Absolute beginner, becoming frustrated


BDY33
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Lots of sound advice and encouragement here already. As this is a recurring theme, figured I'd toss out a bit of personal experience. I had some DIY basic tools such as drills, circular saw, hammers, etc. Married a woman who had a contractor type table saw. An older model but much more solid than the cheap benchtop, big box, so-called table saws. [On vacation, I once used my brothers HD type and it scared the xxxx out of me.] That was good to get me going. I too discovered the frustration that the books all seemed to assume you had jointer, planer and boat load of other tools.

 

But I worked with what I had (did buy two decent hand planes for basic wood prep before I sprung for the jointer and planer). Bought a few items such as router, bench top drill press. Also began to look at Craigslist. In our area it is good for contractor type tools but not so much for quality furniture type tools. Eventually though, came across a PowerMatic 2000. Used commercially for three years, but by totally OCD type so it looked and worked like new. Price was more than I was gonna pay for a Grizzly or such, but more solid and he included router, jigs and good stuff. Cost $1400. I sold the contractor type for $150 and am sure they have gotten good DIY use out of it. 

 

The newer hybrids seem to get good marks though might be a bit out of your initial budget at the moment, but not that much more than contractor type and seem to offer nice advantages. Full cabinet saw seems to make things go smoother and proceed with more confidence, but they are not required to get started, or even have a lifetime of good work/play.

 

I began six years ago, and never imagined that I'd have spent as much as I have. But as many have said, one (or two) things at a time, when you need them. Or, after you made do on a project without 'em. I am mostly retired so the woodworking is a full time hobby these days and much satisfaction is accrued. Mostly I've bought new, but Craigslist has been great to supplement the shop. 

 

Fun aspect is that my wife enjoys having the tools to borrow for her projects. Funny, she'll talk about some little thing for her office or garden and I'll begin formulating a design and thinking in terms of months to build...my way. She says, "No, I want it for Monday. Just get out of my way." Doesn't look like my work, but sure gets done quicker. 

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p.s. re: limited space
More space would be nice, but it is not as important as having more clamps.
I'm mostly a driveway woodworker, which creates some seasonal issues, but mostly works well in our area. Almost all my tools are on wheels or carts with wheels. Even the tools that stay in the garage such as table saw, drill press, band saw have to have other tools rolled into the driveway to gain access. 

We learned the hard way (more than once of course) that I cannot run the dust collector (Craigslist find) and the clothes dryer at the same time. 

One of the attractions of woodworking is figuring out a way to achieve desired results with the tools and space one has available. 
Best wishes to all new (and new at heart) woodworkers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for this post.  The OP echoes much of what I've been thinking as I get started.  Watching and reading a lot of "getting started" was making me feel like I had to buy a ton of new equipment and that I was an idiot if I wasn't buying everything at the absolute top of the line.  It's nice to see some advice that's not quite so scary, or expensive, for someone starting out and just getting their feet wet.  

 

Thanks to everyone that suggested looking at used to get started.  I hadn't really thought of that before.  I've started looking at Craig's list  every few days to see if I can find anything that looks good that I need.  I'm thinking a good table saw, planner, and joiner should be up next on what I should get.  I have a decent circular saw, router, and drills now along with a cheap (Ryobi) table saw and miter saw.  The table saw was almost useless on my first project due to size. My main concern with buying used though is knowing what's a good deal and if the equipment is still in good shape.  If anyone has any good advice on that, please post away.  Also let me know if you know of any good deals in the Phoenix area.  

 

Marc, ever thought of having a beginner's topic area to move threads like this one that contain good getting started info in to provide as a reference? It's hard to find the topics that are aimed at beginner questions and advice.  I know for me it's helpful to read posts like this one to both learn and for self confidence.  It's nice to see I'm not the only one making dumb mistakes or struggling to get started with something.

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I just bought a used table saw from Craigslist, a Ridgid TS2424. Here's how I knew it was the right one, or at least worthy of taking a look at it in person. 

 

I had been looking at saws every day on CL, and if they were covered in dust, had stuff stacked on top of them, or were covered with rust (if cast iron.) Unless you like power tool restoration projects (I don't) I'd stay away from those. 

