When I was just getting started with woodworking, I didn’t know anything about saws. The standard push saw was the only hand saw that I had any experience with. So naturally this was the type of saw I bought. It works fine for making cross cuts, and can even be used to rip, if you don’t have a table saw or circular saw. However, I quickly realized that I needed something for more precision cuts.
For those who want to make money from their woodworking skills, David Piccuito's channel Make Something is a great place to start. He encourages woodworkers to use his designs for selling to clients as long as he gets credit for the design. Make Something has tutorials for making things at any skill level, from beginner to expert. It is filled with woodworking hacks on things like how to make curved inlays and how to drill really large holesâ€”even those holes that are larger than your largest bit.
After years of digging down under router tables, lifting the entire unit up to change bits, and then fighting to get the plate flush again in the table, I chose to spend the money to purchase a router table, fence, and lift system. I did a thorough review of these systems, and chose the Canadian made Jessem Rout-R-Lift II kit. The system comes with a solid steel stand, a phenolic table, an adjustable extruded aluminum fence, and their base model lift system. For budget reasons, I did not choose the hefty Mast-R-Lift, but I am quite happy with the lighter Rout-R-Lift II. It will last me a couple of lifetimes, so it is the right system at the right price for me in my one-man shop. Hats off to Jessem for making a great lift at a very reasonable price in the middle of a tough economy. The table is durable, and flat. The direct drive lift is smooth and precise. I mated the lift system to a mid-sized model 690 Porter Cable router, which has a fixed speed, and enough power to do anything I need. The Jessem system uses a bayonet type mount for the table inserts, a nice touch that makes swapping the table insert quick and simple. As with all my machines, the router table is connected with the supplied dust port to my shop dust collection system with automated switching.
A quality wood moisture meter is vital to the long-term success of any woodworking project you put together. Lumber mills try to dry their batches of lumber according to the intended end product destination. That is, if the wood is harvested in the wet Northeast, but is going to be shipped to the arid Southwest, it will be dried more than wood kept in the Northeast for use by woodworkers. The success of your woodworking project, from wood flooring to kitchen cabinets to fine furniture, depends on the correct moisture content levels of the woods you use for your area of the country.
How about a hunk of butcher block counter top on a 4X4 (legs) base on locking wheels. Round over the good side and it is a rolling kitchen stand - chopping block - island. Flip the top over, lock the wheels, and it's a bench. There is a vise that is sold by Woodcraft that drops onto a mounted post in both vert and horiz positions that would be perfect for a small flip top bench. The post would be mounted to the underside, unseen till the top was flipped and the vise dropped on. It pivots but when the jaws are clamped it is tight.
Saws (I'm not a fan of Japanese saws, but you can buy good new ones pretty cheap. ) - 1 crosscut handsaw (can be a Stanley "Sharktooth" toolbox saw from Home Depot or Lowes $15). 1 rip handsaw (used ones can be found at Antique stores for $20 or less. Try to find one that is fairly sharp to start with). Dovetail saw (Crown has a decent gent's saw for around $25 or get the Lee Valley Veritas Dovetail saw for around $70, Highland Woodworking carries both). A crosscut backsaw and small miterbox is also handy to have, I can't give you a recoomendation for inexpensive ones though.
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.