First time shop advice

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Forum topic by Alex K posted 01-03-2017 03:28 AM 1188 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Alex K

2 posts in 986 days

01-03-2017 03:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m looking for some advice regarding a first time workspace. I’m a beginning wood worker, but I’ve researched things pretty extensively so far. I’m at the point of being ready to spend some money, but want to run my general situation by experienced folks to see if I’m on the right track. Just looking for opinions, all are welcome.

My current workspace: I rent an apartment and have a narrow single car garage as a workspace. Not much room to work with. I will be buying a home in approximately 2-3 years, maybe sooner. I will make sure I have a much bigger space then. I cannot do any rewiring in my apartment, I only have standard sockets. My workspace when I buy a home will have whatever wiring I need.

My goal is to get a few tools for basic fundamental woodworking. I’m not looking to make anything large, just small boxes and weekend projects. My main concern is getting a table saw and jointer. I feel like I have a handle on everything else. I understand the value of a quality cabinet saw, even if it’s an “introductory” model. I’ve thought about it a ton….and I simply don’t have room. Also, the wiring issue limits me even if I had the room. My central question is, do you think something like the Dewalt DWE7419RS would get me through a few years until I have the space, etc, for a proper cabinet saw? I know the drawbacks of a jobsite saw. I’ve looked at several and I’m just not convinced any others would accomplish my goal. All I want right now is a straight and sturdy fence, and the ability to use a dado blade. The fence on this saw seems solid enough, but I have zero experience using it. If it’ll cut straight and stay parallel to the blade for 2-3 years with small projects, I’m fine buying it now and selling it down the road. This isn’t a one-and-done situation, I just need to get the right tool for my situation for the next 2-3 years.

Also, one more question regarding a jointer. Again, I know the value of a full and proper jointer, but same limitations as above. I get the impression a benchtop jointer is a waste of money and I’d be better off with a hand plane of some sort. Is this generally correct?

Thanks for any advice.

Edit – I have a little experience with some of these tools. I’m not a complete novice. I’ve been making some so-so projects with what I have. (Compound miter saw, drill press, hand tools) I’ve used a table saw a few times, just not extensively. Thought that was worth pointing out.

17 replies so far

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1170 posts in 3007 days

#1 posted 01-03-2017 04:54 AM

I used a Makita 2403 jobsite saw for 3 years before getting a cabinet saw. It was certainly up to the task of most things. I tried out the equivalent Bosch saw, and had the same opinion. That DeWalt looks to be of the same mold. The biggest drawback was the table size, and I built my own extensions to fit the saw which made life a lot easier. And dadoes – I could only get a 5/8” stack on the arbor. Those 15A motors are a bit underpowered for even that, but a slow feed rate works.

A plus for the saw in a small space is that it can be folded and stowed.

Regarding a jointer, you might be able to find an 8” with a motor that can be wired for 120 or 240V operation. I bought a new (at the time) Grizzly G0586 which I ran at 120V until I built my shop. That model is out of production now, but I’m sure there are other choices in that configuration. Jointers are pretty simple, too. Be easy enough to do a motor swap when your power situation changes.

Nothing wrong with hand tools, either!

And get mobile bases for any stationary tools you might acquire. You’ll find that amazingly useful in a small space.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View clin's profile


1056 posts in 1472 days

#2 posted 01-03-2017 05:39 AM

Be sure to check out the Paulk workbench deign. It’s primarily a portable workbench system, but it is designed to have a job site table saw hang off it so it functions like a table saw with a big outfeed table. I see this concept being valuable if you have limited space. Especially if you need to put things away after you work. Just google “Paulk workbench” and you’ll get a bunch of info.

While I am not a hand tool worker, I appreciate the approach. So keep in mind that you can do a lot without any power tools. I good work bench, some basic hand tools, and elbow grease and you’re all set. If you haven’t see his videos yet, just go to YouTube and search on Paul Sellers. I loved his series where he made a workbench with little more than a hand saw, hand plane, a chisel, and mallet.

