Advice for new shop setup

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Forum topic by Chestnut Hill Woodworks posted 07-10-2012 02:20 PM 1807 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chestnut Hill Woodworks

43 posts in 3196 days

07-10-2012 02:20 PM

Hey guys,

So over the last couple years I have developed a deep desire to make woodworking my main hobby. It started when I put together my son’s playset and grew when I built some raised bed gardens for my wife. I am at the point now where pretty much every waking moment I am either thinking about or reading something related to woodworking in order to increase my knowledge and grow my skills.

I am blessed to have a ton of garage space to build a shop in, and I recently decided to sell my motorcycle so I can fund my shop setup. I also have father-in-law and brother-in-law who have been in the craft for years, so they have been throwing tools at me left and right to help me get started.

Right now I am debating on which machine I should spend some considerable coin on. I have a table saw, but it is a Dewalt DW744 portable table saw that was given to me. I was considering building a table for this and getting a better fence to make it more like a cabinet saw, and then purchasing a new jointer and table top planer to round out my milling equipment. Another route I am considering though is upgrading the table saw to a more serious cabinet saw and looking for a used jointer on craigslist or something.

So I am looking to get advice as to which route to go…new jointer and make the DW744 work, or get a nice table saw and look for a deal on a used jointer.

17 replies so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


786 posts in 4322 days

#1 posted 07-10-2012 02:32 PM

I’d spend my money on the table saw. That’s the base piece of any good shop. Buy the best you can afford.

Good luck!


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4117 days

#2 posted 07-10-2012 02:35 PM

My choice would be to settle your table saw question. The TS is the heart of most shops and should be the best you can afford – for your needs.

What kind of projects do you expect to do? A full-on cabinet saw might be nice, but would you really need that kind of performance? If your DeWalt can be “tweaked” to give decent cuts, you might be better off using it for now and replacing it when you outgrow it.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5349 posts in 5009 days

#3 posted 07-10-2012 02:37 PM

Get the TS first. Good blades, and careful set-up will give you the foundation for your shop.
Get your shop area properly wired while you’re at it.

-- [email protected]

View Chestnut Hill Woodworks's profile

Chestnut Hill Woodworks

43 posts in 3196 days

#4 posted 07-10-2012 02:53 PM

I had a feeling this is the kind of response I would get…thanks for confirming my growing instinct to get set up with a good table saw first and then move on to other items. With the funds from the sale of the bike I am going to have a large chunk of money to plunk down, which isn’t something that happens too often so I want to make it count.

I am leaning towards the Sawstop 110V PCS…I have a 2 year old an another on the way that I hope to have in the shop with me when they get older, so if the quality is there it seems like this would be a good investment for a table saw that will hopefully last decades. I will continue to research brands on here, but if you think this is a good route to go let me know!

View revanson11's profile


113 posts in 3382 days

#5 posted 07-10-2012 03:15 PM

From your choice of table saw it looks like you care very much about shop safety. As you go about fitting out your shop and in consideration of the health of all those who are in it, please don’t forget about a good dust collection system.

I am in the process of completely renovating how dust is removed from the atmosphere in my shop. For the last couple of years I abandoned my shop due to the level of dust I was breathing. Then I discovered Lumberjocks and found out about all the innovative ways that have been developed to make home shop dust collection efficient and affordable. Before I started to visit this site I thought that a Top-hat was something that Fred Astair wore while dancing with Ginger Rodgers. Little did I know that to a woodworker a Top-hat was a device to remove saw dust before it got to the DC’s filter and plugged it up. I just finished building mine yesterday and “wow what a difference”.

With you having small children I’m sure that their health and yours are a primary concern to you. Use this site to get the answers on how to make a safe and healthful wood shop. Best of luck.

-- Randy, Central MN

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4626 days

#6 posted 07-10-2012 03:23 PM

Start with the best table saw you can afford.


View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4529 days

#7 posted 07-10-2012 03:24 PM

I agree with what the others have said. The TS is the heart of the woodworking shop and should be the best that you can afford. You wont regret it. If you buy a top of the line TS and take care of it, it will last you a lifetime. Dont forget to watch Ebay and Craig’s List for good deals on top line used saws and other equipment. There are a lot of great deals on there for hundreds less than new. The Powermatic 66 TS that I have I bought some years ago used. Its a 1988 model and runs like new. I paid half the cost of a new one and it included the extension tables on two sides and lots of Forrest blades and some jigs. Just be sure to know your price points. Good luck !!

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Chestnut Hill Woodworks's profile

Chestnut Hill Woodworks

43 posts in 3196 days

#8 posted 07-10-2012 03:24 PM

I completely agree Randy…air quality is at the top of the list as I allocate funds for this shop…definitely not going to sacrifice there.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3975 days

#9 posted 07-10-2012 05:31 PM

You can also find good info and tips by looking at other members shops and setups, so nice to start fresh!

Good luck with your new shop!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Ryan Haasen's profile

Ryan Haasen

385 posts in 3450 days

#10 posted 07-10-2012 06:05 PM

That SawStop looks like a great saw. We have two industrial SawStop’s in my high school wood shop and I cringe when I see how careless teens abuse them; especially when they use them as a table for their coffee mugs. They are terrific machines and I hope to have one in my shop one day.

-- Ryan

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4750 posts in 3283 days

#11 posted 07-10-2012 06:30 PM

I started my shop with multipurpose tools like Shop Smith or Super Shop. This is a minimal investment, minimal foot print, and maximum exposure to many different paths in woodworking. As you mature in your work and interests focus, you can either keep it for specialty work or sell it easily. It’s a cost effective way to get at the major woodorking functions for under $3000.
Otherwise, what they said.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL All my life I've wanted to be someone. I see now I should have been more specific.

View Dave Carlisle's profile

Dave Carlisle

69 posts in 3204 days

#12 posted 07-10-2012 07:20 PM

I’d go with the Sawstop and you might as well have the 220 set up if you are going to be doing this for a while. This is one purchase I don’t regret. Save your money for a while if you need to. The Sawstop is awesome!

-- Woodworking Principal

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4791 days

#13 posted 07-10-2012 07:36 PM

I would do both—Únless you really see the DW744 as a major hinderance – work with it and get the other tools.

I have the Dewalt benchtop planer 735 – it works really well, but is INCREDIBLY LOUD! In retrospect I wish I had gotten either a grizzly 15 inch “basic” planer or a used floor standing model.

That is just me though – I would lean toward adding tools/capabilities to my shop before replacing/upgrading the old tools.

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

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 3240 days

#14 posted 07-11-2012 12:57 AM

NoW, as you are also concerned with safety, you should also get a dust collector.

-- My terrible signature...

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3842 days

#15 posted 07-11-2012 01:15 AM

Like others the table saw is the heart of the shop. You don’t have to buy the very best but do buy the best you can comfortably afford. Second tool – A good router. Third – A pretty good drill press. Small tools – Random orbit sander is first. I also use my miter saw a lot. 10” sliding. Man – It’s difficult to prioritize.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

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