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.
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.
Tung oil is derived from the nuts of trees that are native to Asia but have been cultivated in other parts of the world. This is a durable finish that has a rather quick drying time and is very moisture resistant. Tung oil penetrates the woods surface, soaking deep into the wood grain for a fine finish. Tung oil is great for exterior furniture, tabletops and countertops.
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.
I went out and bought a dovetail pull saw for some of the finer cuts that I needed to make. I’m sure I’ve used this a few times on previous blog posts. It is great for the smaller cuts, and I’ve even used it to cut some larger pieces when my bigger saw didn’t fit. The combination of the dovetail pull saw and the push saw works fine, and isn’t too terribly expensive, but I’ve found something even cheaper that works just as well.
My first projects were making things from pallet boards. I cut the boards to size using my jig saw. It’s not quite as good as using a miter saw, but it got me by for a while with sufficient results. Even now that I have a miter saw, I still use my jig saw A LOT to make notches (like for my outdoor table), or fun designs (like these deer heads last Christmas).
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.
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Other important power tools—A good jigsaw will help get you through many tasks, particularly cutting curves, that would otherwise require a bandsaw. Look for one with blade guides that keep blade deflection to a minimum. A handheld drill is also essential. A quality corded drill is much less expensive than a cordless one, and will never leave you without a charge. Also look for a quality random-orbit sander with a provision for dust collection.
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