 

The saw had to look good, first and foremost. Now this is Florida, and if I stand still in the shop too long, I start to rust. So some surface rust was OK, but some of the stuff I saw was terrible.

 

I also looked for clues as to how it was used. For example, one guy was shutting down his deck building business. I knew that saw had been dragged around in the back of a truck and used for rough lumber cutting. No thanks. And if I called and asked if they had the inserts, or any parts that appeared to be missing in the picture and they didn't know what I was taking about, I avoided that.

 

The ideal is someone who says they've upgraded to a better saw. That's what I found. There was an ad with limited description and no picture, but it was close to my house, so I called the guy. He told me the saw model, and without me asking, also told me it had a zero-clearance insert, a dado insert and a shop made outfeed table. He was only selling it because he had just bought the SawStop cabinet saw and didn't have room for two in the shop. I drove right over, inspected the saw and bought it, because I knew he was using it for woodworking, and had taken good care of it.

 

Plan, after getting it home, to break out the manual and walk through the alignment procedures just like it was a brand new saw. Expect that after moving it, that things have gotten knocked out of line.

 

Hope it helps.

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Thanks, Bob.  That's very helpful.  Unfortunately most of what I've seen so far has fit you're bad criteria.  Most are either buried under other junk or look like they were dragged behind the truck to a job site.  I'll keep looking to see if I can find something good.

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Thanks, Bob.  That's very helpful.  Unfortunately most of what I've seen so far has fit you're bad criteria.  Most are either buried under other junk or look like they were dragged behind the truck to a job site.  I'll keep looking to see if I can find something good.

 

Took me almost a month to find the right saw. But the results are worth it. I have a good contractor style saw, that's been very well taken care of, with an outfeed table for $250. Can't touch some benchtop saws for that.

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This thread has turned into a goldmine of ideas, thanks to all who replied. It's been about 5 weeks since I wrote the first post, so I thought I'd come back and give a brief update.

 

So the first big hurdle was to actually clean the garage and optimize space. To that end I borrowed a friend's miter saw and built some 8' x 8' shelves and rearranged everything in the garage. Now I have about an 8'x10' space (give or take) to work with.

 

I bought a Ridgid R4512 Table Saw last weekend - I had been considering a Bosch 4100 or a DeWalt portable, since I had not heard of the Ridgid and assumed all the other good saws were well over $1000. Man am I glad you guys suggested the Ridgid. I may not know a whole lot about saws but it certainly seems like a lot of saw for the price. It's like night and day between using it and using a circular saw to prepare pieces. Wow. Maybe I was lucky, but from what I can tell using my squares, it looks like it came pretty darn close to squared up out of the box. Extremely happy with this purchase. Got a Freud 50 tooth blade to go in it for now. Built a cross cut sled the other day as well.

 

I got a Ridgid shop vac for clean up, some tubing to fit it onto the TS, and am contemplating getting an Oneida cyclone down the road. For now I got a small air blower from Costco and built a small box to hold 2 filters next to the intake, 1 cheapo and 1 ultra-fine on the inside to scrub the air. I am sure it's not ideal but for less than $70 hopefully it's enough to get started.

 

Got a set of dado blades which I haven't tried yet. I actually already had a DeWalt 618 router that I haven't used yet (birthday present last year), but plan to soon. To be honest I'm a little hesitant trying to learn it cold (without physical instruction), so I've signed up for the Intro to Routers class at my local Woodcraft store to ease into that.

 

Right now most of my tools are stored on regular, open garage shelving, and with kids running around all the time I'd like to get them into a closed cabinet/shelves next. So next project is to build something in that vein. I started to look at this set of plans given my small space, but they seem really poorly articulated - the cut list and plan referenced is incomplete and has some parts shown multiple times, etc. So then I went looking, found these plans which looked very clearly laid out, only to realize they require wood that is beyond my grasp to get at the moment without a planer or jointer. Argh!

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Hi BDY33,

 

If you find a the timber preparation a bit much at the moment you could always give the cutting list to a joiner or lumberyard to prepare the wood. It's sometimes good to do this on early projects as buying all the gear in one go can be really expensive. It also gives you the chance to meet up with local pros.

