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Getting into the "hobby" #1: Lets talk tools that every NOVICE shop should have

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Blog entry by ScrapWoodAddict posted 08-23-2021 01:54 PM 1536 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Getting into the "hobby" series Part 2: So now what do I build??? »

As I rebuild my workshop – and focus on organizing my life into more realistic bite sizes – I am just about done with Phase 1 of my workshop renovation, and will be ready to build tool holders for my french cleat organization system. When I find myself staring at my blank canvas of a workshop, I have to ask myself: so what kind of tools should I keep on here?

I should back up a little and restate that every tool currently own, I purchased for a specific project around the house. What I would like to do, is purge some of what I have that I’ve only used once (or more than once but that I used in a manner that it wasn’t designed for; I’m looking at you, paint scraper) and build a workbench that I can 1) spend some time at, building small things and learning the skill without making a trip to a large, orange store, and 2) that I can keep organized.

So what do I want to build?

I’d like to start with some simple things and it would be great if they were things I could build with my kids. I’m thinking birdhouses, boxes, maybe something that I can practice box joints with, perhaps over the winter an adirondack chair for the patio. Nothing too intricate, I just want to be able to make nice, straight/accurate cuts, and use less screws or brads. That would be nice.

So far, my main tool collection includes:

1) Table saw,
2) Compact router,
3) Cordless drill,
4) Cordless impact driver,
5) Corded Palm Sander,
6) Corded jig saw,
7) Drill press, and
8) An assortment of hand tools: hammer, chisels, wooden mallet, rubber, mallet, a small wrench set, etc.

Number 8 is really the issue here: what do I keep, what do I throw out, and what do I need?

I see a lot of shops have hand planers and carving tools. Can I use my other tools for the former, and would I even need the latter for the types of projects I plan on starting with? Am I actually good to go? Because if that’s the case, I could honestly throw out a LOT of the random tools I have or at least put them in some type of storage bin that I’ll never really look at.

I guess the simple question to ask is: what do I need so I can do everything I want, in the small space that I have, while staying organized?

-- - making a mess...the fun way



14 comments so far

View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

20620 posts in 2470 days


#1 posted 08-23-2021 02:51 PM

The main thing that I see missing is the ability to flatten and thickness boards. Now, you can purchase S4S lumber if you have access to it and are willing to pay the premium for it. But, over time, a lot of that lumber will still move (bow/cup/warp) enough that it will need a little coaxing to get it truly flat. This is especially true if you buy it from a big box store as opposed to hardwood from a sawmill or supplier of furniture quality wood.

That leaves the power tool option of a jointer and a planer or a combination machine that does both. Or the hand tool route of hand planes.

The only other necessity to get started on some projects that I see is clamps. You can buy those on a project-by-project basis but if you’re planning to delve into joinery that doesn’t involve nails and screws, you will need an assortment.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View gdaveg's profile

gdaveg

460 posts in 534 days


#2 posted 08-23-2021 02:52 PM

Keep all the tools listed in #8, but add handsaws, squares, clamps (buy as needed).

There are two stationary power tools that I find highly useful, a jointer and thickness planer. Starting with straight, square material will save you many hours.

-- Dave, Vancouver, WA & Tucson, AZ

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

894 posts in 1111 days


#3 posted 08-23-2021 04:21 PM

That paint scraper works great for taking glue off of joined boards. I keep mine very handy.

When I started over and for the last time I hope, I got the big tools in the following order:

Table Saw. I can build almost anything with it.
Jointer/Planner. These two were essential for working with local saw mill wood, which I love.
Miter Saw. The table saw really is great at ripping. Not so much for crosscuts. With the table saw I build a nice miter saw station (you can see it in my shop images).
Drill Press. Makes holes more accurate than by hand.
Band Saw. This allow cleaner curves than a jig saw and is the only way to resaw lumber and to work up really rough stock too big for the jointer.
Router Table. The Swiss army knife of the shop.
Mortising machine. The thing that I hate, but makes life easier.

I do “hybrid” woodworking…large power tools to work stock up, then hand tools to make joinery and finish the work.

