Help me buy tools for my workshop

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Forum topic by Rstevens009 posted 06-20-2018 05:22 PM 1182 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Rstevens009's profile


6 posts in 790 days

06-20-2018 05:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question workshop tools

Hello all, this is my first post here on this site and after doing quite a bit of reading; I thought I would get your opinions on some things. I have a small “workshop” in my part of the two-car garage filled with an assortment of craigslist tools… well l I had one… that is until I went on my 4th, and hopefully my final deployment to for the Army which I am currently on the backend of now.

My gift to myself for this deployment is getting rid of the half-ass craigslist tools & Harbor Freight tools in my garage and starting to build a proper workshop. The following are the tools I currently have.

-Old Rockwell table saw with a fence that barely holds square
-Harbor Freight miter saw with a broken blade guard
-Delta planer, I believe it’s a 12”.
-holder 4” jointer. I do not recall the name brand

My first builds when I get home would be a proper miter saw station, as well as an outfeed table/workbench

Also our budget here boys and girls is about $3500. Let’s have fun!

24 replies so far

View HokieKen's profile


14102 posts in 1917 days

#1 posted 06-20-2018 06:16 PM

Well, it really depends on what kind of work you want to do. For me, a miter saw is a tool rarely used and only used for rough cuts. The table saw and Incra miter gauge handle the precise work. If you only have part of a 2-car garage, I’d personally re-think dedicating a large section of it to a miter saw station.

Delta planer may be just fine? Mine is. If yours isn’t, the DeWalt 735 is the standard for lunchbox planers.

Jointer? I’d do without (or use what you have) initially. Jigs for the planer to joint faces and straight-edge rip jigs for the table saw are easy and cheap to make. I rarely use my jointer at all. Hand planes can get the job done too if that’s your thing.

For me personally, my power tools in order of importance are (1) Bandsaw (2) Drill Press (3) Tablesaw (4) Planer. So if it were me, that’s the order in which I would allot my budget. I didn’t even mention my lathe but that’s more of a special niche rather than a general shop tool.

Good luck!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1554 days

#2 posted 06-20-2018 06:33 PM

What kind of help are you asking for?

View Dustin's profile


707 posts in 1519 days

#3 posted 06-20-2018 06:46 PM

+1 on Kenny’s advice.

In fact, the four tools he lists are the same ones I’d pick, albeit in varying order.

If you go for the 735 planer, make sure you don’t pay $600 for it. It’s been dropping below $500 frequently in the last few months, with the extension tables and extra blades. It’s a great planer for $600, but why pay more than you have to?

If you’re going to build cabinets/a miter station, maybe consider using a clamp down support/stop block rather than building an entire integrated miter station. The cabinets and storage will be very valuable, and the extra work surface may be as well. Maybe even make a flip top portion for your miter saw, so you can use the flat surface otherwise?

You’ve focused on some of the bigger tools, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but one of my favorites is my Ridgid oscillating belt/spindle sander. For $200, it’s a hard to beat combo machine, and I use mine regularly. But, your needs may vary.

And remember, there’s a large amount of people in the camp of making your table saw the nicest/best tool in your shop, as everything tends to center around it (I’m one of them). If I were in your shoes, I’d heavily consider the Grizzly 1023. It’s a no bs cabinet saw with a nice fence and a riving knife, and at 3hp, it’s more than most hobbyists will ever need. If space is a concern, slap that sucker on a good mobile base and you’re all set.

For your miter saw, it depends on how you want to use it. DeWalt makes great miter saws that rarely if ever need alignment, but I do my small precise work on my ts. For me, I opted for the Delta Cruzer, as the arm design allows for it to be placed directly against a wall, and the extra crosscut capacity allows me to cut long pieces of plywood for shelves that would be unwieldy on my ts (I’m planning on doing built-in’s within the next year, and don’t want to try and crosscut a 7ft long 12 inch wide plywood sheet on my ts…again :p)

Last but not least, a big thank you for your service. Take your time and enjoy this process of setting up shop, you certainly have earned it.

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View PPK's profile


1751 posts in 1588 days

#4 posted 06-20-2018 06:47 PM

You going all out hand tool, or power tool method? Makes a difference :-)

Shoot, everyone has a different idea of what’s important to them. My advice is always to get a project in mind, and then buy the things necessary to complete it! Otherwise, you’ll end up buying stuff you don’t need/never use.

