so many choices, as a beginner what to buy so you don't waste money


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My new house is nearing completion in a couple of months I and I'll finally get to build my woodshop.  I'm starting to research my main power tool purchases.    As I read the reviews, the feedback on this forum, and watch shows on YouTube there are just so many choices.   One thing that is clear I don't want to buy tools that I'll regret immediately or outgrow in a few years.    Right now my interests are cabinetry and furniture. The only real good quality fixed base tool I own now is a nice Rigid 6" jointer.  

My basement is big, 9ft ceilings and about 2500 sqtf.  I've put aside about the space a little larger than a 3 car garage for the woodshop.  I can do 120 or 240 v power.   

I just don't know what to buy anymore.   If you had a budget of $6000 for power tools what would you get starting out?    Jet, Laguna, Steel City, Rikon... just so many good tools.  

The big dollar item I'm sure on is a SawStop.   

Thanks for the advice.

Dave. 

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I see the must haves as a jointer, planer, table saw, bandsaw, dust collector. A miter saw is nice but not a must have. I would suggest a jig saw for breaking down rough stock. With a 6k budget, and

I have a Sawstop and love it, but I wouldn't buy it as a first saw.  The Sawstop is my 4th table saw, and I don't regret any of them. Saw #1: Got it for free from someone cleaning out their garag

That is not exactly what I said. I know that Festool is not only for sheet goods and believe me I did use them on a number of projects and took advantage of different setups using QWAS dogs and removi

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I see the must haves as a jointer, planer, table saw, bandsaw, dust collector. A miter saw is nice but not a must have. I would suggest a jig saw for breaking down rough stock.

With a 6k budget, and a sawstop chewing up half of it, you're gonna have to think about what you want. Check Craigslist if used tools are an OK thing for you. If not I'd suggest a DeWalt 735 planer, and a Laguna 14-12 bandsaw. That should leave you with enough for a decent dust collector and some misc things.

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1 hour ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

With a 6k budget, and a sawstop chewing up half of it, you're gonna have to think about what you want. Check Craigslist if used tools are an OK thing for you. If not I'd suggest a DeWalt 735 planer, and a Laguna 14-12 bandsaw. That should leave you with enough for a decent dust collector and some misc things.

For your stated budget, I agree with Tom.  That's what I have.  I also have the Ridged jointer.  Ik sould mention that I have only 120V circuits in m y shop.  With 220v then more options (more power) are availalbe to you but the price will be considerably higher.  With a space that large you may want to consider a 220v Dust collector since 1 3/4, 120v units are somewhat limited.

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I pretty much agree with Tom on his list of must haves. I have the delta table saw from Lowes, and I love it. It has good reviews. I have the Dewalt 735 planer, it is a monster. I have to ad that I bought the planer used. I saved about $300. Don't rule out used equipment. The more you save the more toys you can buy. Plus with what left you can build up a little inventory. I almost forgot I have a delta miter saw. Yes, you can do without it but it is a time saver. Besides you have the room for it. Good luck. Post some pics when ur set up.

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To answer your question, yet not answer your question at all, I'll say to buy what you need as you need it. 

$6,000 sounds like a big budget until you realize a sawstop and a PM planer will wipe it out. 

You'll need to be able to mill lumber so jointer, planer, and tablesaw are high on the list.  

With cabinets as a focus, next would be a good 3hp router in a router table. 

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Since your shop is in the basement of your home, I would consider dust collection a top priority. Expect to spend a sizeable portion of your budget there, right up front. With a poweful blower and a good cyclone, your shop should stay pretty clean. Especially if you can exhaust the fine outside, rather than recirculating through a filter.

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You have the advantage of doing what most of us wait too long to take care of.  For your first purchase start thinking about dust collection! 

While keeping that in mind, as you said, there are so many things, so many ways to go.  Since you already have a jointer I will not expect you to be a Neander-galoot and spurn all power tools so 240vlot service will come into play.  I can almost say without fear of argument that if you put in twice the power service you will ever need you will not outgrow it for at least a year ;-)

Now the question is, are you tablesaw-centric or bandsaw-centric?  That is; do you see yourself in a shop without a tablesaw?  Many folks do this; I do not.

If you will have a tablesaw as your anchor-tool, I would get one you will not outgrow.  With proper tuning and blade selection a sub-3HP machine can serve you well.  A nice 3HP cabinet saw can run you $1500 to $3000 depending on what is important to you.

I guess the best way to try to help is to state the minimum things off the top of my head that make woodworking a pleasure for me:

  • Dust collector (and how to get bulk spoil out of the shop)
  • Good lighting
  • Bandsaw
  • Jointer
  • Planer
  • Tablesaw
  • Router table
  • Handheld router combo kit
  • Drill press
  • Small block plane and a No 5.
  • A few bench chisels
  • Rasps, scrapers and other shaping tools.
  • A round urethane mallet

And it just keeps going from there.  Much like buying a set of 100 router bits, buying a bevy of tools before you know what you will do and more importantly . . . how you will do it . . . can leave you with a lot of tools gathering dust and taking up space.  Get what you "need" as you need it and you will make better choices.

Another thing to consider while drooling over your clean slate is shop organization:

  • Wall fixture system (I love my cleat wall)
  • Lumber storage (horizontal, vertical and how much?)
  • Sheetgood storage (horizontal, vertical and how much?)
  • Off cut and scrap storage

You are at the beginning of a wonderful journey.  I'm jealous.  Lots of good info on the forums.  Have fun!

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13 hours ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

I see the must haves as a jointer, planer, table saw, bandsaw, dust collector.

And a good router table with a lift.

Otherwise I agree with Tom's list and his comment about the SawStop.  I think it's foolish for a new woodworker on a budget to blow that kind of money on a SawStop unless you're just certain that you're so clumsy and absentminded that you just know you're gonna cut your fingers off...in which case I'd probably just recommend a whole other hobby, for real.

That's not to say a SawStop isn't a great tool and that the safety feature doesn't have value - it is and it does - but the SawStop in my opinion is an upgrade tool, not something you blow half your (already small) budget on when you're just getting started.  It's something you buy ten years into the hobby after your shop is fully outfitted.  Unless you're a millionaire, then do what you want.  Clearly you're not.

Just keep in mind...6k is a fairly small budget.  This is a stupid expensive hobby, and unless you're into the craigslist scene and you like messing with used tools, 6k will be gone in the blink of an eye unless you're buying DIY-quality tools.  And you said you didn't wanna grow out of the stuff, so you'll wanna avoid DIY-quality tools.

You already have the jointer...so you have 6k to spend on five tools.  I agree with Tom about the 735 and the 1412.  That leaves you more than 4k for a table saw, router table, and dust collector.  Since you're in a basement, I'd seriously consider getting a real dust collector, which means a 5hp.  That'll cost ya something like 1500 plus duct if you go with a Clearvue.  For the table saw I'd consider Grizzly, for the router table - you can cobble that together from a million different places.

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Gee-dub brings up some very good points!  Although my "list" would be slightly different than his, his reasoning is sound.

Too many kit out a shop and forget about things like insulation, lighting, and organization.  Then, they can only work in their shops when the sun is out for about 4 months a year and can't find the tools they need to do the job.

Your TS choice is a good one but, as pointed out earlier, that is going to chew up a big chunk of your budget.

You have the jointer so, the planer would be next on my list.  Being able to mill lumber square is step one.

From there, I'd be looking at the band saw..  The Laguna mentioned above or the Grizzly G0555 are both good saws.

From there, I'd be assessing the shop itself and some of the "little things" that tend to get over looked.  Cordless drills, sanders/paper, router, etc..  Then see where your budget is at, what your work flow looks like, and move forward.

Router table, miter saw, drill press, all still on the list..

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I'll add another voice of support to the DW735, you have the space to go bigger but planers get expensive fast. I also have a laguna band saw and think that the 14-12 would be a good saw for you. In the future when you have more to spend you can get a bigger saw for resawing and ripping and use the 14" for curve work.

I agree dust collection is very important. I also agree that a miter saw isn't very important. I bought a miter saw when i started out and now i really want to sell it to try and free up shop space.

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Don't forget things like bandsaw and rotary saw blades. It can be surprising how that stuff adds up if you get anything like a decent variety. Other misc items can add a bit too. Good sandpaper is a must, for example, and you'll need several grits. I couldn't live without my floor model belt sander and those belts add up over time.  My point is, think about ALL of the small stuff. The total impact it can have on your budget is not necessarily small.

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Buying good tools once is a smart plan, but doesn't work for everyone. If you can buy something that will work for you a decade or more right up front and won't blow the budget, that's the smartest plan. The 735's only real limitation is width, and can be upgraded later with a helical head. That's a super smart buy, particularly if you can get a CPO deal. Also look for a deal around Black Friday on it, I was able to get mine (the 735x version with tables and extra blades) for just over $400. As long as your Ridgid does the job, no need to do anything there. As for other power tools, there's Craigslist obviously. The amount of used tools available could also give you a good idea of the market when it is time to sell as well. The Sawstop could last you twenty years, but it is a sizable portion of the budget to go in up front. Very good saws brand new on the market for as little as $500. No shame in using for a few years and then upgrading to what you really want. If you are working with sheet goods primarily for awhile, a track saw system might be a consideration. Even when you get a table saw you'd still use it.

