Getting Started » George's Top 5
I'm asked all the time, "What's the first tool I should get?" My tongue-in-cheek answer is, "A credit card with a high limit." But since people really do want advice on tool purchases, I've developed "George's Top 5 List." It's important to understand that this is my list of preferred tools and there will be no shortage of woodworkers who will disagree with my choices. Cool. This is America. Freedom of choice and all that. Let's not get into an argument over it. The Guild is all about passing along information, so feel free to submit your Top 5 list. Can't wait to see it.
1. Table saw: I don't think there will be much argument here. A table saw is at the heart of most shops, and can't be beat for ripping, crosscutting, and a gazillion types of joinery. The only real question is what type of saw is best for you. In large part, that's a question only your checkbook can answer.
2. Router table: This might be where the fist-to-cuffs start. Why a router table as my second choice? It's so versatile. With the right fence set up, I can edge joint boards, like I could on a jointer. (No, you can't face joint, but I'll live with that for now.) I can make any number of joints, create doors, and profile edges. I can remove the router and use it hand-held for work at my bench. A good router table simply provides lots of bang for the buck.
3. Surface sander: This boils down to a question of sander versus planer. If I can only have one, I'd rather have the sander. With an aggressive abrasive I can plane wood, although it will be slower than a planer. The real pay off is when I put a fine abrasive on the machine and finish sand pieces before assembling projects. I love being able to send large slabs of wood through the sander, pieces that wouldn't fit in a planer. Early on in my professional cabinetmaking days, I saw the benefit of putting assembled face frames and doors through a sander. What a time saver!
4. Band Saw: I use my band saw a lot. I've got a sled I use for crosscutting tiny pieces, like I'd use for pen turning. Big blades go on when I'm cutting fireplace logs into usable lumber for my woodworking. The band saw is a great way to cut tenons, and I've even mastered cutting through dovetails on the band saw. Another extremely versatile tool.
5. Lathe: This choice may raise some eyebrows. I'm just preaching the turning gospel here. I love working on the lathe. From pens to green-wood-natural-rim bowls, I can't get enough. You can take a lathe project from start to finish in an evening, which isn't possible with most "flat" woodworking. My kids all started turning at a very young age. With the right project selection, the lathe is a great way to introduce kids to woodworking. The lathe is my opportunity to depart from "standard" woodworking, and have some fun in the shop.
What are your favorite tools and why? Email us at email@example.com.