New guy needs tool recomendations

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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 03-30-2012 08:33 PM 1702 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2899 posts in 2271 days

03-30-2012 08:33 PM

Hi everyone. Apologies if this has been covered already, if so feel free to direct me to other threads. I have always loved woodworking and recently secured sufficient space to have a decent shop. I have a good collection of tools, most are mediocre at best. Now that I have been working in the shop 10 to 15 hours every week and made some pretty decent stuff, I convinced myself (and my wife) that it is time to invest in some decent tools.

Background – I like making furniture, mostly shaker style. It fits our home and tastes nicely. I am fortunate enough to have a very good mill with very reasonable prices 10 miles away, so I use a lot of oak and maple, and a Woodcraft store less than 3 miles away. I also enjoy the challenges of old school joinery. Even though they are easier, I tend to avoid pocket screws and biscuits in favor of various mortise and tenon, rabbet, dowels, etc. Here is what I think I need. Feel free to suggest others. I am not a millionaire, but I do well enough to afford some of the better tools on the homeowner spectrum.

Table saw – I really need a better one. I have a Ryobi now. It’s the 119.00 home depot one and probably the worst saw you can buy With that said, I actually like it and it can work it pretty well! The miter gauge is UESLESS, but the fence is surprisingly straight and accurate. I am looking for something a lot nicer and around 10 times that price. What would be a good saw in the sub 1500.00 range? I have seen some Jet and PM saws online that get good reviews. My biggest issue is I only have a 12’ Rip capacity. That leaves me using a circular saw a lot.

Jointer – this is my biggest need right now. I spend an obscene amount of time compensating at the router table and with table saw jigs to get moderately straight boards. I regularly work with boards > 3 feet, so a bench top is out of the question is assume. I have the space for a floor model as well.

Planer – I know I need one, I have no idea what is good or even what to look for.

Router – I have a craftsman one now (I know everyone hates them) that I actually really like. I do a lot of edge profiling, dadoes, and rabbets with it. The problem is it’s only “2”hp, single speed, and 1/4” collet. Should I even bother looking at anything other than the PC 7518? The new router will be in a table 90% of the time.

Router table, need some suggestions. My feeling is buy a lift and make a table. In addition, I have seen some people with router lifts in table saw extensions. That would be sweet.

Miter saw. Again, I love my craftsman, but am finding it’s not as precise as I need it to be. I feel this tool, like the table saw, is worth spending some money on. I’d love the festool, but realistically something in the 500$ range will have to do.

Circular saw. I have a 30 year old Skil my dad gave me. I hate it. Actually I hate them in general, but there are times where I need one.

Drill press. Could I get away with a benchtop model?

Drum/belt sander. Not the hand held variety. Do I really need one of those?

Blades. I have a forrest woodworker II (yes I have a 100$ blade in a 100$ saw), and an 80 tooth chopmaster in my miter saw (again equaling the price of the saw) as well as a few Freud diablo 10” blades of various tooth counts. Other than a dado stack, is there anything else I would need?

Thanks all for your help


13 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3131 days

#1 posted 03-30-2012 08:41 PM

lumberjoe, a good place to start is in the reviews section. It is divided by tool type and it gives you the chance to read other people’s experiences with tools in each category. If you ask for an opinion on a tablesaw, you will get 40 different responses involving 20-30 different saws. What I would recommend is to write down a list of tools that you are considering purchasing and the amount you can conceivably spend on each tool. Check out the reviews and come up with a purchase list. Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t build in a day, neither should your shop :)

Welcome to LJs.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2287 days

#2 posted 03-30-2012 09:03 PM

Well, I can’t help a lot in giving you definites, but I can tell you the things I normally run into when building furniture:

Tablesaw: I think you meant 12” ripping capacity. 12’ would be a huge piece to deal with on a rip cut. You don’t have to spend big dollars to get a decent tablesaw. The Ridgid one from Home Depot gets pretty good reviews.

I use portable saws with extension tables I have built for outfeed and ripping when I need the larger tables. The rest of the time I get to store the saw away. Great in a smaller shop.

Jointer: Most people are going to recommend the old Delta or whatever floor models. I don’t use one (yet) so I can’t help too much in pointing out the differences or advantages, but I’m currently searching for one to fill my shop space.

Planer: I get by with a Dewalt 735. The X version is on sale and has a rebate right now. Good deal for a decent planer. It’s heavy for a “portable” model, but one person can pick up and move it.

Router: I use a Bosch 1617 and love it. Powerful and well-built. I also have a Porter Cable 690. I like it as well, just not nearly as much as the Bosch. I also have a little PC trim router. Nice for projects needing a lot of controlled detail work. I used a Skil too, but hated it. Setting up height was just terrible and the bit would move in the collet occasionally for unknown reasons (it was definitely tight and clean).

Miter saw: I use a Bosch. I had a Porter Cable from way back when. The Bosch is a little smoother and more powerful, but the most important thing is that it is accurate which can be tuned into some of them with a little fiddling.

Circular saw: Wormdrive Skil is nice. I use 2 PC circ from the 90’s and a newer one. Both do the job. I use them sparingly though.

Drill press: Floor model is what I prefer. They really don’t take up that much floor space and I don’t have enough “bench” space to go around.

You might also want to think about getting a bandsaw… at least a 10 or 12”, but a 14” floor model would be great.

I have a variety of sanders and use them in varying situations. Having a sanding station (circular + belt) would be great.

