One of the most heavily used tools in your shop will be your table saw. It is absolutely essential for ripping stock to size, working with composite material (like plywood and MDF), and venturing into the world of wood working jigs. Budget is a limiting factor in a $500 build, but at $150 it is hard to pass up adding this Craftsman saw to your shop - even with limited funds.
This style of saw will provide more power than a contractor-type saw and have the high-quality rip fence you need to do good work. However, because they are favored by professionals and serious amateurs, cabinet saws are harder to find on the used market. Scour the classifieds and online sales (be sure to check industrial auction sites as well), and do some networking. Check the bulletin board at your hardwood supplier and ask the proprietors if they know of anyone selling a saw. Also call local cabinet shops. They sometimes have a surplus tool sitting idle that they’d be willing to sell. Take your time in this step. A careful investment will pay dividends in the long run, but a well-intentioned compromise can cause long-term frustration.
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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.
The Jay's Customs Creations YouTube channel releases weekly videos on shop projects and dimensional lumber projects. Jay's show can really help you if you want to do DIY woodworking projects on a budget. He sometimes shows viewers how to complete the project without electricity and using only hand tools. He goes over the prices he paid for materials to give people a realistic budget for the project before they get started.
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.
The second big tool you need is a saw. There are many types of saws, and this can be the trickiest part of setting up a shop on a budget. As a beginner, you'll likely be using woodworking books, magazines and websites for instruction and inspiration. Unfortunately, most of these sources consider a table saw a beginner tool. For those of us on a budget, or with little space, a table saw may not be an option. They cost several hundred dollars to start, and take up several square feet of floor space. Instead, look for a good circular saw that allows you to adjust the depth and angle of cut. It's also nice to have a laser to help guide the cuts. You can get a decent circular saw for around $100.
Available in both water-based and oil-based finished, polyurethane is one of the most common practices used in woodworking today. Polyurethane can be sprayed, brushed or rubbed onto the piece to obtain either a satin, semi-gloss or glossy finishes. Polyurethane is a very versatile finish that will last for many years and is easy to clean and maintain.
I could not consider a 12" jointer, given that the equipment had to be moved down the stairs to my basement, and the cost would blow my budget. What I wanted in an 8" jointer was true tables, a fence that is solid and easy to adjust, a cut depth gauge that is reliable, and long tables that aid in flattening longer bowed planks. I have found that the Taiwanese tools have come a long way in the past 20 years. I purchased the King KC-80FX 8-inch jointer, with lever adjust parallelogram tables. The system arrived in a good state of tune, and the well-written manual includes a full parts list and exploded parts diagrams. The tables were extremely heavy; more about getting things down the stairs later. The jointer is reasonably priced, it runs smoothly and it is well made.
Understand the pain. Retired, fixed income, bills to pay like anyone else. Most of the accumulated equipment is used, a few pieces bought new. Other detriment - WW is one hobby, home machining another, and welding/fabricating another, to say nothing of an electronics hobby. Add in no real shop, just enough garage space to house everything, and wheel each piece out on the drive to use. Bad weather = no work! Make a lot of my own stuff also, such as:
Matthias Wandel comes out with some amazing modifications for tools and techniques. This one however is incredibly simple and only requires a few scraps of wood and a pair of clamps to turn a simple circular saw into a custom width dado maker. You can spend a lot on special dado blades for table saws or router with a straight bit and some guides, but this method is simpler and the results are very close to the same. Very little is sacrificed by using this frugal dado making method.
How would you like to look over the shoulder of a master builder inside his workshop to see how he does it? Not everybody wants a teacher walking them through their methods and reasonsâ€”they just want to see how a master working at his craft. Jimmy DiResta has been doing woodworking projects for over 40 years. He has a YouTube channel without any of the chatting you find on most other channels. Watching his videos, which are released bimonthly, you will only hear the sounds of the tools and not the sound of his voice.
The circular saw is pretty much the first tool I grab for any project. You can use it for both rough cutting your lumber to get started on a project or making finish cuts before final assembly of your project. You can use it to make half lap joints and a variety of other joinery methods. While a table saw or stationary miter saw might make a certain task easier, it is hard to beat the cost, portability, and versatility of a circular saw. While most of these come with a blade, here is a good all-around blade that I use.