Outfitting a new workshop #1: Brand selection

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Blog entry by Gavs posted 01-23-2010 01:27 PM 1436 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Hi all, I am new to this forum. It is a relief that bliogs like this exist and I am looking forward to interacting here and learning as much as possible and obtaining some insight from people who know far more than me, thanks for having me.

I have wanted to start woodworking for a long time, just never got around to it. This year I decided it was time to just do it. I would like to focus on guitar building (as a hobby) at this point, but who knows where the journey will take me…I hear it is addictive! I have restrained myself from buying machines and tools on a whim and instead I did a great deal of research on the necessary tools that I would need and the various manufacturers out there to enable me to buy smart. I would be really greatful if some of you could share your views with me on brand quality and where I should start. I would rather spend some more money to get started but know I have precision tools that are built to last. Ideally I am looking for a good, accurate and reliable: bandsaw (minimum 14” but probably larger), a drum sander (minimum 18” wide), a belt and disk sander, oscilating spindle sander and floor mounted drill press. I have looked at Jet, Grizzly and Laguna primarily – I dont live in the US and these are the only brands that I can get here, but just dont know which to choose. I have read such mixed reports on all of them and thought I would throw the questiuon out and try and get direct answers from people that know.

Thanks so much in advance for your help and advise! Gavin

13 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3242 days

#1 posted 01-23-2010 02:07 PM

As far as advice on the brand of tool goes, Gavin, you will get conflicting recommendations on a name brand. This is largely based on personal preference. I, for instance, tend to prefer the Powermatic tool line but Grizzly and Jet also make quality tools. I think the more important idea is to not be afraid to spend money on a tool that you select. A friend of mine, who is a pro, once advised me when I was first getting started in woodworking to “spend the most money my budget would allow when buying a tool”. The times that I have made a purchase solely on the cost of a tool I have later come to regret it.

Of course you are somewhat limited by accessibility of brand name tools. But, of the lines that you have mentioned, Grizzly combines both a quality line of tools and excellent customer service.

Good luck with your purchases and keep us posted on your shop evolution as you add your tools.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Joe Kimmell's profile

Joe Kimmell

32 posts in 2575 days

#2 posted 01-23-2010 04:21 PM

Hi Gavin…and welcome! Griz,Jet, and Laguna are all good. However, I’d urge you to consider buying older used tools…..I consider any tool newer than 1975 to be of lesser quality…..My 6” jointer is a 1917, my Shopsmith is from 1953, my Rockwell bandsaw ‘75.
I have a few newer tools, but I always seek out vintage stuff first! Try CL and another site called
Good luck, and welcome to your new vice!

-- Beer and Bandsaws just don't mix. Take my word for it!

View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 2476 days

#3 posted 01-23-2010 04:40 PM

I agree with HoosierJoe that older tools tend to be of better quality than most of the newer tools. I’ve been trying for over half of a year to get some reasonable deals on Craigslist and ebay, without success. I finally took the plunge and got a host of new Grizzly tools. After researching it for a while and changing my mind at least 20 times, I decided on Grizzly because even after shipping they could get me the biggest bang for my buck. I haven’t had much time to work on the pieces to have formed my own opinion (the last two pieces just came in last night and they’re 50 miles away in my dad’s shop because I can’t unload them at my house).

I do plan to work on my tool collection by finding older tools, but it just wasn’t reasonable in the short-term to wait to find the right pieces of vintage gear.

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2136 posts in 2529 days

#4 posted 01-23-2010 04:47 PM


Not to be overly corny, but buying a tool is very much like your first kiss on a date. There are those you connect with and there are those you don’t. But when you find one that feels good in your hands, you tend to stick to it. For me, the first real quality woodworking tool I owned was a Ridgid tablesaw. Since then, I find myself buying mostly Ridgid tools, mainly because I have had good experiences with them and I like the way they feel. But there are others out here whose boyfriends/girlfriends are Dewalts, Milwaukees, Bosch, or Porter Cables ;) There are some that will defend Harbor Freight to their grave. And there are others who don’t have a brand preference at all, they just buy the best tool they can afford no matter what the brand. You are off to a good start with the reviews. When you start a new project, other things will come in to play. Things like the size of your work area, how your shop is wired (220/120) and how much you can afford or are willing to pay.

I know this doesn’t help much, but what you might want to do is post in a blog or discussion group a tool that you are considering and seek some feedback on the experience of others. Most will give you a pretty good background on the brand/model you are considering. Any advice that starts with “You should only buy xxxx brand, everything else is crap…” thank them for the comment and dutifully ignore the advice. Tools are a personal thing and over time you will find your own brand of preference.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Gavs's profile


15 posts in 2466 days

#5 posted 01-23-2010 05:09 PM

Thank you all for your sincere advise. I will indeed look around for some older models – I am in no great rush to buy right now. To the extent I cannot find or given my location cannot find items that sellers will ship to me let me ask this question (and please excuse my ignorance): Is Grizzly a product that is as solid as Jet or is there a general quality scale in the brands I mentioned above? ie Laguna = best, Jet = second best and Grizzly = third best (out of the three brands I mentioned?). The problem I have is that I have to buy online without seeing any of the products and they all look great in the pictures and am guessing from their prices that my formulation above may be a general guide as to quality. To the extent that the reviews are that all three products are much of a muchness and it just comes down to personal prefernce that is an answer in itself. I just need some reasurance that if I decide to buy Grizzly (with whose customer service I have been impressed) I wont regret it in 2 years and say I should have just sprung for the Laguna or Jet. Make sense?

