Here is a similar question to the rec.brainsurgeon group that I posted to.
I am poking fun at you a little bit here. It really sounds like you are a
true beginner at this and with that in mind no answer is going to be right
for you. Starting off with the suggestion of which Cabinet saw to buy,
sheet goods capable you are clearly uneducated enough to even consider
trying to put together a list of all the tools you need or want. A cabinet
saw is not needed to cut up sheet goods. A cabinet saw is not for building
cabinets from sheet goods. A cabinet saw is a saw that sets on its own
cabinet. You can easily cut sheet goods with a contractors TS.
I will say that you are on the right track in considering the TS as you
first purchase as probably 98% of all wood workers will end up with a TS.
From there, which ever direction you go in you wood working adventure will
dictate what tool comes next. Buy your tools as you have a need and buy the
best that you can afford.
OK, several posts state something along the lines of "Buy used - there is a
glut available." I've been looking for some good used equipment and have had
very little luck.
Any suggestions on the best places to find good used equipment?
It's not all that common , and it requires a bit of work. If I get
two good used bargains a year, I think I'm doing well.
I have had the most luck from:
Your workplace, if your workmates all know about your WW interest, you
might be offered machinery that was bought years ago, and is now
sitting unused, or the old lathe that is around at grandpa's place,
now that he no longer uses it.
Auctions, but know your price limit and stick to it. And inspect the
Wanted adverts in the local trading or community papers.
My experience has been that you have to work at it, and be very, very patient to
get what you want.
I've found that there are very few people out there shouting to the heavens for
someone to come buy
their pristine, and often well loved, tools at filthy cheap prices. Word of
mouth is about the only
way you find these things, and you have to work to get the word out you are
looking. The only piece
of hardware I own that I purchased new is my Delta benchtop drill press and a
1980 Penny's TS that
was replaced on Sunday. All other major hardware is inherited or purchased
Over the last couple of years I have picked up a used Jet 14" BS with mobile
base, blades and
variable belt speed option. It was, and is, immaculate except for one kinked
blade that came with
it. I picked up the height extension from someone who never installed his. I
also picked up a Jet
lathe with mobile base, extra faceplates, Nova chuck, a dozen or so tools and
some nice wood for not
much more than the BS. This was also in extremely good condition.
This past Sunday afternoon my older son and I unloaded a Jet cabinet saw into
the shop. It came
with mobile base, router lift, router fence, blades, etc. It is not immaculate.
There are three
BB-sized dings in the extension table and a couple chips on the laminate edges.
I can live with
abuse like this. My ability to be patient to find what I wanted was due in a
major part to the fact
that I am upgrading tools, and not looking for a first tool. I would have paid
more, or been
satisfied with poorer maintenance if I really needed a TS and did not already
None of these purchases qualify as gloats. The sellers were happy, and so was
the buyer. I only
dikkered on one of the deals, the others I paid the asking price. I ended up
paying about half
retail, which I think is reasonable for good equipment in good condition. The
extras that came with
each purchase were the cream on top.
I spent a lot of time looking for these tools. I posted some "Wanted to Buy"
notices at the local
WW club meetings, I checked second hand and used tool/equipment/junk shops. I
talked to people in
the local woodworking and hardware stores. I made sure many of my friends,
co-workers knew I was looking to upgrade my equipment. I followed up on posts
here on the Wreck, on
some of the *.forsale newsgroups on Usenet, craigslist, the weekly local "for
publications, newspaper ads, etc.
I found plenty of tools for sale, eliminated almost all those that weren't of
the caliber I wanted
with just a phone call or email for more information, and later passed on one
band saw and several
table/cabinet saws because of (what I perceived as) neglect or inability to
agree on price. But I
spent dozens of hours searching for tools in the condition I wanted over the
last couple of years.
I am surprised that I ended up with so many Jet brand tools though. The BS and
lathe are nice
pieces of hardware. Haven't fired up the CS yet.
