Home made tools


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Good morning all.

 

I am new to the serious aspect of wood working.  I have put furniture together, made temporary plywood walls, and put up shelves but nothing made completely by hand.  Since I am not home to be able to actually work on anything, I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos and reading everything I can find.  I have noticed all the great advice on this page and thought I would throw a question out there for the more experienced.  In a group of these videos, they show how to make your own major tools.  They used a regular circular saw with a Formica counter top and created his own saw table, which he claims cuts just as good as any $400-$500 saw table.  Another tools I saw were a band saw, two different types of lathes, a router table, a jointer (made from an old planer), and even one called a pantorouter (I had never even heard of this one before).

 

I know everyone here advices to keep a sharp eye out for the decent used tools to start, but I was wondering if it was necessary.  If by following the building designs of these DIY homemade tools, couldn't you just as easily learn the finer points of woodworking while simultaneously practicing and getting the tools you will need in the future?  If the tools are made by me, I would know how they operate better and the knowledge that I could fix them if need be.  As a beginner and not looking into this as a full time profession and more along the lines of around the house to start with, wouldn't this be a good way to start?  Would tools like this get the job done just as well as the store bought tools?  Or is the quality and precision in the work that important to skip the homemade tools?

 

Thanks for any input.

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Well, free advice is usually worth what you pay for it so

 

The guy building his own tools (sounds like Mattias Wandel) has some experience with working with those kinds of tools already.  It may be a bit ambitious to start out by trying to build your own table saw, jointer, or band saw.  There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a hurry with those kinds of tools.  If the tool is not lined up right, or something is loose, you are courting an injury in the very least.  Getting the blade, fence and mitre slot, etc. all within acceptable ranges can be trying on a store bought saw, never mind something that is home made.  Most of these tools involve rather large and sharp metal teeth moving at a high speed, and unless you understand how they work and maybe have a bit of fabrication experience I, personally, would not go that route.  Leave that until you have a few miles under your belt.  Body parts are difficult to replace.

 

Just my 2 cents

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Run away, run away!  You'll spend just as much money or more trying to "Make" your heavy duty woodworking tools.  The things Mattias does are projects for the well seasoned woodworker. Heck, I've been at it 10+years and I'd NEVER try to do this.   I can't even get a hand plane right. ;)

Save your money, scour Craiglist and Ebay, and buy some decent stuff.  You'd be amazed what patience (and a willingness to travel a bit) will find you.

 

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I seriously doubt most of those home made tools come out costing much less than a decent used machine would. For example you can get used 14" bandsaws on craigslist pretty much any time for a couple hundred bucks. No way you could get all the materials, wheels, bearings, and a decent motor (plus other stuff I'm not thinking of) for much less than that. Not to mention all the time you'd spend building it instead of just building the projects you want to build. Now, if that's what you want to build then go for it. But if you want to build furniture then just build furniture. You can build nice stuff with very limited tools and slowly save up for the bigger machines while watching for good deals.

 

About the only major tool I'd say makes sense to build is a router table. There are plenty of good designs online and in the major woodworking magazines.

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once again cost over benefit, there are some tools that make sense, like stated a router table, or even some jigs, also like mention the cost of making something may come in context to the price of a new better made tool, Mind there are some great ideas, in fact I was even thinking of making a re-saw band saw, like the one I saw on you tube, but after dong a cost of materials and my time I found it cheaper to just buy a bigger brand name band saw that will spin a re-saw blade, tools have become affordable even the entry level ones,  Like many of us the idea of having a full blown shop is appealing, find your real need and go from there, also shop pawn shops, and other used sources, good luck,

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One of the biggest problems with a lot of the home made tools I have seen is the extreme difficulty of setting up cuts. Many of them you can setup simply for one cut and then leave it there. But lets say you had some wood 1" thick you wanted to cut on your table saw. This is a matter of seconds to setup on a regular store bought saw. But if you try to do it on a home made saw where its not already setup you might need to loosen screws, move tops around, resquare a home made fence, etc etc. Then you need to cut a piece of wood 1.5 inches thick and few inches wider. Now you need to do it all again. Then you realize, you need to cut some more wood at the original size, now you have to put it all back again... and it has to be exact because this is very much a hobby where a millimeter can make a big difference.