Me personally, I build a lot of cabinets/furniture, and the most important things in my shop in order are:
1 Table saw
2 Jointer
3 Belt/spindle sander
4 Planer
5 Bandsaw
6 Drill Press
7 Drum sander

And of course I need an arsenal of handheld power tools: Drills, routers, air nailers, jigsaw, etc.

-- Pete

View Rstevens009's profile


6 posts in 790 days

#5 posted 06-20-2018 08:16 PM

Thank you so all so much for your replies. I will try to address each person individually.

Kenny – I’ve had my eye on the DeWalt 735 for a while? Do you feel it is a significant upgrade form an older delta planer?

Dustin – Thanks for the heads up about the price drop on the 735, if I decide to go with that one, I will make sure not to overpay. I like the idea of having a flip top miter station. I am going to have to look into that a bit more. I had originally thought of having a separate wood cut out that could go in place of where the miter saw was but a flip top may be better. I am glad you brought up the Ridgid oscillating sander. It has had my eye for a while. As for the miter saw and table saw, the Cruzer and grizzly weren’t even on my radar. Until now. I am going to do some reserch on it. Thank you for your support too.

Pete- – I am more leaning towards the power tool way of life than the hand tool. Cabinets and furniture building are in my near future. Since you put the table saw at the top of your list. Which one(s) would you recommend?

Thank you all again.


View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 1663 days

#6 posted 06-20-2018 08:49 PM

I don’t think the dewalt lunch box planer is any improvement over an older Delta planer, unless it, too, is a lunchbox design.

For me, mostly furniture focused, the tool purchase sequence (in order of importance)

1. Table saw
2. Jointer
3. Sliding compound miter saw (face frame work)
4. planer
5. band saw
6. drill press
7. shaper
8. Lathe
9. scroll saw

Hand held power tools—
1. router
2. plate joiner
3. skill saw
4. drill/driver
5. saber saw
6. Random orbital sander

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

View HokieKen's profile


14102 posts in 1917 days

#7 posted 06-20-2018 08:56 PM

Kenny – I ve had my eye on the DeWalt 735 for a while? Do you feel it is a significant upgrade form an older delta planer?

- Rstevens009

I can’t say. I have a Delta planer myself. I have the 22-555 lunchbox planer. It fits my needs fine. It snipes the ends about 50% of the time but I just allow extra length on my boards. If I were in the market, I’d buy the DeWalt now since the price has come down some and it has gained such a good reputation.

But, if your Delta works well, is easy to set and gives good results, I see no need to make any changes. Just my $.02

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View PPK's profile


1751 posts in 1588 days

#8 posted 06-20-2018 08:58 PM

I’ve got the Grizzly G0961 tablesaw, which I’ve been very happy with for several years. As mentioned above, a lot of guys really like the Grizzly 1023, which runs on 110V vs. the 220V that the 0961 runs on…

-- Pete

View JCamp's profile (online now)


1183 posts in 1329 days

#9 posted 06-20-2018 09:15 PM

Nice table saw
Router and table with good bits
Drill press
Belt sander
Sheet sander
Two grinders (one set up with stones and the other set up buffing wheel and wire disc)
Maybe a lathe
You could upgrade your miter saw to a sliding miter saw
Mayb a few hand planes
I’d stick with your current planer and jointer unless you just want to upgrade. A new set of knives on them might make them better
Also thank you for your service

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View LittleShaver's profile


677 posts in 1398 days

#10 posted 06-20-2018 09:22 PM

Thank you for your service.

My 2 cents.

When I got out of the service 39 years ago, I didn’t have access to 220 in my shop and bought 110 v machines. Turns out that it was a good thing for me. I’ve relocated around the country 7 times since then and have always been able to get my shop up and running without calling in an electrician. I’m still a hobby wood worker and maybe when I move to my retirement location I’ll upgrade to bigger machines. But I find that I enjoy the peace that comes from working with mostly hand tools these days a real source of joy.

