What Should I Get for the Shop?


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I have decided to permanently expel my car from the garage to free up some real estate for woodworking. Up until now, all of tools have been crammed up against a wall and roll on casters. By my own estimation, I probably spend about as much time playing power tool roller derby as I do actually woodworking. I currently have a SawStop PCS, a dewalt miter saw on one of the Dewalt stands, a Dewalt lunch box planer, and a nice assortment of hand tools. My workbench right now was installed by the previous owner. It is an 8-foot laminated hardwood top that sits on base cabinets that are mounted to the wall. I have been getting by with the bench, but doing handtool work is difficult because the base cabinets get in the way. My biggest pet peeve with the bench is that the 4 inches or so of the table closest to me are not actually aligned with the rest of the bench and are at maybe a 2-3 degree decline. If I had to guess, the previous owner added the 4-inch extension to add the face vise at the end of the table but did so sloppily.

To fill the newfound real estate I am considering either purchasing an 8 inch jointer (likely the Powermatic) or one of the Sjoberg workbenches. Any suggestions on which should come first? I know a lot of people are religious about making your own workbench, but with my current setup, making a nice bench seems like a really big project. I am leaning towards the jointer and making due with my existing bench until I get some more cash or bite the bullet and try to make a bench.

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Reading the first paragraph I was thinking jointer. A lot of people look to build furniture like benches. Most of my benches are built out of 2 x 6 spruce if I can get it. I like 1 1/2" MDF for a bench top. Furniture is built in my shop but does not live in my shop. I really do appreciate seeing beautiful shops though...

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I'd make a bench. I made mine out of construction lumber. I'd probably not buy one honestly as they seem expensive. Untill you get into heavy hand tool use a tricked out bench isn't fully necessary but it is nice.

I notice that a band saw is missing from the line up as well. I use my band saw a LOT. I do all of my rip cuts there vs the table saw and all sorts of resawing and curve cuts are nicer on a band saw than other methods. It doesn't have to be an expensive tool there are some good inexpensive small options but always wait for a sale. I personally really like laguna band saws and have a 14|12 and 14BX.

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I agree with @Chestnut that a bandsaw would be high on my list (I also have a Laguna 14|12 and like it). 

One could buy a Laguna 14|12 bandsaw and a Jet or other not-as-nice-as-a-powermatic-but-still-totally-serviceable jointer for approximately the price of the powermatic parallelogram jointer (exa: https://www.factoryauthorizedoutlet.com/collections/woodworking-jointers/products/shop-fox-w1857-8-inch-x-72-inch-built-in-mobile-base-dovetail-jointer)

You don't mention an actual budget but were 3-ish grand in the ballpark I would buy those tools, then build a bench.

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I totally understand you feelings!  I used to do the same thing in my garage and made the change to keep the car out and setup my shop. It has been wonderful!!!!  Now I can just wonder into the shop and cut a part or two when I have a second and not spend all of my time moving stuff around. I would get the planer first, but it really depends on the type of work you are doing. I really enjoy taking the time and milling rough lumber down to use on projects and the jointer has really helped in that process. I just have some Kreg portable benches that I am using to get by and someday I will make myself a real bench. 

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5 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I'd make a bench. I made mine out of construction lumber. I'd probably not buy one honestly as they seem expensive. Untill you get into heavy hand tool use a tricked out bench isn't fully necessary but it is nice.

With how much construction lumber is it could be cheaper to buy one!

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12 hours ago, Woodworking_Hobby said:

I totally understand you feelings!  I used to do the same thing in my garage and made the change to keep the car out and setup my shop. It has been wonderful!!!!  Now I can just wonder into the shop and cut a part or two when I have a second and not spend all of my time moving stuff around. I would get the planer first, but it really depends on the type of work you are doing. I really enjoy taking the time and milling rough lumber down to use on projects and the jointer has really helped in that process. I just have some Kreg portable benches that I am using to get by and someday I will make myself a real bench. 

Exactly. There have been simple things that I needed to do to complete a project, and I put them off for weeks because of the hassle associated with rearranging half the garage. 

Is it the Kreg workstation that you have? I have used that quite a bit over the years, most recently to try to plane flat a large desk top. I am now keenly aware of why handtool benches require so much heft. To keep things even remotely stable, I had to work with one leg on the bottom of the Kreg bench to hold it in place. Some very weird parts of my lower body got a tremendous workout that weekend.

