Rookie, looking for some advice

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Forum topic by Iggles88 posted 12-09-2011 06:43 AM 1329 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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247 posts in 2386 days

12-09-2011 06:43 AM

Hey all, I’ve just recently been turned on to woodworking and now I can’t stop reading about it, asking advice from other woodworkers that I know, and have spent plenty of time trying to set up a shop. So far I have bought a table saw, drill, impact driver, fixed base router, plunge router, jigsaw, 6” jointer, compressor, finish nailer, and brad nailer (along with the essential hand tools) The initial costs have put a pretty big hole in my pocket but I really would like to get either A) Compund Miter Saw B) Track saw (don’t have circular saw yet) C) Router table or D) Thickness Planer. I’m stuck on which one to buy seeing as whatever tool I buy will be the last for a while. Any advice would be appreciated, also any quick tips or advice on easy projects to start with would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

14 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117119 posts in 3603 days

#1 posted 12-09-2011 07:18 AM

Hi Iggles
Welcome to Ljs
You will get lots of different opinions on this but I would choose the Miter saw first then the thickness planner then the router table ,although all of them are important tools.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3036 days

#2 posted 12-09-2011 07:24 AM

It really depends on what you plan on making first.

If you are going to be doing a lot of shop setup, like building shop cabinets, etc., that tracksaw is going to be really really handy. It’s not a necessity by any means, but breaking down plywood is a dream with it, and much safer than trying to hassle with large pieces of ply on the TS.

A router table should be high on your list, but IMHO you should definitely build it and it’s not necessarily mutually exclusive with your “last” tool. So the financial outlay doesn’t need to be much more than ply/MDF/hardware/insert plate if you wish.

A thickness planer is definitely important, especially if you will be working with hardwood for your next projects.

Personally, my miter saw is only used when I need to cut molding/trim for the house. For everything else, my TS/crosscut setup is perfectly adequate. Others use their miter saw much more frequently.

So if you’re envisioning a lot of sheet goods in your immediate future, you’ll thank yourself for getting the tracksaw. Get those projects done, sell it, and then get yourself a thickness planer. On the other hand, if you’re getting right to hardwood projects, get the planer.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2997 days

#3 posted 12-09-2011 07:37 AM

In reading your post three things stick out and grab my attention.

1. I couldn’t function without a circular saw. I never used one of those track saw thingys, but a good guide can be built for any circular saw and make it much more accurate.

2. You didn’t mention clamps. You never have enough clamps.

3. Any serious woodworker will need a good workbench and building one is an excellent first project. A very good place to start is to get a copy of Chris Schwarz’s book “Workbench Design”

View EandS's profile


73 posts in 2488 days

#4 posted 12-09-2011 07:40 AM

To be honest the most important tools you will need are quality hand tools. These are an investment but they are worth it. You will find that no matter how fancy or heavy duty your power tools are there are still tasks essential to FINE woodworking that can only be done with say…a good hand plane or..a sharp chisel.

-- ~ ~

View rrdesigns's profile


531 posts in 3212 days

#5 posted 12-09-2011 07:48 AM

Don’t forget about safety. Ear plugs, dust mask, push sticks (highly recommend the GR-Ripper variety-very useful), and dust collection. A wood storage rack comes in handy too. I built my own rolling cart for storing leftover ply and a rack ( to hold many many clamps which you didn’t mention but will probably need. A good quality miter sled for the table saw reduces the need for a miter saw.

-- Beth, Oklahoma, Rambling Road Designs

View MrDan's profile


205 posts in 3313 days

#6 posted 12-09-2011 07:56 AM

In my opinion I would go with the thickness planer. Starting every project with straight and square stock is essential for making most types of woodwork; and a jointer and a planer used together is the fastest way to do that. Once your stock is milled straight and square you have a strong foundation to go anywhere you want from that point. Skip that first step and you’ll regret it during the rest of the build as little problems will appear along the way.

