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Thread: Small-space woodworking: what power tools are most useful for neanderthalers?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Small-space woodworking: what power tools are most useful for neanderthalers?

    That is, if you use any at all. I am wrestling with having to go small, into the SW Florida garage I'll have when we move there. I have discussed in other threads here the situation with humidity and temperature, so this new thread is to address the kit of tools, bench, and storage for a small-footprint hobby.

    So, unless you are a total samurai, and are completely off-grid, tell us what few minimum power tools make most sense to someone wanting to do modestly-sized projects, such as casework and furniture.

    I own a bench I made, just like shown at this page. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/p...-box-workbench. It is a heavy monster and has served me well for almost 20 years. I'd like to take it and have it be the main piece in my small space.

    I own a cordless drill and impact driver, and those have got to remain in the kit. I also have a Festool Domino 500 and the RO125 5" sander plus the vacuum that connects to anything Festool. Everything I've made since I got these two tools three years ago has been done using them, so they're keepers.

    So what else? I sold the planer, the jointer, and the bandsaw yesterday, and the contractor-style tablesaw is going to be sold, even if I need to reduce the price to almost nothing. There's simply no room.

    I own a jigsaw, three routers, a small benchtop router table, a belt sander that's a wreck but works, a power planer, a biscuit joiner, and a circular saw dedicated to track-cutting, along with the track set. If I get clever with overhead storage in the small space I'll have, I think I'll have room to store these things for having when needed.

    Oh, and clamps. I've a bunch but there will be plenty of wall space for hanging them out of the way.

  2. #2
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    The Dungeon Shop has a Drill Press, a Grinder, A sander(3) and a Bandsaw. A circular saw does come in handy. used to have a lathe...it has since died. I still keep a "tailed" router around, for things my handtools can't quite do.

  3. #3
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    For my money the bandsaw is the most helpful. The jigsaw you mentioned may be able to take its place for some tasks. Any serious re-sawing is where a good bandsaw is useful.

    A lathe is also helpful for legs, spindles and tool handles.

    Other than that an all hand tool shop is able to do most work quite well.

    My shop has few power tools. The router is seldom used these days, last time was about 5 years ago. My drill press and De Walt hand drill get used often as do the lathe and bandsaw. Less used is my belt sander and the random orbital sander. My circular saw hasn't been used in years.

    Recently my old bandsaw was replaced with a newer model that can re-saw a touch more than 12". It has been love since first use.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    If you're going to work with sheet goods, your circ saw and track should be a lot of help. (You might find you want to upgrade to a full up tracksaw downstream.) If you want to work solid wood, I'd try to fit in a small bandsaw for ripping solid stock, and put it on wheels. If you are going to need to thickness your material, I'd try to squeeze in a lunchbox planer (to avoid having to plane to thickness by hand). Or buy S4S lumber if you're gonna work in standard thicknesses (3/4").

    For jointing and finishing, hand planes are your friend. For moldings, keep one of your routers. Else, explore using molding planes - I do both.

    Thoughts on things you might not need to keep:
    * If you have a domino, can you ditch the biscuit jointer - I always thought they did the same sort of things, with the domino being far better?
    * If you have hand planes, you could ditch the belt sander.
    * Do you really need 3 routers? Is one sufficient for what you build?
    * If you get good with planes, you could conceivably sell the power sander and vacuum.

    All this is what I would do - your mileage may vary.

    Best of luck on your move!
    Fred

  5. #5
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    The money I got for the stationary tools already sold is burning a hole in my pocket, and I was thinking, I know this is heresy here in the 19th century, of the Festool MFT/3 table with one of their tracksaws, and ditch the Porter Cable and EZSmart track setup I have now.

    And yes, the biscuit joiner is going. The Domino took over the place when it came in the door.

  6. #6
    I have a bandsaw and circular saw that I use fairly often, but other than that I have a benchtop planer, benchtop drill press and scrollsaw that see very little use.

  7. #7
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    Hello Gene,

    What kind of work do you aspire to do?

    If I were downsizing, the last thing to leave the shop would be my bandsaw (it is 18 and a good one) and a planer. Well those would go before my bench... And Id be happy to sell my ts before my scroll saw, but thats bc I do some veneer work.

    So again depends on what is important to you...

    Best
    C

  8. #8
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    Hi Gene

    The essential power tools, in order:

    1. 8" Half-speed bench grinder: hollow grind all your blades and make it easier to keep everything sharp. Get a 180 grit CBN wheel if you can.

