What should be my next tool purchase?

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Forum topic by Simon2822 posted 02-25-2012 12:31 PM 2205 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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72 posts in 2652 days

02-25-2012 12:31 PM

I could do with some help here. Just what tool should I buy next? I have narrowed it down to a table saw or a planer/thicknesser. The budget won’t stretch to both.
Future projects are likely to be furniture, boxes, chopping boards, toys etc. A bit of everything really.
At present I have:
Sliding compound mitre saw
Router (plus homemade table)
Belt sander (hand held)
Various handtools
All help appreciated

-- If it's not right, it's wrong

21 replies so far

View HamS's profile


1833 posts in 2626 days

#1 posted 02-25-2012 12:50 PM

Conventional wisedom would say the table saw is the king of the shop.

However, the more work I do the more I realize that I made a compromise on quality when I bought my saw and did not even know I was making it. I bought a Craftsman contractor saw in 1993. It cost enough to be a major purchase and I could not have afforded a better one. It has cost me time ever since. a band saw is not a tool you expect to be perfect and cut glue ready joints, you do on a table saw. It MIGHT be possible to get that kind of precision in reasonable time if you spend the money for a quality saw, but a quality saw is not to be had for less than a thousand dollars and really I now would expect to spend at least 1500 for a minimally acceptable saw at the top end of the range. I am not saying that quality work cannot be done with a lesser saw, but the time that you will take fiddling and squaring and adjusting will be proportionally greater. If you assume I worked in my shop two weekends a month and one night during the week and ten percent of that time is cutting on the table saw I have spent 450 hours using that table saw since I bought it. If I would have improved my efficiency by thirty percent and I value my time at $7 /hour (hobbiest now) the lack of quality has cost me a little over $1,000 buying the cheap table saw.

I do not know how valid these assumptions are, but it would make a great case study for a b-school grad student to study the cost of quality.

I am rambling, but that is my characheter. Buy a jointer, that is needed to make things flat, and it is the one operation in squaring and prepping stock that I think is the hardest to do by hand. Your band saw will make the opposite edge parallel to the jointed ege and you can plane a board flat and parallel, but flattening it in the first place is the hardest to do by hand for me.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2930 days

#2 posted 02-25-2012 01:05 PM

Table saw, brah.

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

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3717 days

#3 posted 02-25-2012 01:13 PM

A good table saw.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3288 days

#4 posted 02-25-2012 01:39 PM


Brian Boggs, one of the most prolific and respected chair makers, doesn’t have a tablesaw. He finds them unnecessary. While I think that is a little extreme, I agree that it can be done without; at least until an irrestable bargain shows up om craig’s list. You’re going to need to work with rough lumber, or you will be unable to afford the wood you need.

Therefore, a jointer and planer are essential. You don’t have to spend thousands, though. Go to,default,sc.html. You can get a factory reconditioned (as new) Dewalt DW 734R for $328.99 or a DW735 for $499.99 with a full new warranty and $7 shipping. I have gone this route on several major tool purchases and have been more than happy with the savings, service and tools. Can’t tell them from new.

As to jointers, good ones can be had foe $700 or less. If pockets are too shallow for that look at this;,default,sc.html. This would allow you to quickly and CHEEPLY flatten one side so that the planer can do the rest.

When you do need a saw, and you will, look at this;,default,sc.html or this:,default,sc.html, or especially this;,default,sc.html. All of these, especially the Bosch, are easily capable of doing anything needed in building fine furniture. It is possible to equip your shop with the THREE most-needed tools for about $1700 if you do it at one purchase (Pocket depth?) and have pro quality stuff.

You DO need a jointer and planer first so that you can flatten and square lumber quickly, efficiently and accurately. The key is to make your purchases in an informed way so that you can afford the wood you need to make your dreams come true.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4455 days

#5 posted 02-25-2012 02:51 PM

It’s funny how much woodworkers vary on this question.

