The low money woodworking blues or I can barely afford to feed my working working habit

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Forum topic by woodenwarrior posted 09-29-2013 10:55 PM 3217 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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255 posts in 2971 days

09-29-2013 10:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question resource tip trick

I’ll be honest, I often get a little depressed when seeing the tools in photos that some of you have. I would give my left nut and quite possibly my second born (no, not my first born, he’s a good kid.. however, my two year old is just one step shy of being sold to carnies most of the time…but I digress) to have some of the premium tools I see on here. I realize that I am not at that stage in my life that I can focus my money toward my hobby/passion/addiction…..okay, I’ll say it, I’M NOT OLD YET!! (at least that’s what I tell myself when my grey hair cascades over the barbershop apron as I’m getting my bi-weekly, completely regulation, Army mandated haircut…but once again I digress). I hoard matter the species, no matter how crappy the cut-off ( you never know when you’ll need that tiny piece of beautiful cherry), I make do with half-assed tools (see crappy chisels) and I try to make EVERYTHING that would act as a jig in my shop. Hell, I would LOVE to learn how to turn on the lathe but I can’t afford the tools required….. Maybe I’m just bellyaching, maybe I’m looking for advice on making this passion less of a wallet vacuum, I don’t know. Any thoughts would be refreshing.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

11 replies so far

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2815 days

#1 posted 09-29-2013 11:02 PM

I used to get those haircuts. I don’t miss them one bit. Once you get those out of the way you’ll have another $20 a month to spend on tools! I got most of my expensive tools the hard way – I made a list of what I wanted, what they cost new, and what I would spend to get them. I set a budget of about 1/4th their cost new. Then I found a few estate sales run by non-tool people, and camped out in front of a lot of dead people’s houses to be first in line at a lot of sales.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View woodpixie's profile


2 posts in 2747 days

#2 posted 09-29-2013 11:22 PM

Lest I spend even more money, which equates to time, on “shopping around” for the “right tool for the job” (boy oh boy could I bellyache with you), could somebody puhleeze tell me, before I take my nails off with an exacto knife, which drill bits are going to give me a straight freaking hole through 7/8” thick cedar/oak/poplar etc.??? I need to make 1/16”, 5/64”, 3/32” holes THROUGH, at small intervals (ie: 3/16”, 1/4”, etc. , about 20 per row) and I simply would like to see them line up nicely on the backside. Delta Shopmaster drill press, tried all different speeds, split-points, brad-points, pilot-points, all are drifting after entry. And please suggest a decent affordable set of such drill bits in 1/64” sizes from 1/16” to 1/2”. (or direct me to the proper place to pose this question) Thank you in advance!

-- enjoying the journey

View Jay Nolet's profile

Jay Nolet

75 posts in 2816 days

#3 posted 09-29-2013 11:24 PM

Yard sales, auctions, Craigs List and yes, dead people’s houses. Well, I mean that I go to yard sales where the widow is selling off the guys tools. Last night it was the auction. I’m happy to say that the guy is still alive. He just wanted out at 73 years old. Patience is good when one (me) is hoping to score something for 1/4 price. It happens. Just wait for it. I just build what I have the tools to build it with.

woodpixie – I had that problem. I marked both sides and drilled half way through plus a little.

Jay Nolet

-- I think, therefore I think I am.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

1252 posts in 3011 days

#4 posted 09-29-2013 11:48 PM

Get a large detergent jug and of course wash it out. At the end of the day put all money in your pockets. Don’t but lunch pack it. Shop car insurance, house insurance. The list goes on and on.
In one year I saved close to $2000.00 in the jug alone. If a $5 or $10 was in my pocket in it went.
Good luck.

-- Jerry

View PASs's profile


600 posts in 3875 days

#5 posted 09-30-2013 12:01 AM

WW, ditto all the above.
I’ve got buckets full of old screws, nails, and bolts that I use in my stuff.
I’ve gotten more than a few tools from Craigslist, Thrift stores, Yard Sales, and yes estate sales.
You just have to watch for those gems on payday.
90 percent of the wood I use I got for free….I’ve got 4 pallets of wood at the side of the garage that I got as “Free Firewood”.
Not having money makes use more cautious in what we buy…and more appreciative of what we do get.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View woodenwarrior's profile


255 posts in 2971 days

#6 posted 09-30-2013 12:11 AM

@Gerald….I save,then I save..oh yeah, then I save some more..but then Olivia (my carnival bound toddler, who by the way would make one hell of an acrobat if Dad had his way) needs(wants is a better word) some new clothes….”High waters are in fashion…its retro” I tell my wife….yeah, not so much. Anyhoo, I save my “birthday and Christmas money” only to spend it on my loved ones, I eat sack lunches at work DAILY only to spend my extra cash on my family…does that make me a Stand-up Dad or a glutton for punishment?