    2. Floor standing drill press. This takes up very little space and is great, not only for drilling holes accurately, but polishing and buffing (I use it a lot for that).

    3. Bandsaw: Ripping boards. Resawing, obviously, but together with a jointer plane, you can thickness your boards much more easily.

    4. Festool tracksaw: crosscutting with a small footprint. Festool as it has good dust collection.

    A power router is a wonderful tool, just noisy and messy (I do not use one much, but they are wonderful for morticing). Do not reject the ROS, either. There are times when you will find them the preferred tool. However, as soon as you use these, you need a dust collector. Incidentally, the Domino is fantastic (I used the 500 to build a kitchen this year), but do not throw away your biscuit cutter - the domino creates a deep mortice and tenon, whereas a biscuit is shallow and wide. That is better for mitre joints (closer to a spline).

    5. Dust collector: my choice is Festool CT26E. I have had a Fein in past years, but the Festool is better. Hepa filters are not negotiable.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 11-13-2017 at 1:26 AM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by steven c newman View Post
    The Dungeon Shop has a Drill Press, a Grinder, A sander(3) and a Bandsaw. A circular saw does come in handy. used to have a lathe...it has since died. I still keep a "tailed" router around, for things my handtools can't quite do.
    I have a similar workshop too!

  10. #10
    I am not sure of the projects you are under taking. What size do you have for the new location workshop?

  11. #11
    I think a bandsaw first. It is versatile, and well suited for a small space. Put it on wheels.

    You may find later that prepping stock later is a big pain. In that case you may look at some combo machines.

  12. #12
    When I down sized from a 30' x 25' garage to a 12' x 14' room in my basement I found I had to down size my equipment size and amount of tools needed for my choice of projects.

    I believe the right tools are the ones that allow me to do the woodworking projects I choose. I no longer have a table saw, router table, a full size CNC machine (we built), a thickness sander (we built) and a full size dust system.

    What I kept was thickness planner, band saw, miter saw, 4" jointer, table top bench sander, smaller CNC machine (we built) small dust system, and an assortment of hand tools.

    We have the ability to get most stock cut to size by a local wood shop. I don't believe in keeping tools we use once a year. I also found jigs, that can get you through the once a year chores.

    I guess a shop is best laid out for the job you choose to do. I have just retired from my daytime job andl make guitars, boxes, toys, signage, as a hobby.

    Good luck on down sizing, it was a chore that I had to do alto of "what am I going to build", sounds like you are in the same boat.

    John

  13. #13
    I would help do know the dimensions of your workspace.

    90% of what I do is casework, furniture and cabinets.

    Hard to advise because it depends on your methods of work. For example, I mill my own lumber, something you will no longer be able to do, which IMO is going to be a pretty big factor for you. So I can't imagine ww'ing without a planer and jointer.

    That being said, you'll be working with surface lumber

    IMO a tablesaw is an absolute must for any ww'ing shop. Other than I think the bare minimum is a bandsaw, drill press, track saw (or some type of track system), hand held router, jigsaw, sanders and various drill/drivers.

    But then again, it all depends on your methods of work. I seems you are limiting yourself to hand tools.

  14. #14
    Why not get a tracksaw and build a Paulk workbench?

    With your skills, it should be easy.
    Also, it's much less expensive and more flexible than a MFT (I'd imagine, I don't have one).

    In terms of tracksaws--I really like my Makita. I've heard that some guys didn't like their TS55 because it doesn't have as much power.

    In terms of tools, the ones I'd least like to give up:
    1. Drill press
    2. Bandsaw

    But then again, I mainly do smaller projects. The Drill press is very handy for dimensioning wood using a Safety planer or Gilbert Disk and sandpaper.
    The bandsaw saves on much grunt work. I think Stan's is a lunchbox planer...but your planex probably works fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Davis View Post
    The money I got for the stationary tools already sold is burning a hole in my pocket, and I was thinking, I know this is heresy here in the 19th century, of the Festool MFT/3 table with one of their tracksaws, and ditch the Porter Cable and EZSmart track setup I have now.

    And yes, the biscuit joiner is going. The Domino took over the place when it came in the door.

  15. #15
    btw, how small is your space?
    What projects do you want to do? Casework? Guitars?

    If you're festool-based, I can not imagine a better optimized system for your work.
    The MFT is probably a pass though, the MFTC and Paulk Bench seem much better designs IMHO.

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