Canoe Shop Power Tools


LOVES Wooden Canoes
I'm in the process of building a shop in my basement. I partitioned off an L shaped room where the wood stove was located so I could conserve heat, but still have enough room to work on canoes.
In the other section of the basement I have a rack where I keep my canoes, finished canoes and projects I plan on restoring and selling to supplement my canoe projects/trips after retirement this July:).
I have posted some pictures of both rooms.
I have no power tools other than hand tools and I'm looking for advice on what to buy.
There are lots of tools on Craigslist and I read on another post here that going "used" is the way to go.
I feel that a table saw and band saw will be a good start, but I don't know what type of power or specs I should look for.
Here was a post on CL for a table saw
"Craftsman 10" table saw with 1.5 H.P motor. Cast Iron table with wing extensions. Model 315.228390"
Is that a good enough saw for my needs?
Band saw, what size?
I will be resawing cedar for ribs and planks, and ash for gunnells. I am also building a "one off" form and need to cut the plywood stations.
I will also need these tools for a barn and breezeway restoration
Thanks for any advice.


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Hi Robin

I use a table saw, 14" band saw, 13" planer, and shaper/router for my shop. I have a jointer but do not use it. hand power consists of various sanders and a jig saw. Hand tools consist of too few clamps of all kinds. Planes. spokeshaves. My favorite is a low angle block plane from Lie Nielsen (sp) You'll also come up with home made jigs and fixtures and marking gauges. Dust collection is nice to have. Scrapers, rasps, chisels. Pull saws. And bandaids. Keep the bandaids next to the pull saws. I have several cordless drills. My favorite is a Craftsman 12 v litium compact. enough power, lots of control, light, and those lithium batteries last. Only about a hundred bucks at Sears. As you can see, it adds up.
A couple of quick thoughts: In table saws, sharp cutters, accuracy, and power are important. The Sears 1.5 HP saw falls far short on accuracy and power. The more power, the safer the saw. I would hold out for an older Delta Unisaw or similar Powermatic, Walker-Turner, Yates-American, etc. with 2.5 or 3 HP minimum. These machines are heavily made and can be brought back into excellent shape. Bearing replacement is easy. One of the old Sears saws would be Ok as a compromise, but it should have been made before 1960. Invest in a high-quality carbide blade or two and keep them professionally sharpened. This is an important safety consideration.

Keep an eye out for an older 14" bandsaw made by Delta, Powermatic, Walker-Turner, etc. The Delta is the first choice as it will take a riser block. Don't be tempted by an older Tiwanese import. They can be almost impossible to bring into usable condition. Cheaply made tools always turn out to be expensive, a safety hazard, and a waste of money.
Clamps, clamps and more clamps. C clamps, F clamps, spring clamps and wood jaw clamps. I really like Harbor Freight as a source for clamps of all kinds and sizes. However there is a lot of flashing on the threads that will leave nasty little stell splinters in your fingers.
Look at The Art of the Canoe w/ Joe Seliga or Building the Maine Guide Canoe, both by Jerry Stelmok. there is a list and pics of the tools you'll need.

These two don't/didn't have very big Table saws. a 2/3 hp saw is great but not if you need 220v.

When getting recommendations for tools remember the bottom line. The Lie Nielsen 60 1/2 is the best low angle block plane new is $165 a Stanley 60 1/2 you can find for under $50 and if you don't know how to use a hand plane you might be better served by your ability to buy more wood to use your tools on not wrapping all your money up in the tools. People made far better pieces with Stanleys then I will ever make. Buy Good tools and learn to use them, THEN buy the great ones.

I think it is better to make something with modest tools and do your best, then to have great tools and do nothing.... how do you know what you can do if you don't try...Mark Singer

CL is a great place to find the tools you'll need.
Thanks for all the great information. I am on the road right now and will really do my homework this weekend. Great leads and ideas, it's nice folks are willing to share info like this, it's a good start, Thanks again.
4" angle grinder and a 36 grit sanding wheel sure comes in handy for heavy stock removal, roughing in the "bend" on decks that aren't steam bent, grinding the clinch off of tacks for rib removal and matching up angles on stem scarf repairs.
4" angle grinder and a 36 grit sanding wheel sure comes in handy for heavy stock removal, roughing in the "bend" on decks that aren't steam bent, grinding the clinch off of tacks for rib removal and matching up angles on stem scarf repairs.

Grind on Dave:)
It's like your pet beaver, Ferd....except electric!!
Yeah, that's what it is,.......a 4" electric beaver!

Did anyone mention belt/disc combo sander??
For just building canoes, you could probably do all your sawing on a good 14" band saw. (You can saw curves as well as straight lines on a band saw.)

But a table saw is very useful, especially since most general cutting requires goo straight lines (not curves), and is almost necessary for general carpentry/woodworking. You could make do with a Sears Craftsman contractor-style saw (I did for many years), but moving up to a 3 hp cabinet saw makes a world of difference -- and something like a Grizzly is not much more expensive than a Sears. If you've got oodles of money, a sliding compound chop saw would be nice, a frippery for canoe building, but quite useful for carpentry.

I would prefer a belt sander to an angle grinder for almost any task except for the roughest of work, and a belt sander clamped in a vise can do most of what a stationary disc sander can do.

A drill press is more useful than one might think, and doesn't take up much space.

And as to clamps -- as they say, you cannot be too rich, too thin, or have too many clamps -- c clamps, f clamps, pipe clamps, wooden hand screws, spring clamps, etc.

Over time, you can save a lot of money and get good clamps with careful shopping on eBay. The Asian imported c clamps from Harbormaster and the like are heavier than needs be, and weaker than needs be, but are a good cheap way to get some starter clamps, especially when they have "sets" of four or six on sale. But expect that once in a while one of them will snap when you really bear down. The Asian f clamps are surprisingly good -- not as good as Jorgensen clamps -- but actually satisfactory for the average amateur builder/home-repair/renovation artist.

And the best deal in clamps, bar none, are the 99 cent spring clamps from Home Depot -- used to have green handles, but recently changed to blue.

And because sharp -- very sharp -- tools such as chisels and plane irons are critical, you need a good sharpening system -- ranging from various kinds of expensive stones (Arkansas oil, Japanese or other water, ceramic, or diamond -- ya pays your money, ya takes your chances), expensive and cheap powered wheels, through the inexpensive and highly-regarded small slab of plate glass and wet-or-dry carbide sandpaper (google "scary sharp").
Well, in the last two weeks I picked up a:
Craftsman 10 inch table saw
Craftsman Radial Saw 10(both needed to be cleaned up, but seem to run smooth)
Craftsman 10" band saw(small, but I think it should be fine for cutting stations for the 2 "one off" forms I plan to work off of, (Chestnut Chum and Prospector)
Craftsman tablesander- seems like a nice tool for making paddles for my kids for Christmas (this is a "keep the wife happy idea")
Crafstman finish sander 1/6 hp-nice little hand held jitter bug
Craftsman 3x21" hand held belt sander-I burned the last one up using it so much
Craftsman work lite router/with table-never had a router but I hope to use it for seats, gunnels etc
plus a dozen like new small wood bits, bits for the router, 8 (new)belts for the 3x21, plus a bunch of wood clamps.
All for under $350
Thank you Mr Craigslist

I will use these tools to help me restore and build not only wood canvas canoes but also neglected plastic canoes I find on the net and thru word of mouth. The plastic canoes will be sold to help pay for gas and permits to trip in wood canvas canoes.
10 more paychecks till retirement....

A little economic stimulation going on.

Spreading the wealth around.

Nice list, but don't forget the handtools. You'll find you make mistakes at a slower pace.