Help...New shop set up...what tools should I get first?

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Forum topic by AngieO posted 07-10-2012 04:49 PM 3082 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1267 posts in 3151 days

07-10-2012 04:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: new shop question help planer drill press nailers

Hi! I just joined LumberJocks yesterday. I’ve been putting together tools for a workshop over the past month. I have very little sace and a limited budget. Some of my first tools I’ve acquired have been used from a friend that’s been woodworking for 30 years. These are extras that he upgraded from, he has a dedicated workshop. So far I have the following:
Black & Decker miter saw (10” blade)’ $25
Skil 2 hp variable speed plunge router. $25
Black & Decker random orbit sander $15
craftsman scroll saw (very old but works. Basically got for $5),
Small mouse sander (this was my husbands, I haven’t seen it yet but I know it’s somewhere in garage),
Cordless Skil saw (I believe the blades 5 1/2”) $20
Two jigsaws that my husband already had.
Of course he has all kinds of cordless drills, hammers, and such that ill be able to use.

Two items that I’m getting from my friend that hasn’t been picked up yet are a table saw and a band saw. I don’t know much about them. I’ve seen them. They are both benchtop and he has a table for me. These two tools, the table and the scroll saw were $100 all together. I don’t have them yet because he is tuning up the band saw and table saw before I actually get them. Plus he is putting a new top on the table and new insert for the table saw.

As you can see, I don’t have alot of money in it so far. I was given a gift card for Lowes and my husband picked out a router table for me. Unfortunately… It is not pre-drilled for my router. It’s an 1845 Skil and none of the tables there fit my router.

So…. I’m returning the router table and I have about $200 I can spend at Lowes. I’m willing to add a litte extra to it but I’m not sure what to go for. I need some suggestions.

Something to think about is that I’ve scrounged up some pallets. Some where for large items and have lots of 2×4s. There is a lot of good wood. I have dismantled a lot of them already. I’ve used my sander and wonder if I should invest in a planer. Then I wondered about a belt sander.

So I need some suggestions on what maybe I should invest in. I plan on making small projects and working up to some small furniture and more. I have some lofty ambitions that I’d like to make some beds for my kids. My husband keeps telling me to pace myself and slow down. Lol. But I feel like I’m already moving at a snail speed.

So here are some things I’ve seen used in projects that I’d like to make.

Drill Press
Belt sander
Air nailers (which of ourselves means I need an air compressor)

And then of course there are variations… They have a small table top drill press that looks like I could use till its time to upgrade. And then I also wondered about the hand planers that are electric. As far as the nailers I wondered about a finisher or brad nailer and getting an air pig (I don’t know the technical term. That’s just what my dad always called them)

Ok…. So my first post andvts pretty long-winded. Lol. Sorry. Just want to pick your brains.

39 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3518 days

#1 posted 07-10-2012 05:54 PM

You didn’t mention clamps. Almost every woodworker needs a big supply of clamps. There are many types, but you can start out with Pony bar clamps, which will allow you to change the pipe length and are very versatile.
You’ll also need some smaller clamps. Lot of the people here are OK with the Harbor Freight steel bar clamps. If you spend at lowe’s, you might think of getting some of the Bessy clamps, but they are expensive.

I’d stay away from the electric hand planer. You’ll just hog off a lot of wood for nothing. Maybe invest in a couple of good hand planes and learn how to sharpen and use them. A lunchbox planer is a great idea, but you should also have a way to make clean edges so you can glue up larger planks, so also think jointer.
Make sure you have all the nails out of the pallets. Nothing takes out a blade faster than a hidden nail.

Depending on the table and bandsaws, you might have enough to do more than you think. Also, you will go through a lot of sandpaper from 80 up to 220 grit to start, both for the sanding tools and hand paper.
Finishes will be needed, like varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, brushes, wiping cloths, etc. Stuff adds up.
Stain, your color preference. Stay away from gel stain.
A good vacuum cleaner to collect dust, from the tools and also to clean your area/shop/garage. Some vacuum cleaners have blowers on top so if you have a garage door it makes it easy to blow down the shop.

That just a few suggestions, lots more…welcome and good luck!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3975 days

#2 posted 07-10-2012 06:02 PM

Wow, you appear to have been infected by the toolaholic virus. LOL Most of us can relate.

You said you have only a small space. How small ? 8’ x 12’, half of a 1 bay garage, half a 2 bay garage ?

A few good quality hand tools you didn’t mention, but are almost necessities. A block plane, a couple of good chisels ( a 1/4” and a 3/4” are good for starting out), squares, tape measure, a couple good accurate etched steel rules (12” and 24” or 36”), xacto knife (for marking), a bevel guage for marking angles, a good level and some hand saws. I have a Jorgensen Pony Pull Saw (Japanese style) and this is my most often used saw.

