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This is known as the “Scary Sharp” method and I first learned of it on Usenet back in the day. I’ve had pretty good luck only going up to 2000 grit automotive paper. That stuff is commonly available near the spraypaint at Wally-world. At this grit, I can easily shave the hair on my forearm. For a plate, I use a single 12×12 tile from a Big Box store.
All in all, for whatever reason it is that you enjoy woodworking, then you always need to follow that passion.  There is always going to be obstacles to overcome, whether that be not enough money to buy your tools, or space to put those tools, or time to enjoy woodworking.  That is something that every person has to overcome.  Everybody has there own unique obstacles. 

​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. 

Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you've had time to get comfortable with using them, its time to make your first (and likely most important) major tool purchase. The table saw is the heart and soul of every woodworking shop, the centerpiece around which all of the other tools are used and organized, so you'll want to buy the best table saw that your budget can comfortably afford. Take the time to learn which features you really want and the table saw that best fits your budget and your needs. This article will show you the most common features, and how to determine what features you need and how to know if those features are really well built, or simply added on to the saw because they are selling features.

Low-tech tools are high on value A basic set of handplanes lets you true edges, flatten panels or wide boards, and achieve finish-ready surfaces. Start with a small cluster of handplanes—low-angle and standard block planes, a No. 4 or 4-1/2 bench plane, and a jointer plane. A set of inexpensive chisels is essential for chopping, paring, and trimming.
Not many YouTube woodworking channels are run by guys who also happen to have PhD’s in medicinal chemistry, but this one is. Brian Grella’s channel offers a mix between more atmospheric videos that aren’t heavy on explanations (as the one shown above), and ones that are firmly in how-to territory, like this one for making a beautiful wooden bowl using nothing but a router and a drill press (no lathe required):
We use a Dewalt 20V drill. It’s kind of embarrassing how much I love this drill.  I got so used to having a crappy one, that once I got a good one, I was hooked on it.  While you are getting the drill, don’t forget drill bits.  Don’t cheap out on those either.  Trust me.  You will use a drill on almost every project, so the investment is definitely worth it.
If you’d like to read some more about SketchUp, check out Ryan’s article on how to plan a home DIY project with SketchUp 3D Design for Daily Life: How to Plan a Home DIY Project With Sketchup 3D Design for Daily Life: How to Plan a Home DIY Project With Sketchup Doing a home improvement project on your own isn't always a simple matter. Sometimes it seems simple enough when you get started, but before you know it, you realize that if you had just taken... Read More . And if the idea of 3D design in general captivates your imagination, you should read our interview with world-class 3D artist Rafael Grassetti How A Dream Job Comes True: Interviewing World-Class 3D Artist Rafael Grassetti How A Dream Job Comes True: Interviewing World-Class 3D Artist Rafael Grassetti It's not every day that I get to pick the brain of a world-leading 3D artist -- but that's exactly what I got to do with Rafael Grassetti. You may not recognize Rafael's name, but... Read More .
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!
To get the most out of your router, you are going to want a router table.  You may find yourself asking if you really need one - if you do, check this post out.​  It's one of those purchases that you won't truly understand how valuable it is until you have one.  Given the budget of $2,500, I'd suggest looking at the Bosch RA1171 ($150).  If you want to see our favorite tables along with write-ups, check them out here.
You need an out-feed table to support work exiting the table saw and band saw. By placing the tools close together, I was able to make one out-feed table that works for both tools. I put four pivoting wheels on the table, allowing me to shift the table in any direction. By placing a shelf below the table, I gained some much needed storage space for portable power tools. Finally, since this is a large work surface, the table also serves as a true, flat assembly table.
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Those two tools comprise the most basic power tools you need to start woodworking. In addition, you'll need some hand tools. A hammer is an obvious necessity, and can be bought cheaply. A tape measure is a must- have for marking out lengths. A ruler or straight edge is needed to turn your measurements into straight lines for cutting, and can be clamped to a work piece to use as a saw guide. Speaking of clamps, they are important for joining pieces together for gluing, screwing or nailing. Most woodworkers have a lot of them, and you'll never have as many as you need. For now, just buy a few 6-inch and 12-inch clamps and add more as you need them.
Finally, at the beginning you'll do just fine with a basic set of router bits that run ~$40.  A starter set will typically include straight bits for edge matching material, a selection of edge finishing bits, and some joinery bits.  As you work on a few projects you may find that more specialized bits are needed.   But specialized bits are expensive - so purchasing them as you have a specific need makes more sense than buying in anticipation of a need.

