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Build a woodshop under $3000

by Rob
posted 12-01-2012 09:14 PM

48 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1130 posts in 1162 days

#1 posted 12-01-2012 09:28 PM

Hmm. A shop under that budget will certainly never be capable of every task under the sun.

So allow me to ask three questions.

1. What manner of projects do you have planned?

2. What skills pertaining to the woodshop do you currently have?

3. How much time do you intend to invest into this hobby?

Knowing the answers to those will help people offer advice tailored to your situation.

-- See my work at and

View knotscott's profile


5996 posts in 2221 days

#2 posted 12-01-2012 09:56 PM

What to get really needs to be taylored to your needs and habits, and what types of things you’ll build. I’d suggest a good book as a reference….the New Woodworker Handbook, by Tom Hintz is excellent (< $20).

If you’re looking to setup a shop equipped mainly with stationary power tools, I’d focus the bulk of your budget on the primary big tools. It’s easier to come up with $10 for a couple of clamps as an impulse purchase, than it is $1000 for a good table saw (TS). Most shops feature the TS, and that’s where I’d focus the bulk of my research and budget, unless you’ll primarily be using a band saw (BS). The biggies for me would be a good full size stationary table saw, planer, jointer, router and router table, and maybe a modest DC (like the HF unit for $150). With those main tools, you can build just alot using dimensional lumber or sheetgoods. A BS and DP are nice, but can be added down the road…in the meantime, a modest jigsaw and handheld power drill worked fine for early on. You’ll want a reasonable work surface, whether it’s a nice bench, or an old door. I’d add a good tape measure, squares, a chisel or two, sandpaper, and some basic clamps, then would add more clamps, block plane, and other extras as you go. (Ask family members for gift cards to Rockler, Woodcraft, Amazon, Lowes, HD, etc….). $3k is doable if you’re selective….the used market can be your friend if the right deals come along.

If you’ve got 220v, and want to get a seriously good TS, the Grizzly G1023RL is about the best bang for the buck in a 3hp industrial style cabinet saw…$1195/$1294 shipped. It’s not a necessity to have that much saw, but it’s close in price to many lesser saws, and is about all you’d ever need. If that’s more than you can stomach, and/or don’t have 220v, you’re limited to a TS that’ll run on a standard residential 110v outlet….again I’d look to a full size stationary saw. The typical contenders are the entry level price ranges are the Ridgid R4512, nearly identical Craftsman 21833, Steel City 35990, Porter Cable PCB270TS….all under $600. The next step up would include the Grizzly G0661, G0715P, Craftsman 22116 (by Steel City/Orion), Jet Proshop, General International, Rikon 10-201, and Powermatic offerings. These saws all have the potential to perform well…the end performance is largely dependent on how well you set them up, and what blade you choose.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#3 posted 12-01-2012 09:59 PM

1. Let’s suppose I want to build simple furniture for now, like tables, benches, shelves, etc. Nothing too fancy or exotic right now, but maybe that would come later on, in a couple years or so.
2. Just the basics—I’ve used a compound miter saw, circular saw, jigsaw, band saw, router, table saw, drill, finishing sander, belt sander, Dremel, oscillating multi-tool, bar clamps, and a Shop-Vac. I haven’t used a planer, jointer, or lathe. I’ve never owned a table saw but have used a circular saw or improvised with a router for a few long cuts.
3. Let’s say 4-6 hours a week, though it would probably be more if it’s set up such that everything is easy to keep organized and easy to clean up.

View a1Jim's profile


113160 posts in 2422 days

#4 posted 12-01-2012 10:04 PM

Wow that’s a lot of assuming and supposing :) no shop right? no tools right? a place to work and tools for under 3K right? . This ones easy buy a pocket knife, set in your living room and whittle . So far you have $20 spent for a pocket knife. You might need another $200 for a decent vacuum to clean up all the shavings you made in your living room.
Wow you now have $2780 for wood. :))

-- Custom furniture

View a1Jim's profile


113160 posts in 2422 days

#5 posted 12-01-2012 10:07 PM

Oh sorry I didn’t know you were serious.

-- Custom furniture

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#6 posted 12-01-2012 10:18 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, knotscott. I’ve resisted getting a table saw thus far, but I’ve come close a couple times. I don’t have 220v, but have considered adding it.

a1Jim, if I had all the time in the world, honing my whittling skills would at least be a practical way to spend it in case I ever get stranded on a remote forest island! :)

If it helps, I can also list the tools that I actually do have, and if you want, you can work some or all of these into the budget by based on the amount I paid…I was just curious whether any of my existing tools would show up in anyone’s budget woodshop recommendations.

