jmaichel

Shop Progression

Recommended Posts

After exchanging a few emails with Marc about some issues I was dealing with by starting with the all hand tool method. I was ready to put them all on CL and buy some power tools but after some cooling off and some words of encouragement from Marc and Shannon I decided to stick with hand tools for now but will for sure be adding power in the future. It got me thinking about what I want my shop progression to be. What power tools do I want to buy first? Do I want to buy the best I can afford or do I want to be able to buy a few decent tools and upgrade a few years down the road? What is my shop space going to be like for the next 5, 10 15 years from now? I am curious to hear how everyone else approaches shop progression.

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are progressing from hand tools to power tools, I'd first consider a band saw, a router, and a circular saw (track saw). Think about building a router table.

The next step is a jointer and planer, if you get tired of true-ing up stock by hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While those are some good points, if I remember correctly a large part of your frustration is with milling stock. With this in mind, a jointer and planer may be the first place to start.

From there... what do you intend to make? That's going to make a difference on what comes next.

While I'm working on cabinet making, and Shannon has helped with hand tool skills, I know I want to get into boat building. The hand tool skills I'm learning will help with interiors, but from here I plan on buying a really nice band saw. After that, I'm not yet sure. I do know I'll need shop space, just for the "end item". I do have a table saw that's in storage, that I haven't played with yet.

What I've NOT decided is if I'll get a jointer/planer, or if I'll get one of each. As I see it right now, the combination tool will allow a large jointer, but I'll have to change back and forth. Separate tools mean I'll probably have to settle for an 8 inch jointer, but have a 12 or 15 inch planer. I know I want a nice drill press, because some of the things with boats will require rather precise holes. A four inch power planer will replace my hand planes for some tasks, mostly with really hard tropical woods. But Shannon has given me the confidence that once I mill the stock and rough it to size, I can do what I need from there.

To expound on that just a bit: I see the planer and jointer as saving me time on the "apprentice" type stuff. I like working the details by hand. I have a router, but don't like using it much, although at some point I see a router table in the future. Sanders and drill motors are helpful, but I'm not sure where I'll go power tool wise from there, unless you want to count dust collection.

A lathe would be nice too... but that's for the future as well.

Does that help?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are progressing from hand tools to power tools, I'd first consider a band saw, a router, and a circular saw (track saw). Think about building a router table.

The next step is a jointer and planer, if you get tired of true-ing up stock by hand.

I'll second Beechwood Chip's suggestion while adding that a good contractor (or cabinet if you can afford it) table saw should be in there just after the router. Once you're working with a good table saw, you'll be amazed by the variety of tasks it can accomplish second to none.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a power tool guy that uses hand tools for fine work, mostly because I don't have the time to do everything by hand, and because my shoulder and thumb joints ache after a day of woodworking (even with power tools).

I'm going to build a Roubo style bench this summer, and I simple cannot imagine that milling all that lumber would be even remotely fun by hand.

I'd get a jointer and a planer or a jointer/planer first, then either a band saw or a table saw, then a router.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All of the comments have been really good so far. I might have worded my question wrong. I am not really looking for advice on my personal shop progression but more on how everyone else approaches their own shop progression. Don you definitely discussed what your next few purchases are going to be and gave some good insight into jointer/planer combo or individual machines. I can be sure that I am not going to mill by hand forever, its just not fun. A bandsaw is also going to be a must but not sure if a table saw will be in my future anytime soon. Thanks and keep the comment coming!

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mine has "mostly" been project oriented. As I've needed tools, I've saved and bought the best I could afford with an eye on what I might do in the future. Most tools don't have great resale value, so get what you really want up front. My next purchases will be an floor standing Oscillating Spindle Sander, a Fuji HVLP, a VacuPress system and all the items that go with those. I wont get into the smaller items...they come as I need them, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not really looking for advice on my personal shop progression but more on how everyone else approaches their own shop progression.

+1 on Vic's comment. I buy tools when I need them for my next project, or when I get frustrated with doing without. Sometimes I buy a new tool when a good deal comes along, but only if that tool is near the top of my wish list.

