Seeking Advice on Tool Choice

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Blog entry by airfieldman posted 09-07-2011 09:23 PM 1607 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

OK gang, I’ve been out for a while…but I’m back, and I need some advice. I’ve got a small sum of money to spend on upgrading my shop and can’t decide what to buy (oh the delemas…right?). If you had to chose 2 from the following, what would you buy:

Drill press
Compound Miter Saw

Thanks for your help
Tacoma, WA
(I always wanted a cool saying down here, so I chose this)

-- Measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, cut it with a chainsaw.

22 comments so far

View sgtq's profile


370 posts in 2514 days

#1 posted 09-07-2011 09:40 PM

drill press and than google drill press and read the article about all the cool stuff you can do with one its like buying a bunch of tools in one. Or the bandsaw because its pretty versatile too, and opens up alot of projects.

-- There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. ~William J. Clinton

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 2924 days

#2 posted 09-07-2011 10:30 PM

I think that is a hard question to answer, it all depends on the type of work you are going to do. If you are going to building cabinets etc. You want to have square stock and flat stock so the jointer will be important. I buy rough stock from my lumber source that needs to be jointed as well as planed. In that respect, a planer is very important to size stock thickness. As previously stated, you can not settle on one machine unless you decide what machining you will need to do. If you are just looking to buy a machine then the drill press which can be used on multiple operations is a good pick both for wood and metal.

Good luck on your decision and I am hopeful you will get many recommendations.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View pintodeluxe's profile


5466 posts in 2651 days

#3 posted 09-07-2011 10:37 PM

For sure the planer and jointer, it that order. Assuming you already own a decent tablesaw and a good router. Chopsaws are great, however you can crosscut on a tablesaw. I love bandsaws, however a jigsaw will do everything but resaw. Drill presses are handy, but I don’t use mine as much as I thought I would. I tend to use the mortiser more.
I had an epiphany when I got my planer. Now I could buy hit-and-miss planed lumber. With the jointer I can buy rough lumber at $1.75-3.00 per b.f., compared to the $5.50-11.00 per b.f. I was paying before. Plus, the lumber is straight and square which makes joinery such a pleasure. You just can’t go into a lumber yard and find a whole project worth of straight, square lumber. You have to make it that way.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6865 posts in 2436 days

#4 posted 09-07-2011 11:01 PM

Planer and joiner, nothing like straight lumber. It will make getting better results easier. Drill press and miter saw would be last, based on your list.

View ChuckC's profile


824 posts in 2773 days

#5 posted 09-07-2011 11:10 PM

I agree with a planer and jointer. Compared to my other tools I hardly use my drill press.

View jumbojack's profile


1673 posts in 2462 days

#6 posted 09-07-2011 11:14 PM

Jointer and planer would be my choice given the list.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Dwain's profile


478 posts in 3697 days

#7 posted 09-08-2011 12:49 AM

I agree with most of the comments above, jointer and planer. Think if it this way, you can use your cordless drill to get the holes you need and do a better job of it than if you tried to plane a board with a hand power planer or a hand plane. Same with jointing. I think a drill press is a world of improvment over a hand held drill, but for the time being, you can get by. Besides, you can buy a used bench top drill press for under $100.00 pretty easily.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2400 days

#8 posted 09-08-2011 12:59 AM

Yes….one of those would be good. For overall general woodworking I say drill press and bandsaw (probably in that order). While a hand drill can be used for much the repeatability, depth control, spindle sanding etc makes the drill press much more than a hand drill. While a BS functions can be “done” by a jigsaw the smoothness and ease a BS works (let alone resawing) car exceeds a jigsaw. The function of a joiner, while great, I have found more readily replicated – you can buy 4S4 (okay more $$ but can be done), I’ve joined the narrow edge using a router table as well as my TS as well as a hand plane. Planing is probably the one function difficult to “make do” with other than a hand plane.
All the tools you list are very useful, but having had to build my woodworking tool selection on a budget I’ve tended to look at multiple functionality as I’ve expanded. I.e. I long lived with my hand drill and it’s limitations until I could afford my drillpress. Now that I have my DP I don’t know how I managed without it. This has held true with all my tool additions.
In the end the suggestion that you assess what kind of work you will do is the first step.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Don W's profile

Don W

18523 posts in 2405 days

#9 posted 09-08-2011 01:43 AM

Drill press yes
Bandsaw could be done with a bow saw. You could make one if you needed to
Planer yes
Jointer could be done with a hand plane.
Compound Miter Saw i don’t use mine much anymore.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MoshupTrail's profile


302 posts in 2318 days

#10 posted 09-08-2011 02:00 AM

I’m going to weigh in favoring the jointer and the planer.

BUT – if you’re going to use a lot of rough cut wood, a band saw is a surprisingly good and SAFE way to rip long unfinished boards. Yes, rip! So when I bring in a board from the stack (all air dried) the first place it usually goes is the chop saw – to cut it to length, but the second place it goes is the band saw – where I cut it to width. Then it goes to the jointer and lastly to the planer. Ripping unfinished boards on a table saw is possible, but dangerous.

I think good jointing is really hard to do with a plane. Maybe I just have a crappy plane. I probably don’t have the skills – so I really like having a jointer. Likewise for the planer.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View freidasdad's profile


144 posts in 2825 days

#11 posted 09-08-2011 02:20 AM

I have to go with jointer/planner group. Except for some lathe work, almost every project starts with square flat lumber. Unless you have the skill to do this with hand tools the jointer and planners are must haves for this.

-- My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am---author unknown

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 2896 days

#12 posted 09-08-2011 03:08 AM

For my money, the drill press and band saw are by far the most versatile items that will see use on almost every project. Jointer planer are used a lot, but I managed to get along for a while without either of them. I have jointed edges of boards using my table saw and also with a hand plane. However, I know no better way to drill straight, square holes with a drill press and there are also numerous other jobs that can be done on a drill press. Don’t waste time with a benchtop model. Go ahead and get a full size tool. It is so much more versatile than the bench top models. The band saw is also a highly versatile tool. You can resaw boards to make thin stock. You can rip boards, cut joinery, cross cut. If I were going to outfit my shop again, I would even consider not having a table saw and opt for a band saw.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 2745 days

#13 posted 09-08-2011 03:13 AM

Get a jointer/planner combo machine then the band saw.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View 8iowa's profile (online now)


1566 posts in 3599 days

#14 posted 09-08-2011 03:13 AM

You didn’t mention it on your list, but if you don’t have a nice workbench with shoulder and tail vice, this “tool” should be considered. Every project that I do finds it’s way to this indespensible workbench.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Roger's profile


20874 posts in 2642 days

#15 posted 09-08-2011 02:44 PM

Jointer, Planer hands down

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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