I have made
several wooden toys, boxes and a couple of pieces of outdoor
My wife likes the results and is saving pictures of furniture she
likes for future projects. She will also occasionaly watch norm
(actually the 1st minute and the finished result).
She now knows... if she wants XYZ furniture - I need ABC tool FIRST.
If I had $20000 dollars TODAY and spent it on tools - it would hamper
the learning experience. Not having all of the tools to hand NOW
makes you think a great deal about the task...That is SO IMPORTANT -
you need to come up with a strategy and plan your work. I believe
that makes the process more fulfilling and promotes safety. Within 6
months of starting out I had a close call with a circular saw. I now
will not take risks because I do not have a tool to hand. I learnt my
lesson and when I get a nice TS - it will get my respect (but not any
part of me!).
I've been thinking about this and it occurs to me this is how
communities use to be. That is, before the great disposable income and
toy collection race.
This is going back decades, it seems that everyone would have their
basic tools and one quality communal tool, not that the communal tool
would be passed around but if someone really needed to use it they knew
where they could get access. The tools owner would usually be the one
running it because it is *his* tool. I remember Dad loading up tools and
taking off for a day.
Now we don't even know our neighbors names let alone being philanthropic
with time or trusting them with our equipment.
Poster, I'm envious. You have 4 people you can go to for help in one
form or another. My extended family , let me say they aren't at all handy.
Well, it hasn't been said here yet, so I will say it. Most tools
(unless they are outright junk)today FAR exceed the skills of the
people that use them. Tools do not make the carpenter, woodworker,
etc. any more than a good set of brushes make a Van Gogh. Good tools
help do a better job, but still, like your computer, you probably use
any given tool at 10% of its capability. Do you think that Duncan
Phyfe needed a table saw that you could balance currency on to make
his beautiful tables,chairs and buffets?
I learned to make kitchen cabinets in the mid seventies with a
circular saw, router, and a jig saw. No, they were not raised panel,
but the old "half-lapped" doors on rail and stile carcasses. Hand
nailed everything too, since compressors and nailers were for "the
hacks that couldn't drive a nail". (Actually, they were just so damn
expensive we couldn't afford the guns.)
All of my early habits stayed with me, and I don't need a shop full of
tools, even being a specialty carpentry contractor. I still make
solid door frames for outside doors on site out of 2x6 and mortise out
the head rail frame piece and dado out the thickness of the door with
my circular saw. A great blade, a good saw, sander, and chisel and
you are in business. Small cabinets are made on site as well on my saw
horses. I do use a router now on the hinge mortises, but did it for
years with the chisel. There are a lot of us out there that are "on
site" carpenters that do things this way, and while all of us would
like more tools, none of us is stumped by not having one certain tool.
The best advice you could get has already been given. Join a club or
a group and learn to use the tools you have the best you can. Shared
information with others increases the learning curve a billion
percent. The side benefit is that you will know if you want to
upgrade what you like and don't like in each tool. The archives of
this rec also make a wonderful library of information.
Good luck! Remember that the average man has more wood working tools
in his garage than the old, *non-powered* crafstmen ever dreamed of...
yet somehow they turned out masterpieces.
I think, in some respects, it's a glass half-full/half-empty situation.
Each of us here
had to start somewhere and "poor" is just a state-of-mind when it comes to
woodworking. There are always better (and more expensive) tooling to equip
one's shop with. In that respect alone, I have a poor man's shop. Hell, if
I could just win the lottery, I would have one of everything (plug in your
favorite brand) from Delta, or Griz or Powermatic, or...well you get the
picture. There are Normites and Neanders here and one man's junque is
another's treasure. It all involves time. And commitment. Yes, a
top-of-the-line tool may make the job go quicker, maybe hold tolerance a
lot better and may outlast a less expensive tool, but the quality of
*your work* depends on *you*. Sometimes you just got to make do.
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