Jig saw? I have the Bosch 1591 and also the newer J-whatever. 1591 has a lot more control. I’ve used a few Dewalts, Black and Deckers, etc. and hate them. If you can afford to spring for the 1591, do it.

I know none of this was very specific, but I hope it helps.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2271 days

#3 posted 03-31-2012 12:26 AM

Thanks, that does help. I do have a 12” bandsaw (floor model), a dewalt jig saw that I do like, and a huge variety of hand sanders – quarter sheet, half sheet, belt, and RO, probably 15 in total. I got into woodworking by buying crappy old furniture at yard sales and refinishing them, which I have been at for about 10 years. I can apply a mean french polish. I never understood the need for a sanding station.
For a router, I am looking for something over 3hp. I want to use it to make raised panel doors and other stuff a shaper would generally be used for (within reason). This will likely never leave the table, which is why I was thinking of the PC 7518 motor only + a lift.
Bench space is something I do have an abundance of. The garage was completely empty, so 3 complete walls are now work benches.
I’ve actually considered that ridgid table saw. I’ve seen some mixed reviews on it though. I will check out the review section here as well. Awesome forum you folks have going here!


View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#4 posted 03-31-2012 12:55 AM

Hi Joe
Many of your questions have been asked many times if you do a search here on Ljs using each tool your interested in and you will find many opinions about what’s the best tool in each category.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View rasp's profile


75 posts in 2280 days

#5 posted 03-31-2012 01:38 AM

make sure your jointer has a 220V motor. also measure the length of the bed. if you’re working with long pieces a lot, a couple extra inches of bed length is always nice.

i’ve always liked makita mitre saws. they have a good balance of features and durability. i find the bosch saws are not as durable, especially if they are being moved around job sites. the plastic buttons knobs and dials tend to break off. i personally don’t like mitre saws that are belt driven,but that is just personal preference.

my two cents (:

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2295 days

#6 posted 03-31-2012 05:13 AM

Welcome to LumberJocks , a world of advise, opinions, and experiences, all shared without judgement.

You’ve come to the right site for unbias tool reviews.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2271 days

#7 posted 04-03-2012 01:50 AM

I checked out the reviews and some posts about table saws. I’ve narrowed it down to these:

Steel City 35990C
Grizzly G0661
or spend a little more for
JET JPS10TS (steel wings and riving knife)

Is the JET really worth 400$ more than the Steel City or the Grizzly?


View bestwoodrouterman's profile


8 posts in 2303 days

#8 posted 04-03-2012 03:57 AM

For the Router, you can’t beat the Bosch 1617. Personally, it is my router of choice. I’ve tried out many, and overall one of the best. The PC 7518 is a good choice as well. I have reviewed these routers on my blog if you want to check it out Wood Router Reviews

I also have a spec comparison of the top models at Wood Router Comparison. Feel free to email me any questions you might have.

-- WoodRouterMan,

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2271 days

#9 posted 04-04-2012 12:33 PM

I think the tablesaw quest may be over. While trolling craigslist last night, I found a guy selling a Powermatic 64a, brand new in box for 700.00. I wasn’t even considering this saw because it looked way overpriced compared to other contractor saws. I called him right away and am going to pick it up in a few hours. If I hate it, I don’t think I will have a problem getting my 700.00$ back selling it again.


View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2287 days

#10 posted 04-04-2012 02:46 PM

Just make sure it’s wired for your shop. Does it come with the nice fence (Accufene), 2 iron extension wings, and the table with legs?

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View knotscott's profile


8055 posts in 3398 days

#11 posted 04-04-2012 04:11 PM

Hi Joe – I’d focus on the larger, most critical tools first….like the TS. It’s simply too hard to do good research on a lot of tools at one time.

If you’ve got 220v for the TS, it’ll allow you to take a pretty significant step up to something like a Grizzly 3hp G1023RL cabinet saw for ~ $1350 delivered.

Even though it’s sports the Powermatic name, mechanically, the PM64a is just a nice older style Taiwanese contractor saw like the former Jet, GI 50-185, former Grizzly G0576, former Bridgewood, former Woodtek, Delta, and others. It has an outdated design compared to newer saws with a riving knife and motors housed inside the enclosure. It’s still a potentially very capable saw, and brand new in box is sure better than old and beat up, but unless the $700 includes a warranty, I’d proceed with caution at that price… means it hasn’t been setup and checked for problems for which there is no recourse without warranty or return privileges.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2271 days

#12 posted 04-04-2012 04:54 PM

Very good points Knotscott. I hadn’t even considered the warranty implications. I called the seller again and asked where he purchased it. It told me he didn’t, and it was given to him by a friend to pay a debt. Sounds kind of shady so I will proceed with caution.

One thing I do have is good power. The homeowner before must have been a professional welder. The garage has a separate service from the house. There are about half a dozen 220 outlets, a few argon tanks, a sprinkler system and a huge steel bench with all kinds of clamps welded on (which I find really handy). The jointer I am looking at is 220 also. I didn’t realize full cabinet saws where that affordable, which is why I was looking at higher end hybrids/contractor saws.


View knotscott's profile


8055 posts in 3398 days

#13 posted 04-04-2012 05:24 PM

You don’t ”need” a 3hp cabinet saw to do good work, but there really is a considerable difference in how they’re built, how easily they work, and how long they’ll run….not to mention ease of adjustment, improved dust collection, power, and stability. When folks have the electrical and the budget, a 3hp cabinet saw is at least worthy of some serious consideration.

Take a look under the hoods….


A saw very similar to the PM64a:

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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