If I had it to do all over again...

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by bubba1772 posted 03-06-2012 06:46 PM 4301 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We all do it right, we do a little research and buy something we have been needing (ok, wanting), take it home and use it for a while and figure out all kinds of stuff that you really don’t find out about in your normal research. Then you think to yourself ” if I had it to do all over again I would have…”.

I hoping some of you will share some of your “do it all over again” thoughts. I would have bought this instead of that, or would have put more enphasis on HP, etc. I am looking to upgrade pretty much every piece of my shop which is now just consisting of small and inexpensive tools that I have inheirited. I will not be going out and purchasing everything all at once and will be under pretty strict financial constraints, certainly under $1000 per piece, probably closer to $500. As of right now I have a small 10” band saw, a 4”x36”belt – 6” round sander combination, a pretty good floor type drill press and a tiny router table with a pretty terrible old router. I do not have a planer, jointer, table saw or band saw with any resaw capabilities.

So my first thought is what should I get first? I realize there are alot of “well that depends” questions. It depends on what are going to be making the most of… I like the idea of being able to buy rough stock and resaw/plane/joint it into anything I want but I am resigned to the fact that I may have to stick with premilled boards until I am outfitted properly, so I’m thinking maybe starting with an 8” jointer $500 – $600 and very inexpensive planer such as the $250 craftsman. I certainly don’t like the idea of starting with cheap tools and having to upgrade everything again in the future but starting with so little and very cost constrained I don’t know that I have much choice.

So, if you were in my shoes, knowing what you do now, what would you do? (remember that other saying ” If i would have known then what I know now…)

Ok, I’m rambling now :) Thank you in advance for any advice anyone is willing to share.

-- I work with metal for money, and wood for fun...

19 comments so far

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10526 posts in 3452 days

#1 posted 03-06-2012 06:54 PM

Some folks absolutely prefer an 8” jointer. Mine is a 6” and I get by fine. OTOH, a good planer, lunch box or floor mounted 15”+ , is a must. There are several methods for flattening stock with a planer. Several ways to do it with a router, as well.
If I were you, I’d buy a decent 6” jointer and spend the big bucks on the planer.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View schuft's profile


123 posts in 2631 days

#2 posted 03-06-2012 07:11 PM

Given my space constraints (half of a smallish 2-car garage), I thought a portable table saw would be critical, and would have enough capability for my hobbyist’s needs. While the Ridgid 4510 has been okay, turns out I haven’t needed the portability (I’ve used it regularly without moving it since before Thanksgiving), and now wish I’d spent my money on a better quality contractor or hybrid saw.

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3021 days

#3 posted 03-06-2012 07:35 PM

I would do the same thing I did. Same tools. Iam happy the way it worked .If I had ALL NEW BIG , GREATEST tools, what would I dream about getting one day ?

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2907 days

#4 posted 03-06-2012 07:42 PM

virtually all the tools I bought when I started I’ve regreted buying, eg. the bargan router, the bargan chisels, the $20 big box store hand plane, the 10” drill press, the cheap clamps, the cheap wet grinder etc. all stuff that does work but I now wish I’d bought better. But, you don’t know what you don’t know when you’re starting out, and ww is expensive…My 2 cents is wait until you have the money to get better than you think you need…I’ve bought a lot of crap tools that I’ve regreted but never bought something and brought it home and thought “hmm…this tool is too good, I better take it back…”

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View BilltheDiver's profile


255 posts in 2909 days

#5 posted 03-06-2012 09:12 PM

Over the years I’ve replaced a lot of tools. My best advice is use craigslist and Take your time. A reasonably used well made tool is better and will outlast a new cheaply made one. For me it starts with the table saw. If you replace that router and table with a good unit with a lift, you will find that you never complete a project that doesn’t make use of it. Aim to improve quality and consistency in your work and the tools you need will become apparent.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View DanW's profile


123 posts in 3066 days

#6 posted 03-06-2012 09:25 PM

I agree with Gene. I have an 8” joiner and a 15” planer. I bought the 8” because of the longer bed length not the additional width (even though the additional 2” is nice) a 6” with a long bed would have worked for me. I’ve had both a bench top planer (a Delta that served me well for 2-3 years) and a 15” floor model w 3hp motor. Skip the bench top if you plan to use your planer a lot. Rough cut lumber is real hard on the poly rollers in the bench tops (replaced mine once during the 3 years). I’m sure there are a lot of woodworkers on this site that would say buy American but, in this day and age….is there really “American”? Anyway, I have several tools from Grizzly. Each and everyone is well built and the service has been exceptional. If I buy any other large tools… will be from Grizzly. BTW my sister lives in Williamsport Pa, which is 10 minutes from Grizzly’s Muncy location. I have gotten everything I have from there and the store is a real woodworkers delight. I am a proud owner of Grizzly’s: 15” 3hp planer, 8” 3hp joiner, 14” 11/2 hp bandsaw w/6”extension block, 20” knife grinder, 2 hp dust collector, several small hand tools.

