Tool Basics for a Newbie

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Forum topic by Scott Key posted 07-02-2007 03:38 AM 1392 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scott Key

25 posts in 4257 days

07-02-2007 03:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tool basics

If there is a topic that has already covered this, let me know and I’ll just read it. I didn’t see one, but I didn’t go very far back.

My question stems from a conversation I had with a really nice guy at Woodcraft supply in Austin. I asked him what I should look for in a table saw. He said that 3 horsepower would be more than sufficient and some other advice. Since there is a lot of expertise available in these forums (which I have already come to love this resource and the people). What do you look for in the following tools as far as features, horsepower, etc.?

Sander (whatever kind you want to answer for)
Anything else

And on a side note I own a Porter Cable 690 LR. It was an impulse buy last summer and I didn’t do my research. Can I get a plunge feature for this router? Or is that something that would have had to come with it to begin with?


-- -- a bad day woodworking is better than a good day at work --

9 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4579 days

#1 posted 07-02-2007 04:21 AM

Yes you can but your will probably need more than one router any way so next time just get the PC that comes with both bases. I would say on the sander to get a belt sander and a random orbit sander. I’m thinking you will need to add nail guns, compressor, and drills to your list.

View WayneC's profile


13992 posts in 4362 days

#2 posted 07-02-2007 05:08 AM

A lot depends on how much space you have and what kind of woodworking you do. From memory…

Consider a shopsmith if you have limited room.

Tablesaw – Look for a used cabinet saw – 3hp 220v single phase (Delta Unisaw, Grizzley, PowerMatic). If you have less room there are a number of good contractors saws.

Mitersaw – Look for a sliding miter saw. One thing to consider is the amount of crosscut the saw provides. Lots of good brands and reviews out there. Lasers are nice.

Router – Several are good to have on hand. There are plunge bases available for your PC 690. I see lots of these at local flea markets with may be an option. Your next router should be a 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 Router combo kit, Porter Cable 890 Series, Dewalt, Bosh are all good brands. Triton has gotten real good rating and is a pretty good package. The Bosh Colt trim router is pretty nice for detail work. Also, you need to think about bits. There are a seveal posts that describe router bit choices on the site.

Bandsaw – Several good 14” models around. Delta, Powermatic, and Rikon 325 are recommended. Look for 12” depth of cut if your a turner or plan to resaw. For resawing look for a min of 1.5HP motor.

Sander- Random Orbital are great. The Performax 16-32 belt sanders are cool if you have the room and the cash.

Jointer – Grizzly 8”. Most people who buy a 6” wish they purchased the 8”

Planer – I have a Rigid and like it a lot. Dewalt is at the top of the pack I belive. Delta has a good one as well.

Router Table – A very useful item. You can make your own our buy a commercial one. Lots of examples of ones people have made on the site. Great for raised panel doors and putting profiles on things.

Mini-Lathe – Turning is lots of fun…..

Battery powered Drill

Brad and Finish Nailers

Small Compressor

Good workbench

Hand tools

Japanese hand saws
Low angle block plane #4 or #5 bench plane – Old stanley bailey is a good choice
Machinest’s square for tool setup
Set of bench chisels – Marples (Irwin) have a good starter set

I’m sure otheres will add and critique this post…. There can be lots to debate.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Scott Key's profile

Scott Key

25 posts in 4257 days

#3 posted 07-02-2007 05:46 AM

Awesome… this is the kind of stuff I’m going to write down so I can keep it for reference later on when I’m building up a shop. Thanks guys. Keep it coming.

-- -- a bad day woodworking is better than a good day at work --

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4426 days

#4 posted 07-02-2007 06:01 PM

Wayne has an extensive list of what you need in major tools. Unfortunately, space and money are not infinite in the shop. So, decide on what you need and prioritize it. What are you going to build, what tools do you need now, what can you afford, what can you get later?

A lot of Lumberjocks have tips on space savings in the shops. For example, you could add your router table to the table saw, saving space for something else. You will need a workbench, but the design could be incorporated to work with the tablesaw as a outfeed table.

Do not forget all the little things you will need too, as they add up as well. Glue, clamps, sand paper, masking tape, finishes, biscuits or dominos, brushes, scrapers, drill bits, nails and router bits to name a few. Also, a few big items to add are air compressor, dust collector, lots of lights, lots of electricity.

