Tool Purchasing Dilemma- Need Guidance

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Forum topic by CoachSchroeder posted 02-12-2014 07:42 PM 1416 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View CoachSchroeder's profile


97 posts in 1629 days

02-12-2014 07:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question planer jointer drill press


I have a $500 HD gift card and I’m looking for some guidance.
I’m a hobbyist. And a rookie at that. I work out of a 3 car garage. Not a hand tool guy (yet).

I have the Ridgid contractor ts (R4510), the Ridgid SCM saw, a porter cable router table I just picked up used with an old PC router it in and a milwaukee 2 1/4 router. Just picked up the cheapo HF belt/disc sander. I have senco pneumatics and a Ridgid compressor. I acquired most of this stuff when I was working summers in the construction industry but have since become more interested in building furniture.

I need to get away from buying expensive s4s lumber and want to expand my capabilities.
I’m not as in love with Ridgid as it appears ;)


I was planning to get the Ridgid Jointer with the gift card but that has been discontinued. The price was right and it seemed like a reasonably reliable tool. I would have picked up a thickness planner at a later date.

So now I’m at a loss for what to do. I could round up some extra cash to accompany the gift card and get what seems like a similar jointer HD sells for between 700-900 bucks.

Or, am I better off using the $500 on the Ridgid thickness planer + Ryobi drill press (or something else) and maybe picking up a jointer from Grizzly or even Baileigh (they’re right up the road from me).

If money weren’t an issue I would go Jointer- planer- drill press… build some stuff for a few months and then see what I feel like I ‘need’ next. (something tells me band saw)

I appreciate quality tools that last a long time but I also don’t want to wait forever to save up money to buy top of the line stuff when I can probably get by just fine with something from Ryobi, etc.

I also know that I could easily blow through $500 on a dado stack, clamps, fasteners, drill bits, router bits, etc. which probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either.
I want to get all this stuff eventually.

The Question

What would you do given my current set of tools, the gift card, and a small budget to add tools as you go? Big purchases ($500 or more) are tough to slip past my wife. Little stuff ($400 or less) I could sneak through.

My project list is probably a year long & is mostly kitchen cabinet type construction- variations on a box+face frame+door/lid.

Most of you have worked through these decisions before, weighing cost vs quality + the order of your purchases and that’s what I’m seeking your advice.

Thanks in advance.

-- -Sam, in Wisconsin

23 replies so far

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2395 days

#1 posted 02-12-2014 07:56 PM

In the past I’ve been in a similar situation, had a HD card (although not $500, more like $50). I just tell my wife I’m putting the card in the home improvement fund and reimbursing myself with cash, then go get what I want wherever I want. I have a DW734 which I like, that can be had for under $500.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2274 days

#2 posted 02-12-2014 08:09 PM

You can do a lot with a planer so I would vote that. I have gotten by without a jointer for quite some time although that would be high on my list of tools I would like but can live without. On that note, I’m with Ed on the Dewalt brand planner. I have the DW735 with the infeed and outfeed tables that really are nice to have. It will be more than the DW734 but it would be up to you to see if the features are worth the extra cost. It is probably one of the most recommended lunch box planers on this site.

View JayT's profile


5675 posts in 2237 days

#3 posted 02-12-2014 08:17 PM

If it were me in that situation and wanting to build furniture, I’d use the card for a planer and clamps to start with. If you are going to be buying rough lumber, then the planer will help tremendously and you can never have enough clamps. For clamps, I’d invest in at least four parallel clamps and then round out with some F clamps and quick clamps in a few different lengths. Whatever is left on the card can be used as/when needed for consumables—sandpaper, blades, bits, etc.

Buying tools as you need them for projects is a good idea and helps to keep from purchasing a bunch of stuff you don’t need. There are several ways around not having a jointer, from hand planes to a table saw or router straight edge jig and you may find that you don’t need the jointer near as bad as you think.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View okwoodshop's profile


448 posts in 3200 days

#4 posted 02-12-2014 08:33 PM

I think the planer with the gift card. As you are wanting to get started with rough lumber that will be a necessity. The planer is important also since working with rough lumber creates more edging problems. Jointers on craigslist and local used tool websites can be found pretty cheap if you take your time and have cash ready when they come up for sale. I have an old craftsman that I bought used and even after replacing bearings still don’t have a fraction of what a new one costs. Best thing about using rough stuff is all the new species you can start using in your projects. As my skill level increased I upgraded my tools but really only to make myself more efficient. Lastly I would do the bandsaw before the drill press, IMO. good luck

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3768 days

#5 posted 02-12-2014 09:03 PM

If I were starting out, and didn’t have an awesome wife that just “decided” with her fathers advice what I needed to have and ordered it from Woodworkers Supply,... I would be leaning towards some larger used tools instead of smaller new.

