Coren

Setting Up Shop for the First Time

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Hey all, I'm new around here so I hope this is the right place for this.

I'm new to woodworking.  Took some shop classes back in middle or high school, have done a few projects here and there, and I recently build a desk I use everyday and realized that this is something I want to pursue.  All that being said, I need to figure out some tools to start filling a shop with as I've got only the most basic of tool boxes in the house for fixing little things.

I've got a detached garage that I want to, eventually, turn into my shop space.  It's ~25'x30' but it lacks both insulation and power.  As it's now the middle of October, I don't think I'll have enough time to properly run power to the space and get it insulated for the winter, so that leaves me with some limited space I can use in my attached 1  car garage.

What I'm looking for from you fine folks would be suggestions on where to start building my tool collection.  I've got some gift cards I've been stocking up for Home Depot and was thinking of picking the following power tools: 

  • cordless drill driver/impact driver combo set
  • table saw
  • router
  • jig saw
  • compound miter saw
  • random orbit sander

I also know I'm going to need some hand tools, I was thinking :

  • basic chisels
  • hand saw
  • mallet
  • square
  • level
  • planes (although I have no idea what I'm looking for in these).

Any thoughts or advice from you fine folks is greatly appreciated.  I intend to have my first several projects be creating storage space and helping me to organize both the front garage and for building much of what I need when I get to outfitting the detached shop.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Coren

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You have a good list there, although many of us will steer you toward a higher grade of tool than what is typically found at HD. I might suggest adding a band saw and dust collector to the list. Browse around this forum a bit to get some ideas, as there are several shop build / upgrade discussions.

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Agree with Wtnhighlander that HD probably isn't the best place to be looking for many of the tools on your list.  With that said, buy the best you can afford so that you're not buying the same item 3 or 4 times to get what you want / need.

It's been said here many times and it's worth repeating.  You have to be able to mill lumber square before you can work with it.  The big 3 of any woodworking shop (that's going to be a power tool shop) are;

  • Table Saw
  • Jointer
  • Planer

After that, there are 3 that (to me) are absolutely next on the list

  • Band saw
  • Chop saw
  • Dust collection

Some other required tools;

  • Router
  • Sanders

From there, the rest really depends on what you're building and what you need.  Get to know who builds and sells great tools and go that route!  Lie Neilsen or Lee Valley for hand tools for instance and you can't go wrong.

Read previous posts on this site and you'll get lots of insight into what people have and like as well as what they have and don't like.  Might help you to make good decisions and only buy once and cry once.

As for the shop, suggest a separate 100 amp service with 220 and 110 outlets to support your power tool list.  The more insulation you can put in there, the better you'll like it all year round.  I'm not sure where you're located but, you may also want to consider heat and AC so that you can enjoy it all year as well.

 

Good luck and keep us informed about the progress.

Edited by TIODS

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I agree fully with Kev. If it is furniture you plan to build you need to start with square and flat stock. So jointer and planer would be first on the list for me as well. I would not trust premilled lumber from HD or the lumber yard so a jointer and planer are essential. Next on the list would be a tablesaw.

What kind of budget are you working with? If you let us know, we might be able to help guide you toward specific tool brands. If your budget allows, I would avoid home depot tools. Some stuff is ok from there but you are better off looking at other brands for the bigger stationary machines.

Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk

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Thanks for the initial replies.

I was noticing my selection options at HD are.... limited to put it kindly, but I'm leveraging some AmEx point collected from work, so I'm sitting on at least $500 - $750 from there currently.  I was looking last night at some cordless tool kits from Ridgid to get me started .  Beyond that, I have to budget for things and I've got a wedding, honeymoon and then a bigger reception to plan for between now and next May, so I'm unfortunately going to have to go a bit slow on the big tools. 

For reference I'm in south east Michigan, so gets fairly hot in the summer and fairly cold in the winter.  Problem with the space is that, whomever had it built was not forward thinking.  The roof is moderately vented and there's no soffits to speak of, so insulating it is going to be a bear.

I'll get there though, one step at a time.

