BDY33

Absolute beginner, becoming frustrated

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As a hobby you picked an expensive one that is true. It doesnt have to happen over night nor do you have to listen to all the arm chair woodworkers all over the internet. Use some common sense and buy what you can afford. A shop vac works just fine most of the time with smaller tools, just add a drywall bag and it will collect the fines just like an expensive collector. Move outside when you can to keep dust out of the house. Just use some common sense.

Don

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I am in the same position as you. I did pick up the Porter Cable Portable Table Saw from Lowes for $300 plus $40 for a new blade. This has been a good saw so far and would recommend it for a beginner. As with the Jointer and Planer I went to the local antique mall and got a Stanley #4 and Sargent #5 (smoother and jack planes) for $30 each. With very little practice I was able to get flat and square boards. With the planes you do need to find a sharpening system and the scary sharp method will work well with minimal start up cost. However, I invested in a DMT Dia-Sharp Extra course diamond plate (i use this for lapping the water stone) and a King 1000/6000 grit water stone. That will cost about $120 but will last a very long time and it can be used for other things like chisels and maybe even your wife's kitchen knives (it may help justify the purchase some). With hand planes the dust is minimal and with the table saw a shop vac will be adequate.

 

I do have intentions on getting a planer and jointer and all that fun stuff but it will be a long slow process but I can get just about everything done with what I have, it just takes a little bit longer.

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I know how you feel. 

 

Good news?  You're not as stuck as you think you are.

 

I've surfed the web several times, and have found a few items that I've posted here that might help you, but I'll summarize.  (And don't think I'm the final word on the subject; I'm barely farther along the road than you are.)  I don't have a table saw either.  I've been finding that there are only a few reasons to get one, even a contractor or benchtop model, and I'm not that motivated to need one.  I find most of what I want to do can be done by the band saw, which is a far more versatile option.  Dadoes obviously become a problem, but a hand-held router answers this option without complaints.  While it would be nice to have a dedicated router table, a simple wood-based table/platform that can be set up on the bench you already have will fill this hole - and you can detatch the router when you're done so you can put it away.

 

I agree that a planer (or planer jointer combo) unit will help with the lumber costs.  While you are learning, and getting better, and deciding which direction you want to go in, don't sweat not having it.  Yes, I have a DW735, and yes, I paid about $600 for it.  I also bought it on layaway, so I could spread the costs out over about 6 months, and I've used it less than a handfull of times.  While you are certainly paying more for the lumber from the Box Stores, you are getting something that cannot be easily overlooked: you are getting a level of comfort that there will be someone around that can talk about a project in wood you have a question on.  Most likely, someone will point you to a better source, or provide a tip in selecting better material, but you would not have found this option if you had bypassed the box store altogether.

 

I've made a few projects from "whitewood" myself, and I've learned some things that I appreciate, and some that I wish I had learned before.  One thing I've noticed is the price difference between whitewood and pine - around here, the material seems to be the same, yet the cost is not.  This is not to say they are equal, just an observation on price.

 

Yes, you could opt for a dust collector.  You could also opt for a Jet air filtration unit.  Or, you could go with a $20 box fan (that you probably already have) and a couple of air filters (I've seen ones the right size between $1 and $5 each) and a roll of duct tape.  This will not get everything, so spend some money on a respirator.  Marc has a couple of videos and posts mentioning what he uses, and his methodology and explanations of what he does with the respirator pads.  They aren't cheap (I consider a $5 filter expensive), but I'd gladly pay for the mental relief knowing my lungs are more protected.  (I'm of the opinion nothing will ever be 100 percent protected.  Ever.  But I'm comfortable accepting 95 percent as perfection.  If the respirator increases my lung safety by even one percentage point, I'm happy.)

 

As for the size of the shop, pshaw.  Lots of folks make lots of furniture out of small areas.  I purchased a special issue magazine from the store two months ago, showing a variety of wood shops from a small shed to a large building.  Go with what you need, not what you want.  Eventually, you will find where you need to expand.

