The level of sophistication in a $250 shop is significantly less than a $2,500 shop. But keep in mind even a $2,500 budget is entry level. Acquiring a shop full of the perfect tools for each and every job takes a life time. But that doesn't mean that producing quality work takes a lifetime. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby is the constant need to solve problems in order to produce good work.
Woodworking is a fun hobby, but can be expensive as well. With all the power tools, hand tools, shop setups and, of course, the wood, many people are turned off to woodworking because of the impact on their wallets. That doesn’t have to be the case though. With a little pre-planning and inside knowledge, you can set up a basic wood shop and start making your own items without breaking the bank.
However, sometimes I am able to make extra purchases. On rare occasions she'll approve me spending some extra money to make a special purchase, especially if it's something for a project for her or our home or a gift for family. I have had to pass on some really good deals on tools and wood that I've seen simply because I either didn't have enough free spend saved up or she wouldn't approve extra spending. It's tough to hear her say "No", but I've also come to the realization recently that if she never said "No", I'd probably spend just about everything I make on wood and tools, and that wouldn't be good.
I got tired of skimping on things and ending up with results I wasn't happy with. Lesser quality woods, cheaper hardware, tools that were frustrating to work with - this was my reality for too many years. And my skills really didn't improve in those years as they should have. I think part of the reason was because I often walked away for months or even years because I hated the results I was seeing.
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.
Cutting thick, rough, warped hardwood can be cumbersome and dangerous. To provide some control over this process, I built a chop-saw station with wings that extend to support long boards. Again, anytime you make something that consumes shop space, make a shelf underneath to gain storage. The chop saw sits in a recess so that the deck of the saw is at the same height as the workstation deck.
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.
This is known as the “Scary Sharp” method and I first learned of it on Usenet back in the day. I’ve had pretty good luck only going up to 2000 grit automotive paper. That stuff is commonly available near the spraypaint at Wally-world. At this grit, I can easily shave the hair on my forearm. For a plate, I use a single 12×12 tile from a Big Box store.
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!
Ready for fall? Fall is one of my favorite seasons (hello cute boots and cozy sweaters!), plus I love watching the leaves turn gorgeous colors. You can bring a bit of that colorful nature indoors this fall with some simple fall wood crafts. Just grab a few scraps of wood, some fallen branches, or some wood slices, and whip up these adorable fall crafts in no time!
Steve Ramsey. He's an energetic, fast-talking eccentric whose built his channel based on projects that can be done without investing in fancy tools. He trudges out a banged-up table saw from his garage, chops stuff up on the bed of his truck, and generally produces well-structured projects - even if I can't agree with his design aesthetic and color choices. Lots of good stuff to learn and a great channel for someone starting out.
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.
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.