Five Essential Power Tools
Woodworker Gary Rogowski explains why the tablesaw would not be at the top of his shop machine list.
Synopsis: Veteran woodworker Gary Rogowski offers his perspective on how he’d buy machines for his shop if he had to start all over again. This article should help you figure out the tasks that are most important to you and which machines will help you accomplish those jobs. Your projects will go a long way toward determining your choice of equipment and vice versa. You’ll learn how to shop for the model that best suits your work.
One of the few things woodworkers agree upon is that we all love tools. It is this love that got many of us hooked on woodworking in the first place. We also need good tools so that we can do good work. From this benign and congenial starting point, all hell breaks loose. It seems as if everyone has the correct opinion about which tools to have in the shop, their type, their capacity and, above all, in what order to buy them.
Leaving aside the important and absolutely essential world of hand tools, let me venture into these dragon-filled waters with my own opinions about power tools and how best to outfit a shop step by step. I can’t speak to every situation or shop environment, but I can offer my perspective on how I’d buy machines if I had to start all over again. This article will help you figure out the tasks that are most important and which machines will help you accomplish these jobs.
Tools are not bought the same way as groceries. You don’t load up your shopping cart with some tools you need, a few items on sale and a couple of impulse buys on your way out. You don’t put one tool back because it’s too expensive and get the cheaper version so you can afford another cheap tool in the next aisle. You don’t let tools just fall into your basket as you head to the checkout counter. Or do you?
Many woodworkers don’t consider how the tools might fit into the grand scheme of their woodshop and the kind of woodworking they’d like to do. Your projects will go a long way toward determining your choice of equipment and vice versa. When I started out, I had only a radial-arm saw. Consequently, all of my work consisted of very precise dadoes. I wanted to build secretaries and armoires, but all I could push out of my shop were bookshelves and plant stands. Experience will play a major role in your accumulation of machines and the projects you take on, but keep in mind where you’d like your woodwork to be going so that you can plan your tool purchases.
Also, if your intent is to build furniture and not just to collect machinery, buy your tools as if they’re the last ones you’ll ever buy.
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