I’m still a hybrid hobbyist, but I really enjoy working without hearing protection.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Andybb's profile


2762 posts in 1382 days

#11 posted 06-21-2018 12:17 AM

As someone else said, it’s really a matter of what you want to do and make which will determine the importance / priority of each tool. My miter saw trigger probably gets pulled more than any other tool in the shop but now that I’ve got a good bandsaw and dumped the HF that seems to be changing, even though my table saw is the one I can’t do without (but I can only turn pens on my lathe) That being said, my mitre saw sits on a narrow roll around table with the planer underneath. Just don’t have the room for a miter saw “station” as they tend to take up a lot of linear space. I have had plans for years to build wings on the mitre stand but those mods usually come when I can’t do without it and so far I haven’t needed to do that.


-- Andy - Seattle USA

View tmasondarnell's profile


130 posts in 2568 days

#12 posted 06-21-2018 12:49 AM

First thing I built in my new (and first real) shop was the miter saw station from one of the wood working magazines. It was 8 ft long with adjustable fences…I knew it was the perfect shop starting point. Besides it was cool looking.

Seven years later, I use it for lumber storage.

I am not sure of the wisdom of spending time and effort on a miter station.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1282 days

#13 posted 06-21-2018 11:32 AM

A good table saw is a must, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a $3000.00 fantastic table saw. One of the better contractor saws with a first rate blade will do. If you work with a lot of rough cut lumber you will have to make it “flat and square on four sides”, so my second tool in the lineup has to be a good jointer. Yes, a hand job plane will work, but when you are looking at a good sized pile of boards that need to be flat and square about two hours into it and you will go get a real jointer. I’m gonna be the “odd man out” here on the miter station and say that I use mine a lot…it is not fancy. Just a DeWalt on a Portamate. The only real “effort” was paying for the $200 Portamate, which folds up small if I need the space and has wheels and can be easily moved to a jobsite if needed. Of course the best bandsaw you can find and a router table.

View Sparks500's profile


277 posts in 1109 days

#14 posted 06-21-2018 11:58 AM

What part of the country are you in? We are spread all over the world on this forum, and there is always some really good used stuff out there.
I recently was offered a really nice Delta Unisaw with a Biesemeyer fence for $600. But, its in northern Illinois, and I don’t know if its still available.
My current tablesaw is an old Powermatic 65 that I picked up dirt cheap. You really can’t hurt these old monsters, and you’re gonna get more bang for the buck used. You just have to be a little patient and look at them real hard before you hand over the cash.
And, you’ve come to the right place. There are all kinds of really smart and helpful people here.

-- A good day is any day that you're alive....

View Rstevens009's profile


6 posts in 790 days

#15 posted 06-21-2018 12:12 PM

First off, you are all awesome for taking the time to give me your input. This thread has already gotten more responses than I had expected.

In regards to the miter saw station, I like the idea of a portable one with collapsible wings. I will look more into this.

From what I can gather, it sounds like many of you have said the table saw is probably the most important tool in the shop so it looks like I have some research to do to on those. I was leaning towards a Delta 36-725 but you guys are being a horrible influence on me and doing a pretty good job at having me consider a Grizzly.

I can’t say. I have a Delta planer myself. I have the 22-555 lunchbox planer. It fits my needs fine. It snipes the ends about 50% of the time but I just allow extra length on my boards. If I were in the market, I’d buy the DeWalt now since the price has come down some and it has gained such a good reputation.

I have an older model Delta planer that I am going to have to run some tests on once I get home to see how much snipe I am getting and than check out price of the Dewalt. The Dewalt is a beast and would be amazing to have.

As msinc mentioned the Portamate is nice but the more I look it, the more I think I may want to build something like this instead of purchasing it. I will have to do a little cost analysis (nerdy I know) of the purchase price vs the price of material and see if it is worth it.


- Andybb

That is a really good idea. I plan on putting everything in the shop that I can on wheels to help move things around since my fiance will also be working in the shop and it will be easier for her. Okay, it will be easier for me too but I am just using her as an excuse haha.

As far as the router table is concerned. I am looking at adding an enclosed router table with dust collection to the wing of whatever table saw I get. That is definitely going to happen.

I didn’t realize so many people would be suggesting a bandsaw so high on their list. I guess this is something I am going to have to consider.

Thank you all and please keep your suggestions coming. I am having a blast here getting an insight into all of your ideas and thought processes


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