First Shop #4: Plans for the New Year! (Purchase Plan)

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by YooperCasey posted 12-29-2007 02:25 AM 1252 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Christmas and new tools Part 4 of First Shop series Part 5: Bench, Chisels and First Project »

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

5 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3952 days

#1 posted 12-29-2007 02:37 AM

Well, I would say that you have picked the 4 most useful pieces to buy.
Everyone has their personal favorites and will tell you what they use and that they
are either happy with it or not. The choice is really up to you alone.

You are right about not getting a cheap band saw. They are nothing but trouble.
A good 14” is what you need to start with.

The jointer you are looking at I would not recommend unless you only plan on jointing
boards around 3 feet long. That bed length is too short for any serious lumber.
I know, I had a small one. A floor stand model is best to start out with. Delta, Jet, Grizzly…
all basically do the same thing.

Table saw? Up to you. They all basically do the same thing, some just do a better job of it.
Planer? Same thing.


-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4063 days

#2 posted 12-29-2007 04:26 AM

As a contractor working in the field I have had a great opportunity to use a good variety of tablesaws. I have used the portable saws by DeWalt, Ridgid, Bosch, PorterCable, Craftsman, and Delta (a true piece of crap). My two favorites are the Ridgid and the DeWalt, and I own the latter.

I have used various contractor saws and used to own the Jet with stamped steel wings. It was a great saw and was incredibly smooth. The Ridgid that you mention is one that impresses me for I used it on a job. The client had it in his basement shop and he was eager to show it to me. He let me use it instead of my DeWalt jobsite saw and I loved it. Most name brand saws in this category are on par with eachother.

This is the blunt truth: the portable saws cost as much as the contractor saws and do not produce the same amount of power, regardless of ratings, because they use a universal motor instead of an induction motor. They are not as accurate or smooth and are incapable of being so.

I understand your space dilemma but one option is to take the contractor saw and build it into a mobile table that has a router table on the side and storage underneath to hold other tools and accessories. I firmly believe that the contractor saw is the best saw class for the money. You get great performance and accuracy for the money. It will last way longer than the portable units. I know many guys have the portables but I stand firm in my opinion.

Don’t throw your money away on a table top jointer. Get a six inch with the longest bed you can find. Grizzly puts out a reasonably priced one. Yeah I know-back to the space issue, but a 6” jointer with a shorter bed isn’t going to save you that much space.

You can forgo the bandsaw and live with a jigsaw for a while. Get a good one like the Bosch or DeWalt. I own the Hitachi and DeWalt and they are both good machines and very accurate with a good blade. I love the Bosch jigsaw blades.

The lathe and scrollsaw are project specific tools. If you are going to do that type of work then that is what you need to buy. If you look at my work, take note that it does not require a scrollsaw or lathe. I do not own either.

The lunchbox planer is indispensable in my opinion. I have a 15” Jet planer and I use the DeWalt much more often, even in the shop. It produces a beautiful cut. I don’t personally think much of Ryobi tools, they just don’t hold up from what I have seen. (Please note this is a contractor daily use point of view.) I have owned my 12” DeWalt for 9 years, it is a workhorse and it is still accurate. It has a lot of miles on it and has had the brushes replace twice. It is used but not abused and I love it.

I do not believe that any single tool manufacturer makes the best of everything, my tools do not have to be color coordinated or all the same brand. I do believe in the brand names, they cost a bit more and they really hold up for the long haul. Repurchasing tools does not help the bottom line nor does continually repairing them. However, my tools are worth repairing because they are quality tools.

You can resolve your space issue and build your skills by constructing the mobile work tables with storage. These are the best projects to gain an understanding of basic woodworking fundamentals. Good planning and discipline in the given square footage will produce an efficient and flexible workspace.

Plan and buy your tools once. This will save you money and frustration. If money is tight, you can’t justify buying something that you know will not perform sufficiently and that you are already planning to replace. If I was a hobbyist I would still be able to use my old Jet contractor saw and it would be performing well without a doubt.

You really did open a can of worms on this one.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View YooperCasey's profile


58 posts in 3797 days

#3 posted 12-29-2007 05:14 PM

Thank you very much for the replies gentleman. I had’nt thought about the bed length on the jointer, I’ll have to scope that out again. I’ll be revisiting my table saw choice again Todd, if I could combine a router table into the table saw and have the added feed space…

The one good thing about opening a can of worms is that fish like worms, and maybe I’ll get a trophy! And at least I’ll get some good fish tales!

Thanks again folks!

-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4063 days

#4 posted 12-29-2007 05:44 PM

I am sure that you can score a trophy out of this.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View monkeyboy's profile


6 posts in 3894 days

#5 posted 12-30-2007 06:31 PM

I think the rigid is a good choice in tablesaws. I just bought the Jet conctractor saw that was on sale at Rockler. It’s a good saw, but after cutting on it and my brother’s Rigid, I like my brother’s more. It has a better fence, is sturdier, heavier, and better mobility. I just read in Fine Woodworking that the Dewalt 735 bench planer receives very high marks.

-- Concrete monkey

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics