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Forum topic by Landomakesstuff posted 01-23-2017 05:31 PM 733 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1369 days

01-23-2017 05:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello everyone! This site has helped me quite a bit through the years, and I figured it was time that I signed up.

My background is mostly in musical instruments. I trained under a master luthier for 6 years, and most of my shop time is spent repairing guitars. I build as well when I have the money and time. For what it’s worth I’ve been working with guitars for around 18 years… For the last few years I’ve been getting into more general woodworking. I’ve specifically been interested in modern style furniture.

So, onto the guidance part… I’ve got very little in the way of machinery. I’ve been working with hand tools for a while and I need to get a good set of basic machines for my shop. I’m on a very limited budget and have a roughly 20’ x 20’ basement woodshop.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking…

For dust collection, I’ve been planning on getting a harbor freight single stage unit. I’ve seen some relatively simple two stage conversions and should be able to do the whole unit for under $300.

I’m tired of thicknesing with hand planes, so I’ve been considering a Dewalt 734 lunchbox planer. They seem to get pretty positive reviews and Amazon had them recently for $360.

I’m not sure what I’ll need as far as a jointer. Right now I have both #6 and #8 Stanley’s, but I’m looking to use those less… I know the general recommendation is for an 8” jointer, but they all seem way out of my budget. A friend has an ancient delta 6” that seems solid for sale for $260. Would that be a descent way to go for now?

Lastly, I’d like to get a cabinet saw or a hybrid. This is what I’m most concerned about. I can buy used instruments and know exactly what I’m getting myself into, but I don’t know anything about fixing up an old saw. I’d also like to spend my time working wood instead of replacing bearings or something. I’m hoping for something with a nice solid flat table and a good fence. I’d really prefer a cabinet saw if I can swing it. I see things pop up on Craigslist often, but I don’t honestly know what I’m looking at. Any advice on models or how to safely buy used?

So that’s what I’m thinking for now. I’m not in a rush, and I can save $ over time, but I may never be able to spend big bucks getting top quality tools. I’m in the metro Detroit area, so there seems to be a lot of used tools around thankfully. Does this sound like a reasonable start? Any purchases you think I’ll regret? Any other recommendations?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read all of this. I appreciate any help you have to offer.

12 replies so far

View TObenhuber's profile


185 posts in 2473 days

#1 posted 01-23-2017 07:02 PM

I’ll take the first step. Welcome to Lumberjocks. It been great for me and I find it very helpful as well. I love all of the varying levels of skill on here and the folks that are generally willing to give you constructive criticism. They will help you learn through their comments and inspire you to do bigger greater things. So welcome.

My shop experience started in a one car garage about 4 years ago and then I moved it all across the country. I set it all up in a shed work shop. Sounds like the space limitation is a problem we both have.

Next, what are you interested in making and roughly what’s your budget look like? This will help us push you in one direction or another. I have a honey dew list and a home renovation I am slowly chipping away at. So my tools might vary from what you need. If you want to make fancy tables and china cabinets from exotice hardwoods. The $3,000 5HP cabinet saw that whitens your teeth as you cut would probably be very nice and useful. If you are learning and have only a little experience with tablesaws and $50. A 15Amp circular saw screwed and then pushed through a sheet of plywood with a clamped 2×4 fence might be up your alley. Enough said.

I would start with a tablesaw. Very diverse tool. It can rip, cross cut, dado, joint…etc. If you pay very close attention to detail, like building jigs, and are very careful with your cuts. A saw in the $200-$300 range could be your first and last saw.

I currently own an older craftsman 113 bought off craigslist and have moded it to suit my needs. Replaced the wobbly base with a wood cabinet style on wheels, tuned the original fence (still far from perfect but it works when checked with a square before cuts), and made some extension wings from scrap plywood in my shop. Mine has the 1HP original motor and it still works great. Not going to be cutting through 12/4 hardwood (or 3” pine) at lightning fast speed but with the right technique it can be done.

I have no experience with the other new jobsite, hybrid, or cabinets saw from the store but my Craftsman 113 model is heavier than most jobsite saws. Weight helps in a saw to reduce vibrations. It also has a cast iron top which is nice. What I would look at on Craigslist is these craftsman saw with the motor for around $200. Usually they will be the 1HP versions but sometimes the bigger 3HP are on there but run on 220V power. The 3HP motor might be able to be down graded to 110V at a slight power loss.

When you go to look at it, check it for excess rust on the cast iron table. If the top looks like its made of rust and the bearings don’t turn. Move on. If they won’t let you see it run. Move on. If it looks like garbage. It probably is. Move on. On the other hand, if it turns on, runs with minimal vibration (it will vibrate some), and cuts. You might be in business. Some rust is normal, nothing a little cleaning and elbow grease can’t fix and would be well worth it. See if it has “fresh” saw dust on it. It might mean they have actually been using it. That would be hard to hide if its been used recently.

Lastly, regardless of which saw you buy get a new blade. Diablo 40 or 50 tooth blade at the BORG are great and last a long time.

