Author Topic: Looking to start my shop but what larger purchases are most important first?  (Read 1340 times)

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Offline ToolGuy42

  • Posts: 4
I finally have a garage space to build out a shop for tinkering and making things in my free time. I only have a small number of hand tools and a few battery powered tools like a drill, jig saw, dremel etc. I'd like to start getting some larger power tools but not sure which ones to look at first. My first choice I think will be between a miter saw or table saw. What's more useful? Then maybe a router table? I'd like to build out a main center shop table on caster wheels as well. Does anyone have some words of wisdom when it comes to the order of importance for choosing which tools I should focus on first?

Offline DynaGlide

  • Posts: 764
I finally have a garage space to build out a shop for tinkering and making things in my free time. I only have a small number of hand tools and a few battery powered tools like a drill, jig saw, dremel etc. I'd like to start getting some larger power tools but not sure which ones to look at first. My first choice I think will be between a miter saw or table saw. What's more useful? Then maybe a router table? I'd like to build out a main center shop table on caster wheels as well. Does anyone have some words of wisdom when it comes to the order of importance for choosing which tools I should focus on first?

I started where you are. I got a steal on a nice DeWalt miter saw as my first big power tool. I didn't add the table saw until several years later. It's all about what you plan on making. Pick your first project and see what you realistically need to get it done. I didn't own a router table either for a few years until recently. I was mostly making stuff that either went outside (picnic table) or I relied on materials that I didn't have to rip down.

Avoid the temptation to buy all the things.
Instagram @matts.garage

Offline Vtshopdog

  • Posts: 42
Agree with Dyna regarding letting project needs pick the tools you get first. (Conversely my wife will verify you can pick a project to justify whatever tool you lust for,....)

You might do well looking at used stuff for sale locally for first buys to try a given type of tool out, particularly for corded tools.   If you find the tool suits your needs, great you saved some money.  You also can resell it for close to what you paid if you need same tool but better quality or decide it’s not useful. 

Look for quality brands being sold by homeowner and hobbyist types and avoid heavily used job site units. Cordless battery platform issues may complicate things when buying used, having multiple battery brands is suboptimal.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 03:13 PM by Vtshopdog »

Offline jeffinsgf

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  • Posts: 303
I worked for Woodsmith magazine for a few years in the early 80s.  Don Peschke (the owner and publisher) insisted that every article be capable of being built using nothing beyond a table saw, router table, drill press and an assortment of power hand tools. I've always suggested that group as a beginners starting list.

If you're willing to put some "sweat equity" into it, there's no reason you can't have excellent equipment at bargain prices. For example I'm almost through restoring a 1964 Craftsman table saw that I would match against most anything available today for power and accuracy. I paid $100 for it and I have about $50 so far in new parts and accessories.

Power tools today are as good or better than they've ever been. Stationary machinery?? Not so much.

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2834
I find a table saw to be far more useful than a miter saw.  I have both.  Unless you are doing 'production' work, a miter / crosscut sled on your table saw can provide a high degree of accuracy, safety and flexibility.  Table saws let you work with joinery, smaller sheet goods, repeatable cuts for cabinets, furniture, etc. 

A simple approach is to make a router table that can attach to a  table saw so you can use the miter guide and fence for the saw and router.  It also conserves space in a small shop.

There are many on the forum that use a Festool track saw and an MFT table for crosscutting and ripping, and it too is a good choice, though I don't think it's as accurate for repeatable work as a table saw.  Take a look at Ron Paulk's bench and accessories on Youtube.  It's versatile, easy to build, breakdown and gives you a lot of options for add-ons.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3095
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
The absolute first thing I'd buy is a quality set of safety glasses. No matter what I plan to do in my shop, I don a pair as soon as I walk in the door.

For me, my table saw (SawStop) is the anchor of my shop. You can do everything on a table saw that you can do on a miter saw except possibly moldings. I would start with that and buy a mobile base for it. I have a really chopped up shop area and having all the machines on mobile bases lets me accommodate large projects. A really good dust collector is a must. I like the Oneida products. I do not like the dust collectors that rely on a cloth bag.

I really like using a hand plane. Sometimes, they are a lot faster than setting up a power tool. Lie Nielson has good planes and chisels. Planes and chisels lead down the road of sharpening and that is a fun topic.

The next tool I'd buy would be a 14" band saw followed by a drill press.

Home Depot drills and routers are good enough for starting out. I think DeWalt and Bosch tools are just below Festool in quality and a lot cheaper.

If you are cutting up a lot of plywood, a track saw is nice to have.

The Festool Domino is a game changer in fastening pieces together, but a good biscuit cutter is a close second and far cheaper.

Above all, think safety. Consider what might go wrong and put your body parts in danger. If you are uncomfortable with an operation, walk away. Come up with a safe way to accomplish the operation.
Birdhunter

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 1691
You said you have space for a shop now, is that dedicated space?
Meaning you don't have to pack up at the end of the day and slide
your TS and bench in the corner so the car can fit in the garage.

Before you buy what is the power situation in your new shop, and
can it be upgraded (increased with more circuits) if need be. Do you
have 240V power available? If yes look for a 3HP 240v table saw. It
will be all you'll ever need, or maybe too much, depends on what
type of work you plan to undertake.

Used iron will yield you the best bang for your buck IF you know
what you're looking at (and for) plus willing to do give it some TLC
cleaning it up and adjusting.

If you have someone you know who has a good eye and history with
stationary power tools maybe take them along when you go to look
at a potential purchase. I have found many tools on Criag's List
that I purchased and then resold for a slight profit to cover my time
fixing them up or gave away to family members to help them get a
shop started. If you go this route don't be in a rush to buy the first
TS you see. You might even change your priorities if you come across
a great deal on a bandsaw, jointer, or drill press.

Actually, it's a toss up between a good bandsaw and a table saw I think
for a first stationary power tool. But it's tough to know without knowing
what capabilities you have in hand held tools at present.


-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Online DeformedTree

  • Posts: 844
I would plot the layout, etc of the shop first for what you might by.  Thus plan out the storage, electrical, and so forth, so when you buy stuff, it fits into a plan.

Beyond that, let the projects drive it.  Generaly, if you are starting out, project will match the order of construction,  so working from rough framing, to eventual furniture.   Buy tools that match the flow of projects.  There really isn't a need to buy tools now for fine finish work if you won't be doing that for many years.  But if you will be framing walls and such, buy a miter saw.

I would also hatch a plan.  Do you want to have a flexible shop, mobility, one person movable, etc.  And plane out tools, and how they interact.  Some things like just buying all Festool for example, would make dust collection straight forward, but if you will have big stationary stuff, I would think you want to plan for some standardization of things.  Similar for power.  Do you want to be all 110V, or do you want to be 230V.   You very much can buy tools from all sorts of companies, don't get trapped in one brand, but planning some ways they interact better with each other can help.

All that said, without knowing anything else, a 12" sliding compound miter saw is pretty going to be the start point for many folks. Unless you want to go all out on a push/pull table saw.

Biggest thing I would say is, dust collection.  Plan everything around dust collection, don't buy any tool that isn't good at dust collection.  A festool dust extractor is a great bit to start with.

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 1845
Table saw (the best you can afford).

Offline Thompmd

  • Posts: 123
I’m going to go against the grain a little. I retired a couple years ago at 53 and a hobbyist. I too have a dedicated space of about 1000sf in the main area with rooms off that. 99% of the things I do is stationary and don’t leave often. I was very fortunate to have bought this shop from a gentleman who used it as his workshop to build log cabins so it was set up pretty well.

I would suggest a table saw( I have a Sawstop professional cabinet saw,3hp single phase)first . My next suggestion is dust control. I went with a CT36 from Festool and the rest of my tools I stayed with Festool for the dust collection . After that I too would buy as needed.

Where I would go against the grain a little is suggesting new. Warranties, accuracy and if your not real careful buy the time you buy/resell you can end up with the cost of new . I know there are good deals on used but the few times I’ve done that it hasn’t worked out the best.

I’m new(er) to woodworking and my thoughts were buying good tools eliminated part of the equation and I also feel like I’ve “settled” throughout life getting what I needed and not what I wanted.

There’s no wrong way to go about it, be happy and do what makes you smile.
Sawstop Industrial Saw, TS75,2 1400 rails, CT36, Rotex RO 150 FEQ, CT-VA-20, Carvex PS 420 EBQ, Carvex acc. ZH-SYS-PS 400, Kapex KS 120, CT Cyclone Dust Collection Pre-Separator CT VA 20, DF 500 Q Set, Domino 1,060pc Tenon Assortment, UG-KA-SET Portable Imperial Stand & Extensions,OF1400 EQ-F-Plus, MFT/3, MFT-SP, FS-HZ 160

Offline David

  • Posts: 464
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I didn't see anyone mention dust collection, or maybe my skimming is out of practice. Buy a good, new SawStop.

Truth be told, I use my Felder 610 more than I use my tablesaw, though.
Fifth book (less interesting than woodworking) at http://www.expertise.is

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 338
Presuming you will work with both rough sawn lumber and plywood I would suggest:

1. Jointer
2. Planer
3. Bandsaw
4. Tablesaw with router table
5. SCMS
6. Drill press

Offline CeeJay

  • Posts: 146
Presuming you will work with both rough sawn lumber and plywood I would suggest:

1. Jointer
2. Planer
3. Bandsaw
4. Tablesaw with router table
5. SCMS
6. Drill press
Also my recommendation. That’s where I started. All good quality used, except the bandsaw and SCMS which were new.


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Offline fuzzy logic

  • Posts: 357
Agree with Deformed Tree and others wrt planning & dust collection in particular. 
I'd go with good table saw as a start - and the training / awareness that needs to go with whatever you go for.
I have a book I found interesting & useful - been looking for it - it's there somewhere!
The book may have recommended on FOG once upon a time.  It all about making jigs for table saws. 
Anyways, with a table saw + the right jigs = lots of things that can be done; you might enjoy this sort of approach as very instructive wrt your understanding wood & making joints etc   
I'll keep looking & post if (when!) find it. 

Good luck
Richard (UK)


Decent people do the right thing - always?

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3095
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
I forgot to add in my prior post that a Starrett combination square is a must. There are far cheaper combo squares, but none better. Take care of it and it will last far past your lifetime. Buy it new. Some used ones are so abused that they are no longer square.
Birdhunter

Offline JonathanJung

  • Posts: 59
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I would let the projects you're interested in, and the style of them, dictate your purchases. Somehow, when I was in a 1 car garage, I'd managed to produce cabinetry, light millwork, some furniture, outdoor projects, with the following:

miter saw (non-sliding 12", more accurate)
table saw (contractor)
lunchbox planer
track saw
routers

with those plus the normal selection of hand power tools, there's a lot you can do. Jointer, big planer, router tables, stationary sanders, drill presses, bandsaws, they are good when you get more involved down the road.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2020, 02:30 AM by JonathanJung »

Offline Thompmd

  • Posts: 123
I forgot to add in my prior post that a Starrett combination square is a must. There are far cheaper combo squares, but none better. Take care of it and it will last far past your lifetime. Buy it new. Some used ones are so abused that they are no longer square.

Bird hunter: sorry to hijack but can you list the combo square/squares model numbers? I need to purchase. Thanks
Sawstop Industrial Saw, TS75,2 1400 rails, CT36, Rotex RO 150 FEQ, CT-VA-20, Carvex PS 420 EBQ, Carvex acc. ZH-SYS-PS 400, Kapex KS 120, CT Cyclone Dust Collection Pre-Separator CT VA 20, DF 500 Q Set, Domino 1,060pc Tenon Assortment, UG-KA-SET Portable Imperial Stand & Extensions,OF1400 EQ-F-Plus, MFT/3, MFT-SP, FS-HZ 160

Offline ScotF

  • Posts: 2796
I think that the bandsaw is the single most important stationary tool for working in solid wood. A well tuned bandsaw is very accurate and can rip, resaw, crosscut and cut curves. The main limited factor is throat depth and resaw height. A good 18 inch or bigger size will allow you to do most everything you need to do. Combined with a track saw and there is little you cannot accomplish cutting with this set-up.

A table saw is also useful for narrow rips and joinery cuts and can be outfitted with jigs for accurate cross-cuts and other joinery. I build furniture and rarely use my table saw - or at least my big cabinet saw. I did acquire an Erica earlier this year and I love it - but wanted something to do miter-saw functionality and table saw narrow rips in an compact package. I still use my track saws way more. But knowing what I do now, I would add a table saw after the bandsaw and a good jointer and planer. As someone mentioned, DC is hugely important too.

Good accurate layout tools are a must as are a couple of good hand tools - a block plane and a couple of quality chisels are important too. I would also get a dovetail saw to help with little offcuts and joinery.

For hand power tools, I think a router is an absolute must  and probably the single most important power tool besides a bandsaw. You can actually use one to flatten rough stock and to joint edges and even plane thickness if you had too. Edge profiles and joinery are other uses. I would add a high quality jigsaw to the mix, drill and of course a couple of sanders - one for flats and getting high quality finish and one orbital to work on edges and to get into corners. Personally this would be the Rotex 125 or Rotex 150 and the DTS400, but the ETS EC 150/5 would also be a worthy choice, combined with the DTS400.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3095
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
I suggest looking at the Starrett.com site to pick a combination square. I think the 12” length is best and I like the satin finish. It seems easier to read. They have metric and inch scales.

I like Woodpecker’s 1281 square if you want a fixed square in addition to the Starrett.
Birdhunter

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1224
@Thompmd here's a thread on the forum that has a lot of info:

https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/other-tools-accessories/starrett-combo-square-clarification-please/msg609384/#msg609384

Here's a link to Starrett Combination squares:

https://www.starrett.com/category/precision-measuring-tools/combination-squares/111001#currentPage=1&displayMode=grid&itemsPerPage=12&sortBy=wp/asc

Use the filter on the left of the page to zero in on your picks.

blade length 12 inch is a good size
satin chrome for the blade is easire to read
4R unless you are a machinist or need metric (1/16th and 1/8 on one side 1/32 and 1/64 on the other
There are 2 head types Cast and forged and hardened cast has a wrinkle finish forged is smooth

forged is a bit more expensive.

You'll also find that a 4 or 6 inch double square is very handy as well.I use mine more than the big one.

https://www.starrett.com/metrology/product-detail/13A

https://www.starrett.com/metrology/product-detail/13C

Ron

Offline Thompmd

  • Posts: 123
Thank You both for the help, I’ll definitely check into them.

Sorry for the hijack. I definitely enjoy these types of threads as I’m also doing a very similar thing.
Sawstop Industrial Saw, TS75,2 1400 rails, CT36, Rotex RO 150 FEQ, CT-VA-20, Carvex PS 420 EBQ, Carvex acc. ZH-SYS-PS 400, Kapex KS 120, CT Cyclone Dust Collection Pre-Separator CT VA 20, DF 500 Q Set, Domino 1,060pc Tenon Assortment, UG-KA-SET Portable Imperial Stand & Extensions,OF1400 EQ-F-Plus, MFT/3, MFT-SP, FS-HZ 160

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3095
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
When I bought my lathe 22 years ago, I knew zip about turning. So, I hired a pro turner to come to my shop and teach me lathe safety and enough to start turning simple spindle type objects. He returned in about a month to teach me to turn bowls. Each lesson took about 3 hours and gave me a huge jump start.

Table saws, band saws, even hand tools can be tricky to set up and to use safely. Bringing in a pro to help you get started might be worth considering.
Birdhunter

Offline cubevandude

  • Posts: 73
If you study the festool system and use the ideas off this forum, You can be quite creative with minimal floor space.  I would start with a 3X5 MFT slab and get a track saw, with the SS Parf Dogs from Lee Valley.  You could put three of these top together to have a marvelous work table for cutting.  You can do a lot with a setup like this.  I have makita.  Watch Peters videos on the Parf Guide system and the Parf Dogs.  I just got a 14 tooth blade for my track saw to do rough lumber edges with the track saw.

The 20 mm system is brillant.

Offline savsuds

  • Posts: 30
Electrical.

It is the one thing I would have done before I starting filling my garage with tools/benches. My garage's electrical limits determined my purchases. My projects should have driven the purchases instead.
Hobbyist just trying to have fun and not let my OCD ruin it for me.

Online DeformedTree

  • Posts: 844

The 20 mm system is brillant.

Everything looks good when you have a sexy spokesperson.