starting set up. help me spend my money

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Forum topic by Coel posted 01-22-2015 07:44 AM 1034 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Coel's profile


31 posts in 657 days

01-22-2015 07:44 AM

So I have money I’m slowly putting aside for a table saw. But in the mean time I would like to slowly accumulate hand tools as well. Needless to say I am catching the bug. At 29 and a new home owner I feel it in me. I would prefer to purchase either singly used or vintage tools and work them into using or quality tools as I need. Any guidance would be great.

As far as first projects go I am going to make a workbench. Just a simple roubo and then a table for my office as a trial and a table for my living room. I am patient and very willing to learn.

Other details if it matters. I am located in central Pennsylvania.

I thing I would look for a set of chisels, at least a plane, hand saw, and anything else you all can think of. Thank you so much


20 replies so far

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1411 days

#1 posted 01-22-2015 01:03 PM

Do you have basic maintenance tools – sockets, ratchet. end wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, wire strippers, etc.? Always something needing fixed.

Hand Drill – corded is cheaper – drill bit set
Circular Saw
Jig Saw
Saw Horses to build workbench
HF F clamps
Clamping edge guide for circular saw

I built a lot of shop stuff – tool cabinet, workbench, shelves, other tables – with this list 30 years ago, and still use most of it. Fancy glued and screwed joints, but it got me started and has held up well. Think about what joint techniques you want to use as this will drive tool choices – hand tools or machines? Some folks use chisels a lot, some don’t. Some have every type of hand saw. Some use router tables and or table saw. For hand planes you could start here Welcome and good luck!

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1356 days

#2 posted 01-22-2015 01:25 PM

My advice would be stick with used tools like you are saying.

Plane – Stanley No.4. Buy one in decent shape and consider an aftermarket blade, as it does improve the cut quality and user-friendliness

Chisels – I bought a cheap set of chisels and I regret it. You could buy used chisels one by one over time and accrue a set. This will sound weird too, but Buck Bros chisels at home depot are actually pretty decent. The steel is good, but they don’t balance too well. But, if you need a chisel to start with, a $15 buck bros is easy to get a hold of.

The double-sided japanese style pull saws a re great saws to start off with. Those can be had at home depot or lowes as well. Even Harbor Freight… if you dare

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View knexster's profile


33 posts in 705 days

#3 posted 01-22-2015 01:29 PM

As a newbie myself I am finding I can’t seem to get enough clamps. Make sure you stock up well on these. Since nicer Jorgensen and Bessy clamps will easily spend your money and leave you with nothing else, I’ve personally stocked up on the bar clamps available at Harbor Freight. Each time I go in I get at least 1. They have served me well in my first few months.
Also, Craigslist is your best friend. I have an app with saved searches and I get alerts when something posts. The good deals go fast but they do exist. I recommend just hawking over Craigslist for any tool you need now and ones you know you will need in the future. This is also how I plan to obtain the higher end clamps. A guy recently posted a “lot of wood clamps” that turned out to all be Bessy and Jorgensen clamps for $5 each. I missed out but that’s the nature of Craigslist, you win some you lose a lot.
Good luck and welcome to LJ, everyone here is massively helpful, I’ve never asked a question that went unanswered.

-- Don't think outside the box. The box was never there.

View Coel's profile


31 posts in 657 days

#4 posted 01-22-2015 01:32 PM

I have screw drivers and wrenches and pliers. I also have a corded and cordless drill, circular saw, jig saw, and have a mitre saw on loan with no return date. I have some clamps and am going to get more from HF.

View JohnChung's profile


367 posts in 1495 days

#5 posted 01-22-2015 02:22 PM

What projects are you starting with? Solid wood or ply wood?

View NinjaAssassin's profile


629 posts in 1145 days

#6 posted 01-22-2015 02:35 PM

As far as woodworking goes, I went the hand tool route at first as a matter of practicality (no budget for a bunch (or even one) nice power tool). I’ve come to really enjoy hand tools, so my “wood working” will stay traditional.

