September 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm #2027240ZabinskyParticipantSeptember 13, 2015 at 7:54 pmPost count: 3
I have been digging through this site hourly almost for nearly a month. Absolutely love the wide array of information on here. For several years I have been doing wood “machining” in my small one car garage. I have loved the time and effort that shows with each completed project though I always seem to find a “need” for some new tool that is going to cost me hundreds of dollars. After devouring this site… I feel the need to dump those power tools and go back to the traditional roots. I’ve done the same thing with archery and have loved every minute of it.
With that being said, I have mainly been focusing on the start up of my traditional woodworking endeavor. The guides that have been set up are wonderful to say the least but are not giving me the exact direction I’m looking for. I currently have a drill press, table saw, bench sander, orbital sanders, drills, and blah blah blah. Honestly, I have every intention of keeping these around but only for minor construction work done on projects like the house or a friends house where I am fighting time with quality.
Here in lies my main problem. My budget right now is not great… approximately $500 total. Given the recommendations in the guide ( again LOVE it) I have been fighting eBay to score some inexpensive quality tools. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone else is willing to pay just a little more than I am. An old Disston hand saw in fairly rough condition should not be selling for $30-40 plus $15 in shipping right? So I would have the money invested in the saw, the sharpening tools, and with no real experience in restoring it… would I be better off to buy new?
So my real question is: What is my happy medium here? With only $500 to spend and an incredible itch to start building something, anything, just to get away from the computer and this site… no offense, what do I do? What are the absolute BARE MINIMUMS to get started? Maybe one saw, one plane, some marking gauges? I prefer to buy a tool that my son will someday take over and still use so quality is obviously important…..
Ok so SECOND attempt at the REAL QUESTION …. haha : If you had $500 today to spend, no tools what-so-ever and were starting a project tomorrow… what would you be buying? Let’s say the project is a mini square in an attempt to save money later.
My apologies for this being a slight rant / run on with several different directions. Too much cold medicine, love the site and thanks!
Jonas JensenParticipantSeptember 15, 2015 at 1:24 pmPost count: 17
Keep it simple
My advice is to keep it simple.
A start “kit” depends largely on the type of projects you want to make.
Brian Eve at “toolerable” made a series of post about a beginners tool kit which he recommends: http://toolerable.blogspot.nl/p/blog-page_13.html
I have made quite a few projects while at sea, so I have been forced to get by using a very limited tool kit. That too could work as a start kit. Here’s a link to a post that shows my travelling tool kit: http://mulesaw.blogspot.dk/2014/12/maritime-woodworking-tools.html
I use a hack saw for dovetailing, and a cheap general purpose saw for ripping, resawing an crosscutting. If it is something small I use the Japanese saw that I bring with me.
90% of the time I only use the 1/4″ and the 3/8″ chisels. The 1″ works as a paring chisel for me . But my projects are usually chests and things of that size.
The thing I find really makes a change for hand tool work is a dedicated scrub plane, or a dedicated scrub iron. That will enable you to prepare stock reasonably fast. The thing my tool kit needs is a jointer plane, but due to air line travel and weight restraints, I have chosen not to bring one.
Clamps are a thing that weighs heavy on a budget, and I think they are difficult to get by without.
You would need some sort of sharpening medium as well.
By keeping the kit pretty small, you are “forced” to work your way around a challenge, and that will develop you skills. If you have too many tools for a start, it is too easy to jump between tools all the time, and you might get the project done, but you spend too much time getting to know each tool and its strengths.
Since you have a table saw, I would use that one for preparing stock. Resawing is not fun to do by hand, and then you could perhaps spend some money on buying a dovetail saw instead of a Disston.
Best of luck
Mike in TNParticipantSeptember 23, 2015 at 12:58 pmPost count: 301
Jonas has the right idea. The world is full of people telling you, “you just absolutely have to have —- “(fill in the blank). Too much of the woodworking advice comes from those with something to sell. I can remember when woodworkers were advised that you absolutely HAD to have a Radial arm saw and trash compactor in every kitchen.
I have been in your shoes and my first piece of advice is: Recognize that this is about YOU! You have to look at where you are at in regards to your situation and where you want to go with it. For some, whittling a tree branch with a pocket knife into a spoon is sufficient. Some can’t be satisfied with a 4000 sq.ft. super-shop.
