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Thread: Tools for my workshop?

  1. #1

    Tools for my workshop?

    Another Newbie here looking for advice on setting up a workshop in one half of my unfinished basement which is about 20 x 22 with a few lally columns in the middle (I'm thinking this space might not be big enough?). I’m looking for advise on buying power tools. Here’s what I have; an old table saw, a bench top drill press that's very old, small bench-top router with a few bits. Hand held tools include a belt sander, palm sander, cordless drills, skill saw, biscuit joiner and a hand full of clamps. So I think I need a Band saw, Jointer, Thickness Planer, Bench-top Drum and belt sanders and all the accessories for these tools like sand-paper, blades, bits, etc… plus a dust collection system, lighting and electrical outlets and still have cash left over to replace those very old power tools when they die. I have about $5000 to spend on all of this but I don’t want to spend it foolishly and regret it later. I don’t have enough knowledge to shop for used power tools with any confidence. Any suggestions on what to look for (or stay away from) and what I really need vs what I think I need would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    New Jersey
    What are you interested in making? Without knowing that it will be hard for the group to spend your $5K.

  3. #3
    Bryan's point is well-taken, as is the common advice that you purchase things as your desired projects dictate. But it's tough at the beginning when it can feel as if you need pretty much everything and don't know where to start. I started about where you seem to be, with an imperfect but serviceable-for-the-moment table saw, a drill press and some basic power and hand tools of varying quality. The next step, in my experience and opinion, is to acquire the ability to mill up solid wood to create truly flat accurate stock of the appropriate dimension--which is an elemental part of woodworking from the standpoint of both design and effective joinery. The machine means to this end is a planer and a jointer. There are lots of options, but your $5k budget needs to cover a lot of other ground also. So my recommendation would be a capable lunchbox planer, plus some kind of Jet/Grizzly-type jointer, ideally 8 inch, but 6 if that's what you can swing for now. (And I would suggest at least perusing Craisglist and Facebook Marketplace to see whether you can't find a lightly-used relatively recent jointer used, to conserve funds. If it's a known brand and just seen hobbyist use, you're probably not taking much of a risk.) You will also want to pick up a 1 HP portable duct collector to deal with all the chips these two create. At this point, you're probably in for around $2k and it's probably best to hit pause on the machine buying while you fill out all the other stuff you will likely need very quickly, like decent clamps and layout tools, tooling, some basic woodworking hand tools, supplementing the power tool stable a bit and getting your shop electrical and lighting in place. Let's say this is another $1k at least. From there, it depends what you want to make next. I will say that of the two other machines you name, a bandsaw is a more foundational tool than a drum sander (though I personally pine for one of the latter, if only I had the space). FWIW, of the machines that I have, here is how I rank them for the work I do as a hobbyist making stuff for his house and shop: Leading actors: table saw, jointer and planer, band saw, router table. Supporting actors: 12" disk sander, drill press. Bit player (though very handy at times): oscillating spindle sander. Next big thing: shaper. Crew: dust collectors. Occupying space until I have the time and inclination to learn how to use it: lathe.
    Last edited by David Stone (CT); 09-10-2020 at 7:16 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    West Central Illinois
    My two cents is to really think hard on the drum sander. It sounded good to me and I hardly ever use it. Planer gets 15" or less. Wish I could do that over. Depends on the projects that you want to make.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    New Brunswick, Canada
    A 20x22 space seems pretty nice to me. I have a 12x22 garage. The list of tools can be endless but as mentioned, it depends of what you want to make. Having had a basement shop, I’d give dust collection some priority as sawdust wafting through the house might get tiresome. Get good lights and lots of them.
    My stationary tools are a table saw, bandsaw, a jointer and lunchbox planer ( although they are being upgraded to a J/P combo machine). My router table is a bench top model. The rest gets done with hand tool or smaller power tools. Good luck with the setup!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Scarborough(part of Toronto|) Ontario
    My shop is in the basement , dimensions 11' 4" by 31'. Here are 2 pictures:
    The band saw and drillpress are at the far end as well as a table with a grinder and a beltsander/discsander.
    The DeWalt planer and Mitersaw are on their own movable cabinets. To the far right is my clamp rack.
    My lumberstorage, also movable is againts the backwall.
    Maybe all this might give you some ideas for your shop
    Good luck.

    PS my routertable is in another room on casters so if needed i can roll into the shop.
    Last edited by Tim Janssen; 09-10-2020 at 8:49 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    East Jordan, MI
    I've got a 20x20 shop and I'm not sure I could function with a table saw. I've got a 10" DeWalt radial arm saw that works in that space. Ripping is going to be the same problem as a table saw, but cross cuts are a breeze. I love my Oliver band saw and use it much more than the radial arm saw.

    Get a decent 14" band saw. If you think you might do some resawing, get a 12" extension.

    A track saw is a good investment. I've got an EZSmart system with a Makita circular saw that I believe, at the time, was the best and most robust system. That being said, there are many more options now-a-days and they all look pretty good to me. You can do most woodworking projects with a track saw and a band saw.

    Get a decent circular saw, router and an orbital jig saw. I have all Bosch because I like their pliable cords.

    I use a drill press much more than I thought I would. A floor model is nice, but a table model works well.

    Most will tell you a joiner is important. I think they're correct, but I never could learn to use one properly.

    I don't use it very often, but when I need it, a bench top planer is very handy.