Added to that mix, I have an assortment of chisels, mallets, measuring devices, scribes, dividers, marking gauges, power sanders, hand held routers, biscuit jointer, dial indicators, bevel gauges and ….well the list goes on.

If I had to live on a short list it would be: table saw, planer, jointer, router table, band saw, miter saw, steel rules, measuring tapes, chisels, mallets, marking gauge, dividers, bevel gauge, dovetail and carcass saws, card scrappers, files, sharpening stones, squares, protractor, compass, hand router, hand sander, drills (two is the minimum), bits (standard jobber, brad point and fostner), vacuum system, normal hand tool set (screw drivers, wrenches, sockets, pliers etc). I am certain I am leaving somethings out…ha

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

1387 posts in 3045 days


#4 posted 08-23-2021 04:26 PM

I´d say start making and you’ll soon know what you need. Oh- and get good measuring gear!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

1514 posts in 3831 days


#5 posted 08-23-2021 05:08 PM

a broom;
a dust pan;
the essentials hand tools for woodworking (search for Paul Sellers’ book);
build a workbench;

Then you can add:
a bandsaw;
a cordless drill/screw driver.

and if you plan to do a lot of work to be delivered for the day before yesterday, especially with engineered wood,
the machinery you already have

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

View bugradx2's profile

bugradx2

395 posts in 1351 days


#6 posted 08-23-2021 06:10 PM

Another question is how big is your shop? If you don’t have much space then that limits either the size of additional tools or at the very least how many additional tools you will have in there.

Not sure if you’ve ever watched Mark Spagnolo, The Wood Whisperer, or not but he has a phrase that has guided a couple of my tool purchases. roughly quoted “the next tool you should buy is the next one you need”. I purchased a planer a while back because there are lots of options with sleds on the table saw or a router to mimic a jointer and have loved having it in the shop. I also have an oscillating sander & a bandsaw that I have used the heck out of over the last couple of years too. That said, I like doing projects (cutting boards, puzzles & bandsaw boxes) that use those tools pretty extensively so they’ve definitely been worth the purchase. I got the bandsaw & planer used and it let me stretch my money.

Based on your proposed project list for the winter, you can probably use basic “orange store” lumber for the chair and birdhouse. You may not need a planer or jointer, perhaps that cash is best spent on really good forstner bits or a sander. Nearly every good lumber store will plane and joint edges for you, some will charge for it based on what you are asking them to do. The cost for that will be a lot less than tools.

I would caution against throwing away your tools until you know you have replaced them. I have a few old/random tools that stay on a peg board in my garage above a small workbench out there because it’s convenient to have a couple of screwdrivers & pliers out there for something to grab real quick without having to go into the shop.

The comments on purchasing clamps and squares from a couple of the others is very true. Combination squares are awesome. Clamps in different styles always come in handy.

I guess what I’m saying is get into the woodworking a little bit and see what kind of woodworker you’re going to be and then start looking at appropriate tools to match. It’s hard to say if carving tools or other stuff are the way to go if you’re not going to build a project with them. They may gather dust or they’ll inspire you to give that a try.

Not sure if you have kids but be careful when your bride volunteers you to build the set pieces for the ballet performances. That turns into a whole different set of things to design and build that are a lot of fun too.

Have fun with it!

-- The only thing not measured in my shop is time

View controlfreak's profile (online now)

controlfreak

3198 posts in 933 days


#7 posted 08-23-2021 07:18 PM

What ever you think are the right tools now won’t be tomorrow. I started acquiring power tools but do a lot of hand tool work now. As said above a jointer and planner will greatly improve your ability to start with truly flat boards. Even though I love hand tool work I will run stock through the jointer or planner to quickly get S4S. I also never seem to have the time to hand rip saw a six foot board. I do however find it just as quick to cross cut by hand. In a small shop a chop saw just takes up too much space.