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Spend the HD credit on electricity, insulation and drywall.  You'll be out of money soon enough. :D

First things first.  No point in buying a bunch of tools if you don't have a shop.

After the shop is ready, do what Kev said.  Don't waste your money on HD tools...you'll either upgrade them later (waste) or quit woodworking because of them (waste).

It's a slow and expensive project building a shop.  Buckle up.  Gonna be a bumpy ride.

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I agree.  Get the space ready.  Figure out a couple projects you want to build, and start with tools that get you there....Acquire tools as your projects/budget allows.  While its nice to have an "instant" shop, it's better to use what you've got.  This is particularly important if your shop space keeps changing...that small saw you bought cause it fit in the 1 car space will not seem like the best purchase once in the the larger space...and the opposite is also true.

Plus not having all the tools upfront  means you come up with more creative solutions to problems, that will accelerate your learning and improve the quality of projects (in my opinion).

 

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Same as others have mentioned; get the shop ready for the tools and use the Home Depot credit on electrical, lighting, insulation and heating/cooling. As far as tools, the big tools such as the table saw, jointer, band saw, etc, you will likely want to get those elsewhere. For a majority of folks, the table saw is the heart of the shop, so that would be the last place I would skimp. Drills and sanders are probably less of an issue. Clamps are an investment in of itself as well.

Looking back now, I wish I took more in setting up shop and organizing before stuffing a garage full of tools haphazardly. Lighting and heating/cooling is also something you will want set up before you have machines and wood taking up space. So now I have the less exciting task of moving everything out of the space to properly setup the space. Lesson learned.

Others may have better suggestions, but some saw horses, a circular saw, a cutting guide jig, a drill and a pocket hole jig will get you started making some shop storage. Look up some YouTube videos for some shop storage and layout ideas. The main problem I had initially was that in order to make storage for tools, I needed the tools to make the storage. Or to make an outfeed table, it really helps to have an outfeed table. There are some Catch 22s!

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>>>Or to make an outfeed table, it really helps to have an outfeed table. There are some Catch 22s!

I remember this well. I used a pallet with a sheet of masonite glued to the top with construction adhesive and legs and stretchers from some scrap 1 by I had laying around. Made for a cheap solution that was thrown in the trash when my outfeed table was done.  

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You all raise some very valid points on things, I appreciate it.

Some specific questions:

  • Electrical for the workshop, working by myself, one tool at a time with the lights on makes 100 amps feel like overkill.  What sort of tools could I be looking at that would require that sort of amperage?  Same with the needing 220, what sort of tools could I be growing into to utilize that sort of juice?  I don't want to have to dig it all up and re-do it later.
  • Any suggestions on brands of good hand power tools (specifically circular saw, jig saw, router, sanders) that I could use to get started with some of the basic shop storage projects etc?

Thanks,

Joe

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100 amps seems like overkill now. I have 60 amps in my shop and I'm usually pushing that to the limits. 30 Amps for the heater, that leaves me to run 1 tool and the dust collector. My dust collector needs to be upgraded to something bigger and more powerful to handle all the tools I have, and so I can duct my collection. I add a bigger DC and I'm popping the breaker, next up would be to run a second 60 amp breaker, 1 for a 3-5HP DC and the heater. Leaving the rest intact. Plan your electricity much greater than you can use at first. 

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You all raise some very valid points on things, I appreciate it.

Some specific questions:

  • Electrical for the workshop, working by myself, one tool at a time with the lights on makes 100 amps feel like overkill.  What sort of tools could I be looking at that would require that sort of amperage?  Same with the needing 220, what sort of tools could I be growing into to utilize that sort of juice?  I don't want to have to dig it all up and re-do it later.
  • Any suggestions on brands of good hand power tools (specifically circular saw, jig saw, router, sanders) that I could use to get started with some of the basic shop storage projects etc?

Thanks,

Joe

I've tripped the breaker running the table saw and shop vac together, and neither of mine are that powerful. I would imagine this problem would be amplified (pun somewhat intended) if I upgraded my dust collection and table saw. 