You will be needing clamps, the size and type depends on what you build, but I’d want at least about two each of 6”, 12”, 24”, 36” of the “F” style and a couple 3/4” pipe clamps with 4 ft pipes. You can swap out the pipes for different lengths. Some spring clamps are handy as well. It really doesn’t matter which clamps you start with, you will never have enough, or the right kind. That’s just the way it is.
- I like the Jorgensen clamps that are sold at HD and other places. They are mostly made in the USA, a plus for me. Many others here like the Bessey brand and they are good too. Even the Harbor Freight “F” style and pipe clamps are okay. Not as well finished but they work and are cheap. Keep an eye out for Craigs List clamp deals.

I would not spend money on an electric hand planer. Kind of a “one trick pony”. A better investment would be a good drill press and some good brad point and Forstner bits. I would strongly recommend a floor model. I never heard anyone with a floor model say they wish they had a benchtop model. The reverse is heard quite often. The larger benchtops (40”+ tall versions) are okay, but cost almost as much as a floor model anyway. Things to look for are: longest stroke possible, 3” minimum, able to be slowed down below 200 RPM for drilling large holes with Forstner bits, max height between chuck and table, at least 16”, and biggest swing possible, 12” minimum. I’ve had two small benchtop models and they are severly limiting. Another good opportunity to shop on Craigs List; but beware, 90% of drill presses on CL are the little benchtops that people are trying to get rid of after they got a floor model.

View DLawson's profile


8 posts in 3162 days

#3 posted 07-10-2012 06:03 PM

As an excitable but easily frustrated beginner (me that is), I’d recommend that you start with projects small enough to either set aside or throw across the room. :-) My first “real” project was a 6 foot tall storage unit for my wife. I learned a lot, but by the end I was working just to get the thing out of my way.

Pacing is good, as is picking projects that add new skills one (or two) at a time, and keep building on that.

Since you have a lot of used tools, it would e good to find references (online or books, I like books) on tuning them up.

And keep it fun.

-- Really, the tree did the hard part.

View Brett's profile


684 posts in 3687 days

#4 posted 07-10-2012 08:22 PM

I learned a lot about basic woodworking skill and which tools to buy (and not buy) from the “I Can Do That” manual at Popular Woodworking:

Even if you graduate to larger and more pricey tools, you’ll still use many of the tools mentioned in the manual.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 3228 days

#5 posted 07-10-2012 08:29 PM

Ooo, nice reference Brett – that is a good write-up.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View ralmand's profile


162 posts in 4307 days

#6 posted 07-10-2012 08:33 PM

What part of the country do you live? I am selling off my tools.

-- Randy, Allen Texas

View DonnyD's profile


49 posts in 3178 days

#7 posted 07-10-2012 09:03 PM

i would go with the drillpress but do your homework look at a lot of differnt ones, a good bench top model would be fine unless u want to cut 5” holes in hard wood every day. as for the other stuff keep an i out on craigslist but do your home work and know what u want. also look at pawn shops iv got a lot of used good tools from these places lot of nailers for cheap, if u know whitch model to get, oOo and your table saw ? u said it was a bench top table saw? in my opion u will use a table saw more than any tool in the shop so put a good blade on it (i like frued 24t Diablo) and u can do almost any thing this was my first have to have. get some bar clamps from hf and pipe from lowes cost 20.00 per clamp o and welcome to Lj have fun be safe

View AHuxley's profile


874 posts in 4326 days

#8 posted 07-10-2012 09:35 PM

What are you planning to build, it makes all the difference in what tools you need. At this point buy tools/machines as you need them, let the projects dictate your approach.

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 3255 days

#9 posted 07-10-2012 09:40 PM

I agree with AHuxley, buy the tools you need for your current project, then move on to your next project and buy the additional tools you need for it. That way you can really learn to use your tools as you get them. I try to stick to this method, but early on I did not and ended up with some tools I never use (even though I thought they were useful at the time). An added benefit is that it is easier on the budget than trying to outfit a shop in one go-round.