With that said, a miter saw is pretty dang useful too. But you can always crosscut by hand (and clean up the edge with a handplane and a shooting board) or at your tablesaw of course.

As for the router table, I would recommend just building one instead of buying one. If money’s tight, spend it on the things you can’t build yourself.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2386 days

#7 posted 12-09-2011 03:53 PM

Thanks everyone for the help, I’ve definitely taken it all into consideration and am going to be making a decision in the next few days. Let me start by saying i have very good hand tools I shelled the money put for them first which is why I’m short on cash right now, I knew woodworking was expensive but I didn’t expect it to be this much, but I do enjoy it and I’m not looking back now. Also when I said new to woodworking I should have said new to actually doing the work, I’ve spent plenty of time in my grandfathers wood shop (more than a hobbyist but less then a career) watching him build furniture for the house or the occasional client. That being said I know the importance of clamps and have loaded up on them at the beginning. Also let me quickly share se of the problems I have had in the few little projects I’ve done. My first project was a simple bookcase and it surprisingly went very well and I had it finished in two days (was trying to take my time) after that I’ve tried to build a dartboard cabinet and a wine rack and both times the wood was bowed and my rookie eye didn’t notice until after assembly which caused the entire project to fail. Looking at the advice id say I’m down to the track saw or the planer. I didn’t really want to buy a miter saw anyway, probably later on down the line. I guess I could attempt to build the router table. Obviously I have a need for the planer, I also really could use a circular saw, but seeing as I am going to get the track saw either now or next time I can’t justify buying one. So again any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks again

View chrisstef's profile


17426 posts in 3032 days

#8 posted 12-09-2011 03:57 PM

Id go with the thickness planer. It would allow you to purchase rough lumber and prep it yourself, which will save you some cashola. You could get away with a sled for your tablesaw in leiu of the miter saw to make crosscuts.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2912 days

#9 posted 12-09-2011 04:08 PM

I would put off buying the CMS, you can use your table saw for any cut you can make on a CMS. Hell I even did the crown moulding in my house on my table saw. I have a CMS but I ony use it for construction projects or rough cuts.
I would put off the track saw as well. I have a $75 Hitachi still saw, a 4 foot straight edge, two clamps and a square that I use for cutting sheet goods. It works fine. Thickness plainers are nice, I use mine from time to time. What I use 90% of the time is my table saw with varous jigs for cross cutting, jointing or 45 cuts and my drum sander.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2593 days

#10 posted 12-09-2011 04:35 PM

I agree with crank49 about the skill saw. Its not as important for shop work as it is for carpentry, but there is a pretty big gray line there. I couldn’t live without a skill saw.

You mentioned you bought hand tools but didn’t say what. Like you can live without a thickness planer if you are buying all sized lumber and you have a good set of hand planes. I’ve got a compound miter saw from my carpentry days, but almost never use it any more. I do use my miter box all the time. Even a skill saw with a shooting board will do the trick. i built my own router table, so the cost was $0, but wouldn’t want to be without it, although I use it less and less as I use my hand tools more and more.

Your right, its an expensive hobby, but if you come across a cheap hobby let me know, I’ve had several throughout my lifetime, and every one has been expensive. In woodworking you will figure out how to get the job done with the tools you have. When you find yourself needing something over and over, you will start to look to buy or build it. My next build is a good shooting board, now that I have my new #62.

Edit: Welcome to LJ’s and to woodworking. Its a skill that will serve you well.

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

View Tim's profile


43 posts in 3206 days

#11 posted 12-13-2011 03:32 AM

My vote, as a newbie, is the planer. There is no way the S4S lumber I chose so carefully at the yard would be the same shape after 4 weeks in my shop. I also don’t think you really save too much $ vs milled since I seem to end up cutting around more waste in the rough and 1 job out of rough hard maple will have you sending out the knives for sharpening. For me, I simply need all of the stock I’m going to use to be the same. I can mill close, let it sit for a week, and finish it. I have found it invaluable for that as well as makng table legs out of laminated boards. One word of advice: save the $ to purchase a dust collector with it! The time savings of cleaning out the machine and your shop will be worth every cent. Have fun!

