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Forum topic by Misty posted 01-19-2012 08:40 PM 1732 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2319 days

01-19-2012 08:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource beginner woodshop hand-tools scratch limited sell

Hello everybody. I thought I’d explain my situation a little bit along with what I’ve been knocking around in my mind.

I grew up on my dad’s workbench in the garage. He gave me my first chisel set when I was 5 and still has my first chiseled ‘drawing’ in a place of honor in his house. My parents split when I was 11 and I didn’t see so much as a hammer until I moved away to college. I got a job building set pieces for the theater department and was reminded after all those years of just how nice it feels to see a finished project and still remember the feel of the uncut boards in your hands.

A few years after college, the economy hit me and I had to sell my meager tool collection in order to try to keep my house. It didn’t work and I miss that Dremel just about every day! Fortunately, it gave me a good excuse to move back in with my Dad. He doesn’t work in the garage anymore as he’s developed some physical handicaps that make it more painful than rewarding. The garage is filled with old motorcycles and unfinished projects to the point where even if I’d wanted to, I had no way of working with the tools.

Then, last year, I sold the last of my large belongings and packed my bags to move in with my boyfriend over in Europe. We’ve got a nice sized garage and a meager collection of cheap tools that he’s purchased as the need arose.

He has given me permission to build my dream shop in the garage but only finances are holding me back. My French is not quite good enough to qualify for work yet so we’re living on his income alone and I refuse to blow the budget just for a hobby. Also, the boyfriend is rather overwhelmed by my huge variety of hobbies and the fact that I am lucky to finish three or four projects per year out of all of them… sewing, knitting, woodworking, calligraphy, writing, drawing…yeah, I can’t honestly blame him for not wanting to spend hundreds of bucks on one of my hobbies that may not result in finished projects for several years. Thank god he’s logical like that because I sure as heck am not.

Right now, my tools consist more or less of:

-hammers and nails
-several mismatched screwdriver sets
-a set of wrenches
-a variety of pliers
-a 24” and & 12” hand band-saw
-a couple of rusty, dull hand planers
-a level and a tri-square
-rulers and pencils up the wazoo
-Sandpaper in various sizes and grits
-a dog who’ll chew any wood I put near her…still haven’t figured out how to make her chew in a straight line or stop where I want her to though, gotta work on that

No table or vises but I have a brick bbq in the back and a large supply of bricks to hold my work in place (see my garden beds project for a visual)

So… here’s my plan. I would like to find a woodworking plan that I can produce using what we have on hand. I’ll market the finished project to some of the neighbors and family and hopefully I can sell enough of whatever it is to buy a new tool to add to my list there.

My projects will gradually get more and more sophisticated as my tool supply grows and if I play it right, I should only have to worry about shelling out the money for the lumber for my first project or two. The

I’m perfectly fine with the thought of starting with hand tools and I’ll use them until my dying day but I’m not idealistic enough to not realize how much time and stress a tablesaw could save me. I would like to move up to electric eventually and keep my hand tools for finishing or delicate work.

This is where you all come in…hopefully.

I’m as big of an overachiever as my father sometimes. I try to think of small, cheap projects that I can make with my limited toolbox and my mind goes instantly to the craftsman style coffee table I saw a few years ago. I need some realistic opinions and advice to try to make this project work.

So I suppose my problem has several questions. What tools do you feel I am missing in order to have a well rounded toolbox? If I were to buy 5 tools in the next year, which ones would you suggest and in what order or priority?

What are some basic projects that you can think of that I could start making and marketing to my neighbors to earn more tool money?

I suppose, most importantly, if you were in my shoes, what would your very first step be?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I really hope I can get some help on this project because I am quite stumped.

11 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17311 posts in 2974 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 09:46 PM

Misty – where there is a will there is a way. Youve got enough to get yourself started. First find yourself some lumber and assemble the table top, you may need to buy a few clamps but they come fairly cheap. Then its on to the legs and apron. By no means do you have to start out with crazy joinery, keep it simple, glue and nails will get you where you need to be. Little by little youll gknow the tools you need, find some older ones and refurbish them if you have to. You can always call on other LJ’s in your area to help out. From the guys i know around here, theyre always willing.

Good luck and keep us posted … welcome to the gang.

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

View MichaelAgate's profile


398 posts in 2291 days

#2 posted 01-19-2012 09:53 PM

Misty, go have a look at my first project , A Bed For Dexter.You actually have more tools than required to make it. I have a pic of the tools I used to make it on there as well. ———Good Luck :)

-- Michael and Matthew

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2455 days

#3 posted 01-19-2012 10:10 PM

For the moment, I don’t think I would worry about a work bench, or making tables, although not knowing your skill-set, you may very well be capable of turning out nice joinery and finish with what you have on hand.

