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Old 10-15-2010, 09:38 PM   #1
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want to get into wood working


Over the next few years I want to get into wood working. Mostly making things like shelves, cabinets, and medium sized items like that. My first project will probably be a big work bench in my garage with some doors. Rather basic solid cabinet system, nothing too fancy.

I already built a few small items such as a window cover for my portable AC to hook into, as well as a box that sits against my AC where I can hook up an intake duct. Pic here.

One challenge I found while building these rather simple things was to get straight, precise cuts. I was kinda all over the place. It took me several tries to fit the panel into the window because I cut it so badly. With the box at the bottom it went rather well, but again my main challenge was to get precise cuts. guess that comes with practice, but wondering if it's a tool thing too.

I used a circular saw for most of the work. Jig saw for some of the non straight cuts.

Would a mitre saw have been easier to cut the 2x with more precisely?

For the plywood, would guides and clamps have made it easier to do better cuts? What about marking lines, other then a square, anything else I should be aware of? I think the challenges I had were mostly due to lack of a proper setup, and knowledge. Not rocket science to get a nice straight cut.

Another challenge with the circular saw was when I get into the lumber, the guard is in the way, and I need to manually lift it, by my other hand is holding the lumber. Should I be placing my lumber in such a way that I don't need to hold it, so I can have a hand free? I think this is a setup thing, maybe I need some horses and clamps?

So that said, what are must have tools/methods when it comes to basic woodworking? I think my first step is to get setup better, so I can start getting into bigger projects.
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Old 10-16-2010, 05:44 AM   #2
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A circular saw and a straight edge can make accurate cuts, but it takes a long time to master that. The usual tool for very accurate cutting is a table saw. Preferably a stationary tool with some bulk to it, and a belt driven blade system. Direct drives do not have the power needed. The projects you mention can be done with minimal tools, but it is hard to get the precision and quality needed for cabinet work.
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Old 10-16-2010, 05:58 AM   #3
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A table saw is the center of any wood shop----The bigger the better--and safer---

The little portable saws are dangerous--very dangerous---a large table is needed to support the work so your only job is to guide the wood through the cut----

If you have to balance a board to keep it on the table--the table is to small---

You might want to see if there is a night school class on wood working--that will expose you to the various tools used in wood working and some safety lessons.

For fun get yourself a Grizzly tool catalog--They are a fine company to deal with and the catalog is cheap entertainment---Mike---
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Old 10-16-2010, 08:12 PM   #4
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good to know about table saw, I think I will make that my next tool. Any specific features I should look into? I always work alone, so ability to be able to do everything alone safety is key.

Also should I bolt it down to the floor so it's stationary or are they rather heavy on their own?
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Old 10-16-2010, 08:35 PM   #5
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I have an OLD table saw - like just after the war. It was my grandfathers. The tabletop is small, but the saw cuts through anything. It's added a whole new dimension into what I can build. In the past 1.5 years, I went from barely being able to make decent miter cuts, to installing crown, building bookcases, you name it. Not that my stuff is perfect, but having a good saw opens up a lot of options. I am currently working on building a nice/big router table, so I can learn even more.

If price isn't an object, and you have a place to store it - buy the biggest, baddest table saw you can find. I've seen some that have a router insert, so that you can use one table as a table saw or a router table. If/when I look for something new, I think that's going to be on the list.
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Old 10-16-2010, 08:46 PM   #6
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Circ saw magic:
http://plansnow.com/circsawjigs.html
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Old 10-16-2010, 09:33 PM   #7
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Good to know about the router table, I may look into that when I go look at the saws. One issue is I am debating if I want to make my garage still able to store my car in winter or just forget about that, and make it a shop. If I get a big table saw then I wont have room for a car, but if I do get more into wood working and actually use it a lot, think it will be worth it.

How is something like this, if I wanted to go small?
http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/brows....jsp?locale=en

Is it a bad idea?
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:37 PM   #8
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Why not take some time and learn some good basic tips and tricks with the tools you have and then move on to some more tools. You can build some very nice pieces of furniture or cabinets with some of the more simple tools you mentioned you have.

Some tips and things for you to buy and consider:

1. Buy or make a pair of saw horses ($40-50)
2. When cutting dimensional lumber get good following a line or you can also use a speed square held against the 2x4, 1x4, 2x6, etc. edge with one hand as you push the circular saw through the board guiding the base of the saw against the speed square. Voila! a straight cut. (speed square ($5-10))
3. For sheet goods 4'x8' plywood and such to cut straight lines look for a long straight edge to cut against. I have used for quite some time a Swanson brand 100" cutting guide, it is two 50" halves that attach together in the middle to make a 100" long guide, it came with two small 4" C-Clamps to clamp the guide to a piece needing to be cut. The tricky part of this is measuring where your blade will cut to position the guide in the right place but once you figure it out you will be making as straight of cuts as you could with a table saw. (swanson cutting guide - $40)
4. Measure twice, cut once.

It looks like the box you built on the floor would be easy using the tips that I suggested with the cutting guide on the plywood you used. As far as joinery on the corners a router with a simple square bit using the cutting guide will give you the ability to router rabbets, or dados, which both provide a strong joint with the combination of finish nails.

Do some research online, get some woodworking books and magazines and study their tricks and tips, one can learn a lot.

