Hand tools offer your best chance of finding a real bargain. Until the early 20th century, nearly all woodworking was done with hand tools, and their designs and uses have changed little. Most of the high-end planes on today’s market, for example, are just reproductions of the original designs. And because the originals were mass-produced, they are fairly easy to find at rummage sales and antiques stores. (For more information, refer to Matthew Teague’s article, “Buying Old Tools,” in FWW #180).
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 layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.
The directions that you'll find for making this Jack-o-lantern are found at HGTV, and they suggest using a battery operated votive to light up the lantern. I believe I'd try to figure out a way to add the "light" part of an inexpensive solar yard light instead. That way the jack-o-lantern would light as soon as it got dark. I wonder if that would work?
To get the most out of your router, you are going to want a router table. You may find yourself asking if you really need one - if you do, check this post out. It's one of those purchases that you won't truly understand how valuable it is until you have one. Given the budget of $2,500, I'd suggest looking at the Bosch RA1171 ($150). If you want to see our favorite tables along with write-ups, check them out here.
This is the one tool in the shop that provides the greatest opportunity to save money, if you are willing to purchase a well made, light duty machine, and take lighter cuts. In the past I have used General 14" planers that can hog off serious cuts all day long. The problem is that these professional units cost over $5000, and they would crush my buddy as we haul them down the stairs (note: don’t be the guy on the bottom). After doing a fair amount of research, I purchased the Dewalt DW735 13" thickness planer. The unit came with a good manual, and was in a good state of tune. It is light enough for me to carry around the shop without excessive grunting, so that made it very simple to install. The planer has a significant internal fan-assisted chip ejection system. The chips are catapulted out of this planer, so have your dust collector running before you run stock through it. I now have to make more cuts at a lighter cut depth, but I saved about $4500, which makes my budget happy. The planer makes clean cuts, and has two speeds. I don’t see a reason for the two speeds for my type of work, but there is a faster feed rate should you choose to use it. Knife changing is simple and quick.
One of the great furniture woods, Mahogany has a reddish-brown to deep-red tint, a straight grain, medium texture and is moderately hard. It takes stain very well, but looks great with even just a few coats of oil on it. For an even more distinguished look, exotic African Ribbon-Striped Mahogany adds amazing grain and texture elements to this already beautiful species of wood.
Not many YouTube woodworking channels are run by guys who also happen to have PhD’s in medicinal chemistry, but this one is. Brian Grella’s channel offers a mix between more atmospheric videos that aren’t heavy on explanations (as the one shown above), and ones that are firmly in how-to territory, like this one for making a beautiful wooden bowl using nothing but a router and a drill press (no lathe required):
A clean well-organized environment is key to staying A clean well-organized environment is key to staying happy. The same goes for your desk. Keep the clutter at bay and organize all of your small essentials with the Dickies Work Gear 57050 Mug Organizer. Designed to fit over most mugs this clever caddy features 8 outer pockets and 6 ... More + Product Details Close
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.
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!