There were some side benefits to all this looking, besides making a few new
friends and meeting some
colorful characters. I picked up about 30 old wood-bodied planes from one guy
who had a TS for
sale. Didn't get the TS. I was given a 24" Rockwell jig saw that was going to
be scrapped since it
hadn't been used in years. It works fine after a thorough cleaning. I now have
a pretty good
starter collection of Stanley #11's and a few other metal planes I'm still
trying to figure out how
to use and two separate boxes of pen turning supplies for $15 and $25. SWMBO
has started to give me
"The Look" (tm) when she sees me pull into the drive with any old beat up
looking cardboard box in
the truck. As I write this I just realized that I have yet to come across a
deal on wood like I
read about here on the wreck. Nobody has offered me a single board yet at a
bargain price. Gotta
work on that.
Well maintained, good quality tools are out there. All it takes is some
patience and effort to go
find them. If you need it NOW, you're in a world of hurt. Dumb luck is your
only hope. If you can
wait 6 months or more, there is some awfully good hardware out there at a
I belong to the local woodworkers' club, and get emails offering used
equipment several times per week. Not everything is 'top-of-the-market',
but the pricing is right, usually. Folks are often coming in, going out,
changing specialties and upgrading gear.
There are maybe 350 to 400 folks on the email list.
Several of our folks hang out at owwm. I got a nicely rebuilt Delta 8"
jointer from the mid-50's at a very reasonable price last year, so he could
start on some new projects.
craigslist.org often has stuff, if they are active in your area.
Just don't slide down the fancy old handtool slippery slope...
Geez, if you buy all that hardware new then you're not just satisfying a
hobby, you're going into business.
With all due respect, you sound over-eager. Look for used cast iron
tooling on eBay or at local garage sales and put the money you'll save
into an extra mortgage payment every year so that when you retire (okay,
let's indulge that fantasy) you'll retire sooner and have more full days
of woodworking ahead of you.
The tools you buy will have a lot to do with the available space in your
workshop. You don't say what amount of floor space you are going to be
able to devote to this hobby so I am going to use the "husband's half of
the two car garage" for a measurement because those Taunton books kind
of assume that you've got a 25'x25'x outbuilding to spare for this sort
of thing. I shall assume only that you park "your" vehicle in the
driveway, not in "your half" of the garage.
In said space you'll be lucky to fit a 10" RAS, 8" table saw, two drill
presses, wood lathe, metal lathe, shaper, workbench with built-in router
table and side/end vises, scroll saw, 4" benchtop jointer, belt/disc
sander, clamp racks, shop vac (don't forget the mess!!), grinder,
sharpening station -- and the most space consuming things of all --
scrap bins!! Buckets and buckets of them. Dammit, with global warming it
ain't cold enough in winter anymore to consume all the scraps, assuming
you can let yourself part with them. Clutter is going to overwhelm you.
Oh, and then there's shelving for fasteners, hand tools, jigs, and space
for sheet goods, raw lumber, etc. You're going to put everything on
wheels, too. And did I mention space for applying dust-free finishes to
those lovely heirlooms you'll be creating?
Now, with that stuff in hand, you're going to want to buy decent jack,
scrub and jointer planes, and you'll want to make frame/fret/bow saws
with interchangeable rip and crosscut blades, because you'll have no
room for a big ass bandsaw, and you'll find that you won't need it or
the 13" planer or 8" jointer or miter saw or five routers or 10" table
saw with four-foot wide wings for the sheet goods you won't be able to
maneuver by yourself without introducing errata in your would-be glue
line edges -- since you're going to be in possession of these cheaply
made "neanderthal" tools that work at least as well and quickly as their
modern motor powered descendants -- and which are skill building
woodworking projects in their own right. If you feel like splurging, do
so on a dedicated mortiser or biscuit joiner.
