Essential equipment for a basic shop?

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Forum topic by Gavel posted 08-14-2009 04:52 PM 9010 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 3208 days

08-14-2009 04:52 PM

My “shop” so far consists of a cheap table saw, handheld drill, random orbital sander, circular saw, and a hand router. I’ve also got a decent set of Marples chisels.

I’m trying to decide what to get next. I think the hand router and hand drill will go for now, so I’m leaning towards a miter saw/chop saw, though I’ve been watching Woodsmith Shop and they say the router table/drill press are the other two key components.

Any opinions?

-- "If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?" -John Adams

17 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3648 days

#1 posted 08-14-2009 04:59 PM

sharpening equipment? quality squares? marking knife? I would go for those first as ‘essentials’ , anything else can be improvised/figured out.

I find my drill press is getting ALOT of use, from roughing up mortises, to installing hardware, precision holes, etc. and I don’t have a chopsaw/mitersaw – I use my table saw with a miter gauge for those (or circular saw for panels)

router table is also a fantastic thing to have, mine got ruined in a flood, and will be replaced soon once I get the time for it – still … before I’ll ever get a mitersaw

but thats just me. I find those other machines more versatile and useful.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Gavel's profile


8 posts in 3208 days

#2 posted 08-14-2009 05:04 PM

Oh yes. I do have a very nice combination square, a T-square, a handful of clamps, and some other stuff I bought off craigsilst in a kit – a bench plane, a sharpening stone, a marking gauge, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t know how to use. :)

-- "If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?" -John Adams

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 08-14-2009 05:30 PM

Gavel, I guess I usually answer these questions with—-What kind of woodworking do you want to do? There is no pat answer in how to equip a shop. If all you want to do is to turn pens, then a lathe would be in order. If you want to put up crown moulding, then you need a miter saw. Boxes, maybe a band saw or router table. I’m just trying to make a point that the more we know, the more we can help you, and we would love to do just that.

Good luck!


View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3471 days

#4 posted 08-14-2009 05:39 PM

Some random thoughts:

A workbench is a tool. Consider building yourself a good one. Doesn’t have to be an uber fancy Roubo. But something that is solid, flat, clamp & vice friendly will take you a long way.

Cheap table saw – take a very close look at it and consider the kinds of projects you have in mind. If the cheapness of the saw is going to cause problems or safety issues, consider replacing it first. Otherwise look at tricking it out a little bit with maybe a good combination blade (Freud, Forrest, etc), make or buy some zero clearance inserts. Consider a 6” or 8” (smaller if the saw lacks the guts) stack dado set. Build a miter sled and maybe a tall fence. Now you are set to do a lot of basic joinery on the TS.

Get a drill press, even a small 2-1/2” quill benchtop model will take you a long way. I bought one years ago and while it has it limitations, I’ve yet to find a solid reason to replace it.

A router table really expands the horizon for your router. Build your own, it is a good skill-builder project.

Otherwise I’d suggest you think about the kinds of projects you want to build. Then research them keeping an eye on the types of joinery and woods involved. Use those as your guide for selecting tools.

And you can never have enough clamps.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4313 days

#5 posted 08-14-2009 05:55 PM

wood! A shop with out wood is just a tool collection.

View knotscott's profile


8015 posts in 3375 days

#6 posted 08-14-2009 07:26 PM

Everyone has their own method of doing things. Even a cheap TS is capable of crosscuts…you could build a crosscut sled to improve accuracy and safety too….a good TS is important to me, but is something I’d look to replace after getting a few more tools. I rarely use my CMS except for very long pieces of molding, so I’m not seeing that a CMS will add any capability that you don’t already have.

A couple of thoughts:
- A bandsaw or jigsaw will give you the capability to cut curves.
- A router in router table is extremely versatile. (how’s your router bit selection?)
- A workbench or good work surface is a great addition
- A planer would give you some great new capability and a lot more flexibility with what materials you use
- A DP can double as a drum sander
- A basic $20 pocket hole jig will is also a great addition
- Clamps…always a need (the Harbor Freight Pittsburg bar clamps are a super deal on sale)

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

View JoshO's profile


48 posts in 3400 days

#7 posted 08-14-2009 10:27 PM

lol – right now as it is looking, I have more of the tool collection rather than a shop as defined by Dennis.

I would recommend a heavy duty router with both a fixed base (for a router table) and plunge style.

-- What do you mean it's square? How did that happen?

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#8 posted 08-14-2009 11:07 PM

I problemly would get a drill press, thickness planer, jig saw, or bandsaw.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3284 days

#9 posted 08-15-2009 03:08 AM

I agree with Kent, It really depends on what kind of woodworking you would like to do or learn. and I like Dennis’s suggestion. Wood is always a good place to start. lol

-- John @

View BeachedBones's profile


201 posts in 3401 days

#10 posted 08-15-2009 03:17 AM

For me the most frequently used power tools are, in order of use 1) table saw 2) miter saw 3) drill press 4) jointer 5) planer 6) bandsaw 7) router /router table.

Best bet is think of what project you want/need to do next, and figure out which new tool is most important to that project.

-- You know.... I think that old wood needs to be furniture.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3470 days

#11 posted 08-15-2009 04:47 AM

Depends on what you are going to build. I have been building cabinets and doing trim and furniture for a long time and still dont own a band saw or a drill press. I’d like to own them but haven’t needed them. I think you need a spindle/belt sander

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#12 posted 08-23-2009 05:19 AM

I think a chop saw is a great Idea.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View kcrandy's profile


285 posts in 3431 days

#13 posted 08-23-2009 05:31 AM

This is a great discussion because I face the same dilemma. I’m nearing retirement and what I want to do is more woodworking and the project I want to work on are built ins for my home built in 1926. These would be bookshelves, a sofa for a sun room and attic remodeling. I now have table saw, miter saw, and skill saw as power tools and wonder what else I should have.

-- Caulk and paint are a poor carpenter's best friends

View mikedddd's profile


147 posts in 3229 days

#14 posted 08-23-2009 06:20 AM

If you already have a workbench, then I would recommend a band saw. Unless you plan on working with sheet goods a lot,if so stop reading; it’s the most versatile saw in my shop. Then a jointer, planer, router table, drill press, maybe upgrade your table saw, more hand tools, crosscut sled and dado set, for your new table saw, and if you think you need on a miter saw.

-- Mike

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3383 days

#15 posted 08-23-2009 02:56 PM

I would focus on learning to sharpen your handtools while you figure out what it is you want to make. As you are making whatever it is, if you come across something that you can’t do with any of the tools you have or that would make it so much easier, that is the tool you need.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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