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

1476 posts in 1243 days


#8 posted 08-25-2021 07:31 PM

I didn’t see any wood vises on your workbench in your pics of your shop. To save full use on your workbench I’d go with a vise that mounts under the workbench. Similar to these if you don’t go with a leg vise https://www.grizzly.com/search?q=wood+vises

I have a 6” vise next to the drill press and some cabinet vises on my workbench. A pair of cabinet vises on my workbench also doubles as a moxon vise

Too save space, you may want to consider a flip top work station/cart https://www.woodmagazine.com/project-plans/workshop-jig/tool-bases-stands/swivel-topped-tool-cabinet-downloadable-plan

As you’ve done in the past, buy the tools as needed for the project. I would get rid of too many of the old tools boxed up. I have quite a few tools I don’t use often. But there sure nice to have when needed at a later date. There’s a lot of ways we can spend your money. A lot of different ways to do woodworking. Least expensive is the hand tool method vs. power tool method. Many go with benchtop tools to save cost, such as a router table or even a moxon vise set-up. I might suggest to use your open rafters to build stoarage space.

View RyanGi's profile

RyanGi

122 posts in 369 days


#9 posted 08-25-2021 09:00 PM

Much has already been said here, but I think I’d look at it like this: What are you going to build now, and where does that lead you? From what you’ve posted, it would appear at the least you’ll need clamps. I prefer parallel clamps, but you’ll end up with a bunch of different clamps. A clamp rack that hangs on the wall but is near at hand keeps it simple.

I’d also consider, based on the size of your shop, thinking about layout and flow. Maybe not for now, but certainly as you add tools having an idea where they fit in the shop is better done sooner than later.

From a machine perspective, I’d defiantly consider a jointer and planer. I have a 735x thickness planer and an 8” Cutech jointer. They work great for me, and I have them mounted on a single flip top table to reduce their footprint. Even using big box store wood, it’s never really flat and square. While you can get away with that for smaller projects, if you have any intention to make furniture (and/or use less processed lumber…which you really should eventually) you’ve got to have a way to flatten it and thickness it. I’d also consider a router table and lift. Lots can be done with a router table.

If you research shop layouts, you’ll find some good writings on work flow as well. (Besides planning the project) the workflow starts with breaking down rough lumber, then sizing it, then joining it, then pre-finish assembly, then the entire finish process.

To that end, you can group your tools according to that flow. And if you build ‘pods’ of tools for each of those phases, you can easily move your project from one ‘pod’ to another smoothly. If you’ve got the room for it, I’d certainly approach it that way. And at the same time this lets you figure electrical needs, out dust collection placement and routing, as well as lighting, air movement, air cleaning, venting, whatever….

I’m a hybrid wood worker for sure, so my ‘pods’ have both power tools and hand tools together. Even in a small shop, with some planning you can make it work. Buying tools you need for the next project is always a great idea, but I’d add that if you really want to progress your shop forward and find more value in your tools, consider intentionally planning a couple projects that use similar tools. That way, you can spend some money up front then make several projects without buying much in the way of tools, rather spending your time learning to use them well on those project. I find this takes the sting out of some of those larger purchases…

-- Ryan/// I like chips...and sawdust...but mostly chips...with vinegar

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

1476 posts in 1243 days


#10 posted 08-26-2021 02:04 AM

Take consideration of your Health (Lungs), all the wading dust from sanding or power tools that make dust (you don’t want the dust in your lungs). Air Filtration Unit would be strongly advised. This would also help minimize dust from getting into the living quarters of your home if this is a basement shop. Depending on the size of your open work area, Wen 3410 would be a minimum https://www.homedepot.com/s/filtration%2520unit%252C%2520wen?NCNI-5 also available are Air Filtration Units that sit on the floor.

You can easily build a router table into your bench or a jig to mount your router, that fastens and removes from your bench when not in use, if you don’t go with a benchtop router table. A miter chop (compound) saw takes less room and cost less than a sliding miter saw. One with a 12” blade is better than a one with a 10” blade. Especially if you end up cutting any 4×4’s. Then again, you can use a hand saw for you cross-cuts. A 4”x36” benchtop sander will come in real handy. A benchtop oscillating spindle sander is easier to collect dust from vs. a spindle sander attachment to your drill.