Don't ask me how I know this but you need to find the right balance for
you between electric powered and human powered tooling. It's a personal
thing. Everybody will pursue it differently. But I've seen crap emanate
from "toolie" shops and beautiful works of art from the humblest and
poorest of garages.
If you are contemplating making a run of kitchen cabinets from really
nice 3/4 plywood then buy or build a panel saw, and if you can't devote
a wall to it then hang the sucker from the shop ceiling (on pulleys of
course so that you can lower it when necessary). With this one tool,
carefully calibrated, then you can handle sheet goods with aplomb. You
won't cut full sheets of plywood accurately any other way unless you
have a lot of floor space and a Taunton-style ball bearing sliding table
or unless you really enjoy hand cutting oversize parts with a circular
saw and finishing them up on a table saw and router (with appropriate
jigs and carbide cutters).
John Doe wrote:
Yeah, right. Have you priced shipping cast iron tools? I find the bargains
are always 1000 miles away from where I live and the shipping wipes out the
bargain price - not to mention lack of warranty, dealer service, etc. I've
NEVER seen a garage sale that had good cast iron tools for sale. I think
they are right there with all the other urban legends.
People who purchase good deals in used stationary equipment are lucky and do
not live where I live.
I agree. Obviously there is good used equipment out there somewhere. I have
never been able to locate it either. I have bought used once... I did not
know what to look for.... I overpaid for a crapsman monotube lathe. I had
never used a lathe before. How could I possibly assess its quality or
appropriateness for the task?
It worked, but it was no gloat.
The thing about buying used is that you already have to be experienced to
sort out the junk from the good stuff. I suspect luck plays a major role as
Buying used is for people who want a project.... phase one... spend the next
18 months shopping and phase 2 is some level of refurb. It's tough enough
for a newbie to assemble and tune a table saw out of the box with proper
documentation, vendor support and a warrantee.
Suggesting that the used market is appropriate for a newbie is poor advice.
To the OP....
There has been lots of good advise to far. I have a couple comments and
Re Cabinet saw: No table saw is really sheet goods capable out of the box.
It's just unsafe to run 4x8 sheet of anything through a table saw without
plenty of auxillary support. Build an outfeed table *and* precut sheet
stock down to a more managable size with a circular saw.
Buy a decent circular saw and a decent jig saw. Expect to pay close to $150
for each. You can expect these to last the beter bart of your lifetime. Not
because these are so much indespensable for a woodworking hobby, but if you
are a homeowner, you will want to have these over time. I good jigsaw will
also do alot (not all) of what a bandsaw will do for you.
Good advise that I think is worthy of repetition:
Buy tools as you need them. Woodworking skills are *evolutionary* .. tool
buying should be as well. It takes time to set up and get to know each tool.
Workbench is a necessary tool and an excellent first project. Build one; it
won't be you last; don't over-think it... just do it.
Grizzly is not really low end. I think you will find more differences
between classes of machines than maufacturers. That is a would *much* rather
have a griz cabinet saw than a powermatic contractors saw.
Patience makes for good luck. I would not (and do not) pay to ship cast
iron from Oklahoma to the East Coast either. And as I have relatives in
roughly a 100 mile radius of where I live, I frequently arrange to pick
items up and make a family outing of the remainder of the day -- that
way the gas money is not fully counted against the purchase price of the
tool. Sure, it's an excuse. But it works for me.
I will make this short and sweet. The only tool that really matters
is your brain. The next best tool is the one that is in your shop,
not at the store/warehouse. Put down the books and the excuses and go
make some saw dust. The rest you'll figure out as you go along.
Is this for real? Not counting hand held tools, you can surely get
into hobby woodworking in a "serious" way without buying all that
equipment at once. FOr the tables, bookshelves, etc you mention, just
get a decent tablesaw and get started. The rest of the stuff you can
get as you gain experience enough to decide what you really need and
want. Most people, if they waited til they could buy a jointer,
planer, bandsaw, etc til they started, would never GET started.