For example, a modest table saw that was brought up in another post (http://www.grizzly.com/products/10-Hybrid-Table-Saw-with-Riving-Knife-Polar-Bear-Series/G0715P) is pre-wired for 220V. I would imagine some 14" band saws would run off 220V as well.

Circular saw I have a Porter Cable and, well, it is OK. It is a bit heavy, and if I were to choose again, I would want something lighter and more comfortable to use. Biggest upgrade to the saws were nicer blades; I run Freud Diablos in mine, and quite a few folks like the Forrest Woodworker II blades for the TS. Jig saw, I had a crappy single-speed from B&D before I obtained a band saw. That being said, I've heard good things about Bosch - same in regards to Routers. As far as sanders, I have a Ridgid ROS, and I like it quite a bit - dust collection was much better than the Black & Decker that exploded (literally, and there was a recall on it, so thankfully not injured and got my money back).

As for drills/drivers, again personal preference - I know quite a few that like Makita. I personally have the Dewalt 12V Lithium. Lightweight and does the job; looking back, the 20V lithium may have been a better buy. It is a trade off between power to weight/size. The smaller sized drivers are useful for driving pocket screws between shelves where the ye olde 18V was very inconvenient.

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You don't need 100 amps.  I run my whole shop off a 50A sub-panel.  I can run a 3HP tool, 2HP DC, lights, TV or radio, heat or AC all at once, and I've never tripped a breaker.  That said, if I was gonna be wiring a standalone shop from scratch, I might go ahead with 100A because why not.  Wouldn't cost that much more and you know what they say about anything worth doing...

And one little tip...don't try to fool yourself into thinking you can do this thing on the cheap.  Woodworking as a hobby is a BLACK HOLE...all your spare time, money and any other hobby you may have will get sucked into it...gone forever.  If that doesn't sound perfectly acceptable to you...pick a different hobby.  I'm not exaggerating.

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So I'll echo the others in this thread that have said "buy once, cry once" or something to that effect.  I would've saved myself serious money if I had heeded that advice instead of buying a cheaper tool, getting frustrated/outgrowing it, selling it for pennies on the dollar, and buying the tool I should've bought in the first place.  

But in the interest of answering the question you asked:  if I had 500-700 to get started, I would probably buy a track saw, a router, a miter saw, and an edge guide for the router.  You can come in close to 700 with all that.  With the other tools you already have, that will get you started doing a few projects.  You can cut down sheet goods and do rips with the track saw and cut joinery with the router and crosscuts with the miter saw.

kind of a mixed message up there man. If your advocating the buy once, cry once mantra everyone loves so much, (which I personally think  is BS but that's another topic for another day) you can't really say $700 will get you a track saw,  mitre saw, and router.  You could get that in crapsman, not decent quality, much less a "buy once" tool.

Pc mid range router. $250

Makita or dewalt track saw $440

Bosche glide or Dewalt double bevel,  $475.

That's no blade upgrades, track extension,  router bits, nuttin.

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kind of a mixed message up there man. If your advocating the buy once, cry once mantra everyone loves so much, (which I personally think  is BS but that's another topic for another day) you can't really say $700 will get you a track saw,  mitre saw, and router.  You could get that in crapsman, not decent quality, much less a "buy once" tool.

Pc mid range router. $250

Makita or dewalt track saw $440

Bosche glide or Dewalt double bevel,  $475.

That's no blade upgrades, track extension,  router bits, nuttin.

I guess I should clarify.  When I say "buy once cry once" I'm talking about the "big tools."  By that I mean jointer/planer, table saw, bandsaw, planes and chisels.  "Big" here doesn't necessarily mean size, more "fundamental."  Hard to explain - kind of like Potter Stewart said about porn - can't define it but you know it when you see it.  I think a plain old Dewalt miter saw, PC router will be fine.  Double bevel miter saw is totally unnecessary unless you're a trim carpenter.  I have a DB and I've literally never used that capability.  

Not sure where you're getting your prices though.  PC690 with plunge base $180, Dewalt track saw $410, Dewalt single bevel 12" miter saw $250.  Yeah, over $700, but I did say "close."  If $700 is an absolutely strict budget, then yeah I'd probably ditch the miter saw for now and do crosscuts with the track saw.  Or ditch the tracksaw and just make a jig.  

