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  • Setting up shop on budget

    I'm trying to set up my shop with a 2500 dollar budget. This includes all equipment including hand tools and bench tools. I need advice assuming you are starting with absolutely nothing on how to allocate this money on equipment. (I do have some basic power tools) For instance I can't figure out if I should spend 600 or 1100 on a TS leaving me with 1900 and 1400 respectively for other things such as BS, router, planar, blades, air filtration, etc etc. The choices are overwhelming and it looks like you can spend as little or as much as you want on any piece of equipment. HELP!

  • #2

    2500 dollars for a complete shop including all hand tools & accessories is a stretch. Have you considered what type of work you are looking to do. I started with a 400 dollar bandsaw making toys and grew my hobby as I could afford to.

    Also, if you do it a piece at a time, you can buy quality equiptment once. Rather than cheaper tools that will wear out or outgrow and replace.

    You'll be able to find more help if you let us know what you are looking to build with your 2,500 dollar budget.

    One deal I'd highly recommend is Sears has PC 690 router for more than 50 % off at 69 bucks. It's a professional tool and they are getting harder to find since it's a companywide clearance. But may get lucky. I found mine by visiting and doing a search of all the stores within driving distance. Had to talk with 4 stores before I could find one that had them.



    • #3
      I’m fairly ambitious as to projects I want to try. I have a long list of items I would like to make starting with two bookshelves for LOML. After that it’s other assorted pieces of furniture such as entertainment centers, end tables maybe a twin size bed. Basically I guess I want to be able to make anything that strikes my fancy. I don’t mind starting with a couple of really good tools and adding others as I need them. There’s always birthdays and Christmas where I can beg for more. [img]smile.gif[/img]


      • #4
        Here is my list. $2500 is WAY more than I have to set up my shop. If you aren't in a hurry keep and eye out for a good sale. For example, I had been looking for a bandsaw and got the Ridgid for $250 at the HD 20% off sale. I got a Ryobi planer at the same time for $250. Both of these are quality units for the price.

        Table saw (~$600). Ridgid makes a good saw, but also look at Grizzly or general. Unless you are experienced or a professional do not spend more than $800 on a saw. You don't need that much of a saw starting out. Once you go above about $600 you start getting premium features that of only benefit to high end wood workers. Don't skimp in this category, but don't over do it.

        Planer (~350). Ridgid and Ryobi make excellent intro models. I have the Ryobi and it is great for only $300 or less

        Jointer (~400). Yorkcraft and sunhill make Delta clones that are cheaper and superior (only difference is the paint color-from the same factory). You can't go wrong with this one. The Ridgid one is ok, but a tad overpriced compared to its competitors.

        Router (~150). Go with the Hitachi M12V. With the proper sale you can get this one for about $130. This is a 3 hp plunge and has plently of horsepower and versatility.

        Bandsaw (~350). Ridgid makes a good intro model, but you will want to consider the riser block and an aftermarket fence making the total about $400. Consider also looking at Grizzly 14" which comes with the fence and the riser is only $40 vs. Ridgid $70.

        Drill press (~$50 for bench ~$150 for floor). Get what you need for your projects. I have no real brand preferences here. I personally prefer a bench model because I don't use a drill press all that often.

        Dust collector (~$150 on perpetual sale). The Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collector is the best for your dollars. Almost everyone has this one except for those with money to burn.

        Hand tools etc....

        Clamps. Get a few good ones (e.g. bessy) and a bunch of $2.50 ones from Harbor Freight. Make a habit of buying 2-4 clamps a month you will need them.

        Chisels. Invest in one or two good qualtiy ones

        Hamers, levels, squares, rules. Pick up from Lowes or HD

        Planes. Invest in a Stanley #6 or & or 8 (~$65) and a #4 and a low angle block plane (~$40 each) from ebay-make sure you know what to buy before bidding!!.

        Blades. Get a Freud crosscut and ripping blade (~$60 each). These are the best bang for the buck. Get only timberwolf bandsaw blades. These are about $15 each direct from the manufacturer (don't buy from Woodcraft, 100% markup). Buy and extra set of jointer and plane knives as well

        Router bits. Only buy what you need when you need it from MLCS (free shipping). Get a few basic bits depending on your needs, but don't waste your money with a router bit set

        Save at least $200 for wood otherwise you will have a boring woodshop. Also if you are not serious, start with a few basics and buy stuff as you go or when it is on sale. I would recommend waiting on all equipment until it goes on sale unless you need it because you can save a lot of money this way. You would be suprised how much you can do with just a table saw, planer and router. Especially if you learn to joint board by hand (not hard, but takes time).With the above set up you will be doing better than most beginning woodshops and be way under $2500 if you shop sales.

