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Thread: Thoughts on selecting appropriate "sized" power equipment

  1. #1
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    Thoughts on selecting appropriate "sized" power equipment

    Much of my hobby woodwork has been more construction/building oriented vs (what I consider) more fine woodworking.
    I built a large home addition, mostly myself. So I have a lot of jobsite type tools. Handheld power, contractor table and chop saw, etc. Framing, drywall, flooring, roofing, finishing, wiring, plumbing are my experience.
    I did splurge on some festool stuff awhile back also, track saw, domino and mft.
    I am working toward gearing up for things like furniture and cabinet making. I do not have some of what I consider "core machines" in my shop. I have a decent size workshop- a well built shed that is insulated and drywalled, 15'x15'. Good size but not terribly large.
    A future project is going to involve a much larger space, I am going to build a large garage. It is a few years out.
    I currently don't have room for an abundance of large machines. But I might in the future.
    What I'm looking for input on, is if I were to start with smaller machines, eg, lunchbox planer, benchtop bandsaw, drill press, etc would those be tools I would want to keep and still use in companion with larger ones?

  2. #2
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    Hi Jay, I would not expect to continue to use smaller machines when I later upgraded my shop.

    I would suggest a combination jointer/planer as a start, it takes up less space than separates and has large machine capacity and capability.

    I have a shop in a townhouse basement with a jointer/planer and a saw/shaper for space savings.......Rod.

  3. #3
    I do less than many here but I have built at least 6 bedroom sets plus other furniture. Most recently I made a crib and changing table. I use an old Ryobi 10 inch lunchbox planner and have no plans to upgrade. My shop is 14x24 and I have to be careful with big tools. I have a SawStop table saw and plan to add a full sized bandsaw but also plan to just use my old 8 5/8 INCA jointer and Ryobi planner. I built most of my furniture before I got the SawStop. I had a BT3100 table saw, about the size of a jobsite saw and before that a home made one. It is definitely nicer to use nicer tools but I do not believe you are terribly limited in what you can make even if you have lesser tools.

    Lunchbox planners cannot take heavy cuts and my Inca jointer has a short bed. As a result, I straighten long boards with the track saw (mine is DeWalt) and I make lots of passes on the planner. I still usually start with rough lumber. If I had the space I would love to have a 12 inch jointer planner but I don't have the space nor room for an addition. So I get by just fine with what fits into my shop.

    Your situation is different with plans to expand. I would be careful how much you spend for tools you might not want to use in the future. But I only paid $100 for my little planner and even for temporary duty it would be worthwhile, I think. If I had a big nicer combo machine I think I would keep it and reduce the changeover. But I might not once I used the bigger machine.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Champagne View Post
    ...if I were to start with smaller machines, eg, lunchbox planer, benchtop bandsaw, drill press, etc would those be tools I would want to keep and still use in companion with larger ones?
    No. Save your money for real machines.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy bessette View Post
    No. Save your money for real machines.
    Small machines are real machines that can and do do good work. Physically small doesn't necessarily equate to poor performance.
    ------

    OP, you can take a middle of the road approach that compliments what you have now and have some equipment that you'll likely to continue to use once you have a larger shop and some that you will likely up-size once you have the space to fully utilize them. One example...instead of a benchtop thickness planer and a small jointer, consider going right to a Euro style jointer/planer combination machine so you have wide capacities for both. That investment will be lower than buying "big" separates later and is still very compatible with small shop woodworking. Etc.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
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    just dont get a bench top bandsaw. It will limit you're thinking of what a larger one can do for you.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the responses!
    So a few takeaways, and some thoughts I had reinforced.
    The combo jointer/planer was suggested twice, which is interesting because I had not given it much consideration.
    A jointer was a machine I was hoping to do without for the time being. I was going to try to face joint on a planer sled and edge with tracksaw or router. I also have a jointer handplane.
    A bandsaw is one tool where I'd like to buy something in a larger machine.
    So I think for now what I'm leaning toward is a keeping an eye for a deal on a small planer, and a decent bandsaw.