  • Bosch 18v Li-ion cordless drill $100
  • Dremel $80
  • Porter Cable 3hp oscillating multi-tool $70
  • Skil circular saw $40
  • 2.25hp router with fixed & plunge bases $160
  • Goggles, earplugs, respirators, etc. $30
  • 6hp Shop-Vac $100
  • 2hp (?) mini Shop-Vac $30
  • Pair of sawhorses $10
  • Kobalt 10-in. compound sliding miter saw $180
  • Skil orbital jigsaw $45
  • Skil benchtop drill press $100
  • Assorted router bits $100
  • Assorted drill bits $50

If I did the math right, that’s a

Sadly, that’s most of my power tools and shop accessories, but it’s a growing collection. Compared to all the money I’ve wasted on small electronics and computer junk in the past, I’d say this has been, and will continue to be, a much better investment. I just wish I had come to that realization back in college, when I was probably spending $500-$1000+ a year upgrading my computer.

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#7 posted 12-01-2012 10:48 PM

I figure everyone here had to start somewhere, and it seems hard to imagine that everyone just set aside $10-20k and outfitted their entire shop all at once (then again, as far as I know, that might still be a meager budget). I thought $1000 seemed unrealistic but thought $3000 might be a bit more realistic.

For those who think a $3000 budget is too restrictive, what major items or important features would I have to sacrifice in order to keep it that low, and how much would I need to add for each of those items?

View knotscott's profile


5996 posts in 2221 days

#8 posted 12-01-2012 10:51 PM

You won’t be able to get top shelf at $3k, and you won’t be able to get everything, but you can get a decent shop going if you do the research and buy the better values….don’t confuse value and cheap. Decide what main tools you want first, and focus on those. Getting a good start is definitely doable at your budget.

I’ll reiterate the value of a good book to help you understand what you’re doing, whether this one, or some other.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


11051 posts in 1464 days

#9 posted 12-01-2012 10:55 PM

Is working with primarily hand tools an option you’ve considered?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View a1Jim's profile


113160 posts in 2422 days

#10 posted 12-01-2012 11:15 PM

Ok Rob let me try again .I would suggest you sign up for a community collage woodworking class or a woodworking coop where you can use the tools you will need to build the kind of items you have in mind. You say you have used the tools you listed but that could mean only used them once or twice. If you have minimal experience with tools and woodworking that might be another reason to take a class assuming there is one available . Do you have a space you can use as a shop ,a garage,carport etc? As far as tools and equipment are concerned I think Knotscott covered it very well. I know your supposed’s said you couldn’t find tools on Craigslist or garage sales but those might be the place you can make an offer on a shop full of tools in the price range you trying to stay in possibly with some materials and other extras. It might even work to put a wanted wood shop full of tools in the tools section of your local Craigslist.

-- Custom furniture

View JAAune's profile


1130 posts in 1162 days

#11 posted 12-01-2012 11:18 PM

Three thousand is actually a decent starting budget. I only had around $700 for my tool collection when I began. Mostly it’s just important to understand that a fully equipped workshop capable of performing every possible task efficiently would probably cost ten times that much so it’s important to know exactly what is needed and what isn’t.

I’ll assemble a recommended list later tonight that should provide the tools needed for building simple furniture.

-- See my work at and

View jap's profile


1243 posts in 899 days

#12 posted 12-01-2012 11:30 PM

I would skip the dremel you had on your list

-- Joel

View Swyftfeet's profile


169 posts in 1017 days

#13 posted 12-01-2012 11:31 PM

Leaving out craigslist and buyin new is your biggest hurdle. Your only doing this 5-6 hours a week so it’s not income, it’s a hobby. You have three options:
1. stick to Craigslist and wait for the opportunities to show up. You could have a sick shop of solid iron if you take your time
2. Minimally equipped shop of high end stuff.
3. Well equipped mishmash of low budget stuff that you’ll kick yourself for purchasing later down the road(my opinion)

-- Brian

View MrUnix's profile


1310 posts in 1044 days

#14 posted 12-01-2012 11:35 PM

Assume that there aren’t any decent tools on craigslist or at garage sales

I wouldn’t give up on Craigslist or garage sales.. For around $1K or less, you can pretty easily find the four big ticket items (TS, BS, Jointer and Planer) and have the extra $2K to spend on accessories, material, DC, other goodies, etc. The key is patience and persistence, and if applied correctly, you can have a fantastic setup for very little compared to purchasing new. If you are setting up a business, you don’t usually have the time to scour for good deals, but for a personal shop, there is no pressing need other than that itch to get something done.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View crank49's profile


3707 posts in 1816 days

#15 posted 12-02-2012 12:04 AM

300 Porter Cable PCB-220 ts
200 Rikon 10-305 band saw
150 HF bnch top16 spd 12” drill press
60 HF 1/2” slow speed HD corded drill
180 Ridgid 18v Drl/Drvr set
100 Mikita or Dewalt Cir saw
100 Bosch or Dewalt Jig saw
70 Ridgid 5” ROS
200 Rigd OSBS
30 saw horses
150 clamps, 6” C, 12 & 24” F, 4 sets pipe
40 hammers
180 tape, squar, rule, compas, dividr, levl, spd sq,
100 Skil router w/bases
200 routr tabl matls
160 drl bits, brad point & forstner, routr bits
350 wrk bnch matls
30 chisels, couple good ones
100 Woodriver low angle block plane
50 Stanley hand saw, coping saw, rasp
50 matls for saw guide, saw horse top
100 20 gal shop vac

I know this is not a cast iron cabinet saw shop and the 10” band saw is not going to be resawing veneer, but this is covers most of the capabilities and hangs with your $3000 limit.