You can go the vintage route for these tools, the modern route or some combination. Just remember, vintage tools will commonly require some level of restoration in addition to typical “tuning” (e.g. sharpening). Vintage is often cheaper than new but for the very reason that you often need to put work into the tool before it’s a good user. You also have to consider that you might end up buying an old tool that’s in bad enough shape that restoration isn’t really possible. Anyway, as a relative new comer myself, here’s where I started and what I’d suggest:

- At least one decent plane. If getting just one, maybe a #4 as it seems quite versatile. I’ve found I tend to use my #3 and #7 for just about everything (I don’t have a #4 ready to use, yet). I went the vintage Stanley route but the modern makers Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley (Veritas) are apparently pretty much the tops. I understand WoodRiver makes good, new planes, too.

- A set of chisels. Right off the bat, I bought the 7 piece set of Narex chisels and have found I don’t use most of them very often. I’ve used my 1/2” and 3/4” chisels more than the others. My 3/8”, 5/8”, 7/8”, and 1” haven’t gotten nearly as much use but they do get used. I’m not sure I’ve ever used my 1/4”. Narex seems to be sufficient for my needs.

- A pair of panel saws (one for rip cuts and the other for cross cuts) or a Japanese ryoba. I went the western saw route so I can’t speak to the ryoba but I’ve heard they’re great. In any case, you’ll likely want to make long boards shorter (cross cutting) and wide boards narrower (rip cutting) so a rip and cross cut saw or pretty useful. I went the vintage route for these but there are a number of well known modern saw makers (as well as a few LJ’s who aren’t as widely known) that make great (and beautiful) saws.

- Brace, hand drill, and bits. It’s pretty likely that you’ll want to bore or drill holes at times so a decent brace and some auger bits as well as a smaller hand drill and regular drill bits are pretty useful. You’ve got a lot of options in the vintage arena and several new options too.

- Layout tools. You’ll want to measure, mark, and consistently transfer marks and measurements. You’ll also want to check that your piece is square and flat. There are a lot of options but I think I use my tape measure, try square, combination square, marking knife and marking/mortise gauge the most. Winding sticks (made or purchased) are extremely useful as well, though I haven’t made or purchased any.

- Mallet. You can buy this or construct your own. You’ll need to pound on your chisels for many tasks and you’ll want something to assemble and disassemble your projects without marring the pieces.

- Workbench. You’ve already got this on your radar.

- Sharpening equipment.
——- Chisels and Planes: There are probably 3 times as many opinions on this topic than people on earth. It’s my (very limited) experience that sharpening really isn’t the big deal it’s been made to be. Your tools need to be sharp, there’s no doubt about that. However, getting your blade stropped to 15000 grit isn’t critical. If that’s your desire then go for it. I have a coarse diamond stone for aggressive flattening and reshaping a bevel (I haven’t found the need for a grinder yet, though I’m 100% certain they dramatically speed up the process of reshaping/repairing terribly damaged blades. I do wish I had a faster way to flatten the backs of chisels and plane irons, though). I then use my Arkansas soft and hard oil stones to hone my final edge. From what I’ve found, the hard (“surgical black” is what it’s labeled on the box) oil stone is equivalent to 900 grit. I’ve found that to be more than sufficient in my (again, very limited) experience.
——- Saws: I’m essentially useless here. I know you need an appropriately sized saw file and a clamp/vise sufficient to support the blade but I’ve thus far failed to acquire this essential skill. There are several LJs here who excel at this skill and you’d be best served by seeking their advice on quality files, saw vises, technique, etc.

I think this would constitute a pretty minimal tool kit (someone jump in if I’ve missed something, overstated something, or just plane gave bad information).

-- - Billy

View Coel's profile


31 posts in 657 days

#7 posted 01-22-2015 02:45 PM

Well the first project is a pedestal for a washer and dryer. At least that what the fiance told me it needs to be. So I’ve built a sturdy frame work and next I’ll top it and skin it and add drawers. I expect to use both solid wood and ply.