The big exception is safety. I bought a respirator and dust collector early on, and bought a Sawstop when I stuck my finger into a moving table saw blade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I built a small shop about three years ago in a small store room in my basement ( and by small i mean i work out of about 80 square feet ). Since then my shop and tool collection has progressed very organically. As a proffesional on site carpenter ( framing, trim work, floor, cabinet installer ) i started by get tools I needed for my job. Since then I get highered to do custom built-ins and trim work my shop evolved to fit those needs. Lately as myh love of the trade grows I have been getting things that simply interest me and allow me to do new things or old things in new ways. Most notable I just rearragned my shop, all 80 square feet to accomidate a better work layout of furniture pieces and hand tool use. I recently purchased an number of handplanes and other hand tools to persue a more traditional form of woodworking, though I will never forsake my table saw or miter saw. As for the future of my shop, being this is the first year I am running my own business, in both furniture making and on site carpentry my shop will continue to evolve much as I will evolve. I wont commimet to any strignet ideas about my shop I prefer to let it evolve as naturally as possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had no plan for shop progression. It has progressed far enough that the place is a damn mess and I can't walk around in it without knocking a clamp of the wall. Losing about 50 lbs might increase my shop agility also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can tell you how my shop has progressed in the last 10 years. I started with a bunch of inherited hand power tools (routers, sanders, circ saw, jig saw, etc) I built a set of built in bookcases. After struggling with a lot of plywood I got it done, but decided to make a table saw one of my next purchases. Then I started like many woodworkers by building smaller gift items like boxes and cutting boards. The smaller scale box joinery was done well with a router so I bought a lift and built a router table. Up til this point I had been buying the expensive predimensioned stuff at Woodcraft.

I decided to make a trip to a real lumber yard and fell in love, so then I bought a planer to help me thickness my rough wood. A jointer came about a year later. I could go on but you see the progression here was driven by what I wanted to build.

About 5 years later I was bitten by the hand tool bug and it just suits my style and sense of history. i began to build Windsor chairs and needed very few tools to do that. I began to learn to replace my power tools with hand tool until I really don't need them any more. I have continued to refine what pieces I really love to build and my tool set to match that. Today, I build almost entirely by hand. When I do flip a power switch it is on a planer for milling and a bandsaw for long rips and the occasional curve cuts. This journey has been a long one and it has resulted in some silly purchases and some good ones. Then a bunch that seem silly now cause I never use the tools but buying them helped me to learn my style of working. I will never regret buying a table saw even though I never use it today.

So don't stress about it. Think about your next 2-3 projects and what you need to build them. The good news is that with your kit of hand tools you can build just about anything. Your frustration is milling so start with the tools to make that easier and build, build, build. No one likes to hear this but it takes mistakes and practice to build well and to know what tools you need for your style.

In other words, we have to make purchasing mistakes and a few burnable projects to get better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What power tools do I want to buy first? Do I want to buy the best I can afford or do I want to be able to buy a few decent tools and upgrade a few years down the road? What is my shop space going to be like for the next 5, 10 15 years from now? I am curious to hear how everyone else approaches shop progression.

I buy the best tools I can afford when I need them. With the exception of the last few months. When I say when I need them, I mean the day I need them. I am not much into planning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

James,

I believe that you need to evaluate the need for a tool "when you need it". Few things have brought me more sadness and regret than settling with a lesser tool. Down the line you have to ask that question can I justify the purchase of the "right" tool when I have a perfectly serviceable one on the shelf or in the shop. If you are only going to use it once or twice, rent it, or borrow it. If you are going to use it for a few projects but you hope someday to get a nice one, get one from harbor freight. If you will use it more than that, save up until you can get what you really want.

JMHO

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am one to buy a tool if I think I might use it on an upcoming project, or if I'm totally disgusted with a poor tool that needs upgraded. I tend to do my new tool research on Amazon by reading the customer reviews on particular items. I prefer to get the best I can afford, but shop space limits things as well - I've gotten pretty good at finding portable solutions and finding deals on craigslist. I tend to stay far away from Harbor Freight; each time I see one of their deals I think to myself "only buy this if you are okay with spending X amount on something that possibly doesn't work/doesn't work well/will easily break/is impossible to align/can be quickly upgraded for a decent one in the very near future that you can afford to pay for twice". That last one is usually enough to keep me away. That said, I have bought some clamps, casters, router bits, diamond point drill bits, tarps, and an electric hand planer there, and have not had any problems with these items so far, though the bits and electric hand planer were only bought for one time use (so far).

My own shop progression is a constant evolution. I started out with a small bench and some sawhorses out in the garage, power tools in the work van, and a work bench/glue up area in the basement. I have since cleared out most of the garage and am in the process of putting all the big tools on mobile bases to live in there primarily. I bring most of my tools onto jobsites for remodeling work (drills, trim saws, table saw, vac, miter saw, routers, nail guns, compressor, layout tools, hand tools, etc) and back to the shop when working at home. Having everything in and out so often, I have gotten more and more organized and continually have new ideas to streamline things more and more. The problem is just finding time to act on all these ideas!

Though the work environment is constantly in flux, I like to make plans. I am big on prioritizing projects and planning out what's needed when. Something about that is just satisfying for me. Then when something changes, it's satisfying to look things over again and rethink and figure out how to make things work better.

Enjoy the process!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello James,

Glad to hear that you've got things settled about the role of hand tools.

