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Forum topic by WayneC posted 07-15-2011 08:20 PM 4885 views 0 times favorited 90 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13754 posts in 4121 days

07-15-2011 08:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question bandsaw drill-driver chisel tablesaw shaping milling joining sharpening traditional

I’m currently reading the Anarchist's Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz and I had recently read The New Traditional Woodworker by Jim Tolpin (Also the author of the classic Table Saw Magic) and found it interesting in their choices of which power tools they would retain. Christopher Schwarz would retain (in order)

  • Thickness Planer
  • Bandsaw
  • Dedicated Mortice machine.

If I remember correctly the thickness planer and mortice machines earned their places because of being significant labor savers and the bandsaw because of it’s versitility.

I belive that Jim Tolpin used a Drill press and a Bandsaw in his shop and he has sold his table saw.

The question I would pose to you is if you could only 3 shop tools, what would they be, what makes them so valueable to you and what kind of project do you mainly build.

Also, if your a woodworker who makes furnature or similar projects I highly recommend the two books above. There is a lot of sound advise and good information in both books. They might even make you reconisider how you work with wood.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

90 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2904 days

#1 posted 07-15-2011 08:44 PM

If I could only keep 3 show machines they would be

1. Table Saw
2. Jointer/Planer combo machine
3. Drill Press

I chose the table saw because I cant imagine ripping boards without it. I don’t own a band saw yet and I have been able to get by without one so far on the projects that I have made.

2. I always work with rough sawed lumber and without my jointer/planer combo machine the labor to dimension stock would be intense.

3. When I bought my drill press I figured I would use it every now and then but as it turns out I use it just about every time I am in the shop.

Those would be my main 3. A close contender would also be my Radial Arm Saw. The RAS is extremely versatile and although many people no longer use them I am one of the guys who still has mine set up and use on a regular basis.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2904 days

#2 posted 07-15-2011 08:52 PM

What are your picks Wayne?

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#3 posted 07-15-2011 08:56 PM

1. A fully tricked out ShopSmith

2. Thickness Planer

3. Power Mortiser

Custom furniture, custom cabinets, remodeling and turned gift products are the types of work I’m trying to get into. I am just a hobby woodworker with a full time engineering job and I am half owner of a retail jewlry store so time for my hobby is rather limited. The remodeling is my own house and includes removing walls, and the complete replacement of the kitchen, adding a utility room, new hardwood floors, new bathrooms and a basment shop. The gift items will be sold in my jewelry store. And the furniture is what I want to do when I retire from engineering in about 6 or 7 years.

By the way, I don’t have a ShopSmith, but that’s the only way I saw to have a lathe, drill press, table saw, disk sander, and band saw and call it one tool. :-0

View Tony's profile


986 posts in 4054 days

#4 posted 07-15-2011 08:58 PM

A very good question – As I only have a limited workshop at the moment, due to moving house, most of my machines are still in Finland. I have made a full staircase only using Bandsaw, jointer, thickness planer, router table and of a course compound mitre saw.

The RAS I have with me was not used at all – the table saw was 2000km away, the rest was with hand tools including jointing some really big (15’ x 15” x 2 1/2”) oak boards).

The project is still not 100% finished, so I have not yet posted it. But it is surprising what you can do with a minimum of machines – you also get to hear yourself think and for me a greater satisfaction in the finished project when using hand tools.

So for me in order of importance:

Band Saw (18”), bigger would be better (larger width for ripping)
Thickness Planer (15”), you can flatten (using a jig) and thickness all boards up to 15” wide and 6” thick
Router Table (only because I do not have the equivalent molding planes), but if i had them, then a festool tracksaw.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4121 days

#5 posted 07-15-2011 09:00 PM

I have an old Delta 12” bandsaw that really needs to be upgraded. It only has a 1/2 hp motor, 6” of cutting depth and will not take a riser block. I use the damn thing all the time and think I would be hard pressed to live without a bandsaw. I have lathes that I use, those could probably be excluded from the cut list because they are for a different woodworking dicipline. I really like my drill presses (Rigid and an old Rockwell Radial drill press) but probably should cut down to one or the other. I have a Delta Unisaw but have not been doing much work with sheet goods…. I love my router table…. Jointer/Planer are useful, but I have a good selection of quality hand planes…. Also an old dewalt radial arm saw waiting to be restored (probably should just sell it on craigslist to get some space back)

So, If I had to choose….