 

If it was my situation... I'd make a saw bench.  Yes, they are primarily used for cutting material by hand.  But you can still use a circular saw on one, and potentially turn it into a secondary bench you can tuck away for smaller tasks.  The blog Half-Inch Shy has many great projects.  I'm a little behind (just like my homework), but I started visiting because of a tilt-top work cabinet.  This can expand the space you have by putting two tools into the same space in a small shop.  I'd consider getting a bench-top drill press (You can find one around $200 used) and putting it into this cabinet, built for maybe $100 with parts from the Box Store.

 

So now you're up to about $600 in spending.  (Materials for saw bench, flip top bench/cabinet, router, respirator, respirator cartridges/pads, shop vac - sorry, forgot to mention that one earlier - and duct tape.  And maybe a used drill press.)  Then worry about the larger tools.

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Don says it well.

 

Forums like this one are great at bringing together folks of all different backgrounds.  This is a great, but all advise is based on our individual experiences and economical situations.  Woodworking is a terrible hobby if a primary goal is short term satisfaction at a low cost. I would relate woodworking to golf...and I am not great at either.  Their both expensive, and no matter how good you get, you will almost always wish you were better. 

 

As for the economics, for a hobbyist, I find it best to consider everything I have built for personal or family use as something I would have bought at retail prices had I not built it.  Is that an stretch, sure, but its the best way I can justify the huge investment I have made into the hobby.  For example, a non-woodworker would likely go to a store like "Ashley Furniture" and be smitten with a $2500 particle board/plywood bedroom set.  A woodworker can't help but think there would only be $700-$1000 worth of materials to build that all from hardwood.  Make it myself, and I save at least $1500 and get equal or better quality.  (hobbyists quickly ignore the labor peice!)  So all the sudden a $500 Table saw, $500 Miter saw, and $500 planer seem like a reasonable expense to incur. 

 

Every hobbyist has their own list of must have tools.  Personally, I would say priority one is a miter saw.  It doesn't have to be a FT, but I would stay away from big box store brands.  Go DeWalt or better if you can afford it.  I know I wish I would have.  Next would be a table saw.  This is an area I am weak in the advise department, because I have a garbage table saw, and I know I should cough up the cash for a good one.  These two are the staple to most furniture builds. 

 

The next two I would reccomend is a router, and planer.  I have used many different planers, but only ever owned the DeWalt DW735.  That's $550-600 I have never missed.  Your lumber savings will pay for the planer in just a few projects.  Will pay more for pine fromt he big box stores than you will for domestic hardwoods at a wholesaler/mill.  If you have ever bought hardwood from a retailer, you will feel like you've been kicked in the biscuits when you realize how much markup you've paid. 

 

The router is a black hole of always wanting more, and better.  Depending on your projects a big box brand will really do most things adequatley.  There are a few, Porter Cable and DeWalt that are pretty good value models for the price that excel at some of the finer woodworking taskes. 

 

One thing I have come to realize is that there are tools designed for carpentry, and tools designed for fine woodworking.   Desiding where you think you will focus will save a lot of stress and money in the long run.

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Also saw some of the comments about the planers & jointers.  First skip the Jet combo you mentioned.  The tables are far too short for them to be effective for anything other than small parts.  I bought the Dewalt 734, which in the reviews is pretty much in a dead heat with the 735.  I have been VERY happy with the 734, and it can be $200 less in cost then the 735.  You can get by without a jointer to start with.  You can skip plane (VERY light passes in the planer) to get you boards flatten (won't be as good as the jointer, but most likely flat enough for your first projects)  For edge jointing, get a #5 Jack Plane.  If you search around for them, you can get an old Bailey for $30.  It is easier then you think to get a good edge with a decent hand plane.

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Wow! Thank you all a lot for such encouraging and thoughtful responses. I was afraid I was going to get blasted for being a dumb newbie and told to take a hike.... I understand the economics, but was pretty well prepared for the long slow path until I started reading about dust collection, which landed me on Bill Pentz's site, and that was like the straw that broke the camel's back and I kind of fell apart.

 

I will certainly see if I can map out a way ahead using bits and pieces from everyone's responses. I think the first step I need to make is dust collection - right now I have nothing except a mask. I see now that that is definitely inadequate. I'll look into a shop vac and jHop's other suggestions in that area first.

 

I see a lot of you are recommending using a planer without a jointer, but most places and the Woodcraft class all claim that is a big no-no since you are just putting a smooth face on potentially bent, bowed boards. Are you guys saying that for non-commercial stuff it's ok to do that?