I don't know if you have another budget for hand tools, but if you don't, set aside a few hundred to get at least one or two good planes and a few chisels.

You can choose big box store stuff to save money if you pick the right spots. You don't need a $200 cordless drill, a $50 will work fine. Put that savings toward your dust collection and air filtration.

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I'll probably catch hell, I know @Eric. wont like this post that's for sure haha.  But since you're on a budget and want to get everything, why not..... drum roll......  Grizzly?  Def not top of the line, but when you're on a budget...  I have their table saw, planer, jointer, and lathe, haven't had any major problems and the one small problem I had was fixed quickly.  Added what you need just to see how much it'd be just for poops and giggles.  

grizzly.jpg

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I'm going to jump on the "maybe wait on the SawStop" bandwagon. I'm saving up for mine right now, and the safety feature is killer (pun intended), but $3k+Shipping+Tax is really going to limit your budget. I'd say consider one of the Delta or Ridgid (r4512) hybrid saws that are the usual starter recommendations. They will serve you well for a few years, and hold their value well enough that you can recoup some expense on Craigslist. There aren't a ton of things you can do on the 3HP you can't do on a 1.5HP, unless you're working with a lot of tropical hardwoods.

My big recommendation is splurge on lighting, with dust collection a close second. I've got a 190sqft garage shop, and I put in:

  • 3x traditional sockets(100Weq LED, 1600 Lumens each)
  • 3x dual-bulb 4ft Shop Lights (LED, 3700 Lumens each)
  • 5x Task lights (articulated desk lamps, 100Weq LED, 1600 lumens)

Now multiply that by 13 (to hit 2500sqft) and you can see the lighting can rack up quick. You probably won't be spreading out over the whole basement to start, but think about it. You want the space to be bright enough for your work, and you also want it to feel good to be down there. This can be an issue with basement shops especially that don't get a lot of natural light.

The DC really comes down to; buy the biggest one you can fit, and your lungs will thank you for it. Due to space issues I built a custom cyclone system based around a harbor freight DC core, but I'll be upgrading the blower as more funds become available. It can be cheaper to get a big motor with a cheap filter, and vent outside, just make sure your basement is sealed away from the furnace or gas water heater if you have one.

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I have a Sawstop and love it, but I wouldn't buy it as a first saw.  The Sawstop is my 4th table saw, and I don't regret any of them.

Saw #1: Got it for free from someone cleaning out their garage.  "Fine, I'll take it, but I'm not sure what I'd do with it."  Discovered how useful a table saw could be.  Decided I wanted one that wasn't half broken and had a blade guard.  Gave it to a friend.

Saw #2: $140 cheapo, but it wasn't half broken and it had a blade guard.  Used it for a bunch of small projects.  Started wanting to invest in accessories, discovered that the miter slots were non-standard and nothing fit.  Gave it to a friend.

Saw #3: Got a "real" table saw, Bosch 4100 from CPO, refurb.  It was that or a Sawstop contractor, and I couldn't see spending $1700 for a tool.  That saw was great, but the table was a little small when I started to do larger projects, and it made my finger bleed when I accidentally touched the blade while it was spinning down.

Saw #4: Sawstop contractor. 

Before you start spending thousands of dollars on tools, consider...

  • How sure are you that you are going to stick with this hobby?
  • How sure are you that you'll be doing primarily projects that need an expensive tablesaw?  Many people get along fine with a lathe, a band saw, and a circular saw.
  • How sure are you that want a stationary saw?  If you'll be doing mostly home renovation, you might be better off with a portable job-site saw.  Sneaking up on a cut when the saw is two flights down from where you are fitting it is no fun.
  • How sure are you that you won't need that money for some other tool?  I'd rather be making things with a $700 table saw, than have a $3000 table saw and be waiting to get the other tools I need.
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I'm going to go a different direction and as a fellow amateur on a budget, I suggest you not buy all the tools now. Pick a significant project you really want to do now (new dresser, dining table) whatever it is and let that guide what you buy now. Buy the tools needed for that and see how far it takes you, add others as the need arises on future projects. I think you will do a better job of determining what tools and projects you prefer. That being said, do make good layout and dust collection decisions, thinking and planning ahead for future expansion is free...

fyi lumber is expensive, so if you blow 6k on tools and don't leave a few hundred for the cherry, walnut or whatever wood you have in mind, you won't get off the ground.

I've got a sawstop job site saw, the first table saw I owned, though not the first I've used. My wife insisted on it and it was a losing battle for me to argue against, though I have been happy, for my small shop the mobility and size are appropriate. 

