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I'm just a beginner, what do you suggest should be my first tools?

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Forum topic by Vasko posted 1311 days ago 1644 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Vasko

271 posts in 1319 days


1311 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: beginner tools mortise tenon plunge router

Hi there,
I have very few basic home fixer-upper tools. I can only afford to buy one or two items a month, so it will be slow going for me. I was wondering what any of you would buy, and in what priority, if you had to do it all over again. I have very limited space to convert to a workroom (a 13’ x 12’ room). I will never be able to afford large, professional tools like a cabinet saw, but I’m looking for things an ambitious hobbiist could use, with the notion of upgrading later as $$ permits.
Here’s what I have now; (my late Dad’s home repair stuff)
circular saws, chop saw, belt sander, scroll saw, craftsman folding workbenchs, cordless power drill, jigsaw, various levels and misc. hand saws, clamps, etc.
I want to get a table saw (looking at a Ridgid at HD), a drill press – bench model due to space & weight, and I’m wondering about a planer. I’ll have to have a workbench at some point. I have degrees in fine art, and I want to do relief carving, so I’m looking for input on chisel brands, too. I need hand tools, more clamps, hand planers (this catagory confuses me more than any) and anything else you can think of.
I never could get the hang of my dad’s router, and I traded it for a mountain bike – lol. If I get a new router, is a plunge router a good option for making mortise & tenon with a jig?
I plan to do a lot of mortise & tenon work in the future, what method, hand cut or power, do you recommend?
thanks for your time!

-- - Cindy, texture freak -


34 replies so far

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1707 days


#1 posted 1311 days ago

Because of your limited space and budget, I would suggest you consider a used ShopSmith. There are plenty available on ebay and if you don’t see what you like (at a price you like), just wait a few days. You will also find good accessories on ebay at reasonable prices.

A ShopSmith is not right for everyone, but it may be right for you.

Regarding Mortise and Tenon Joinery with a router – Yes, you need a plunge router and you also need a good jig. In my opinion, the Mortise Pal is a good option. With it, you do loose tenon joinery, but there is nothing wrong with that.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Vasko's profile

Vasko

271 posts in 1319 days


#2 posted 1311 days ago

I don’t know what a ShopSmith is, but I’ll look it up now… I was just looking this morning at someone’s post about how much they liked their Mortise Pal, that’s what got me started on this whole “what tools to get” line. I went to the Mortise Pal web page, and looked at the gallery. It does seem like a quick and efficient process. Thanks!

-- - Cindy, texture freak -

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1500 posts in 1326 days


#3 posted 1311 days ago

Shopsmith and router was the first thing that popped into my mind.

A table saw would also be a good purchase. It could double as a jointer for the time being. Hand planes would work well for the time being as well.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1707 days


#4 posted 1311 days ago

With respect to ShopSmiths – - There are quite a few variables. You will want a Mark V model, but there are several variations of the Mark V. There are also a number of accessories available and many units come with some of the accessories. Of course, price is also a variable. They can be shipped by freight, but if you can find a local one you can avoid a lot of hassle and expense.

There are quite a few LJs that are knowledgeable about ShopSmiths and many of us would be glad to answer any question you may have. I suggest you do some reading, check availability in your area and come back here with any questions you may have before plopping down the money.

The most basic ShopSmith will give you a table saw, lathe, drill press, horizontal boring machine and sander. Accessories can add a bandsaw, scrollsaw, belt sander, jointer, planer and strip sander. In my opinion, a SS gives you a great drill press, horizontal boring machine and belt sander. It offers a very good (but small) bandsaw. The scroll saw, lathe, table saw, sander are all okay for starting. The jointer is good but it is only a 4” jointer. The machine, in my opinion, is too underpowered to run a planer. Others may have opinions that differ from mine.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Viktor's profile

Viktor

447 posts in 2051 days


#5 posted 1311 days ago

Plunge router is all you need.
The tools I used to build all my projects posted to date could fit in a small suitcase, and I had no shop space. The bed (mortise and tenon allover) was build with a chisel, $3 handsaw and some sandpaper.
I buy tools only when there is a specific need and no easy way around and not to “build shop”.

View ETwoodworks's profile

ETwoodworks

92 posts in 1326 days


#6 posted 1311 days ago

I think I would get the ridgid table saw. The table saw is probly my most used tool (mine is a bosch 4000 job site saw) but if i had it to do again it would be a ridgid. I have a ridgid 13” thickness planer and the spindle/belt sander and they are both great plus the lifetime warrenty is nice.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View Furnitude's profile

Furnitude

336 posts in 2140 days


#7 posted 1311 days ago

Regarding relief carving, I would highly recommend you take a look at Keri Hultman’s blog: http://villagecarpenter.blogspot.com. She does amazing work and she’s an all around great person to learn about/from. Have fun!