View MarkwithaK's profile


370 posts in 2598 days

#6 posted 01-23-2010 05:21 PM

I agree with David 100%. To me certain tools just “feel right” be it my woodworking hobby or in my profession. Even something as fundamental as a screwdriver. I for one can tell the difference between a Klein and a cheap tool and I have no problems shelling out the extra cash for something I know works for me. This is one reason why I do not like buying tools over the internet, I would much rather be able to get my hands on it and see how it feels, how it works and the level of quality. Unfortunately that is not always possible.

-- If at first you don't succeed then maybe skydiving isn't for you.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5300 posts in 3133 days

#7 posted 01-23-2010 05:22 PM

I agree with what was written above and I would add a bit….try the tool out before you buy it if you can. I was dead set on buying a Delta 14” bandsaw until a friend of mine offered me a chance to use hers. Just like David said earlier its got to feel good in your hands….I didn’t like the Delta so now I am still looking (the Rikon 10-325 looks pretty good!) I use the reviews here a lot to figure out what to start looking at, these reviews are unique in that after you get to know some of the folks here you can get a feel for how they think and evaluate tools so the reviews have more credibility (IMHO) then those of some of the magazines. Don’t get too caught up in buying a the shiny beads and trinkets that are available, focus on tools you will actually use and then as stated earlier buy the best the budget will allow. Good luck on outfitting the shop and welcome to LJs!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Joe Kimmell's profile

Joe Kimmell

32 posts in 2575 days

#8 posted 01-23-2010 06:09 PM

Gav, Griz is generally considered lesser than Laguna or Jet….but is still, as you said, the bigger bang for the buck. I own none of the aforementioned, but my brother has one of each: A jet drum sander, a laguna bandsaw, and a Grizzly planer….he likes all of them, and he knows his stuff better than me. I think Laguna is overpriced, but it sure is a nice saw. As was mentioned, buy the best you can afford…..Learn to use a tool first, and then you can decide what your priority is in terms of upgrading. ~ Joe

-- Beer and Bandsaws just don't mix. Take my word for it!

View Joe Kimmell's profile

Joe Kimmell

32 posts in 2575 days

#9 posted 01-23-2010 06:12 PM

Oh! One more thing I’d like to add to your wishlist: The Kreg Pockethole Jig….......Talk about a beautiful first kiss! That thing has changed my world!

-- Beer and Bandsaws just don't mix. Take my word for it!

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2706 days

#10 posted 01-23-2010 08:22 PM

There has been lots of good advice on tools already, so I won’t go there. I would however recommend you start with something simpler than guitars. They can be very challenging and if you don’t get the basics first, you could wind up frustrated. Since you stated that you wanted to start woodworking, I assume you have no experience. I hesitate to even address this, because I would never want to dampen your enthusiasm
before you get started. I’ve seen too many beginners jump in over their head and throw in the towell before they have a chance to develop. If you are passionate about woodworking, the skills will quickly follow.

You are absolutely right seeking advice about tools, you could save a lot of grief later. Sounds like you starting the right way. Good luck in you journey and keep us posted.


View Joe Kimmell's profile

Joe Kimmell

32 posts in 2575 days

#11 posted 01-24-2010 05:30 AM

Gavin…I’m kinda with Kent on this. Luthier craft is whole other world of woodworking. Different tools, clamps, and skill set. Can I suggest you try a less expensive project, such as a lap dulcimer???? It might save you lots of frustration to learn on a “throw-away” project. You’ll need to think about special files for dressing your frets…..and good Japanese saws for cutting the fret slots….......Then you’ll be wanting a good random orbit sander….and a good router & bits…..It goes on & on & on…......There’s a lot more to it than you are thinking of at the moment. Not to discourage you, but start where you are. ~Joe

-- Beer and Bandsaws just don't mix. Take my word for it!

View Gavs's profile


15 posts in 2466 days

#12 posted 01-24-2010 07:57 AM

Thanks Hoosier, you and Ken have very valid points. I appreciate that this is a long road and that it will be impossible to get everything at the start. I also dont intend to buy everything upfront. I just dont want to be duped into buying a certain product only to discover its not that good down the line, or that there was something better that I should have bought. I think I will start off with a bandsaw, possibly the Laguna 14suv (which looks good and will ship to South Africa) and then some hand tools to get started on some projects. I do have some woodworking experience, just not with my own tools. I will most definately start off with some cheap mdf or pine etc before moving on to expensive wood. I also thought I would start by making a few necks to practice, then a few electric body shapes and progress from there until I feel like I can start a whole guitar.

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 2485 days

#13 posted 01-24-2010 12:01 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

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