I have purchased and used most everything on this list and it all works very well. Most of the most critical tools are top rated brands and models.

If I had an extra $1000 to work with I would swap the table saw and band saw for better, but I would want to have the ones here also. I really like my 10” band saw for instance. But I want to have a 16” some day in addition, not in place of.

-- Michael :-{| Don't anthropomorphise your tools, they hate it when you do that.

View pmayer's profile


651 posts in 1910 days

#16 posted 12-02-2012 12:09 AM

I agree that $3k is a great startup budget. I am surprised by some of the comments that you will struggle with that. I bet I was five years into woodworking before I had $3k sunk into it, and by that point I had furnished half our home.

I would shop on CL and allocate roughly as follows:

- table saw: $600. I’d get a used contractor saw, and you should be able to get all of your money back out of it if you upgrade later
- 14” band saw with good blade: $400
- 2 HP dust collector and some hose: $300 (Harbor Freight)
- 2 HP router and table $400
- Random Orbital Sander $50
- router bit set $50
- 6” jointer $400
- portable planer $200
- biscuit joiner (yes, a controversial choice) $100
- clamps $200
- glue, sandpaper, etc. $100

That leaves $200 for materials for your first project. If you need more for materials, hold off on buying the router table and build one into the wing of your table saw to save some dough.

-- PaulMayer,

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 1530 days

#17 posted 12-02-2012 12:33 AM

so I guess you have structure otherwise you are already underwater. and I assume you have proper power otherwise the answer changes.

don’t “poo-poo” the old 12/14v cordless drills…I built a house with a pair of them (one each Bosch and Dewalt), put them both through hell and they still run great…drill w/2 batt and charger $100 or less???

get a good table saw…I would opt for a belt-drive unit. then a decent miter saw (Dewalt 12” non-slider is what I use but a 10” unit will work for 90% of your work and the blades are A LOT cheaper).

so you are probably up to about $1,000 or less at this point. Roller stands at maybe $25 each for 2. Then clamps…the Irwin “quicks” sell at big box stores for a pack of 4 for $20 or so. Get 2 packs.

Pony 3/4” pipe clamps are around $15 each and a length of black pipe is probably $6 (cut it in half and you’ll get 2 5 foot clamps). Get 4 clamps to start.

Without bothering with nickles and dimes, let’s say we are at about $1,500.

Now get a router…the PC 690 series was the “caddy” for decades…the “combo” kit (694 I think) might set you back $200…a set of carbide router bits (1/2” only IMHO) maybe $150 (not the best but ignore the “elite” here and realize half of the bits you will never use but that price for 24 will still be cheaper than the cost of the 6 you will use).

Air compressor and nail guns…the PC/Dewalt/Bostich are all the same I think. You are probably at around

Use the rest to build a bench or 2.

View BentheViking's profile


1757 posts in 1409 days

#18 posted 12-02-2012 12:38 AM

What a great topic. Is this a real hunt for suggestions or a hypothetical? I am surprised about how few people mentioned benches. Im going to think about this tonight and reply with my list a bit later.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Loren's profile


7967 posts in 2493 days

#19 posted 12-02-2012 12:44 AM

Band saw, planer, corded drill and hand tools. That’s enough
to build furniture with. Clamping can be improvised with
rope and wedges if need be.

If you want to work with sheet goods, they are hard
on the band saw blades, so a circular saw with a carbide
blade is good for that. A rail guide system like
Eurekazone’s allows for reasonably straight and
square cuts in panels for about $250 plus the price
of the circular saw.


View BentheViking's profile


1757 posts in 1409 days

#20 posted 12-02-2012 02:27 AM

Gotta admit I thought this would be easy, but that $3000 goes quick. Since a number of the tools are ones that I actually have, it made me take a gulp when I realize how much more I’ve spent on tools the last few years than I thought I had.

