Power Tool Suggestions?

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JDaniels
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Power Tool Suggestions?

Post by JDaniels » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:56 pm

Hi Bogleheads!

I recently went from being a condo home owner to a single family home owner. I've always been a DIY'r and now I can finally setup a worksite area in my garage. I'm looking for suggestions for a good basic power tool set. I already have two good drills so I'm looking for other power tools a DIY'r would use on a weekend basis. I'm thinking a circular saw, miter saw, table saw, router, etc. What are your suggestions for make, model, price, reconditioned or new? I plan on using them most every weekend on small to medium DIY projects.

Thank you!
Jim
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Chuck
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Post by Chuck » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:13 pm

Buy each item when you need to use it. Then you won't have a bunch of tools you don't use.

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3CT_Paddler
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Post by 3CT_Paddler » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:21 pm

Look at garage sales for a table saw, miter saw, and circular saw. Are you looking at doing more construction type projects or furniture/interior trim projects?

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Ducks
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Post by Ducks » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:25 pm

What Chuck said.

I know you said you already have two drills, but it is the first that comes to mind -- Hubs has his eye on this Bosch mini drill:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001E2 ... GHVC3D46XA

Super handy for lots of home DIY products. I think I will get it for him for Father's Day.

I see a lot of Bosch and DeWalt in my contractor's van.
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ThatGuy
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Post by ThatGuy » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:37 pm

You just can't beat a Milwaukee Sawzall for demolition. Other things for small DIY projects would be a bench top drill press, and possibly a Kreg Jig Set if you don't want to do too much joinery.

I've found that it's not the power tools that get you in trouble, it's the accessories for the power tools. I don't even know how many router bits I have, as I always need a new one for that nifty project, and well, it comes in a pack, you see, so I'm really saving money...

But get everything refurbished that you possibly can. Beg and borrow from your relatives or neighbors if you can.
Last edited by ThatGuy on Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Redbelly » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:40 pm

For tools that you'll only use occasionally, I'd look to rent or buy at Harbor Freight. For sure you'll want a good cordless drill, a corded circular saw and a vibratory sander. Garage sales and Craigslist can also be a good source, if you know the new price on the items and have an idea of what you want in advance.

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Post by mediahound » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:56 pm

For cordless drills, I really like Panasonic over Makita and other brands.

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wde
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Post by wde » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:03 pm

Listen to Chuck.

I've been amassing tools since college and it doesn't take long (or many projects) to have a decent tool set.

Most recently I put up molding. I got a compound miter saw, an air compressor, and a nail gun. All DeWalt (all of my power tools are DeWalt).

You can do it by hand with a miter block, a back saw, and a nail set, but I don't recommend it. It takes a very long time and the angles to be cut are near impossible by hand. Although it does instill an appreciation for power tools.
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tetractys
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Re: Power Tool Suggestions?

Post by tetractys » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:57 pm

JDaniels wrote:I recently went from being a condo home owner to a single family home owner. I've always been a DIY'r and now I can finally setup a worksite area in my garage. I'm looking for suggestions for a good basic power tool set. I already have two good drills so I'm looking for other power tools a DIY'r would use on a weekend basis. I'm thinking a circular saw, miter saw, table saw, router, etc. What are your suggestions for make, model, price, reconditioned or new? I plan on using them most every weekend on small to medium DIY projects.
Hi JD,

The simple fact your asking says to me that your best course of action is to start your project(s) first, and then figure out what you will need. So much will depend on what you want to do and your style of working. I myself use lots of hand tools because they take up less space, can do just about anything a power tool can do and many things they can't, cost way less, and are safer.

I can't tell you how many projects I've done that professionals and experts have told me were impossible to do, and how many questions and compliments from the same on completed projects they've seen without knowing how I did it... hand tools and a little thought.

Production's different of course, then power tools become expedient.

But one tool I would recommend for your home: a nice big and sturdy workbench built by you with an adaptable vice.

