Ok, the leap from $1,000 to $2,500 is a big one. I certainly didn't make it at one time. It took me years. But I know folks that decided they wanted to get into woodworking and dropped at least $2,500 getting themselves outfitted. When you do make the jump, the thought process becomes much less about making sure you can get the job done and becomes more about having quality tools to get the job done.
I started Woodworking Wednesdays because I thought my woodworking projects didn’t fit in very well with my UnbrokenFurniture.com blog. However, more and more, the furniture I’m making on that blog is handmade reclaimed wood furniture. This has sort of made this blog redundant. I’m not putting out enough furniture pieces to populate both blogs, so I’m going to stop posting those here.
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Check with Habitat for Humanity. If they have a store you may find several good items such as a bench, bandsaw or etc. When I retired and moved I donated a complete shop full of woodworking power tools and hand tools to Habitat. They sold them, I deducted them from my income tax. Unfortunately I could not retire my desire to woodwork and at age 78 I built a shop and use only hand tools and a bandsaw. Good exercise pushing a LN #7. Build yourself a solid bench with some southern pine with a moxon vise that can be built by hand. Get some holddowns!
One of the best deals on portable power tools, including routers and sometimes planers, comes in the form of factory-reconditioned tools. These are primarily tools that have been repaired at the factory after failing quality inspections or being returned by customers. While they cannot be sold as new, they are identical to new tools in quality and appearance and usually feature the same warranty (be sure to check). Typical savings are anywhere from 15% to 30%, though you sometimes can find even bigger bargains. These tools can be found at Amazon.com and other online tool sellers. It is also possible to buy them through retail stores and, in some cases, directly from the manufacturer’s Web site.
Teak is an excellent choice, the “crème de la crème”, for fine outdoor furniture. Teak is highly weather-resistant by nature, which means that it does not have to be weatherproofed when used outdoors – although it often is finished and stained for aesthetic purposes. Teak is one of the most expensive exotic hardwoods there are, but it will look absolutely beautiful and maintain its integrity over time.
Ash is a white to pale brown wood with a straight grain. It’s pretty easy to work with, is a fairly hard and dense wood, and takes to stain quite nicely. Ash has a medium to coarse texture similar to oak. The grain is almost always straight and regular, though sometimes moderately curly or figured boards can be found. Ash is becoming harder and harder to find, so it ranks as an increasingly expensive material to use.
That headline struck me as discouraging. As an entry fee, $5,000 seems high enough to exclude a number of potential woodworkers, myself included. Christiana softened the blow by saying that used tools could cut the cost roughly in half. That figure seemed much closer to my experience, which involved buying a mix of new and used tools. Having said that, buying the right used tools is much more difficult than buying from a catalog or dealer who stocks everything needed to build a great shop. It requires a bit of guile and a good plan, but the payoff is worth it. Through careful choices and good fortune, I was able to outfit my shop with a blend of new and used tools for around $2,000.
In order to excel you are going to need to read up on jig building so that you can produce consistent repeatable cuts. Ideas for jigs are a dime a dozen online and you could easily lose a couple of hours browsing the hundreds of ideas people think up. A more economical approach would be to build your jigs as your projects demand them. After you go through that exercise 4-5 times, you'll find you've accumulated quite the collection of jigs without even trying.
We've written about routers on the site before and my favorite is the Bosch 1617. It is light enough that you can control it when using it handheld, yet powerful enough that it won't have any problems when you mount it under a table. On top of that, it comes with a plunge base which makes it significantly easier to use handheld. The package clocks in at ~$190.
I’ve been seeing a lot of maker sites featuring both Osmo Polyx and Rubio Monocoat finishes (hardwax oils). They seem to go nicely with the live edge tables that are so popular today. I imagine these companies are doing a good job reaching out to the makers because it seems like an effective effort. I’ve also seen some examples of Odie’s Oil and and it looks like a similar product only with less marketing flair. I was on the fence and was leaning toward Rubio, only because it seemed like more makers were featuring it. Then I ran across this series of 4 videos by Blacktail Studio that test out hardwax finishes each of 4 different ways.
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.
If you’ve been reading my regular blog, unbrokenfurniture.com, then you already know that I’m a novice furniture upcycler. Up until now I’ve been repairing and refinishing existing furniture. Lately I’ve been picking up more and more reclaimed wood and other raw materials, so I’ve decided to learn to build some furniture from scratch. Because building furniture from scratch doesn’t really fit with the theme of unbrokenfurniture.com, I’ve decided to keep these projects on a separate space, hence woodworkingwednesdays.com was born. I’m planning to post one new project each week (hopefully Wednesday).