If you want a nice starter tool storage idea perhaps these might be worth a look. This one was a build from the thewoodwhisperer.com and this one on lost art press . I really like the one on lost art press as its all in ply wood version of the tool chest so no scary joinery and I think the result looks real nice.

Keep us up to date on your projects.

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I've taken the intro to routers class at Woodcraft.  It wasn't hands on (at least at the one near me) but I learned quite a bit.  It even got me to try to freehand route something small for my shop... which is currently being put to use as a shelf support.

 

  

 

have some fun with it.  You never know what you'll discover.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have also recently gotten bitten by the woodworking bug. I have probably bought more stuff than I should have at this point, but I haven't gone completely off the deep end. I have been primarily sticking to used tools on craigslist to augment some of the stuff that I already had (circular saw, drill, random orbital sander, somewhat decent hand tools). I set a starter budget of $500 for power tools and have put together what I think is a decent mini workshop.

 

so far I have picked up :

 

14" Delta band saw ($100)

12" DeWalt Compound miter ($100)

old Franklin Foundry drill press ($40)

20+ year old 1.75hp craftsman plunge router mounted in a table ($30)

Vintage 1952 Delta 34-500 8" table saw on a nice steel movable base. ($35 and I had to drive half a mile away)

 

I have spent some time tuning up the table saw  and I am starting to wonder if I am putting too much effort into a starter saw.

 

I wet sanded the rust off with WD40 and 400 grit sand paper, put a coat of paste wax on it and the table cleand up pretty well. Cleaning out and lubing up the tilt and lift mechanisms made it operation quite a bit smoother, I also replaced the old belt with a link belt and rewired the motor. I have started in on building an attached drop leaf outfeed table and mounting a the router table as an extension. I also created a zero clearance insert with a microjig splitter.

 

It certainly cuts quite a bit better after the tune up and a new blade, but at the end of the day it is still a 3/4hp 8" saw. While I think I am ok for now, I don't know what I don't know. There is a seemingly endless supply of 10" craftsman saws on craigslist for $100 or less. What do I lose by sticking with the 8" saw? I feel like I have learned quite a bit from getting it back in shape and that is probably worth what I spent on it but I don't want to hamstring myself if it is worth starting out with a larger saw.

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I have also recently gotten bitten by the woodworking bug. I have probably bought more stuff than I should have at this point, but I haven't gone completely off the deep end. I have been primarily sticking to used tools on craigslist to augment some of the stuff that I already had (circular saw, drill, random orbital sander, somewhat decent hand tools). I set a starter budget of $500 for power tools and have put together what I think is a decent mini workshop.

 

so far I have picked up :

 

14" Delta band saw ($100)

12" DeWalt Compound miter ($100)

old Franklin Foundry drill press ($40)

20+ year old 1.75hp craftsman plunge router mounted in a table ($30)

Vintage 1952 Delta 34-500 8" table saw on a nice steel movable base. ($35 and I had to drive half a mile away)

 

I have spent some time tuning up the table saw  and I am starting to wonder if I am putting too much effort into a starter saw.

 

I wet sanded the rust off with WD40 and 400 grit sand paper, put a coat of paste wax on it and the table cleand up pretty well. Cleaning out and lubing up the tilt and lift mechanisms made it operation quite a bit smoother, I also replaced the old belt with a link belt and rewired the motor. I have started in on building an attached drop leaf outfeed table and mounting a the router table as an extension. I also created a zero clearance insert with a microjig splitter.

 

It certainly cuts quite a bit better after the tune up and a new blade, but at the end of the day it is still a 3/4hp 8" saw. While I think I am ok for now, I don't know what I don't know. There is a seemingly endless supply of 10" craftsman saws on craigslist for $100 or less. What do I lose by sticking with the 8" saw? I feel like I have learned quite a bit from getting it back in shape and that is probably worth what I spent on it but I don't want to hamstring myself if it is worth starting out with a larger saw.

If you have the band saw in a good working condition as well, I can't think of anything too important off the top of my head that would require you to have a bigger table saw.

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In my opinion, the best argument to go with the 10" table saw would be a dado stack.  Since you aren't going to run a 10" dado stack on it (you aren't planning on it, right?), you'll want a little more horsepower to push the 8" dado blades through the wood.

 

 

Or....