A big powerful table saw is great; but most jobs for your home can be cut at the lumber yard. A big powerful lathe is great; but most things for your home don't need one, and if they do many components are ready turned. Planes and miters are nice; but all that can be done by hand in the a tenth of the time you would spend buying and setting up. Band saws are useful, and the old blades make great reamer blades; but that can all be done with hand tools also. Etc.

Best regards, and keep your eyes and fingers -- Tet
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Post by pshonore » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:31 pm

As a guy who done a fair amount of hand tool woodworking as well as the power tool variety, I would say this: if you've got lots and lots of time, then go with the hand tools, otherwise go with power tools and use the time saved to develop your skills. I can square up and flatten a board using planes and hand tools but probably can do 20 boards in the same time using power tools (jointers and thickness planers). If you're not into serious woodworking don't buy those but find a friend who did.

If I were buying cordless tools, Harbor Freight is the last place I would buy. Buy the 18V Ryobi cordless drill that HD has on special every month or so. I can't tell you how many screws I've driven with that. I bought a Skil Worm drive circular saw 20 yrs ago and it still works like the day I bought it. I don't have a problem buying HF for stuff I use infrequently (think air floor nailers) If you want a tablesaw, get a good heavy one with a reliable, accurate Fence. Tough to do good work without a good fence. Grizzly saws are excellent in my opinion.

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Post by DaleMaley » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:47 pm

I did a lot of woodworking in the 1980's.......then kids came along and I quit. Now the kids are gone and I have started up again.

You can me see my tool selection on my web site

I would vote for late 1960's Sears tools...including table saw, radial arm saw, and band saw. These tools were built heavy and to last. The advent of computer aided design removed all the excess material and the newer models are not as good as the old ones. You can also still get parts for the old Sears tools. I can built almost anything with my tool selection:

Sears table saw.............1968
Sears radial arm saw........1969
Sears band saw..............1970's
Montgomery Ward wood lathe......1939
Harbor Freight drill press..........1994
Sears router and table....1982
Sears 12" planer........1960's

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JDaniels
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Post by JDaniels » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:12 am

Thanks for the replies everyone.

3CT_Paddler - Most projects are interior trim, picture frames, crown molding and of course a dog house for our black lab Jett :)

DaleMaley -Very impressive woodworking shop! I grew up working with my father in a machine shop on lathes, milling machines, band saws and grinders so I certainly can appreciate your tool selection.
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Post by Patchy Groundfog » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:20 pm

wde wrote:Listen to Chuck.

I've been amassing tools since college and it doesn't take long (or many projects) to have a decent tool set.

Most recently I put up molding. I got a compound miter saw, an air compressor, and a nail gun. All DeWalt (all of my power tools are DeWalt).

You can do it by hand with a miter block, a back saw, and a nail set, but I don't recommend it. It takes a very long time and the angles to be cut are near impossible by hand. Although it does instill an appreciation for power tools.

Too true. I put up crown in a living room and dining room with the little mitre box and backsaw, and I don't recommend it. For the next job I bought a small (7 1/2") mitre saw from Sears that works great for crown and baseboards, and fits nicely into a closet. I also have a compressor and nail gun for these trim jobs. Once I replace the baseboards downstairs I'll probably put these tools on Craigslist and retire from trim carpentry while I still have a semi-functioning rotator cuff.
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Post by surveyor » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:56 pm

JDaniels wrote:Thanks for the replies everyone.

3CT_Paddler - Most projects are interior trim, picture frames, crown molding and of course a dog house for our black lab Jett :)

DaleMaley -Very impressive woodworking shop! I grew up working with my father in a machine shop on lathes, milling machines, band saws and grinders so I certainly can appreciate your tool selection.
Off the top of my head...
Pancake compressor/finish nailer combo
Small miter saw
A good circular saw and blades
4-foot level
short level
speed square
Kreg pocket hole jig setup for joining
Variety of clamps
nailset
collapsable sawhorses
coping saw
caulk gun

Save the $ & space of a table saw and add a 8-foot straightedge (use circular saw).

