Reasonable Quality Tools for the Beginner Woodworking Hobbyist

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Forum topic by Jose posted 11-18-2013 09:35 PM 1826 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jose's profile


102 posts in 1855 days

11-18-2013 09:35 PM

Hello All,

I’m new to this forum and I’m also new to woodworking as a hobby. I took interest on it this year but I have come across a few problems trying to build things. I think most of it is due to the tools I have and their quality. My garage is a 20×20 but I also put two cars in it so my space is very limited.
On to the questions.
What good quality tools do you guys recommend for a newbie like me, however budget is huge with me so I need to be careful how much $$$ I spend. So I need tools that are affordable and would last years. I have a crappy Harbor Freight table saw that I will use until I master the table saw cutting art but I’m thinking of getting a Craftsman 10” table saw with cast iron top and stamped metal extensions (sucker weighs about 288 lbs). Looks really nice for what I need it for. I’m not a cabinet making woodsman, I’m doing this for my satisfaction :).
So, if you could be kind telling me what good quality brands (American or Japanese no Chinese made junk, no offense to my Chinese friends) that is affordable and would last years to come, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks all,
By the way I know the Craftsman table saw is made in China but that looks like it is my best bet for now and could afford it with holiday gift cards that are coming my way :).

-- Jose

25 replies so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1251 posts in 1915 days

#1 posted 11-18-2013 10:14 PM

This subject have been discussed a lot of times and is difficult to answer in short.
I suggest you search the forums, do a little reading and try to describe what kind of work you want to do with your tools. Then it will be much easier for us to give you good advice.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3519 days

#2 posted 11-18-2013 10:23 PM

I’m finding it hard to respond. Your “no Chinese” rule eliminates a lot of high-quality choices – even many of the Japanese and German brands.

I did a little research on this a while back, and I think Festool was the only brand that didn’t (at least at that time) have any of its lines manufactured in China. Festool outsources to manufacturers in other countries, but I don’t believe any of their stuff is made in China.

So, trying to stay within your restrictions, Festool.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Don W's profile

Don W

19014 posts in 2769 days

#3 posted 11-18-2013 10:28 PM

I would recommend two things. First, good tools help, but they don’t make you a master, so learn to work the wood with the tools you have. Two, as your doing that, look for “good” used tools. Craigs list, ebay, friends, family, flea markets, second hand shops and even here on LJ’s.

As to brands, it really depend on what you plan to do. Also, brands change. For instance a craftsman may have been ok 20 years ago, and a 20 year old craftsman is still ok. I wouldn’t recommend a new one.

As you find tools, many LJ list them and ask for advice on a particular model they have found before they buy it. You can then use the information that is specific, instead of just “Delta makes a good saw” because Delta may also make a crappy saw.

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

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3173 days

#4 posted 11-18-2013 10:30 PM

The Craftsman saw you are talking about is the same one I have I think.
The Craftsman 21833. Same saw as a Ridgid R4512.
There have been a lot of discussions of these saws on here as well.

There is a manufacturing defect in some of these saws where the blade goes out of alignment with the miter slot when you raise and lower the blade. Be absolutely sure you check for this and get it replaced while under warranty. I know about this because I have one with the defect.

The defect has been a documented problem for 4 years and the attitude of the manufacturers and or venders seems to be they will replace them if people complain enough but otherwise they have made no attempt to correct the problem.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3173 days

#5 posted 11-18-2013 10:38 PM

As far as junk being made in China, yes it is, and so is practically everything you use on a daily basis made in China, junk and otherwise, including the phone in your pocket and the computer you are using.

We just might as well get over it and wait till the standard of living of the Chinese people rises to a level where they can demand wages competitive with the rest of the world then manufacturing may start to come back here.

View waho6o9's profile


8523 posts in 2779 days

#6 posted 11-18-2013 10:56 PM


View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3963 days

#7 posted 11-18-2013 11:02 PM

I’ve been in your shoes – a two car garage that serves multiple functions, leaving little space for working. Mobility is vital. My choice back in ‘83 was a Shopsmith. This is perhaps the quintessential small space woodworking tool.

It’s made in the USA and they provide excellent customer service. Good used machines can be found at a reasonable price.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View dawsonbob's profile


3099 posts in 1957 days

#8 posted 11-18-2013 11:07 PM

While Festool is nice, it’s also about as pricey as they come. I’ve been very happy with Bosch, for a lot less money. In my mind it’s the best price/quality combination (for me). You might want to consider them.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2240 days

#9 posted 11-18-2013 11:09 PM

I’m sure I’ll catch hell but it’s Monday so what the heck.

What good quality tools do you guys recommend for a newbie like me?

This subject have been discussed a lot of times and is difficult to answer in short.
That is the understatement of the year. Perhaps the first place to start is here:

no Chinese made junk versus I know the Craftsman table saw is made in China but that looks like it is my best bet

And of course the answer to this question can be found in this video.