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2503 days

#12 posted 12-13-2011 04:13 AM

I think I am with a1jim on this only i might do it a little different. if i was on a budget I would buy a nice 12inch Miter saw. I know there are tons of tools and many guys say you don’t even need a miter saw and that’s doable too. i got by for several years without one. I have a 10 inch delta I like the saw but it wont cut thick stock like a 4×4 so 10 inch is in the things i am going to sell pile. now that said if you budget is real tight I would shift gears and get Lay out tools first and foremost

I LOVE THE TRIAL ONE SET FROM mARPLES THEY ARE AMONG THE BEST IN THE WORLD AND EVERYONE NEEDS GREAT MARKING TOOLS WITH THAT SAID i WOULD NEXT OOPS SORRY I would next switch plans and make a set of miter sleds for your angles to be cut on the table saw if i want a great tight miter I go to my table saw and get the best results

Next I would buy a good used thickness planer hopefully a current model so you can get aftermarket blades etc for it I have a dewalt 733 its a 2 blade planer it works very well but i would like a full size 15 or 18 inch planer if you can afford it do this .

Now a router table I would likely build my own you have the tools so why not be sure to buy good miter slot track at woodpecker rockler or woodcraft to name a few. I do love that woodpecker red although the rockler blue is a close second. I have the rockler blue on my router table. then you can buy an insert or a lift depending again on that damn budget. in recap you can get by with out a miter saw but if you have access to rough sawn lumber you can really make good with a planer . buy the biggest one you budget will allow make a few miter sleds for your table saw and build your router table. then make and sell some thing good it doesn’t matter what for 10 years i made Adirondack sets and sold them on the corner then i made kits and sold them on the internet this venture funded the fine tools I own today and some my friend.dan ,has, as we did this together this model is doable and if your craftsmanship is good selling things will happen all by itself I remember we got an order for 45 sets of Adirondack chairs we bought a bandsaw and a sander with the profit a nice bunch of tools .

No Mater what you do always buy one size bigger than you can get by with so if you need a 6 inch jointer try to buy a good one but buy an 8 inch one I got by with a 4 inch one for so long a 6 inch seemed like a Lexus but now i have the 6 i lone for the 8 so always buy bigger and as much as you can without getting divorced I do hope this helps The Dude Lance

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2386 days

#13 posted 12-13-2011 04:44 AM

Lance, great advice I really appreciate it….I actually went with the Makita sp6000k track saw, reason being is that my table saw top is actually really small. I do love the saw but in another thread I posted I was unsure whether to get a bigger table saw or go with the track saw. The track saw makes my life so much easier since I didn’t have a circular saw so cutting sheet and larger stock was really tough and now a breeze, I found plans for a router table which I’m going to build as soon as I feel I’m ready, hopefully next month after the holiday is over and I can save some money I’ll be able to buy a thickness planer, I pretty much ruled out a miter saw right now because I really just don’t need one. Thanks everyone for the advice and it’s a ton of help since I am brand new to this. I may in time regret not buying the bigger table saw since I had the money to upgrade from my current saw to possibly a cabinet saw but no less then a hybrid saw, my shop space may have been an issue with the bigger saw though. No looking back now, I feel I’ve put together a very good set of tools in under a month and should be able to do good things with what I have.

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2503 days

#14 posted 12-13-2011 04:56 AM

thats great are you using a contractors saw as a table saw now is it a 10 inch blade if so make two jigs a 90 and a 45 degree miter box I will look for a plane if you email me ill send you a video to d.l and how to do it if it is too big to email to you like you have a size limit on your emails that makes it hard for you to get my email is lance @ this old workshop , com use a . for the dot not a , as i did and no spaces i do this to avoid being grabbed by bots I have this video with a ton of table saw jigs to make buying a good used saw is easy on craigslist lots of good unisaws and jet saws on there for sure

-- Please check out my new stores and

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