I followed this advice to a T 3 years ago. I purchased a nice table saw and
made those wonderful precision cuts and thought I was in heaven. You should
have seen the look on my face when I tried to assemble my work and
discovered that a 6" c clamp won't hold everything! I laugh at the concept
that it only takes a few tools to get started doing wood working. Aside
from your average birdhouse, doing anything of any size is going to require
more bits and pieces than one ever imagined. Layout, clamping, and
sharpening things come to mind. Oh yeah, then there is dust collection.
I've collected a list of one-liner sage advice that makes me laugh.
"Your best tool is your brain"
"Go with a few quality hand tools"
"Pick your project and then buy the tools to do it"
"build a workbench first" (count the absolute minimal number of tools
required to do this - surprise!)
The fact is that, no matter what path you choose or what advice you follow,
you will spend more money on this avocation than you ever conceived. If you
choose to spend money to save time, you will sink a fortune into it.
Can't agree more Bob!
Woodworking is a lot about details and having the tools to produce
those details cost a lot. Over the last 10 years I have increase my
project complexity as my pool of tools increased.
The funny part is, even though I have almost everything a woodworker
can dream of, it doesn't look like I will ever stop buying new
tools/accessories. It's more fun when you can afford it though.
The advice of looking for used tools is also not a viable option.
Before jumping in woodworking, I've looked at all the classifieds
possible and never really turned out anything good. You'll find plenty
of crap though. If by any chance, you do find great tools, don't
worry, their owners know how much they have paid for them and they
won't give them to you. It's not rare to pay up to 80% of the price
new when very good tools are concerned. For example, I purchased brand
new a General 3HP cabinet saw for 2450$. If I happen to find one used
but recent, it will easily sell over 2000$. In that case, it's not
worth taking a chance for so little difference.
On the other hand, crap will sell easily at 10%-20% of its original
cost but who wants crap for woodworking?
For some people it is. Scrounging is a skill in itself, that some people
have and most do not. But people with that skill don't ask what tools to
get, they've already scrounged everything they think they need.
You are actually right. I have a friend like that. He spends all his
weekends hunting all the garage sales of the neighborhood. Over the
span of 5 years, he collected all sort of junk paid less than 5$
piece. He filled up his basement until he couldn't even walk
downstairs. He had to use his garage door to get in the basement.
Then, getting fed up of all this mess after he realized he would never
use all this junk <Doh!>, he finally called a guy recycling junk. The
guy left with a 10 wheeler full of junk and gave him 100$.
Moral of the story: he spent hundreds of dollars scattering the
neighborhood in search of junk but never paid more than 5$ each. He
sold it all back for 100$ to a guy who will send it to a dump yard and
get paid for the steel. In the meantime, he had no basement for 5
Wow, this is really smart!
The same people claiming they make huge savings in finding those used
tools forget one very important thing. How much have they spent the
rest of the year hunting and looking for them?
It's like people claiming they're making money at the Bingo. They
forget to mention all the money they spent previously before winning
the 500$ jackpot once in a blue moon. When all the figures are known,
they're always at loss.
My thanks for the many and varied advice. To give a little bit more
information (and thanks for all who have replied); this is truly going to
be in the 'hobby' category. I'm within eight years of retirement and
would love to start something I've always wanted to do before I get to
that fateful day and walk out of work going "ok, now what am I going to
Part of the reason I've waited this long is work, raising children and
making sure that my family never wanted for anything (yeah, I know,
there's one cliche for the books). Now, as to why woodworking, I've
spent my entire life (up to now), in the electronics/computer/IT field.