Agree with the others, a planer is really handy – but I would have gotten a USED 8 inch jointer instead of a new 6 inch.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1961 days

#6 posted 02-12-2014 09:31 PM

I think I am with JayT on this one. I’d use it for clamps and other consumables and maybe a planer. Some ideas of what I use all the time and I am constantly buying:

1. Clamps ($100 to $150)
2. Sandpaper
3. Double-side tape
4. Cheap Japanese pull saw
5. Respirator and cartridges
6. Router bits
7. Good set of drill bits
8. Mineral spirits and other finishes
9. Brushes
10. Rags
11. Chisels (I like my buck bros just fine, and I have heard similar things from others)
12. Steel wool
13. You get the picture

I really feel like power tools are not the thing to buy at HD. There are much better brands and prices to be had elsewhere. It rains planers on craigslist. I got a 2 HP cast iron made in USA delta 13” planer for $200 on craigslist. That is half of what you’ll pay for a chunk of plastic from HD. That said, if I ever were to buy a power tool from HD (other than cordless drills), it would be a planer. It seems that the “light duty” planers hold up better than the other “light duty” power tools such as bandsaws, tablesaws, and jointers.

So, if you are super antsy, I would go with one of the higher-quality planers at HD followed by consumables. If you can sit tight for a month and watch CL, my bet is you could find a solid deal for half of what you’d pay at HD. Trust me when I say you can QUICKLY spend $500 on consumables at HD. Just my .02

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View PineChopper's profile


188 posts in 2222 days

#7 posted 02-12-2014 09:39 PM

I would think about a bandsaw. I have been getting logs out of the local forests for firewood. I have found some nice cedar and oak in the piles (some good pine logs too). Other then my Husqvarna chainsaw (I hate the made in China junk) I don’t have a way to rip the logs into slabs.
I don’t think you can ever have enough clamps either.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3169 days

#8 posted 02-12-2014 09:49 PM

One more vote for a DeWalt planer, take the leftover funds and get clamps.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3401 days

#9 posted 02-12-2014 10:10 PM

IMO it’s better to buy a big ticket item with the gift card….you can buy accessories with birthday and lunch money. A planer is pretty darn handy.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1777 days

#10 posted 02-12-2014 10:10 PM

I read through the list of tools you now have, and then through your list of projects. If I were you, I would ask the question “where is my highest difficulty in making accurate parts for what I want to make”?

I would guess it is in getting an initial straight edge to work from (Jointer) and then getting two smooth parallel surfaces (Planer) in that order. Since you can buy S2S hardwood for about the same price as rough, for me, the jointer is the highest priority. Since HD is not the place to buy a jointer (Get the Grizzly catalog), and you have the gift card, I would buy the miscellaneous things that they do have and save your money for a nice shiny new 6” jointer (about $600.00 from Grizzly).

You could also go the used/rebuild route if you are handy at that and save quite a bit of money. I just checked the local MPLS Craigslist and there were several portable planers for under $300. For many years I used a 10” Ryobi planer, built lots of stuff, planed hundreds of board feet of lumber, and even won some awards with the projects made from it. There were two local units available for less than $150. Heck, if you were closer I would sell you my old planer as I just bought a new Grizzly to replace it.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2593 days

#11 posted 02-12-2014 10:43 PM

If you want to use rough lumber buy the planer and look for a #7 or 8 hand plane. The I’m not a hand tool guy ”yet” caught my eye. Edge jointing by hand is pretty easy to learn and will help cut cost a lot.

you’ll also need to learn to sharpen it, but its something you’ll want to learn anyhow.

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

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2996 days

#12 posted 02-12-2014 11:24 PM

You can edge joint by hand or on a table saw with the right blade and setup, or even with you router.
So If you want to use rough lumber you need to get a planer.

I planed to get the Dewalt 734 or the Ridgid, but stumbled on a Ryobi that had been returned to HD and was refurbished with a new tool warranty for just $120. I have never regretted that decision. The motor/cutter sub assembly for all the lunch box planers turns out are made by the same factory.

Some day I will possibly go to a Dewalt 735, That’s a notch up in performance and a generally heavier machine, but so far the little Ryobi has done every thing I have required it to do.

View CoachSchroeder's profile


97 posts in 1629 days

#13 posted 02-13-2014 02:02 AM

Don W- The handtool angle isn’t something I considered. That’s a good idea. The reason I said “yet” is just that it seems logical that I might progress to that.

Knotscott- I agree about the big ticket angle. I have a decent sum I can blow on whatever and it is much easier to slip the smaller items in every few months.

If the Ridgid jointer was still available I wouldn’t have this issue. I would have gone Jointer, Planer, then drill press or band saw

PineChopper- making my own lumber is EXACTLY why I was thinking about band saws. But to do that you need a pretty serious machine, right?

I know the DW735 is a boss. I might grab that one now that the jointer isn’t an option. Before I figured I could get the jointer with the card and go in my pocket for the Ridgid planer at 350 which isn’t the top lunchbox but enough to get by. Now I might just cash the card in on the big boy planer & save for a grizzly jointer

-- -Sam, in Wisconsin

View CoachSchroeder's profile


97 posts in 1629 days

#14 posted 02-13-2014 02:02 AM

I really appreciate all the help guys.

-- -Sam, in Wisconsin

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2530 days

#15 posted 02-13-2014 02:09 AM

I agree with Bing. Cash in hand gives you more options. I got my dw735 for $250 and my Ridgid jointer for $200 off Craig’s list. Both are in great condition.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

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