How would you advise a beginner to spend his next $1000?

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Forum topic by mcg1990 posted 12-26-2014 11:11 AM 2378 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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159 posts in 2097 days

12-26-2014 11:11 AM

I’ve just finished building my shop – it’s 22’ x 13’ (~280sq ft), not yet insulated/heated, and I have a mitre saw along with a few basic power tools/hand tools. I’ve been given some money to help me get set up, so I’m looking for advice before I spend the money, so I can be wise with it and a) start myself off as best as I can, and b) show the most respect for the money I’ve been given.

I mostly get orders for tables right now, and do the odd bed/kitchen island/repainting job. These are mostly of the ‘rustic’ variety, which is popular in my area and has a low entry requirement in terms of skill. Also, I’ve been given access to a giant old animal barn and can disassemble it at my leisure. Most of the boards are oak, from 1 1/2” to 3 1/2” x 8” to 12”. Incredible stuff, with huge 6”sq posts as well. I hope to use this to make many tables and beds, with some of it quite raw in style and others somewhat modern after having heavily planed the boards.

So – I think I need, in this order, a table saw, planer, jointer. Band saw can wait, compressor can wait, dust collection can wait. They have to, really.

How would you best spend $1000 if you were in my position? I’m looking on Craigslist (around Memphis/Jackson TN) and mostly see Craftsman 10” ‘contractor’ table saws, the old delta/ridgid. Should I keep looking for a cabinet saw, or settle for a contractor style base and save money in the short run? Similarly the planer, I think I’ll be happy enough with a portable 12” thickness planer for now, and a small 6” jointer, but what should I be looking out for? My shop has both 120v and 240v, so there are no concerns there.

Thanks all for your help.

35 replies so far

View ButchCassidy's profile


26 posts in 2063 days

#1 posted 12-26-2014 11:24 AM

First think about what tools that will best benefit, you. Then buy the best tool that you can afford in the order of your need. Why spend money on something cheap and say I will upgrade it later. Start with quality and you will not be disappointed later.

-- " If you want your PRAYERS to be answered" get off your knees and go to work

View PhillipRCW's profile


517 posts in 2069 days

#2 posted 12-26-2014 11:50 AM

I’m kind of in the same shoes. I have money to start the business, but wanted to get enough tools to do everything right with it. I bought a new delta saw from Lowe’s. Looking for a joiner on Craigslist. To get by you cold use a hand planer. And maybe get a router or a Dado set. Something to help do breadboard ends correctly if you’re doing them.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4180 days

#3 posted 12-26-2014 12:37 PM

Everyone is different, but in most shops (mine included), a good table saw is the center of the shop…it’d also be conducive to your build list. That’s where I’d focus my budget and research. Since you have 220v, I’d definitely see if you could score a good 3hp cabinet saw….it’s not an essential to do good work, but the step in that direction is significant and I can’t imagine you’ll ever regret having the extra mass, power, and user friendliness that an industrial cabinet saw offers. $1000 doesn’t quite land a new cabinet saw, but it gets you within reach. It should cover a nice used one if the right deal comes along.

Now that my heart has spoken, getting by with a decent hybrid or full size contractor saw could mean that you can have the planer or jointer AND a table saw now. Ultimately, you’ll need to choose which direction to head.

Either way, get the saw setup well and fit it with a good blade or three.

The ABCs of Table Saws

Tips for Picking Saw Blades

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

View joey502's profile


558 posts in 2322 days

#4 posted 12-26-2014 01:46 PM

The table saw is, in my opinion, the first thing to buy. A nice cabinet or hybrid saw will excel at so many things other than ripping. After the table saw I would look at planer, band saw and then a jointer. The rustic furniture you are building does not require boards to be as flat as some other styles. I think the band saw would benefit you more now than the jointer would.

Just my opinion and this can surely wait but, I would look into spending some of the money on insulation for the shop. I know a lot of cold climate guys on this site tough out the cold but I can’t do it. My shop is much more enjoyable to work in when the temp is about 65F.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3101 days

#5 posted 12-26-2014 01:52 PM

“not yet insulated/heated” – do you need that in Memphis? If you plan on doing finishing out there in the winter and it gets cold enough, I’d insulate before you fill the place up or start putting up shelves and cabinets. A lot harder to do after and you’ll kick yourself.