Basically all I was saying is that you can do a lot with a router, miter saw, and track saw (or circular saw with a decent straightedge jig).  It'll get you started and they aren't the "big tools", so I don't feel like you're missing out on much if you don't go absolutely top of the line there.

Point taken on the router bits though - yeah, expensive hobby indeed...

Edited by bgreenb
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Plus not having all the tools upfront  means you come up with more creative solutions to problems, that will accelerate your learning and improve the quality of projects (in my opinion).

Absolutely. And a third point while you are growing your tool collection, it will make it all the more obvious what is important to your style of craftsmanship specifically. At the moment I am working out of about 10 sqft at the foot of my bed, which limits me to hand tools, but it also makes me realize that being able to make consistently perfect square cuts is the biggest thing I am unable to do. Start with the shop, get what you need for that to happen in the quality of tool that you are able to afford, and from there allow your limitations to build that list for you. Also do not underestimate the importance of a solid workbench. I miss that dearly, and although it might seem trivial at the moment, I would invest a fair amount into building one first thing. Might be considered part of the shop itself, but that's my thought.

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Speaking of workbenches, John, have you considered a traditional japanese style bench? Essentially it is just a heavy slab of wood that rests on the floor, and has a planing stop at the end. Of course, that design requires the user to sit on the floor to work, but perhaps you could use one on the bed ( over a large towel or sheet to catch shavings ). Stash it under the bed when not in use.

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Right now he's thinking, do I want a honeymoon or do I want a SawStop! 

And sadly, she probably doesn't know he's on a wood porn site that will affect her future immensely, especially during and after menopause!

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I haven't heard of that before, sounds like it would be perfect though! I'll look into it and see what I can come up with. That solid surface under the work is way more important than I would have thought before working without it :o

Also to not totally hijack the thread...

Consider looking for used tools if you are trying to start on a budget. I see plenty of serviceable tools on craigslist and at garage sales and things for a better price, sometimes things that are nearly brand new. That is how I accumulated most of my hand tools. Met a retired clock maker and he was trying to move to Florida to retire. Long story short I now have a large amount of old (but the good quality old when things were actually made to last a lifetime) saws, planes, chisels, and brace bits. When I set up shop for good, I will be looking for old machines as well as the new, but that's just me

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Thanks for the input all.

As much as I'd *really* like to get started and hit the ground running, there is wisdom in the "buy once, cry once" idea.  (I've not heard it phrased that way before, I'm going to have to save that for later).

I'm going to start off with getting a set of some basic hand power tools that will let me build some shop furniture and perfect some basic skills.... and maybe find some creative solutions to problems as they come up.

Any suggestions on good books to help me get started with techniques as I think the shop should also have a small library. 

Thanks again to everyone who's tossed out suggestions.

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there is wisdom in the "buy once, cry once" idea.  (I've not heard it phrased that way before, I'm going to have to save that for later).

Here's a more refined way of saying it:

9fc618da6f67d3cc54fd57f62bdbd6cc.jpg

But as Brendon noted above - there are limits to this approach (actually I believe he called it "BS" :))  Don't feel like because you can't afford the best tool out there that you should buy nothing.  There are always compromises to be made.  

Any suggestions on good books to help me get started with techniques as I think the shop should also have a small library. 

Marc's Hybrid Woodworking book is a very good book that's well written and laid out for a beginner/intermediate woodworker.  I still refer to it sometimes.  Lots of big high res color photos.

I also highly recommend the Guild, but even if you're not ready to shell out for the full package, the Bookcase build might be a good one for you to start with, as it's a "limited tools" build - Marc showed how to build a pretty nice looking bookcase with a limited tool set (circular saw, router, drill, etc.)  That would be a good one to watch and learn how to make a limited tool set work for you.

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I have a few HD tools that I think work really well.  The Ridgid R4512 tablesaw, the R4331 planer and the EB4424 and ZRR2601 sanders. I would think a jointer or bandsaw would be a better purchase than a miter saw.

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