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Topic: Tools for Workshop
Message: Posted by: rjsmith608 (Aug 28, 2004 04:38AM)
I am a new home owner and have limited space, but want to start building some illusions and tables and stuff like that. I was wondering if anyone could give some ideas of basic tools that would get me started without going over like a $500.00 budget. I know I am asking a lot. But is it possible?
Message: Posted by: ricker (Aug 28, 2004 08:40AM)
Lowe's and Home Depot have some $99 power tools. I use the Band Saw a lot, and you can get a table saw for around that price too. Drills and bits, hammers, screwdrivers, routers, jig saw, hand saw, vice, grinders, etc are all needed too, depending on the illusion.

Dont forget the T-Square and tape measure too!

Best thing to do is get Paul Osborne's 'Begin to Build Your Own Illusions'. This gives you an outline, not on the basic tools to buy, but has some plans for illusions you can build with them.

Also, start watching the woodworking shows, like "The New Yankee Workshop" and DYI TV. Building illusions is no different than any other woodworking, just more fun for us magicians.

Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Aug 28, 2004 08:53AM)
Hiya, RJ:

The most important tool in my shop is my tablesaw. I've worked in half-a-dozen cabinet shops over the years, run a couple of them myself, and the table saw (or its analog, the panel saw) has been the heart of all of them.

The reason is simple: Boxes (whether kitchen cabinets, stereo units, library shelving or Zig Zags) require components of consistent size and reliable squareness, usually of plywood or other sheet products. The tablesaw allows you to cut piece after piece to a required and repeatable dimension while maintaining a square cut. Of course, it can be used for other operations, too, cutting rabbetts or dadoes, prepping solid stock, kerfing, and notching.

Best of all, you can get a decent tablesaw for around two bills at Home Depot, and while you're there you can pick up some Melamine panels and build an accessory table for your new saw.

Other than that I'd get a good, corded 3/8" drill and a 1/2" router and some bits. Later, you'll probably want one of those pancake compressor/nail gun kits that are also around two bills (that one's gonna cost you a new deck or a wardrobe makeover or something else the Mrs. wants, however).

If there's a junior college or adult ed center nearby, you might consider signing up for their woodworking classes. As a property owner, you're paying for their well-equipped workshop -- you might as well take advantage of it. Classes are usually free or cheap, and you'll have the benefit of learning from pros and advanced students.

Leland Edward Stone
Message: Posted by: kregg (Aug 28, 2004 09:35AM)
With woodworkers it is a toss-up between a table or band saw. If you plan on making templates, jigs and veneer from bulk stock without a lot of waste... go with a band saw.
If you plan on doing panel cuts, get a table saw first.
If you don't have a helper in the workshop, get the store to cut your wood into managable sizes (cuts are usually free).
500 dollars is barely enough to cover a good clamp collection these days. So, research tools carefully in woodworker magazines. Good tools you buy once, bad quality tools you buy twice.

For starters:

Table or Band Saw
Drill Press
Chop Saw
Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (Aug 28, 2004 09:53AM)
I am lucky enough to have a neighbor across the street who builds boxes and cabinets for a hobby. He has given me much help and good advice. Try to find someone like that if you can. When I bought my table saw at Lowes, he showed me how to properly align it. None of the fellows at Lowes nor the instructions ever mentioned it and I was wondering why my work wasn't coming out straight. If you live anywhere near a store called "Harbor Freight" they are a great sourse for low cost very workable tools. Otherwise try Lowes or Home Depot.

As far as money goes, I have a...

Router with table and mulitple bits,
A table saw
A chop block (circular saw mounted on a positionable arm)
A well supplied Dremel
Drills and sanders

I think the whole business came in about $800 though I did not buy it all at once.

If you can afford it, consider a dust catching system. My one car garage is a ***** to keep clean.

Having the tools and using them are two different things altogether. You really need to find someone to guide you. I love the builder TV shows, but I really find them useful only for a few techniques. Most don't lend themselves to magic. If you can find a TV show that talks about finishing wood, that is a mojor issue all its own.

I posted in another topic how sad it was to spoil a great piece with a poor finish.

Anyone seen Rand Woodbury's idea for finishing with fabric? It is really cool.