Jet Jointer/Planer Combo—$400
Craftsman 10” SCMS $200
PorterCable PCB220TS—$300
HF 2HP Dust Collector—$150
Jig Saw—$70
Circular Saw—$70
2 Gallon Air Compressor w/ Accessory Kit, Brad Nailer, Hose—$100
Router, Table, Bit—$500
Bosch 12v 3/8” Drill and Impact Driver Combo—$130
Kreg K4MS—$140
Narex Bevel Edge Chisels—$120
Drill Bits and Screw Tips—$50
Pair of Stanley Saw Horses—$50
Lumber and other stuff to to build a bench (vice, dogs, etc)—$
That leaves a few hundred for various hand tools

I have to say two things that did not factor in my assessment—Tax and coupons. Sales tax in CT is 6.35% but I wouldn’t buy very much without coupons either from Lowes or HF. Those are at least 10 or 20% off so I figure I’ve got a few hundred additional dollars to add things I forgot or didn’t think I’d have money to buy (basic hand plane, bench cookies) etc.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#21 posted 12-02-2012 02:42 AM

To clarify the “no Craigslist” exclusion: I have tried to buy a few tools on Craigslist, but I haven’t been quick enough and someone has always beaten me to them. I also wanted to exclude it as a primary source of equipment because I know some of you have had some extraordinarily good finds that I probably wouldn’t be able to duplicate. I know if I wait long enough, I might be able to stretch my budget quite a bit more, but there’s a tradeoff between being getting the right tools to work more efficiently now, vs. the uncertainty in waiting an indeterminate amount of time (maybe another year or more) and lucking out by snagging a nice cabinet saw for $100 on Craigslist.

Smitty_Cabinetshop, a while back I did consider the possibility of focusing more on hand tools but I sort of decided (maybe incorrectly) that it would take a lot more skill and time to build the same things with hand tools. At least, the few things I’ve made with power tools seem like they would have been a lot sloppier and would have taken me quite a bit longer to build if I had used hand tools. I’ve also looked back in hindsight after getting a new tool (like my miter saw) and thought, “Wow, I wish I had bought that a lot sooner.”

a1Jim, thanks for the tip. I did take shop class in high school, but I’m sure that wasn’t anywhere near the level of what a community college would teach. I’ll have to ponder that option some more.

JAAune and BentheViking, thanks for the encouragement; looking forward to seeing your lists! I wanted to pose it as a hypothetical question so it might be more helpful for other aspiring woodworkers. I also wondered whether the few tools I do already have would show up in anyone’s list.

jap, to clarify, that’s just on of the tools I already have…I figured it and having 2 sizes of Shop-Vacs probably wouldn’t make anyone’s list of must-have tools, but decided to include them anyway in case someone had a creative use for them.

teejk, I’ve always been disappointed with NiCad drills, but the ones you have are probably a lot better than the ones I’ve ever used (which currently sell for around $50 or less). I always attributed it to the type of battery, but maybe the quality of the manufacturing and the charger technology (or lack thereof) account for the poor performance of the ones I’ve used. That said, I have seen some pretty good deals at Lowe’s, Menards, etc. for 18v Li-ion drills with 2 batteries for $100. It seems like only a few years ago, these kits used to cost more than twice that, but I think since about this time last year they’ve gone on sale pretty regularly, especially around this time of year.

crank49, pmayer, teejk, Loren and BentheViking, nice lists! I wouldn’t have thought to spend that much on the circular saw, jigsaw, or clamps, for one thing. I was curious whether anyone would squeeze a jointer or planer into their list. The air compressor and air nailers kind of surprised me—I wouldn’t have thought of those.

View MT_Stringer's profile


2309 posts in 2076 days

#22 posted 12-02-2012 02:46 AM

@ Rob – I have a one car garage that I do my woodworking in. I have the following tools, some new, some used.
Table Saw 1977 Craftsman passed down to me after my Dad passed away. He bought it new.
Band Saw – 14 inch Grizzly – bought it new for $445. Love it.
Jet 6 inch jointer – bought it used last month. Don’t know how I made it all these years without one. No room for an 8 incher.
Bosch 1617EVSPK router and router table top – works great.
Harbor Freight 12 inch sliding compound miter saw
Shop Vac
Dewalt DW734 planer
HF oscillating sander

I have made all of the projects in my gallery with these tools and a various assortment of clamps, bits, nailers etc.
Good luck building your work shop.

Note: I spent several hundred dollars putting in a split system air conditioner and insulating the ceiling above the garage. 77deg is much better than 97 any day of the week! :-)

Hope this helps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


11051 posts in 1464 days

#23 posted 12-02-2012 02:49 AM

Thoughtful answer, Rob. And it’s important you find your way as you see fit. I do suggest, though, keeping some room in your budget for a decent set of four chisels, a couple bench planes, a block plane, sharpening supplies and a couple saws if possible. They’ll take you far and improve your work over time. Good luck! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View knotscott's profile


5996 posts in 2221 days

#24 posted 12-02-2012 03:11 AM

”I was curious whether anyone would squeeze a jointer or planer into their list.”

