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Old 10-11-2012, 02:30 AM   #4
GraphicGr8s
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All but one of my pneumatics are Porter Cable. 4 of my 5 routers are Porter Cable 2 of them are the old 690s. My table saw is a benchtop Delta and it scares the hell out of me. I could never recommend the benchtop saws. My workhorse saw is a 12" Dewalt radial arm saw. It's mounted in a 12' bench so I can saw to the middle of a 4 x 8 sheet by myself. It's as accurate as any table saw and then some. Best thing is the blade is always in full view.
For cordless I've had a few brands. First was a Ryobi. Not too bad of a drill but when the batteries died I went to Porter Cable. Full featured and withstood a drop from 25' with no damage. Batteries are dead in that one also and they aren't inexpensive at 30-40 a pop.
For a circ saw I just use a cheap one. The blade however is cost almost as much as the saw. It's a 60 tooth carbide. Spend the money on the blade here. You'll never regret it with better, smoother cuts. I've also got a Millers Falls circ saw. It's heavy but a dream to use. Must be 40 years old. Only problem is it wants to pull to the right.
Router bits. I've got a bunch from different manufacturers. Doesn't matter the brand. Plywood dulls them fast. Jesada is a great brand and last I heard is made right here in Oldsmar FL. Oldham is OK. So is CMT. Woodline is a lower quality but adequate for the occasional woodworker.
If you do a lot of cope and stick joinery get two routers and build two tables. You'll never regret doing that.
I've also got 2 drill presses. Don't waste your money. I rarely ever use them anymore.
If you want to get into hand tools like planes stick with Lee Valley/Veritas. Good quality. The ones at the BB stores will turn you off to hand planes. They usually require a ton of tuning up and tweaking. Best left to a person with experience. But if that person ever used a quality plane they'd return the BB brand straight away.
Sanders. I've got a few. My workhorse is an old cast aluminum orbital model from the 50's I got from my father. Next up would be an old Craftsman "palm" type sander. Again from the 60's. Also have a B&D belt sander. Don't bother. I rarely ever use it.
I've "invested" more money in jigs than I'd like to admit. I've got an Incra router table jig. Never set it up but am closer now. I've also got another fence system for making dovetails, box joints, sliding dovetails, etc. I've used it twice. My favorites are the ones I've built myself for the task at hand. You may think you're wasting time making jigs but in the long run they save time and make things repeatable and consistent.
Drills. I've collected a few over the years. Corded drills have a definite place in the shop. They are far superior to a cordless for drilling holes over the long haul if you're in a shop/garage situation. When I am using the Kreg jig I always use a single speed non reversing drill for drilling the holes. If I am using traditional wood screws that require a pilot and shank hole I use 2 corded drills and drive the screw with the cordless. I can't waste time changing bits. I change drills/drivers. Just like with the routers. I'm not saying go buy 5 drills. Just that over the years I've gotten them. My very first drill was a B&D single speed non reversing that I still use. Next was the variable speed reversing. Again another B&D that is still going. And for some unknown reason I've got 5 drills and can't remember where I got the other 3. But I use them.

You don't need to buy new all the time. I would buy new for cordless things. 3 of my routers (the 690s) I bought from a customer that repairs tools. A radial arm you might have to buy used also. Not sure who makes them anymore. If you're going to buy a table saw get a full size contractors saw. The table models are okay for construction not wood working. and get an aftermarket fence. A Beisemeyer is way more accurate than any stock fence. Delta, Powermatic and others make good ones. Look at some of the write ups in magazines like Popular wood working for reviews and tool tests.
Festool is considered one of the best but the bang for the buck isn't there. For a beginning wood worker I couldn't justify the expense. (I can't justify it for an experienced one either.) Same as Lamello for biscuit joiners. They invented it but it's not worth the extra money. BTW I have a Ryobi biscuit joiner and rarely use it anymore. I still prefer dowel joints. It's just a little more work but it's a better joint. Domino makes a loose tenon maker but again it's not worth the price.There's also a beaded loose tenon joint but again not really worth the extra expense.

The one thing I couldn't live without? Simple. Dust collection. And I don't mean a shop vac. Get a decent portable unit if your just starting out. Your lungs will thank you immensely.
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