 

I scour craigslist daily, and picked up about $450 worth of Jorgenson wood clamps and a couple pipe clamps for $20 yesterday. But so far nothing in the table saw / planer area. Will keep up the vigil :)

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Woodworking is very expensive as you have found out.  My advise, keep an eye out for auctions.  I've bought a good chunk of my tools at auction and saved a bunch of money.  

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Wow! Thank you all a lot for such encouraging and thoughtful responses. I was afraid I was going to get blasted for being a dumb newbie and told to take a hike.... I understand the economics, but was pretty well prepared for the long slow path until I started reading about dust collection, which landed me on Bill Pentz's site, and that was like the straw that broke the camel's back and I kind of fell apart.

 

 

I see a lot of you are recommending using a planer without a jointer, but most places and the Woodcraft class all claim that is a big no-no since you are just putting a smooth face on potentially bent, bowed boards. Are you guys saying that for non-commercial stuff it's ok to do that?

 

I scour craigslist daily, and picked up about $450 worth of Jorgenson wood clamps and a couple pipe clamps for $20 yesterday. But so far nothing in the table saw / planer area. Will keep up the vigil :)

Bills site is a bit overwhelming. I would suggest a jointer. Jointers are really a non commercial or small shop machine. You will need to have something for the planer to reference off of and thats where the jointer comes into play. You could fake it other ways but even a 6" craigslist special is worth its weight.

Don

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Bills site is a bit overwhelming. I would suggest a jointer. Jointers are really a non commercial or small shop machine. You will need to have something for the planer to reference off of and thats where the jointer comes into play. You could fake it other ways but even a 6" craigslist special is worth its weight.

Don

 

 

I agree the site is overwhelming.  It tends to rely on an overload of expertise to convince you to go "full bore" and get his practice, if not his products.  It still is a valid argument, but sometimes it's necessary to step back and say "what can I do with my budget?"

 

As for the jointer, I'd argue (respectfully, mind you) it is possible to delay this step while the budget recovers.  A router or table saw can get perpendicular edges once the faces have been planed flat with the planer.  (if the project board is narrow enough, the planer can double as the jointer with a sled/jig.) 

 

I'm not saying a jointer is not worth it's weight.  But if the budget only allows for so much, I'd suggest getting the planer first.  (even though it's the more expensive of the two, for my market.)

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every one has given you the advice you need  here is mine. 

 

Figure out what you want to make first then buy the tools you need for that project or that field of wood working.  if you dont want to fill a huge space and make furniture you can become a wood turner.  for that you realy only need bandsaw, jointer, and lathe. these can fit in a corner of your garage then you can turn firewood or logs from the neighborhood.    if you want  to do carving work then you dont even need a space of tools just a box to store everthing a comfey chair, and table.  alot of carver only use a boy scout knife and a broom to clean up there mess. 

 

craigs list is a great source of tools i went and virtualy shoped on there recently for every major tool and ended up being around 3k for everything.  and remember as a hobiest you dont need a 10" jointer that is a masive machine.  a 6" is fine for a hobbiest maybe 8" if you plan on making furniture.  i would sugest that you get a table saw, jointer, planer, bandsaw, grinders , router, jigsaw. drill press, random orbital sander, upright sander, miter saw.

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This hurts my OCD to say this but skip the dust collector and air cleaner for now and buy a respirator.  Nothing protects you better than the stuff you wear.  It has been years since I bought one but I seem to remember I paid like $40 for the mask and filters.  I've had to buy more filters since then obviously but those are a trifle. 

 

I'll second this. Between this and a shop vac with a decent filter (Ridgid's shop vacs hook up to a shocking variety of tools, especially if you're will to get creative) you'll deal with a lot of your dust problems. Also - if you notice a lot of fine dust settling afterwards, consider a DIY air cleaner. Get a box fan and zip tie a good pleated furnace filter to it. Let it run for 30 minutes after you're done working. If you only have smaller fans, you'll just need to get creative. Right now, I have a 2 8" fans (nice strong ones) sitting inside a box that came from amazon with the top and bottom opened up, and a filter on each side. Voila! Instant air filtration. 

