Which tool


Wanted to add a picture of Max to this thread, and the best version I could find is one that has been permanently emblazoned on somebody's arm. Max has taken on iconic status in the forty years he has been wildly rumpussing.

Hard to believe this book has been around for forty years. Andre, you aren't old. Some of us were adults (or, as "adult" as we'll ever be...) when "Where the Wild Things Are" first came out. Hint for a baby gift: sometimes folks are at a loss as to what to get a third child. This book would be a good choice, because all three will enjoy it.



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Thanks Kathy, you're the best. of all the tattoos I've got and plan to get that definitely would not be on the list tho...
The age crack was directed at Dan. You learn lots of kool stuff from kids, just last month I overheard my wife reading "Goodnite Moon" to the kids, and i was amazed because there is a clip on the Simpsons where Christopher Walken is reading it to children who are terrified of him ( his voice I guess) and I had no idea what it was he was reading; had never heard it before. That made it even funnier in retrospect.
Think this is what you wanted,,,,


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Having a Wild Time

Looking through my computer files, I found a couple Wild Things to share... One is a picture of me, being disgorged by a Wild Thing at a "Where the Wild Things Are" exhibit in San Francisco in 2001. The other is a picture of my daughter Emily in a Wild tee shirt.

We may be wildly off-topic, but humor is a very valuable tool...


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off topic humour

okay, here's one that always makes me laugh. I lost the one of a warthog scratching himself similarly..
what was this thread about again?


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Yes, I use mine ALL the time, should have bought it 10 years sooner.
>Chop Saw

I don't yet have personal experience here, but, from the discussion over at OWWM site,

1) if RAS are moved, often they go out of adjustment, they shouldn't be moved. With that said, I plan to put wheels on both of mine, BUT I will make an effort to not load the base, ie, a 3 point mount system.
2) cheap off brand RAS's, Sears, Wards, and other store saws, are notorious for going out of adjustment. Stick with older DeWalt or Delta RAS's.

I have an early 60's 925, all cast arm 9" (for small rabbets/dados- seat frames) and an early 80's 35 series 14" (just for fun, should be able to cut 4-4.5 in stock) both DeWalt. Eventually I'll get 1st hand experience with these. :)

>or Radial Arm Saw (I find RAS difficult to keep in alignment)

Dan M., Thank you for the list. It is printed and in my pocket to go home this evening.
Dan L. and all - I confess, I went out this weekend and purchased a new band saw. Dan L. I agree 100%, buy used and save. I have several employees who are rummage sale addicts. One did call me months ago from a driveway and that's where I bought the radial arm saw and jointer. But, none have checked in with a band saw and my needs for it were increasing by the moment.
Minor assembly required. Love that line. 4 hours later on Saturday, the saw was put together.
It's a 14" Delta. Very sturdy and looks like it will last for generations to come.
I'm happy and I have one scalloped deck roughed out awaiting planing, sanding and installation. The loser will be Frank the Cat. He uses the ladder in the garage to climb to his day retreat, the garage rafters. I need to relocate the ladder to get the band saw in that space when not in use. I hope he doesn't take to pooping in my shoes.
Dan M or anybody - any one ever use (I don't know the name of it) a plane made for curves? Or, does one of the spoke shaves work as effectively?
The hand powered tools and electric hand tools are easy as they don't take a lot of space.
Thanks for all the valuable information.
Howard Caplan said:
You guys sound like politicians not wanting to alienate the shop tool vote.:)
Band saw came up twice.
OK, band saw or table saw first - which is the discussion I am having with myself at this moment.
As far as useage goes, I suspect there is a tool we all go back to whatever the specific project may be.

My grandfather built wooden boats for his lifetime using (1) craftsman table saw, (1) craftsman band saw & (1) skill electric hand saw. along with a boatload of hand tools...He bored most holes faster w/ a brace and bit...nailed rowboats took a day, screwed ones took three...

The band saw always stayed in the basement but the table saw made a lot of 'road trips' to our house, the cabin, where ever he wanted us to take it...
Mark makes an excellent point. Tool lists such as these are often made and posted or published, but they’re really only useful as idea generators. Even Fine Woodworking will publish such lists from time to time, and readers apparently devour each syllable as though their dream shop was there for the taking, regardless of whether most of the items on the list would ever actually be used. Bottom line- what you really need is what YOU really need. Everyone’s take on “THE LIST” is different, sometimes radically so.

As an example, there is probably no greater variety of opinions than on sharpening methods/systems. Any reasonable method will work, but what works best for you is what is really important. Some people invest considerable money in powered sharpening stations, while others get razor-sharp edges from waterstones or even sandpaper.

