Newbie questions about clamps and tools

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Forum topic by Moops posted 03-24-2011 07:29 PM 2793 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Moops's profile


5 posts in 2622 days

03-24-2011 07:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question clamp

I’d like to thank everybody who has welcomed me to the site already….I’ve been lurking for months but just signed up. I have learned a whole lot just by reading other people’s questions and answers, but have questions of my own that I am curious about.

As a little background, I am just getting started into woodworking. I’m excited, but I haven’t built much of anything since my eighth grade shop class put together napkin holders and turned a ball-in-cup toy. I have started putting together a shop in the basement of my house that we’re always working on (1870’s farmhouse) and have been especially motivated by my desire to build a kitchen table that fits in the spot we want it for our new kitchen. I have a brand new (Christmas gift) 10” table saw down there, and a Harbor Freight dust collector with Thein separator that I put on a cart (like many others, I was inspired/stole the idea from people on this site as well as the Thein forum). I also have a 30 year old Craftsman 10” RAS, and an at least 30 year old 6” Craftsman jointer with tiny little beds. Finally, when searching Craigslist for a used planer, I found a historic window rehabilitation company going out of business and instead ended up with 30 Jorgenson Pony 3/4” pipe clamps with pipe, most 2’ – 4’ long, and 20 36” Hargrave I-Bar clamps from when they were still owned by Cincinnati Tool Co. These are all US-made, old-school clamps.

I’m trying to plan my next purchases/direction, and this is where I would welcome advice. The limited space of my shop is dictating that everything be put on mobile bases, which is my current project. Next would be a workbench, clamp cart/storage (right now they’re in a pile on the floor), and then hopefully the kitchen table. I guess I have two things I’m really asking about:

1) As far as purchases go, what would be most helpful right away? I’m thinking about a router, router table (in my table saw), drill press, planer, new jointer, maybe a jointer/planer, miter saw….but can’t do all that at once.

2) Do I need all those clamps? They are pretty awesome, and I intend to thread enough of the smaller pipes to give myself a bigger assortment of possible lengths. I love the bar clamps, but 20 of the 36” clamps seems like a lot. How many do I need? What is a fair price to sell the rest for? I was thinking of keeping 8 (1 per foot for a hypothetical 8’ glue-up, which would be enormous and would probably never happen).

Thanks for the help,

17 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3158 days

#1 posted 03-24-2011 07:47 PM

1.) A router…one for hand-held and one for table (if you can afford two, or three, or ten), yes you also need a table. After that, planer first, IME. Jointer is important, though you can edge joint (router) and face joint (planer sled) without one…or make use of the one you have. I just wouldn’t make it a priority. Depending on that choice, I’d then add a drill press. Miter saw is not needed with a good TS miter gauge and circular saw (to cut down larger boards). In your case, you have a RAS, so a miter saw is kinda redundant anyway. So, unless you are doing a lot of interior molding on-site, then I’d skip the miter saw.

Other than that, I’d probably consider a band saw, especially if you work in curves or want to resaw lumber.

Best advice though…buy them in the order you NEED them. It’s a good, safe way to make purchases that you likely won’t regret.

2.) Of course you need all those clamps. In fact, it is in your best interest to go buy some more. :)

-- jay,

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3040 days

#2 posted 03-24-2011 07:56 PM

Welcome !!

(1) a planer or router

(2) Look at it this way, If you have to Many & don’t use it’s better than not having enough & needing more!!!!

Keep all the Clamps or send em to me. ;)

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Jras's profile


16 posts in 2832 days

#3 posted 03-24-2011 08:06 PM

I agree with Cosmicsniper. I am a newer woodworker as well and I have been following the “buy them in the order that you need them” philosophy. The only time I might differ from this stratiegy is if I find a really good bargain.

I have found that clamps are very important, and I could always use more than I have. Keep them in my opinion. Acutally I just purchased 5 more pipe clamps on eBay, and 4 more 12 inch Irwin squeeze grip clamps on a buy-one-get-one-free sale. Hold on to those clamps! You’ll be glad you did.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3135 days

#4 posted 03-24-2011 08:17 PM

It seems to me that my shop hit “critical mass” about last year – table saw, drill press, router table, planer, jointer, band saw, dust collection. I suggest for you adding a 1/2” router, some sort of router table, benchtop drill press and a small planer. Oh, and a pocket-hole jig for building helpful things for the shop. Even if your budget will only allow modest versions of this equipment, I would go that route. You will have everything you need to do an awful lot of stuff. Your tiny jointer may be limited, but there is still an awful lot you can do within those limitations, so an upgrade would not be high on my priority list.

-- Greg D.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2776 days

#5 posted 03-24-2011 08:30 PM

I have found that a full height drill press, planer, jointer, and router are required. Build a router table – buy or build the top, I bought a Rockler top, MLCS has a good one and build the cabinet under it. MLCS has a good tong and groove set (Katrina) and will match up with tong and groove flooring. You will find this very helpful as you restore. Frued and MLCS have great panel door router bit sets. For the router, get 3HP or better, variable speed with slow start. Anything less isn’t as smooth and will travel easily – too light weight.

Keep the clamps but get more pipe – get a couple of 10’ lengths of iron pipe, threaded on both ends and have them cut in half and get three or four and keep them long. These will be required for tables and the like.

I have a small Delta jointer which I don’t like and use this to get edges close, I make edges true with a hand jointer plane.

The reason for the full height drill press, if you have to work on your stair casings and railings, drill the pilot holes at the correct angle is so much easier with a full height unit. I got a great deal at Tractor Supply and replaced the chuck with a Jacobs chuck, keep the old one, it will do 1/2”.