Give me $200 for a tablesaw, this is what I would do. Good luck hunting.

Other tools after the tablesaw, bench top planer or compound miter. Close call.

I had the miter first, Hitachi 10-in 15-Amp Bevel Compound Miter Saw non sliding and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love it. Cheap, accurate, strong and given a good 60 tooth blade, all you will ever need. Really speeds up the milling process. Ok ok ok, I would consider the 12” version but it is about $100 more. Sliding and lasers only cost extra and you don’t really need them. I check cuts by putting the blade on the cut line. Lift the blade slightly and start the cut.

Bench top planer next, this is nice when doing laminations. You can glue up your stuff. Run it through till its clean, light sanding and you are done. Messy though. I have the PORTER-CABLE 15-Amp 2-Blade Planer. Works great, with a sharp blade near finish ready.

You will get planer snipe on all of the bench top planers and it is almost unavoidable. First and last 3 or 4 in are usually messed up by the planer unless you get really lucky. There are methods you can try to avoid it but its all hit or miss.

Beyond these suggestions, my tools consist of mostly Ryobi corded tools. They are great and affordable. I have yet to ware one out and HD will replace almost anything if it is truly defective or broken out of the box. I like the green tools.

Dust collection, get the smallest 5HP shop vac and a dust deputy. Way less than $300. I highly recommend it.

Good luck hunting.

-- Travis, Virginia,

View diverlloyd's profile


3997 posts in 2738 days

#2 posted 01-23-2017 07:36 PM

Welcome to lumberjocks and check your local auctions you can get nice tools for a decent price. I use

View isotope's profile


177 posts in 2505 days

#3 posted 01-24-2017 04:00 PM

I’m no expert but here are some of my thoughts, since you are asking:

1) A thickness planer is a very useful tool and the $360 DW734 is pretty good value. It’s what I use.
2) I would skip buying a jointer and instead build a planer sled for jointing and a straight line rip jig for the tablesaw.
3) To me, the most important aspect of a tablesaw is the quality of the fence. Cabinet saws are awesome, but most people don’t need a 3hp motor. So, if you want to buy something used and inexpensive, look for a contractor saw (with an induction motor) and a good fence. Keep in mind that decent after market fences can be bought new for $150-$200.

View JayT's profile


6413 posts in 3092 days

#4 posted 01-24-2017 04:09 PM

Welcome to LJ.

From your list, I would agree with isotope and have the jointer as the lowest priority or remove it altogether. Since you are already comfortable with hand planes, they can do everything of what a powered jointer can without taking up a lot of space and, in many cases, do the job faster and better. 400sq ft is a nice size shop, but it will fill up fast.

I do a lot of hand tool work, don’t have a jointer and don’t miss one at all. I do agree with you on thicknessing lumber. A planer of some kind is a great time saver and is one of the few pieces of machinery in my shop. The others are a band saw, drill press and lathe, but the planer is the most used and the most useful.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View DrDirt's profile


4614 posts in 4623 days

#5 posted 01-24-2017 10:36 PM

the planing depends a little on how thick you plan to work.

If you are planning on doing a lot of really thin stuff (like guitar backs) you might find that a small drum sander is handier to get that final tear-out free surface you want in thin stock, that planers like to snag and chew up.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View runswithscissors's profile


3118 posts in 2906 days

#6 posted 01-24-2017 11:39 PM

Take a look at Knotscott’s primer on table saws. A lot of good guidance there.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View waho6o9's profile


8946 posts in 3458 days

#7 posted 01-24-2017 11:40 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks!

View Landomakesstuff's profile


3 posts in 1369 days

#8 posted 01-25-2017 01:16 PM

Thank you all for the warm welcome and the excellent advice!

My apologies for leaving a few things out and not being as specific as I should have been. As far as what I’m looking to make, the furniture will be mostly mid-mod/modern style. Lots of clean horizontal lines and lots of hardwoods. This is what drove me to want to try to get into a cabinet or hybrid saw. I have used aluminum topped saws with OK fences a ton of times, but have always been frustrated with them being “close enough.” I’m hoping for a relatively inexpensive way into something with a nice cast iron table and a solid fence. With some saving I could probably get my budget for the table saw up to around $500-600. I also don’t have any high voltage wiring going on right now, but I do have a friend that is an electrician that I can bribe with beer hahaha.

As for a miter saw, I have a couple real cheap ones that someone gave me which I don’t use often. I find myself mainly using my Nobex Champion. It’s not the fastest option, but it’s very accurate and enjoyable to use.

I also have an old 12” band saw that makes quick work of relatively small cuts. I use it a lot, but I need to get a good fence for it at some point. I’ve heard some mixed reviews on magnetic fences. What do you think of them?

I have an oscillating spindle sander with a fence for thicknesing smaller stock. I also use my buddies’ old microplaner to help prep guitar backs and sides… I was considering the planer for larger stock when I need to remove a lot more material.

I’ll be checking out that planer sled for jointing and the table saw primer this morning for sure. Thanks again for the help! I really appreciate it! I hope these extra details help to clarify what I’m hoping to do.

