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Forum topic by ClassicHauler posted 11-01-2013 04:49 PM 2386 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ClassicHauler's profile


13 posts in 2620 days

11-01-2013 04:49 PM

Hi Everybody,

Im new here and I have done some woodworking in the past but it was in a shop class when I was in high school. I am in the military and currently live overseas but I should be moving back to the states soon, and I was planning on picking up woodworking as a hobby and maybe even try to make a little cash on the side with it. anyways I currently only own a cordless drill, a random orbital sander, a circular saw, and a bunch of electrician tools from my previous job. I wanted to know what do you all think the first five tools or pieces of equipment I should purchase are, and what brands do you recommend for tools. The tools I had in mind include a compound miter saw, table saw, band saw drill press and maybe a bench top planer.

Thanks in Advance.

-- Doug, Italy

42 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5017 days

#1 posted 11-01-2013 04:55 PM

Thanks for your service Doug. Things to consider…

What are you wanting to build? Are you doing carpentry work in your house? Do you lean towards hand tools or power tools?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View jmartel's profile


9111 posts in 3070 days

#2 posted 11-01-2013 04:56 PM

Depends on what projects you need to make.

First, I’d buy a Table saw. The rest depends on what you are going to be making.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View dbray45's profile


3391 posts in 3696 days

#3 posted 11-01-2013 04:58 PM

A few hand planes, a set of chisels, and some small saws would be a help – with screwdrivers, hammer, and everything else.

What do you want to make? Knowing this, and knowing that this will change, makes things difficult. If you ask Norm, he had some serious hardware, if you ask someone that does mostly hand work, the tools will be different, marquetry is different still.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3968 days

#4 posted 11-01-2013 05:18 PM

Certainly you do not want to work on the floor, a good bench is one of the first tool to buy or to build.

Harbor Freight sales a small wood working bench which is excellent for the price.

Of course soon you will need an heavier bench but to start this one is very good

-- Bert

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3552 days

#5 posted 11-01-2013 05:25 PM

Are you still going to be in the service upon your return?
If so, most bases have pretty nice hobby shops. Heck, even Yuma Proving ground (in the middle of nowhere) had a silly-nice shop.
That said, you might consider using those places until you have a better idea of what you need/want.
The list of “good to have” tools is a mile long. On top of power tools, you’ll need a decent set of chisels, combination square, and about 15 other hand tools and measuring implements. Just for starters.

I’d probably start off with power tools that are good to have for other utility purposes, not just woodworking:
Sliding Compound Miter Saw- Lots of uses in furniture making, but are also valuable for other household DIY duties.
Drill Press- Like the miter saw, the drill press is just a good machine to have in the garage.Sure they’re great for woodworking tasks, but I had to build a new hinge for my grill. The DP came in handy for drilling precise holes in metal.. You can score a good DP for $150 off craigslist.
ABOVE ALL- you’ll need a sturdy WORKBENCH (backbone of any shop). Look through the projects section on this site for ideas. You don’t need anything fancy. But you’ll need it to be functional, with a good vise.

AH- Bert beat me to it. But that Harbor Freight bench would be a contender.

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5017 days

#6 posted 11-01-2013 05:25 PM

If you’re buying from Harbor Freight be sure to use their 20% and 25% off coupons that come in the mail as junk mail.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View TerryDowning's profile


1146 posts in 3037 days

#7 posted 11-01-2013 05:44 PM

Thanks for your service!!

I was military also and I ran into 3 big things that limited my wood working tool purchases

Budget (I was enlisted with a wife and 3 kids so extra money for tools and wood working supplies was not readily available)

Storage/Workshop space (This was always very limited)

Weight allowance and moving during PCS. My weight allowance was pathetic and way too low to allow for large stand alone machinery so I made do with hand held power tools and hand tools for a lot of years.

Check out the MWR facilities on your base. Some still have decent wood shops so you may be able to hold off on the larger machines for a while. Another option is make friends with some one in the C.E. Carpentry shop or Supply packing and crating shop if your base has one either has magnificent industrial grade table saws, radial arm saws, planers, jointers, you name it it’s in there. I can tell you, I used more than one government tool during my time in service.

My top tools while I was in the military and travelling around

Hand miter box with back saw
Hand Rip and crosscut Saws
Circular saw with a cutting guide
1/4 sheet palm sander
and by far the most used was my router and router table.
set of inexpensive Stanley bench chisels
a jig saw
bench top scroll saw
hand coping saw
corded and cordless drills
block plane
measuring and marking tools
and my trusty B&D workmate served as a workbench my entire time in service.

