Getting to the ultimate tools.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by bunkie posted 01-02-2010 09:23 PM 1610 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3140 days

01-02-2010 09:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tools philosophy shopsmith budget

I’ve been involved in a number of discussions of various tool purchases and a recurring theme (for me, at least) has been that there seems to be an ultimate destination that is rarely arrived at on the first try. For example, I recently reviewed my new Forrest Dado King in which I mentioned the serf and bastard-son-squire dadoes that preceded it in my tool collection. Also, I’m on my fourth (and hopefully, last) table saw.

So, as a general topic of discussion, what tool upgrade paths have you been on and what wisdom was acquired as a result of taking this route?

I try to keep in mind that, for me, this is a hobby and, as such, the whole point is extracting some measure of satisfaction and joy from the process. I happen to love tools. While some of my purchases wouldn’t be justified on a purely practical basis, the sheer pleasure of using a fine tool is more often than not worth the investment.

I do have certain tools that are long-term keepers. The Lie-Nielsen plane my wife bought me as a birthday present when we were dating is at the top of that list (nothing says “marry this one” in quite the same way…) My ShopSmith is another in that it’s been with me through both good and bad times and the fact that I could carry it up the stairs and set it up in my Brooklyn apartment after losing my shop space as well as its versatility make it a tool I’ll never sell. Oh yeah, it can be incredibly useful to have two table saws at the same time (simultaneous dadoes and rip cuts anyone?).

So, anyone care to add their own entries?

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

8 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3361 days

#1 posted 01-02-2010 09:37 PM

I originally bought a cheap Skil tablesaw when I first started woodworking. I thought it would do the job for me. I only work with hardwoods and quickly found out how miserable that saw was. I bought a Ridgid saw and since then all my purchases have been quality tools the first time.

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3176 days

#2 posted 01-02-2010 09:39 PM

The best upgrades to my tool list have been:
1. 12” dewalt compound miter saw (the slider wasn’t out yet when I bought this saw).
2. Delta Uni-saw (upgrade from a craftsman contractor saw and shop-smith mark V).
3. Jet mini lathe.
4. Dewalt biscuit joiner.
5. Kreig pocket hole jig.
6. Incra miter gauge for the table saw.
7. Shop built air filter.
8. Rockler dust collector.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3167 days

#3 posted 01-02-2010 10:30 PM

I keep promising myself that I am NOT going to regret upgrading FROM a refurbished, low-end Ryobi table saw TO a Bosch 4100 contractor’s saw.

I keep telling myself that the upgraded blade and Incra miter gauge will be enough to make this saw do what I need for the rest of my life.

I keep telling myself that it just wasn’t right for ME to buy a used saw, risking the problems that might go along with that purchase.

I keep telling myself that I’m NOT going to be such a productive woodworker that a Delta or Powermatic or … other cabinet saw was a necessary investment for me.

I keep telling myself that—now that I have a band saw—the table saw has even fewer functions that it will have to serve.

Yeah. I keep telling myself all of this.

Wish me luck ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Mike Talbot's profile

Mike Talbot

22 posts in 3180 days

#4 posted 01-02-2010 11:59 PM

Table saws Sears 9 inch, Delta Contractor, Powermatic 66

Jointer Sears 6 inch, Powermatic 6 inch

Plainer Makita portable, Powermatic 15 inch

Yes I too have made a few upgrades.

View dmorrison's profile


151 posts in 3255 days

#5 posted 01-03-2010 12:00 AM

Upgrading is something that will occur through time. My first shop was my Father-in-laws shop. He had moved from New York to Dallas for a couple of years. They kept the house and rented it out. His shop was in the basement and he worried about the teenage kid and the tools. I got the Air force to move it to my house in Charleston South Carolina.
I moved them to Dallas in 86 when we moved here. I burnt out the radial arm saw ( a 1959 model). The table saw was just flat out worn out ( a 1949 Sears model ) so upgrades were needed. I wanted a Delta contractor with cast wings and the Unifence. Delta did not make it so I bought the Powermatic Artisan model 63 which I still have.Other tools have also been upgraded.

Delta table top drill press to a Jet 16 1/2 inch floor model
4 inch table to jointer to a Delta 6 inch motorized jointer to a Jet 6 inch floor model
Delta 3 wheel 16 inch band saw to a Jet 18 inch band saw.
My dust collector has remained a original A Transpower 3hp single stage unit.
Single non tank compressor to a 6HP 33 gal sears tank unit.

So we always upgrade as time, skill and money changes.


View hairy's profile


2701 posts in 3525 days

#6 posted 01-03-2010 04:22 AM

I generally buy the best quality I can afford, new or used. There’s a reason good tools cost more, and quality tools are safer than cheap tools. Take care of them, and they hold their value.You could have bought a good saw for the price of the 4 previous ones.

-- My reality check bounced...

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3140 days

#7 posted 01-03-2010 05:04 AM

In my work as a remodeler I need to replace tools often as they get quite a workout. Until 3 years ago all my stuff was portable, Makita sliding 10” miter saw, Bosch 10” 4000 table saw, biscuit joiner, hand & 12” planers along with the usual worm drive saw, drills. The miter saw is not complete without a good stand & fence. American Design & Engineering brand is the best & is all I use. Now that I have a shop, I have a 1968 Powermatic 66 table-saw & love it! It’s better than the new stuff & way cheaper too, $750 on CL. Finally a DC to keep the dust down, Delta 6” joiner, Jet 14” band saw and a 1957 Shopsmith. My latest stuff is a Milwaukee 12” miter saw I like a lot, but have a look at Festool. Everything they offer is amazing. I have the 6 1/2” track saw with 103” & 51” guide rails that makes breaking down large panels much easier than on a TS, can go to a job-site & makes splinter free cuts. This saw almost replaces the TS. Then the Festool Domino loose tenon cutting machine, nothing like it! It’s really like cheating as it makes joining parts fast & precise. Then the 1400 router, amazing power & dust collection, the Rotax 150 6” dual mode sander tops any sanding equipment & last the hand held power planer with skewed blade. All Festools hook up to dust extraction and I believe are the finest tools available on the market today. Yes they are expensive, about x2 of most others but I have burned out a lot of tools way before their time even with great care. I only wish to buy American anything now but almost all are made overseas now. Festool Germany, Milwaukee CHINA as well as most so I see a trend in restoring older USA stuff. Parts are available, the quality is superior & you may buy for a song. Check out OWWM, old wood working machines on the web you will see a huge following of fine old tools back in their prime. Trouble is the economy has dashed my dreams as hardly any work lately & may have to start selling my dream to stay afloat. Oh well I used to make a living with just a Skillsaw!

-- $tudie

View Fireball's profile


71 posts in 4060 days

#8 posted 01-03-2010 06:40 AM

I subscribe to the “buy the best you can afford” philosophy and try to act it out as often as possible.

I don’t know how many times it’s going to take me buying cheap stuff, throwing it away in short order and buying the proper tool before learning to just do it right the first time. :)

I’m also a big believer in saving up and waiting to buy a nice tool instead of buying an inexpensive version just to have something. However, looking back I would say that I appreciate my PM2000 tablesaw much more because of my previous experience with crappy jobsite saws and my first saw which was a General contractor style saw (a very nice unit, just not near as nice as a proper cabinet saw).

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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