Third World Machine Shop

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Forum topic by jellywerker posted 03-08-2013 08:22 AM 2050 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1901 days

03-08-2013 08:22 AM

Hello All,

New here, but I have a keen interest in woodworking/furniture making and have been trying to get a small shop going. I’m currently a student, so my budget is nonexistent, but I’ve worked construction before and have a fairly decent selection of tools, albeit mainly of low quality. However, I’m missing the big ones like a tablesaw, bandsaw, jointer, and planer.

Recently I’ve stumbled on a few things that have piqued my interest, namely Mr. Jeffry’s Third World Machine Shop and the site.

MJTWMS ( is a simple setup using a handheld router and a circular saw mounted in a table to perform tablesaw, routing/shaping, jointing, and planing functions in an inexpensive fashion. I think it looks interesting and compact, and more importantly, inexpensive and functional.

I live in the northwest, so I have craigslist available to me, and while I keep a keen eye on it, even $100 steals are usually too much, and while I could get an older craftsman saw for $50, I couldn’t afford to clean it up properly and outfit it with a good blade.

I guess I’m just looking for some guidance on getting some power tool capabilities on the cheap so I can build some of the designs I’ve created, and hopefully turn around and sell them so I can afford some decent used tools. Advice on using what I have in better/more creative ways would be appreciated too. Or rather, just point me in the right direction to read because I’m sure these questions have been asked before.

Speaking of tools I have:

vintage stanley #4, #60, #6 planes. All in decent working order
beefy older 15 amp skil circular saw (no clue on the blade in it right now, I lent it out. Any ideas on a solid, inexpensive thin kerf multi use blade? plywood features heavily in my designs)
set of marples chisels (made in england ones)
some decent measuring tools (quality combo square, straightedge)
Tage Frid’s 3 book series on woodworking (knowledge is a tool right?)
Basic mechanic toolset (sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc…)

I also have very infrequent access to a fully equipped pro shop, so I can get some tool/jig building time in there. Not enough time however to make building my actual designs there practical unfortunately.

Things I feel I need sooner rather than later:

Router + bits (flush cut w/bearing, roundover, dado/planer, generic plunge for slip tenon mortises) (but how big?)
Decent multipurpose handsaw (probably japanese?)
clamps (and more clamps. and maybe a few more. Any good plans for shop built clamps?)
Bandsaw (the woodgears one is neat, but it would probably cost more than a good craigslist deal)
power sander of some sort
proper sharpening setup (been using a norton econo stone+finer grit sandpaper)
files for keep the scraper and saw sharp

I know I’m a little ahead of the curve for starting out in some ways, but I’d like to get my own workspace going that I can knock down and put away, yet still be able to handle what I want to make. I’m interested mostly in modern furniture, so things that are important to my table/chair designs are:

being able to cut down panels
cutting tapers on legs
milling up reclaimed lumber (pallets, etc…)
being able to rout/shape to patterns

But that also means I don’t need to be able to do super intricate work, just precise work. The MJTWMS is appealing because while not the safest or best option, you can pull the tools out, make the table with knock down legs, build yourself a big tool chest, and everything can be neatly tucked away when you’re done.

Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read all of this!


10 replies so far

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 1992 days

#1 posted 03-08-2013 11:05 AM

When I was growing up there was a man in town who was known as a top notch carpenter. He has been gone for around fifty years now and people still comment on the wonderful work old Charlie did. You can tell which homes he did work in just by the quality. I can just remember him helping my dad build a new porch on the front of our house his table saw was a skill saw bolted to a piece of plywood with a board and a couple of c clamps for a rip fence. The tools don’t make the craftsman but they sure make his work easier.
Craigs list is a good place to look but some of my best finds have been yard sales you would be amazed at what $10 can buy in the last hour of a 2 day sale.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View jellywerker's profile


11 posts in 1901 days

#2 posted 03-10-2013 03:05 AM

I appreciate the comment, and I’ll keep a lookout for actual sales vs craigslist postings.

I found these two links, and they are of interest as far as how to set up a tablesaw from a circular saw in a sturdy manner.

The latter is a fairly lovingly built little box. Seems quite a bit nicer than the little saws you can buy for $100-200 new.