View BigMig's profile


378 posts in 2034 days

#8 posted 01-22-2015 04:14 PM

I think that the best early tool to acquire is a good combination square. Doesn’t have to be Starrett – I have a Craftsman that’s 90 degrees and very affordable. Either way, a reliable combination square IS A MUST.

Next, don’t underestimate the value of good lighting – makes working easier, better.

Lastly – only acquire as you need for each project. That’ll help the wallet considerably.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View helluvawreck's profile


22682 posts in 2288 days

#9 posted 01-22-2015 04:25 PM

I have bought a lot of hand tools on Ebay but it’s been a while since I bought one. They are all good users. Back when I was getting started about 45 years ago I bought a basic set of good quality hand tools. I spent about $1000 and still have them. I have never regretted that purchase.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View MT_Stringer's profile


2820 posts in 2652 days

#10 posted 01-22-2015 04:36 PM

Throw this into the You Tube search bar.
circular saw cutting guide

Having a guide will help you in several ways. You can clamp it or attach it with screws or double sided tape to you work piece and make straight cuts (cross cut or rip). A short one about 24-36 inches long will be big help for smaller pieces of sheet goods (or crooked boards). A longer one would be great for ripping sheet goods or longer boards.

If your boards are warped (like a banana), you can use the guide to rip a straight side. That would be necessary for glue ups. Your hand plane would have to do the smoothing if needed.

Good luck. Feel free to check out my projects. I am retired and work in my one car garage. :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View JohnChung's profile


367 posts in 1495 days

#11 posted 01-22-2015 04:42 PM

@Coel – Plywood needs a circular saw. You can cut with hand saw but the birch will get tearouts. Since it will be a lot of cuts I will skip handtools for ply wood. As for solid wood you will need a set of hand planes.

Table saw
Router. I would not recommend handtool router as a first choice here…..... Once you have done a few projects hand routers will work for u. You will understand soon enough.
Hand plane. Jack and #4 from Stanley
Combination Square +1 BigMig

Sounds like you are new in this. Please visit your local interest on power tools like table saw safety and the router. Both very useful but equally dangerous.

The reason for power tools is due to material. Plywood, mdf and chipboard does not work well with hand tools. Hand planes does not work on mdf and chipboard. Plywood is also not great with handtools. However power tools can also be used on solid wood.

Stay safe.

View Coel's profile


31 posts in 657 days

#12 posted 01-22-2015 05:26 PM

Yeah my shop area needs lighting… I have one 60w bulb… turning it into an outlet and putting in shop lights

View MT_Stringer's profile


2820 posts in 2652 days

#13 posted 01-22-2015 05:53 PM

Yeah my shop area needs lighting… I have one 60w bulb… turning it into an outlet and putting in shop lights

- Coel

I have heard it before…wall outlets should be higher than 48 inches from the floor. That way, a piece of plywood won’t block the outlet if leaned against the wall. I don’t have that problem because my walls have all sorts of stuff – storage shelves, tool boxes, lumber rack, etc. No room to lean anything :-(

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Coel's profile


31 posts in 657 days

#14 posted 01-22-2015 08:52 PM

Yeah I’m putting the outlet on the ceiling

View MikeUT's profile


121 posts in 780 days

#15 posted 01-22-2015 10:54 PM

+1 on MT_Stringer’s suggestion of making a circular saw jig. That will help a lot while you are saving up on your table saw. I would add tools you need for your next project but you’ll get the best deals if you are an opportunist. I found a lunchbox Dewalt planer on craigslist for under $50 because the height adjustment was messed up. After that an hour of tinkering and $12 to sharpen the blades and it has become one of the best workhorses in my shop.

As far as hand tools, old school is definitely the way to go IMHO. Getting old tools from estate sales or flea markets is no only easier on your wallet, it is very gratifying to bring a 100 year old tool back to life. It only took one Stanley No. 4 and I was completely hooked. It is true that you will have to do some restoration but that is just as fun as anything else I do in my little garage shop. Don’t be intimidated by the process or by a little rust on planes, chisels, or even saws. Between different LJ’s here and YouTube you can learn to do anything pretty quick!

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