I've done a fair amount of rehab and have rarely used my router. YMMV if you want fancy picture frames.

A good Sawzall is necessary if you get into heavy remodeling.

The best money I've spent is on the tool I use the most - Dewalt cordless drill/driver.

It doesn't take long to get a pretty impressive collection. Then you start loaning your babies out and worry about their condition on return.

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Good Tools

Post by SpencerB » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:28 pm

Most "good" tools are older in make (as long as they are well taken care of.) For example, my dad has a Milwaukee drill, Sawzall, Rotar Hammer, etc. that are all in GREAT condition. I'd say to look at garage sales for some tools like routers, skill saws (circular saws I mean), and other "small" tools like that. Most people don't need great big tools like lathes, or table saws, but if you do, then look for them on sale.

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Post by Padlin » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:54 pm

Kind of depends on what you want to be able to do. The list for a handyman is very different from one who builds furniture. My must haves for building anything I feel like would be...
Good assorted measuring tools, pencils and sharpener
Sawstop table saw (expensive but your fingers are worth it)
Bench top drill press
Bench of some sort
All kinds of clamps
Saw horses
Circular Saw
router and table
Shop Vac
Random Orbital and Belt sanders with dust collection (mine attach to the shop vac)
14" Band saw
6" jointer
Planer
Craig's list is a good source for used equipment.

In reality you can get away with power hand tools for almost all tasks, just takes a lot longer.
Check out this forum, some very very knowledgable folks. http://www.sawmillcreek.org/, ask your questions there. These guys are really into it, and there tool selections show it. Don't buy cheap tools if you want to end up with a quality finished product.
Regards | Bob

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stratton
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Post by stratton » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:21 pm

Be careful of used radial arm saws.

May dad got the one his dad used heavily. Dad sold it a year later. It turns out all of the flexibility from the different adjustments is its downfall because it went out of adjustment easily. It had to be reset after every couple of cuts because it went out adjustment too easily. Lots of settings that get a little out of adjustment add up to one big headache.

Paul

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Post by DaleMaley » Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:43 pm

stratton wrote:Be careful of used radial arm saws.

May dad got the one his dad used heavily. Dad sold it a year later. It turns out all of the flexibility from the different adjustments is its downfall because it went out of adjustment easily. It had to be reset after every couple of cuts because it went out adjustment too easily. Lots of settings that get a little out of adjustment add up to one big headache.

Paul
The 1965-1970 Sears radial arm saws did not have this issue. For right and left angle movement, an arm fell in at 0 degrees to lock it........you unlock the arm and rotate it to the angle you want, then tighten up a joint and it locks securely. The rotation of the saw has a similar feature. I have never had an issue holding alignment with my 1969 Sears radial arm. I can't speak to the features of other brands.

My only word of caution on any brand of radial arm saw........is to never, ever try to rip anything. Board catches easily, flies out........and will put a new hole in the wall of the room you have the saw in!! What is remarkable is that the Sears owner's manual shows that ripping is an allowable feature.
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Post by SamB » Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:04 pm

I have been a do-it-yourselfer all of my life. What I have found is that depending on the use, sometimes a happy homeowner quality tool will suffice and sometimes you need to spend the money and buy a tool of professional quality. For example, when you buy a torque wrench do not skimp on the price and quality. However, in many cases the Harbor Freight Salvage brand may suffice. It all depends.

I have a drill press, and a radial arm saw (Sears), and an assortment of hand held power tools. If I had it to do over again, I would buy a table saw instead of the radial arm saw. This tool may may be a hazard depending on what you are attempting, especially ripping. I do not own a lathe, but there have been times when I could have used it. A reciprocating saw often comes in handy, as well as a hammer drill, which can be used on masonry. A power mitre saw is also very useful, decks, flooring, moldings, whatever. Occasionally, I do some metal work, especially on bicycles, and a good set of files is useful, a pop rivet tool, and a set of bimetal hole saws, which can be used on metal or wood comes in handy. Oscillating sanders as well as a belt sander comes in handy. It depends on what you are doing and how much material you want to remove.