View johnstoneb's profile


3146 posts in 2977 days

#6 posted 12-26-2014 02:06 PM

If you are really serious about a business you need to get that shop heated and insulated. You can’t be stopping work because it is too cold to glue or finish and the Memphis area get that way at times.

You need to get a business plan together to see if it is really feasible to make money doing what you want.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View laketrout36's profile


201 posts in 2831 days

#7 posted 12-26-2014 02:28 PM

Another question for you; Is furniture building going to be your full time business right now or a way to initially generate additional money?

View shawnn's profile


152 posts in 2169 days

#8 posted 12-26-2014 03:00 PM

In hindsight on my own recent experiences, I would get a drum sander (something to sand panels & boards flat) and a good router table, and go inexpensive on table saw, jointer & planer for now – I spend more time sanding than anything else so automating the sanding would save much more time than you’ll save with higher end versions of those other tools. Plus those other tools are so much more commonly available used it’s always easy to find upgrades down the road. With regard to router tables, I spend nearly as much time routing as I do sanding. I do all my joinery on it rather than on the saw so I find that accuracy, repeatability and speed of setup is a huge benefit.

View a1Jim's profile


118090 posts in 4381 days

#9 posted 12-26-2014 03:36 PM

A table saw is the heart of a woodshop,start there. Buy the best table saw you can afford,so many folks buy a cheap $100 used Craftsman and end up having to replace it in short order. If you can stretch your budget a bit look at a Grizzly Hybrid or if you have 220in your shop see if you can find and older Powermatic cabinet saw that will give you good service for years to come.


View bigblockyeti's profile (online now)


6638 posts in 2525 days

#10 posted 12-26-2014 03:50 PM

A table saw is the corner stone of any shop, you should be able to get a Unisaw or PM66 in excellent condition used within your budget. Patience is your friend when looking for a good deal and be ready to act and quickly with cash when excellent examples show up. If you have the chance, put your hands on a few and see what feature and fence you like, that will help ensure you’ll be able to use whatever you buy for the rest of your life without regret.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View a1Jim's profile


118090 posts in 4381 days

#11 posted 12-26-2014 03:51 PM

View GT350's profile


379 posts in 2786 days

#12 posted 12-26-2014 04:14 PM

If I were you with the $1000,00 I would buy the Craftsman saw, the 6” jointer and the 12” planer, with this setup you can dimension all your lumber. The band saw would be nice to be able to resaw some of those big timbers. Later on, like years down the road if you need a Tablesaw with more power or accuracy etc. you can upgrade then and not be out a lot of money. Just make sure if you get the Craftsman it is the one with the motor out the back.

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3480 days

#13 posted 12-26-2014 07:19 PM

You will be amazed at all the things you can do with a good table saw. Go for the best you can afford. Either of those that Jim mentioned will do the job. Do you have room for those? That is the only concern. You can shorten those fence rails if you need to.

View dozer57's profile


92 posts in 2304 days

#14 posted 12-26-2014 08:02 PM

Table saw even if it cost you the hole grand!!
Then a planer or air compressor
plung router
Imo this what I would do, as these are my most use tools in my shop
Don’t forget to get yourself some good lighting to work by.
Look around and you should be able to find it all for a grand or a bit more, cl or auctions
Good luck

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4566 days

#15 posted 12-26-2014 08:09 PM

Heating and insulation would be at the top of my list. Insulation is inexpensive. In only 280 sq. ft. you could probably heat with a small electric heater. Avoid non vented gas heaters, they add a lot of rust promoting moisture to the space.

Here in Gainesville I work in 194 sq. ft. I have a small workbench with shoulder and tail vices and bench dogs. It is my gluing, clamping, and assembly “tool”. It’s my “third hand” helper. Every project spends time on this bench. It is indispensable. A good bench would be next on my list.

You’ll have only 80 sq. ft. more than I have. Frankly, as wonderful as it may be, a cabinet saw is not in my picture. It would occupy/dominate the central work space and be a 500 lb. obstacle much of the time. You are going to need smaller and portable tools that can sit in “their place”, out of the way, when not being used.

Some type of dust collection is important, especially if you get a small planer, which can overwhelm you with dust and chips, I even like a ceiling mounted air cleaner. If you are going to paint and varnish in this space you need clean air.

I’m using hand tools much more than I used to. This includes chisels, dovetail and tenon saws, and hand planes. Look for good used tools that you can re-furm and sharpen yourself.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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