itself is the most important tool, having space to move about and assemble
projects is very important. Also being able to walk up and use your saw, workbench,
and tool cabinet unhindered without having to plug it in or clean it off
first should be a primary goal. It would be nice if that is true of your other equipment
as well but its especially important with these; consider this the Prime Directive.
think you can have too many overhead lights, my shop (which is under 450 square feet) has
eight dual 40w fluorescent fixtures and six 100w halogen bulbs. Also paint all your walls
and everything else you can white.
||In a typical
wood shop, the tablesaw is the core woodworking tool, the quality and usability of this
tool is proportional to the potential quality of everything produced from it; you cannot
buy a tablesaw that is too good.
gauge that comes with a saw is almost worthless. Dont waste your time trying to
improve it or even make extended fences for it. Either buy one of the cheaper aftermarket
miter gauges like the Incra, Osborne, or the Dubby crosscut jig or a true sliding table.
spend over $150 on an aftermarket miter gauge. Ill guess that 97% of ALL of your
crosscuts will be at 90 degrees, 2% might be at 45 degrees and 1% at some other specific
matching angle. While the ability to cut an accurate, repeatable angle other than 90
degrees is desirable, unless you have some special situation that requires it, you will
not use the capability these sooped up miter gauges advertise.
have or will be buying a better miter gauge or sliding table for the saw, the first jig
made in the shop should be a small 90 degree crosscut sled with a sliding flip stop than
can be set and directly read from a tape measure on the jig.
question for yourself, "how am I going to lift, move and cut, a 4x8 sheet of
plywood"? Cutting a 90+lb sheet of plywood on a tablesaw by yourself is at best
comical and could be dangerous as well. Cutting thin plywood is also a challenge. If I
were starting from scratch, I would try and think "outside the box" a little
here; one idea would be to use a panel saw of some sort.
furniture you will benefit from a jointer and planer unless you learn how to properly
dress stock with hand tools. The wood you buy is neither straight, flat, or of consistent
thickness. When cutting joints, it is highly beneficial to work with true stock; it is
also far less frustrating. These tools also make it easier to build square jigs which in
turn will make for better fitting joinery. If you are going to build furniture you should
be using these tools.
||You need to
have an adequate stock of sandpaper, screws, glue, and other similar items on-hand all the
time. You dont want to have to delay an assembly just because you didnt have
four 2" screws.
||Learn how to
sharpen your tools properly, you dont need to spend a lot of money on a machine to
do it but if thats what it takes
nail or screw anything to your shop walls if at all possible. Instead, use an angled cleat system run around the perimeter. You
can hang cabinets up on them, peg board, jigs or jig holders, almost anything and you can
re-arrange it later if you want.
||Put all your
tools and anything else that sits on the floor on a mobile base except for your main
workbench. It makes the shop easier to clean (or hose out) and you can rearrange the
layout later or create more open space as needed.
||You can store
a lot more in drawers than you can behind doors. If possible, convert any wasted space
under or around machines into drawer cabinets, you can increase the available storage
cannot be too organized, having a place for everything and everything in its place is an
investment in effort that will pay for itself many times over. Similarly, dont store
seldom used items in the shop if you have some other place to do so.
on demand is almost as useful as electricity, not having to listen to the air compressor
pump up would be nice as well, try and remote-locate the air supply.
||Box joints are
almost as nice as dovetails and a lot easier to cut correctly as long as you use a router
and a jig that does NOT use a registration pin. Either a comb-type jig or a positioning
machine like the Incra is the way to go.
||The Leigh dovetail jig is the way to go
for cutting dovetail joints unless you want to cut them by hand instead. The LittleRat will do even more for a
little more cost. Both these and a couple others create dovetails in the proper
scale to use useful for furniture. The cheap "cookie cutter" jigs work but
not as well.
||If you only
have one good saw blade, make it a Forrest WWII.
electrical service and put outlets every 4ft or so on the wall. Make sure the
outlets are high enough on the wall that you can get to them if there is a sheet of
plywood (48" high) leaning against the wall.
||It is worth it
to spend the extra money on high quality router bits for profiles that are often used like
a ¼" round-over. For less used profiles, cheaper bits will serve just as well.
||Use a dust
collector, a small 650cfm unit will work okay, a 2hp unit is MUCH better. If you
dont use a cyclone or separator of some kind, the DC will fill up so quickly
youll spend too much time cleaning your DC bags.
||There is more
than one type of woodworking glue, learn what they are, and when to use them.
wood filler to fix gouges or other large defects / mistakes, it always shows. Use a strip
of wood plugged or scarfed in instead, it usually isnt noticed.
||Get a good
quality square, straightedge, and feeler gauges to setup and check your machines with.
Dial indicators are nice for setting machines up too, two dial indicators can tell
you a lot more.
out and buy any jig or gadget unless you KNOW you will use it on your next project.
||If you are
inexperienced, dont waste your time investigating the purchase of off-brand power
tools; you dont know enough to ask the right questions and any discussion group
answers you get about them will most likely add to your confusion. Use this as a rule of
thumb, if it isnt in the Tool Crib catalog, dont consider buying it. That is
not to say that there arent other good power tools out there but there are worse
things that can happen to you than spending $30 or $300 too much for a tool.
information in magazine tool reviews with a grain of salt. Quite often they contain small
errors and large omissions. Additionally, consider this, the editors are not going to risk
their revenue stream by angering their advertisers with negative reviews. The evaluations
themselves are sometimes flawed and conducted by people who are not well versed in
measurement techniques or testing standards. This should not be surprising, they are
writers, not testers.
||Take the tool
information from woodworking discussion groups (and the web in general) with an even
bigger grain of salt. The primary benefit of these sources is that you can obtain a wide
variety of views that may otherwise be un-obtainable. You can also become quite confused
or misguided, you will have to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff yourself.
||You will need
about eight square feet of table space to set odds & ends down on in the shop. If you
dont have this then you will use your saw or workbench and violate the Prime
||Have as few
places in the shop for dust to settle or accumulate on or in as possible.
waste any money buying "plywood" sized router bits. There is enough variation in
plywood that you wont be able to use them for that purpose anyway.
||A pocket hole
jig should be one of the first ten tools you buy if you are into "power tool"
woodworking. Although it s probably frowned upon by elitists, it will enable a
novice to build projects with far fewer error inducing machine operations than would
otherwise be possible. Fewer mistakes in the shop equates to more fulfillment which
is probably one reason you are there anyway.