If you have a Harbor Freight in your area, you can save money with their Aluminum bar clamps, F-clamps and flush cut pull saw. You don’t need expensive tools to do woodworking. I admit some of the more expensive tools are nice to use, but they’re not required to do good work.

View ScrapWoodAddict's profile

ScrapWoodAddict

21 posts in 153 days


#11 posted 08-26-2021 11:05 AM



Take consideration of your Health (Lungs), all the wading dust from sanding or power tools that make dust (you don t want the dust in your lungs). Air Filtration Unit would be strongly advised. This would also help minimize dust from getting into the living quarters of your home if this is a basement shop. Depending on the size of your open work area, Wen 3410 would be a minimum https://www.homedepot.com/s/filtration%2520unit%252C%2520wen?NCNI-5 also available are Air Filtration Units that sit on the floor.

You can easily build a router table into your bench or a jig to mount your router, that fastens and removes from your bench when not in use, if you don t go with a benchtop router table. A miter chop (compound) saw takes less room and cost less than a sliding miter saw. One with a 12” blade is better than a one with a 10” blade. Especially if you end up cutting any 4×4 s. Then again, you can use a hand saw for you cross-cuts. A 4”x36” benchtop sander will come in real handy. A benchtop oscillating spindle sander is easier to collect dust from vs. a spindle sander attachment to your drill.

If you have a Harbor Freight in your area, you can save money with their Aluminum bar clamps, F-clamps and flush cut pull saw. You don t need expensive tools to do woodworking. I admit some of the more expensive tools are nice to use, but they re not required to do good work.

- WoodenDreams

I really appreciate your suggestions. Next week I was already planning on installing some ventilation but I hadn’t thought of filtration more than having dust collection. Definitely going to be getting something.

After I organize my cleat wall my first build (after a birdhouse that my daughter insisted we make a priority) is going to be a table top router table. I’m still trying to figure out how I can make it so my routers clear, plastic “guide plate” (?) is flush with the top of the table….I honestly think I just need to start building it and kind of figure it out along the way.

I do have a Harbor Freight near me, my rule is that I won’t buy cutting tools from there, but anything else I’ll consider. I bought my drill press there and it has served me well, however I did need to use wooden wedges to stabilize the motor a little bit more to my liking. I tried using some “squeezy clamps” (ratcheting, but I like what my daughter calls them) from Harbor Freight and they we absolute junk, they just couldn’t grip tight and things kept slipping. The C-clamps would probably operate a little better, but like with anything Harbor Freight: it’s hit or miss.

Like you said: the expensive tools are nice to use. But we gotta play with the toys we can afford.

-- - making a mess...the fun way

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

1476 posts in 1243 days


#12 posted 08-26-2021 06:24 PM

When it comes to the the sqeezy clamps, I only buy Irwin brand Quick-Grips. They have a nicer release trigger then most out there I feel. You can build your own DIY air filtration unit if you’d like. Add a timer to it so it’s on, for about a hour after you leave the shop. Really helps the air quality. If your building a router table, stop in at your local hardware store to look at the tabletop router on the display shelf to get a idea on mounting the router. Sometimes I’ll use “bing.com/images” and search for images to make a project or get ideas to make jigs.

View TxSurveyor's profile

TxSurveyor

110 posts in 223 days


#13 posted 09-30-2021 04:42 PM

never toss or get rid of a tool IMO. You just never know. Maybe thats why my garage is so cluttered though lol. Only time I toss a tool is if it is broken or I have a replacement for it (a better qaulity one), but even if i have two, i always keep both just in case :)

-- Will, TX -- "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas" - Davy Crockett

View TxSurveyor's profile

TxSurveyor

110 posts in 223 days


#14 posted 09-30-2021 04:46 PM


I do “hybrid” woodworking…large power tools to work stock up, then hand tools to make joinery and finish the work.

- BlueRidgeDog

+1 +1 +1 +1 +1
I think this is the right approach. Nobody likes milling big stock with hand tools (i sure don’t), but doing joinery with hand tools is very enjoyable. Cheaper to go this route too…at least i think.

-- Will, TX -- "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas" - Davy Crockett

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