@Jay, I’m the craigslist camper guy…I’m that A-hole that will call you three minutes after you posted something just to see if I can knock $2 off the price. The other problem being…I’m in a woodworking desert. If you are into metal working, we got it, if plumbing’s your thing, we got it, if you build beautiful things from wood, eeeerr…uuum…you’re SOL. Color me goofy, but maybe the lack of trees in the heart of the great American plains have something to do with it.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3746 days

#7 posted 09-30-2013 12:30 AM

When I was only making things for myself I’d look at how much a piece of furniture would cost to buy, then work out how much the wood cost – if it was a big difference, I’d buy something for the workshop to make that job and the next one easier. There’s a lot I can do with only half my tools, the rest just makes doing things faster and more easily. Having everything you want is not the same as having everything you need.

View ZacD's profile


34 posts in 2536 days

#8 posted 09-30-2013 12:34 AM

Looking at the little bit I can see in your workbench post, it seems you have a lot of nice space. What type of tools do you have? I can be of a lot more help if I now what you have and one better than that, is to know what you want to be able to make. As in, are you planning to do commercial stuff or just side job items? If that is the case, many people have made quite capable lathes out of corded power drills, which can be had for $20 and sometimes less, at pawn shops and thrift stores. Be sure to check ebay and keep in mind that you don’t always need the $2000 version of a particular type of tool for it to be capable. You really only need that $2000 tool if you plan to run it for many hours every week on end, and need to meet quick deadlines for ordered items. Expensive tools are also typically more reliable in accuracy but that doesn’t mean the $60 used tool can’t be used to a similar precision; it may just mean you need a jig or you may need to use better measuring instruments.

As far as woodworking goes, I’m in exhibit design. Bare minimum for what I do, I would suggest a table saw, a band saw, a miter saw, decent blades for all of those, a router and a table to mount it to (you can make this), a drill press, various hand saws (pull saw, crosscut and rip), a couple of good hand planers (mostly just a smoothing planer), some general hand tools (screw drivers, hammers, etc.), and a couple of work benches. I probably have more money in my work benches than in my tools. For the items I’ve listed here, I probably spent less than $1000 in purchases for them. It took a lot of time and patience to find the best deals and a lot of research in finding what tools were worthwhile and what a worthwhile price was but in the end it was definitely worth that effort. Heck, I have a ton more tools I haven’t listed here and everything accounted for, I’ve still spent well under $3000 for everything. Most of it is second hand and yes, that requires some tuning, refurbishing or redesigning but you also get a better understanding of the tool by doing this. Moral here is that you don’t need the really expensive tools to do some very precise work. You just need to know your tools and how to use them to their fullest and at that point, you can just start making your own tools. It really just depends on how dedicated you are I guess.

View MarkwithaK's profile


370 posts in 3955 days

#9 posted 09-30-2013 12:43 AM

One thing I’m learning is that while there are specific tools to do specific jobs in the shop there are also work arounds for almost all of them. Sure these alternative methods make take longer to do but being ale to use one tool to do the work of two or even three might help. For instance, no jointer? A board can be edge joined on the table saw. Be creative and work with what you got.

-- If at first you don't succeed then maybe skydiving isn't for you.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3274 days

#10 posted 10-01-2013 12:06 AM

woodenwarrior – can’t help really but yeah, you’re a standup dad. Don’t sell the kid though, he sounds like fun.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3282 days

#11 posted 10-01-2013 12:21 AM

When I was on active duty, I kept it simple. For birthday, Father’s day or Christmas, I asked my wife for one wood working tool. Then when I got my clothing allowence, I bought a tool from left over $$$ from that.

I remember buying a Delta 9 inch band saw and being SO EXCITED about that.It was $99, but I could cut curves!

I guess my point it baby steps. One tool at a time, and simple projects.

I remember realizing that I’d rather have $$ to woodwork than have some crazy high car payment….have not had a car payment in 8 yrs now ;)

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