Pick three power tools.

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Forum topic by fredj posted 07-08-2013 04:16 PM 1540 views 0 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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186 posts in 2020 days

07-08-2013 04:16 PM

After seeing the post “Beginners Tools” in which someone asked what tool should he get next I wondered if other people on here had to do what ever type of woodworking they do, but could only have three power tools what would they be ?

For me it would be a band saw, a router, and a lathe. Got to get back to work or I would explain why those three. Very interested in what others have to say.

-- Fredj

31 replies so far

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2446 days

#1 posted 07-08-2013 04:26 PM

I guess it depends on what your doing. For me it’s tablesaw, jointer, planer… start out with square surfaces and you can use your teeth to finish off the rest. hahaha.

My choice for a 4th tool is a router or ROS.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3964 days

#2 posted 07-08-2013 04:41 PM

The size of the shop is a critical determining factor. Many of us had to start in a 1/2 garage space with limited electrical power. This is how I started, and I still have only 200 sq ft to work with in Gainesville.

In cases like this a Shopsmith makes a lot of sense. Accessory tools like the bandsaw, jointer, and belt sander, plus others, makes it possible to have a lot of woodworking capacity in such a small space, operating on a single 15 amp 120V circuit.

In 1983, I started with the Shopsmith model 500, the 4” jointer, and the bandsaw. I later added several more accessories, including a dust collector, but the original three gave ma a great start.

When I added the dust collector, I often tripped the circuit breaker while working, sometimes leaving me groping in the darkness (has any one else been there too?). A flashlight was not the answer. I added additional electrical circuits.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View treaterryan's profile


109 posts in 2490 days

#3 posted 07-08-2013 04:41 PM

Tablesaw, Router, Planer. You can joint with the table saw or router.

-- Ryan - Bethel Park, PA

View MrFid's profile


886 posts in 2107 days

#4 posted 07-08-2013 04:51 PM

Router (with table), Table Saw, Drill press (or hand drill if you don’t have space for a drill press). You can joint and plane with handplanes if need be. I still don’t have a jointer or planer.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2241 days

#5 posted 07-08-2013 05:40 PM

Keg Fridge, Electric Can Opener, Deep Fryer.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View David's profile


19 posts in 2000 days

#6 posted 07-08-2013 06:17 PM

Table saw, Band saw, Lathe…made me think what I have used often lately

View firefighterontheside's profile


19451 posts in 2059 days

#7 posted 07-08-2013 06:28 PM

Table saw, planer, drill.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3069 days

#8 posted 07-08-2013 08:34 PM

Table saw, planer, and joiner would be good to have at first. However, if you just are strapped for money you could start with a basic set of hand tools and then go from there.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15701 posts in 2821 days

#9 posted 07-08-2013 08:42 PM

RAS, bandsaw, hollow chisel mortiser

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View fredj's profile


186 posts in 2020 days

#10 posted 07-08-2013 09:00 PM

Haha I like JustJoes picks, when do we eat ?

The point of the question is not what you can afford, but what would you pick if you could only have three power tools, no limit on hand tools and or space. If you only have 200 sq. feet of space, it doesn’t matter if one of your picks is a CNC router that takes up 800 sq feet. If a planer is on your list, a 30” Buss is okay, 18” table saw, a band saw with 4’ foot wheels, fine. Then again it is not about brand name or size, just food for thought on what tools do what, and thinking outside the box. I will post the reasons for my picks soon.

-- Fredj

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2857 days

#11 posted 07-08-2013 09:46 PM

There is a part of me that wants to cheat on ths test. Mostly because I have put a fairly large amount of thought into it.

I want:
A bandsaw: The recent addition of this tool makes me wonder how I got along without it.
A Lathe: I really need to set up the lathe I have, It works, I love it. Why have I not done this yet?
A Jointer Planer Mortise combo machine: Yes this pushes the total to 5 tools, but I consider them complimentary and when we are talking floor space we only have 3 tools.

