After generous gifts from family members, I’m struck with paralysis by analysis, and I need the collective wisdom of LJs help me out. Get ready for information overload.
As one can see by the paltry submissions to my projects page, I haven’t been at this for very long. But I’ve got a lot of ambition and I think that with some more investment in equipment and shop time that I can turn out some pretty good work.
What kind of work I like, and would like to do more of
What I’ve got to work with:
- I’m mostly interested in small to medium sized case work like nice jewelry boxes, liquor cabinets, that sort of thing. Tables are also another interest. I don’t have a lathe so projects incorporating turning aren’t on the horizon quite yet.
- I have an older Delta table saw, an XL-10, a pretty basic model. Factory fence, no upgrades except for a Freud combo blade. I have a 16 gallon shop vac with a Dust Right separator attached to the DC port. I’ll likely post another topic about designing a better DC scheme for this.
- A basic bench from Grizzly, a gift from my parents. It’s plenty stout, and I’ve drilled dog holes in the top. The vise that it comes with is pretty sorry, though. The edge of the table that the chop closes on isn’t even 90 degrees to the top, and the chop itself is prone to excessive racking and wobbling. Yeah, I know it’s no Roubo, but it’s a start.
- A nice old Stanley #4 smoother
- A cheapo 9” Craftsman bandsaw
- A set of basic Irwin blue handle chisels
- A couple of reasonably nice handsaws including a Dozuki and another fairly cheap but good ultra-thin kerf razor saw that I can’t find a link to.
- A basic bench top drill press that works ok apart from a finicky on-off switch.
- I have a couple of Rockler gift cards totaling $275. And thanks to my ultra cool generous parents, I have about $500 in Christmas cash as well.
Things that I could really use
- A Dewalt 635 planer. I would make a planer sled to surface both wide faces of a board so I wouldn’t need to buy a powered jointer, at least for now. At $629 new, If I were to use up all the gift cards I would have a difference of about $400, which would pretty much wipe out my whole budget. They come up every now and then on Craigslist, but if I’m gonna have one, then I want the new warranty or whatever else comes along with it. I know these are good planers and I could really use it, but I’m leery of putting all my eggs in one basket at this point. I also know that if I go in the opposite direction of this planer for now, it’ll mean a substantial investment in hand tools instead. Which brings me to my next point.
- A jack and jointer plane. If I go the manual route rather than the Dewalt 635, it’s cheaper but it’s got an entirely different learning curve. I know surfacing boards by hand is a great skill to have, but I’m not sure which way to go. As reluctant as I am to drop a ton of money on the Dewalt, and as much as I enjoy hand work, I don’t want to spend all my time in the shop prepping and planing stock, since time is at a very high premium at my house. I’m raising a little girl who adores her daddy, so I can’t get away with vanishing to the garage for hours on end while she’s awake.
- Sharpening gear. I know that the Worksharp 3000 is a great system. But I’m also interested in bang for my buck. Considering that it would take care of most of the gift card budget, I’m also interested in trying water stones like these. And at close to $80, that’s definitely a better price than the Worksharp 3000 at $200. I can see the merits of both methods, but I’m not sure whether I should opt for the convenience of powered sharpening, or being economical and doing it old school by hand. This site is full of reviews of the Worksharp, but has anyone tried these stones by chance? Would I better off spending cash on a different set elsewhere that won’t completely break the bank, and using the gift cards on wood or other accessories? All I know is that I want to get away from relying on the Scary Sharp method. DMT’s look nice but they’re a bit more expensive, it seems.
- Layout tools like a Veritas marking gauge and a decent marking knife would be nice to have around.
- Better chisels. The Narex line seems to be well liked, and fairly economical.
- A better vise for my bench. Even something basic like this would be a little nicer than what I’ve got.
- A bandsaw that I’m not ashamed of would also be welcome. I would likely opt for the Craigslist route there.
- A nicer table saw is also something that I’ll have to look at eventually. Again, this will probably be a local Craigslist buy.
- A router table would be great to have at some point. I have neither the router, bits, or anything else, so that would be an entirely new direction. But as with the planer, I’m not sure about spending all my budget on one particular area when there are lot of little things I’d like.
- More wood!
So there it is, folks. If you were me, where would your priorities be? Because I’ve got about 10 different angels and devils on each shoulder telling me what to do. Thanks for any help and advice!
-- Brian in Arlington, TX