Lessons Learned #1: Getting started

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Blog entry by sry posted 09-17-2008 05:41 PM 1058 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Lessons Learned series Part 2: RIP shop vac »

A quick introduction to get things started here. I’m just getting started in woodworking, and thought it would be an interesting idea to post the lessons (mistakes?) I’m learning as I learn them. Things like the importance of “measure twice, cut once”, etc. Whether you guys know it or not, I’ve already accumulated a large amount of knowledge from the discussions, projects, and blogs here at LJ. As I try to turn that knowledge into actual skills and projects this is my attempt to give back a little and maybe help those that come after me.

I already have several lessons queued up, so hopefully I can keep this going for a while.

So without further ado… Lesson #1: good tools are expensive
Ok I know this is kind of a cop-out, but I forgot my camera with pics of my melted shop-vac at home, so that’ll have to be #2. But seriously, I’ve always been a big fan of buying quality tools (in all aspects of life, not just woodworking) with the goal of not having to buy that tool again. This is why I have the Bosch router kit rather than the Black & Decker, the DeWalt miter saw rather than the Task Force, etc. Unfortunately, this also means that the same start up budget doesn’t buy quite the same “volume” of tools, so I’m getting plenty of opportunities to exercise my creativity in making do without the big tools like a table saw, drill press, band saw, jointer, planer, and so on. Which should result in a few more “lessons” down the road :o) Although with that said, I’m kind of glad that I’m starting out with a more modest set of tools, if for no other reason than I’ll appreciate the nice ones when I can justify their purchase.

Stay tuned for next time, when we learn the dangers of using a shop vac for 100% of your dust collection needs.

8 comments so far

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3647 days

#1 posted 09-17-2008 06:15 PM

Welcome Steve. Dust collection…....interesting concept!
25 years of making sawdust.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 3708 days

#2 posted 09-17-2008 06:38 PM

See my signature space… Also, don’t fight barehanded with power tools, especially those with fast spinning blades.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 3738 days

#3 posted 09-17-2008 08:58 PM

You are right “good tools are expensive”! However, there are ways you can outfit a shop with great tools without refinancing your house.

Look for high quality used tools. E-bay and Craig’s list are good places to find them. I bought a Delta Unisaw with a Biesemeyer fence on E-bay for $250. The guy that sold it to me said to motor did not work. When I took it apart I found that the motor was full of sawdust. Cleaned the saw up new bearings a little paint and it was as good as it was in 1978 when it was new.

Never pay more than half price for a used tool. If it was never taken out of the box then pay half price. If it needs some work the price goes down from there.

Look for used tools that parts are easy to get. There are better saws out there than the Unisaw for sure but any part I need can still be picked up used for a few dollars on E-bay.

Spend your money areas that make a difference. A Porter Cable plate jointer is a great tool but it is a lot of money. Other plate jointers may be half the price and you will never ware them out.

Service and repair manuals for older machines are aviable on line for free at places like Old Woodworking Machines . com

Anyway good luck and finding good deals on tools can be fun.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View Slacker's profile


178 posts in 3730 days

#4 posted 09-18-2008 02:10 AM

My dad used to say cheap things cost twice…

-- Adapt, improvise, overcome

View woodinit's profile


12 posts in 3656 days

#5 posted 09-18-2008 02:31 AM

“The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price.” is what my elders taught me; and I’ve since learned another one: “Good Quality, Works Great, Cheap Price – pick any two”.

So, like Bob Clark above, I look for the deals on proven brands and well-maintained items. The reconditioned tool websites, local auctions, on-line auctions (don’t forget Kijiji) and letting the neighbors know what I’m watching for…even pawn shops offer some good stuff once in a while. It’s amazing the deals one can come across. I probably shouldn’t even document this, but setting up the shop and looking for the right deals on good tools has been almost as much fun and making the sawdust !! Enjoy the hunt!

-- woodinit Prov. 3:5&6

View sry's profile


147 posts in 3636 days

#6 posted 09-18-2008 07:22 PM

Thanks for the good advice guys. Sounds like the second part of the lesson is ”...but they’re worth it in the end”
I just haven’t been doing this long enough to have learned that lesson yet :o)

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


475 posts in 3657 days

#7 posted 09-23-2008 06:34 AM

Only the rich can afford cheap tools.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View Tom Coster's profile

Tom Coster

120 posts in 2867 days

#8 posted 08-25-2010 11:30 PM

The hardest part about buying tools is hiding the cost from your spouse!

-- Tom, MI, SC

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