My first projects were making things from pallet boards. I cut the boards to size using my jig saw.  It’s not quite as good as using a miter saw, but it got me by for a while with sufficient results.  Even now that I have a miter saw, I still use my jig saw A LOT to make notches (like for my outdoor table), or fun designs (like these deer heads last Christmas).
Non-Standard Miter Slots - This one is a downer.  One of the primary advantages of having a table saw is access to jigs that expand the saws functionality.  This is a major issue if you plan on buying after market jigs.  Given that we are limiting the cost of this buildout to $500, I am guessing that after market jigs are probably low on the priority list.  Your going to want jigs once you start researching what they enable you to do, my advice is to build your own - there are plenty of plans online.  
Perhaps the most satisfying move I made was to automate the dust collection system. I used the iVACPro system to link all machines to the dust collector. When I turn on any machine in the shop, the dust collector fires up and whisks the dust into the bin. The system also has a programmable delay to allow the dust to make it to the bin before the dust collector shuts down. I set my system for a five-second delay. The system works flawlessly for my band saw, planer, and router table at 115 volts, and also my table saw and jointer at 240 volts. 
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.
But until then, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use my hands and create things.  (Even though many of our saws and tools have been stolen.) But I’m feeling a little antsy to make some quick projects, because creating makes me extremely happy…..so we’re calling this surge in me to create something simple, THERAPY.  In fact, I need to call up a few friends and have them make some with me because friends and creating is a favorite combo of mine!  (Any out of town-ers want to fly in?! ;) )
The majority of books I read are lost to my memory since I had originally read them in high school when I was very active in scouting. I fell out of focus and didn't really get interested again in woodworking specifically until the last few years as my desire for learning self-sufficient skills has grown beyond just survivalism. I've read the first five Foxfire books and paid great attention to the various non-electric projects and old fashioned woodworking skills. I have also begun to watch episodes of the Woodwright's Shop (my father used to watch it heavily, but at the time I paid very little attention) and wish the first season was online since he does a lot of the basics in that first season. Most of my other reading has been online or watching videos such as the construction of a woodworking bench and the like. I do get smanterings from other books such as the Back to Basics by Abigail Gehring.
The best advise I can give you is to get and read the book "Hand Tool Essentials" by the staff of Popular Woodworking before buying any tools.  It is sort of an inexpensive crash course in hand tools.  Chris Schwarz's book "The Anachrist's Toolchest" is another good source of information on handtools that I found to be a fun read.  Use the internet to learn all you can about a tool before buying.  The tools you need are dictated by what you want to build.
Rob Cosman and Paul Sellers. Rob is damn near a genius when it comes to woodworking. He routinely comes up with methods and tools that sort of change the way we all do things in the shop. The guy is also an amazing instructor. Paul Sellers is also an amazing instructor. These are the kinds of guys that all the rest on your list learned how to woodwork from!

Before I give you my list, I am assuming (and yes, I know what assuming does) that you already have a tape measure, screwdriver and a hammer. These are common household items that most people (woodworkers or not) keep around the house.  If you don’t have one, they are a few bucks each and WELL worth the investment.  AND they are my favorite types of stocking stuffers—even if it is just July, it’s already on my mind 🙂


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!
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Many home improvement projects and custom woodworking pieces alike call for a painted finish. Depending on the application process, paint can create either a rustic or refined finish, and it looks great when both paint and stain (or oil) are combined together in a piece (we love the look of a painted table base with a stained or oil-rubbed table top. See our portfolio for some great examples of this style). Paints are great for both exterior and interior protection and are available in an almost infinite number of color tones. Finishes include flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, and high-gloss depending on the amount of sheen you desire.
Non-Standard Miter Slots - This one is a downer.  One of the primary advantages of having a table saw is access to jigs that expand the saws functionality.  This is a major issue if you plan on buying after market jigs.  Given that we are limiting the cost of this buildout to $500, I am guessing that after market jigs are probably low on the priority list.  Your going to want jigs once you start researching what they enable you to do, my advice is to build your own - there are plenty of plans online.  
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.
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.
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