  8. #8
    A thickness planer is probably fine in a benchtop. The next step up is a pretty big one, and you might not get a huge benefit from it. Generally it's a few extra inches of space, deeper cuts, and potentially a helical head. I've watch Jimmy Diresta work with a small 12" Delta for years, and make tons of projects. If Jimmy can do it, I think 99% of the people on this forum could as well.

    Similarly for drill presses. You often don't need the extra depth of a full floor drill press, bench top is fine.

    The smaller bandsaws don't see like much of a savings, and a lot of them are 3 wheel models which is usually bad for the blades. I'd go for a 14" model from grizzly, or an old Delta from Craigslist.

    A jointer is probably best done as a larger unit, simply because most of the boards at the sawyer are going to be between 6"-8", and there is no substitute for a longer bed. I'd either go with a cheap benchtop unit mostly for face jointing, or an 8" monster. The 6" models tend to be a compromise any way you look at it, though you can often get them on Craigslist, while I've almost never seen an 8" jointer on Craigslist in my area.

    A chop saw is a chop saw is a chop saw. Buy whatever appeals to you. The smaller, non-sliding models are often more accurate, because the slide can introduce some play, the sliders allowing more material to be cut.

    For a table saw, either buy something cheap, like a craigslist Craftsman, or buy something more expensive, like a unisaw or other cabinet saw. Maybe stick with your jobsite saw for a while. Whatever you do the fence is going to be the most important part of this system, make sure it's a good one, or you're going to be very frustrated, wondering why nothing is ever quite square and true, or you're going to be constantly fiddling with the fence to make sure it's setup correctly. Generally the better fences are on the cabinet saws, putting a $500 fence on a $300 saw is a bit like adding an after burner to a Civic.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Small machines are real machines...
    Unless the OP will limit his work to small boxes etc, those small machines, especially bench-top bandsaws and such, will just be in the way when full-size machines are required.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  10. #10
    Im a huge proponent of augmenting as opposed to upgrading. A larger shop means that there is space for the old 14" bandsaw and the new 24" model. That old contractor saw, sans the wings, is a great dedicated dado cutter. The only smaller machine I would not be able to put to good use in the larger shop is a jointer.

  11. #11
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    It really depends on your end goal.. if you really want a 30" 8000lb planer then the bench top (or 15" stationary) isnt much use after you upgrade. My benchtop jet mortiser was gone the week after i upgraded to a 1200lb oliver.
    Last edited by Jared Sankovich; 10-22-2019 at 11:41 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Champagne View Post
    Thanks for the responses!
    So a few takeaways, and some thoughts I had reinforced.
    The combo jointer/planer was suggested twice, which is interesting because I had not given it much consideration.
    A jointer was a machine I was hoping to do without for the time being. I was going to try to face joint on a planer sled and edge with tracksaw or router. I also have a jointer handplane.
    A bandsaw is one tool where I'd like to buy something in a larger machine.
    So I think for now what I'm leaning toward is a keeping an eye for a deal on a small planer, and a decent bandsaw.
    I have a 12" Jointer/Planer, it takes a space about 2' X 5' when stored, quite a bit of utility in a small package. It does require 240 volt power. Also adequate dust collection as does any other planer.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy bessette View Post
    No. Save your money for real machines.
    Andy,
    I'm afraid that I will have to disagree with you. I've still got most all of the "small machines" that I started out with over 35 years ago. I have since acquired many larger and more capable machines. But I still find many uses for the smaller machines as well.
    David

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy bessette View Post
    Unless the OP will limit his work to small boxes etc, those small machines, especially bench-top bandsaws and such, will just be in the way when full-size machines are required.
    I don't disagree that smaller machines have physical limits. But the OP stated that his actual space to work in is currently limited in a significant way. Clearly, he doesn't want to wait a few years to be able to enjoy woodworking, so there's going to be some compromise required to be able to work now until he has a much larger space. And small projects also have great validity...just look at some of the work in the Woodworking Projects forum area that's small, but "wow".
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
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    Oct 2019
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    I found a decent deal on a Dewalt 735x planer I'm going to jump on. That's a tool I want to put to work asap so I made it a priority.
    Eyes are open for a bandsaw. I think I'll be patient on that for the right deal.

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