Minimum tools needed?

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Forum topic by Scootles posted 05-28-2014 06:03 PM 1879 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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153 posts in 2331 days

05-28-2014 06:03 PM

I worked in a high end cabinet shop and had the luxury of making cabinets/furniture using every tool necessary. I quit that job. They only paid 9$ and hour and offered no health insurance while I risked injury to power tools every day. However, I fell in love with woodworking. I’d absolutely love to continue doing it in my spare time but my tools are limited. I can purchase more, but not overnight.

The tools I currently have are

Contractors table saw(Dewalt DW745)
Porter Cable Nail gun/Compressor kit( PCFP12234)
Some harbor freight HVLP spray guns.
Basic hand tools, no hand planes though.

What would you buy next to get started? I know there is a long line of tools I could use, but I’m only making 15$/hr now and It takes roughly 2-3 months for large items that cost 500ish$. I have on the list router, planer, jointer, kreg jig, and miter saw as the basic tools that I need… what are your thoughts? I want to start making stuff so bad, possibly to bring in a small amount of cash on the side but I’m wondering what to buy next.

I was going to work on picking up the miter saw or a router first but again… money is very tight not to mention the cost of materials if I DID have the tools… I’m in Phoenix and new to the area so I don’t know anyone who has those tools that I could borrow either.

33 replies so far

View dawsonbob's profile (online now)


3344 posts in 2172 days

#1 posted 05-28-2014 06:08 PM

If it were me, I’d buy a good router (and make a table for it), at least one decent hand plane and an inexpensive set of chisels. That doesn’t sound like much, I know, but you’re not looking at too much money for them, either. Coupled with what you already have, you could certainly start making stuff.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4065 days

#2 posted 05-28-2014 06:26 PM

Hand planes.

A band saw is also useful.

I surfaced plenty of wood using planes when I was starting
out. You don’t need machinery to make furniture but
a band saw does make all kinds of rip and curved cuts

Routers are handy of course. You can get a used one cheap
at a pawn shop. 1/4” bits are fine too a lot of the time
for joinery cuts like dados.

Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and do stuff with
hand tools. Electric machines weren’t even available
for non-industrial shops before the 1930s.

You might focus on refinishing if you want to
earn some money. There’s always demand
for it.

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2742 days

#3 posted 05-28-2014 06:29 PM

a set of chisel, a hand plane and a router would be a good start. It all depends on what you are planing to do too.

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 2331 days

#4 posted 05-28-2014 06:31 PM

Thanks guys. For the time being, I was going to make little boxes. Thats where my problem comes in… I don’t need 4/4 wood for a little box and I’m so used to being able to resaw when I need thin pieces and now I can’t. I suppose I sort of could with the table saw but it’d be far from perfect.

View bygrace's profile


198 posts in 2386 days

#5 posted 05-28-2014 06:47 PM

I have a very limited number of tools, but there are two things I have never regretted buying. A nice miter gauge for my table saw. I got the Incra 1000HD. The second is a Dewalt portable planer. Its the smaller, less expensive one at Lowes. I don’t have a bandsaw so I have to resaw with my tablesaw and then use the planer.

-- Andy, Waxahachie, Tx.

View jmartel's profile


8487 posts in 2567 days

#6 posted 05-28-2014 07:03 PM

You can resaw on the tablesaw and then use a hand plane to clean it up. That’s much cheaper than a bandsaw and a planer. That being said, I love my bandsaw and planer. Both get used frequently.

My hand planes are now more for things like surfacing glue-ups and boards wider than 13” that fits through my planer.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


5949 posts in 3230 days

#7 posted 05-28-2014 07:07 PM

A miter saw without question. A miter saw is used with every project. Then add a router. A planer and jointer will come in time. Then think about a band saw.
Let your projects guide your purchases.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2778 days

#8 posted 05-28-2014 07:26 PM

You worked in a cabinet shop and don’t know what tools are needed? YGBSM.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 2331 days

#9 posted 05-28-2014 07:34 PM

Clint, thank you for the overly useful post.

I worked in a cabinet shop with ALL of the tools needed and a ton that weren’t. The reason I ask is because I haven’t the experience in improvising. There was always a right tool for the job with no second thought required. However I cannot afford 5k in tools to mimic what I did in the shop.

For example. I have never used a hand plane aside from the one we had in the shop that was ground to a curve to make ‘hand scraped’ furniture. So actually ‘flattening’ a board is something I do not know how to do and I am not afraid to admit it. I was a cabinetmakers apprentice for a whopping 6 months. Forgive me for not being a Master yet. I suppose I should go hit the books.

Your post was insulting Clint. Your work is beautiful, but attitude is not.

View Texcaster's profile


1286 posts in 2090 days

#10 posted 05-28-2014 07:45 PM

Krenov started out with just a bandsaw and handtools.

In Australia every worker is covered by workmen’s comp.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1298 posts in 2130 days

#11 posted 05-28-2014 07:45 PM

It is easy to get focused on tools in woodworking. If money an scarce, it is perhaps worth considering using the tools you have and invest in some high quality wood and good books on woodworking and design in stead?

Regarding buying tools I find that it has not been written better than in the series of posts by Paul Sellers listed here:

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2372 days

#12 posted 05-28-2014 07:50 PM

Something the other guys haven’t mentioned yet are a couple good vintage hand saws. A rip saw, crosscut and dovetail saw are a great place to start. I’m totally in agreement on the hand planes also. Once you’ve learned how to tune and use a plane there’s no better feeling. I dimension all of my lumber by hand and it’s a very gratifying experience. A #4, 5, 7 (or a six) and a good block is more than enough to flatten and finish plane just about any board or panel and a well tuned block will be very useful also. Then as others have mentioned a decent set of sharp chisels will also be very useful.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View MrStyle's profile


87 posts in 2147 days

#13 posted 05-28-2014 08:02 PM

I have been working this hobby for a couple of years and I used the strategy of buying the “side tools/accessories” prior to getting any stationary tools. So that meant I was generally getting tools that I would use around the house during “home improvement projects” so if I lost interest in woodworking. ( I havent !!) I would still benefit from the purchase.

I absolutely agree with the thought of “let your projects determine your purchase order”... nothing worse then buying a tool since it is a “good deal” and having it sit on the shelf/in the corner until you finish the current project and move onto the next project and actually use it.

I would suggest the following:

Measuring and layout tools
Miter Saw
random orbit sander
Dust collection/shop vac
Pocket Hole Jig of some type
Drill Press or band saw ( depending on what you want to do)

Save your money and get yourself a wad of cash…. and watch craigslist like a hawk.. you will be able to find good deals that will save you at least 20% off retail. and use the 20-25 % off coupon from harbor freight at Home depot if you need to buy new.

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 2331 days

#14 posted 05-28-2014 08:28 PM

I do plan on picking up 100$ or so in clamps from HF. That store sells a lot of crap, but those clamps are worth their weight in gold.

Do you guys have some recommendations on planes? Some of them are damn near as expensive as powered ones!

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2372 days

#15 posted 05-28-2014 08:53 PM

Vintage is definitely the way to go when buying user planes on a budget. There are some great guys on here that regularly have planes they’ve restored for sale. Try MarkE, donw, and Lateralus819, I’ve bought from both Mark and Lat and gotten some great planes. Plenty of others have gotten great planes from Don.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

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