What tool would you buy with $400?

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Forum topic by David White posted 03-06-2015 04:38 AM 1579 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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David White

120 posts in 3279 days

03-06-2015 04:38 AM

Hi All

It was my 50th birthday recently and my mother (thanks Mum!) gave me NZ$500 (that would about US$400 or £250) to buy some tools with.

I have a really good set of chisels, but other than that my hand tools are pretty ordinary. I have a few old Stanley planes (4, 5 and 7). I have a little Lie Nielson block plane, a couple of old Diston saws (rip and crosscut).

To be honest I do most of my woodworking with power tools but would like to do more with hand tools.

I do quite a lot with figured wood these days so am thinking of a low angle hand plane – Veritas maybe?

So what would you buy and why?


23 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2315 days

#1 posted 03-06-2015 05:02 AM

Go to the shop and start working on some projects. Eventually, you’ll realize you’re thinking about some tool or another that would make the job more fun.

If you don’t already have it, consider some sort of decent sharpening setup that makes it easy to keep tools razor sharp. Water-stones, bench grinder with white wheels, Tormek, diamond stones or whatever seems most attractive to you. You’ll want it if you intend to go big into hand tools.

-- See my work at and

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 1793 days

#2 posted 03-06-2015 05:54 AM

I love my Veritas LAJ, so if you’re leaning towards a bevel up plane then I think you’d be happy with any of the Veritas offerings. Though if your current Stanley planes are working well for you then maybe another tool might be better appreciated.

For me, my next big ticket item(s) would be getting into the joinery planes. A router plane and plow plane come to $430 CAD so for me that would be the logical choice.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1519 days

#3 posted 03-06-2015 02:03 PM

Go to the shop and start working on some projects. Eventually, you ll realize you re thinking about some tool or another that would make the job more fun.

- JAAune

Following this thought, a gift certificate which could be for one big tool or several smaller tools or supplies you find would come in handy could be nice.

Maybe some nice wood.

View Tugboater78's profile


2743 posts in 2190 days

#4 posted 03-06-2015 02:25 PM

For me it would be a bandsaw.. such as the PC 14”, with a lil more added. I find more and more how useful a bandsaw would be. Especially one i can set up for resawing.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View jmartel's profile


7891 posts in 2148 days

#5 posted 03-06-2015 03:22 PM

If you do a lot with figured wood, I might also suggest their Scraper plane. Or, there’s a lot of little things at Lee Valley that add up that I could blow $400 on.

If you want to hand cut joinery, what about a few of their molded spine backsaws? I’ve got the dovetail saw and it’s nice.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View RogerM's profile


792 posts in 2397 days

#6 posted 03-06-2015 03:57 PM

Buy some good woodworking books.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2924 days

#7 posted 03-06-2015 04:12 PM

Hey, that’s about $530 Canadian Funds!!

I always buy more lumber or figured material with extra or “found” money!

Can’t really go wrong with a Veritas plane though…

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2358 days

#8 posted 03-06-2015 04:18 PM

My advice is consistent with that of JAAune—

Your projects should drive your tool purchases.

I know of many WW’ers (including myself) who, over the years have spent countless $$ on tools which never get used.

If, however, you choose to disregard this advice, then I would throw in with those who suggest a router (specifically the Veritas)

Following chisels, saws, bench and block planes—this is the next logical step and among the most necessary and basic of the joinery planes.

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4216 posts in 2559 days

#9 posted 03-06-2015 04:29 PM


You know what you use in your shop all the time and what is needed most and wishing you did have.

If you are wanting a hand plane anything made by Lee Valley including Veritas well made and work wonderfully. You will never be sorry getting a plane from them.
Now you will have to think which plane you would need the most. Smoother, Jack plane, Low angle Jack plane etc.

I can not wait to see what you buy

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View OSU55's profile


1670 posts in 1988 days

#10 posted 03-06-2015 04:29 PM

If you are working a lot figured wood, you want a high angle plane, not a low angle. If you don’t have a LA block plane for end grain, get one, but you don’t need a top $ one. For high angle smoothing for figured wood, a Veritas scraper plane is hard to beat. Also a Veritas LA BU jack plane, with several blades, can smooth figured wood, is an excellent shooting board plane, slightly short but otherwise very good large panel flattening plane and jointer plane. I have reviews on both on LJ’s. A lot depends on what you typically build.

In a completely different direction, how do you typically finish projects? If you’ve never sprayed finishes that opens a whole new world. A good gun and compressor might be a direction.

View jmartel's profile


7891 posts in 2148 days

#11 posted 03-06-2015 04:40 PM

OSU, I believe he meant that he wanted a bevel up plane. That way you can get a much higher angle for figured wood rather than the standard plane with bevel down that has a constant bedding angle.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View WillliamMSP's profile


1084 posts in 1602 days

#12 posted 03-06-2015 04:47 PM

Or, there s a lot of little things at Lee Valley that add up that I could blow $400 on.
- jmartel

I don’t know about anybody else, but when I have a lump sum, spending it on a number of smaller-ticket items is thoroughly unsatisfying. I can justify $30 here and $80 there at various times, but purchases above a certain threshold ($200, $400, etc) are less frequent, so I feel like I have to make them count.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View Redoak49's profile


3244 posts in 1987 days

#13 posted 03-06-2015 04:52 PM

This is very easy. What are you building or want to build and what tool would make it easier or more fun.

Just by you have the money does not mean you have to spend it now. Wait until you really on poo w what you want.

Nobody on the forum knows what you really like to build.

View bonesbr549's profile


1549 posts in 3065 days

#14 posted 03-06-2015 06:35 PM

You could get another nice plane! How about a #7 or a LAJ. Do you have a good set of stones for sharpening. I nice knew concepts saw would be nice (the wife got it for me for christmas). Nice set of marking guages. Ohhh how about a nice cocobolo mallet? A few nice Auriou rasps. .....and thats just the hand tools :)

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2969 days

#15 posted 03-06-2015 09:21 PM

I would finish insulating my shop, finish the bathroom addition and upgrade the lights.

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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