I still have and use most of these tools. That’s the good thing about tools, unless you break them or they get stolen, they last a long, long time.

The router table and scroll saw still are bolted to plywood bases (procured from supply dumpsters, it’s amazing what gets thrown away) with cleats on the bottom so the workmate can hold them securely.

The whole shooting match fit in 3 toolboxes, some milk crates, and I kept the box the scroll saw came in (That thing was more duct tape than anything else by the time I got out) this solved the storage and moving issues. 1 of those tool boxes was typical mechanics tools wrenches, sockets, pliers, screw drivers, etc. for working on the car. 1 of the tool boxes was for the router and its accessories. the third was general purpose woodworking stuff. The milk crates served as both storage and saw benches, stools, etc. milk crates are very handy things.

I do recommend looking into hand tools for your wood working. I wish I had re-discovered hand tool wood working way back when.

Just some been there done that thoughts on the subject from someone that knows what its like.

Again, thanks for your service and good luck!!

Hopefully some of our wood working vets and those still serving can chime in with their advice as well.

-- - Terry

View Don W's profile

Don W

19752 posts in 3487 days

#8 posted 11-01-2013 05:48 PM

you’re on track with a table saw, band saw drill press and maybe a bench top planer if your looking to set up a small shop. Skip the compound miter unless you plan to do finish work carpentry style.

Hand planes and chisel also comes to mind.

And as the others have said, thanks for your service!!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View jonah's profile


2133 posts in 4218 days

#9 posted 11-01-2013 05:49 PM

Don’t buy any tools until you figure out what you want to be making. Then buy tools as you need them. Don’t be afraid of well-taken-care-of used stationary tools, they are often much better deals than new ones. For 95% of portable and cordless tools, buy only new ones – they are getting better all the time and have never been more capable and efficient.

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3968 days

#10 posted 11-01-2013 05:54 PM

” Don’t be afraid of well-taken-care-of used stationary tools”
yes but, check the prices.

These days people want as much money for used tool than for new ones and sometimes they want more money.

-- Bert

View luv2learn's profile


3084 posts in 3222 days

#11 posted 11-01-2013 06:21 PM

Doug, when I thought I might be interested in pursuing woodworking as a hobby I started collecting used power and hand tools in garage sales, Craigs List, eBay, thrift stores, etc. I am also a fan of Harbor Freight. That being said, if you find that you are becoming a woodworking addict and you have deep pockets you can always upgrade to nicer tools later.

Your list of your first five tools is spot on as a good starting point. The table saw is the key tool to build your shop around. Also consider building your own jigs and tools.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2687 days

#12 posted 11-01-2013 06:41 PM

Don’t forget that square.


View knotscott's profile


8392 posts in 4295 days

#13 posted 11-01-2013 06:58 PM

A good table saw is the heart and soul of most shops, so that’s where I’d start if you plan to rip or crosscut wood. I use my miter saw mainly for crosscutting very long pieces like molding…otherwise I use my TS, so my CMS collects dust most of the time. Everyone’s different, the CMS is a tool that I’d hold off on until higher priority items in in place. If you don’t have a router, I’d give serious consideration to owning at least one….mounted in a router table, they’re amazingly versatile tools. A planer and jointer are an excellent addition if you’ll be using dimensional lumber….if you’ll use mainly sheetgoods, they’re less useful. DP and BS are good additions, but it’s easy to use a handdrill and a jigsaw in their place, until higher priority needs are met. There’s a ton of little things that are useful, but I’d focus of the few major tools at first, then add shop accessories as needed.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View GT350's profile


380 posts in 2901 days

#14 posted 11-01-2013 07:54 PM

My first choices would be table saw, planer, jointer, dust collection and hand tools like chisels etc. buy the rest as you have projects where they are necessary. With these tools you can buy wood from other than the big box stores and save a lot of money and also make thicknesses other than 3/4” etc.

View ClassicHauler's profile


13 posts in 2620 days

#15 posted 11-01-2013 08:36 PM

Thanks everyone for the quick replies and you are all welcome. I think my plan right now is to get the five I had mentioned above but the portable versions due to moves and space. I will probably also collect tools from yard sales, craigslist ect., as well as buying some of the other essentials you all mentioned. Also I have found inspiration from many of the projects on LJ and I do plan to build a solid workbench for my first project.

Thank You All

-- Doug, Italy

showing 1 through 15 of 42 replies

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