Best tool for the job?

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Forum topic by Vollz posted 01-02-2014 03:04 PM 794 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1571 days

01-02-2014 03:04 PM

I am in the process of purchasing the foundational tools to form my first hobbyist shop. I have the standard homeowner tools (portable table saw, miter saw, jigsaw, sawzall, circular saw).

Of course budget is the factor causing me to ask these questions. At the moment, space is probably also a factor.

I’m not trying to stir up the passionate debate that usually comes with this type of question, but I suppose that is inevitable… I’m simply trying to get a feel for what tool(s) could (within reason) do each of the tasks called out in the spreadsheet referenced below.

Here is a link to a spreadsheet I pulled together in an attempt to map out tool capabilities and identify redundancy, the best multitaskers, and where there really is a master of one.

I think the scale should be obvious, but in case it isn’t: 1(green) = does the job well, 2(yellow) = does the job ok, 3(red) = does the job poorly.

Although I have some experience and am comfortable using the tools on this list, I would label myself a novice, so please do not read into the rankings I offer as a starting point :)

With that being said: What tasks / cuts am I not thinking of? What core / foundational tools have I left off the list?

Couple of questions straight away: Is the table saw really the only tool that can handle the “final width rip cut” to give you a board with two square / parallel edges?

Can a router do Dados, Rabbets, and Grooves as well as a table saw?

Is a table saw the best tool for cutting Tenons?

My ask – provide your input via this thread and/or by editing the spreadsheet. It is setup so anyone can edit it directly in your browser.


3 replies so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2237 days

#1 posted 01-02-2014 06:20 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks.

I’ll add to tasks that can be accomplished by alternative methods that are practical, with the tools I’ve used.

Is the table saw really the only tool that can handle the “final width rip cut” to give you a board with two square / parallel edges?
- A properly tuned Bandsaw followed by a trip accross a Jointer to clean up the cut.
- A circular saw with a straight edge guide clamped to the board.
- A hand saw followed by a hand plane.

Can a router do Dados, Rabbets, and Grooves as well as a table saw?
- A table mounted Router with a fence or straight edge guide. (progressive shallow passes will produce cleaner cuts).
- A hand held Router with a straight edge guide, clamped for stability. (progressive shallow passes will produce cleaner cuts).

Is a table saw the best tool for cutting Tenons?
Can also be accomplished with;
- Router table and fence/guide.
- Bandsaw
- Handsaw, chisel and hand plane.
...If your are cutting just a couple, this is often quicker than the set-ups involved with power equipment.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- 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 cdarney's profile


104 posts in 2995 days

#2 posted 01-02-2014 07:35 PM

Wow. I never really thought about making a spreadsheet when I started getting more serious about woodworking. I had most of the same tools as you in the beginning and did reasonably well.

I’ve never had a miter saw or track saw. I sold my jointer and use hand planes instead. To get more into the hobby I got a table saw first. Not long after was the bandsaw. Some folks like the BS best and I can see why but I use my table saw far more.

I got tired of paying the BORG for S4S wood – and a very poor selection of it as well so I got a planer to thickness wood. I got the jointer then as well but, as I said, recently got rid of it..

Routers – essential. I have one handheld and one mounted on a table. Both get used often. I want to get a compact router as well.

I don’t think there are any of your cuts, etc. that couldn’t be done with these tools.

My advice would be to start making some things and see where your limitations are. Have fun with it and don’t stress about fully stocking the shop with a set of power tools. It’s likely that your needs/desires will change anyhow. Just get things as you need them.

Just my opinion…Chuck

View jonah's profile


1659 posts in 3263 days

#3 posted 01-03-2014 12:00 AM

I second the advice to let your projects determine what you buy. Start with a router, circular/track saw, and random-orbital sander. You can’t miss with those three tools. Add a cheap hand saw from a yard sale for a few bucks. Then figure out a project you want to make, what tools you will need to make it, and let that be your guide.

There is no “one list to rule them all” for what tools you need because everyone is making different stuff in different ways. You’d be hard-pressed, however, to get by without the first three I mentioned. As for what you need after that, it’s entirely dependent on what you want to create.

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