The good news about acquiring tools is that they seem to be better and cheaper as time goes on. And for the homeowner, they rarely wear out.

Sam

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Post by LadyGeek » Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:19 pm

Do any electrical work? Perhaps you should get an all-purpose multimeter to measure voltage and resistance. Outlet testers also come to mind (to check grounding).

You need to keep your work area clean and safe:
- Ditto on the Shop Vac. Indispensable for just about everywhere.
- Don't forget storage bins and shelving.
- Do you have an adequate amount of outlets, properly grounded and mounted (no running multiple extension cords in a shop environment)?
- Adequate shop lighting.

Your first project will be to build a clean and safe work environment. I'll bet you'll need a bunch of tools for that.

Electrical tools:
Soldering iron
Solder (63/37 Sn/Pb is ideal)
wire cutters
needle nose pliers
electrical tape
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Post by rustymutt » Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:34 pm

Chuck wrote:Buy each item when you need to use it. Then you won't have a bunch of tools you don't use.

I agreed with Chuck, and might add that after you use them, you may not ever use them again. Renting them might make sence. Like a wet title cutter, etc, etc.

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Reconditioned and hand or cord powered

Post by UNCMike » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:01 pm

I haven't bought a new power tool in many years...I've bought quite a few reconditioned tools and used tools. I get most reconditioned tools online from Toolbarn or CPO. My reconditioned tools have all worked fine. It's like getting a 40% discount on all your tools! I also use Craigslist a lot to look for used tools. I live close to several big cities so most types of tools are always for sale by someone.

Also, I would recommend that you do NOT get any battery operated power tools. You pay more money for less power compared to corded tools and the batteries die after a while and they are expensive to replace. I think it's ridiculous that they even sell battery operated circular saws, for example. (If you need a portable saw for just a few cuts, use a hand saw)

Link to CPO:

CPOoutlets dot com/recon.html

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Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:33 pm

My suggestion is to not cheap out on power tools. What do I mean? Do not buy the least expensive Miter Saw because the current project only requires to cut a certain depth or a certain way. Buy one of the Top brands like DeWalt that is a dual compound miter saw and can cut at least at a 12 inch depth. There are sales in which DeWalt includes the saw table that it attaches to for free!

I'd also invest in a circular saw - skilsaw - because if there isn't space in a garage for a table saw, you can cut long and wide boards with a circular saw by placing three 2x4s under the board and attaching another 2x4 with clamps as a guide for the saw.

I second the notion of the sawsall - milwaukee - however, it's really only good for demolition. And if you're into demolition and want to do any kind of tile work, my recommendation is also to invest in a good wet tile saw that also allows for miter/angle cuts. This is one of the few exceptions to my rule . . . that Husky makes a relatively inexpensive great home improvement tile saw for small projects such as remodeling a bathroom or tiling floors in the house. But for the price, it does a great job.

In my area I find owning a power leaf blower convenient for me (not the neighbors) . . . and I favor electric powered ones over gas for home use.

The last major tool is a Drill - preferably a Hammer Drill in order to drill into concrete for hard jobs - such as setting anchors. A Hammer Drill can double as a regular drill. I like cordless for convenience, but battery life is not very long even with the most expensive like the Hilti I own . . but definately would invest in a Milwaukee with a cord.

As I mentioned, a cordless is convenient for jobs like going up into the attic, or taking it outside if you don't have power outlets where you need to work. But one of the most important things that requires power that might not be considered as a "tool" is light. I definately would invest in a hallogen light that can be moved around so if you have to work in the dark you can create your own light source by running a cord from one room that has power to the room that does not. I don't like using cordless light sources because battery power can be limited and might shut off right when you need light the most. A cordless light source though is great for emergencies, getting light to places in which your power cord can't reach and if you have to turn off power to the entire house.