Absolutely. Jointer, planer, and table saw are the three main tools used to dimension lumber. If you only use sheetgoods, there’s less need for the jointer and planer. If you plan to use lumber, it’s the best way to go. I’d much rather get a few good stationary machines…the smaller items are much easier to acquire with birthday money, slush fund cash, and lunch money. The opportunity to buy the big stuff happens a lot less often.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Grandpa's profile


3239 posts in 1521 days

#25 posted 12-02-2012 03:18 AM

Get a jointer, planer and a table saw. Spend anything left on hand tools including electric hand tools (includes clamps and chisels). Buy good quality and the resale is better. That is why you can spend some on used tools and come out. They depreciate to a certain point (40 to 50% of the original price) then they hold that value or sometimes appreciate in value. Buy cheap tools and you will end up throwing them away. Good tools seldom sell in my area. I have seen 1 powermatic or unisaw table saw in about 2 years of watching. I finally went to an auction from the insistance of my son and I come home with a Unisaw for $180. Actually went to look at a panel saw.

View shipwright's profile


5635 posts in 1643 days

#26 posted 12-02-2012 04:12 AM

I have a fully equipped 30×40 shop at home in Canada with all the goodies.
I have a second (winter) home in AZ with a portable shop in the garage.
I can build anything here that I can there.
I have less than $2500 in this (AZ) shop and I can still park two cars in the garage (when tools are put away).
Check this blog

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View James 's profile


138 posts in 1771 days

#27 posted 12-02-2012 05:25 AM

I am going to try an provide an answer to your actual question.

Tablesaw – Ridgid R4512 – $529 ( Can’t be the price for what seems to be a decent saw)
Jointer- Grizzly 0452P- $487 shipped
Planer- Ridgid 4331 -$399
Bandsaw- G0555LX – $524 Shipped
Dust Collection- Harbor Freight -$150 (price is a little dependent on current sale can be had for cheaper)
Router Table- Bench Dog Cast Iron Router table and insert $350 (Table saw extension)
Router- Bosch 1617 Router- $175 (with current promotion)
Sander- Dewalt 5” ROS- $60
Cordless Drill- $100 (Pick one there are plenty of good ones right around $100)
I would use the last $200 or so on sand paper, router bits, clamps, tape measure, square and chisel or two.

I would then spend my first year building shop projects; bench, assembly table, wood storage, outfeed table, crosscut sled and a few other items. I would then add tools that I see a need for as funds become available. I developed this list with the assumption that most of these tools would be upgraded 5 or 10 years down the road and this list would only serve as a starting point in the hobby.

View Austons_Garage's profile


41 posts in 876 days

#28 posted 12-02-2012 05:56 AM

All this is Just IMHO
The Table saw is the heart of the workshop. This one is 220 and has a 50inch fence and a rust proof top.
1260 Bones
A Good router like the Porter Cable 892 will run you 200
A Router table not top of line but functional
When you need a cordless driver you dont need a monster these will do fine, if you need more power the 3/8s Milwaukee runs $50(Tyler Tool) Any more than that on furniture is overkill.

99 2 li-ions You can get a matching 3 3/8 saw thats actually pretty handy for 60, Im not counting it.

Thats 1810.
Ridgid planer 300
Forrest Blade 100
Amana Blade 70
Router Bits 200


The rest is for bar clamps to last you until you get a deal or can afford better. Various hand tools
Shop ply, good straight quality plywood. Toggle Clamps and Hardwood strips
You need a straightline jig, a crosscut sled, etc. That should bring you in underbudget and all new.

If the used market were an option you could probably have a dream shop under $3000, My band saw, jointer, planer, and table saw all came in under $600. Don’t rule out CL or auctions.

View a1Jim's profile


113160 posts in 2422 days

#29 posted 12-02-2012 06:21 AM

If I may I can economize on jmaichel.s and Austons_garage’s list.
Instead of a bench dog router table for $ 350 you can build one including hardware and plate for $80.00
and you can get a 690 porter cable router for $130, and you can get a saw blade for $25 that works fine. and a whole set of 80 router bits for $105. With the $500 savings you can buy some measuring tools like combination squares,set up blocks,rulers,try squares,clamps ,router accessories ,plus other accessories .

-- Custom furniture

View JAAune's profile


1130 posts in 1162 days

#30 posted 12-02-2012 06:32 AM

Here’s my list. This provides a solid set of tools capable of even high end wood working. I specified quality, expensive items for those things that are considered lifetime purchases. Some items like the circular saw are cheaper tools since they will lose their usefulness as the shop becomes better equipped.

Educational – $145 to $180
Understanding Wood (check out at library to save $35)
Fine Woodworking Archive
Joinery DVD

Drafting and Design – Free
Put that expensive computer gear to work and download the free version of Sketchup. It’s a perfect program to plan simple furniture projects. It is good for complex projects too but it takes time to get that skilled with the software. Watch YouTube tutorials and visit the Sketchucation forum for help.

