Getting Started - Not As Easy As You'd Think

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Blog entry by Dan Corbin posted 06-29-2012 05:08 PM 1417 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

All of my woodworking has been done in other’s people’s workshops, using their tools; or borrowing their tools to work with. But I’ve never had the space to have a workshop of my own, because I’ve been living in apartments for the past dozen years. Well, my wife & I just moved into a spacious home with a giant 2+ car garage, and I’ve decided to take half that space for my brand-new workshop. I’m so excited to finally have a space of my own to work my craft. Well, I was excited until I started looking at all of the tools I’ve become accustomed to using, and which I don’t have.

I went to my local Harbor Freight store, and began looking at their tools. They are certainly cheap, and many of them would do, I’m sure. But wouldn’t it be nice to have tools of a slightly higher caliber? I would absolutely be willing to sell my craft in exchange for good-ish tools (is that like selling your soul, though?).

I set up a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, sort of run the idea up the flag pole and see if anyone would salute. It’s only been 5 days, but thus far no one’s been saluting. If you’re interested, you can check it out over here (link removed 7/4/12). I’m trying to make daily posts as to what tools I want/have, and why I want/have that particular tool.

-- ~ Dan, North Carolina,

8 comments so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4154 days

#1 posted 06-29-2012 05:58 PM

I think I need a little more sense of your direction for me to get excited about a project like that. The thing that strikes me is that I know a number of furniture makers making a living in Northern California by making furniture. I know even more who’ve already equipped their shops and are trying to find their niche. I’ve also met a number of people making a living making high quality tools. Funding someone else seems like casting my net far too wide, you’ve got to show me what’s unique about your appeal, and I’m just not getting it yet.

On the “Harbor Freight” conundrum: I’m currently considering a few new tools and struggling with the “what’s the real difference?” problem. And then I’m reminded that when I’m swearing and cussing in the shop, my wife hollers “Doesn’t Festool make a version of that tool?”, and usually she’s right. And in the long-run, I have yet to regret spending an extra hundred or two on a tool to get the high end version, I’ve often regretted not spending those hundreds.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2541 days

#2 posted 06-29-2012 07:02 PM

Dan, first let me say congrats on your new house and play room :) I guess it depends on how much you love working with wood will depend on how much $$$ you are willing to spend setting up and yes I know money doesn’t grow on trees nor was rome built in a day, if money is a strong issue then it’s going to take you some time but I strongly suggest against buying from HF, I took that path when I stated out and found out the hard way as to why they were so cheap, mine have all been replaced yet the HF DC which is doing very well. What you’re going to wand up doing is buying what you need from HF spending $$$ up front only to spend more down the road replacing all of the HF crap. If I’d bought the right stuff to began with I would have actually saved money, so if you go HF you will actually be spending more not less.

Now to your play room are you planing on walling in half?

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Sylvain's profile


708 posts in 2528 days

#3 posted 06-29-2012 07:08 PM

Before spending a lot of money, have a look at this :


read also the blog of Paul Sellers

Then decide if wood machining is or is not what you need.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3069 days

#4 posted 06-29-2012 09:29 PM

Check out Auctions & Garage Sales, Believe it or not you can fill a shop with tools Fairly Cheap.

Of Course it is hit or miss on what & when you find.

Even Pawn Shops have some Fairly Good tools, but you must know what you are looking at & you may get burnt a few times.

Farm & Estate Sales / Auctions are one of my favorites.

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Dan Corbin's profile

Dan Corbin

57 posts in 2191 days

#5 posted 06-30-2012 12:09 AM

All of your sentiments about Harbor Freight are pretty much why I don’t want to buy from them. But money doesn’t grow on trees, which is why I had the thought of selling some of the stuff I can make to pay for tools. And the only way I could think of to sell enough to pay for all of the tools, without actually having the stuff in order to sell, was a crowdfunding website.

In response to Mr. Lyke’s question, there are a bunch of wildly talented woodworkers on this site. Every time I hit the home page, I find yet another project someone has done that blows me away. When faced with that, what CAN I do to set myself apart? I’m hoping that some of the awesomeness on this site might perhaps rub off on me and I’ll get better.

I just love working with my hands to create useful and beautiful things out of wood, and I’m hoping that there are people out there who want to financially support my love of working with wood. Will I succeed? Probably not. But if I didn’t try, I would definitely not succeed.

-- ~ Dan, North Carolina,

View Dan Corbin's profile

Dan Corbin

57 posts in 2191 days

#6 posted 06-30-2012 06:27 PM

Blackie, I forgot to answer your question! At this point, I’m not planning on walling it in. Should I be?

-- ~ Dan, North Carolina,

View helluvawreck's profile


31417 posts in 2895 days

#7 posted 06-30-2012 07:03 PM

There’s an old proverb: A thousand mile journey begins with only one step. You’d be surprised with what you can do with the basic hand tools. Add to that a few basic portable power tools and you will be cooking with gas. May you always be happy in your woodworking; may you always be happy in all of your work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


221 posts in 2201 days

#8 posted 06-30-2012 07:21 PM

I recommend that you buy the absolute best equipment that you can afford…this is a lesson learned.
one place to look for quality equipment is Craigslist…I got a brand new Tormek for $300.00..never used and they list for around $600.00..the guy had a lathe for sale as well..but I was short of play money

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

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