-- "Let he who does not work in wood, find something else that's half as good." (can't remember who I'm quoting)

View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2863 days

#7 posted 03-06-2012 09:32 PM

I understand where you are coming from having inherited most of my tools when I started. My only exposure to tools was what I saw Norm Abrams use, so I figured any good shop had a dedicated mortisen’ machine although I didn’t know what it was. I am at the point now where I have started to outgrow those initial tools, but have appreciated the learning curve that came with them. When I started I didn’t know the difference between a contractor or cabinet saw, or that routers can have a fixed or plunge base (or both). Now I see the value of certain aspects of each tool and why I am willing to spend a bit more to get something I want as I slowly upgrade (as budget allows). So I don’t feel as if I have wasted my time with my inferior tools because they allowed me to start instead of waiting until I could afford the ideal tool.

With that said, my table saw is the backbone of my shop. I would put that above a planer or jointer, but then I had a friend with those who let me start my projects in his garage. I am on my second saw now and have still not graduated to a cabinet saw. I started with a Craftsman with an aluminum surface and strange “tabbed” t- miter slots. I didn’t know it then, but those weird miter slots make homemade jigs and sleds difficult. I still have a craftsman saw, but it is an older version that I have tricked out with aftermarket fence and miter gauge. I’m currently happy, but look forward to the day that a 220 outlet is required in my garage.

View Ken90712's profile


17563 posts in 3212 days

#8 posted 03-06-2012 10:28 PM

I have spent a bunch of money on tools over the yrs. ( as most of us I’m sure). The one thing I have learned is wait until you have saved enough money for the tool you want and will not have to replace in a yr or two because you out grew it. I did this on my, drill press, band saw, table-saw, ect ect.

Blondie and I have come to the understanding that we will wait until I can afford to get the tool that I am alomast sure I will not out grow. ( I said almost sure LOL )

I have been lucky enough that my buddys always want to buy my tools I out grow, but 1/2 of sale is not a good deal for me per say. I’m in the process of getting ready to replace my table saw for the 3rd time. Next one will be a 3 or 5 HP no more bogging down.

Good luck.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View greg48's profile


601 posts in 2781 days

#9 posted 03-06-2012 11:29 PM

I’ve been able to get by with cheap Taiwanese knock offs, and have regretted it to this day. Save up and get the up-grade. Remember that fit and finish is usually a good indication of quality. Stay away from cast pot metal.

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3388 days

#10 posted 03-07-2012 12:48 AM

I would get a decent tablesaw with a good fence. Don’t waste money on a tabletop or contractor saw if you can avoid it. Once you have the saw, you can dado, make tenons, joint boards, resaw, etc. The next item would be a good router kit (plunge and fixed base). With the router (and a shop made router table) now you have a way to make mortises, dado, joint boards, make raised panels, etc. The planer would come next because you can thichness a board and joint the edges also. And get a good tablesaw blade (combination blade) or a good rip and crosscut blade.

View Andy Panko's profile

Andy Panko

88 posts in 2346 days

#11 posted 03-07-2012 01:23 AM

A table saw is a must. At least for me, the table saw is the heart of my shop. I’ve been woodworking and building out my tool collection for the last 10 years. Honestly, I just finally bought a planer a few months ago. I got by fine without it. Like you said, you can get buy with pre-milled stuff at the big box stores. Both Home Depot and Lowes have good pine, oak and poplar selections, and Lowes has a respectable maple selection, too. I don’t know if other regions of the country have different selections, but at least near me (in the Northeast), I found those selections sufficient. I want to start getting into using other woods (walnut, cherry, mahogany, etc), which will require me doing the milling, so I decided it was time to get a planer.

Anyway, as for the tablesaw, I would get the biggest, most powerful, best quality saw that fits into your budget. If you have the ability to sacrifice budget from elsewhere, it is worth it to put it into a table saw. Then build a large outfeed table for it. Combined, the table saw top and the outfeed table makes an awesome assembly table. This is what I did, and it is literally and figuratively the center of my shop.

-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ,

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2329 days

#12 posted 03-07-2012 02:41 AM

Same as Rob, all the bargain tools I bought in the beginning turned out o be a big waste of money. I now wait until I can afford th good ones, about 10 years ago, I made statement that I haven’t gone back on which is, “I am no longer buying the decent unit with half the features, it’s either all or nothing”. I have never regretted that since I said it, and when I pick up a tool review or comparison chart, it’s nice to see 9 times out of 10 the tool I got was rated number one. Unfortunately any screw ups I can no longer blame my tools.;-D

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2859 days

#13 posted 03-07-2012 04:37 AM

The only thing I wouldn’t have bought was the planer. I’ve got the dewalt 734 and knowing what I know now I’d have gone for a 15” or bigger floor standing model. The small units are nice but when you start dealing with a lot of rough cut lumber they are a definite time waster. Good for small stuff and getting pre finished pieces down to your exact dimension but not wide enough and just not strong enough.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2863 days

#14 posted 03-07-2012 05:06 AM

You all make valid points about feeling like you wasted money and time with bargain tools, however you still started with the bargain tools and had something to actually start using. It is easy to say “wait and save until you can afford what you want” while you have a bargain tool in the shop that you can use in the meantime. It is my opinion that something is better than nothing.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3125 days

#15 posted 03-07-2012 07:17 AM

The only tools I have regretted buying are the inexpensive small power tools. Such as drills, jig saws etc. Usually because they were under powered or inaccurate. In those cases, I feel I screwed myself. I agree with Aaron above. If you want to play, you have to pay (what you can).....................

-- mike...............

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

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