-- Clin

View OSU55's profile


2383 posts in 2466 days

#3 posted 01-03-2017 12:57 PM

I use a Bosch 4100, with a shop made base mounted on a mobile base (from HF). I use 24”x48” folding tables with shop made leg extensions for in-out feed tables. Never had an issue with it being underpowered – cuts right through 3” oak. As for a jointer, I use a Stanley Bailey #7 and a Veritas BU, with fences for each one. They take up a lot less room vs powered. If you plan to make furniture with tops wider than ~12”, that won’t fit through a lunch box planer you will need a method to flatten and smooth – hand planes are the way to go for this.

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Fred Hargis

5679 posts in 2969 days

#4 posted 01-03-2017 01:06 PM

Given what you what to accomplish, I think that saw will do you well. I also agree with the hand plane part, but be aware that does take some practice to joint with one.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Robert's profile


3512 posts in 1957 days

#5 posted 01-03-2017 03:42 PM

Alex, as mentioned I think you will be limited to a low amperage table saw like a jobsite. But—check your circuit capacity and check the amp draw before buying any machine. Keep in mind its the start up amps that is the problem so whatever the rated amperage is draw at load, not start up. It could be an issue for you especially if you’ve got something else like a shop vac running. Even a small planer will put quite a few amps I don’t know if that would be feasible in your situation.

Its pretty standard residential wiring to be 14ga wire and 15A circuits. When we built the addition on our house, the electricians wired everything that way and when I ran the moldings about 1/2 the time my miter saw would trip the breaker. I ended up running an extension cord from another outlet (the rest of my house is #12/20A circuits).

I would take a close look at the Bosch jobsite saw with the Reaxx technology. I think this would be the best saw for you as a beginner. @ $600 its not the cheapest but the safety feature is worth it IMO.

I recommend focusing on hand tools and see if there are some classes. I’ve learned a lot from watching Paul Sellers. YouTube is great way to learn about hand tools and how to sharpen. I wish I had started out with hand tools instead of machines. When hand tools became the core of my ww’ing, the satisfaction and quality of my work skyrocketed!

Check your area for a maker’s space. It is a very good option for someone like you they have the machines and usually have ww’ing classes, too.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View a1Jim's profile


117708 posts in 4053 days

#6 posted 01-03-2017 04:11 PM

I usually recommend buying the best table saw you can afford but in your case since you will want to upgrade in a year or two start off with an inexpensive used saw, although I’m not a fan of Craftsman tools their table saws are usually all over Craigslist for as little as $100 this will do the job given you don’t plan on big projects.If you find it doesn’t meet your needs you should be able to sell it easily if you don’t pay to much for it. A jointer is a good tool
But I would buy a router and or a lunch box planner before a jointer.
Something you have to think about given your in an apartment setting is the noise factor, if you get complaints then your stuck with equipment you’ll have to store and not use.
Even though you have done extensive research online I still recommend taking some beginning woodworking classes at a community college or coop that can help you work safely and help you find out what tools you use the most plus gain experience hopefully with an experienced woodworker overseeing you use of equipment.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5974 posts in 2885 days

#7 posted 01-04-2017 03:09 AM

I agree with a1Jim. I still have my first Craftsman tablesaw, while I did upgrade later I kept this one around. Took the legs off and made a storage place in a odd cabinet end. When I need to work away from the shop this comes along as needed. Mostly I use it to cut vinyl siding on some remodel project in the yard.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Alex K's profile

Alex K

2 posts in 986 days

#8 posted 01-04-2017 03:25 AM

I appreciate the advice. I’ll consider all of it and shop around before pulling the trigger.

View Marcial's profile


169 posts in 1022 days

#9 posted 01-04-2017 05:14 AM

Look at the European shops. They do a great job with limited space. A jointer is nowhere near as useful as a tablesaw. My advice, given that you are starting off and have limited space, is a track saw and a band saw. Along with the track saw, use a swiss cheese design workbench like the Paulk or Festool MFT. The biggest problem with that design though is that what is good for power tools like a track saw, doesn’t work well with hand tools. Thus, make a sturdy workbench suitable for using hand tools and where stuff won’t fall through all those holes. Later on, when you have the space, get a good quality table saw. Also, once you use a few hand tools, you’ll get why they are more important than a planer or jointer.