In addition to lighting . . . I would invest in a variety of power cords - especially the appropriate gauge cords for the power tools in question. Don't cheap out on these!

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Post by Boris » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:52 pm

Look for deals and definitely don't cheap out on tools. That's not to say that good tools must always be expensive. One place I would not cheap out is on cordless drill/driver combination. Don't be tempted by those cheap Sears units... they will not stand up to real use. I own this DeWalt Drill/Driver Combo and it has been great. They're professional quality tools and I use them as such.

I wouldn't go for an expensive dual-compound miter saw unless you really need it. I have rebuilt half of my house and I use this cheap $100 Ryobi and it's just fine -- no point in wasting too much money on that.

If you get a reciprocating saw, then definitely consider a Milwaukee and ONLY get corded. Cordless may seem convenient and it's fine if you want to trim some bushes in the back yard, but trust me you will need the torque sooner or later.

Another tool that I picked up along the way and initially didn't want to is a finish nailer. This Bostitch nailer has saved me a TON of time with window frames, moldings, trim, stairs, light flooring and other stuff. Invaluable tool if you'll be doing any finishing work.

Get a good shop vac. There are two makes that are nice: Ridgid and Sears. The $100 range is about the sweet spot for a really nice commercial quality one.

A few things to keep in mind: unless it's a basic tool like measuring tape, screwdrivers and pliers, you do not need to buy anything in advance unless you know you'll need it and/or there's a great sale. For example, the DeWalt drill/driver combo costs well over $300 normally, but I saw it in Home Depot on clearance for something like $200. Prior to that I used my parents' DeWalt drill/driver combo.

Consider buying cordless tools like Ridgid, which aren't quite as "contractor grade" but certainly no slouches and come with a lifetime warranty on everything including batteries (which can be replaced at HD). If I didn't get my DeWalt, I'd probably buy the Ridgid, just for that feature -- batteries will eventually need to be replaced and they're basically the most expensive part of the package.

Anyway, you already got some great advice, just wanted to throw my 2-cents. Based on your post, especially since you want a router, I got the impression that you're planning on making furniture or something else along those lines... not necessarily remodeling or doing things around the house. So maybe my advice will be a bit useless to you.

Below is what my kitchen looked like a few weeks ago... if you have plans like these then you need good tools.

Image

Few weeks later:
Image

Boris
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Post by pshonore » Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:31 am

As long as we're showing off new Kitchens, here are a few shots of mine: (looks like Boris and I have the same frig)

Doors and drawer fronts were all made by me in my shop. Cabinet Boxes and face frames as well as the installation was done by my son who is a professional cabinetmaker in the Greater Boston area. As you may guess, I'm quite proud of his work. (He is available for occasional side jobs in the Boston area if anyone is looking for a skilled craftsman). The wood is quarter sawn White Oak with lots of ray flake to give a Stickley/Mission look, with a light brown stain and a catalyzed lacquer finish. All the work was sent out to a professional finisher in Boston which was well worth it. Its very tough to get a good finish yourself especially for kitchen cabinets. Since the Formica countertop was only 5 years old, we did not replace bottom cabinets; just put on new face frames and skinned over the existing boxes with 1/4" quarter sawn Oak ply. Of course the doors and drawer on the bottom are new. Now we have to do something about that pink floor.

If you look closely in the first photo, you can see my new shed through the window which is shown in the fourth photo. Completed that about 6 months ago. 12 X 18 - all native lumber from a local sawmill
Image
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Power Tool Selection

Post by jsaz » Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:32 pm

As a semi-skilled homeowner I've used/acquired a number of power tools. The first major tool was a 1960s Sears Radial arm saw. The best work I've done was a 12' wall of desks/bookcases/cabinets of mahogany veneer 3/4th inch plywood. Got to me twice due to my carelessness. Basically wore it out and in the 1990s replaced it with a good Sears table saw with a Biesemeyer Fence. Great fence that is so good that Delta bought the company and now sells them. Due to my extreme carelessness, the table saw did a major number to my left hand. Lesson learned!