As for large power tools, I have used and find no real need (in my work) for a radial arm saw or chop saw. Like many people, my first major power tool was a tablesaw, but after getting a bandsaw, I realized I had finally found my true love! It is amazingly versatile, capable of handling massive or extraordinarily delicate jobs, and relatively safe (compared with a tablesaw). Next I probably most use my planer. Jointer is handy but not used nearly as much.

So to answer Howard’s original question, my first choice if I had to re-build would be a quality bandsaw with riser block and mobile base. As for hand tools (beyond hammers, tack pullers, etc.), my first choices would be spokeshaves and card scrapers. The latter are dirt cheap (or make your own for free!), and the former are fantastic for shaping- flats to curves, rapid wood removal to delicate work. Oh, and I simply love a good set of razor-sharp chisels! Chisels are such simple tools, but good ones are a pleasure to use. So most used? In my restoration of antique boats, by far I use most my bandsaw, spokeshaves, chisels, card scrapers, random orbit sander, and planer. Next, I probably spend most time at the bench grinder for shaping and polishing metal, and making small tools. Jointer, tablesaw, routers, shapers, etc., etc.- all are very handy, but far, far less used.

Of course all the other tools, gadgets, and whatnots are great as well. If you win the lottery, go crazy! But most people (well, me anyway) buy what they need and build a shop as dictated by need and the financial prejudices of their employers.

I guess the worst possible situation is when you do a lot of different things, and thus "need" a lot of different tools, all of which are used for different kinds of projects. My chop saw gets used fairly regularly -- picture frames, baseboard/crown/picture rail moldings, some casework. Router in a table gets used for a lot of things -- picture frames, custom clock cases, sometimes canoe paddles. The problem is that I don't have room for a band saw, which would get used a lot for canoe paddles, custom clockcases, potentially picture frames...

Think I need an 800sqft house, and a 2000sqft shop. Seems I got it backwards...
And I think that brings us full circle - what you "need" in your shop depends on what it is you are going to do in your shop. As Michael says, a list is just that, a list (though I prepared my list with canoe restoration and construction in mind). Truth is you can go from the minimum (axe and crooked knife for bark canoes) to maximum (CNC router for plywood production canoes) and everything in between.

The take home messages are, I think:

1) Buy what you need only as you need it

2) Buy quality; it will only hurt you once, rather than every time you use it

3) sharpening is important, so learn what sharp really is, then figure out how to best achieve it in your environment.

4) if you have a limited budget, don't get interested in picture framing, paddle making, timber framing, old cars, snakes, sailing, or the opposite sex.
...and if you do get diverted into picture framing, charge a helluva lotta money for your work. It will either 1) keep potential customers away, so you can focus on important stuff, like canoes & paddles, or 2) enable you to afford your canoe & paddle habit. Both outcomes have their merits.
How did I miss jumping into this thread for so long?

Dan offers a very good summary in his last post. Every one has offered very good advice.

Its very easy to get carried away with tools. Let the work direct you. A little earlier this fall I decided to pick up WOOD magazine's workshop issue. I was hoping to pick up a few shop ideas. They profile about 12-15 shops. Of those, you could tell that only a handful were actually about the work, I liked those. Of the rest, OMG! Immaculate designer shops with all, I mean ALL the latest most expensive power equipment and accessories. If the work dictated the tools, then fine, but when you saw what was made in some, you just shake your head and wonder.

I've been full time for about 15 years, and have a family and wife who I feel the need to keep happy, sheltered, feed, etc. So, I don't get to indulge on anything for the shop that I can't justify by the work.

I don't have a tablesaw, I just don't have the space to dedicate to it for what it really offers me for my work. I DO have a good bandsaw. I couldn't find one used, people just keep them. If you can find one used, its probably not worth buying. The bandsaw is absolutely essential, as is a good jointer and thickness planer, plus the knowledge to use them well. I have a stationary belt/disc sander that I wish was much more substantial. I have a two drum flap sander that isn't used as much as I expected. And a dust collector that's not set up effectively. Small drill press and steambox.

That's all the stationary power equipment that I have. (Except for the old DeWalt RAS that I collected from the dump last spring, $1.50 in parts, a little attention, and it works great! I use it for clean crosscuts, etc.)

Other essential hand power tools on my list are, in no particular order,:

-4.5" angle grinder with 24 and 100 grit abrasive discs. I'm on #4 now I use them so much. I really like the Makita with the paddle grip.

-Random action sander. Don't buy any of the little ones, they're just toys. I use the Porter-Cable 6" variable speed one. The extra mass, while making it heavier, makes it easier to control by overcoming the gyroscopic effects of the disc, as well as reducing vibration to your hands.