Anyhow, it’s all good and fun and if my slightly grumpy reply hasn’t scared you off LJ, let me be the first to say welcome to the community.

-- 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 AandCstyle's profile


3179 posts in 2459 days

#10 posted 11-19-2013 12:11 AM

Depending which tools you want, I have found Grizzley to be a good value-reasonable quality and price. However, you might do better searching CL daily to find used tools as has already been stated. FWIW

-- Art

View SirTonka's profile


67 posts in 1966 days

#11 posted 11-19-2013 12:53 AM

depending on what kind of used stand alone machines are in your area, I’d go the shopsmith route. rational is once you have outgrown the system you’re left will a damn fine drill press, horizontal boring, lathe, and sanding station. Wait for a deal on a Model 520 with attachments.

View laketrout36's profile


200 posts in 2229 days

#12 posted 11-19-2013 12:56 AM

I’d be willing to bet that Eddie Van Halen could use a $79 Target/Walmart accoustic guitar and make it sing just fine. Regardless of where it was made.

If you’re going to stick with the Made in America preference then you’re selection is limited and that selection is going to give you sticker shock.

Either way you are better served by developing your skills through a variety of methods and after a while look for specialized or preferred tools. You’d be amazed what you can do and create with very little at your disposal.

Need proof? click on this link————->

This guy does a lot with a little. Good luck.

View Jose's profile


102 posts in 1855 days

#13 posted 11-19-2013 12:58 AM

Thanks for all your replies. I’ll do more research on tools and what’s the best choice for what I want. Just Joe, well, what can I say man, you’re just Joe. Thanks for the welcome. :)

-- Jose

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3342 posts in 3311 days

#14 posted 11-19-2013 02:44 AM

I’d be willing to bet that Eddie Van Halen’s people pay more than $79 for decent strings for his guitar, to be honest. And that that $79 guitar would be better for firewood…though a poor value at that cost for the heat.

There is no substitute for quality.

Crank49 has it right-

“We just might as well get over it and wait till the standard of living of the Chinese people rises to a level where they can demand wages competitive with the rest of the world then manufacturing may start to come back here.” That is what happened with Japan, many years ago.

Onshoring is already happening due to the long turnaround time, lack of understanding/deliberate misunderstanding/seriously bad quality control that occurs with buying from a foreign manufacturer. We’re in a position here in the US that we are held hostage by the sellers of products buying through the lowest bidder. It is unfortunate that most people are interested in “fashion” Vs “value”. Just look at clothing, for example. All those “fashions” are displayed to relieve us of our hard-earned money. It isn’t really all that different with tools, in my mind. The current “fashion” (if cheapness is a “fashion”) is to buy from China. I’ll put on my “El Predicto” hat, and say that the future for tool production is in Viet Nam or someplace like it, rather than the US, after it leaves China. People’s memories are just too short on this.

Edited to add: I do recall somebody starting a grassroots movement for some sort of file or rasp, recently. If enough people will commit to buying a quality tool from a vendor, that vendor will make that tool. That takes an honest commitment from those people, but unfortunately, the people are too widespread and uninformed, if new to a particular trade. How to fix it? Not sure, but this is the internet. There ought to be a way. C’mon, somebody should have an idea or two on how to do this.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 2606 days

#15 posted 11-19-2013 06:33 AM

When I was a kid, people would say things like “Made in Japan” as an insult to low quality. Now, that same phrase means high quality. These days the country of manufacture means almost nothing. Giant Multi-National companies care little about what country they do business with. All they care about is the bottom line. Good intentions about buying Made in America, but it probably won’t make a whit of difference to the CEOs. I work in a Food Pantry and we give out food to people who are desperately in need of food. A lot of the food we can afford to buy and hand out for free come from all over the world. Pastas from Italy, fresh fruit from Chile, rice from the Sacramento Delta, dried beans from Latin America. I’m not trying to hijack this thread or troll, but the economy of the world is so intrinsically tied into commerce that borders may only be meaningful to us workers- whether in Asia, N. & S. America, Europe or where ever. I noticed cases of canned fruit with an American flag stamped on the boxes with the words “Proud American Company” ( or words to that effect) , but the cans and bottom of the cases were labeled “Product Of China”WTF? I think people need to research where products are made. Crank49 is right- that phone and computer were in all likelihood put together in China, with parts from a Mexican plant. Oh, right, this is a tool thread- My favorite great deal is the Mujifang Taiwan or Hong Kong style planes- amazing value for under $50. I would say don’t think too hard about where the tools come from but get the best you can afford now, hone your skills and eventually you may have enough pennies for a Lie Nielson.If you look long and hard you can put a “Made in USA” tool set. But, hey,the Germans and Swedes make great tools, too.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

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