View Lazyman's profile


3868 posts in 1863 days

#10 posted 01-04-2017 05:57 AM

I also agree with a1Jim and recommend the router and then a planer before the jointer. It is probably easier to buy lumber that has already been surface prepared than to mill rough lumber right off the bat. Since you plan to replace whatever saw you buy in a few years, check out Craig’s list for some good used saws. You can get a good saw and save money if you are patient. Just do some research as there are few saws out there that you just should not buy because of design flaws.

You didn’t mention why you want a jointer so if there is a particular project that you think needs one, let us know. I have a porter cable benchtop jointer that I bought used off of Craig’s list and it actually works very well, once I got sharp blades on it and had them set at the correct height. I don’t need a jointer often and space is an issue so I am able to do most of what I need with the small jointer and not take up a lot of space in my garage.

Welcome to Lumberjocks!

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View VintageFlatulence's profile


12 posts in 986 days

#11 posted 01-05-2017 01:29 PM

I’m a newbie also with limited space and a job that requires me to pick up and move ever so often.

So I’m thinking about building a single bench with 4×8 tabletop to incorporate tools and dust collection. Still thinking through but job site table saw will be placed in a slot on one side with extension to the right, a sanding base next to that, and the miter saw with hood at the other end. The other side would have bench-top tools like drill press, belt sander, etc., etc. I’m thinking about plumbing in a dust collection pipe down the middle with appropriate sized branches to each tool. DC fan at the end with separator dumping chips and dust into a can underneath.

My thoughts so far.

View CB_Cohick's profile


493 posts in 1727 days

#12 posted 01-05-2017 07:07 PM

I have the DeWalt saw you were looking at. The fence is great, and they have upgraded the miter gauge so it is better than the crappy plastic one that used to come with it. The motor will spin a dado stack. I am not thrilled with the blade tilt mechanism, but it is ok for a jobsite saw. It is possible to make your own ZCI from half inch material. I tack a brad into the front end to keep it from jumping on startup. Any time I have needed service on it, DeWalt has been great to work with. I do plan to replace it with a cabinet saw as soon as I can, but I have been happy with my DeWalt 7491RS and will hang onto it for what it was intended, a good portable jobsite saw.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View GAwoodworker's profile


37 posts in 1244 days

#13 posted 01-05-2017 08:03 PM

I’m a college student who lives at home and does woodworking in the garage. I too got a limited space and have gone through a lot of tools to find what works. I’ve tried Ryobi, Dewalt, and Bosch jobsite saws. I’ve been doing great with a Bosch GTS1031. Fits a 1/2 inch dado stack, with some fine tune up the fence is great, made a tight-fitting miter gauge, and is easy to pickup and go or move around. You can find plans for a jointer sled to use on the table saw as well. I use the Dewalt DW734 planer. Search around a bit and you can find a good deal for a new one (or stack up some Amazon $$ to use towards it). Works great and still keeps low profile in your shop. I was debating hard between a planer and a jointer but found I could get more use out of the planer.

View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 1361 days

#14 posted 01-06-2017 02:54 AM

I am of the opinion that a table saw and a jointer are the first two stationary power tools to buy, with a bandsaw being the third. A jobsite saw can do good work, if you work carefully and allow for the tool’s limits.

Planer and dust collector after that, then a drill press, scroll saw, disk/belt sander, lathe, shaper.

Obviously, in a small space, the first three will get you going along with some hand power tools.

A skilsaw, router, driver/drill, plate joiner, jigsaw/saber saw, makes a good start for hand power tools.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View a1Jim's profile


117708 posts in 4053 days

#15 posted 01-06-2017 03:21 AM

We all work differently some folks can make a masterpiece with a bent spoon and a eggbeater but how many people of us can do that or want to do that?
The kind of tools we use has to do with what we want to make and are able to make and of course how much space and money we have

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