But there's always been this desire to take a raw piece of wood and make
something that's a one of a kind in this world. Anyone (in my opinion)
that can look at a *good* piece of furniture and not be amazed at the
wood grain, the finish, the play of light on the top, sides and mouldings
is lacking something somewhere in their soul (ok, poetic side back in its
Now, as to the questions (asked of me) and the reason for my original
post. Yes, it's going to be a half-of-the-two-car-garage workshop. I
have two walls in the garage (with cars in) that are 4 feet deep by 25
feet long, plenty of space to store tools against the wall. Add to that
a section in the garage of about 20'x12' that stores nothing today. I
figure I can store a full table saw (with in and outfeed tables) there
I also have a 7.5' tall 30'x24' crawlspace that shares a wall next to the
garage (the town planning board nixed the idea of taking out 1.5' of dirt
and pouring a pad in there)that will be perfect to house a compressor and
vacuum system to be piped into the shop where needed.
My first project(s) planned are cabinets for the garage, converting a
basement into a home theater and probably (with some help from a general
contractor) finishing off a 800SF walk up attic to turn it into a library
(in following this newsgroup, I'm sure with some experience over time
<and a lot of questions asked here> I can make cabinets better and
cheaper than at the BORG). With those under my belt, I may even tackle
the kitchen and replace the cabinets there.
And finally, in closing, I've been the old classified adds search and
most of the used tools I've looked at were either to worn out or to close
to new prices for me to bother. I'm not an expert (I freely admit that)
and my biggest fear is buying a lemon and not even having a warranty to
fall back on. So, for the money I have to spend I can outfit (with a
budget in reserve for all the 'other stuff' such as blades, sanders,
chisels, router bits, Etc.) a good 'full' shop using Grizzly or almost
all of my wish list using one of the more expensive lines (Delta,
To all of you that have replied my thanks, you've all given me some great
advice (well, I'll skip the one about always having four car payments,
but with my last car being 20 years old and two kids that travel 80 miles
a day to college, it was necessary) and a lot to think upon before I pull
the trigger and decide to jump in with both feet, or ease into the pool.
Well, now that you've filled in the story a little- if you've got a
little nest egg you can tap, I'd go for the best cabinet saw you can
get, a good compound miter saw with a stand, a good router (and make
your own table) a drill press, 6-8 bar clamps, a good pile of smaller
clamps, and a standard array of carpenter's tools. You will have to
buy more stuff than that, but those are the tools that are tough to
work around (others may disagree) I like Delta for the stationary
tools, myself- but stay away from the "Shopmaster" line, they are
garbage. If they say "Industrial", they're pretty nice. Porter-cable
makes a nice line of routers, variable speed is good if you want to
make raised panel cabinet doors.
Basic rule of thumb is that you tend to do okay if you stick with the
brand names. If you start getting the store brand or some knockoff,
it's a crapshoot- sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Do you need a compressor? Probably not- but they are nice to have.
Might be worth waiting until you get the rest of your toys, though.
Depends on what you're going for- but with all those cabinets to make,
it might not be a bad idea to get yourself a pocket hole jig. Come to
think of it, the compressor is looking like a better idea here too- a
pin nailer and an HVLP gun got a long way towards making your life
easier with the projects you've got in mind. If you were just making
jewelry boxes or furniture, it's not that important.
Grizzly really isn't a bad line of tools, and you save a lot of $$$.
As noted above, I like Delta, but Jet, Powermatic, General, and
Yates-American have their fans as well.
Ease in. Put all that money aside, and get the tools one at a time
for a little while after you get a saw or two and a drill press. Two
good reasons for this you might not have considered- first is that you
have to assemble most of your tools. My table saw took 3 hours to put
together and adjust, and required a fair amount of heavy lifting.
Doing that several times in a row in one sitting seems like a bit much
in my book. Second- you need to learn how to use your new tools.
Jumping around on 6 or 8 new machines like a kid in a candy store may
sound like (and even be) a lot of fun, but it may be more to keep
track of than you bargined for, and it's worthwhile to spend some
quality time with each new tool as it comes into the shop not just for
safety reasons, but also because it gives you a chance to explore all
the features and operations you can perform with that tool.
Anyhow- good luck, and enjoy your new hobby.
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