Reply by NinjaAssassin

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Posted on starting set up. help me spend my money

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651 posts in 2365 days

#1 posted 01-22-2015 02:35 PM

As far as woodworking goes, I went the hand tool route at first as a matter of practicality (no budget for a bunch (or even one) nice power tool). I’ve come to really enjoy hand tools, so my “wood working” will stay traditional.

You can go the vintage route for these tools, the modern route or some combination. Just remember, vintage tools will commonly require some level of restoration in addition to typical “tuning” (e.g. sharpening). Vintage is often cheaper than new but for the very reason that you often need to put work into the tool before it’s a good user. You also have to consider that you might end up buying an old tool that’s in bad enough shape that restoration isn’t really possible. Anyway, as a relative new comer myself, here’s where I started and what I’d suggest:

- At least one decent plane. If getting just one, maybe a #4 as it seems quite versatile. I’ve found I tend to use my #3 and #7 for just about everything (I don’t have a #4 ready to use, yet). I went the vintage Stanley route but the modern makers Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley (Veritas) are apparently pretty much the tops. I understand WoodRiver makes good, new planes, too.

- A set of chisels. Right off the bat, I bought the 7 piece set of Narex chisels and have found I don’t use most of them very often. I’ve used my 1/2” and 3/4” chisels more than the others. My 3/8”, 5/8”, 7/8”, and 1” haven’t gotten nearly as much use but they do get used. I’m not sure I’ve ever used my 1/4”. Narex seems to be sufficient for my needs.

- A pair of panel saws (one for rip cuts and the other for cross cuts) or a Japanese ryoba. I went the western saw route so I can’t speak to the ryoba but I’ve heard they’re great. In any case, you’ll likely want to make long boards shorter (cross cutting) and wide boards narrower (rip cutting) so a rip and cross cut saw or pretty useful. I went the vintage route for these but there are a number of well known modern saw makers (as well as a few LJ’s who aren’t as widely known) that make great (and beautiful) saws.

- Brace, hand drill, and bits. It’s pretty likely that you’ll want to bore or drill holes at times so a decent brace and some auger bits as well as a smaller hand drill and regular drill bits are pretty useful. You’ve got a lot of options in the vintage arena and several new options too.

- Layout tools. You’ll want to measure, mark, and consistently transfer marks and measurements. You’ll also want to check that your piece is square and flat. There are a lot of options but I think I use my tape measure, try square, combination square, marking knife and marking/mortise gauge the most. Winding sticks (made or purchased) are extremely useful as well, though I haven’t made or purchased any.

- Mallet. You can buy this or construct your own. You’ll need to pound on your chisels for many tasks and you’ll want something to assemble and disassemble your projects without marring the pieces.

- Workbench. You’ve already got this on your radar.

- Sharpening equipment.
——- Chisels and Planes: There are probably 3 times as many opinions on this topic than people on earth. It’s my (very limited) experience that sharpening really isn’t the big deal it’s been made to be. Your tools need to be sharp, there’s no doubt about that. However, getting your blade stropped to 15000 grit isn’t critical. If that’s your desire then go for it. I have a coarse diamond stone for aggressive flattening and reshaping a bevel (I haven’t found the need for a grinder yet, though I’m 100% certain they dramatically speed up the process of reshaping/repairing terribly damaged blades. I do wish I had a faster way to flatten the backs of chisels and plane irons, though). I then use my Arkansas soft and hard oil stones to hone my final edge. From what I’ve found, the hard (“surgical black” is what it’s labeled on the box) oil stone is equivalent to 900 grit. I’ve found that to be more than sufficient in my (again, very limited) experience.
——- Saws: I’m essentially useless here. I know you need an appropriately sized saw file and a clamp/vise sufficient to support the blade but I’ve thus far failed to acquire this essential skill. There are several LJs here who excel at this skill and you’d be best served by seeking their advice on quality files, saw vises, technique, etc.

I think this would constitute a pretty minimal tool kit (someone jump in if I’ve missed something, overstated something, or just plane gave bad information).

-- Billy

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