New Woodworker what tools to get?

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Forum topic by kresso posted 02-18-2011 01:13 PM 2347 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 2895 days

02-18-2011 01:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: new woodworker tools tablesaw

I am a new woodworker and am looking to get some tools. My space is half of a two car garage, but the car can move out and stay out in the middle of projects (my wife is the best), but after the tools need to move back to my side. My current tools are a De Walt circular saw, Hitachi 12 inch miter saw, 35 gallon air compressor, pneumatic brad nailer, pneumatic stapler, (lots of car tools that aren’t of much wood working use), random orbit sander, cheap no name jig saw, cheap router and router table, and some nice drills. I have an old Craftsmen contractor saw from the 1950’s that just gave out on me a couple of weeks ago but that thing scared me to death and the table top was only about 20 inches wide, so I am not to sad to see it go. Also after the saw’s motor dies my wife and I decided we could put away money for a couple of months and I could get some new tools. We are looking at a total of around 1000 dollars.
I have about 200 feet of rough hard maple that is in boards ~ 1 inch thick and each ~ 4 inches wide that I was given and would like to make a bathroom vanity with it. So a jointer and planer would be nice. My current building plans are the previously mentioned bathroom vanity, two dressers, a picnic table, and one of those cool closet organizers with lots of levels and shelves and stuff. Also little do dads and toys for presents. I have been eyeballing the grizzly hybrid G0715P for 850 after shipping then a Forrest WW2 thin kerf for 100 then I am already at 950 dollars. Oh, I have a Wixey digital gauge so I am hoping that will help with the cruddy miter that comes with a lot of saws.
This won’t be the only time I buy tools, but probably only about 300 a year after this. I check Craigslist often but hardly ever see anything. I am in a small town and either the stuff gets bought quick, or nobody is selling anything good usually. Thanks for your help!

-- -Matthew Kress

11 replies so far

View gary351's profile


97 posts in 3036 days

#1 posted 02-18-2011 01:47 PM

I see a lot of LJs make bandsaw box’s here, you might enjoy making something curvy for a change.

-- A poor man has poor way's

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3349 days

#2 posted 02-18-2011 02:10 PM

Welcome to LJs Matthew. You will get a variety of responses, some with contradictory opinions, on this one. With the space considerations you describe, the need for portability, and the budget constraints, I would throw this out there for the beginning -

1. Contractor style table saw (TS) with portable stand – A Ridgid model like this sells in the 500-600 range new. Decent ripping capability and has been rated pretty high for its capabilities. Not as solid as the cast iron saws, but if your space is limited, it is a good pack up and go saw. I would strongly recommend avoiding any of the Craftsman and Ryobi style saws that have attractive prices but you will pay in spades with irritation further down the road.

2. Bench top Planer – Ridgid and Dewalt make excellent three blade models in the 350 – 400 price range. These are thickness planers that reduce the thickness of your wood to whatever specifications you need. If you are building a vanity, you will need to flatten the face of your boards and joint the edge. You will rip the boards to width using the good edge against your TS fence and would use the thickness planer to smooth the other side of the board and thin it down to the desired thickness.

3. There was all this talk about jointing edges and flattening the face of the board in the above paragraph and we are almost at the end of your budget. Jointers cost about 350-400 new. A cheaper alternative would be go pick up a Stanley Bailey Jack Plane on ebay for around 25-30 bucks. Old ones are better quality than the new ones, can be picked up for a decent price, but will require some work to get them back in shape. With a Jack Plane, you can joint the edges and smooth the faces reasonably well and finish thickness on the planer mentioned above. Since it is a hand tool, it won’t take up any space. There are quite a few blogs about how to restore planes on this site and how to properly tune and use them.

This is just one scenario however, and I am sure you will get many other suggestions.

Once again, welcome!


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View herg1's profile


42 posts in 3953 days

#3 posted 02-18-2011 02:43 PM

Welcome! As David stated the Ridigid saw has had some pretty good write-ups, the top surface can be enlarged by adding building a table and dropping the saw into it or adding removable wings that you could add when you need them. I would encourage you to buy quality tools as you can afford them, the cheaply built ones will never make you happy. There are a number of bench type pieces that are of quality and will do a good job. If you can, get to some of the stores that sell wood working equipment particularly those that have sales folks that know how to use the equipment and will show you the good and not so good of each. Even better if there is a store that has demonstrations or will let you try them before buying.

Good luck.

