Best Upgrade you've made

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Forum topic by TheWeiss posted 02-25-2015 08:10 PM 2034 views 0 times favorited 56 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TheWeiss's profile


50 posts in 659 days

02-25-2015 08:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: upgrade blade add add-on amazing never go back

I’ve been dabbling in woodworking for a long time but only recently began to get serious about doing high quality work. As I’ve been making this transition I’ve been upgrading some of my entry level tools. Some of these upgrades have been small and some have been significant. Recently I changed out the old blade in my mitrer saw and holy smokes….. I didn’t know how smooth the saw could cut and I didn’t know how bad I had it and how good life could be.

I’m wondering how many of you out there have made similar upgrades that really showed you what you were missing. I ask this to allow you to extol the virtues of amazing tools and to also help guide others who may be considering upgrading some of there equipment.

So what’s an upgrade that you wish you had made sooner? What’s an upgrade that you can’t believe that others haven’t done yet? What tool or add-on was moving from VHS to an IMAX screen?

56 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


7147 posts in 2799 days

#1 posted 02-25-2015 08:21 PM

- A decent blade has got to be the most dramatic upgrade you make for just about any saw.

- A jointer that creates a flat face, square edge was pretty dramatic too….makes joinery predictable.

- Dust collection…I’ve just about forgotten what a mess saw dust can make.

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

View moner's profile


3 posts in 681 days

#2 posted 02-25-2015 08:33 PM

for me, it was FINALLY getting a drill press. i would drill everything by hand or use a portable drill guide- both with less then desirable results.

the next big upgrade for me will be making a good shooting board and finally building the Super Sled (thanks John Nixon at Eagle Lake Woodworking for that beauty!!!!!)


View DIYaholic's profile


19140 posts in 2098 days

#3 posted 02-25-2015 09:00 PM

Dust collection & ducting to each machine, along with the Long Ranger remote….
Ambient air cleaner….
Drum sander….

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View barada83's profile


76 posts in 609 days

#4 posted 02-25-2015 10:20 PM

Started off with a contractor style delta saw, switched that to a cabinet/hybrid model which made a world of difference in adjustments and controlling the dust. Probably best upgrade, assuming you are also including additions, would be ducted dust collection with dedicated connections. A world of difference in allergies, very little cleanup, and so much nicer.

-- Mike

View joey502's profile


482 posts in 941 days

#5 posted 02-25-2015 10:40 PM

My jointer. Working with flat square lumber has made the largest positive impact on my work to date.

I recently traded up my table saw blades. I was using the red ones from HD, they are ok but now I have a higher end combo and ripping blades. The difference is amazing.

I bought a delta 1.5hp single stage dust collector in 2008. I did not use it much because changing bags was a pain. The filter bag clogged up, another pain. Moving it from machine to machine was a pain. It got shoved in the corner until last spring when I bought a super dust deputy for it. I mounted the DD on a plastic 30 gallon barrel and ran pipe to my planer, jointer and table saw. I added a cheap remote switch from lowes and blast gates at each machine. The shop is more enjoyable because clean up is limited to a few minutes.

I do not mean to plagiarize Knotscott but I agree his 3 improvements are my picks as well.

View Minorhero's profile


372 posts in 2028 days

#6 posted 02-25-2015 11:59 PM

I got access to a jointer and planer with a spiral cutting head. This made a huge difference because I no longer had to worry about direction of grain. The head itself essentially makes blade re-calibration a non issue. As a home shop user there is a decent chance I will never need to replace or sharpen the individual cutting pieces.

I already had a jointer but the spiral head is a huge upgrade.

The next piece I am looking at is a drum sander. Everyone who has one loves it.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1358 days

#7 posted 02-26-2015 12:47 AM

Cheapest and easiest for me was a v-belt on my used jointer. Went from jumping all over the place to smooth as butter.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Holbs's profile


1347 posts in 1452 days

#8 posted 02-26-2015 12:51 AM

#1: lighting. Going from a single bulb and movable tripod light in my 2 car garage, to 2 zoned 12×2 T8 fluorescent lights. It made going from miserable psychological atmosphere to a happy joyful one. #2: coloring the walls. My garage initially had just industry standard grey drywall with the seams sealed. I eventually painted 2 tone yellow: sunrise for top half / sunset for lower half. has done wonders once again for the psychological. Whenever I put drywall back on the ceiling, it shall be blue. #3: going from a shop vac to a true dust collector & ducting. Again, more psychological wonders to make the time spent in the environment a happy one.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

View greenacres2's profile


240 posts in 1591 days

#9 posted 02-26-2015 12:52 AM

I could agree with most of the big upgrades mentioned, and i’d add my Incra fence (or other accurate fence) to the list.

Best LITTLE upgrade—a bottle of Trend Bit & Blade Cleaner (other brands may work as well or better) and a few old t-shirts ripped into rags. Even cutting mostly hardwoods, regular cleaning is quick (not quick if you wait until your blades are turning brown), the few minutes at the end of a session are time well spent for the next session. Won’t make bits & blades stay sharp longer or last longer, but it will keep me from thinking they are dull or worn out when they’re simply gummed up. An extra rub on the sides of the teeth really helps.

While cleaning the pitch off is important—it’s equally important not to use the wrong stuff. Folks like Knotscott, Tom Walz and others know way more about that than me, so i’ll just stick with the $10 purchase that doesn’t clean ovens and doesn’t ruin the carbide adhesion on a Forrest, Amana or Ridge blade.


View timbertailor's profile


1591 posts in 847 days

#10 posted 02-26-2015 01:31 AM

- A decent blade has got to be the most dramatic upgrade you make for just about any saw.

- A jointer that creates a flat face, square edge was pretty dramatic too….makes joinery predictable.

- Dust collection…I ve just about forgotten what a mess saw dust can make.

- knotscott


Also investing in a Wixey Digital Angle Gauge and a Woodpecker Table Saw\Fence alignment tool.

-- Brad, Texas,

View TheFridge's profile


5682 posts in 909 days

#11 posted 02-26-2015 01:38 AM

Dial indicator, calipers, unisaw, engineers squares, Forrest ww2

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Rick M.'s profile (online now)

Rick M.

7727 posts in 1803 days

#12 posted 02-26-2015 06:24 AM

Every upgrade I make feels like IMAX for awhile.


View crossfacecraddle's profile


131 posts in 1035 days

#13 posted 02-26-2015 06:40 AM

My best upgrade lately has been buying a lie Nielsen dovetail saw, like cutting through butta.

-- i love the smell of sawdust in the morning, it smells like victory. John

View Picklehead's profile


993 posts in 1352 days

#14 posted 02-26-2015 10:34 AM

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest a pocket hole jig. While I don’t use it for “fine furniture”, it sure allows me to knock out some projects (or parts of projects) quickly so I can keep going without getting bogged down. Think shop projects, jigs, honey-do lists. Worst upgrade: biscuit joiner.

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Tennessee's profile


2410 posts in 1937 days

#15 posted 02-26-2015 12:16 PM

For me, the first was trading in my lunchbox planer for a spiralhead planer, a HUGE improvement in my woodworking capabilities. 12” to 15”, being able to plane burl, flame and others.

Beyond that, going from a 14” bandsaw to a 18” bandsaw was definitely the second. Now I can truly resaw.

Everything else pales in comparison.

-- Paul, Tennessee,

showing 1 through 15 of 56 replies

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