To begin with, I would recommend building square boxes with and without lids. It may not seem ‘romantic’ or ‘exotic’ but it is a good way to exercise your knowledge and build up your skills. It’s not as easy as you think it is to build a square box that is equal on all six sides.

For tools, think about re-furbishing what you have. A lot of us own nothing but old planes that we have rehabilitated from rusty hulks. I think my newest plane was built somewhere near 1909 and had laid in a high moisture environment for decades before I got it.
Learn to sharpen and hone your planes. The short term most inexpensive way is to use wet/dry sand paper (the same kind used in automotive body repair), and work your way up through the different grits of paper.

Look around for a decent saw file and a used saw set and saw vice to rehab your hand saws after you remove the rust from them.
Make sure your try square is really square and your level actually has a true straight edge.

Build up your knowledge base of things you can do with what you have. There are dozens of books on wood working available as free downloads a lot of them are HERE>

Finally, learn to keep working on a single project until it’s finished, (Yeah, I know… I’m still trying).

Welcome to our little piece of the asylum!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Nighthawk's profile


554 posts in 2324 days

#4 posted 01-20-2012 12:10 AM

Here is what I did and still am doing… Like you slowly choose you projects… yes I have most of the tools to build or do that… opps missing item Z… then go buy item Z…. another words buy as you need, not when you want.

Also as Dallas said one project at a time.

Get to know others in the area with the same interest, making new friends who can help out…some lend certian tools out (though most don’t) but maybe on certian projects where you are stuck, they can can help, ie; by putting something through their table for you etc.

Things I would get are some, clamps (can never have to many), some glue… Drill and some bits, a few different saw, fret saw tennon and general purpose saw… then slowly add to and upgrade that list as each project comes along. Before you know it you will have a nice selection of tools that can get most jobs done. Then from there you can start on the bigger stuff and have more power… :-)

I don’t have all the fancy tools either that you see some of the guys have on this site (make me all jelly-us and all that lol) But I think out side the square and work out other ways to do various things with what I have got, and over time slowly build up my tool list as well, which in reality hasn’t taken that long.

One thing you have to work out at first though is, what type of projects are you wanting to do… start simple, and think out side the square. Are you wanting to get in to fret work and scroll sawing… then you need a scroll saw… Cabnit and furniture then probably a table saw. Wood turning then you will need a lathe…

A lot of my tools I found in 2nd hand and Opp shops, garage sale, my ryobi grinder I paid $6 at a garage sale. Also wait till various things are on special at the hardware store. Keep an eye on local auction websites…
I don’t think I have paid full price anything in my basement.

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2955 days

#5 posted 01-20-2012 01:15 AM

You can make a simple table saw by mounting a circular saw upside down in a table much like you would mount a hand held router in a table to make a router table.

I would also recommend checking out this site. It has some free plans and some you pay for. Lots of good info on there.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Loren's profile


10276 posts in 3615 days

#6 posted 01-20-2012 02:10 AM

To Sell to Neighbors:

Here in the states shabby-looking bird houses are kind of a popular
thing. You can split the parts you need out of straight-grained
firewood with a shingle froe or other improvised froe. You can
even grind a froe from an old file but I reckon in France there are
some bargains to be had in antique shops on such tools because
hardly anybody knows what they are for anymore.

Track down the Woodwright’s Shop books or videos – you’ll get
lots of ideas from that guy about how to make cool stuff with
very minimal tools.

Handmade rakes, brooms, hay forks are all things that can be
made from green (free wood from the woods) wood.

See? I’ve just told you how to make money at woodworking
without spending any.

Shaker boxes and baskets can be made from split parts of
green wood as well. Rigging up a pipe to bend oval box sides
is no problem – you just need a pipe, a way to hold it, and
a propane torch.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2810 days

#7 posted 01-20-2012 06:50 AM

You said,
”I suppose, most importantly, if you were in my shoes, what would your very first step be?”

