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Inner circle
Portland, Oregon
1322 Posts

Profile of rtgreen
This is just a fun question:

Knowing what you know now, if you were to start building a workshop right now, what tools and equipment would you find essential, what would make your life easier, and what would you have as your dream equipment?

I won't say that money is no object (If that were the case, I would hire Jim Steinmeyer, Andre Kole, John Gaughan, and a few others - put them in an empty Boeing airplane hanger, give them unlimited funds and let them go crazy), but do pretend that you can afford whatever you need to build the illusions yourself.

Have fun dreaming,
George Ledo
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Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2895 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
This topic has been covered before, here and over at; however, since you say it's just a "fun question," and assuming I have reasonable funds to buy whatever I want, here's what I'd do.

First, I'd go over to B&N or Borders and get several current woodworking mags. Find 2-3 I like and get subscriptions. Then I'd head over to the local Woodcraft store and pick up a few books on how to set up a workshop, tools and jigs, cabinet and box making, finishing, and whatever else looks good.

Next I'd cruise over to Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's and other places and see what they have and what their prices are. I'd also start collecting catalogs: Craftsman, Grizzly, Home Depot, and so on. After a week or two of reading and browsing, I'd start buying stuff. Here's my list.

A good solid table saw with a combination carbide blade.

Drill press with a couple of vises and a milling table attachment.

A bandsaw strong enough to do re-sawing.

A combination belt/disk sander.

Bench grinder.

A good solid European workbench (although I'd probably build my own).

A jointer/planer.

Wood lathe w/ duplicating atachment.

Metal lathe, or a combination mill/lathe. Grizzly has some good ones.

A standard router (for the router table) and a plunge router (for hand work).

Jig saw, circular saw (aka Skilsaw), cordless drill/driver.

A compound miter saw on a custom-made table. I'd use this instead of a radial arm saw.

A trunkful of hand tools, including chisels.

A desk and drafting table for use in the shop (or right next to it), with a computer with AutoCAD and a 3D rendering program, an inexpensive printer, and a 24" HP plotter.

A table for laying out scale models and very small stuff, with a selection of Dremel tools and other stuff.

A nice easy chair, lamp, fridge, microwave, stereo, TV/DVD player, lamp, bookcases, and Oriental rug: my place to dream and scheme. I'd love to be building an illusion with an old 40's mystery movie on the TV.

Gee whiz, this is fun. Let's see... a compressor, pneumatic stapler, paint sprayer. A cordless stapler/finish nailer.

I'm actually building a workshop in my garage right now, although I don't have everything listed above. You can see a photo at

Well, shoot, sorry twice. The correct link is - but it doesn't seem to work. I just checked the on-line files at my ISP and the page is there, but it just doesn't load. I'll have to look into this...
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
11160 Posts

Profile of Michael Baker
That is an ambitious list, George. I might wish to add (if your jointer/planer wasn't inclusive), a thickness/finishing planer. I went many years without one, but since I have gotten one, I am able to make so many things I was never able to before. HUGE difference!

Other things I can immediately think of are:

1) Plenty of good lighting, both in room flooding general lighting and some hotspots for strong directional lighting. This is often a pet peeve of mine.

2) Floor mats - standing on a concrete floor for a long time can make you think more about your feet and legs and less about your hands and fingers. Not a good thing...

When you get the link fixed to your shop photos, let us know over at PMZZ. Thanks!

~michael baker
The Magic Company
George Ledo
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Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2895 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
Good point, Michael, good lighting and floor mats make life so much easier -- in the workshop, anyway.

Several overhead power drops to keep extension cords from cluttering up the floor are good too, as are a shop vac and a nice big trash can on wheels.

Oh, what the heck, I'll add a cordless phone and several local phone books so I don't have to go to the kitchen to call suppliers. And a sink area for mixing paint and washing up.

Hey, Richard, see what you started??? :;
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
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Regular user
158 Posts

Profile of magicmanrob
George, don't forget a good dust collector to keep the dust down, while a shop vac can do a good job if you are going to build a shop incorporate dust collection to each station, it makes life so much easier , and its good for keeping airborn dust particles out of your lungs as well
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