Bandsaw, Drill press and 3rd tool yet to be determined.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Newage Neanderthal's profile

Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 2574 days

#6 posted 07-15-2011 09:07 PM

I have a tablesaw and jointer that will be sold soon. That will leave me with a bandsaw, planner, and drill press. I don’t really use the drill press for woodworking though, mostly diy stuff. I just like my brace too much.
So for my woodshop my power choices would be:
2. planner
3. ummm, AC would be nice.

-- . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4121 days

#7 posted 07-15-2011 09:09 PM

I agree on the AC, it gets pretty hot here in the summer…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#8 posted 07-15-2011 09:11 PM

I would say first and for most the table saw. It’s the most versatile tool in my shop.
Second would be thickness planer. I do a lot that starts with rough saw lumber. I can’t image my life without one.
third is the band saw (although if it were real I might wind up with the drill press) Either of these can be done by hand, but life is just so much simpler with them.

I could joint with hand planes, i typically finish with them anyhow. Picking three was pretty difficult because my life would be very difficult without a router as well. I know I could learn to do most with some kind of plane, but I’m just not a hand tool purist. I like them, but like power as well.

I really don’t have a “type” of woodworking I do. I build furniture, rustic stuff, tools, jigs, frames, whatever happens along. I have built everything from boxes for baseball cards to condo projects, so I like the mix (no more condo projects for me though).

The interesting thing for me, for as long as I have been doing it, is learning a new or different way to do what I’ve been doing. Maybe I don’t get as good as some, but It keeps me intrigued.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2663 days

#9 posted 07-15-2011 09:30 PM

crank49 is a cheatin’ rascal ;=) lol

1) Router
2) Table Saw
3) Compound Sliding Miter Saw

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4121 days

#10 posted 07-15-2011 10:24 PM

I agree…lol I’ve avoided shopsmiths because the idea of having to convert the machine to perform different tools would seem to be a hassel. I would love to have one as a dedicated drill press to do horizontal boring though.

With me the the Jury is still out on Saws. I really do not have good quality handsaws in operation and I still need to learn fundamental skills including sharpening the saws. I’m hoping to be back fully functional (badly broken leg) by the end this month or perhaps mid August and ordered a set of Gramacy hold downs in anticipation for building a set of saw benches. I should have a better feel for if I could give up my radial saw and my SCMS for hand saws…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View funchuck's profile


119 posts in 3081 days

#11 posted 07-15-2011 11:59 PM

drill press
hand held drill (does this count as a shop tool?)
thickness planer

I have learned to live without my tablesaw, bandsaw, and miter saw. This is because I share my workshop with my 2 cars. At the end of the day, both cars must be able to fit inside the garage. That means I have to move all my tools back to storage position. It is easy to do that with handsaws, but a hassle with big tools.

-- Charles from California

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4121 days

#12 posted 07-16-2011 12:26 AM

I would say that hand held drills do not count. (You would have to pry mine from my cold dead fingers).

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3182 days

#13 posted 07-16-2011 12:39 AM

1. Table saw – my biggest time saver
2. Router table (with router) – Too many applications, whether profiling, mortising, rabbeting, dadoing, or pattern cutting….I can even edge joint with it.
3. Planer – the ability to use any thickness boards I want simply rocks!

I can actually do without most other tools if I have this combination.

-- jay,

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3007 days

#14 posted 07-16-2011 01:36 AM

Man that’s a tough one to decide on cause I love my machines. Cutting it down to three is rough. Off hand I could say the three I could give up would be the Table Saw, Jointer and SCMS, but I love my RAS, OSS and router table. Since I could only pick three I would have to go along with the band saw, thickness planer and drill press. As I begin to use hand tools more, this decision may become easier but for now its really a tough call.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2881 days

#15 posted 07-16-2011 02:36 AM


I have Schwarz’s book as well. Bought it for vacation but am already 20% through it. This forum and the book have me looking more closely at hand tools but boy I do love my power tools. Since I have the drum sander, I use the planers a lot less. The Jet 16-32 puts out a lot of dust so you need a DC system if you don’t want lung problems. (Is it cheating if you include a DC?)

1. Table Saw (I love the SCMS but you can always use miter for crosscuts)
2. Band Saw (re-sawing, curve cutting and straight line sawing rough lumber prior to table saw)
3. Drum Sander (better at smoothing boards, can use 80 grit or lower for rough stuff) handles up to 32” if needed

Guess this would be a good discussion for new woodworkers looking at power tools.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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