By the way I would encourage you to keep with woodworking I have found it to be a very enjoyable and rewarding hobby.

And with regards to your garage, I am in the same boat however I have a 3-car garage, and I try and make all my tools mobile and have the ability to clean up and still get 2 cars into their spots. Good planning with your tools and work spaces will go a long way.

And don't be discouraged at getting a portable table saw, by the above comment, they can be just as safe as a full fledged cabinet saw. The poster mentioned they are unsafe cutting sheet goods and the like that don't fit on the table, that can be remedied very easy and cheaply, just build a simple saw horse at the height of the table saw that will help with the outfeed and sidefeed, providing the needed support to make cuts safely. There is nothing wrong with starting out with a cheaper portable table saw, and build in safety to it.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
A table saw is the center of any wood shop----The bigger the better--and safer---

The little portable saws are dangerous--very dangerous---a large table is needed to support the work so your only job is to guide the wood through the cut----

If you have to balance a board to keep it on the table--the table is to small---

You might want to see if there is a night school class on wood working--that will expose you to the various tools used in wood working and some safety lessons.

For fun get yourself a Grizzly tool catalog--They are a fine company to deal with and the catalog is cheap entertainment---Mike---
A table saw, regardless of type is only dangerous to a person who doesn't respect what it can do. I have cut 4x8 sheet goods many times on a contractor portable table saw, it CAN be just as safe as a cabinet saw with a 50" top. When working with tools one just needs to stop and think about what can make this job safer and easier. In this case when working with stock that is too large to be supported by the table, one needs to either find someone to help manage the stock, or find a way to support the side of the stock and the outfeed. Cabinet saws with large 50" tables to support large stock can be very expensive, and one can achieve just as much safety with a contractor portable saw, with very little effort.

And I'm not some apologist for portable saws, I personally own a 3hp shopfox.
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:58 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tips, so really I think what I need to get is the guides and clamps, as well as the horses. Think I will concentrate on that and practice some more once I'm setup better.
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
Thanks for the tips, so really I think what I need to get is the guides and clamps, as well as the horses. Think I will concentrate on that and practice some more once I'm setup better.
I just wanted to give you some more ideas that may not cost as much as a table saw, but can give you the same results. However, if you spend some significant time woodworking you will soon find the need for a table saw, they are a great tool. I've always found in the past that figuring out how to do something with less provides a great learning environment and steadily build up tools as one gets more experienced. If you want a great woodworking site that is a lot like this site, check out www.woodworkingtalk.com.

However, if you find a steal on a tablesaw at a garage sale or something I would snatch it up. Thats what I do, I rarely buy new tools, so many people buy tools don't use them for whatever reason. This is another good reason to buy out of necessity. Glad I could help a little I have received a lot of help on this and other forums from people like you.
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Old 10-17-2010, 04:38 AM   #12
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IMO, take all that money you would have spent on guides and instead buy clamps and quality layout tools. Then make your sawhorses and cutting guides and learn a lot while doing so. Most of lumber for mine came right out of the construction and demolition dumpsters.

http://www.google.com/search?q=jigs+...ient=firefox-a

The key to happy precise cutting with a circ is to use jigs so you NEVER have to measure or eyeball to take account of the distance from your bladed to the edge of your shoe.

Safety... all tools bite if you screw up. ER stats say the radial arm saw and table saw are the major source of the worst shop injuries. (I've had various pros tell me that, I don't really know if its true)

Table saw... a couple years ago I found an old wonderful craftsman on craiglist for 80 bucks. INVALUABLE tool for practice and learning what my needs are before I shop for a "real" one.

Have fun, I don't get nearly enough time in the shop!
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:22 AM   #13
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Red----I own one of those DeWalt portables-----------It is a fine saw and a joy to work with.

Over the years I have had (and out grew or wore out) 4 full size table saws--And countless portable saws.

The key feature that makes for a good table saw is the fence----The saw itself hasn't really changed much in 70 years---

A good fence should be 100% accurate --fast and easy to re-set and strong enough to stay that way year after year.

At a minimum--you will want a saw that can rip a sheet of plywood in half--24 inches--

A folding wood table can be made that will give a portable saw extra width and length--There are a lot of plans available--If you don't have space for a big saw yet,this adds the safety and stability that you need.

Big saws are usually put on casters----Even the giant ones---nice to be able to scoot the saw out of the way if you need.----Mike----
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Old 10-17-2010, 10:40 AM   #14
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Keep the car in the garage and get a good quality portable.

As Mike said it’s mainly about the fence.

This is what I use almost daily on site.
http://www.google.com/products/catal...ed=0CD4Q8gIwAg#

The big feature with this saw is the rack and pinion fence. Very accurate and easy to use and opens out to 26”.

I’m on my second one. I got about 7 years out of the first and replaced the motor once ($160) which I think is good since the abuse it receives daily. Not to mention the many hours of being rained on in a salt environment.

I’m surprised you don’t see more saws with this fence system.
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Old 10-19-2010, 01:25 PM   #15
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This my friend, is your friend. I would rather loose my left nut instead of this tool. Seriously. Get the optional longer guides, and you will be golden. Love it. I have their domino, planer, and sander, Nothing cheap, but great precise tools, with vac attachments that actually work.

http://www.festoolusa.com/products/p...aw-561174.html
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