Before you bid in an online auction, check the site’s rules of operation. At some sites, a winning bid is a binding contract, which can be a problem if you can’t inspect the tool before you purchase it. Don’t forget shipping costs. In some cases they can exceed the cost of the tool. Also, make sure the tool you’re buying will run on the power you have in your shop. Many former industrial tools run on 240v single-phase power. If your shop doesn’t have 240v service, you’ll need to factor in the cost of upgrading before deciding to buy. You don’t want to saddle yourself with a tool you can’t use, no matter how good the price.
I taught (teach) several aspects of "green woodworking" and related subjects, so I love your question. The buying and using of old tools is great...no matter the source. However, I have seen much frustration ensue over getting them adjusted, and "work ready." As often a beginner with limited budgets, also have limited traditional skill sets as well in understanding these tools and sharpening them. You must be patient with yourself, as tuning these old tools up will be very time consuming. Sharpening (and the proper tools of sharpening) should be your first acquisition. So many folks buy chickens before building a proper "chicken coop." Traditional tools are the same way, as there is no reason to own them, if you can't keep them properly honed.

An assortment of chisels should be part of every workbench. Chisels are not just for wood carvers. Any woodworker will need chisels to clean out joints and saw cuts. Look for chisels made of high-alloy carbon steel or chromium-vanadium alloyed steel. Hardwood grips are best, especially if they have metal caps on them. This will keep the end of the handle from becoming malformed when you hammer on it.


I was attracted to this page by the headboard. It looks great and it’s unique. I must disagree with the first sentence, that rustic is ‘in’ right now. I’m thinking, ‘It’s the great recession’. Any money I spend better get me the most refined thing I can afford. Kind of like how I believe that new store bought jeans with holes in them are going out of style like a cold cup of coffee.
Plan to invest in a set of bench chisels, both standard and low-angle block planes, a No. 4 or 4-1⁄2 smoothing plane, and a No. 6 jack or No. 7 jointer. Between them, these planes will true edges, flatten glue-ups that are wider than your thickness planer, and tame tricky grain that would tear out with a mechanized planer. They also do fine trimming better than any other tools.
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!
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The fourth most important basic handheld power tool every beginner should buy is a random orbital sander. While palm sanders are less expensive and can use plain sandpaper (cut into one-fourth sections), the random orbital version uses hook-and-loop fastened sanding disks, and doesn't sand in patterns, using instead a random sanding motion. This will motion will serve to reduce the chance that any sanding marks may appear on the stock due to the sanding. Of course, be certain that your local woodworking supplier has sanding disks readily available in a number of grits to fit the model that you choose, as the key to proper sanding is to use progressively finer grits as you sand to reduce or remove any marks that are left behind from the previous sanding.
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