I'm a total noob when it comes to woodworking but just bought my first
house and would like to put a workbench in my garage. I have nothing
to work on now but would have worked out some plans to for a bench
that I think will suit my needs but am now looking for equipment to
buy. What's the difference between a table saw, mitre saw, circular
saw, or any of the other popular saws out today that I might need to
know about or consider?
Go to Home Depot, Lowes, or a store like Woodcraft and put your hands on
them to see what they are.
It would be good to take a beginner's class in woodworking before you buy.
If you are in Texas, Homestead Heritage in Elm Mot (close to Waco) have
It would take a thick book to give the differences and nuances between
models of all the saws available. Table saws break down to portable,
benchtop, contractor, cabinet and hybrid. They range in price from $100 to
$3000. Many a woodworker looks at the tablesaw as the main tool of the
shop where most projects start out.
Circular saws are the hand held jobs used on construction sites.
Miter saws are for cutting boards cross cut, and at angles. Great for trim
Radial are and band saws should be included also.
Go to a good tool store and take a look at the various types and do a rough
comparison between the cheap and expensive one. Figure out what you want to
build (now, and in the future) and we can give some better advice as to what
will work the best.
*snip: Summary of powered saws.*
There's also the hand saws, which when properly sharpened can be just as
effective as their powered brothers. There are two basic kinds of hand
saws, push saws and pull saws. Push saws cut on the push stroke, and are
good for jigs such as bench hooks and using your body weight to make a
cut. Pull saws cut on the pull stroke, and are excellent for general
cutting. They usually have a much thinner blade than a push saw, and
cost about the same.
Quality hand saws are a good way to get started in wood working. At $10-
$20 for a saw, you can try a variety of hand saws before you get in the
range of a cheap table saw.
I have this pull saw, which gets a lot of use:
I picked up my push saws second (or third, fourth, fifth... who knows how
many owners they had?) hand. Once sharpened, they're excellent for
cutting with a bench hook or rough but fast cuts.
Hack saws are not for woodworking. Their fine teeth are designed for
materials much denser than wood.
Because I mentioned "bench hook" twice, I'll take a paragraph to explain
it. Two narrow and long boards are placed on a wide and long board.
One's on the top and the other's on the bottom. The narrow boards are on
opposite sides (widthwise) of the board, forming what basically looks
like a square bracket [ with one end reversed. Simply place the jig on
your work bench, and your piece on the jig. When you push with the push
saw, the board stays and place and allows the saw to cut.
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
Find a good used bookstore and get some books. This will increase your
It would also help to know what you want to do. Woodworking is a vast field
and not everybody wants or needs the same tools.
On Oct 28, 4:20 pm, email@example.com wrote:
Start with a decent quality circular saw, one that'll hold an
accurate tilt setting. You can get adequate precision for
rips or sheet goods with a couple of clamps and a straight
piece of MDF shelving. For crosscuts, use a speed square
as a cutting guide. Most of those cuts will be 90 or 45
degrees, with 95% being 90 degrees.
Your workbench for now can be an old door set on a
pair of sawhorses. Sturdy, but can be knocked down
in a jiffy when you want open floor space, or when you
need the horses for an outside job. In 35 years, I've only
used a "real" workbench in other peoples' shops.
Time for a book like Carpentry for Dummies, or maybe the This Old House
books on hand and power tools (currently on clearance at Borders Books for
*two bucks!*) they're excellent for the beginner so your search for more
information has direction, half the trick is knowing what kind of questions
to ask. ;^)
"De Christoforo's Complete Book of Power Tools Both Stationary and
Portable" (R.J. DeChristophoro) is a good book that may be in your
local library. At least my tiny rural town library has a copy.
Handsaws did all the wood cutting in the country up until power
tools became available back at the beginning of last century, and they
still work fine. It takes some practice to get a cut to go straight and
stay square, but plenty of people have learned how over the centuries.
Hand saws will make any kind of cut thru any kind of material. I have
several good handsaws from yard sales for which I only paid a couple of
Projects like a deck or an addition or finishing off an attic can be
easier with a portable circular saw (skilsaw) which you can take to the
job site. A table saw is very useful for things like book shelves,
storage cabinets, kitchen cabinets, kid's toys, tables and chests of
drawers, that you make in the shop and carry to where they go. An
alternate tool is a radial arm saw. Both tools will crosscut, miter cut
and rip cut. The chop saws , miter saws, and sliding compound miter
saws give up the ability to rip in order to become somewhat lighter and
simplier. Homeowners like your self need to rip boards to width, so I
would look at a table saw or radial arm saw should I be into a
Plenty of used table and radial arm saws show up on Craigs list for
$100 or so. Well made power tools last forever. A table saw in our
family was passed down thru grandfather, father, and son, and would
still be cutting wood today except for a fire that destroyed to building
it was in.
Your first saw purchase should be the best quality "circular saw" that you
With it, a hammer, and the proper blades, you can build a house.
A quality circular saw can be used to cross cut lumber accurately at 45 and
90 degrees by simply using a good framing square as a guide, and, with a
simple home made straight edge guide, you can accurately cut sheet goods to
size, or rip lumber to project dimensions.
Consider a Makita or a Milwaukee brand ... or, if you really want to get
serious, the Festool circular saw. Just buy the best you can afford and
you'll be ahead of the game.
Some early projects to work on.
Sawhorses (you need at least 2)
A place to store your future tools :-)
You probably want to get a framing square and a level.
A combination square is also handy.
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