Low-tech tools are high on value A basic set of handplanes lets you true edges, flatten panels or wide boards, and achieve finish-ready surfaces. Start with a small cluster of handplanes—low-angle and standard block planes, a No. 4 or 4-1/2 bench plane, and a jointer plane. A set of inexpensive chisels is essential for chopping, paring, and trimming.


In each case, we shuffled the bench, jointer, table saw, and band saw across to the top of the stairs, and then tied a rope around each to act as a safety while sliding the machines down the strapping on the stairs. Yeah, the table saw hit the wall, and the promise of a good mud and paint job saved my bacon. The rope worked well, and we were able to get everything down the stairs nice and slowly with­out any major issues.

It's funny how some interests (or trades) got onto YouTube very early.  Woodworking has been popular on there since the video-sharing behemoth got started.  I suspect this is because the US has a strong tradition of TV shows about woodworking - two great examples being Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop and Roy Underhill's Woodwright Shop.  With a plethora of channels available on cable, and a bigger population, broadcasters were able to air more niche, and thus detailed shows.   Over in the UK we had four channels, and so if something wasn't going to appeal to at least 5% of the population (or it was cultural) then it didn't stand a chance.  
One of the most heavily used tools in your shop will be your table saw.  It is absolutely essential for ripping stock to size, working with composite material (like plywood and MDF), and venturing into the world of wood working jigs.  Budget is a limiting factor in a $500 build, but at $150 it is hard to pass up adding this Craftsman saw to your shop - even with limited funds.  
But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things.  (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY.  In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine!  (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
Pocket holes may get a bad rap from “fine” woodworkers, but they are the most accessible and versatile form of joinery for any woodworker. You will find tons of pocket holes in the highest end custom cabinetry kitchens, so I don’t hesitate to use them when needed. They are great for quick DIY furniture projects like my pub table here. I actually own bow the low and medium budget options below because they both have their place in my shop and I can choose which to use depending on the application. If you’re not sure what size pocket hole screws you will need to start out with, here is the variety pack that I first purchased.
If you’ve got 220v, and want to get a seriously good TS, the Grizzly G1023RL is about the best bang for the buck in a 3hp industrial style cabinet saw…$1195/$1294 shipped. It’s not a necessity to have that much saw, but it’s close in price to many lesser saws, and is about all you’d ever need. If that’s more than you can stomach, and/or don’t have 220v, you’re limited to a TS that’ll run on a standard residential 110v outlet….again I’d look to a full size stationary saw. The typical contenders are the entry level price ranges are the Ridgid R4512, nearly identical Craftsman 21833, Steel City 35990, Porter Cable PCB270TS….all under $600. The next step up would include the Grizzly G0661, G0715P, Craftsman 22116 (by Steel City/Orion), Jet Proshop, General International, Rikon 10-201, and Powermatic offerings. These saws all have the potential to perform well…the end performance is largely dependent on how well you set them up, and what blade you choose.
For woodworking entertainment and inspiration be sure to checkout our Woodworking Video Series "The Highland Woodworker". Improve your woodworking skills and learn more about the use of woodworking tools with free online woodworking materials in the Woodworking Library. At Highland Woodworking you get more than fine woodworking tools...you get fine tool tips too!
Raw material is a concept. A concept that we describe as any material that has yet to find its final home. It is a material that is en route to becoming something interesting, creative and more permanent in the world. If it has yet to be worked and transformed to create a unique piece of woodworking or artisan craftsmanship, then it is still raw to us.
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