 

You could use hand planes or the router table to cut your dados.  The router lets you get a more accurately flat bottom on the dado anyway... and you don't have to face the argument over which set of dado blades to buy.  (If you were to get some, though, I'd argue the 6" version.  Sure, you are looking at a maximum depth of around 2 1/2" for a dado, but I can't remember the last time I needed a dado that deep anyway.)

 

So I'd say you're fine with the saw you've got.

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Thanks for chiming in guys.

I actually scored a $20 6 inch dado stack off of eBay. Glad I didn't unknowingly buy an 8 inch.

I have had a ton of luck with used tools so far, aside from a rather scary experience with the router collet breaking and ricocheting a bit off the wall of my garage. I probably should have watched a few router safety videos while I was studying up on tablesaw safety.

Does anyone have any resources or pointers for efficiently working with bench top power tools? I feel like I have been playing musical chairs swapping the band saw, miter saw and drill press around.

Are there any reasons not to mount the router table in a right extension table on my table saw?

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Read , practice, experiment and learn from your mistakes. Every time I have made a cut for the last 40 years or so I have a concentration on the blade, my fingers and which way I am going to bail out if anything goes wrong. At the first sign of a pinch or kickback I am letting go and stepping aside in one fluid motion! Practice and experience will build confidence but constantly planing your bailout path is prudent.

Pay extremely close attention to how a tool feels and how it is flat against a surface. Listen to the sounds, feel the vibrations. When it feels or sounds different figure out why. A loose bolt, dull blade or dying bearing can ruin your day. It pays to have a diverse set of skills. A bit of mechanic, machinest , plumber, electrician, carpenter and nurse all come in handy in the shop on a regular basis.

I sure wish I had a resource like this forum when is was growing up. But I did have a father and grandfather who taught me so much and allowed me to make my own mistakes (and learn from them).

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I have spent some time tuning up the table saw  and I am starting to wonder if I am putting too much effort into a starter saw.

 

I wet sanded the rust off with WD40 and 400 grit sand paper, put a coat of paste wax on it and the table cleand up pretty well. Cleaning out and lubing up the tilt and lift mechanisms made it operation quite a bit smoother, I also replaced the old belt with a link belt and rewired the motor. I have started in on building an attached drop leaf outfeed table and mounting a the router table as an extension. I also created a zero clearance insert with a microjig splitter.

 

It certainly cuts quite a bit better after the tune up and a new blade, but at the end of the day it is still a 3/4hp 8" saw. While I think I am ok for now, I don't know what I don't know. There is a seemingly endless supply of 10" craftsman saws on craigslist for $100 or less. What do I lose by sticking with the 8" saw? I feel like I have learned quite a bit from getting it back in shape and that is probably worth what I spent on it but I don't want to hamstring myself if it is worth starting out with a larger saw.

 

Chuck,

Where did you learn how to recondition your saw?  

I'm interested in taking this path as well...I read your post with interest.

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I pulled together table saw reconditioning and maintenance info from a number of sources. I focused mainly on finding the solutions for individual problems instead of trying to find a single source for everything.

The biggest chore was definitely getting the cast iron table back in shape. I gave it a once over with a brass bristled brush and then wiped it down with a damp paper towel. The next step was spraying the top down with WD 40 and sanding with 400 grit. I was amazed at how well this worked. After a thorough wipe down and a coat of paste wax I am really pleased with the results.

This weekend I scored a $40 6" craftsman jointer with some rust and no knives. It is in much better shape than the table saw was, so it should be up and running in short order.

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Chuck,

 

Well that seems simple enough.

I'd looked on Amazon.com to see what the subject of table saw maintenance looked like.  

Doesn't seem to be a popular subject.  I think an owner's manual would be helpful which shouldn't be too hard to find.

 

I don't plan to take on a project that requires repair, but you never know what can happen.

 

I was curious as to your resources.

Thanks for answering. 

 

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I've looked at some posts about old saws how they should look good well some look ruff from sitting maybe dad died and family dont know what to do with it i was lucky to find an old Unisaw.

It was ruff now it has been completely

rebuilt inside and out I have about 750-800 dollars in it including sliding table and unifence i think it is well worth it plus you know all about your equipment

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