most important workshop tools

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Forum topic by AKSteve posted 02-10-2012 08:35 PM 5980 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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475 posts in 2326 days

02-10-2012 08:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip jig

I have started a workshop in my Garage and so far I have outfitted it with the following tools: Table Top Tools: Band Saw, Planer and a router(with a table) and I have a regular table saw, my hand tools are the usual; Planers, chisels, Saws, Measuring devices. I have a small work bench and a Planing Bench that I have built. and a chop saw. I did have a really good hand circular saw that was stolen, and I don’t know if I should get another one, I did use it but not that often. I also have a hand drill and an electric hand drill/Driver.

Since I am such a rookie to the wood working and I want to concentrate on mostly building furniture and small projects I wanted to know what everyone prefers in there shop, what are some must haves. thing you couldn’t live with out. tools, jigs etc..

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

14 replies so far

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2443 days

#1 posted 02-10-2012 08:52 PM

Just my experiences so far as a fairly new woodworking is that I wish I had read Christopher Schwartz’s book “The Anarchists Toolchest” and watched the Paul Sellers series of DVD’s before I started buying a slew of tools. I realized that if I had seen those two things before entering the world of woodworking, my workshop would have been outfitted very differently than it is right now. I’d have less machinery and dedicated more to hand tools. But another thing I’ve realized is make sure you buy the right tools when you buy them. I’ve realized I settled for a much less tool because of price only to rebuy it in a better quality (especially in hand tools.) The other thing I’ve come to realize is there are some amazing older machinery you can buy on craigslist for a fraction of what the same machine costs new, only the old stuff is usually built in the US, is more solidly made, and will outlast any new piece of machinery you could buy today. It can also be the same regarding hand tools that you’ll find, especially old saws and hand planes and chisels. So my recommendation is to start with the book and DVD’s that I recommended and work from there. There’s a good slew of info on what you’ll really need to build furinture, including a good workbench. Also see Chris Schwartz’s Workbench books when you get into that realm. Best place to start planning that aspect. And most importantly, good luck and have fun!

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2994 days

#2 posted 02-10-2012 09:15 PM

Good advice from Greg.

Especially the quality tool issue.

I would rather have 3 or 4 really good chisels, for instance, than 3 six-piece sets of crappy ones.

Folks work differently and on different stuff so it’s very hard to suggest what tools another person will need.

For furniture making, I think a good flat assembly table is important. Plenty of good clamps.

Sharpening equipment for those good chisels and plane cutters. I like the “scary sharp” system, but you mileage may vary.
I like Japanese saws for hand saws, but I also have some old Disstons.

I’d hate to have to do without my little Rikon 10” band saw; wish I had a big one too.

I think a lot of folks on this site have and use the Ridgid oscilating belt/spindle sander. I don’t have one, but I have a belt/disk sander and a set of drums I chuck up in my drill press. Think the Ridgid would be better.

I need my Skill saw for sheet cutting. Would not want to do without this tool. In fact I have designed and have started to build me a home brew version of a panel saw to use with this tool.

Man, this could go on forever. Just plan on spending every spare penny you will ever have on tools and you will probably have most of the bases covered.

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 2326 days

#3 posted 02-10-2012 11:14 PM

Great Info! thanks guys. I love Tools! I have a nice small Japanese pull saw I use for making lap joints and dovetails, Okay I practice making dovetails LOL this is good info for me, I usually just buy a tool as I go along, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. and I end up wasting money and most importantly wood. I have a good scrap box started already.

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

View HamS's profile


1829 posts in 2412 days

#4 posted 02-10-2012 11:50 PM

Good light, Good square and something I would not have believed until I had it was my five foot long aluminum straight edge. If you are building case goods, a yardstick is not big enough and a tape measure is just not accurate enough for furniture. The straight edge is thick enough to clamp to a board and use it as a fence for the router and it won’t sag when you need to measure a longish distance. The other thing I use all the time is the little hand broom that I sweep the table top off with and clean up (when I actually do it)

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3470 days

#5 posted 02-10-2012 11:51 PM

just build and buy as you need. The more I do, the more I understand the direction I want to go and the more clarity I have on what tools I want to add to my shop. When I first started I spent money on some things that I really no longer use. Now I buy things that I originally didnt see the need for. Sounds like your off to a good start so just start building and see where it takes you.

I have a circular saw, but i rarely use it. They are good for cutting sheet goods down to more manageable pieces. Whenever possible I have the people at my hardwood dealer rough cut my sheet goods for me. When I get home I will take them down to final dimensions on my t.s.

-- RKWoods

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3470 days

#6 posted 02-10-2012 11:58 PM

I agree with HamS. A good straight edge is a must regardless of what kind of work you do. I also agree with greg on quality.

-- RKWoods

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 2930 days

#7 posted 02-11-2012 12:11 AM

You said you have a bench top planer. I would recommend a jointer. Table saw, planer and jointer go hand in hand in hand for properly squaring up lumber.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3033 days

#8 posted 02-11-2012 12:25 AM

Some people focus on building a shop and some focus on projects and buy what they need (including major tools) as they need it.

There is no wrong way to do it. I ended up doing more building shop than building projects because I always had a fear of ruining good wood and making projects that weren’t as good as I’d want because of a lack of toolage. Ideally, I’d like to have gone the latter route and bought high quality tools as needed, but it just didn’t work that way with my personality.

But in terms of us giving advice, it helps to know which mindset you are. If the shop-building mindset, we can tell you all sorts of great things to buy and put on your wishlist. If you’re more likely to buy stuff as your projects require it, tell us about the next few things you’d like to tackle and we can offer up more specialized recommendations.

Stuff you’ll end up needing regardless of what you make or do, hand or power…
1) good straightedge, longer the better for machinery setup (36”+), shorter for checking boards/handplaning
2) good combo square
3) flat assembly surface
4) clamps

You didn’t list a sander. A random orbit sander is basically a must-have unless you plan on hand-sanding everything. In terms of buying quality like Greg mentioned, you’ll thank yourself for getting a relatively quieter/vibration-free model with good dust extraction.

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

View Bill1225's profile


125 posts in 2422 days

#9 posted 02-11-2012 12:49 AM

as stated above a good 12” combo sqaure like a starrett or brown and sharp and they have them at AIH ( i grew up in wassilla )

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 2326 days

#10 posted 02-11-2012 12:54 AM

OH yeah I did forget to list the Sander, I have a craftsman table top sander. I really like it. and I do have an orbit sander too. forgot about those =] but I could definitely use a good straight edge for sure, I have a nice size Framing Square I like to use. And I have a ton of Irwin Clamps. A T-Bevel and a very old combo Square I used to use when I worked for Boeing back in the Eighties, it’s amazing I still have that. its about 23 years old now. Damn I am getting old! I am really Glad I joined this site, the info here is pretty amazing.

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 2326 days

#11 posted 02-11-2012 12:55 AM

AIH is a really good place, I always go there and know they have pretty much anything I want. thanks !

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2716 days

#12 posted 02-11-2012 01:32 AM

Your brain + books = Anything
Think! I know it hurts, but like any exercise the pain will go away the more you do it!

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Thomps's profile


10 posts in 2327 days

#13 posted 02-11-2012 08:34 PM

I used to hate the table saw and today it is the heart of my shop. Space isn’t a tool but it’s the most expensive. With this in mind pay attention to some of these posts and workbenches with storage added value.

-- ""The only fool bigger than the fool who says he knows it all is the fool that argues with him."

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3983 days

#14 posted 02-11-2012 08:50 PM

A dust collector.


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