For me, it was the purchase of a cheap table saw that opened up a whole new world. No disrespect to the jointer and planer guys…. they are important tools. But if you’re going to make stuff, the first thing you have to be able to do is rip the lumber to the necessary dimensions. There is no easier, faster, and more accurate way to do that than with a table saw. And with the addition of a few jigs and a good dado set, there are endless other operations you can perform with it as well.

A planer comes in at a close second, because it gives you the ability to use rough lumber, and to alter thickness to suit your needs. A jointer is essential if you buy rough lumber in bulk and have a lot of twisted boards to deal with, but the average woodworker can live without one (I do).

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Don W's profile

Don W

19045 posts in 2805 days

#6 posted 02-25-2012 03:03 PM

A table saw. I know some experts are now suggesting you can work without one. They apparently work different than I do. I’m a big hand tool guy, but a table saw will ALWAYS be in my shop.

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

View joey bealis's profile

joey bealis

177 posts in 2744 days

#7 posted 02-25-2012 03:06 PM

View muleskinner's profile


926 posts in 2674 days

#8 posted 02-25-2012 03:18 PM

I’d go with the table saw just for it’s ripping capability. I haven’t had too much luck ripping with my band saw (don’t know if it’s me or the saw).

-- Visualize whirled peas

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3151 days

#9 posted 02-25-2012 04:07 PM


-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 3030 days

#10 posted 02-25-2012 04:17 PM

Of all my tools, with motors, the table saw is turned on the most. With a few shop made fixtures it’s ease of use makes it less likely that I will use the miter saw, and I sold my radial arm saw. I will keep the miter saw because it is portable, for projects away from the shop.
My advice would be to purchase a quality table saw.

-- Mel,

View JAAune's profile


1854 posts in 2554 days

#11 posted 02-25-2012 04:37 PM

It depends upon the type of work you do the most.

I would go with the jointer myself as suggested by some. A jointer/bandsaw combo can do much of what the tablesaw does. Also, I don’t recommend ripping on the tablesaw without a jointer. Flat lumber with straight edges make the operation much safer.

I’ve worked for quite some time with just the bandsaw and tablesaw and no jointer. While it was possible to do almost everything I was seldom 100% happy with the final quality of the work. Pre-milled boards almost never stayed flat after I bought them. Having parts slightly out of square resulted in small discrepancies that added up.

-- See my work at and

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2657 days

#12 posted 02-25-2012 08:40 PM

See I think if you have some handplanes you could get away without the jointer but the planer does make easier. I find myself using the table saw less and less the more I dive deeper down the hand tool rabbit hole. The bandsaw can rip and routers can do dadoes miter saws can crosscut. Or if you have handtools then you a couple handsaws chisels and planes can handle all those tasks. I know a lot of amazing woodworkers that never touch a table saw and they see to build furniture just fine. Now if you’re building lots of cabinets then the table saw might be the answer because it will rip large plywood goods, although a circular saw works too. Soooo I vote a good planer, like 15” or wider heavy duty. That way you could hand plane wider stock flat on one side and dimension it to thickness with the planer. I’ve owned a table saw for years and after getting a jointer and planer, it opened a whole work up. The only thing I ever use my table saw for anymore is a workbench and occasionally dimensioning lumber bevause of time, but I certainly wouldn’t wAnt to give up my planer. Just my 2 cents.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2657 days

#13 posted 02-25-2012 08:44 PM

As an addendum to that, when I made a bunch of quarter round for a flooring job we were doing, I was glade I had the table saw bevause ripping those to thickness by hand or with a bandsaw would have taken forever. So I will always have one, bit I might trade mine in for a portable one for those few mundane tasks that I rarely do here and there.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2814 days

#14 posted 02-26-2012 08:40 AM

Tablesaw, by far.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2877 days

#15 posted 02-26-2012 08:54 AM

Table saw. Is there an echo in this thread ?

After the table saw, do get your thickness planer next. I did without much too long and am surprised how much run time it gets. I just wish I had a one larger than 12 1/2 inch.

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

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