I’ve also found a nice 1hp motor from a very old powermatic disc sander, it seems appropriate for a bandsaw build. 110v, sees to run smoothly, might be a bit of wobble in the shaft, not sure. It’s free however. I could always use it for it’s intended sanding purpose. Maybe a smaller sized stroke sander in the future?

View runswithscissors's profile


2750 posts in 2019 days

#3 posted 03-10-2013 04:28 AM

That set up for jointing and planing with a router works very well, and has the advantage that you are almost unlimited in the size you can do. No need for a plunge router there, but I’d want at least a 10 or 12 amp unit. And by all means get one with a 1/2” collet. Personally, I’d stay away from Craftsman routers, but there are people who will defend them. You can do your planing/jointing with a straight bit, but a bowl cutter (flat bottom with slightly rounded corners) will avoid little ridges. Or you can use that bit to clean up after hogging off material with the straight bit.

For routing mortises, it’s pretty hard to do without a plunge router. You should be able to find one, or a combination kit, on CL. You can make your own jigs.

To break down sheet goods, take a piece of plywood (1/2” thick, maybe), and a foot wide, and fasten a straight board along one edge, thin enough to let the saw’s motor pass over it, the length of the ply. Then run your circular saw down it, with the base plate up against that lengthwise board, cutting off the excess. To use, simply place your jig with the sawed edge on your marks, and saw away. Easier than wrestling big sheets through a TS, especially a too-small TS. I like Tenryu thin kerf blades, but they aren’t cheap. Freud Diablo, maybe?

There are some interesting blogs on making home made tools. Oh, if you can contact the Gilliom company (won’t find them online, I’m afraid—the owner is a really old old timer). The company put out kits for TS, drum sander, two bandsaws (12 and 18”—I built the 18 many years ago), and maybe a jointer and other tools. I hear they still exist, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you how to find them. I think someone in LJs knows about them, though. Good luck with your endeavors.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 1992 days

#4 posted 03-10-2013 12:48 PM

I thought some about building a band saw but it seemed like the investment in time and materials would be more than the value of the end product. I have never had a decent band saw until a couple of weeks ago. I may have got lucky but I found a 1930’s vintage 12” craftsman on ebay. The old craftsman BS were made by Walker Turner but the seller listed it as a Craftsman and did not do a thumb nail picture so it attracted almost no attention. I was able to buy it for $10.99 with $51.00 shipping. New rubber tires and glue from Carter were around $60.00. I had a 1/2 horse motor and built a stand. 5 new blades were another sixty bucks so for under $200 I have a classic saw that works better than many new ones and has decent resale value. I was really amazed at what this little saw can do I am able to resaw 6” hard wood by using a 3tpi blade and going slow ; not too shabby for 1/2 hp. I have since seen a identical saw on criags list for $50 obo and would have bought it if it had been closer to home, so they are around if you keep your eyes open.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View helluvawreck's profile


31030 posts in 2861 days

#5 posted 03-10-2013 02:01 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks, Aaron.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2354 days

#6 posted 03-11-2013 01:31 PM

All great advice -

I have found that you can tackle your mortises without a plunge router by using a drill to get an entry hole started. This gives you a place to start the bit and you can lower it little by little after each pass – restarting at your pre-drilled entry hole.

-- Steve

View jellywerker's profile


11 posts in 1901 days

#7 posted 03-12-2013 05:32 AM

Again, thanks for all the info. Keeping my eyes open.

Sprucegum: I have a lot more time than money, but it’s true, after buying things like bearings, etc… I would probably end up spending more than the cost of an old saw+refurbishing it. Finding a good old saw is just such a game. In the mean time, I’m going to see what I can do about getting a router and some more hand tools.

View Woodknack's profile


11605 posts in 2374 days

#8 posted 03-12-2013 07:01 AM

I built tables with fewer tools than what you have now, just do what you can do and work your way up.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


6836 posts in 3362 days

#9 posted 03-12-2013 04:05 PM

You do what you can with what you have and you, and everyone else, will appreciate it!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View frankenstuff's profile


34 posts in 1898 days

#10 posted 03-12-2013 04:53 PM

I would say just buy a table saw. The jointer and planer come later. You are not in the third world so don’t work like it. Not worth the risk. Go to yard sales, if they have any tools; just ask if they have a table saw.

-- "the woods are lovely dark and deep"- Frost

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