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For me, I watch Craigslist, and hit auctions. My g/f scored me a huge load of pallets (free wood is good wood, especially when projects made from it generate $$$), and I work in a high end window & door company, so the scrap bin gets raided quite often. I made a deal with myself to only buy what I can pay for from what the shop makes. This includes (at times) going without a needed tool as I was waiting for a better one because I had sold what I once had for more than I paid for it. Just like flipping houses, on a much smaller scale. Right place, right time.
Flea markets and swap meets are great sources of old tools, but unless you are able to rehab and sharpen them, they aren't going to do you much good. You can always find lots of chisels and planes at these places, and they can be brought back to life. I wouldn't waste my time on any saws though, unless they are relatively rust-free. If a saw is rusty, you will have to re-file and re-set the teeth, which requires a good deal of expertise and some specialized tools.
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Second, it is easier to learn to use hand tools on a solid bench than on a Workmate or some other modern clamping sawhorse. The bench doesn't have to be expensive or large. A 20" by 5' top will get you started. Look at Chris Schwarz's second book on Workbenches "The Workbench Design Book" for ideas. If you are a good scrounger you can recycle framing lumber from building teardowns to build a good bench for next to nothing. A vise screw to make a leg vise is less than $60.
About Youtuber Tom Fidgen is an author, musician, designer/maker living in Toronto, Ontario.He is the owner and lead instructor of The Unplugged Woodshop- Toronto, Canada's first, hand tool only woodworking school.Tom has written for Fine Woodworking Magazine, Popular Woodworking Magazine, Canadian Woodworking Magazine, Furniture & Cabinet Making Magazine, British Woodworking Magazine, as well as the Lee Vall.
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.
The thickness planer—A thickness planer will significantly expand the creativity and craftsmanship of your work by allowing you to buy roughsawn stock and use wood of any thickness in your designs. Nowadays, a new planer often represents a better value than a used model. In recent years, DeWalt and Ridgid have introduced portable planers with chip-ejection fans, which work as a built-in dust collector. Dust collection is important for all tools, but essential for thickness planers. This feature can help delay the expense of a dust collector and thus reduce the overall cost of a planer. Speaking of dust collection, I should mention that I don’t use a dedicated dust collector in my shop. I use a shop vac with a small hose for my sanders and a larger-diameter hose for the tablesaw and router table, and I depend on the built-in chipejection fan for my thickness planer.
My contention has always been that you can build a serviceable shop in your home, develop your hand skills, and make fine furniture. In the past year, I had an opportunity to build a shop from the ground up after moving to a new home. I found a house with an unfinished basement, and set to work. In this article, I will discuss everything from layout, to electrical, to equipment selection. I intend to name names with respect to equipment, so that readers will know what I chose. Everyone’s budget will be different, but I think almost everyone will be able to treat this as a starting point, and adjust accordingly, depending on their own budget.
I use a 9″ x 12″ Chinese grade B surface plate and wet the back of the carborundum “sandpaper” to hold it in place. Obviously not the “budget” version, but I have the surface plate for other purposes. At about $17 from ENCO it wasn’t very expensive. And it *really* is flat to better than 0.001″. So the thickness of the paper is the biggest error. I also have a good assortment of Arkansas and other types of stones, though none of the Japanese waterstones. I generally don’t use the surface plate unless the edge is really bad e.g. an abused tool picked up at a yard sale.
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