If you are a beginning wooodworker, it can be tricky to know where to start and what to get. Obviously the biggest thing starts with tools. I think everyone already thinks there is an endless supply of money. Go to any woodworking forum and ask what tablesaw you should get with $300. People will completely bypass your budget and say spend the money on a $600-$1000 tablesaw. What if wanted to purchase a jointer? Everyone will tell you to purchase an 8″ jointer. But what if you only have $300 to spend? This almost instantly makes it near impossible to get an 8″ jointer.
So with the limited budget of a beginner in mind, I thought I would compile a list of tools to get the beginning woodworker.
Ryobi BT3100 Table saw $300
Random Orbital Sander $ 70
Workbench with Vise $150
Measuring Tape $10
12 Inch Square $30
Electric Drill $50
Router Bits Kit $100
Shop Vac $70
I owned the Ryobi BT3100 and thought for the money it was a great saw. It will not cut 2″ or 3″ hardwood all day but it has a decent fence, a sliding miter table, and comes with a decent blade to get you started.
At this price point you cannot dimension your own lumber which will cost you more when you purchase your wood but you should be able to build the majority of items you see plans for.
Upgrade #1 – Bandsaw
If there is anything I would get next it would be a bandsaw. I use my bandsaw as much as any other tool in my arsenal. A 14″ bandsaw with at least a 3/4 hp motor would be the minimum. If you can afford a riser block, get it. For me, resawing was the biggest reason to get a bandsaw but it can do so much more.
Upgrade #2 – Jointer/Planer
Starting with the bandsaw and moving to the Jointer and Planer, I say start to save up your money to get “the good stuff”. I bought the Ryobi 9″ Bandsaw, a 6″ Benchtop Jointer, and a low end Delta planer. I hated them all. The Ryobi Bandsaw was just too small to do any of the tasks I needed it to do. The Delta TP-305 Planer was a snipe monster. I have a Mastercraft 6″ Jointer which barely does the job. I have since replaced the bandsaw and the planer with equipment that does what I need it to. If I had the money, I would replace the jointer as well.
If you have already spent the $1000 and decided that woodworking was for you, it now starts to make sense to get good equipment that you won’t outgrow immediately and will last as long as you stay with your craft.
This all said, I would get a good jointer and a planer at this point. These tools in combination with the bandsaw allow you dimension rough lumber for your projects. This can save you a ton of money as well as expanding the limits of the 3/4ish material you find at your local building center.
Upgrade #3 – Jigs
There are a lot of contenders here.
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
The first jig I purchased was a Kreg pocket hole jig. If you are new to
woodworking, you are going to want to start building something quickly but with a sense of quality. The Kreg jig will let you do this. This jig lets you create a strong joint without a lot of clamps. They are very easy to master and do not require the type of precision that dovetails, mortise and tenons, or the rest of the assorted joints require. I can do a lot more now and so I don’t rely on the pocket hole as much as I first did. That said, there is rarely a project that I don’t use this jig on.
Dowelmax is a dowel jig. I consider this a step up from the Kreg Jig. It does require a certain amount of precision but it doesn’t leave holes in your project like pocket holes. It costs about twice as much as a full Kreg kit but it can improve the overall build quality of the projects you produce without that much more complexity.
I have started to use biscuits a lot lately. They are another joinery method which is easy to use. The biggest negative to using them is the requirement for clamps. However, if you are going to be in woodworking you’re going to need clamps sometime. Typically anything that will get butt jointed has the potential to use biscuits.
After this, you’ll begin to figure out what you need based on the type of projects you enjoy making. If you’re a cabinet maker, maybe you need a dovetail or dado jig. I didn’t mention how useful a router table can be. And there is something incredibly satisfying about using a hand plane to create “shavings”.
PS – I actually wrote this while on vacation in Mazatlan this past March. I believe that Ryobi has since discontinued the BT3100. You can find them used fairly easily but next on the list would be the Ridgid TS3650 10″ Table Saw. This will add a bit more to the overall budget but I think it’s a good saw for the money if not a machine with a lot of power.
-- www.craftedbytim.com - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & www.craftedbytim.com - I make. You buy.