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4 hours ago, TomInNC said:

Exactly. There have been simple things that I needed to do to complete a project, and I put them off for weeks because of the hassle associated with rearranging half the garage. 

Is it the Kreg workstation that you have? I have used that quite a bit over the years, most recently to try to plane flat a large desk top. I am now keenly aware of why handtool benches require so much heft. To keep things even remotely stable, I had to work with one leg on the bottom of the Kreg bench to hold it in place. Some very weird parts of my lower body got a tremendous workout that weekend.

Yes it is those fold up Kreg tables with the blue legs. I totally understand what you mean and if I have to clamp anything or do hard work on them they move around a lot. I have the bottoms of mine loaded with some storage boxes and they are up against a wall so that helps. Next on my list is to build a workbench and I have been looking around at a few but not settled on one yet. 

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I a no expert but in same situation as you everything in my shop has wheels as my shop is the wife’s parking space. I park outside so everything stores in my spot. I looked at a lot of benches and went back and forth wether to buy or build. I think I have viewed every workbench video on YouTube. The best thing I ever did was buy a two dollar notebook and throw it on my old workbench. I do a lot of different type of work from  mechanic to woodworking to drawing. I gave myself 60 days and for those 60 days every time I did any work at my bench I wrote down about the current bench what I liked, hated or I wish It had. This led me to the conclusion that there was no premade bench that would serve all my needs so I built my own. I then use my little book to pretty much customize my plans from height to depth the attachments I wanted how many drawers I thought I would need. It really kind of made it a lot simpler rather than just sitting down and trying to design a bench and remember all the things that I would need. As far as tools I love my Joiner, table saw, and I wouldn’t trade anything for my drum sander Which has me to where I hardly ever pull out my planner. But the bandsaw will be my next upgrade so take that for what it’s worth.

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1 hour ago, Gary roebuck said:

I a no expert but in same situation as you everything in my shop has wheels as my shop is the wife’s parking space. I park outside so everything stores in my spot. I looked at a lot of benches and went back and forth wether to buy or build. I think I have viewed every workbench video on YouTube. The best thing I ever did was buy a two dollar notebook and throw it on my old workbench. I do a lot of different type of work from  mechanic to woodworking to drawing. I gave myself 60 days and for those 60 days every time I did any work at my bench I wrote down about the current bench what I liked, hated or I wish It had. This led me to the conclusion that there was no premade bench that would serve all my needs so I built my own. I then use my little book to pretty much customize my plans from height to depth the attachments I wanted how many drawers I thought I would need. It really kind of made it a lot simpler rather than just sitting down and trying to design a bench and remember all the things that I would need. As far as tools I love my Joiner, table saw, and I wouldn’t trade anything for my drum sander Which has me to where I hardly ever pull out my planner. But the bandsaw will be my next upgrade so take that for what it’s worth.

How did you figure out the night for your bench?  I am wanting to build the bench next after my current project. I have not done much research yet on the topic and was not sure if there were some rules of thumb. 

