Opinions on Downsizing the Shop


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I have spent 15 years building my shop. I'm proud of it. It is my favorite place to be in the world, and what little I know about woodworking, I have mainly taught to myself in there. 

But lately I have been pondering a dramatic move and am interested in hearing the thoughts of the community. 

About 2-3 years ago, I started getting more and more into hand tool use. ANd now, I probably qualify as OBSESSED. 

I have built out a respectable collection of planes and saws and more and more they are taking the place of machines in my day-to-day woodworking projects. 

Now, I dont THINK I am going to d o this, but lately I have been flirting with the idea of dramtically downsizing the shop by making moves as follows: 

SELL

  • 6" Delta Jointer 
  • Rockler Router table, lift
  • Dust collector 
  • 14" Delta BAnd Saw 
  • Drill Press 

POSSIBLY SELL 

  • 3HP Sawstop Professional Series Table Saw 

KEEP 

  • DeWalt DW735 planer 
  • Lathe
  • Grinder/Tormek/everything else 

BUY

  • Upgrade to a bigger and better bandsaw with more resaw capacity. I really like the new Jet. 
  • quite a few more hand tools - more planes, bad axe saws, etc. 

 

The thinking being that I spend a lot of time and money on my machines. They take up a ton of space and take a lot of time to keep calibrated and rust-free. 

The benefits of doing so would be that it would free up a lot of physical space in the shop and would obviously bring more focus onto building hand tool skills. 

The main risk is that as soon as I sell all this off, I would realize that I really DO need it and now I am up the creek as there is no way my wife would support me selling my stuff for (mainly) 70-80% of retail, only to turn around and re-buy it all again.

After I think about it, it seems like the benefit would be pretty minimal (Mainly, just more shop space) and the potential  for regretting it would be massive. And I realize that simply having power tools doesnt diminish my ability to focus on hand tool skills.

But that said, I have this mental picture of a more cozy, and MUCH quieter shop in my head. 

So I thought I would throw this out there and get the thoughts of anyone who wants to respond. Has anyone out there made the plunge and downsized out of machines in favor of hand tools?

I dont think I will end up doing this, but hey - this is a discussion forum and it seems like a good talker of a subject. 

 

Thanks in advance 

 

Doug

 

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Having invested all that money in those machines, I'd have a hard time parting with them.  Most of my projects are fairly small, and when I first started I was buying S4S as well as using my uncle's shop for any further milling or cutting, but that got old real fast!  Having the ability to do everything I need in my own shop to allow me to work on what I want has made the hobby much more enjoyable.  I get the desire for more room, but it wouldn't be worth it for me.

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Hand tools are nice to have and master but they're very time consuming, so don't force yourself into having to use them all the time with no power tool alternatives, considering you already have them power tools.

When the wife wants some woodworking done, it has to be done quickly, right after buying all the required tools, of course.

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At the end of the day that is really a personal decision but I do think ultimately it depends on your projects. When I first started the current shop I was making a lot of cabinets etc and other big projects, with virtually no hand tools. I had a large sliding table on my PM 66 a huge outfeed table etc. Now I make more furniture type projects (when i'm not finishing my basement) and have gotten into hand tools. In the last 6 years I have down sized from a large slider to a smaller slider and more recently to no slider and a 36" fence from a 52" fence. Given the projects on my to do list this space works awesome for me. As drzaius stated I have no intention of ever hand milling all my lumber and until one makes that decision i personally don't feel you can get rid of most of the tools you mentioned. In the end its up to you and the type of projects you want to make but bigger is definitely not always better.

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I think the only thing that I'd keep in your sell list is the jointer. The other stuff I could get by with out and sub in hand tools to get the job done. A bigger band saw would be better though it's not necessary there are some hand tools that would allow you to complete those operations.

 I like Mark's idea of the log though make sure to add details. I don't use my table saw a lot but it'd be hard to live without it. Honestly I've been thinking about buying a 2nd table saw and have been watching the used market pretty heavily just in case a good deal dances naked in front of me.

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3 hours ago, drzaius said:

Milling the rough lumber is just grunt work & not something that I'd want to have to do by hand. That time & energy is better spent on the finer aspects of had tool work. For example, @derekcohen  has, I think, a great blend of hand tool/power tool in his work flow.

@drzaius   The idea was to hang onto the planer and to upgrade the bandsaw, so not to abandon power tools entirely but more going down to the bare minimum.

Anyway, pretty much decided against selling anything but I sure do appreciate your and everyone else's opinions.

 

Take care

Doug

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All good stuff above,  But no one has said you need to keep the dust collector.  If you keep any of the power tools, any of them at all you need the dust collector, or at least your lungs do.

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1 hour ago, Chet said:

All good stuff above,  But no one has said you need to keep the dust collector.  If you keep any of the power tools, any of them at all you need the dust collector, or at least your lungs do.

I only use it on the table saw and jointer. I do dedicated dust collection on planer and router table but yes, I get your point. Thanks

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I've toyed with the idea of going all neanderthal, too. Take a page from Shannon Rogers' personal journey. He whittled his machines down to just a bandsaw and a 20" planer, then got rid of the band saw. I would be tempted to follow that lead, keeping only a nice planer and DC for it. 

I would NOT like to rely on my DW735 in that case. Too narrow, too loud, too slow. 

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14 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

 

I would NOT like to rely on my DW735 in that case. Too narrow, too loud, too slow. 

I appreciate your thoughtful response but it respectfully disagree with the last bit about the DW735.

Obviously this is simply a personal preference issue, but this machine has always served my needs very well and I don't see those needs changing dramatically if I were to take the plunge.

I DO agree that it's way too loud and someday I'll be upgrading to a helical head. 

Anyway, thanks for weighing in here. Appreciate it!

 

Doug

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Lots of hard decisions to make. My wife and I like to browse through antique shops with real antiques. I'm amazed and impressed at the furniture we see that was made entirely by hand and hand tools only. Some have joints that look like the frames, etc. are made from one piece. Good luck!

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All 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. I was hoping to get opinions from the group, and as usual, the group delivered. 

Just to close the loop on this, I did the math on the economics - i.e. what I'd probably get for selling these tools, vs the cost of a new band saw and several new hand tools, and it just doesn't work out.  

The benefit just isn't there, versus the risk - so this is officially now a dead issue.

I will NOT be selling or downsizing anything. 

Take care everyone and thanks again for your opinions. 

 

Doug

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Looking at the pic of your shop, if you did a more concentrated machine placement in your shop space it would clear up a lot of space.  

Watch Mike Pekovich's shop tour, he groups several tools around his table saw and he is huge on hand work as well.  He actually has two hand tool benches in his shop, and all the machine you are talking about liquidating.  Mike's Shop Tour

Dimensioning lumber by hand is a great experience but it can be exhausting.  And like some of the greats have said, the board doesn't care what you use to make it flat and square :)

All the best to you.

John

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7 hours ago, Doug Carlson said:

I appreciate your thoughtful response but it respectfully disagree with the last bit about the DW735.

Obviously this is simply a personal preference issue, but this machine has always served my needs very well and I don't see those needs changing dramatically if I were to take the plunge.

I DO agree that it's way too loud and someday I'll be upgrading to a helical head. 

Anyway, thanks for weighing in here. Appreciate it!

 

Doug

Don't get me wrong, I use a DW735, and its a good machine. But if my ONLY milling machine was the planer, I'd prefer something that could hog away more stock per pass, and had capacity for wider parts. Specifically, panel glue ups might be planed to final thickness after glueing, eliminating a lot of post-glue up work with a smoothing plane.

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