I am working hard (or hardly working) on our master bathroom vanity! I spent the whole day in the garage on Monday, but it was such a mess from all the other projects I have been working on, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing instead of building. Now I have a place to build the vanity and this coming week there is nothing going on so I will also have time. I can almost smell the progress!
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!
These how to videos and articles of information are dedicated to my woodworking instructor who trained me during my apprenticeship. This body of work is also in honor of the journeyman who were generous in sharing their woodworking knowledge and skills with me throughout my long career. All of you have helped me to make a wonderful living in a great craft. My hat is off to all of you.
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.
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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.
But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things. (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY. In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine! (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
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.
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.
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.
We us the ReStore also– What great finds–sometimes things we were even looking for–my other favorite place is the second hand stores–many times they have give away bends that I have reclaimed out of–and we have a neighborhood swap–my favorite of all is the FREE CYCLE– its is a community of people that just give things away– OH MY GOSH–when I need to get rid of things after a yard sale its the best– someone always comes and reclaims my curdside giveaways–I love–it stays out of the dump and someelse is using something they may need badly– I have found tons of great things,wood,tirers, paint–ect.
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.