-- Mitch, http://furnitude.blogspot.com Also blog at http://www.craftsy.com/blog/author/mitch-roberson/

View Alster's profile

Alster

88 posts in 1847 days


#8 posted 1311 days ago

I’m going contrarian here. I’ve got all the power tools, but rarely use them. I do the bulk of my work with the following:

dozuki saw (might try a ryoba instead—good for ripping and better than dozuki for big crosscuts) ($30)
good combination square ($30-$60)
four sizes of marples/irwin chisels (1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4) ($25)
1000/6000 combination waterstone ($25) and honing guide ($10)
decent woodworking vise for workholding (???)
a nice block plane ($100+)

You can make a lot of excellent, furniture scale stuff with this basic set of tools and pre-dimensioned lumber. And maybe a random orbit sander if you’re lazy like I am.

View Vasko's profile

Vasko

271 posts in 1319 days


#9 posted 1311 days ago

So far I’m leaning towards the Ridgid table saw. I’m sure this will sound idealistic, but I think I should learn to make mortise and tenon joints by hand first, then move on to a more efficient way to make them if I find I want to make a lot. The shopsmith is far more complicated than I want to get into. The cost is prohibitive, too, even used. It’s crazy, but I’m not a fan off all-in-one things.
I would really like to do as much “unplugged” work as possible. Maybe I’m romantisizing it, or maybe it’s because I’m used to having my hands directly on the materials when working in paint, glass, clay, etc. When I use power tools for even simple things like cutting shelves, or working with my Dad to making my porch, I feel disconnected from the wood even though it’s an obvious time/muscle saver. I would like to learn about hand tools, what they are and how to use them.
There used to be a show on PBS years ago, I think it was calledThe Old Yankee Workshop. When I was a kid, I thought he was nuts! Now I wish I could find them on CD. No luck yet.
If you know of any web sites or books that can help me learn about all the different kinds of hand planers, I’d love to know.

-- - Cindy, texture freak -

View Chriskmb5150's profile

Chriskmb5150

253 posts in 1709 days


#10 posted 1311 days ago

I’ll second the table saw. I got by for years with a craftsman portable jobsite saw, I now have a Grizzly cabinet saw but if i could do it again i probably would’ve bought the Ridgid jobsite saw from HD instead of the crapsman. I too have the Ridgid thickness planer and spindle sander among others and havent had any real trouble with them. You may also want to consider a planer since youre buying wood off of ebay. Some hardwood dealers will plane and straight line rip one edge of the wood for you at no additional cost but some will want a small fee for doing it, so it may save you some money to invest in a planer.
Here ya go: New yankee workshop http://www.newyankee.com/index.php

-- Woodworkers theory of relativity - the quality of your scrap is relative to your skill level

View Alster's profile

Alster

88 posts in 1847 days


#11 posted 1311 days ago

p.s. There are lots of good chisels available, but I’ve found (and so has Frank Klausz, and Lonnie Bird) that the Irwins deliver exceptional bang for the buck. Spend the difference between them and more expensive chisels on good sharpening equipment and practice, practice, practice getting a good edge!

View Vasko's profile

Vasko

271 posts in 1319 days


#12 posted 1311 days ago

Wow! I love all the info I’m getting, thanks guys!
I saved the New Yankee Workshop site and the Village Carpenter. I’m looking for The OLD Yankee workshop – is that what it was called? A guy dressed in period clothes, who never used power tools.
And Alster, thanks so much for the tips on hand tools. So many people here talk about Irwins, I’m looking them up tonight. Your list of hand tools is very helpful.
Chriskmb, I think you’re right about the planer. My friend and I are thinking about going halves on the Ridgid 13” planer – I was concerned because I had read some iffy user reviews about it. I think the problems may have stemmed from people trying to shave too much off at one time. What I’m reading from users here, is to take off 1/64 or even less at a time to save the wood & blades.

-- - Cindy, texture freak -

View Chriskmb5150's profile

Chriskmb5150

253 posts in 1709 days


#13 posted 1311 days ago

do you mean Roy Underhill from the woodwrights shop? http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/

-- Woodworkers theory of relativity - the quality of your scrap is relative to your skill level

View Vasko's profile

Vasko

271 posts in 1319 days


#14 posted 1311 days ago

YES! That’s him, thank you so much! I’ve been looking for weeks for him, thinking his show was called something else. Awesome!

-- - Cindy, texture freak -

View Chriskmb5150's profile

Chriskmb5150

253 posts in 1709 days


#15 posted 1311 days ago

You’re welcome

-- Woodworkers theory of relativity - the quality of your scrap is relative to your skill level

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