-- Roger1

View kresso's profile


23 posts in 2895 days

#4 posted 02-18-2011 06:38 PM

Thanks for the feed back. David, the DEWALT 12-1/2 In. Thickness Planer Model # DW734 planer is 357.00 dollars with a 15.0 Amp motor and three knife cutter-head and like the Ridgid, which costs 399.00 Normally I know DeWalt is pretty good tool and I like Ridgid as well so brand doesn’t seem to be an issue, but are there some issues you know of that make the DeWalt worth less (I wouldn’t thing 1/2 inch width difference is worth that much, but perhaps it is)? Thanks.

-- -Matthew Kress

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3349 days

#5 posted 02-18-2011 08:17 PM

The Dewalt and Ridgid both used to be at the same price. I think the selling point that drives most people that lean toward Ridgid is their lifetime service agreement. I have noticed that Dewalt dropped their price and I think it might be to help nudge people a little back to their planer. I know both machines get solid reviews and the Dewalt might even be a touch better. I tend to lean toward the LSA and Ridgid myself so am probably not the best person to be impartial :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View kresso's profile


23 posts in 2895 days

#6 posted 02-18-2011 08:20 PM

Thanks! I have a Ridgid hammer drill and the LSA was the thing that make me choose them. I will have to go the the store and check them both out.

-- -Matthew Kress

View sbandyk's profile


6 posts in 3038 days

#7 posted 02-18-2011 08:37 PM

I’ve picked up the granite top Ridgid hybrid table saw and their 6” jointer/planer and I’m very happy with both of them.
The big push for me was that HomeDepot regularly puts the ridgid stuff on sale.. and you can use competitor’s coupons. In both cases, I went to the Post Office and requested a “mover’s packet”. The packet includes, in addition to a change-of-address form, a 10% off Lowes coupon which is accepted at Home Depot.

The Granite top saw is discontinued so it’s pretty much impossible to find one. I saw they actually updated the price about a month back though.. if you can find one, I believe they sell for about $189 now.. ($699 retail I think). They’re typically stocked up on the top of the racks so you have to call, or stop by the service desk to see if they can locate one for you.
However, the Ridgid appears to be a rebranded Steel City granite top saw (very few changes.. SC has a slightly more powerful motor and a few aesthetic changes) so my love of my saw applies to the Steel City model. It also appears that the Craftsman granite top is also a rebranded version of this saw.

The Ridgid Jointner/Planer isn’t particularly fancy but it’s a well built massive hunk of cast iron with a nice quiet induction motor and it works great. I can’t think of any complaints. If you’re not in a hurry, you might see it go on sale. I walk by the Ridgid pricing kiosk every time I walk though Home Depot. :-)

P.S. If you buy Ridgid.. you need to keep the UPC from the box and mail it in within a month to get the lifetime warranty. I’m terrible with this and got screwed a couple times.

View kresso's profile


23 posts in 2895 days

#8 posted 02-18-2011 10:10 PM

Ack! I didn’t know that about the Ridgid lifetime warranty thing. I thought you just had to keep your receipt. Well, guess my hammer drill isn’t covered. Thanks for the info sbandyk. I will keep my eyes out for that.

-- -Matthew Kress

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3888 days

#9 posted 02-18-2011 10:50 PM

You can do anything in solid wood with reasonable efficiency with a
bandsaw, thickness planer and a router and some hand planes,
marking tools and some chisels.

The big tablesaws are most useful for cabinetwork with sheet goods. Of
course you want one if you’ve got the space, but with a limited budget
I wouldn’t spend much, personally, on a table saw. They excel at breaking
up sheet goods and cutting tenons and grooves, but the bandsaw is safer
for ripping, accurate crosscuts can be done in other ways, and a circular
saw guide system handles sheet goods well and with not a lot of space
tied-up, plus it’s portable.

That said, a table saw is really useful for making drawer parts but you don’t
need an especially big or powerful saw to do that. Just about and
contractor’s saw will do.

View kresso's profile


23 posts in 2895 days

#10 posted 09-02-2011 02:19 PM

I know this post was a while ago and I am great full for everyone’s input. I finally got a new tool and it is the Cenral Machinery 6 inch jointer from Harbor Freight. It was 139.99 and I have seen good reviews for it here. I haven’t put it together yet, but I will and post a review of it then. Thanks everyone!

-- -Matthew Kress

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3211 days

#11 posted 09-02-2011 03:15 PM

Well, for the money, it’s a start.
Be aware that jointing a board just prepares a square edge and one face surface. The jointer will not mill wood to a specific thickness. It also can not automatically do anything about twist or bow. It takes a lot of operator technique to get good results.

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