Overall Workshop Needs
A Counter-View: I used a table saw for several years, but have replaced it with a radial arm saw (I got a used Delta at a good price). IMHO, the radial is MUCH better and more useful than a table saw.
A few of the reasons include:
1. It's easier and faster to adjust precisely -- controls are where you can see and reach easily.
2. You can see the workpiece and tool (saw blade) while cutting, making guiding the work more accurate and easier.
3. There are no table cuts (including 4 by 8 sheets) that the radial will not do.
4. Molding heads can provide much of the capability of a router, but you get to move the work piece instead of the tool, which is both easier and has much less
chance of slip-ups. You do not need a router table,since you will only use your router when you have to take it to the work, such as an already installed countertop. If you can move the piece, you can move it to your radial. Angled cuts are much easier too.
5. Repeatability of a cut is virtually automatic, unlike a table saw.
6. Special cuts such as circles and compound angles are much easier. Some table saws may not be able to make certain compound cuts at all, because of the limited blade tilts allowed.
7. Switching blades, sanders, dado cutters, molding heads, etc. is easy and quick.
8. The unit is often more compact; less of your workspace is needed to store it.
9. The table and fence are convenient for clamping jigs and guides; you might have to construct and fasten a jig together if you were using a table saw.
10. Ripping is both easier and safer.
BOTTOM LINE: Don't buy a table saw; buy a radial saw instead.
- Ben Consilvio
First 3 tools: a good square, safety glasses, and the best table saw you can pry out of your wallet (don't forget a good blade). As mentioned above - books, books, and books. Here are some of my favorites.
- R. Bruce Hoadley
Understanding Wood Finishing
- Bob Flexner
Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: Furniture Making
- Tage Frid
The Impractical Cabinetmaker
- James Krenov
You already have the most important tool, your brain. If you have the cash for more than the three items I mentioned, then go with a router and table, then I'd get a dust collector system.
First 3 tools: A good router and router table. After the table saw, the router table is my second most used tool. Planer and Jointer tie for next. Most beginners start by using surfaced wood from the home centers. Soon the limited selection and price will force you into using rough lumber. At that point the value and utility of the Jointer and Planer will expand your project making abilities many fold.
- Mike FC
Overall, you would do best to buy each machine and tool individually. Spend some time getting as much information about each tool,from different manufacturers,different sellers and go back and read all the topics of each machine in a forum like this. Go to the web sites of woodworking magazines and read the tool reviews. But you need to slow down and only buy as your needs require.
You will need a table saw, a router and possibly a bandsaw. Remember with a router table and the proper bits you can use your router to perform all of the work of a jointer. If you throw in a dovetail bit and a template you can make rock solid joints. If you decide to go for the bandsaw, get one with enough clearance and horsepower to re-saw lumber.
There are some additional tools that have broad application (e.g. drill press, miter or sliding miter saw, joiner, bandsaw, etc.), but none are as essential as a high quality table saw, fence and blades. You will never regret it, but you will always wish you had if you don't.
- C. Scott
Other tools to consider later, radial arm saw, miter box (if you opt for the sliding table), lathe, compressor and finish nailers, stationary sander, scroll saw, bandsaw, oscillating sander, planer, and the list goes on and on.
- Robert Walker
A few of the other tools you should first consider are a compound miter saw (10" will handle most of the work), a jointer (6" minimum), and good plunge router with a router table. The router table is indispensable when doing rail and stiles, etc. and the plunge router is just a good idea should you run into a situation where you'd need it.
- karl in PA
Poor quality tools are a total waste of money. In some cases they will work for a while and quit. But, more important, they can cause you to loose interest in the tool or the whole field of woodworking. Good tools set up correctly, allow even a beginner to feel that they can do good work. Over the years I have gained confidence in my abilities and have produced some pieces that I am very proud of and would be willing to put up against all most anyone’s work. Part of that is increased skills, but a lot of it is getting the right tools, setting them up correctly, and keeping edges sharp. Always save until you can buy a good tool. You will save in the long run and in some ways in the short run as well.
- Lou Williams
I am one of the people here that think that a tablesaw is the most important tool and a jointer is the second most important tool. I would put a router in about 10th place,
but that is because my first router was a poor quality sear unit and I leaned how to do with out for many, many years. With all that said:
- Pool all the funds you have a buy one tool.
- Don't buy a bench top table saw and never get a jointer that is not a heavy duty model.
- Unless you are going to make real small things like toys or small boxes then inexpensive tools are not worth spending the money on. You will waste your money and your stock and get frustrated with the problems they will cause you.
- Buy a Delta, Jet, Grizzly (with US motor) table saw at minimum a contractors saw and if I were you I would buy a used cabinet saw.
- If you can't get a quality tool don't get one at all, save and get a quality tool. Remember this and you will be far a head of most.
- Lou Williams
I know that the machines are real fun, but don't forget the hand planes and chisels. There is lots of work that must be done with good quality edge hand tools. Even Norm uses a nice sharp chisel and hand plane to make the joints for his projects.
- Lou Williams
If you already have a tablesaw it can do most all of what the compound miter saw can do. Wood has three dimensions, width, length, thickness. The tablesaw can handle both width (rip), length (crosscut), but you need a planer to handle thickness. A planer can also save you $$$ by allowing you to buy cheaper "rough cut" lumber (or buying better woods as roughcut for the same $$$ as S4S Fir) and then making your own. There is something magical about taking a piece of "fuzzy" lumber right from the mill and turning it into a perfectly flat piece of milled lumber ready for whatever you imagination calls for!