Back when I started building my "life time" dream shop, the question was whether to go RAS or TS. I had (and have) friends with either (as the sole main cutting tool) or both. I decided on the TS as the foundational tool around which to get all others. To that I added a cmpd mitre saw (Bosch)--gotta have sq. crosscuts, and a BS (Craftsman freebie, price was right). Later, a router; later even more, a router table. Oh, the free Craftsman wasn't cutting it (pun intended), so I up graded to a 16" BS. Boy do I wish I had gotten 20" or bigger!!!!!! At the end of this learning spree, I discovered that I should have bought the best tool possible--a whole lot more thoughtfully!!!!! For instance, get the best cabinet saw with a router attachment extension. Cheap purchases of less than high quality tools is just short sighted--unless you only occasionally use it. (but even then...) Having used all these tools, my favorite is the BS. It rips more safely than a TS. Since I'm not a dedicated plywood user, my wood cut needs are generally narrower than wider, so again, the BS fits the bill (for me). Power tools are messy, loud, and DANGEROUS. They make dust collection a necessity and require a fairly expensive blade replacement fee (regularly). And, they don't yield a product that doesn't need sanding!!!!!!!

Enter (or re-enter) the hand tools!!!! Wow, they're quiet, and not nearly so disasterously dangerous. Yep, I'm now building jigs to true up hand sawn cuts; but with practice I'm getting better. Now I use my hand tools to do it all; my power tools wait for that moment that I've messed up and really need a quick corrective adjustment. They also handle all my multiples (for repetitive work). I really believe that as a hobbyist, I can choose to work smart as well as have fun making unique pieces. Power planers don't square; they duplicate--just thinner. Jointers don't allow for the tactical subtle reads along a board's length. I've managed to maul wood on a 6" jointer just as well as with a #7. If you were closer, I'd sell you some vintage power tools for a sweet price. IMO, that's the only way to buy in: buy used; buy the best!

Well, my opinion is just that. Make friends with people who have all this stuff. Get a feel for the differences. I'll never forget the day I walked into a shop and wished I had brought my dust mask. The air was heavy with dust. He'd been breathing that for hours. Sure, he had a massive DC system going; but the air was still thick. Be careful in all that you do!

Archie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with starting out with hand tools, I kinda wish I had. I haven't thought of shop progression as a plan in years. I did start off buying some used tools getting started. Then I started thinking of buying new tools and about some of the features I wanted. One of my biggest shop progressions in my first shop was getting my 6"jointer and then my trip to Grizzly. This was what I call basic item tools. Table saw, Drill press, dust collector and combination Belt and Disc sander. I then started picking up tools as I needed them or thought I needed them. By the time I moved into my second shop I had need for a thickness planer and larger air compressor. I'm now in my third shop which is a lot smaller than the others, but is comfortable and is here at my home a big plus. During the time I've been out of shop I have been thinking of more tool acquisitions and am leaning to upgrading my hand tools and using more hand tools in my projects. So in answer to your question my thought now is buy what you want now and buy the best you can afford instead of upgrading later as there will be other tools you will want or need without having to upgrade all the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello... I'm a newbie, but since I'm starting to build out a shop myself, thought I would add my take here as well. Hopefully, people can either validate some of the things I'm thinking about doing -- or tell me that I'm completely full of beans! :)

My start with saws and other woodworking-type items was when I bought my first house (a REAL fixer-upper). So, I have the basic power tools: a decent circular saw, drill, air compressor and various nailers (framer, finish gun, brad gun, stapler, and 23-gauge pinner), jig saw etc. But, I recently bought a house with a big enough area that I want to turn it into a "shop" where I can make some furniture and cabinets. The space is not huge, but big enough (about 300 sq feet).

Also, let me say that I've bought cheap tools in the past, and I'm basically done with them. I plan to try and buy the best that I can afford and will wait if I don't have the budget.

All that being said, here is my basic plan:

It seems to me that the foundation of any project is good, flat, square stock... as such, the basis of the shop starts here:

*) a good cabinet saw... this is my first purchase. I have on order, a new Delta Unisaw. I did a lot of research on the topic, and decided to pay the extra for the Unisaw because I've not read a bad thing about it, and it's *mostly* made in the USA. Just a note: I *try* to stay away from tools made in China. If I can't find a tool made in the USA, I look for one made in Europe. They are more expensive, but my experience is that they are usually worth the extra money.

*) A track saw... makes breaking down sheet goods a breeze and much safer than trying to do it on a table saw. I have purchased a Festool TS55 and I love it.

*) Vacuum system... you can't replace your lungs. Get a good one and be done with it. I haven't decided yet. But, considering several. Recommendations would be welcome! :)

*) Planer... there is a bit of a religious war on this topic (which comes first), I tend to believe people that say that you can square up stock on the TS... but, don't know how I would get things to the right thickness without a planer. So, I'm planning on getting a planer first.