 

Otherwise... I feel your pain with the expensive clean vs cheap rough lumber, but definitely ask your rough lumber source if they can at least get you square on 2 sides. Also, consider checking for community woodshops or local woodworking groups (or even a local community college). I only have a basement to work in, so I don't have room for many tools, so I take full advantage of my shop membership and plan ahead for things like jointing & planing wood or repetitive tablesaw cuts. Even paying hourly or daily, it'd take a lot of time to equal the cost of having a purpose-built shop built, much less populated with high quality tools.

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Amazing advice in this thread already. The way this is headed, I might have to make this an official sticky post!

 

I can't tell you how many times I have gotten comments on places like YouTube that say, "If I had a $400 router I could do that too!" Seriously? Yes Festool makes a kick-butt router, but at it's core, it's still a motor spinning a bit in circles and every brand of router does that much.

Are you sure, I've read that all those green tools were magic and the ts55 will change your life forever. :)

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I can't add much to what everyone has said so far , I would suggest you check around for some local woodworkers that can give you some assistance to jump start your learning curve . This forum is a great place to hook up with locals . Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need the latest and best tools out there to get going .  When I started woodworking many years back I had very few tools and a table saw wasn't one of them . 

 

Your local lumber yard may offer milling options for you at a very fair price . They can take rough lumber and joint and flatten it for you .  You might want to add where your from to your profile to help in searching out locals .

 

 Regards

Jerry  

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Take a deep breath, sit down, contemplate.  This is a lifetime journey.  See your progress as the sum of countless little steps.  There are many, many more to come.  No need to rush. 

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This hurts my OCD to say this but skip the dust collector and air cleaner for now and buy a respirator.  Nothing protects you better than the stuff you wear.  It has been years since I bought one but I seem to remember I paid like $40 for the mask and filters.  I've had to buy more filters since then obviously but those are a trifle. 

 

For getting started, a good mask like RWW mentions and a shop vac and you will be taken care of  (health wise)..  As others have mentioned, get the tools that you need for specific projects.  Don't overwhelm yourself with getting everything that you would LIKE to have, but rather what you need for particular projects.  Chances are there will be creative ways to use them that doesn't always seem initially apparent (allowing you to broaden your "project list").

 

As far as milling the lumber and the tools required to do that yourself, most lumber yards (the good ones) will final dimension your stock for a nominal fee.  It allows you to save quite a bit of $$ compared to buying from the big box stores and typically the quality is much better.  Also local sources are good doors to knock on.  A few times a year I have locals that ask me to mill some stock for them..  As long as they aren't expecting me to do it "right there and then", I am happy to do so. 

 

One good tip that works on me, a 12-pack of some tasty beer goes a long ways :P   That's typically a good payment at the end of a day!! 

 

Stick with it!! 

 

~Andy

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Are you sure, I've read that all those green tools were magic and the ts55 will change your life forever. :)

I don't know about the magic but the TS-55 changed my life forever. Of course I wouldn't recommend it to any one just entering the hobby even if they could afford it. I'm a firm believer in learning the hard way and then buying things to make your life easier.

I would recommend you don't buy anything just yet. Get good with what you have now. If all you have is a circular saw then make some super simple projects and get to where you can cut a straight line. Figure out how to use straight edges to help you. You can cut 3/4" dados with a circular saw if you have the time.

You really don't need much to make nice things. I picked up a hitachi table saw for $200 on sale at lowes 6 years ago and that's still the saw I use on every project. I will get a fancy cabinet saw eventually but the one I have does what I need it to. If it doesn't, well then I need to get creative. Which is the fun part of woodworking. I suggest building a tool cabinet for yourself. It could be a simple project and you don't have to worry about having to impress anyone with it so there shouldn't be any stress.

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My suggestion to you. Would be. Get a table saw. When you can. I would stay away from the job site models. I have a ridged 4512 and it is the best tool in my shop. But it took me over a year to get it. It is just as much as the PC and DeWalt models. But it is imo, so much better. And some times HD has it on sale. Then go with a miter saw then a router. After you have built a few small projects. Your conference and understanding for the craft will grow. As time goes on you will find out what works and what doesn't.
A sight to look at is grizley.com. They are a great sight and there tools are top quality. (Just my opinion).
As you desire growers so will your tools. If you can stay away from cheap tools. If I could get my money back on all the cheap tools I have bought. I would be 10k richer.

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