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.
For many tasks you may not gain much benefit from going above 4-500 grit but polishing your axe to 0.33 micron certainly won’t affect edge retention. For finishing work, you certainly do want as well polished of an edge as possible since that means less scraping or sanding. A well honed plane can leave a surface that’s actually too smooth for painting.
This unique approach to woodworking was expressed by George Nakashima’s work throughout the mid-20th century. He became known for leaving the natural, or live edge of the wood in tact as part of the finished piece. The profile of this live edge reflects the curvatures and unique textures of the tree’s exterior silhouette, assuring that no two pieces are ever the same. The use of this wood creates a bold, artistic and natural feel that is an extremely interesting way of obtaining that “wow factor” in a piece.
The trick is to use sandpaper. It’s a good quality abrasive material and is readily available. You’ll want a selection of different grits – low grits to get started, higher grits when finishing. The reason this is cheaper is that you can get a selection of 5-10 different sandpapers for under $20. Getting even a couple of decent sharpening stones wouldn’t be possible at that price. In the long run, they’ll last longer but this is a budget option we’re talking about.
Matthias Wandel comes out with some amazing modifications for tools and techniques. This one however is incredibly simple and only requires a few scraps of wood and a pair of clamps to turn a simple circular saw into a custom width dado maker. You can spend a lot on special dado blades for table saws or router with a straight bit and some guides, but this method is simpler and the results are very close to the same. Very little is sacrificed by using this frugal dado making method.
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!
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.
I find, as others have noted, that braces are pretty easy to find, and bits for them in decent condition harder. I too tend to buy them whenever I see them. There are a number of varieties of brace, and some meaningful differences in them. Pay attention to the design of the chuck, and to whether the brace is ratcheting, or not. They're all good, but some differences in best application.
The most common type of cedar used today is the Western Red variety. Western Red Cedar, as its name implies, has a reddish color to it. This type of wood is relatively soft, has a straight grain, and has wonderful aromatics. Western Red cedar is mostly used for outdoor projects such as furniture, decks, signs and exterior siding because it is naturally resistant to moisture and water corrosion. Cedar also makes for a great closet or chest for storing clothes and other fabrics because of its resistance to moisture. Cedar is moderately priced and can be stained to a variety of tones.
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.
Whether you really need your privacy or you just want to add a bit of rustic charm to your home, this tree branch privacy screen is a great DIY project. It sort of looks like a bamboo shade and is really easy to make. You just need a few strips of thin wood and as many sticks or branches as you want to add. Hang it wherever you feel you need a bit of extra privacy.
This is sequential to step one, but with a little difference. You choose simple and easy woodcrafts to make. Ones that do not require investment in expensive tools. Nor do they require a lot of wood and raw materials. There are plenty of examples of such projects to be found. We have written about a few of them here. Small and popular wood projects can be made in large numbers and sold with ease, for a high profit.
While an electric miter saw is a convenience, it is not necessary to do good work. A quality electric miter saw will run around $150-$200, that by itself would destroy our budget. A hand saw with a miter box does the job just as well at a fraction of the price. This highly rated Stanley version for ~$60 should get the job done, albeit with a bit more elbow grease.
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 solution to potentially wedged boards on a jointer is to add a planer to the mix. A planer has a flat surface with a cutting edge that is exactly 180 degrees to the surface. This allows you to position the jointed edge flat on the planers surface and make a cut to the opposite side of the board that is perfectly square. As an added bonus, the planer allows you incredible control over the thickness of the boards you're planing.
So I am curious about what the best choices in woodworking tools would be for someone who is just beginning to develop the skills involved with the craft. Funds would be limited and at least for me, I have a strong preference for non-electric tools when possible. Not only what would be the best tools to start a collection with, but also what would be a good way to obtain them aside from ebay, pawn shops and antique shops?
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!
Oak is one of the most widely used and respected hardwoods in furniture making. Available in two varieties — red and white — oak is very strong and also quite heavy. White oak is sometimes preferred for furniture making because it has a slightly more attractive figure than red oak, but either variety can give you a beautiful finish that stains very well. Oak can be used for almost any woodworking purpose, and is an excellent choice for pieces that will last a lifetime – literally! As they say, it is “solid as oak”!
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.
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
By the way, before you yell at me about the fact that the price on the links for the nail gun is more than $200, listen up I have a handy tip: There are sales throughout the year on this exact package for $200. That’s how I bought mine. Just keep checking back. And be sure to follow me on social media. I keep checking it, too and if I see it’s on sale, I will post it to let you all know!
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.
First, let's dump that hand powered saw/miter box. It gets the job done, but it takes forever. We're still on a lean budget, but shelling out ~$110 for a 10 inch electric miter saw makes a lot of sense. This won't be your forever saw, but it should do fine for most projects. It can handle up to a 4x6 stock which will cover 99% of what a beginning wood worker will throw at it.
The majority of books I read are lost to my memory since I had originally read them in high school when I was very active in scouting. I fell out of focus and didn't really get interested again in woodworking specifically until the last few years as my desire for learning self-sufficient skills has grown beyond just survivalism. I've read the first five Foxfire books and paid great attention to the various non-electric projects and old fashioned woodworking skills. I have also begun to watch episodes of the Woodwright's Shop (my father used to watch it heavily, but at the time I paid very little attention) and wish the first season was online since he does a lot of the basics in that first season. Most of my other reading has been online or watching videos such as the construction of a woodworking bench and the like. I do get smanterings from other books such as the Back to Basics by Abigail Gehring.