Good luck

-- David in Damascus, MD

View skippyland's profile


158 posts in 2691 days

#6 posted 03-24-2011 09:00 PM

DUDE!!! of course you need ALL those clamps!! ha ha….you’ll see soon enough…toolwise, that’s good advice to buy according to the project requirements, but with the RAS, that sliding miter saw should be in the back corner for a while. A 14” bandsaw is pretty handy, along with the router/table, jointer,planer drill press…just remembe, that clamp is another hand…oh yeah, consider a quality orbital sander. best of luck.

-- Skip from Batavia, purveyor of fine and exotic sawdust & chips.

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2692 days

#7 posted 03-24-2011 09:39 PM

Yes, you need those clamps. My favorite clamps are Bessey pipes. It sounds like you’ve got a decent set of tools going. I’d probably invest a little money on measuring/marking tools & a good 10” blade to get your tablesaw/jointer up to snuff. If I were you, a router table would probably be my next purchase. Of course, I’d start assembling an army of handplanes as quickly as possible!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2692 days

#8 posted 03-24-2011 09:40 PM

Oh, and after the router table, a planer for sure. Changed my life.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

#9 posted 03-24-2011 11:29 PM

First time you do a big curved glue-up, you’ll want every single one of those clamps. I want to do more big long curved things like my office shelf, and that takes lots and lots of clamps. It’s also handy to have too many clamps when you’re just gluing up wide flat surfaces, like table tops. So, yeah, hang on to those clamps.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2689 days

#10 posted 03-25-2011 02:13 AM

ten sections of 6’ or 8’ X 3/4” pipe. Then go out and get 10 2” spring clamps and a good 1/2” bit plunge router and table for it then do the buy it as you need it process.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3074 days

#11 posted 03-25-2011 03:55 AM

When ever I see someone talk about “limited space” I think about ShopSmith (SS). I started with a SS many years ago and it still plays a limited role in my shop. It is a versatile multi-function machine and good used units are available at reasonable prices.

It is reasonably good at most functions except (IMO) table saw but, for you, that is not an issue since you already have a real table saw.

I could speak at great length about the plusses and minuses of SSs, but I will let you do your own research. If you have a particular questions, please contact me.

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

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2970 days

#12 posted 03-25-2011 08:08 AM

I got the exact same table saw last spring. Been a great little saw once I got the blade parallel with the miter slot and put in a decent blade. I use the HF 2hp collector as well.

I never realized the total cost of clamps as I was getting them, because they were purchased over a couple of years and it was just $25 here and $35 there; usually as I needed them for some project I was working on. I recently made a spreadsheet list and put price column in there. I was shocked to find I had spent nearly $700 on clamps. You just need to hang on to those clamps, they will be used eventually. You can add some schedule 80 couplings and combine short pipe sections when you need longer clamps.

I will probably ruffle some feathers here, but I am not a router person. I have three of them, a very old B & D, from the 1970s before plunge routers came along, a dual base combo kit made by Skil, and a Porter Cable 690 I just picked up from the clearance rack at Home Depot for $60. I find them somewhat useful and I plan to build me a table, but if I was starting over I still wouldn’t put a router table high on my priority list. Maybe I’m missing something here, because a lot of LJs seem to think the router is the most important tool in the shop.

Anyway, I would put a bandsaw, a stationary sander, a drill press, some good chisels and hand planes, a sliding compound miter saw, in that order and all in front of a router table.

View helluvawreck's profile


31092 posts in 2866 days

#13 posted 03-25-2011 02:28 PM

What ever you do, don’t neglect the hand tools. You should slowly build at least a basic set of hand tools and learn how to use them. You are young enough to where you can spend some time on this so no rush. Hand tools are really something that is often neglected.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Moops's profile


5 posts in 2622 days

#14 posted 03-25-2011 06:08 PM

Well, it seems like I should keep the clamps. I was hoping that selling a few of the bar clamps would pay for the rest of them (I got a pretty good bulk discount), but if I have to buy new ones later that’s not going to save me any money. Thanks for the input….I’m still not sure when I’ll use them all, but if 10 people who know more then me all agree, I’m willing to consider that I may be mistaken. Also, I seem to like collecting tools.

Putting together mobile bases has highlighted the necessity of accurate drilling. I can make do, but I’ll probably pick up a “starter” drill press and upgrade if/when it becomes necessary. Then it looks like it’s time to start researching routers. My table saw is left-tilt, does that preclude me adding a router table extension to the left side of my saw (due to the “cabinet” bump out)? I saw that the Bench-Dog cast iron table says that you can’t put it in on the same side as the bump out, but I haven’t read that about any of the other ones. Would it get in the way? The right side of my saw is against the wall to save space, and since it’s on a base I can pull it out if cutting anything too big.

Richgreer, thanks for the recommendation on Shopsmith….I’ve seen them but haven’t done much research. My space isn’t super-tiny, but it is broken up by many basement posts put in to keep the house from falling down. So I believe I have space for tools/machines, but dedicated working areas aren’t going to be possible. I will check it out further though.

Thanks again everyone,

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2692 days

#15 posted 03-25-2011 06:16 PM

In response to Crank, it kind of snuck up on me too. There’s this route (honey, baby, are you reading my LJ posts? hint…hint..):

or you can hodge-podge them like Crank & I did. You want clamps, as many as you can get your hands on. I’ve NEVER heard anyone complain about too many clamps, cheap or otherwises.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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