Layout Tools – $145 to $170
tape measure
X-Acto knife
center punch or awl
combination square
marking gauge (basic version is good value) or the Hamilton version (wider fence is nice)
Shinwa sliding bevel

Hand Tools – $360
Lie Nielsen 1/8in. and 1/2in. O-1 chisels
half dozen assorted old chisels obtained from garage sales and auctions
Lie Nielsen standard angle bronze block plane
Shinto Rasp
Dozuki dovetail saw
coping saw

Clamps – $120

4 pipe clamps
4 12in. f clamps

Sharpening – $120
Granite surface plate
Yellowstone honing compound (rub onto a piece of scrap mdf for a quick and cheap strop)
Sandpaper and

The above is not my preferred sharpening setup (except for the honing compound) but it’s cheap and effective. If you ever decide to use something else for sharpening all of the above supplies are useful in other applications. A honing guide might be helpful to ease the learning curve but it’s not necessary.

alternative sharpening system from Lie Nielsen

portable power tools – $1000
Circular saw
3/8in. corded drill
extension cord
Random orbit sander
shop vac
Cleanstream filter upgrade for shop vac
Dust Deputy Deluxe}
DeWalt Plunge router

Stationary power equipment – $1400
drill press

That comes out to a little over $3,000 as listed above. If I were going to make the above purchases I’d probably buy the educational stuff, hand tools, Festool sander, router, Dust Deputy, planer and bandsaw new. The rest aren’t too hard to find used and I’d wait a little and try finding a deal before going with new. Also, I’d shop around for sales and shipping combinations to get the price down some more.

Ultimately it should be possible to acquire the above list for around $2,500 with a little patience and price shopping. The savings would be put towards tooling and materials to build shop fixtures, tables and storage.

If I intended to do more work with sheet goods and less with solid wood I’d get a tablesaw instead of a bandsaw.

-- See my work at and

View knotscott's profile


5996 posts in 2221 days

#31 posted 12-02-2012 01:24 PM

My itemized tool list would include the following:

-Grizzly G1023RL 3hp cabinet saw ($1294 shipped)
-If restricted to 110v, then I’d likely get something like the Grizzly G0661 instead of the G1023RL ($925 shipped)
-Infinity 010-050 Combomax 50T saw blade ($63)
-Grizzly G0654” jointer ($504 to your door)
-DeWalt DW734 or DW735 planer ($400-$600)
-HF 2hp Dc (~ $150-$250 w/cannister)

That puts you in the range of $2100-$2500 dollars for the main machines, money for a good router if you don’t already have one, plus some measuring stuff. I’d add the small stuff as needed as I go.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

2085 posts in 1079 days

#32 posted 12-02-2012 03:55 PM

You wouldn’t be asking this if you didn’t like working with your hands. You can learn a great deal about your tools if you have to recondition them before you use them. Check with insurance companies to see if there are remnants of burned out wood shops that have restorable machines. Like cars in an accident, if you know what to look for, you can find some great buys on stuff that has been “totaled”. There are a lot of places to find restorable tools inexpensively. A bit of TLC then gets you a top notch machine that you understand pretty well.
I got very lucky to be able to buy most of an entire wood shop fully equipped for $1900. Before I coughed up the cash I spent about 4 hours going over every machine, testing everything I could, looking for distorted metal, bad bearings, burned wires etc. Much of the plastic parts suffered some distortion, but it was mostly cosmetic and easily replaced. Examining the wiring I was pretty sure why the shop burned. I have now fully restored each machine to like new condition for a $700 additional investment. Here is what I got:
1- Delta 10” Unisaw with 54” right table
1-Grizzly 10” tablesaw with 4 roll feeder
2-Grizzly 1 HP shapers
2-small bench drill presses
1-Delta radial drill press
1-Grizzly 21” bandsaw
1-Grizzly 14” bandsaw
1-Grizzly 24” wide belt sander
1- Grizzly 14 wide belt sander
The deal was totally unexpected, but I’ve never regretted being alert for one.
It is probably the only time I’ve bought stuff that I didn’t need when I bought it. Like gas, the need expands to fill the available tools.
+1 for JAAune’s list. It looks well thought out!

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL

View EdwardR's profile


66 posts in 1099 days

#33 posted 12-02-2012 04:38 PM

Warning Wil Robins Warning

I started right where you are at 2 years ago. Set a budget and wanted to build a resemblance of a shop. Well lets see I know have a cabinet sawstop , 14’ Rikon bandsaw. jointer, router table, and dust collection. Also blades and dado set, router bits Kreg jig and chisels.

Now the bad part a list of dewalt tools I started to buy some we need some not. Rookie mistake. take the time to decide what you really want to do and go from there . Spent $7500 and still need drill press planer belt sander lol im in deep dodo. Haven’t even bought a clamp yet.

If you really want a laugh i set it all up and have not made a bit of saw dust. My leg collapsed from the steroids i am on for Kidney transplant and haven’t walked since March. We finally got go ahead to walk so a lot of dust to come. Of course dust might be the end product until i learn. spent the last 10 months reading here I should be a pro by now.