So that’s my 2 pennies to rub together.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View NGK's profile


93 posts in 2113 days

#12 posted 07-08-2013 10:04 PM

The original post said POWER tools. You can eliminate a lot of power tools by using HAND tools. Easily that eliminates a drill press, as you can you bits and a brace for larger holes and the bevel gear type for small.

Forget the jointer—you don’t need one. A good fence on a decent table saw with a quality blade does 98 percent of what a jointer is used for. One exception would be severely cupped boards, where you could use a hand plane.

Likely a router would be next. Better yet, two of them. One for hand use and one for a router table.

Fourth would be a bandsaw, but even there you can use a coping saw.

A number of folks said wood lathe—but, hey, just make a foot-powered lathe.

In the late 1940’s my father made a flare-box grain wagon entirely with hand tools. It was somewhat thicker somewhat rough pine as I recall, but even those 45-degree cuts on a long board were done with a hand-powered rip saw. And the angle irons were cut by hand with a hacksaw, and rods threaded. Bought any washers, nuts, and bolts needed.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2095 days

#13 posted 07-09-2013 02:43 AM

Darned hypothetical questions.

My picks:
1. Table saw,
2. variable speed 1/2” chuck drill,
3. 12” compound sliding miter saw.
If you don’t have to turn wood (lathe).

You could probably not get #3. above and cut long pieces by hand, then table saw cross cut those pieces more accurately with a table saw sled – therefore substitute the CSMS with the lathe or band saw or router for the 3rd power tool.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View REO's profile


929 posts in 2277 days

#14 posted 07-09-2013 02:46 AM

Table saw
metal lathe
Vertical mill

Table saw
overhead pin router
band saw

table saw

It all depends on what you are making, cabinets, toys, or complete machines. I have a mill and for making jigs and fixtures it is irreplaceable to me. I have been a production wood turner since I was seven years old but the small lathe cant do the big stuff and the big lathe cant efficiently do the small stuff. I am not a fan of the Jointer when a glue line rip will suffice. its pretty hard to produce a large number of drilled consistent holes without a drill press. the band saw is versatile for contoured cuts and for wasting the least amount of material from kerf loss in exotic small pieces. For framing and finishing most would be lost without a CMS or RAS and a compressor for the nailers. For cabinets the shaper comes into play for raised panels and D stock. In production pattern work the Ohead pin or spindle router is invaluable. If you do any volume at all the dust collector moves to the front of the line as well.

View fredj's profile


186 posts in 2020 days

#15 posted 07-09-2013 12:42 PM

I’ve been enjoying seeing what people come up. Looks like almost everyone wants to hang on to the table saw. When I first posed this question to myself the table saw was on the top of my list. Generally if I can do something on a table saw or with another tool, I’ll use the table saw. But if I could only have three…
The lathe is one of the oldest tools in woodworking. An almost endless number of things can be made on a lathe,
from table tops and table legs to bowls and vases. Cut, shape, bore, and sand, all on one machine. I’ve fastened sand paper to a rounded piece of wood and used that in my lathe for sanding. Some very detailed work can be with a router and fixtures mounted to a lathe that anyone would be hard pressed to do without.

The reason for my three ; A band saw not only cuts contours, you can also rip, re saw, and cross cut then clean up the edges with a hand plane or with a router and a straight edge.
One router two bases and a router table. It would take all day to list what you can do with a router. With all the different bits that are out there, and all the jigs and fixtures you can make or buy the router is likely the most versatile power tool in woodworking.

These is just my picks, no wrong answers.

I use power tools over hand tools anytime I can, but I’m thankful for good chisels, hand plane,s and hand saws. When I was 20 and had no power tools other than 3/8 drill and a lathe, I made the legs for my work bench from 4×4s (over kill) cut with a miter box, the mortises with the drill and chisels, the tenons with a miter box and a hand saw. Still have the bench, the other tools, and lots of power tools and machines.

-- Fredj

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