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this is going to be a long answer but your workbench height can be tricky. Some people want to build all their work tables at the same height so they can be used as in feed and out feed or so simply because it is more aesthetically pleasing. I’m not one of those people my tool tables use electric screw lifts to bring them up to the height of whatever tools I am using or so I can expand my work bench when needed This means my workbench can function independently of everything. I’m 6’2” tall and have due to many fun but stupid adventures in my youth some back and shoulder reminders that make working bent over less than fun. I first took Measurements from floor to my Elbow bent at 90 degrees and subtracted 2 inches. There was no scientific reason for it to be 2 inches but to be able to work on taller pieces comfortably that’s what it came out to. I tested this by just making a small box that was about 20 inches tall and Did things like driving screws in and using ratchets on top of the box which meant lowering it 2 inches from my first measurement.  I then took into account what casters I would be using as I prefer 3 inch casters because it allows me to store stuff under the workbench like my creeper and long pipe clamps. Don’t forget to include if you’re gonna be primarily standing, sitting, using floor mats and your counter top covering. My shop should really should have a splash zone warning label as I tend to be a messy when dealing with glue and oil. I tried melamine tops and they would get scratched up easily and then those areas swell when soaked. For years I used Formica Due to ease of cleaning and durability. When I built my current bench I discovered that my local big box store no longer carried It in 4 x 8 sheets. They said I could order a sheet and it would take about two weeks to come in and being The patient person I am I started grumbling and walking back towards the front of the store to find an alternative somewhere else. It just so happened that I was walking thru flooring and noticed that they had peel and stick vinyl plank on sale and thought why couldn’t I use that for work top. I know this is a little bit off subject but I’ve been meaning to make a thread about the stuff anyway it’s great glue doesn’t stick Epoxy doesn’t it stick and oil won’t penetrate it. When I have a brain fart and drill a hole through it or cut too deeply I can simply pull up that piece and replace it with a New piece. One box covered the majority of the 4 by 8 workbench so  I had to purchase a second box. I got the clearance stuff so it was $20 a box and I now have enough to replace a third of the worktable if needed. Single sheet of Formica to cover the same area was going to be $74. I understand this may not be optimal for a dedicated woodworking Bench or be as pretty as a laminated top. But since mine Is an all purpose workbench it works excellent. I know this was a lot for your question but the answer really is dependent upon you,the type work done and if you primarily sit or stand at the workbench.

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Ok. You have collectively convinced me to go with the jointer. 

Since my dust collection is currently just a shop vac, it would make sense to go ahead and get a better dust collection system now as well, or at least plan for one. We have 240v in the garage, and I am going to have the electrician install a few extra 240v outlets based on where I think some equipment will eventually go. Any suggestions on dust collection to keep up with an 8 inch jointer? Can be 120 or 240v.

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26 minutes ago, TomInNC said:

Ok. You have collectively convinced me to go with the jointer. 

Since my dust collection is currently just a shop vac, it would make sense to go ahead and get a better dust collection system now as well, or at least plan for one. We have 240v in the garage, and I am going to have the electrician install a few extra 240v outlets based on where I think some equipment will eventually go. Any suggestions on dust collection to keep up with an 8 inch jointer? Can be 120 or 240v.

You will have to keep us posted on the jointer!  I just have the basic dust collector from Rockler that I mounted on the wall, but I did get the upgraded filter instead of just the bag. It seems to keep up with all of my tools and does a good enough job. I did add a cyclone upstream of the dust collector as it is amazing how much wood you collect off the jointer and planer. I was changing the bags a lot which are kind of a pain and putting the cyclone upstream that drops into a drum is much easier to maintain. 

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I usually don't buy tools from Harbor Freight. But I did buy a DC from them and I like it. I have seen the same tool with several brand names. Probably from the same Asian factory. For my needs it works. And a good price.

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For me it would be the jointer for sure.  Being able to mill my own lumber profoundly changed my woodworking. Ymmv obviously.  Being able to use rough lumber and milling it down to my desired thickness was a game changer for me. Not to mention a big savings for and often times the stock was better quality. If you’re using a lot of hand tools I would go with a bench next.  If not then a bs would be 2nd for me.   Initially I used only power tools and was more than satisfied with my wood whisperer inspired assembly / extension table / workbench.  

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54 minutes ago, TomInNC said:

On the dust collectors, for a given CFM, is there any advantage to running on 240v as opposed to 120v? 

One advantage I’ve found with all my stationary tools when going 220 is the amperage draw.  When I had my dewalt “lunchbox” (it was one heavy lunchbox) planer it would frequently trip my breaker especially if I took off too much.  Went away completely when I got my 220v floor model shopfox. 
 

One side note about DCs (which you may already know) is to be careful how often you start and stop it.  The start up requires a much higher current draw and puts more strain on the motor.  I don’t think this as big an issue on the smaller 1.5 hp DCs because the impeller is relatively small but the bigger 3hp and especially 5hp DC actually have warnings in the manual on how often you can start it within a given time period (1 hour I think)  

 

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1 hour ago, TomInNC said:

On the dust collectors, for a given CFM, is there any advantage to running on 240v as opposed to 120v? 

No, not in any practical sense.

However, a bigger blower (motor) will require 240v and therefore obviate the possibility of using 120v at a certain CFM. This speaks to why the horsepower ratings for machines that are 120v or 120v/240v peak at ~1.75hp. 

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