Circular saws: Worm drive saws have the blade on the left so that a right handed person is looking down the blade. Why do most direct drive models have the blade on the right, away from the usual line of sight for the right handed? Porter Cable has a "LH" version that I think is great, with the blade on the left for this RH person.

Cordless drill/driver: I have a 1992 Makita 9.6V drill/driver which I've used quite a bit. Replaced the batteries once and they now hold the charge for a short period of use. Need additional replacements. The next serious project will replace the system. Son has a 10-15 year old Porter Cable that he has used extensively that is still going strong.

Miter Saw: Several years ago I splurged on a Porter Cable miter saw with the laser light. IMO, that is a very useful feature.

Jim S.

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Post by metabasalt » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:04 pm

pshonore wrote:As long as we're showing off new Kitchens, here are a few shots of mine: (looks like Boris and I have the same frig)

Doors and drawer fronts were all made by me in my shop. The wood is quarter sawn White Oak with lots of ray flake to give a Stickley/Mission look, with a light brown stain and a catalyzed lacquer finish.
No wonder they look so good. When we bought our last house we looked at about 50 and only saw one that we liked in terms of kitchen cabinets. Too much dark heavy-looking wood, with extraneous moulding that would look better in a King Arthur movie. It's so hard to find simple, clean cabinetry that accents the beauty of the wood. These do!

Did you use hand tools for them as well? I think I read higher up in thread you recommending hand tools.

I haven't had time for woodworking in years but when I did I learned two things:
1)I was dumb enough to buy power tools before I knew I'd use them and so they just clutter up my basement. Don't buy before you know what you need as Chuck says.
2)I far prefer to use hand tools even though they take much longer to accomplish many things. But they move at a pace I like.

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Post by pshonore » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:51 pm

Thanks much - Most of this work was done using my Grizzly cabinet table saw and two high quality saw blades (one being a dado blade). Started with 4/4 stock and had about 175 linear feet of rails and stiles to plane (thickness planer) down to 13/16, then dadoed one edge of all 175 feet and cut about 120 tenons (tablesaw) Did use a few chisels and hand planes to fine tune a couple of fits. Oak is not easy to work with hand tools.

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Post by stratton » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:34 pm

DaleMaley wrote:
stratton wrote:Be careful of used radial arm saws.

May dad got the one his dad used heavily. Dad sold it a year later. It turns out all of the flexibility from the different adjustments is its downfall because it went out of adjustment easily. It had to be reset after every couple of cuts because it went out adjustment too easily. Lots of settings that get a little out of adjustment add up to one big headache.

Paul
The 1965-1970 Sears radial arm saws did not have this issue. For right and left angle movement, an arm fell in at 0 degrees to lock it........you unlock the arm and rotate it to the angle you want, then tighten up a joint and it locks securely. The rotation of the saw has a similar feature. I have never had an issue holding alignment with my 1969 Sears radial arm. I can't speak to the features of other brands.
This one was pre 1965.

I don't have any knowledge of other radial arm saws.

Paul

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Post by Analystic » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:48 am

I would get a radial arm saw first.

Invest in the proper saw blade for your project.

http://www.finewoodworking.com/ToolGuid ... px?id=3015

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=16445

Get comfortable eye protection and wear it! The cheap anti-lawsuit goggles that come along for free blur your vision and hurt. Invest in good eye protection. Do not let children watch what you are doing without eye protection. Get ear protection if you are using power saws for any length of time.

Never, ever put your fingers at risk. You will be tempted often. Use pusher sticks and blocks with saws.
Disclaimer: I am making all of this up.

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