 

Everyone loves the the dewalt planer, I'm the oddball with a makita 2012nb. It works great for me, but I don't know the full story to compare the two. I do t even have a jointer. I use my table saw for edge jotting and hand planes for broad faces. I feel like with only a 6" opening I'd probably wind up doing that a lot anyways for wider boards, and wider joiners really climb in price.

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Lots of good advice above, but as others have said, it's hard to predict what will be the right route for you, specifically.

I like @Isaac Gaetz 's point about buying what you need one project at a time for most things...I wouldn't go run out and try to buy everything right now, you'll run out of money quickly.

I had a similar budget last year and bought mostly cheaper stuff, and bought used when I could. Many of those I hope to upgrade at some point, but they were enough to get me going on a variety of projects over the last year.  The only deviation I would make for your course is to take the advice of buying a really good dust collector. I have a 1.5hp unit which is fine for my garage, but if I had a basement shop, I would get a 5hp unit. You dont have to go nuts with the ducting for now, just buy a little to reach a couple tools for now and wait until you have solidified a layout and workflow after at least a year before investing a lot of time and money in a bunch of expensive ducting.

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Folks have given you some great tool advice so rather then just repeat what they have said I am going a different route. 

You mentioned this will be a basement shop, what are you plans for dust control? I have never had a basement shop but the one thing every single person who has had one has said either online or in person is that dust is a massive problem. Even having AC ducts in the shop space can spread dust from the basement to the rest of your house. Noise can also be a big problem as well. No idea if you have small children but if you do they will definitely hear anything you do in the basement, as well as anyone else in the house. 

You mentioned at the start that your house is almost complete, so if the basement is still rough there may be time to take measures. The best way to deal with most of these things is to literally build a room inside of your basement (walls, cielings, the whole 9 yards) and enclose your shop in this room inside a room. That may not be possible though and if its not then the next step is to setup an airlock like system for doors into the rest of the house. Put in lots of weather stripping as well. You should also think hard about vent placements in the basement and put them as far away as possible from machines that make dust. 

An air filter and cyclone dust collector will need to be figured in. If you get a grizzly (ie relatively cheap) you can expect to spend at least 2k with very minimal piping for both of those alone. I also don't see a lot of air filters and cyclones in my area being sold used online, your area may be different so if you are going that route be aware they may be few and far between. 

I would echo the general thought that you should buy tools based on need. Your first projects will dictate tool needs. The big 3 of course are tablesaw, jointer, and planer. After that hand tools can accomplish a lot till you get more money.

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I can't support the 'wait for the "final" tool until you know you want to keep on with woodworking. You hear that frequently with musical instruments, and it's not good advise. Get the best tool/instrument you can.  If you drop the hobby, resale of good tools and instruments is very good and you avoid the frustration of dealing with a "beginner" tool or instrument. I am not saying go out and buy the most expensive tools, but you won't regret it if you get a Saw Stop or Powermatic, and while those are great tools, there are better tools if you want to spend a lot more. I do agree that the dust collection is critical, the router table much less so-you can build a decent one with the other tools.  Good luck

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This is some great advice. To clear up a few things.  $6k isn't my total budget it's was what I budget for my my initial tool purchase.  I had another $1000 budgeted for dust collection.  Which may or may not be enough.  Plus I've budgeted for insulation, electrical, and ducting and a reserve.  

I'm not sure about venting outside.  I certainly could do it but I would be worried about noise. 

My first projects will be carcass and face-frame cabinet construction and then probably a office desk.  

I figure if I'll spend $1500 building an RC Helicopter I should stop buying my tools at Harbor Fright and Mendards and investing in quality.  

I am set on the SawStop.  I want it and my soon to be wife is insisting on it. I am leaning towards the 3hp PCS as the Contractors with the cast iron wings is just so close in price it's hard to justify.     

Since I'm moving in at the beginning of November I could certainly see myself going to town on BlackFriday deals. 

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4 minutes ago, TheOnlyDave said:

This is some great advice. To clear up a few things.  $6k isn't my total budget it's was what I budget for my my initial tool purchase.  I had another $1000 budgeted for dust collection.  Which may or may not be enough.  Plus I've budgeted for insulation, electrical, and ducting and a reserve.  

I'm not sure about venting outside.  I certainly could do it but I would be worried about noise. 
 

Not sure what you are thinking of for dust collection but 1000$ wont get you very far. I guess you are thinking of a bag style filter and connecting to one machine at a time?

What noise are you concerned with about venting outside? Indoor noise or outdoor? I have mine vented outside and inside the shop is much quieter. Outside isnt that loud. I could check with a decibel meter for you if you need. Are your neighbours really close? 

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