If you’re woodworking as a hobby, you already know that it can get very expensive. Saving money by not buying redundant tools is one way to keep it slightly more affordable. If you’re doing this as a business like I am, then every dollar saved is another dollar you can invest in your business. If you have other money saving tips, please feel free to share them!
However, if you want to stain or clear-coat the project, you'll have a number of choices to look through. Since your local home center megamart will probably only carry a couple of hardwood species (poplar and red oak are common) spend time at a fine wood supplier and look through the vareties available. They should be able to help you determine how each species will look when finished, which will go a long way toward refining your decision.
I moved back to my small hometown just a few years later. Had a stable income, now with my own home with a shop. That’s were I started getting back into woodworking. I have been doing it now on a steady basis for the last ten years or so. I do it just for a hobby, but I enjoy doing it to pass the time or to try and make a new piece of furniture.
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.
Even if you don’t live in a rustic log cabin, you can give your home a great cabin look by simply planking one or more walls. This is a relatively easy project that will add beauty and value to any home. Just choose the wall that you want to change, and add wooden planks which you can pick up at most home improvement stores for very little. Then stain if you want and you have a lovely cabin type wall
The third tool for the beginner is the Jigsaw. A jigsaw allows the user to cut curved and circular patterns in stock. Sure, a band saw will likely be more accurate and can cut thicker stock, but for the beginner, the jigsaw (sometimes also referred to as a Sabre Saw) can be perfectly effective. For versatility, choose an orbital-action, corded jigsaw that feels good in your hand and has an easy blade changing system.
Then there are the “practical” woodworkers that enjoy weekend projects and things that don’t require a ton of expensive tools, time, and expertise (HELLO, THAT’S ME). I will be in the latter category. Sure, you can invest in hand tools, but in the words of one of my favorite internet sensations, “ain’t nobody got time fo that.” Let’s be practical here.
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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.
For me, I watch Craigslist, and hit auctions. My g/f scored me a huge load of pallets (free wood is good wood, especially when projects made from it generate $$$), and I work in a high end window & door company, so the scrap bin gets raided quite often. I made a deal with myself to only buy what I can pay for from what the shop makes. This includes (at times) going without a needed tool as I was waiting for a better one because I had sold what I once had for more than I paid for it. Just like flipping houses, on a much smaller scale. Right place, right time.
If I had it to do over again, I would stick to an entry level miter saw and table saw until I had both the funds and need to upgrade to more capable saws. Because of this, I'd stick to the two saws we looked at in the $500 build: The Craftsman Table Saw for ~$150 and Hitachi 10 inch Miter Saw for ~110. These two additions bring our running total to just over $500.
Swap meets and flea markets? Often you see people bring all the old tools out of their garage that grandpa handed down to them and that haven't seen any use for 40 years. Hand saws, chisels, planes, drills, and all other manner of hand tools that are hard to give away because most people can't even tell what they are. An old fashioned brace-and-bit falls into that category, and all the people want for it is a couple of bucks.
On the money issue one`thing I did is find something that is fairly easy to make and easy to sell. I made kaleidoscopes to begin with and still whip up a batch if I need to buy wood or a new tool. A neighbor WW makes wooden condiment holders for restaurants. A good friends son worked his way thru college by making a certain bearing that they needed on his tiny lathe. Spend a month or so on $$$ stuff before doing the better stuff.
Frank’s work is visually arresting. This is not necessarily a channel you’re going to learn from, if you’re a novice woodworker or just getting into the field. The main reason to subscribe to Frank’s channel is how gorgeous his work is. The pieces he makes are always artfully conceived, even if it’s just a simple bookcase or a bench. Add to that his killer stop-motion and filmmaking skills, and you get a YouTube channel you can share with anyone, even if they think they’re not remotely interested in the craft.
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As far as advice goes, I'm like a lot of the other folks on this thread; make a shop budget that fits into your existing budget and stick to it. Whenever you can foresee a larger expense, skrimp and save, cut costs in other areas of non-essential spending, and accept that sometimes, you NEED to go outside of your budget. In my experience, if it means enough to you, you can make it work. Good luck!
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.