Jonas is right with is advice to accept that coming up with solutions to the challenges rewards you with an increased skill level.
To answer your question and knowing what I know now:
1) If I had $500 to blow on traditional tools I would consider myself fortunate and would be more concerned with function over collectability.
2) I would forget about EBay, Woodcraft, Rockler, Lee Valley, Highland Woodworking, or any other retailer. You can let them have their profits later.
3) Estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores, and Craigslist would now become my favorite shopping venues. Most traditional tools are either extremely high priced new items or have been around for a while and either in the hands of dealers or are in someone’s collections. Estate sales, flea markets, and yard sales are filled with stuff no one longer wants. Be patient and have a definite list of what you want right now, and a smaller list of what you think could use soon. Be patient. Estate sales are great because many heirs don’t have any interest in the items or have a clue what they sell for on the open market. Many estate sales companies do realize the value but price items cheap because they just want to move a large volume in a short amount of time.
4) Don’t junk your power tools. Most shops are hybrid and the power tools can reduce the labor, help with the tool restoration, or can be traded off later. You would be amazed at the people willing to give up a whole garage filled with hand tools for a used router.
5) Find a local group of woodworkers to hang out with. As a group they tend to share knowledge and can often put you on to some good deals. Many of the older guys (or girls) would love to have you over for a cup of coffee and some shared shop time. You can pick their brains and can try out their tools.
6) Ask friends and relatives about any old tools they know about. They may have something or know someone who does.
7) Look for clues in ads about hidden tools. If someone is selling several power tool items they might have hand tools that they thought were just to small to list. They often just don’t realize the value of hand tools.
8) Use recycled or found materials for you projects, for practice, for shop made tools, etc. Save the money for tools that should last you years instead of materials ending up as sawdust and shavings..
9) Build it yourself. Many traditional tools and appliances can be shop-built and will give you good practice in the building.
10) Delay buying books, videos, or paid classes until later. There is a huge amount of such information available in your local library and online. Traditional woodworking has been around a long time and has generated lots of information free for the asking.
11) Don’t get caught up in the idea that you have to have many function-specific tools. It’s nice to have lots of tools but a fine tooth rip backsaw will dovetail, crosscut, and do most tenon cuts. I have four backsaws at my bench right now but I could easily get by with one. You can easily do mortices with a bench chisel.
12) Sometimes a cheap new tool is your best option. You can spend $10 at the yard sale and bring back a wonderful old Disston crosscut. Then you would probably have to restore it, after you bought the tools, gained the knowledge of how to do it, and spent a few hours in the work. Or you could just go to Home Depot buy a $10 crosscut saw and have a functional tool for a few years. You are probably just going to use it for rough cutting a few boards to length at a time anyway. Harbor freight c clamps seem to be pretty good and their planes can be turned into decent scrub planes if you can’t find an old plane to convert. All tools don’t have to be collectable to perform so you have to figure out if you are a user, collector, or both. If you want to do both, be prepared to spend more time and/or money and learn some more skills.
13) Don’t jump on the “super bench” bandwagon. You can do good work on a simple basic bench (if you need a bench at all for the kind of work you do) for a long, long time. Save the “super bench” for a future project for after you have refined your needs and your skills.
To wrap this up, it all depends on what YOU want to do. Windsor chair making requires tools different from box making and that will drive your decisions on what constitutes a basic set of tools. If you want to do basic, traditional bench work, I would recommend the following, all used if possible or otherwise stated:
1) A “big box” crosscut carpenters saw for rough cuts, cheap, no special skills to prep for work and immediately ready.
2) A brand name, 12 inch combination square. Check it for square or adjust it.
3) A lock back pocket knife.
4) Some good pencils.
5) A plane set up for roughing. This could be a scrub or a fore, depending on how you would be working.
6) A plane set up for smoothing. I would prefer a #6 which could be used as a long soothing plane or a short joiner. These don’t carry the expense of longer jointer planes and perform both functions. This is not my favorite plane for either function but will do the work and keeps me to just the one plane. This would be the most expensive of all of the items on my list but still can be done for under $50 in my area. If you were willing to go through the set up process, you could use the same plane for the rough work of a fore plane with a cambered blade but this would get awfully tiring, changing back and forth for each task.
7) “Scary sharp” materials, a flat support such as a flat tile, float glass, ground marble, etc. and some courser paper for plane flattening.