        Unless other wise noted everything at harbor freight is suspect until proven otherwise. Other than the dust collector and clamps I would steer clear of most of their stuff.

        [ 02-11-2004, 10:33 PM: Message edited by: bolson ]


        • #5

          Wow! Thanks for the great post. I was thinking pretty similarly except for the jointer/ planer. I’ve called a local lumber supplier who will plane and joint a board for .35 per bf. (one edge) With that extra money I could upgrade a few other items until I got tired of the .35 fee.

          And as far as getting deals, that’s half the fun. I have plenty of time as I’m building my shop now. (In the planning and space clearing stage) I’ve already wondered if I can use the 25 dollar amazon coupon more than once. I was really sick when I saw that I missed the 20% off sale at HD. That would have saved me some wood money.


          • #6
            What part of Mississippi are you in? I am curious as to which lumber supplier you are referring to. There are a couple here in the central part of the state (greater Jackson area).

            I started my "shop" with some second-hand tools and from that point on have gradually added tools as I discover the need I have been able to catch numerous sales when buying equipment which is a big help. My first power tools were a benchtop table saw, Delta 10" Sliding Compound Miter Saw (SCMS) and an older Porter-Cable biscuit cutter. These are the second-hand tools I referred to. Since then I have added the Ridgid TS3612 table saw (highly recommended if you can still find one),Ryobi RE180PL Router (my first), Milwaukee barrel grip jig saw, Ridgid TP1300 planer, P-C 8529 Router, P-C BN125 brad nailer and pancake compressor, HF Dust Collector, Bessy and Jorgie clamps and a Ryobi 14.4v Drill and circular saw kit. I love having the planer and am anxious to add a jointer at some point. I have been very fortunate to aquire this stuff over the last couple of years. Once I started building stuff it was easier to determine which tools I needed. And there are always more
            My Shop


            • #7
              I too had to build a budget shop myself. Here is a list of what I think are the most useful tools that I own. I am very economical and practical. I have made a bunch of projects w/ limited resources.

              Power tools: (and accessories)
              1. Table Saw ($600)
              2. Plunge router ($200)
              3. Cordless drill ($120)
              4. Jig saw ($120)
              5. Circular Saw ($80)
              6. ShopVac ($120)
              7. Orbital Sander ($80)
              8 Forrest Woodworker II 10" combo blade
              9. Dado blade

              Hand tools:
              1. 50" straight edge (clampit) ($50)
              2. hack saw ($20)
              3. vise ($80)
              4. a set of hand chisels (?)
              5. A lightway small square that fits in your pocket (with ruler)
              6. Tool belt
              7. A nice set of drill bits
              8. Craftman quick change drill bit and screw driver system.
              9. Screwdriver

              I can't afford a planer and a jointer yet, but those are the two items on my list. For now, I would just go over to a buddy's house and use his planer and jointer.

              - J


              • #8
                All pretty good ideas. Here's what my list would be...

                Ridgid or general saw $600-$700
                Yorkcraft or Grizzly 6" jointer will run about $400
                Ridgid drill press $300 (you won't have to upgrade this one)
                Planer -depending on model about $300
                Bandsaw $400 from Grizzly
                Compound miter saw I'd get a 10" slider, but for $150 you can get a decent 10" regular version.
                $149 DC from Harbor Freight (skip shopvacs, you won't need one)
                Mortiser $200 -I wish I had one.
                Compressor $200

                Skip a lathe for now. You can get one from Jet for $200 if you wish later.

