The Journey #3: Finding a Solution

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Blog entry by wmgworks posted 11-20-2015 09:02 PM 932 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Every Cut A Lesson Part 3 of The Journey series Part 4: Post Christmas (Un)Wrap Up »

One of the strengths and weaknesses of an analytical brain is the need to research. I research EVERYTHING. I want to know the pros and cons of every option so I can weigh every possible solution. It’s a blessing because it helps me learn new technology and solutions to business needs at work. My job is often to find the best solution to a given scenario. So I read and try things out. A LOT.

The downside of this is sometimes I decide on a course of action and chose to wait for certain things to come into play before taking action. Let me give you some examples. a lot of the times one can over analyze a situation and deem that a solution won’t work because x,y and z are not true.

Part of being analytical is being a planner. I love to write out a plan. It helps me tremendously by keeping me on track and not veering off on crazy tangents like I tend to do. So, when I first got bit by the bug, I immediately started researching what beginners need to start a woodshop. Tools, workbench design, shop layout, all of that. I needed a plan. I knew I would work in phases. Start of with some basic stuff and add to it over time. But there were some things I felt I needed from the beginning.

I need a table saw. I have been researching table saws. A LOT. I have been watching lots of videos on crafting items and learning what they need in a table saw to do what they do. I’ve made a list of things I want in a table saw so I know what to look for. I’m also perfectly happy with lower end brands like Ryobi. I know things like Jet and Grizzly are better. But I don’t have that kind of money. Even a $300 saw from DeWalt is way too expensive for me right now. I’m looking to stay around $150. So I troll Craigslist, eBay, ads, forums, etc looking for that diamond in the rough. I see some saws that are OK, for less than $100. But I don’t want to sink $100 into a saw I’m going to outgrow in a year or two. I’d rather get what I want. So I wait. I want to make sure I “Do it right” and not regret my purchase soon after I make it.

In the meantime I have NO tablesaw.

Building a table saw out of a circular saw was something that had crossed my mind. I was given a circular saw already. I watched Mattias Wandel’s build on Youtube and thought it was fantastic. But, then my analytical brain kicked in, and I figured there had to be some big cons to doing it this way. So I posed the question here in the LJ forums to ask the advice of everyone else. After reading what everyone had to say, I decided to wait it out and try to find a good table saw.

Then I stumbled on Izzy Swan's 50 Dollar Woodshop Channel. The goal of this channel is to make people take what they have around them and put it to work. He starts out with $50 worth of tools and the rule is he has to make something and sell it to make money to upgrade the shop. After picking up some stuff from yard sales and having some “broken” stuff given to him, he gets started. And what is the first thing he does? Make a table saw. He found some materials at an office remodel dumpster, replaced the chord on a circ saw someone gave him, built a table, attached the circ saw underneath and viola! Table saw. He goes on to make a miter gauge, cross cut sled and fence out of other scraps. He then builds a nice looking table out of pallet wood and some other things and sells it on Craigslist for about $100. Let the upgrading begin!

Suddenly, my eyes were opened. The realization that I came to was I had everything I needed to at least get started. I have a circ saw. I have some wood from a dresser and bookshelf I disassembled. Is a home made table saw how I want to work for the next 5 years? No. Is it ideal? No. Will it be as good as maybe even a craftsman 113 series? Probably not. But I could live with some of the shortcomings for now. Especially since I had to sink NO money into this one. I had everything I needed.

I kicked myself because I wasn’t thinking creatively enough. I was getting too caught up in waiting to be able to Do It Right and missing out on the opportunity to Get It Done. In a way, I was accepting an excuse that I couldn’t do some of the things I wanted to do because i didn’t have this one tool.

During my workbench and shop layout research (and from quite a few people here) I see people working out of a closet, or a store room, or at a kitchen table and I think “wow, those guys are awesome! Look at their dedication to the craft”. They have accepted no limitations. They have creatively solved their problems. I have been blessed with 1/2 of a 2 car garage to work in. It could be worse. I need to stop thinking “oh I can’t do that yet because I don’t have the workbench or the tools or whatever”. JUST DO IT! Change it later.

The internet is a great resource. Lumberjocks is an amazing community that I have already learned so much from in my short time here. And when I asked the question “Can a circ saw be turned into an equivalent low to mid range table saw” the answer was mostly no. I still agree with that. I still agree with everyone’s advice. But I still have no table saw.

I plan to change that this weekend I hope.

Watching Izzy’s videos reminded me that I was forgetting a lesson I always try to teach my kids. Do not accept the limitations of a situation. I am always telling them to find a way to solve their problem and not make an excuse why you couldn’t succeed. Find a way to get it done. If you’re not doing well in a class, and there kids who are, find out what they are doing different. If you want something, save the money and go buy it. Find a way to succeed and not make excuses for failure. I was not finding a way to succeed. I was waiting for the right things to happen when a solution was right in front of me. It’s not The Solution I want, but it’s a solution.

A note about hand tools. I have some hand tools. They will get used too. And I know sometimes hand tools can be a cheaper and safer and more satifying approach to the craft. I will get hand tools. I will buy planes. I will be come addicted. But, planes require sharpening and tweaking. Which requires me to buy things to sharpen and tweak them with. Which I don’t have yet. I will. But not yet.

Later, I will invest in a good table saw. Probably soon. But, for now, I can get it done with what I have.

-- Butchering wood since 2015

2 comments so far

View Reaperwoodworks's profile


94 posts in 2089 days

#1 posted 12-29-2015 01:15 AM

Great attitude. If I may suggest, that circular saw you have is mightier than you think. Check out Jay Bates YouTube channel (if you haven’t already), he makes some guides for your saw to utilize and get nice cuts with. Cheap and easy to build. I have a table saw, and it is handy, I won’t lie, but, these will help you greatly as you get started. Here is the link to his video on this particular subject: Click me

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View wmgworks's profile


196 posts in 2139 days

#2 posted 12-29-2015 04:14 PM

Great attitude. If I may suggest, that circular saw you have is mightier than you think. Check out Jay Bates YouTube channel (if you haven t already), he makes some guides for your saw to utilize and get nice cuts with. Cheap and easy to build. I have a table saw, and it is handy, I won t lie, but, these will help you greatly as you get started. Here is the link to his video on this particular subject: Click me

- Reaperwoodworks

Oh I’ve watched almost every video Jay ever put out so I’ve seen the rip and crosscut fences he built for sure. As a beginner I found Jay’s earlier videos in his 3 bedroom apartment shop very inspiring. When I watch a lot of channels like The Wood Whisperer and the guy pulls out a $500 stationary sander that only has one purpose I almost immediately stop watching (unless it’s a really interesting build). Seeing Jay turn a crappy tv stand into a router table really hit me. Also Izzy Swan if you’ve ever seen him.

Interestingly enough, this home made table saw is going to work for me for a while for another reason – I don’t have room to put a table saw right now. Even a job site saw. So this (once I have it done) will fold up nicely into a corner until I have a bit more room to breathe.

Thanks again for your comment.

-- Butchering wood since 2015

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