Hope some of this helps.
Message: Posted by: kregg (Aug 28, 2004 10:03AM)
Good point about dust collection. An option is to keep everything portable. If you're in a relatively dry climate you can wheel the dusty work outside.
Message: Posted by: Dave Dorsett (Aug 28, 2004 10:40AM)
As a former professional builder, I can't recommend the table saw (a GOOD one) too highly as a beginning building block. But even if you shoot for portability, make sure it has solid construction and a certain amount of "heft" to it. A cast table with a sure locking fence properly calibrated will get you farther down the road than almost anything.
Having a budget of only $500 will slow you down a little bit as good power tools can be expensive. JET and GRIZZLY brands are among the best of the "low cost" shop equipment.
Haunting auctions and checking auction listings can frequently get you used older equipment at a reasonable price and they are frequently much better made than new pieces. Also, be very careful about too many "bells & whistles" on power tools. Electronic gauges and adjustments easily become fouled by sawdust and airborne paint mist.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Dial (Aug 28, 2004 12:36PM)
About 20 years ago Fine Woodworking magazine published an article asking 5 woodworkers how they would set up a woodshop in the limited space of a one-car garage. All five said that you needed to start with one central machine and then build the rest of the shop around that. Four of the five built their shops around a table saw. The fifth stated with a band saw.

It has been good advice for me.

PS The information and other stuff can be found in the Fine Woodworking book "The Small Workshop" copyright 1985. I'm not sure if they have reprinted it or not, but it is great information on how to set up a small shop. (There is enven an article on how to set up a shop in 75 square feet!)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 28, 2004 12:53PM)
Message: Posted by: angeloturn (Aug 28, 2004 06:58PM)
I would advise not to spend $$ for a work bench. Plow the cash into tools and build your benches.

Message: Posted by: m.ruetz (Aug 28, 2004 10:35PM)
Go to garage sales and classified ads (or craigslist.org if they have a site in your area). It's amazing how many folks unload nice tools for a fraction of the new price. (1) Table saw is clearly a key one (invest in a nice blade), (2) a table belt sander is also very key for finish work, (3)power miter saw, and (4) an air brad nailer seem to be some of the most used items in my shop.
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Aug 29, 2004 07:01AM)
A couple things that I have used are a hacksaw, eletric sander, circular saw, and a drill. Also have a hammer ready.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Dial (Aug 29, 2004 10:40PM)

Looks like it has been updated since I got my copy. I've not read this NEW book, but the contents must all be new material since the 1985 book I have. Check you local library.


My first table saw was from a garage sale. My second was an old Rockwell from a floor refinishing shop.

Regarding saw blades. Mel Babcock, who makes some of the finest and finest looking magic props around uses a Sears saw, but spends top dollar ($100-$200) for blades.
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Sep 1, 2004 03:10PM)
$500 won't get you what you need to build tables and illusions. For illusions you will be cutting a lot of plywood so a table saw with extensions is essential. As an alternative, you can make a great panel cutter out of a 2x12x6ft board and old bed rails. Before I had a table saw my Dad and I attached the "L" shaped bed rails to the board so a portable electric saw could ride on it. We attached a piece of masonite to the base of the saw with screws which allowed the saw to slide easily on the rails. I still use it to cut 4x8 panels and other pieces that are not suitable for the table saw.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Sep 2, 2004 07:26AM)

Penn State Industries came out with a "Portable Panel Saw" a few years ago that does exactly what you described, except that it uses a ball bearing system to ride along the rail.

I have the panel saw system and it's invaluable for cutting down large sheets of plywood. (I have a good quality Jet table saw, as well, but I cannot cut down full sheets of 3/4" plywood on it by myself.)

The panel saw system is only $99. Here's a link: http://www.pennstateind.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=PSI&Product_Code=PPS-B&Category_Code=PS
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Sep 2, 2004 10:12AM)
I've seen these before and they look very useful. The system I have my father invented more than 40 years ago. He made one for himself and we built one together for me. It lays across two saw horses. The panel slips beneath the 2 parallel rails which are mounted about 2 inches above the long wooden base. This way you can clamp the panel to the base so nothing moves. Also the saw blade runs in a groove in the wood so the blade never is exposed. At each end is a wooden stop which is exactly at right angles to the rails. At Home Depot you'll see panel cutters that run on tubular tracks and are set up vertically. Mine is simpler and more flexible and can be built at low cost.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 2, 2004 09:47PM)
To be honest guys, I always wanted a panel saw but it was not worth the money versus the time I use it.