Bottom line is that while its possible to make a home made tool these are more curiosities in the hobby then practical machines.

Then there is the issue of calibration. Like I said a millimeter can make a big difference. If your homemade tool relies on say wood as a construction material, and the wood you use expands, contracts, or warps with the changing seasons in any place that needs to remain dead flat.. well  now all your cuts are off. And you might not even know it till you go to put things together and nothing quite fits right.

And then there is issue of safety. Some tools really do need a motor that is attached by very strong bolts to a metal frame so that if something terrible happens (say someone knocks it over while in use, or something heavy falls into the belt and gets torqued around rapidly) your homemade tool does not literally kill or maim you or someone else. Obviously not all homemade tools would be in this category, but some I have seen frankly give me the heebie-jeebies with what-ifs.

So as others have said, just buy used or new tools. You will be much happier in both the short and long run.

That said, as someone who is constantly thinking first second and last about cost as a barrier of entry into this hobby my strong advice is not to buy a whole shop. But just the barest minimum of tools needed to get started. What is your first project? What tools do you need to complete it? Can you do it with less? Would powered hand tools work as well as the floor tools? Do you need a bandsaw, or would a jig saw be just as good? Do you need a table saw right away, or would a circular saw with a straight edge do for now? Etc etc.

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Yeah, I gotta agree with the guys.  It would be a hobby in and of itself.  If that's what interests you, by all means, do it.  But if you wanna build furniture and tinker with the other small projects that the average hobbyist works on, don't bother.  It takes long enough setting up shop with brand new tools.  As soon as you dive into making furniture, all these romantic ideas about building your own tools would just seem like a total PITA and waste of precious shop time.

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As someone who, in desperation, has actually used a circular saw bolted under a sheet of plywood as a tablesaw, let me say with certainty that it is NOT a safe, reliable, or cheap way to make furniture. It CAN work, but making straight and square cuts is extremely difficult and time consuming. It is NOT safe. Call it what it is, a jig for the circular saw. As for Matthias' bandsaw, I'm sure it works well, and several other Youtube woodworkers have built from his plans. I would only do so if there was some special feature I needed, that was not available commercially. Like the others have stated, building tools is its own hobby, don't waste the effort if furniture is your goal.

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Make jigs, make auxiliary fences and stuff, but not the tools. An upside down circular saw in a table can be fairly dangerous, especially if you're new to building stuff. Stick to tried and true tools. Matthias has an engineering background, and proper tools to build them. Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is in order to make your own power tools, you have to have power tools. Kinda like when I built Norm's super router table. One of the needed tools was a router table. :blink:

Same for a bandsaw.  It is really handy to have a bandsaw to use in building one.  It isn't impossible to do it without, but it is certainly a lot harder.

As far as whether to do it or not...  I agree that it is probably a bad idea to do it to save money.  On the other hand if you are really good at that kind of stuff and want to do it for the sake of doing it then why not.  After all, we justify making furniture, knickknacks, musical instruments, and what not and most of us couldn't justify the costs other than because we derive enjoyment from the process.  So I don't think it is unreasonable to do it for the same reasons we do woodworking at all.

I have a brother who is at the moment building a bandsaw and I am pretty sure it will turn out fine given his progress so far and the fact that he is very resourceful, mechanically inclined, and experienced in related areas.  I have my doubts that he will save any money, but fully expect that he will wind up with a working bandsaw and will derive a lot of enjoyment from the process.

I built a thickness sander and it actually worked and was useful.  It wasn't good enough that I didn't replace it with a real thickness sander though.  I didn't spend much since I had almost everything I needed laying around and if nothing else it worked well enough that I was able to decide that a thickness sander was going to save me enough hand work to be well worthwhile.

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If you watch online videos from Mathias Wendel and Izzy Swan, you'll see they make almost all their tools. But I've never ever seen quality or even nice furniture made with those machines.... It appears that the GIGO rule (garbage in garbage out) applies to woodworking too LOL.

Having said that, I personally made some tools for myself, like a disk sander and lots of jigs, but none of the important ones.

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Thanks for the input.  The wife always says I try to bite off more than I can chew most times.

Huh! Heard that before. LOL 

If you have the mind set to try then try at least once. If you're like me you need to be proven wrong just to be able to let it go. Be safe! Be smart! Have fun!

Make sure you show pics of your Frankenstein.

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