8) A small set of used brand name chisels, or a new small set from ALDI or Narex.
8) A study flat work surface (bench). There are substitutes for vises. There are substitutes for benches too but I did classify this as bench work.
9) A basic set of clamps, hopefully a set that will work with your bench to restrain work.
10) Finishing materials and tools as required.
11) A sharp 16TPI rip cut tenon-sized backsaw. A gents type saw could be substituted for some applications but I would prefer the previous type. A Ryobi type saw could be substituted and offers some advantages but is not my preferred saw.
12) A “eggbeater” drill and bits.
13) A coping saw. Not necessary for most functions but cheap and handy.
With this set, and materials, I could make most of the other devices and appliances needed for most work. The other tools that normally come to mind such as block planes, marking gauges, mallets, shoulder planes, etc., are not necessary to fundamental work or could be made by the worker.
ZabinskyParticipantSeptember 26, 2015 at 10:54 pmPost count: 3
Some Ebay Success
Ok, so after a few “wins” on eBay, lets see what you guys think. So far, I have won:
<p style=”text-align: center;”>Stanley No 4 Bench Plane ( G12-204 )</p>
<p style=”text-align: center;”>Stanley No 5 1/2 Bench Plane</p>
<p style=”text-align: center;”>Disston #8 Hand Saw 26″ blade with a D handle</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>All of these were picked up for under $20 minus shipping. I figured the restoration of the hand planes would be easier. They aren’t too terrible and should serve my purpose as there are no cracks on them whatsoever.</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>The saw is actually in pretty good shape. The teeth are sharp and it looks fairly well maintained. Im not sure if it’s a rip or crosscut… listing did not say and just looking at it I do not know ( newbie mistake ).</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>I plan on using my power drill and kreg jig when needed but intend on using more mortise and tenon joints overall. I am very anxious to learn those and actually use them. The table saw I would like to try and get away from if possible and maybe keep the drill press?</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Next I feel the need to find a good set of chisels and a marking gauge. I have looked at those Narex and think that may be the way to go in the very near future. Also, looking to pick up a means of sharpening ASAP as I will need them for the planes. Really could use a good suggestion for that.</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>I always wanted to be able to make a table top but the table saw doesn’t replace a real jointer. Im hoping that I can learn the hand planes well enough to do this soon. My first project will come from necessity as my son needs his own toy box. I think this will be a great first project and would like to know your thoughts. Im trying to find a simple yet classy plan for one of these and if anyone could suggest one, that would be great.</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Again, thank you all for your input and I look forward to hearing back! Let me know what you think on those first tool purchases and a good suggestion for a means to sharpen the planes and soon to be bought chisels. Thanks!!</p>
Mike in TNParticipantOctober 11, 2015 at 11:31 amPost count: 301
A toy box sounds like an excellent project and I hope you will keep us up to date on the progress. It would probably be best to just go to the local big box store and invest in some of their common materials for this. I would like to see you have some early success for you and your family to enjoy while you develop your skills. A lot of folks jump into a project where the details are far beyond their skill levels or are beyond the capability of their tools and become disillusioned. The idea is to challenge but not wear out the joy.
If I were you I just go with a simple box of my own design or pull some pictures off of the internet to help me out. Working out the details would be a good learning experience, as opposed to simply taking a packaged plan. You do need to look into lid closure hardware to protect those little fingers.
You can use a jointing sled with your table saw, along with a plane to, get good tight joints for glue-ups. The tooth size-count-per-inch and sharpening configuration should tell you whether the Disston is set up for rip or crosscut.
I normally use diamond stones, oil stones, ceramic files and stones, and metal files (for saws) for most of my sharpening and use MDF and a couple of wheels (cotton and MDF) on my drill press, charged with compound, for honing. It all depends on what I am sharpening (as opposed to shaping). A lot of folks love water stones. You can invest a lot in sharpening supplies and there is a lot of discussion out there on what is preferred or what is cheapest , long term and short term. I would suggest you investigate the “scary sharp” method due to the fact that it works, and has a low initial cost. There are a lot of good videos out on this and the materials are widely available.