-Router. I have two now, a big one that I can mount in a table, and a laminate trimmer. Flush trim and round-over bits are essential. I wish that I could have dedicated routers for the three most used bits.

-corded power drill for when your cordless battery craps out.

-electric hand planer.

Other essentials:
-sharpening stones
-smoother plane and block plane
-tapered pilot drill bit with Dimar carbide countersink. This is an essential tool!
-precision 24" ruler, OK grade 12", 36" and 72" rulers, drywall square.
-lots of pencils. I'll sharpen a box of them and they'll live all over the shop so that I can always find one when the escape from their perch over my right ear.
-several utility knives so I can always find at least one.
-good vise.
-packing tape! several rolls set up with cutters.
-plastic beer cups, great form mixing epoxy and small amounts of paint.
-tongue depressors. You can't afford to make this many nice mixing sticks.

Of course, there are many other items, but they're general shop things. Paintbrushes, scales, chisels, screwdrivers.

Probably the most important asset in the shop is just open floor space for actually working. You'll read about how many shops are organized around certain work stations, such a the table saw, etc. Mine is organized around the center space. Therefore, everything is mounted on wheels. I can't stress this enough-make your shop versatile by having things mobile. Get good wheels!

I'll say this again because I feel that it is so important: make your shop versatile by making things mobile! Work benches, saws, and power equipment.
Doug - I was with you until "scales". You lost me with that. Why scales and also, why packing tape?
I guess I can't help adding my two cents. I think Dan's summary is the best advice that can be given to someone starting down the slippery slope of becoming a woodworker. I'd add a little negative advice. Having tried to get along for years with a radial arm saw, I'd strongly advise against investing in one of these beasts. Joe Saliga built all his canoes using a nice old cast iron Craftsman table saw. It served him very well. When I finally felt justified in investing in a Delta Unisaw, I was astounded at the difference it made in my work. That old radial arm saw could never cut with the accuracy of even a modest table saw. I've relegated it to a location near my wood storage area and just use it as a cut off saw before hauling the wood to my shop. I have never found anything that my radial arm saw could do that I can't do better on my table saw-with the possible exception of making cross cuts in extremely long boards.

I think the best approach to building a shop is to follow Dan's advice, but to do your homework before you buy any particular tool. Ask around and check out the internet to find the best quality tool you can afford. The pleasure of quality remains long after the price is forgoten!

The scale is for measuring epoxy, mostly. I gave up on the pumps years ago, and have never looked back.

The packing tape is an essential!!! Its great for bundling things together, release agent for epoxy or other glue ups, light clamping.. You can even pack boxes with it! Have some around for awhile and you'll soon find so many uses for it you'll be surprised that you ever did without it.

I have to add to my earlier post that I use 5" discs on the 4.5" grinder.

I'd be pretty much dead in the water without my grinder and sander.
Ya - the wife is still upset about the time I used the pyrex measuring cup to measure and mix epoxy.
Makes sense now. I worried you were growing things that had to be weighed and then bundled for shipment.
Where in Manitoba is Lorette?
I've paddled the Hayes and the Seal Rivers - both of which I hope to paddle again one day. Spent too much time in Thompson and not enough time in Winnepeg or Churchill.

One tool on your list got my attention, the jointer.

How or where do you use this in canoe work? It's the one main wood working tool that I didn't think I needed.

And no table saw????? interesting. :)

As for buying old stuff, look around it's all over, a cleanup, a few replacement parts and some time and you have a nice machine.

Lorette is just outside of Winnipeg, south east, about 30-40 min from Downtown. We've got 1.5 acres backing onto a nice little river. Ask Paul for the details, he's been by and paddled the stream! Dan's been here, too, but the river was full of hard Whitewater then.

Lorette is a nice mix of French and English, and lots of good people who want to make it a great place to live.

I use a jointer a lot! Very useful for straightening crookedy wood.

"No tablesaw doesn't seem right...?" I get quite a bit of that. I think that I'd use one if I had one but I only want to get one if its a good one, and I get by fine without. That $1,000 or so always seems to be needed else-where. Maybe one day.

I agree that there is used machinery around, but it depends what you're looking for, where you are, and how far you're willing to go to get it. I bought my Hitachi planer/jointer used for 1/4 of new cost. Bought the flap sander used, too. Not many bandsaws around here one the used market. Now that I have mine, I'm not even looking.

Also to add to the list is kettle. Very useful for coaxing stubborn wood to take a bend. Get a shop kettle, don't use the one in the kitchen or you'll need to buy a shop bed, too.
Dan, you should consider a jointer. I agree with Doug, I use mine a lot. And I just discovered I can use it to make a rabbit cut which I need for the in rail of the kevlar.
Got mine used, $150 and it is in very good condition.

Doug, is that the Red River of the north?