                Hand tools
                Set of 4 marples chisels from Lowe's $20
                Also at Lowes (tape measures, combo squares, 48 inch rules, framing squares, drill bits, bevel guage)
                Cordless drill $120
                Kreg pocket hole jig $20 (the pocket kit)
                Freud 50 tooth TS blade $50 from Amazon.
                Hitachi router from amazon $175-$200
                Random orbit sander $60
                Jigsaw $130
                Biscuit joiner $150
                clamps, clamps, and more clamps... $3-$500 (I guarantee you'll use them all)
                Router bits -figure at least $100 for the more common ones you'll use.
                Cheap block plane for $30
                Decent miter guage $60 (Incra V-27)
                Tennoning Jig $70
                Brad and finish nailers -combo packs from Senco are $200 right now.
                Plus all the normal shop supplies -glue, rags, brushes, stain, dowels, screws, laminate.
                i'm sure there's a lot more...

                Wow, I went easily over $2500 and I even put down the cheap stuff!

                You may be content to pay .35 a bf for planing and jointing, but if only done on one side, you won't be able to get a decent edge on the other side for glueing up panels. also, the planers that the large places use typically don't give a finish close to anything i'd be able to use. You'll go through $25 in sandpaper on each project!


                • #9
                  I live in Clinton. The place I called was Pickens Lumber Sales right here in Clinton. I checked some of their prices and they seem reasonable but I haven’t really started shopping around a lot for wood. I really just called them to get a rough idea on what stock costs. Where have you been buying your stock? I’ve checked HD and the prices aren’t too bad but the selection is limited. Also have you heard we are getting a Lowes in Madison?

                  Thanks for all the great ideas everybody!


                  • #10
                    Setting up on a limited budget is game of compromise yet fun. We all dream of the $30,000 shops all bright and fancy, cyclone purring in corner and stereo music in background

                    Lists above pretty - no very - nice starting points and finishing point too for many. I'll toss another thing ot two into concept of ideas.

                    $600 gets you a decent tablesaw. $400 will get you the same saw but used. Maybe even a better saw. Seriously consider used if you have chance to.

                    Do not under value the bandsaw - I would much rather have the Grizzly unit and a used tablesaw than a "adequate" bandsaw and new tablesaw. If you really need/must get $600 ts then seriously consider the $219 HF 14" bandsaw. Totally modified and setup real nice with riser block is under $300. Have used these many times - and you need to step to Grizzly or above to get a better unit. Personally I use my big bs more than any tool I own and think you'll find you too will be surprised at how much you do use one.

                    Circular saw - huge! I'd budget a few dollars more and get either a PC or Milwaukee - call it $110. With a good straight edge guide - not much you cannot cut very well and dang near as well as on a ts. I've seen loads of beautiful furniture come from a couple of shops that honestly do not use a ts at all.

                    Router - Hitachi is nice choice and big. Still - you may find you want both a fixed and plunge so consider a kit. Nothing wrong with the old PC 693's at $129 range on sale. I'd rather go with the 893 kit for larger motor at 2 1/4 and unless you spinning real big cutters often you may find it years before desiring/needed anything larger.
                    Router bits - impossible to beat the WoodCraft $5 bits for value when they run the monthly sale. Add with time better quality if USING that type - 1/2" shanks please. Yep - avoid most boxed sets.

                    I think a planer and jointer needed unless you using mostly plywood. You can save a lot of money by avoiding buying finished lumber and they will pay for themselves with time. Many choices but like the Yorkcraft for value in jointer and the Delta or old model DW for quality and value also so there's $300 spent.

                    DC - hands down the HF unit at this dollar range. Add bags and under $175 for real decent unit that will last a long time. Buy a used shop vac for $20 at garage sale or new when on sale. You'll use a lot even with DC

                    Always clamps needed - good idea above. Few high quality and loads of HF ones. Bar-pipe and wooden. Bet I have over a hundred - and everytime I find at garage sale or cheaply on sale I add. Different shapes/sizes. And do use them all sooner rather than later at that.

                    Missing - compressor!? Plan to spray?

                    *Money budgeted for workbench. Can be done cheap or a fortune spent. Nothing wrong with a rolling unit made from plywood and hardboard top. $50

                    *Sawhorses or cutting table - another $20-30. Can't work without these things.

                    Rest of above things make sense - you can easily do it within your budget if you take a little time, buy quality used tools or sale priced things.

                    Or you can go hog wild and drop $20,000. You sure don't need to but it fuels some peoples minds (egos?) into thinking they will be better woodworkers. In fact many spend way to much time working to pay for what they really don't need but want and have to little time learning the craft.