-- Rex

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 3206 days

#10 posted 07-10-2012 09:47 PM

Get some top quality measuring tools. Get some quality quaranteed squares, Woodcraft carrys the Pinnacle brand which is made by Woodpeckers and they are dead on. Just pick out a small projet and go from there. Check CL for some good deals. Read read all you can and most of all be safe.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Brett's profile


684 posts in 3687 days

#11 posted 07-10-2012 09:57 PM

I bought a combination square once at a big box store. It was over 1 degree out of square (about 1/8” error over 8”). I took it back. I tested another one. It was out of square, too. I’m very wary now when I buy measuring tools from that store.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 3151 days

#12 posted 07-11-2012 03:21 AM

There is a lot of great advice here. Clamps – I have some C clamps. Have no idea what size they are. Some spring clamps as well. Every time I go to the store I sit and stare at them and have no idea which ones to get. I found a set that had three or four different kinds. I think I’ll get that.
I have a pretty good tape measure. I think I’d like to get anther that’s smaller. I also have a square, a decent level and an exactly knife. I’d like to get a steel rule though.
As far as space, my garage is a very small one car garage. I have to share it with my husband. Right now I’m pretty much pulling all my tools out of the garage and working outside. So having the ability to be able to move things in and out easily is a plus.
Right now I’m planning small projects. I made a picture frame today. Was pretty excited. I’d like to make some work benches for my tools. I found some plans for a miter saw table cart on that I really like. And after pricing a Bessey clamp to clamp my picture frame I thought about making my own…. Of course I need a drill press for that. I have a small table my son made iat school and I’d like to make another one for beside my bed. A couple of other small projects I’d like to try is a lazy usan, a cutting board, and a couple other things like the picture frame clamp.

Block plane? I was asking my husband about them and he made it sound like they were really hard to use.

One thing I did think about that Paul mentioned was the finishes and other consumables. I have some wood glue and I bought 3 different size sandpapered for my sander. 60-100-150. My husband has several for a sander that he has (I hate it) and I have a little sanding block.

Screws? Nails? Which finishes? Not sure which ones so I thought I’d get some 1 qt sizes of a couple to see which ones I like. I figured I’d practice with my router and miter saw making some frames as Christmas presents and try some different finishes on them.

Oh… And my brother wants me to make him a bread box. So I will need to get on that. Haven’t found a plan yet.

Thanks for all the replies and the welcomes. I look forward to all the things I’ll learn on here and sharing my projects.

View Brett's profile


684 posts in 3687 days

#13 posted 07-11-2012 02:33 PM

AngieO, I’m still a beginning woodworker (2 years of limit, part-time experience) and I work out of a garage. Here’s how I got started:

1) I read the “I Can Do That” manual described above to guide some of my tool purchases.

2) I then built a set of sawhorses (using a Workmate, circular saw, and drill) that fold up and can be stored out of the way (lots of plans online).

3) Next, I used the sawhorses to build a work table ( I reinforced the legs, but otherwise built it as described.

4) The work table goes against a wall; I put pegboard on the wall to store tools.

5) A Ryobi bench-top drill press was purchased that goes on the work table.

6) I bought a Ridgid r4510 table saw. I use it out on the driveway, and it folds up and stows out of the way when not needed.

7) I built a small workbench based on the “Get Started in Woodworking” series (

8) Around a year and a half ago, I started getting interested in hand tools, so I haven’t purchased a jointer, planer, or band saw.

Your interests may vary, but this is how I “bootstrapped” my work area into something that is usable. I’m currently (slowly) building an 8-ft long workbench. I may replace both the old workbench and the work table with the new workbench, build a rolling stand for the drill press, and build additional moveable storage (carts, with drawers). This will allow me to move everything into the rest of the garage or onto the driveway when I want to do some woodworking, but also allow me to move everything out of the way when they’re not needed.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View EricTy's profile


62 posts in 3254 days

#14 posted 07-11-2012 02:49 PM

Here’s a link to a cabinet shop that does everything by hand. His podcasts are good and detailed.

I did the same thing you are doing – getting the big stuff first. I forgot about the small stuff like:

forstner bits
brad point bits
sharpening (by hand or machine)
straight edges
hand saws for dovetails, etc.
dust collection (wood dust is a carcinogen)

This can go on and on, but I think you get the point. The machines are only 80% of what you need. A drill press is great, but without bits, it’s useless.

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4581 days

#15 posted 07-11-2012 03:16 PM

Welcome To LJs AngieO As a adult woodworking instructor for my local community collage I’m always concerned when I see folks brand new to woodworking buying a lot of tools for a couple of reasons, If you are brand new to woodworking the possibility of you being injured is greatly increased because you are not familiar with the proper use of power tools and their safe operation. The Second reason is that as I teach new comers to woodworking after a short time of use woodworking tools new students very frequently say “I wish I hadn’t bought (fill in the blank)”after learning how tools work and what tools are good and which tools are a bad investment. I would strongly suggest taking a beginners woodworking class for your safety and a better understanding of equipment and tools. I last thing, Enjoy!


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