Take a few dollars. I mean really, no more than a few dollars. Go to the pawn shop. Buy a halfway decent circular saw.
I recommend this because, with a circular saw, you would have everything I had when I started and then some. I think you could get a much faster start with a curcular saw in addition to what you already have. The table saw can come later.
I, by no means, consider myself a master. I am however proud of the work I have accomplished in around four year with my wood working hobby. Go look at my projects and my shop. I started with about what you have (plus a circular saw).
Now, when you sell a few things and start to buy other tools, don’t rush out buying what you see in other people’s shops just because they have them. Buy what you need based on what you wish to build. Buy cheaply priced when you can, but not cheap quality. The worst tool mistake I made when I first started was buying cheap crap that last long enough to get it out of the box before it started tearing up.
When you go look at my shop, everything I have I have either found some great sales, bought at yard sales and flea markets, or traded work directly for tools. Also, I need to update my shop photos. I have, since those were taken, added a second table saw station and a fw more goodies.
Later down the road, if you can’t afford the tools you need, build them.


View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2337 days

#8 posted 01-20-2012 03:14 PM

I’ll let the more experienced members tell you what tools you should look into. I can offer some advice regarding the acquisition of tools though. I don’t know where in Europe you are, so here’s this :

Craigslist - Europe

Keep an eye on the tools section (and sometimes in the general section). Every once in a while something good will pop up. Occasionally you’ll see an old woodworker who’s cleaning out his shop, and can get some great deals. I got a 1970’s Delta 14” bandsaw for dirt cheap. The guy who had it had inherited it from his father-in-law who passed, and it sat in the back of a garage for about 20 years. Needed nothing other than a new blade and lots of elbow grease. If there’s something you’re looking for specifically and don’t see it, post a wanted ad. I wanted a drill press and didn’t see any. I posted a wanted ad and had 4 responses within 2 days. You can even just post a wanted ad asking for woodworking tools in general, and then see what’s out there. They don’t make them like they used to, and often I’d prefer an old, ‘experienced’ tool to a new one.

Good luck!

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View JAAune's profile


1788 posts in 2284 days

#9 posted 01-23-2012 01:38 AM

Chip Carving might be a good option. All it requires is a sharp knife that could easily be made out of an old piece of tool steel.

-- See my work at and

View Planeman40's profile


1156 posts in 2728 days

#10 posted 01-23-2012 10:34 PM

Well here is some advice from an old codger woodworker who has been at this for over a half century.

You appear to be in your younger years and sound as you might not be permanently settled. Large shop machines are heavy and cumbersome and can be difficult and expensive to move. I know as I have been through two divorces. Always keep this in mind until you get permanently settled . . . and even then.

From your story it sounds like you are from the USA and have moved to Europe. Keep in mind that the USA and Europe operate on different electrical standards and anything electrical bought in one place might not work in the other should you move back.

Over the years I have found that a good rule-of-thumb for purchasing used tools and machines is the price should be one half the original cost or cost of an equivalent tool or machine for something in very good condition. As the condition goes down, so does the price.

There are so many areas of woodworking and each seems to have a need of a certain group of tools. Figure out the kinds of things you think would like to build and buy accordingly. This website and experienced acquaintances can tell you what you should need.

Be careful of listening to the ever-going argument about “buying the best” and buying affordable but good. I have nothing against a Veritas or Lie Nielsen wood plane at $250 each, but a good old Stanley used plane from eBay at $35 will do the job just as well. In fact, I love the old tools and have and use many of them in my shop.

Remember the craftsmen of old and what they did with a whole lot less than we have today. The key is SHARPNESS and proper tuning of a tool. Learn how to sharpen to a razor edge. When you can shave the hair off your arm with the edge you have it right. Sharpening isn’t the mysterious thing its is made out to be, but you do need to understand how it is done properly and have the simple materials at hand.

If you really want to see what can be done with nothing but hand tools and a walk-in closet for a shop, read about one of our members here at Lumberjocks who lives in Brazil ( Be sure to look at Dilo’s projects! Big machines and a lot of fancy tools do not make a craftsman!

I could go on and on but I wont.

Good luck on you new move and finding your shop!


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View nikko18's profile


15 posts in 2659 days

#11 posted 01-23-2012 10:53 PM

Looking at the list you have, you could probably use a few chisels and some clamps. Those are something you should be able to find used cheap. Then all you need is a piece of plate glass and you are ready to go, you can sharpen your chisels, and plane blades, as well as lap the sole of your planes if they need it. As others have said start small and build up your skills, cutting to the line, paring with a chisel, planing a board flat. Once you get up to speed start making things. You can used reclaimed wood. Your kitchen counter may be flat enough to use a plane on. And if you get some old wooden jaw clamps you can clamp things vertically, by clamping the piece and then clamping the clamp to the table. You don’t need a production shop to start. Good luck,


-- Time flys like an arrow, fruit flies like a bannana

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