View dday's profile


180 posts in 2310 days

#9 posted 01-25-2017 01:33 PM

Welcome to LJ. I second what is said here about the jointer. Having one would be nice, but a quality table saw, blade and fence, and a sled in your planer can do wonders.

For about your price of $600, you can get a Delta ( what I call a hybrid) saw. I have the 36-725 that is mobile, has decent dust collection with a shop vac and has an awesome T3 fence system.

View TungOil's profile


1383 posts in 1376 days

#10 posted 01-25-2017 01:46 PM

Knowing that you are looking to make furniture is helpful.

My advise would be to focus on a decent used cabinet saw as your first purchase. There are lots of decent saws out there if you keep you eyes open you will find a good deal. The tablesaw is surely the most versatile tool and should be your first purchase. Add a big dust collector to protect your lungs and generally keep things clean (and therefore safe).

Since you are looking to work mostly in the more modern style with clean lines in hardwoods, I would also recommend a decent jointer as your second purchase. You can do a lot with a 6” jointer as long as it is set up accurately (actually that is a requirement for any of these tools- take the time to set them up properly and your life will be much easier). The reason I recommend a jointer is that this is really the best way to straighten stock. Building furniture, especially modern styles, absolutely demands straight, square joinery and that starts with straight, square stock. If you can still get your hands on that used Delta that would be a great machine to start with.

While you can use the tablesaw for cross cutting, personally I have never liked this method for anything except sheet goods. So I would guide you to a decent sliding miter saw. Again, with this tool you need to work on the setup and build it into a cabinet to support long stock for accurate cuts. But the TS will do the job and building an accurate cross cut sled is certainly faster and less expensive than setting up s MS.

With the above you can do a lot of furniture work.

The thickness planer would be my next purchase since you can get by purchasing S2S stock until your budget allows purchasing a planer.

Just my perspective, hope it helps!

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View IowaBeauty's profile


11 posts in 1426 days

#11 posted 01-25-2017 01:58 PM

I”m baffled by the advice by the others here on the jointer. For furniture making, and assuming given your emphasis on thicknessing that you’re starting with rough or unsurfaced lumber, I would really want a jointer. You can flatten the wide surface of a board with a planer using a sled, as long it’s a fairly short board, and you don’t mind fiddling around a lot with every piece, but it’s slow and not at all interesting work, and you can’t typically do anything close to edge jointing. You can get glue joint quality edges from a table saw with a very good fence, but it’s really only safe to rip those edges if you’ve already got one well-jointed reference edge, or you go through a bunch of gymnastics with a ripping jig.

To me, for furniture construction from rough lumber with power tools, the basic set has to include a means to straight line rip from the raw board (a track saw, circular saw with a good clampable fence, or a bandsaw), a jointer (6” is big enough for most small furniture, although wider is always better if you can afford the cash and space; for the occassional wider board that requires surface jointing, you’ll have to rely on the planer setup), a planer (12” lunchbox is fine, although if you’re planing think stock, there are tradeoffs), and a table saw. Of these, I use the table saw the least on most projects, although I’d use it more if I didn’t have a bandsaw for ripping.

View JayT's profile


6413 posts in 3092 days

#12 posted 01-25-2017 02:31 PM

I”m baffled by the advice by the others here on the jointer. For furniture making, and assuming given your emphasis on thicknessing that you re starting with rough or unsurfaced lumber, I would really want a jointer. You can flatten the wide surface of a board with a planer using a sled, as long it s a fairly short board, and you don t mind fiddling around a lot with every piece, but it s slow and not at all interesting work, and you can t typically do anything close to edge jointing. You can get glue joint quality edges from a table saw with a very good fence, but it s really only safe to rip those edges if you ve already got one well-jointed reference edge, or you go through a bunch of gymnastics with a ripping jig.

- IowaBeauty

For someone who uses hand planes on a regular basis, these are all tasks easily done that way. I can flatten off one side of a rough board faster with a fore plane than most people can with a jointer. Once one side is flat, then it can be run through the planer to flatten the other, flipped and finished. If I had to do that 20 or more times a day, a jointer would be preferable, but for a few boards each project, it’s not that big of a deal.

Similar story with edges. A good jointer plane, which the OP indicates he has, can give a straight edge that is superior in finish to a jointer or table saw.

For a production environment, a jointer is a necessary of equipment. For hobby furniture building, and especially for someone comfortable with using hand planes, it’s the first one to eliminate because of how easy it is to do those tasks by hand. The OP indicates he is familiar with hand tools, like every other luthier I know, and owns some appropriate hand planes, so my advice was given with that information as a frame of reference.

That is one of the great things about woodworking, most of the tasks can be done in a variety of different ways, depending on tools available and skill. For people that have a jointer and want to use it, that’s great. No one is saying not to. For someone in this specific situation—familiar with hand tools, on a budget and with limited space, my opinion and advice is that a jointer purchase can be set aside for the time being in favor of allocating those funds to a good table saw, planer and necessary tools whose jobs aren’t so easily covered. The jointer can always be added later, if still wanted.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

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