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In this guest perspective from Bill Rainford, traditional joiner, we learn a powerful method for analyzing today’s tool prices and thinking about which tools you really need in your shop. This article is about woodworking hand tools, but as someone who has visited Bill’s shop, I can tell you that he is no hand-tool purist. You’d love some of the machinery, new and old, he has acquired and cared for over the years.
As someone who is just progressing past being a “beginner” (just getting into building furniture) in the woodworking community, I would say there are a number of changes I would make to your list. First, I would say that a power jointer/thicknesser does not belong on the list by any means. They are way too large of an investment and take up a lot of space (not to mention you can buy your stock at the desired dimensions). I also strongly disagree with the concept of joinery devices. As someone new to the trade, I feel this is a very important skill that must be developed, not skipped over by buying devices power devices that achieve a single goal. I think the jigsaw should be replaced by a good bandsaw. I just purchased my first major power tool and it was a 14″ bandsaw and not a tablesaw for space reasons as well as versatility. The bandsaw allows me to resaw, cut curves, (now that it is adjusted for drift) rip pieces of stock accurately that are thicker than a table saw could handle, etc. Once the cut is complete, a handplane can remove any saw marks and square/flatten a surface. It is also really useful for cutting tenons and dovetails. Handsaws can be used for crosscutting and anything else the bandsaw cannot handle. As for a bench, if you are getting into woodworking, this should be your first real project (and it is not expensive to make). You are also missing a good vise to be attached to the bench.
Other than the panel saw, all my kit fits into a 50x33x17cm wooden wine box. After years of relying on power tools for everything, I’ve found this minimalist approach very refreshing. Asking myself ‘will it fit in the box?’ helps me to curb ‘add to basket’ tendencies. My only additions to your list are a Stanley No. 18 block plane, a Lie Nielsen dowel plate and a small engineers set square, all non-essential but they do get used.
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I tried to write a book that contains all the essential information for the novice woodworker as well as some more advanced tips and tricks to jumpstart your existing woodworking skills. You won’t find any useless theories or unnecessary technical jargon to bog you down. What you will find is practical, hands-on information and advice that will save you hours of frustration (pretty good deal, huh?).
We recommend buying quality, age-appropriate tools. Even if you purchase professional class tools, your investment can still be modest, as demonstrated by our 24-piece Highland Woodworking Tool Kit for Kids. It contains real tools of a quality that will serve any woodworker, and we've selected them based on what is needed for the kind of woodworking projects that kids are likely to undertake.
In the sixty years of woodworking I have found two tools of increasing necessity. One is a band saw. I can do most of my work with a band saw and hand plane. The second tool is a bow saw, or actually several bow saws. They will replace the band saw if required, though they are slow. One I made about twenty years ago has a one and a half inch wide rip blade and is about thirty inches long. I think the blade is from an old industrial band saw blade I picked up and sharpened into a rip saw blade. It works very well on ripping lumber, logs, etc. Though it tires me out to much to use it now.