Seth RuffinParticipantOctober 23, 2015 at 10:17 pmPost count: 62
My Two Cents
<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: -apple-system-font; font-size: 12px; line-height: 16px;”>Hey, </span>Wish I had been able to read and respond to this post earlier but I got very sick and was unable to do much of anything for the last two months.I started traditional woodworking just a year ago. I also had some basic power tools but no traditional hand tools.I also absorbed Joshua’s site to learn how to start getting into traditional woodworking and how to spot quality traditional hand tools. I also do not have large sums of money to invest in new tools so I found myself in the same predicament as you a year ago.As everyone has said which tools you need is dependent on what you build. I like larger projects: tables, rockers, benches, I’m hoping to build a treadle lathe soon. So my desired tools may be a little different than yours.So to answer your question, after only a year of traditional woodworking, here is what I would buy again or wish I had sought out.1) Stanley #4 smoothing planeI’m with Paul Sellers in that you can do pretty much any work with a number 4. It is by far my preferred plane. I got a number 5 bench plane also because it was cheap and have appreciated it but I definitely can do whatever task is needed with a 4. It may take more time and more referencing with a straight edge to do a joiners task with a smoothing plane but it can be done. I just the other day bought a transitional fore plane so the longer planes are definitely lower on my list.2) sandpaper and honing compoundSandpaper of various grits (80, 180, and 330) I got a porter cable sticky back in 10 yard rolls for fairly cheap on Amazon. Sandpaper will be needed to clean up and tune the hand planes but it can also be used for sharpening at the start. Yes sandpaper and honing paste are not the best sharpening medium but if your on a budget it can get you by until you can save up for nicer water stones. I got my stones for Christmas otherwise I’d still be using sandpaper and honing paste.3) Go to a counter store with a straightedge and beg for a scrap piece of hard rock for your reference surface. Make sure the piece is flat.This will be used to stick the sandpaper to and clean up tools. I was able to be one for free since it was a scrap piece about 6″ wide by about 3′ 6″ long4) A fine toothed, 10 tpi or more, rip saw.A well tuned fined toothed rip saw can do almost any cut well especially if you practice the 3 classes of cuts promoted by Christopher Schwarz. It make take longer to cut than with a more aggressive saw and it may take some extra care to make a cleaner cut but you can make due with only this saw. I only in the last couple months have gotten some new saws because I won a lot auction on eBay. I also have a tenon saw I got for my birthday in March. Otherwise I have made due with only the rip saw. Again, other saws can make cuts easier but you can make due with only a fine toothed rip saw. Personally I think my saw technique has benefited from my lack of saw verity.Since you only have one saw you also only need two files which you can find cheaply, a fine toothed 8 mill bastard file and a fine slim taper file.5) I would only buy chisels as needed.If you only need a 3/4″ mortise than just buy that one chisel. I can make due with about three chisels. I got lucky early when I started and found someone selling a set of 750 chisels for a good price so I invested a lot of my initial tool money in it.6) scrapperI waited a long time to buy a scrapper but I wish I’d bought one or even more so made one early on. If you can find a cheap junk saw you can make a scrapper. Just cut up the bald and square up the edges.7) decent work surfaceI worked for 8 months off a to small surface. Go to a construction site where you can find some free 2×4 and glue them together to make a 2′ x 6′ top then use some more 2x4s to screw together a frame to get it of the ground. Then plane it flat. I recently built a bench top (no vices) and it has made a huge difference. You can use some clamp systems like plane stops, bench hooks, doe foot, and a couple clamps to get by and plane and shape your work.8) clampsIt sucks and they take a chunk out of your tool budget but they are hard to get by without. I bought Bessey bar f clamps from Home Depot. It’s better though to search used shops,Craigslist, or to he used locations. Depending on where you live used tools can be abundant or scare. I live in Denver and traditional tools are scarce. I bought the bare necessity of what i needed for a project or for bench clamping (like clamping a board to my work surface so I could plane).9) a squareIf needed a cheap construction quick square will work, just make sure it is square. As far as other layout tools like a marking gauge, in a pinch you can make one out of a board and screw. If you plan to do a lot of dovetailing you could get a bevel square but you can just as easily build a layout template of wood.I think those are my bare minimum start tools but I can get any of the projects I’ve built over the last year or planned for the next year completed with just those tools.My couple of additional tools I would look for to try to add if I could would be a cheap block plane and auger bits.I would start by building a saw bench or a similar project with primarily mortises and tenons. I say that mostly because I haven’t ventured into dovetailing yet.
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