    Buy the best block plane you can afford.

    Get a decent set of chisels also. I have a full set, but use 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 almost exclusively.

    An old beat up set of cheap chisels that you don't mind abusing comes in very handy.

    If I had $5,000 to spend and were just setting up a shop and didn't want to go used, I would travel to the nearest Grizzly store with a pickup and a trailer and come home with a shop.


    Did I mention to get as many clamps as you can? Silly me, get hundreds -- big and small, get them all.
    Last edited by John Bailey; 09-10-2020 at 9:05 PM.
    John Bailey
    Sawmill Creek is a member supported forum. Click here to donate.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    I wouldn't think about starting a woodworking hobby without a table saw. If you only have a bandsaw, how will you cut plywood?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
    I would suggest putting / leaving your money in the bank, and buy tools as you need them for whatever work you happen to be doing. Often there are other ways of accomplishing the same result using tools you already have. If there isn't any work-around, purchase the needed tool that allows you to move forward.

    Nothing worse than buying a bunch of tools that you don't need, or ever use more than once.
    Last edited by Bill Yacey; 09-10-2020 at 10:59 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Cedar Park, TX (NW Austin)
    I didn’t see a random orbital sander on your list. A good one can be had for not much money.

    Buy tools as you need them. It stretches out the fun and can help prioritize what is really needed.

    Buy quality if you can afford it. As mentioned above there are many work arounds and it is better to have fewer, quality tools than a shop full of junk.

    Try to keep your shop mobile. Being able to move machines around a bit can be helpful depending on the project. This is more important with smaller spaces.

    Get a good dust collection system. What defines “good dust collection” is debatable around here but nonetheless it is important.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Upland CA
    I recommend you find a woodworking club, hang around at a Rockler or Woodcraft store, maybe even the tool aisle at Home Depot.

    Start talking to people there, about what they have, and what they use it for. Try to find a buddy that has some power tools and get a feel for what interests you, THEN start looking for what you decide you need.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    Set aside part of your budget for good hand tools. Chisels, squares, files, saws, hand planes, etc. You need these because you can only get so close with power tools. I also recommend that you start checking out garage and estate sales, as you will find every tool you can think of, sooner or later at one of these sales, for a fraction of the cost of new. Lots of it is junk, but I've come across everything from Unisaws to boxes of router bits.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    Don, you do not mention where you live, there might be someone in your area who can also help introduce you to some of the tools or even help you with a few projects using some tools that they already own.

    It was suggested that you buy the tools to complete the project that you are working on now. That is a very good suggestion. Buy what you need when you need it. A couple of thoughts:

    I really like my Table Saw and I use it often, but, sometimes, I end up using a circular saw on a track.

    Will your purchase lumber that is already S4S, or will you mill it yourself? My local woodcraft allowed me to pick out wood and then they would mill it for me. It cost more but they had the machines that I did not.

    I purchased a used Dewalt planer and I use a sled to joint the wood; I also do not feel like I have room for both a planer and a jointer.

    Do you have or need a work bench? Will you build your own? I purchased a workbench because I did not feel that I could make one with my skill set at the time. It still works just fine.

    If you are thinking "I need some hand tools", you might need to think about sharpening. You can go a long time before you need to sharpen your hand saw and even old pros like Steve ( pay to have his hand saws sharpened. If you have a hand plane, however, you probably want some ability to sharpen it, but you can get buy with sandpaper on glass (or other methods with a low entry price).

    So, what do you want to build first? If you build something like a cabinet or standing book shelf, a pocket hole jig is very fast, repeatable, and easy to use. The plywood is already flat and of a single width (well, it should be, <cough>) and you can have that assembled very fast compared to trying to flatten a rough board with a hand plane (or similar). You then need to figure out how to edge it (lots of opinions on that too).

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    West Lafayette, IN
    Buy used. A good cabinet saw (Unisaw, etc) can be had for $500, some time and elbow grease to clean it up. 6” jointer for $250, lunchbox planer for $250, 14” bandsaw for $250, ROS, small dust collector $250. Then another few hundred for misc accessories like sandpaper, DC hose, misc.
    After that, but what you need for the project at hand. Maybe you’ll need to profile some edges or make multiple parts, where a router table would be a good thing to buy. Maybe you’ll need a doweling jig or Kreg jig.

    Summary - take your time looking at the used market for the basic machinery, and buy as you need from there.

    And by the way, there have been dozen and dozens of threads just like this over the years. Lots of information can be found with a simple search.

  15. #15
    Hobbiest here... I think get what you pay for when it comes to machines. Buying used is certainly a great to save money...if you have time to look around and if you have the ability to transport the machines. I have neither, so I have bought all mine new. I also learned to buy the biggest machines that I can afford and will fit in my space - buying smaller machines and then outgrowing them is an expensive lesson. I consider the "main" machines in my shop to be my jointer/planer combo machine, cabinet table saw, and dust collector. Bandsaw and drill press round out the big stationary machines in my shop. Next most commonly used include pantorouter, router boss, and router table. Track saw to break down sheet goods. Handheld tools include the usual sanders, routers, drill/drivers, Lamello Zeta p2, Domino joiner. Useful jigs include table saw crosscut sled and Leigh dovetail jig. Lots of clamps... I do have a sliding miter saw which I bought early on, before I knew better, and I hardly use it now.

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