Make sure to run ground wires wrapped around all lengths of flexible exhaust hose to prevent static build up, which can spark and potentially ignite. I chose the King 1.5 HP dust collector, with a 115 volt motor, so I did not need special wir­ing for it. A shop vac is a must, as well, used to vacuum out machinery, and to remove dust from furniture prior to fin­ishing. Finally, an air filtration system was installed to clear the air of tiny airborne particles. The King KAC 650 unit I installed does a nice job, has a remote control, and a program­mable delay – I usually have the air cleaner run for a timed two hours when I leave the shop.

Most chisels are beveled on the 2 sides and on the cutting edge, but specialty chisels may only be beveled at the cutting edge. This bevel will be at 20 to 25 degrees down the length of the blade on one side, and flat on the backside. The blade will be between 4” and 7” long. Make sure you get chisels with a grip that fits your hand. If the grip is too small, you won’t be able to hold the chisel steady as you work. Be sure to use a mallet or wood hammer when you work, so that you don’t destroy the head on your chisel. Keep track of the edge caps, keep them sharp, and oil the metal now and then after you’ve used them, and they should be good for years. If you don’t have the edge caps, get a roll to keep them in. This will prevent them from bouncing around in your tool box drawers and getting damaged. 

​Buying rough cut lumber saves a ton of money.  Buying lumber that has had all four sides surfaced (s4s) will cost roughly 4 times as much as buying rough cut lumber.  Let's look at an example: I'm going to build a table that will require 50 board feet of oak.  If I buy finished oak it will cost around $5.5 / bf or $275.  Alternatively, I can buy rough cut oak at $1.25/bf or ~$65.  In this one project I've saved $210.  That's enough for a new power tool.
This is the one tool in the shop that provides the greatest opportunity to save money, if you are willing to purchase a well made, light duty machine, and take lighter cuts. In the past I have used General 14" planers that can hog off seri­ous cuts all day long. The problem is that these professional units cost over $5000, and they would crush my buddy as we haul them down the stairs (note: don’t be the guy on the bot­tom). After doing a fair amount of research, I purchased the Dewalt DW735 13" thick­ness planer. The unit came with a good manual, and was in a good state of tune. It is light enough for me to carry around the shop with­out excessive grunting, so that made it very simple to install. The planer has a sig­nificant internal fan-assisted chip ejection system. The chips are catapulted out of this planer, so have your dust collector running before you run stock through it. I now have to make more cuts at a lighter cut depth, but I saved about $4500, which makes my budget happy. The planer makes clean cuts, and has two speeds. I don’t see a reason for the two speeds for my type of work, but there is a faster feed rate should you choose to use it. Knife changing is simple and quick.
After years of digging down under router tables, lifting the entire unit up to change bits, and then fighting to get the plate flush again in the table, I chose to spend the money to pur­chase a router table, fence, and lift system. I did a thorough review of these systems, and chose the Canadian made Jessem Rout-R-Lift II kit. The system comes with a solid steel stand, a phenolic table, an adjustable extruded aluminum fence, and their base model lift system. For budget reasons, I did not choose the hefty Mast-R-Lift, but I am quite happy with the lighter Rout-R-Lift II. It will last me a couple of lifetimes, so it is the right system at the right price for me in my one-man shop. Hats off to Jessem for making a great lift at a very rea­sonable price in the middle of a tough economy. The table is durable, and flat. The direct drive lift is smooth and precise. I mated the lift system to a mid-sized model 690 Porter Cable router, which has a fixed speed, and enough power to do any­thing I need. The Jessem system uses a bayonet type mount for the table inserts, a nice touch that makes swapping the table insert quick and simple. As with all my machines, the router table is connected with the supplied dust port to my shop dust collection system with automated switching. 
At $300, the saw is expensive, but it is one of the more affordable saws that offer a 12 inch blade and a double bevel.  The double bevel allows you to adjust both the angle at which the blade cuts into the wood and the tilt of the blade relative to the workpiece.  Having control over both angles allows much easier cuts of trims and moldings.  It's one of those features that you won't use with every project - but when you do need it, you'll be glad you have it
One purchase that did work out in my favor this year was a bandsaw. I found an old, built in 1946, 14" Delta bandsaw w/ riser block in good condition for a steal at $150. I had a couple months of free spend saved up, and my wife threw in the rest of the money and considered it my birthday gift. Attached to the saw's base was an old Stanley 77 dowel maker the seller gave me with the saw since it was attached to the base when he got the saw. I was able to sell it on ebay for just shy of $300. I actually made money on that deal, and the money from the sale has allowed me to buy blades and upgrades for the bandsaw, as well as the parts and materials I need to build the router table I'm in the process of building. Was nice to get that - otherwise it would be months before I'd be able to purchase some of those things!

The best advise I can give you is to get and read the book "Hand Tool Essentials" by the staff of Popular Woodworking before buying any tools.  It is sort of an inexpensive crash course in hand tools.  Chris Schwarz's book "The Anachrist's Toolchest" is another good source of information on handtools that I found to be a fun read.  Use the internet to learn all you can about a tool before buying.  The tools you need are dictated by what you want to build.


A layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.
×