1. Don't buy cheap low-end tools. You'll regret it later. You may save
1/2 the cost now, but you'll have to buy two or three replacements when
2. Only buy tools when you need them for a project. For example, don't
get a drill press because you "think" you might need it someday.
Based on my own experience, here's the tools I would start out with.
1. The basics. A sharp handsaw, a hammer, basic hand tools (screwdrivers,
2. A good cordless drill. I have an 18volt Craftsman model, and it's
probably the most used tool in my collection. I use it not only for
woodworking, but for repairs around the house, away from the house, etc.
It's unbelievably versatile for driving screws, drilling holes, etc. and
being cordless really increases it's usability.
3. A good circular saw, the handheld "skilsaw" type. Buy the best you can
afford. Even with a tablesaw, I still use my circular saw with a straight
edge to cut up plywood. It also comes in handy for other construction
4. A good router. I started out with a small Black & Decker cheapie, and
I still use it to this day. It's light and easy to work with. But, I
bought a nicer Porter Cable 693 to use in a router table. You can do a
lot of things with a router, that are difficult or impossible to do any
5. A good handheld electric sander. DO NOT buy cheap. These things seem
to wear out quickly. I've gone through several over the years.
6. A good jigsaw. I bought a nice Bosch model, and have been very happy
with it. While it's not something you will use a LOT, it's invaluable
when you need it.
7. A power miter saw. While I can make the same cuts with the circular
saw or even a handsaw, the power miter makes the cuts faster, easier, and
8. A tablesaw, the expensive workhorse of the shop. I really only use
mine to rip boards to width. I use the miter saw to crosscut boards, or
the circular saw and a straight edge to crosscut large boards/panels. I
inherited a cheap old Craftsman saw from my Dad, and with an Accufence
replacement, it serves my needs well.
9. A portable planer. I didn't think I would use this tool as much as I
do, but it's now one of my most used tools. Planing down panels, cleaning
up rough boards, etc. I've built many projects from "Recycled" lumber
that I would have just thrown out before.
If you're looking for a power tool, I'd recommend a Radial Arm Saw. The
low-end new Deltas will eat up nearly all of the $1000, but you'll have
something that does the work of quite a few power tools. Or, if you don't
mind a fixer-upper, find a used DeWalt Radial Arm Saw from the 1950's at an
estate sale for an even better saw. It'll do all sorts of cross-cuts, rip
cuts, jointing, etc... I no longer use my (admittedly cheap) table saw or
my under-sized jointer.
But buy a book on how to use it, too. It'll teach you the tricks and how
not to lose a body part or two.
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
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