*) A jointer...

Just a note: Laguna makes some really nice looking jointer/planer combination machines. I might end up just buying one of these to help save space.

Now... once you have the ability to get your wood to the right dimensions, you need a way to join pieces together:

*) Clamps, clamps and clamps

*) A good plate joiner (already had one from a previous project)

*) Air compressor and brad gun (have them already)

*) A good router and router table... you can do a ton with a good router and some jigs.

*) good set of chisels.

*) a bench grinder

*) A drill press

Finally, some other stuff... :)

*) A good band saw... I'm drooling over the Laguna 14SUV and want to order it now, but know that I need a planer and jointer first.

*) Spindle sander

*) Lathe and necessary tools to work with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You sound like you know what you are doing. Here are some thoughts I had...

  • planer vs jointer: See this thread
  • jointer/planer combo units: I don't recall anyone ever saying they were happy with one of these, unless they were very short on space.
  • router table: I'd recommend buying a cheap one or makiing your own. When you know what you want you can make or buy a better one.
  • router: if you get a plunge router with "above the table height adjustment", you're most of the way towards having a working router table.
  • band saw: You may want to move this up: band saw + planer means you can make wood whatever thickness you want. The big three of dimensioning lumber are the Band Saw, Jointer, and Planer, followed closely by the table saw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Beechwood... Thanks for the reply and the compliment. :)

Just a couple of questions. Did you mean jig saw or band saw? I can see how you can see how with a good fence or jig you can resaw the wood on a band saw to get it to the right thickness, but I'm not sure how I could do it on a jig saw. If you can, please post a URL/link showing the technique!

Many thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Beechwood... Thanks for the reply and the compliment. :)

Just a couple of questions. Did you mean jig saw or band saw? I can see how you can see how with a good fence or jig you can resaw the wood on a band saw to get it to the right thickness, but I'm not sure how I could do it on a jig saw. If you can, please post a URL/link showing the technique!

Many thanks!

Yup, I meant band saw. I fixed it in my original message.

There are tons of videos on resawing with a band saw - here's one of them by Marc. Skip to 3:00.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, I meant band saw. I fixed it in my original message.

There are tons of videos on resawing with a band saw - here's one of them by Marc. Skip to 3:00.

Hi Beechwood... thanks! I watched the clip. I had been drooling over a Laguna 14SUV with a one of the resaw blades that Marc mentioned in the video. Looks awesome. I might re-do my list and push that bandsaw ahead of some other items! ;)

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I started about 15yrs ago it was just like many others stories-remodeling and Norm=future woodworker. Started with the cheapest TS known to man and a couple of his closest friends. This taught me the "buy good and buy once strategy". I have bought most of my tools out of necessity but some were either because of a great deal or it was overly romanced. The danger of the latter is two fold. 1.You may not actually need the tool thus waisting your money 2.this one is almost worse, since I didn't go without for a while I didn't know what functions I did or didn't really need. The reason I say this is almost worst is because you regret it every time you use it unlike #1 where you just set it a side and forget it. I recently just replaced my marking gauge that I bought about 12 or 13 yrs ago. If I would have went without longer I would have realized how much I would want and use the micro adjustment. Obviously this is not the only time I have made this mistake but it is the freshest on my mind. Live and learn.

Nate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi James. The amount of indecision that I have been through over the past few months regarding my new shop has slowed. This is my 3rd shop and I want it to last me 20 years or so. To this end I decided to spend on what I want, not so much on what I can afford over the next few weeks.

I have a history of that and find I end up disappointed.

I have a friend who once told me "It's only expensive the day you buy it Dave" and he was right.

Enough of my preamble.

I am enclosing an old verandah area behind my double garage, adding a few windows and doors, adding some power outlets and a heap of lights.

Fitting the shop out will probably be with my existing equipment, but also maybe a bandsaw, and definitely going to go the festool system, expensive today, but price forgotten tomorrow :unsure: These items will arrive as I can afford to pay cash for them which could be a while. The responses from people in here have been very helpful and Marc has the ability to put people at ease as well as share his wealth of knowledge, very refreshing.

I have ordered one of these dust masks. Here is a bit of their blurb, "all-in-one respiratory protection against dust, fumes and particulates, combined with eye and face protection against impact and liquid splash."

post-5160-0-36751900-1310549594_thumb.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Who's Online   1 Member, 0 Anonymous, 32 Guests (See full list)

  • Forum Statistics

    27,281
    Total Topics
    362,544
    Total Posts
  • Member Statistics

    20,520
    Total Members
    1,529
    Most Online
    Tyler Kollock
    Newest Member
    Tyler Kollock
    Joined