As for your router, you may want to use that one for your router table, and buy your next one with the multiple bases. Having a dedicated router in the router table will save you lots of time and effort from changing it in and out to use.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4576 days

#5 posted 07-02-2007 06:32 PM

Good point, Bill. Nice list, Wayne. Good luck, PCS! I hope you inherit a lot of money. LOL.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View douginaz's profile


220 posts in 4267 days

#6 posted 07-02-2007 06:57 PM

Buy the best quality you can – “Buy the best and cry once” was the way it was told to me. Crapsman, Horrible Freight tools are a quagmire. Some good, some not so good, stick with tools that you have read about here or in a reputable woodworking magazine. As a precursor to buying I suggest subscribing to a WW mag. like Popular Woodworking, (no affiliation). It has lots of information for people just getting started. I would add a workmate to Wayne’s list. Until you make or buy the right bench it will do a decent job, afterward it serves well as a tabletop tool holder, router table, sawhorse etc. Good luck and keep us posted on your choices.
Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

View che's profile


123 posts in 4291 days

#7 posted 07-02-2007 07:18 PM

I am a hobbyist woodworker (for fun not profit), which shifts things a bit, and I’m putting together a home shop as well. My budget is very limited and competes directly with wood. Also as a hobbyist I am more than happy to spend a couple of evenings with a hand plane to flatten boards, which I think would be out of the question for anyone trying to make a profit from there shop.

The first piece of equipment I got is a table saw (General Int. 50-220C M1) which I am very happy with. The price was reasonable dust collection with the closed base is great and I haven’t had any problems with the 2hp motor.

My next big tool purchase will be a band saw. I would like to re-saw lumber and make my own veneer. I think it would be very difficult to re-saw without a band saw.

After the band saw I will likely get a lunchbox planer (Dewalt 13”). Until then I’ll make a jig to use a router to thickness / flatten lumber or get some much needed exercise with the hand plane

I also plan on getting a new router. I have an older Craftsman router but it I would like a plunge base for making mortises and the ½” collet and speed control would be nice. At some point I’ll make a router table (after the new router)

I also love all my dewalt 18V cordless tools (circular saw, 3 drills, impact driver (for the car) saws all (for the house) etc.

Miter saw will be last. Between the hand circular saw and the table saw I have 99.9% of what I would use a miter saw covered.

I have a 5” Porter Cable random orbit which is about to die the rubber o-ring which prevents it from freewheeling broke on day 2 and the bearings are about shot and making a lot of noise. I also have a dewalt ¼ sheet finish sander which was my mothers before me and is still going strong.


PS I’m staying awas from turning as long as I can :)

-- Che.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4036 posts in 4328 days

#8 posted 07-02-2007 08:24 PM

Again some of these purchases will depend on the type of work you concentrate on. If you plan on a great deal of cabinet work, you might be needing that 3HP saw. If not I would recommend a Contratctor style saw at 1.5HP or better. The type of electrical service you have in your shop may be a factor. Some of the bigger units require 220v service, others will work on a 20a, 110v regular household line. I would put in a note that you should also consider putting a good dust collector up there amongst the first 5 major tools you purchase, particularly if your workspace is within your domecile. There is ample evidence that wood dust is potential allergen and can be a contributor to certain cancers and irreversible respiratory damage.

I would put the top five as

Table saw
Planer (you can build a sled that will allow you to get by with out the following, but I think you would be better served by also having a…)
Dust Collector
Router table.

You need to have lumber that is flat and square (jointed), as well as co-planar (both faces parallel to one another) This is the planer’s function.

After that, I’d consider the Bandsaw.

But perhaps the first tool to consider are books/the internet. I love Douginaz’s comment about buying the best up front. The time wasted and the daily aggravation factor in having something less that ideal you have to baby along or fiddle with incessantly can have a serious crimping factor in your woodworking life.
The other side of the research factor is, everytime you fire up the equipment you determined to be the best for you, you will get a measure of satisfaction – it will add to your general happiness in the shop.
Figure out a budget, determine the type of work you are likely to do most and go from there. If budget isn’t likely to be a factor then by all means get the biggest and the baddest first thing and your work modalities will never be shortened up by the tools you have. But barring that researching the tools will add to your happiness in general.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View guyonahog's profile


7 posts in 4331 days

#9 posted 07-03-2007 07:42 PM


I agree with what is being said here. Do yourself right and buy the best you can for your money. I rarely buy a brand new tool(larger tools I should say). I do buy smaller tools such as router etc new I have found some really good deals by talking to people here, etc. I lurk around on all the usual places such as craigslist, ebay,local paper etc looking for deals. if you are patient and save your cash to spend as much as you can as you go along you can do well. I have purchased the following used, Powermatic 1966 model 66 unisaw, Jet 14 inch bandsaw, Delta X5 unisaw, Delta Miter saw etc.


-- Craig - "If a man does his best, what else is there?" - General George S. Patton

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