Just enjoy what ever you can afford to do that is what its about. .

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#34 posted 12-03-2012 10:05 AM

Wow, I am in awe at all the incredible responses. Smitty, knotscott (x2!), Grandpa, Austons_Garage, a1jim, JAAune, Dan Krager, EdwardR, and all those I previously acknowledged, thanks for all the advice and equipment recommendations. Looks like a lot of you have a lot of things in common in your lists, along with some good tips on how to score good deals on the higher-dollar items. And JAAune especially, it looks like you didn’t leave out a single detail when thinking up your list.

EdwardR, I hope you’re feeling better now! If you head straight to your new shop now that you’re back on your feet instead of making a detour to the hardware store for some clamps, Loren posted a tip earlier about using rope and wedges for clamping.

View Austons_Garage's profile


41 posts in 876 days

#35 posted 12-03-2012 02:17 PM

It just occurred to me there was an article in a magazine not long ago about this, let me go check and I’ll edit this post with the issue and title.
Oops looks like mine is in a compilation book. The article is “Set up a Shop on a budget” by Mike Bielski.
It has some pretty good directions for making jigs to face and edge joint with a table saw and a planer. In a 3k budget you can afford a used jointer, but information is power.

View JAAune's profile


1130 posts in 1162 days

#36 posted 12-03-2012 04:38 PM

Hmm. Actually, I did forget one detail. I’d try to fit a miter saw into the budget somehow. A small 10” compound miter saw is a major time saver in the shop.

-- See my work at and

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#37 posted 12-04-2012 04:26 AM

Thanks for the extra reference and recommendations, guys.

Okay, now that I think I’ve got a lot of good lists to work with, I need to go down each one and figure out which things I already have that will either serve me well enough or will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. If I have questions about specific things, like a $47 circular saw vs. a $99 one, what’s the preferred protocol here? Should I keep the more specific question in this thread or start a separate thread to get a fresh round of feedback and make it easier for other people to find when searching for info on circular saws?

View BentheViking's profile


1757 posts in 1409 days

#38 posted 12-04-2012 04:41 AM

I guess everyone would have their own thoughts on that and what your gonna do with it. Are you using it to cut down sheetgoods to make them easier to cut on other saws? Or with that and a straight edge is that going to be your main way to cut down boards and dimension lumber?

I bought a 40-50 skil saw a few years ago at lowes. no laser but no big deal. If you can find something with a little bit more power you may be better off if its your main way to cut, but i’d say most importantly a good sharp blade. If you’ve got a budget of $70 I’d go with a $50 saw and a $20 blade. just my 2 cents

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


11051 posts in 1464 days

#39 posted 12-04-2012 04:51 AM

Rob, I think guys that have chimed in would like to see how things are going through this thread. My .02.

And another Kudo to JAAune for his incredible detail. Wow…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View MT_Stringer's profile


2309 posts in 2076 days

#40 posted 12-04-2012 03:22 PM

@ Rob – I used a Craftsman circular saw for many years. Recently I bought a new saw at HD. It is a Makita. I also bought a Diablo thin kerf blade for it. It cuts through wood like butter. Obviously it has more horspower than the old saw. I like the feel of it.

I had two pieces of red oak clamped together so I could cut an angle and it cut it easily, almost effortlessly.
I also used it to cut to the final size on the table top I built. It is made of solid maple 1 5/8 inches thick. It cut it with no problem and left very few marks to sand afterwards. I used a straight edge to guide the saw.

If you go by HD, check it out.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2199 posts in 2004 days

#41 posted 12-04-2012 04:34 PM

I’d buy the tools you KNOW you need and then buy those you need when you NEED them. My idea of what to do with $3000 would be highly personal to me only. Any other way and you’ll end up spending more than you need for certain tools (I did that with my CMS) and less than you need for others (such as with my drill press).

I also have tools that I THOUGHT I needed but really don’t get much use, such as my plate/biscuit joiner (I use the Kreg jig more now) and, believe it or not, my jointer. My 6” jointer is much too deficient in size and I’ve never been able to get the tables right…so I’ve devized other ways to do that job…which just goes to show that what is a requirement for one person is not so much a need for somebody else!

The problem is that you really don’t KNOW you need something until you need it. I’m inclined to say a good table saw and router, but even then there are people that center their shops around the band saw instead.

-- jay,

View lumberjoe's profile


2861 posts in 1094 days

#42 posted 12-04-2012 08:28 PM

I also started where you are about 9 months ago. I made a big mistake. I avoided hand tools. I’m not going to elaborate, because talking hand tools vs power tools is like debating politics or religion, but I will say I realized the error in my ways. I decided to go the hand tool jointer route rather than another huge hunk of cast iron. I’m also investing in some dovetail saws and carcass saws, a really nice set of chisels to compliment the decent ones I have now, and a proper work bench.