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Many beginners trying to get started in woodworking take one look at their budget and worry how they can afford to buy a whole shop full of power tools to get started. Fortunately, one doesn't have to spend a fortune to get started. There are really only seven woodworking tools that I would recommend any beginning woodworker have on hand from the start, and most are relatively inexpensive. However, with these seven tools, a beginner can tackle quite a number of projects.
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.
As the final stage of any project, the finish will define your piece for years to come. Whether you choose to leave the material unfinished, stained, painted, or rubbed with oils, there are many options to choose from when it comes to finishing. A finish is meant to protect the wood from water damage, dirt, stains, etc., so the benefits are obvious. At CZ Woodworking we will finish the material to your exact needs and determine what will work best for your specific piece. A piece that will endure everyday use, such as a countertop or tabletop, would need a more durable finish than a display shelf. An exterior table, if not made from a naturally weatherproof material, would have to be finished with moisture resistant materials to endure the outdoor elements such as rain and snow. Some materials – such as repurposed barn woods – would be better left unfinished in order to maintain the naturally aged look that defines it.
All you need to get an edge on your hand tools and pocket knives is a 100/300 grit combo stone from your local hardware, even horrible fright. This shouldn't cost more than $10. Then go to the natural slate section of the home center or flooring store & find 3-4" natural slate tile that you can barely see the grains in. This should cost another $1 or so. This tile is roughly 800 grit. If you can't find natural tile in your area, you should be able to find an 'Arkansas' stone for <$5. If you can scare up some Chrome Oxide and a piece of leather (piece of cardboard or block of MDF also work) all the better. These three things will cost you $15 and get your edged tools sharp enough to take hair off your arm and chips of your lumber.
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 addition to the type of finish you want, the location of the final installation should be considered when choosing a hardwood species. While it won't have as much bearing on furniture pieces to be used indoors, you may want to consider some more moisture-resistant species (such as cypress or the ever-increasingly endangered teak) for outdoor projects. Again, your local woodworking supplier will be able to help with this decision if you are unsure about what species might work well for your particular application and climate.
I use a 9″ x 12″ Chinese grade B surface plate and wet the back of the carborundum “sandpaper” to hold it in place. Obviously not the “budget” version, but I have the surface plate for other purposes. At about $17 from ENCO it wasn’t very expensive. And it *really* is flat to better than 0.001″. So the thickness of the paper is the biggest error. I also have a good assortment of Arkansas and other types of stones, though none of the Japanese waterstones. I generally don’t use the surface plate unless the edge is really bad e.g. an abused tool picked up at a yard sale.
If you are just getting started in woodworking and want to know what tools you’ll need to set up shop, you’ll want to download this free PDF from Popular Woodworking. We have put together a complete list of basic woodworking tools to kick-start your new hobby. In this free download, you’ll get our recommendations for the best hand and power tools for beginners. Buy these tools and you’ll have everything you need to make great woodworking projects.
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.
Whatever your dream for a rustic look, you are sure to find something in this collection that will help you along. Many of these projects are so easy to do and you can complete them in less than a day. Some make wonderful gifts as well so if you know someone else who just loves the country, rustic look, make them something to brighten their own décor. The projects use all sorts of materials, many of which are really inexpensive or even cheap in some cases.
For under $20 I am very impressed with the Bad Blade Carver by Kwik Tool. Mounted in a 4.5″ grinder, it removes a ton of material quickly yet allows a fair amount of control. The disk has only 6 teeth so the carver is mainly a solid disk with very few teeth to bite and create kick-back or dig-in. I found I had the best control when engaging the blade between 12 o’clock (top of the grinder) and 3 o’clock. When in that range it was not overly aggressive and left me in control.
Just how small? Will you have an extra bedroom for your shop or will you be doing woodworking in your living room? Do you have to put the projects and tools away every time you want to entertain or will you leave everything set up all the time? A while back FWW had a video tour of a shop in Japan that was smaller than small. I'll try to find it and get back. Found it... shows what can be done in a small space but this shop was not on a small budget so no help there.
Right now you're thinking, "but the plans say to use a table saw for this." That's OK , because the great thing about a circular saw is you can turn it into a table saw. There are plenty of videos online showing how to do this, but you are essentially cutting a slot in a piece of plywood, mounting the circular saw to it, and flipping it over. With careful planning you can have a good basic table saw without spending hundreds of dollars, and it can come apart if you need to save space. With that setup you can cut long pieces of wood that you may not be able to brace properly to cut with the circular saw. You can also make more accurate cuts than by holding the circular saw. It can also be used to cut simple dados and to cut a bevel. You do need to be careful, as it won't have the blade guard covering the saw blade anymore.