I am working hard (or hardly working) on our master bathroom vanity! I spent the whole day in the garage on Monday, but it was such a mess from all the other projects I have been working on, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing instead of building. Now I have a place to build the vanity and this coming week there is nothing going on so I will also have time. I can almost smell the progress!
I have a stable income like a said earlier, but when it comes to having extra cash to just blow on a hobby, well I was never always that fortunate. So when I wanted a new tool or even to just purchase lumber, I would have to save up until I could purchase it. I know that sounds like most people, but it has taken me several years to just even get the basic tools of woodworking.
Often referred to as Douglas Fir, this softwood has a rather straight, pronounced grain that has a reddish brown tint to it and is moderately strong and hard for a softwood. Fir is most often used for construction building materials, however it’s inexpensive and can be used for certain aspects of furniture-making as well. It doesn’t have the most interesting grain pattern and doesn’t take stain uniformly, so it’s best when used in projects that require a painted finish.
I went out and bought a dovetail pull saw for some of the finer cuts that I needed to make. I’m sure I’ve used this a few times on previous blog posts. It is great for the smaller cuts, and I’ve even used it to cut some larger pieces when my bigger saw didn’t fit. The combination of the dovetail pull saw and the push saw works fine, and isn’t too terribly expensive, but I’ve found something even cheaper that works just as well.
One of the best deals on portable power tools, including routers and sometimes planers, comes in the form of factory-reconditioned tools. These are primarily tools that have been repaired at the factory after failing quality inspections or being returned by customers. While they cannot be sold as new, they are identical to new tools in quality and appearance and usually feature the same warranty (be sure to check). Typical savings are anywhere from 15% to 30%, though you sometimes can find even bigger bargains. These tools can be found at Amazon.com and other online tool sellers. It is also possible to buy them through retail stores and, in some cases, directly from the manufacturer’s Web site.
In order to excel you are going to need to read up on jig building so that you can produce consistent repeatable cuts. Ideas for jigs are a dime a dozen online and you could easily lose a couple of hours browsing the hundreds of ideas people think up. A more economical approach would be to build your jigs as your projects demand them. After you go through that exercise 4-5 times, you'll find you've accumulated quite the collection of jigs without even trying.
There are some basic things every woodworker needs to get started. Assuming you aren't the kind of person that does everything with hand tools, you'll first need a drill. Power drills come in many different styles and price ranges. The popular trend right now is for companies to make cordless tool systems that all run off of the same battery packs, and a drill is often the first tool a person gets in the set. Cordless drills are popular and handy for doing household tasks , such as hanging picture frames; but for serious woodworking, they can lack power and might die in the middle of a job. Corded drills are a less expensive option and often work better for the tasks you'll be doing in a wood shop; just get a cheap extension cord to go with it. You can easily find a corded drill of good quality for about $100.
Sadly, that’s most of my power tools and shop accessories, but it’s a growing collection. Compared to all the money I’ve wasted on small electronics and computer junk in the past, I’d say this has been, and will continue to be, a much better investment. I just wish I had come to that realization back in college, when I was probably spending $500-$1000+ a year upgrading my computer.
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.
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.
As Chief Creative Officer and Founding Partner at Brit + Co, Anjelika Temple brings her voracious consumption of all things creative and colorful to DIY projects, geeky gadgetry finds and more. When she's not DIY-ing her heart out, you'll find her throwing dinner parties with friends or adventuring with her husband David, their daughter Anokhi, and their silly dog Turkey.
In my shop I use a large number of Jorgenson F-clamps. I use many of the small clamps, the most useful being the 12" version. Large F-clamps are essential for cinching down parts on bending forms. I also like aluminum bar clamps because they are much lighter than steel clamps, and therefore less likely to damage a carcase should you bang into the wood during a glue-up.
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.