                    Best of luck in making decisions and welcome to what can be for many a very rewarding hobby. Take your time and learn - you'll someday laugh at your initial mistakes ..... while you now making a new one that you never had before


                    • #11
                      WoodRooK-you mean you don't NEED to spend all of it on A PM66 or a UNI?

                      Above some nice ideas. I like the "used" idea on a table saw also. Great buys to be had - avoid Ebay and like unless you know the real value of tool (guess where most of us sell our old stuff!) and keep eyes out locally. Many dollars to be had here for other essentials.

                      Bandsaw - have Grizz and HF. Do some resawing and both w/ riser blocks. Think it thru - blades cost and if r/b to be used do right away to save on blades that'll not work later.
                      Think I have $320-340 in HF - mobile,riser,link,cool blocks,dc collection,custom made table and acces from Wood mag design. Great bs and does it all. Grizz more power and also more money to equip same way. Grizz is better but HF suits me and many fine also.

                      I'm not a HF bigtime fan but the BS,lathe,DC, clamps,HVLP sytem,larger compressor are all on my "diamonds" w/i junk list. Save a lot of money and they'll last you a very long time.

                      You stated you'd be willing to buy "quality" and add, which makes sense. Thing to remember is a price tag does not necessarily equate to quality either. Sometimes yes-sometimes no.

                      If you willing to slowly add to arsenal a real nice hobbiest shop can be done w/i your allocated budget but you'll need sales/last years models that are superceded/used quality stuff. Doing it this way $2500 will get you $5000 or better in tools. And feed the addiction further!

                      Hunt - peck - don't hesitate to ask opinions on stuff as you find it. Expect pro-con on everything too and don't get discouraged. What's right for me makes often times no sense to you.

                      Happy shopping
                      Wish I had the answers ..... even half of \'em


                      • #12
                        I have heard nothing but good things about Pickens and them being close to you is a great bonus. I buy from Ameitech/South here in Ridgeland. Call Joe Leach there. He will dress a board for you as well. When I have checked prices he has been lower (for example Poplar for $1.50 bd/ft not dressed) but for you it is a drive across town. He does also sell tools though [img]smile.gif[/img] He has, or can get, most brands. It is a small showroom in front of their cabinet shop.

                        I ordered my Milwaukee jig saw from Ram Tool in Ridgeland. All these places are rather hidden and I only found them after looking closely at the yellow pages.

                        You will spend much less on your hardwood by purchasing from Pickens or Ameitech versus Home Depot. And yes I am excited about Lowes coming. Should be very interesting here in Madison with them practically next door to one another.
                        My Shop


                        • #13
                          WoodRook - A TS is one of the most important machines in my shop...probably THE most important, but you don't necessarily have to spend $1100 bucks to get one to suit your needs...but there are some might fine saws in that price range!

                          In general, determine what types of things you hope to make in the near future and buy the basics to make those. You can add other machines as needed, that way it doesn't deplete the budget all at once, plus it gives you more opportunity to do thorough research on your major purchases. Try to buy the best quality tools you can afford that will suit your needs. Your skills and tastes will change, so consider which tools will grow with you. No manufacturer has the best of everything....look around and be open minded when doing the research.

                          The basic triangle of most wood shops is the TS, planer and jointer. DC is also important to your health and enjoyment of wwing. A router and router table is extremely versatile. You can build your own router table pretty easily. You can also build your own workbench and mobile bases to save a few dollars...and customize to your tastes.

                          A BS and DP are handy, but not critical at first. A cordless drill and palm sander are very useful. Buy several clamps and a good TS blade.

                          You can get a good start with your budget. Doing the homework first will help you make the best decisions....did I mention researching the more critical machines? Buying a tool twice is the most expensive route.

                          Good luck, have fun, and be safe.


                          • #14
                            I can't wait for the Lowes to get here. I'm looking forward to trying to get them to outsell the other one.... "But lowes said they could sell it for..."

                            I think I can resist blowing 2000 on a TS. That would take a serious toll on my marriage. (hope LMOL hasn't found this forum )


                            • #15
                              Hey WoodRook ... when you get ready to start buying, if you want I will share with you what I have found about our local merchants as to who carries what and what kind of prices you can expect. Understand I am not claiming to know it all ... but I might be able to save you some research time, phone calls, and running all over creation looking for stuff. I have bought locally and ordered over the Net. Sometimes there are big price differences and sometimes not. Enjoy the new hobby!!!
                              My Shop