Hello and welcome to my first Blog!
The intent of this blog is to track my entrance into the world of woodworking. There seems to be a gap between the people who are just getting into woodworking, and those who have been enjoying the hobby for ten years. So, this is my attempt to fill some of that gap. You’ll get to watch me make mistakes, buy some bad tools, and hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes.
First off is my mission statement, the “why am I doing this?”
I need an outlet.
I work as a manufacturing engineer for the largest remanufacturer of engine valves in the world. My job has many exciting details, but I found that I need an outlet for using my hands. I design a great deal of things, write alot of work instructions and such but others do the hands-on. I am much happier if I come home and play in the garage for an hour then if I didn’t.
At this time I have some basic tools and one not so basic tool. I’ll get into this in a paragraph or three. To explain my tool purchasing philosophy I’ll put down a quote…
”It’s unwise to pay too much, but far worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, all you loose is some money – that’s all. When you pay too little, then sometimes you loose everything, because what you buy isn’t able to do what it was bought for. Common business practice makes it impossible to pay a bit and to get alot – quite simply, it can’t be done. If you accept the lowest offer, then you would be wise to insure yourself against the risk you run – and if you do that, then you can afford to pay for the better product anyway.”
So here I am with more ambition then I have cash. I must walk a line of compromises. I have a sizable set of student loans, house payment and such to pay off but at the same time I will try and get the best tools for my situation.
What do I mean by that? While I would love a complete Festool set, it is beyond my budget and for the most part beyond what I need. For now. Ten years from now the odds say that I will accumulate a few. But while getting started without even a full set of drill bits to my name is tough, trying to get it all at once is impossible.
But, here’s my tools.
Hand tools first.
Here’s a close-up.
Here we see my new mallet! Also some layout tools, hand brace, my horrible plane, forstner bit (Freud) and Marbles Knife. Also a pullsaw, I definitely want a better one of these, it works excellent. The plane is a big box purchase, and out of the box it is horrible. After a few hours with a mill, surface grinder and stones it does a decent job. A full plane set is in my future. Not Veritas or Lie Nielsen, so maybe bargain shopping? But the Buck Bros or Menards equivalent is crap.
I included my router bits here just because, well, I don’t have many. More marking tools here, files, clamps, and chisels. The chisels interestingly enough are the cheapest chisels I could buy at Menards (think Home Depot but cheaper and lower quality). We needed a set to beat on at work, so we purchased those for I think 6 dollars. After we beat them for a bit we noticed that the steel was actually not bad, just not heat treated. So we went and put a heat treat on the tips and lo-and-behold they came out at exactly 64 Rc. A bit hard, but workable. They warped, bad, but a bit on the surface grinder took care of that. I have a Veritas sharpening jig (MKII) coming soon and nicer chisels are also in the works. The router bits come from Woodcraft, the starter set and I just got them yesterday. They look really nice, and the very limited cutting I’ve done so far has turned out nice.
Now for the power tools…
Please, refrain from laughter. You have to start somewhere and if the difference is buy B&D or buying nothing at all… well, you have to have a drill! The sander, upon first inspection seemed neat. It has a removable pad and can random orbital sand and detail sand. The dust collection unit is horrible and I will get a nice sander one of these days. The drill spins, not much more I can say about it. The jig saw was on sale for $25, so I picked it up. It cuts, slightly off center and crooked, but it’s a cut!
The router though… my first real power tool. I have done about 4 linear feet of routing with it, but man it is nice. Everything is exactly where you’d think it would be, and I hardly know anything about routers! One of my planned tool upgrades is either purchasing a table or making my own for this beautiful work of engineered art.
My goal is to eventually have all my tools on par with that Triton router.
My other neato goodie…
My woodrack! Currently filled with hard maple. It went together simple and quick, very pleased with it. I checked out Tritons Australian website and alot of the products they show look extremely clever and well done. If the quality is on the same level as the router they will become the gap bridger between Dewalt and Festool.
Last picture, a workbench, with a warning below.
My first workbench, and definitely my last of this type. It can’t clamp well, anything you cut, sand or rout on it is amplified by 30 Db do the lack of rigidity and it likes to slide. But for now it will clamp lightly, and hold things as long as it is light duty.
I was asked by Dadoo what my next project is, and it will be a maple workbench. At this point in the game it is the second most critical upgrade I need to make. The first being a table saw.
Right now it is looking like the Ridgid contractor saw with the cast iron top. My uncle has one and he speaks highly of it and I speak highly of him, so A = A. But I am also looking for a good used saw also, with my limited funds if I can get the same level of saw (basic, upgradeable with better fence and miter gauge) then I will be extremely happy. But good old table saws seem to be scarce, at least for a price that its worth assuming the risk of a used piece of equipment. But I’m looking!
So if you are near the UP of michigan, and have a nice saw you’d be willing to sell, heck, any tools for that matter, please let me know! I’ll keep you folks up to date on my upgrades and plans. A few future plans are my $100 assembly bench, maple workbench, 3 under-table cabinets (one of which will be sound deadened) and an outfeed table. As far as finished goods, a bookshelf, night stand and Wood Whisperer Cutting board.
So here we go folks, time to turn my 12 foot by 20 foot garage into a Woodshop!
-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI