I am sort of a novice woodworker, but am thinking of getting more
serious about it as a hobby.
I am mostly interested in projects for things around the house, maybe
some furniture later on, craft projects, etc.
I am wondering what you guys think is an appropriate set of power
tools for such a task. I am thinking along the lines of the following
big table saw (I have a small one that is almost useless for cutting
I sort of like the idea of an all-in-one approach to save space (ala
Shopsmith) and if I could get one at a reasonable price used, I might
head that way, although I have heard they are not all that great as a
I don't expect to be doing a lot of this stuff, although you never
know when a hobby is going to become an obsession, so I am thinking
that professional grade tools might be an overkill, but I don't want
to waste money on stuff that will fall apart after being used a few
My current power tool assortment is a variety of stuff (Makita,
Milwaukee, B+D, Ryobi, Skill), all of which have performed quite well
for me, and I can't really tell much difference in performance between
the expensive stuff and the less expensive stuff. I suppose if I had
to make a living off them I might notice a difference.
I even have a $6 angle grinder I bought from Homier, cause I wanted
one to grind down the tops of some fence posts I had cut off at ground
level, but did not want to spend a lot on something I will probably
never use again. Its a lightweight tool, and would never hold up to
any serious use, but it did Ok grinding down the fence posts.
You might want to consider a router also, otherwise the list of tools is good
enough for most projects. IMHO I wouldn't recommend a Shopsmith unless you have
a very limited amount of shop space. The set-up from tool to tool is a PIA.
It's much more advantageous to be able to work with one tool and move on to the
next tool if you don't have to tear one down and set up another.
I'd drop the sander and the lathe, keep the drill press.
If I had One Machine, it'd be a TS, BUT a DP is useful enough on its own
that I'm gonna buy one before I buy a "Real TS"
For "Around the House", I'm assuming you mean "Handyman" stuff.
In that case, get a good SCMS, a DP, and a circular saw with a good
straight edge for cutting sheet goods down to size.
Then you don't need to consider upgrading your TS just yet.
Eventually, you'll want a saw with a good fence and a jointer, but in
your shoes, I'd build a string-tensioned bow saw and learn how to join
wood that way on small projects.
Add a router and router table. The best value in a bandsaw is the 14"
models. Get at least a 12" drill press.
I don't have a lathe and have survived, but turning is a hobby in itself.
Hand tools like a good set of chisels and a block plane is good. See
www.leevalley.com for a very good plane. I have the low angle.
Never used one so I dno't know how they perform. I don't like the idea of
having to change modes just to drill a couple of holes, then go to the
bandsaw to cut a piece out, then go back to the drill press again for one
more hole, etc. Seems like a PITA.
I see a lot of them for sale in out local Shopper paper. You can probably
get a good price on a used one if that is what you want.
Get some clamps. Get a couple of 24" and buy larger as youneed them. You
can never have enough clamps.
You don't need the "best" but you don't want junk. A good cast iron top
contractor's model saw with a good fence willk blow away what youh ave.
Excellent at about $750 to $1000. A cabinet saw is better, but 50% more in
cost. Sure, it would be nice to have, but most of us don't need it for a
Good deal for what you did. The important thing is that you recognized that
it is a crappy tool and a smart buy for your use, not for repeated use.
Some buy the cheap tools and wonder why it does not perform like the pro
Buy tools as you need them. If you get hooked, buy more as you go. At some
point a planer will be important, as will a jointer.
Have fun. Get a couple of books also.
firstname.lastname@example.org (bob peterson) wrote in
Bob, you seem to be interested in building a shop, more than furniture or
other things. This is fine, but realize that, $10,000 later, you may
easily have the wrong, (more accurately, not the right) tools to build what
you then really want to make.
You mentioned a Shopsmith. These are fine tools, and well-made, and
generations of folks have been building projects with them, and have been
quite happy with them. I bought a new one several years ago, and, aside
from the fact that I could easily have gotten the same tool used for 20% of
the price, found all sorts of projects could be done. And I did many of
It's a great place to start. Buy one used. Make some stuff. Decide then
what you need. There's an active Shopsmith forum on Yahoo groups.
(And you will want a seperate router. Buy a good one, from Porter Cable,
Bosch, DeWalt, or some other quality brand.)
Drop the lathe for now. I have tinkered with woodwork for 25-30 years and
finally bought one last year. I have discovered that spindle work, which is
much of the reason I wanted one, is more difficult than I thought.
The table saw is considered the heart of the woodshop and you should
probably pull the budget stops on this selection (not to say you have to go
$$$ crazy). If you believe woodworking is going to be in your future, start
looking at cabinet saws ($850 - $2000 new). If the interest is more casual,
look for a good-quality 10" contractor's saw ($300 - 400 new). Also, the
heart of a table saw is its fence so do your research and get a good one.
Also get a machine with cast iron top and wings. Prices above are new and
there are good deals on used equipment.
The drill press is positioned about right on you list. You don't have to go
overboard here. Just get a good machine. Again, used machines appear to be
plentyful. Once you get it, a good starter project would be a woodworkers
drill press table. The web is full of photos, ideas and plans.
Band Saw? Depends on what you are doing. I survived a long time without
one but when I bought it I didn't know how I survived without it. A 14"
Delta or Jet will meet most people's needs. If you are going to cut large
stock, you might want to look at 18".
Sander? Not sure what you have in mind. If it is a basic finish or pad
sander, good. If you are talking floor equipment there are things you
should think of first:
- A good router - Bosch, Porter Cable, Dewalt and many others offer good
routers. They also offer combo packs with standard and plunge bases. Plan
on about $200+ for a starter with 2 to 2-1/2 horses and stay away from the
cheapo's. A cheap router with a poor adjustment mechanism is the most
frustrating machine you can own (every penney you save you will give back in
- Don't overlook the cost of router bits. The are expensive but
cheaper in quantity. For example, woodcraft offers 20 bit sets that are on
sale for around $100 much of the time. Not the greatest in the world but
they will serve you well until you can start upgrading.
- An earlier post mentioned router table an that is a good idea. You
can start with a very basic or used table without spending lots of money.
As you progress a shop-built table is another good project.
- A decent jointer should be on your short-list. Some will say it is #2 to
the table saw and that is probably true. I got by with an old 4" machine
for years but strongly recommend at least 6" or larger. I have sold the 4"
and am currently looking at 8" machines.
- Don't overlook the 'other stuff' and it sounds like you have some of it.
Hand-held drill motors, saws, etc can be picked up on sale or at
garage/estate sales. You will also need squares, rulers, tapes, chisels,
power tool accessories, yada, yada yada. Again look for these at sales or
estate sales. Occasionally you can step into an estate sale with someone's
life-long collection of tools offered for little or nothing. My cousin
(curse him) picked up a Powermatic 66 for $400 a few years ago - barely
My personal opinion is the ShopSmith is a good machine but it compromises
nearly every operation you will do. You will also grow weary of setting up
and resetting every time you want to do something. Again, they are a good
machine especially were space is limited. Ebay and you local ads will
feature used machines at good prices.
Final word - buy the best you can afford and occasionally the best IS
available as used equipment.
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