Home Depot and most places give you up to 7 cuts free on plywood and 25 cents a cut after that. I just get it cut down to a manageable size and then use the table saw.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Sep 4, 2004 06:44PM)
Hmmm... good discussion. So many tools and so little space/money/time/all of the above/any two of the above...

Looking around my shop, and if I had to start over with a low budget, I think I'd go for:

1. A table saw with a carbide blade.

2. A good drill/driver (the 14V cordless ones are frequently on sale, and useful for a lot of things besides drilling), with a good set of drill and driver bits.

3. Hammer, wood mallet, a couple of chisels, rasp or plane, and a few other hand tools, including a nice tape measure and straight edge.

4. Several clamps (C's, speed, spring, or other type) to hold things together tightly. I use these a lot.

5. AND a good square or two. I use a 24-inch framing square and a 6-inch try square a lot to make sure things are straight, square, and tight. You'll use these often, so spend a bit more and get good ones.

The references to woodworking books and mags are good -- Borders and B&N have a good selection of these, and most mags have bulletin boards and chat rooms where you can learn a lot from the pros and the old-timers.

Good luck, have fun, and keep us posted.

Oops, I left out two of my favorites:

First, a good book on how to make your own woodworking jigs. Jigs can save you a lot of time and money, are fairly easy to make, and you can use them over and over. Once you get the idea of what jigs are and how to design them, you'll be making up your own in no time. To start, you may want to look for "Fine Woodworking on Proven Shop Tips," although there are other good ones.

Second, a subscription to a woodworking magazine such as Fine Woodworking, American Woodworker, or Woodsmith. You can usually find these at Borders and B&N and pick one you like. The mags also have lots of ads for companies that will send you free catalogs; a few of these catalogs, such as Garrett Wade and Lee Valley, actually give you a lot of information on how to use the tools, and they're a lot of un to read.
Message: Posted by: ricker (Sep 4, 2004 10:14PM)
This weekend went by Lowe's and found a scroll saw for $50 on the clearence table..

Deals everywhere
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 5, 2004 01:45PM)
Do not overlook school and university sales. As they phase out industrial arts programs so very good high quality machines can be bought at a very good price.
Message: Posted by: thegospelmagicman (Sep 6, 2004 04:23PM)
If you live in an area where they publish a "pennysaver" or a "make a deal" or "I Wanna" paper, there are always lots of great items for sale. We have at least two of these publications in our area and I always see lots of shop tools. Yard and Garage Sales are great too.

The Gospel Magic Man
Message: Posted by: PatrickErrins (Sep 8, 2004 12:56PM)
Well Folks,

Here is what I have in my workshop. Minus all the little extras (clamps, etc.), just plain tools

-Table Saw
-Band Saw
-Belt Sander
-Drill Press
-Air compressor (w/ paint cans, nail gun, etc, etc)

This allows me to do everything I could possibly want to do, with the utmost efficiency.

Message: Posted by: RJW (Sep 17, 2004 03:28PM)
A good set of power tools should get you on the way.
band saw
table saw
and a nail gun is often usefull.
Message: Posted by: magicmanrob (Sep 18, 2004 06:30AM)
$500 isn't a lot to spend but if done properly will certainly get a great start. I have to agree a table saw is the first to buy if you want to build illusions. A good belt /spindle combo sander is available at home depot for $199 and does great on all types of sanding both edges and contour. I just rcently finished building a step base based off Rand Woodbury's book. In my accumulation ofpower equipment the ones I feel are critical are
tabel saw
belt/spindle sanderthey may be more money but a great blade on an average saw will yeild a much better cut and will save you b
electric planer
hand belt sander
4 inch grinder
Band saw
and of course as mentioned all the clamps, bits blades and belts you can get you hands on. And make sure you don't skimp on those buy the best carbide blades you can get

Here is another possible solution try looking at Cummins industrial tools outlet http://www.cumminstools.com/index.htm
they have a lot of tools (name brands too) at bargain pricces. A lot of them are reconditioned by the manufacturer such as Ryobi and are great tools. I am looking at their web site right now and see a 9 inch bench top band saw by Ryobi for $69 I know Home depot had the same saw for $99 also they have a bench top 5 speed drill press for $39, 10 inch bench top table saw $ 79, 1 1/2 hp router $39, 10 inxh compound miter saw $79, air brad nailer $49 , 4 inch angle grinder $9.99 just to name a few. Might just be your way to get your shop going