One of the main reasons I started woodworking is I really like playing with power tools. It’s a lot of fun. I am realizing that sometimes a power tool isn’t necessarily the best, easiest, or quickest tool for the task at hand.

-- Unplugged Woodworkers -

View Straightbowed's profile


717 posts in 1143 days

#43 posted 12-04-2012 08:34 PM

buy a pc at a time and buy the good stuff takes about 6 or 7 years and you will be happy

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 1019 days

#44 posted 12-04-2012 09:38 PM

Band saw
Table Saw
Saw blade. And the most basic tools.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View HorizontalMike's profile


6974 posts in 1759 days

#45 posted 12-05-2012 09:35 PM

My gander is that you will spend $3,000 on your basic start-up shop, and THEN spend another $3,000 over the next 3-years or so filling in all of the holes/gaps in non-purchased but much needed equipment/tools. Just a guess, but just like any other hobby or interest, these hobbies have a habit of sucking up all available funds very quickly.

Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View MT_Stringer's profile


2309 posts in 2076 days

#46 posted 12-06-2012 12:39 AM

I spent some time slinging sawdust today in my one car garage/woodshop. I bought a sack full of cedar pickets at HD. First step was to run them through the planer to smooth one side. Then I ran them on edge across my 6 inch jointer I bought recently off Craigslist.

Next, I used my miter saw to cut the boards to length (15 and 18 inches in length).
Next, I set up my 1977 model Craftsman table saw and ripped all of the boards to width (3 1/4 inches)

More of the same tomorrow.
Note: I am building a few of the custom coolers ordered for Christmas. Today I was prepping the boards for the side , end panels and the bottom shelf.
Just another day doing what I love to do.
I thought you might like to get an idea of a typical day in the shop and what I use. I will be using the band saw to cut out the parts of the logo.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View NormG's profile


4811 posts in 1849 days

#47 posted 12-06-2012 01:49 AM

I agree with A1Jim, obtain some knowledge of wood working. Particularly in the area that may interest you the most, that way you will know what tools you will need to invest in first. You can always expand at a later date. Read LJ’s reviews of the tools they purchased and why they purchased them. You will need to learn what each tools is capable of, so you do not have any duplication of purchases

-- Norman

View Rob's profile


580 posts in 1916 days

#48 posted 12-14-2012 08:23 AM

Well, I’m signed up for a mailing list now so I’ll get notified when the university starts doing their woodshop classes again next semester. Then I can start using their woodshop pretty much whenever I want, for $5 per day or $35 per semester.

Thanks for all the extra feedback, guys.

Circular saw: I have a cheap Skil circular saw that I picked up from Lowe’s for $40 or $50, but so far I’ve just used the included blade or a panel/plywood blade that I bought along with it. I was having a horrible time trying to cut straight lines by clamping a scrap piece of plywood to the wood I was cutting, and putting that on top of more scrap wood or on top of some bench dogs on top of my workbench. Then I finally bought some cheap sawhorses, attached some sacrificial 2×4s, and clamped down part of a wooden bed frame as my straight edge to chop up some sheets of plywood and tileboard—it was so much easier, the saw didn’t seem to wander like it did before, and my cuts—although not perfect—were much better. I guess now I just need to get a good blade for it.

lumberjoe: what are some hand tools that you think no woodworker should be without? What are a couple of tasks that you’d rather do with hand tools than with power tools?

At the moment I’m not considering a lathe to be a must-have item. It looks like fine, but for now I’m content with making square things (although I’m not sure how long that will last).

I’m leaning toward a SawStop, but just looking at some of the recent discussions on the forums, it sounds like I should be saving my money for the cabinet SawStop, which will pretty much blow my budget all at once, so I’ll probably wait on that and use the university’s table saw when I can. In a pinch, I know I can make rip cuts with my circular saw, or even my router if the wood is thin enough. Is there anyone here who gets by without a band saw or table saw? If so, what do you use instead? A circular saw? Someone else’s table saw?

I haven’t used a jointer or planer before, and I have a couple months before woodshop classes start up, so please bear with me. Are the jointer and planer just for smoothing the surface and trimming your wood down to the right dimensions so everything fits nice and clean, or can they actually help straighten out the horrible warped, twisted, cupped, and crooked lumber that I buy at Lowe’s? There is another lumberyard in town that I need to visit sometime, but whenever I go to Lowe’s I have to shuffle through dozens (yes, dozens—in some cases, the entire stock) of boards, and just settle on the 1-4 straightest ones. Is that normal, or does Lowe’s just have low-grade or improperly-stored product?

Do most of you buy lumber with a specific project in mind, or do you try to keep an inventory of certain dimensions on hand for whatever comes up?

MT_Stringer, thanks for the “day in the shop.” The coolers look nice, and so does your mobile workshop!

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