A new year is almost upon us and I’m going to tell you folks about my tool purchase plans for this year and see if I can get some good advice. Also, as a chance to pat myself on the back, today is my one year anniversary of quitting smoking! If I would have saved what I spent for cigarettes if I would have smoked, I would have $3650 to purchase a woodshop with. Then it’d be all Festool and Gold!
The first task I had was deciding what major tools I would want. I’ve managed to get it down to a Table Saw, Band Saw, Jointer and Planer. Possibly adding to this a small benchtop lathe and a scrollsaw. I’ll cover each one, give you my thoughts, and see what you folks think.
The most major tool that most folks have in the shop… The Table Saw.
This has been my most difficult decision. I have swung between many extremes on this piece of equipment. I’ve scoured the advice, read more “First Tablesaw” threads on every forum, and have quite possibly learned that this is the most dangerous question to ask a group of woodworkers. The advice I always saw was, save and only buy the best cabinet saw, save and buy a used cabinet saw, or buy the best contractors saw you could. To limit the first two, I don’t have the space for a cabinet saw, and in my neck of the woods the odds of finding a good used cabinet saw is slim to none. So thats leaves number three.
To remind folks on my criteria… Cost, Space, Function. While I would love a Sawstop Cabinet Saw, I do not have the cash, space or need for such a fine piece of equipment. It is quite simply the Lamborghini, Stradivarius or Mona Lisa of table saws.
My logic has led me to either a Contractors Saw, or a Portable Table Saw. The first I had in mind was the Ridgid Cast Iron Top Contractor saw. The price is $550 at the big box store. I liked the fact that it is stout, comes with a mobile base, and is cast iron. On the downside it is still big, and even if I can move it my space is limited. The other option is the Bosch 4100. This little guy has a riving knife, one feature I really like the sounds of, can collapse down, appears to be quite portable and has the ability to add some factory upgrades. These being some zero clearance inserts, outfeed and side support tables and a digital rip gauge. The price is about $599 for the basic saw with a gravity lift base.
Today I drove and attempted to get a good look at a 4100 and the Ridgid saw. Unfortunately all I found was the older 4000 series but I did get an excellent look at the Ridgid contractor saw. If the newer 4100 series is equal to, or better then the 4000 it is indeed a nice saw. This is not to cut down the Ridgid saw at all, but once I laid hands on the collapsible unit I realized it is the saw for my space.
So one of my first purchases will be a Bosch 4100-09 If in the future I think I need, or want any of the add-ons I can get them, or make some of my own.
On the topic of band saws I am a bit more up in the air. I want something beyond a simple table top unit. So I’m thinking a 14” bandsaw is probably in my future. On this I have been eyeing up the Grizzly 14 . I’ll probably add a resaw fence and keep some portable outfeed tables on hand for large stock.
Grizzly also has my eye on a jointer as well, in this case the 6X24 Bench Top Jointer. I would love to have something with a larger capacity but for my space and budget it isn’t in the works. This unit runs approximately $250 with freight.
For the planer I think I’ll go with the Ryobi lunch box planer. It is a no frills, no bells or whistles piece of equipment. It gets mixed reviews around the net, but for the most part it seems you can’t go wrong for the price. I may forego this piece of equipment for the immediate future and use a friends or a family members. I’m still up in the air on this. How much use time to you folks get out of the planer and would you consider it absolutely essential?
So there it is for now! Next entry I’ll try to talk about my first project, and my method of design. (Sketchup)
Thanks folks and I truly appreciate your input. Oh, have a Happy and safe New Years.
-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI