Let's talk about a few strategies for building out your shop below retail price. There are the obvious ones like yard sales, craigslist, estate sales, and thrift stores, however, these can be hit or miss. First of all, not everyone lives in an area where these avenues exist. Second, when your brand new to woodworking, it can be hard to evaluate a tool that your buying second hand. Because of this, I'm not going to focus on these channels in this post, but I will say, if your willing to do some hunting for second hand tools, you can easily save 50% to 75% on some perfectly fine equipment.
Through my cabinet-shop connections, I managed a snappy deal ($200) on a used cabinet saw with a 54-in. commercial rip fence. That price would be hard to match, but it is possible to find a hybrid or used cabinet saw with a high-quality fence for $600 to $1,200. Some of them will run on 120v household current, meaning you won’t have to rewire your shop for 240v service, but be sure to check for compatibility before you buy.
All you need to get an edge on your hand tools and pocket knives is a 100/300 grit combo stone from your local hardware, even horrible fright. This shouldn't cost more than $10. Then go to the natural slate section of the home center or flooring store & find 3-4" natural slate tile that you can barely see the grains in. This should cost another $1 or so. This tile is roughly 800 grit. If you can't find natural tile in your area, you should be able to find an 'Arkansas' stone for <$5. If you can scare up some Chrome Oxide and a piece of leather (piece of cardboard or block of MDF also work) all the better. These three things will cost you $15 and get your edged tools sharp enough to take hair off your arm and chips of your lumber.
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.
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Check with Habitat for Humanity. If they have a store you may find several good items such as a bench, bandsaw or etc. When I retired and moved I donated a complete shop full of woodworking power tools and hand tools to Habitat. They sold them, I deducted them from my income tax. Unfortunately I could not retire my desire to woodwork and at age 78 I built a shop and use only hand tools and a bandsaw. Good exercise pushing a LN #7. Build yourself a solid bench with some southern pine with a moxon vise that can be built by hand. Get some holddowns!
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.
While the router isn’t exactly necessary to build the most basic projects, it will really allow you to put that extra level of detail on a project so it isn’t quite so bland looking. Routers are also an extremely versatile tool that can be used in lieu of a jointer to get a straight edge on rough lumber, put a nice detail edge on a table top or piece of furniture, cut mortise and tenon joinery, cut dadoes and rabbets, mount in a table, or a countless number of other uses. Router bits can be pricey, so my advice would be to add bits as you need them for specific uses and projects. There are some variety pack kits available if you want a set to get started though. Also, there are smaller (trim) routers and full-size routers available. For the purpose of a beginner woodworking tool set, I recommend starting out with the small router and seeing just how much you can accomplish with that.
My final suggestion is to use tape. I know this might seem crazy at first, but when gluing corners, tape comes in very handy. The secret is to tape up the outside of the corner when the boards are sitting flat, and then to apply the glue and bend the wood into the proper position. Then you simply use tape to hold the piece in place. This strategy works exceptionally well when gluing a box.
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.
However, instead of sharing a remodel update this week I thought I would do something a little different. This little voice in my head (sometimes called my husband) has been nagging me to add videos to my blog. I did a couple 1 minute hands-only videos a few months back, but I have been seriously afraid to get in front of the camera. The nagging voice finally won out and I bit the bullet and got in front of the camera for you today! I decided to do a video for today’s post instead of just writing out a boring list. And while editing the video I came to the realization that I am very expressive when I talk. Wow! I use my whole face when I talk. I guess that’s what people meant when they said I am dramatic. Oh well, this is me so I hope you enjoy today’s video about how to build a woodshop on a budget.
Ebates.com - Ebates is something I'll check after I've already found a deal that I'm going to bite on. The rewards aren't usually good enough to compel me to purchase on their own. But if you get an extra 3-5% cash back over your entire $250 budget, it can add up to an extra hand tool for doing nothing more than using their link to an online store.
As the final stage of any project, the finish will define your piece for years to come. Whether you choose to leave the material unfinished, stained, painted, or rubbed with oils, there are many options to choose from when it comes to finishing. A finish is meant to protect the wood from water damage, dirt, stains, etc., so the benefits are obvious. At CZ Woodworking we will finish the material to your exact needs and determine what will work best for your specific piece. A piece that will endure everyday use, such as a countertop or tabletop, would need a more durable finish than a display shelf. An exterior table, if not made from a naturally weatherproof material, would have to be finished with moisture resistant materials to endure the outdoor elements such as rain and snow. Some materials – such as repurposed barn woods – would be better left unfinished in order to maintain the naturally aged look that defines it.
I wouldn’t give up on Craigslist or garage sales.. For around $1K or less, you can pretty easily find the four big ticket items (TS, BS, Jointer and Planer) and have the extra $2K to spend on accessories, material, DC, other goodies, etc. The key is patience and persistence, and if applied correctly, you can have a fantastic setup for very little compared to purchasing new. If you are setting up a business, you don’t usually have the time to scour for good deals, but for a personal shop, there is no pressing need other than that itch to get something done.