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  Topic Review (Newest First)
10-23-2013 04:27 PM
DesertRatTom Glad you could join in. I'm about 5 years into the hobby and here's some of the things that helped me get going. Maybe it will save you some trouble getting underway.

1) If you use Firefox browser, get a free add on YouTube download helper app. Search for videos on all aspects of woodworking that interest you and collect them. I watch a video on the topic of whatever project, or phase of a project, on which I'm currently working. VERY helpful to see it done before you try it yourself.

I Video Downloader YouTube Downloader that’s free using the tools menu/add ons. It puts a download button under the video on YouTube. Click the button, name it (I always label it according to the tool or job it works on. For example, anything to do with routing, I label as "Router", which clusters all the similar videos together in Windows Explorer. All my videos go into a single folder. I sometimes watch woodworking video while on planes, which occasionally triggers interesting conversations.

2) There are hundreds of used books on woodworking on Amazon. Order some on basic tools and woodworking. You'll need to learn to tune up saws and other tools, and books are how I learned to do these things. It wasn't until I tuned up my saws that good results began to happen. My saws cut exactly 90 and 45, or any angle I need now. Two books I really love are Bill Hylton’s “Woodworking with the Router,” and “The Joint Book” by Terrie Noll. The Noll Book is a really concise and heavily illustrated reference with great hints for making every variety of joints. There are lots of good table saw guides.

3) Make some first projects with MDF before using more expensive wood. Make the same project several times with improved skill and workmanship each time. Great learning method.

4) Consider making cabinets or stands for each of your power tools as first projects. My first cabinet was of MDF and my sander and all my sanding gear still sit on and in it. I can't tell you how much confidence I got from building space efficient shop stands and now, all the tools in my smallish shop are on casters and easily moved around for use and cleanup. BTW, if you add casters, use two non swivels on the back and two locking casters on the front--make sure the lock secures both the wheel and the swivel so your carts don't skip around in use. My shop made stands also take up far less floor space than the ones that came with the tools, which makes it far easier to move tools around in a compact shop.

5) Many of the woodworking supply stores in the US (and I imagine overseas) have demos on weekends. Attend and get to know the people you meet there. They can turn you on to sources of wood and you can get some nice help and begin a friendship or two. Don’t forget to talk with the employees as well. At our local Rockler, several of the employees are serious and experienced woodworkers and always eager to help. I’ve also found some of the big box stores have very experienced wood workers and carpenters, you just have to start a brief conversation, then ask them about what they did before the store.

6) Among your first purchases should be some form of dust control. Many woods are proven carcinogens and can quickly damage your lungs. Dust collection information is on this site. I have a 4-inch system installed to collect sawdust, but I also have and recommend a dust mask with a small fan that pulls in pressurized air that not only keeps dust out, but also keeps my glasses from fogging. Got mine at Rockler and keep a couple of sets of rechargable AA batteries ready to use. For cutting just a piece or two, I keep surgical style disposable masks handy. I also built a box with 20x20 filter inside and a fan that pulls air through to remove fine airborne dust over time. Don't take your mask off right after cutting because there is always dust floating around for awhile. If you start coughing, it means you need to pay very close attention to dust control. It can take months to recover from a bout of working MDF.

7) Take your sweet time with projects, there's no rush and it is easy to have a project nearly complete, then make a careless, quick cut or other error that ruins all your good work.

8) Buy the very best table saw you can manage. A little debt could move you up a notch and help you produce better results. Get the best tools you can afford and read the reviews and ask questions on the forum before you choose. To me, it is worth it to use credit if necessary to get the best you can manage. And there are some new models called hybrid saws that have the mechanical works attached to the cabinet rather than the top, which is good. I recently replaced my old saw with a Laguna Fusion model, a month before Powermatic introduced their own. My shop is not wired for 220, so I was happy with the 110volt, 1 3/4 hp models. Many forum members have been very happy with less expensive models, Grizzly for example, but I prefer the Laguna.

9) If you can, get an electrician to add a 220 outlet or two to your shop. There are many tools that require 220 volts to work best, and many used 220 tools are available at good prices if you feel comfortable buying used.

If you don't have a router yet, I really like the Bosch 1617, which comes in a kit with fixed and plunge base. It has many accessories that are very well made. Others like different brands, but Mike recently checked in on the topic and compared PorterCable and I thought the Bosch came out a bit ahead. I prefer the raising and lowering mechanism on the Bosch.

10) When it comes to router bits, try to stick to the half inch shafts with carbide cutting tips. These are astonishingly sharp. Bosch and Freud are easily available at HD and Lowes, but there are lots of other excellent brands. I wear gloves when I take them out of their packaging because you can easily have a laceration from those ultra sharp tips. I'd suggest storing them in one of those foam lined cases you can get pretty cheap from Harbor Freight. The tips are actually fairly fragile, so store them loosely packed so they don't click together, and so you don't cut yourself reaching into your small forest of ultra sharp bits. Some of the cheap bits don’t have carbide tips. Spiral bits are sometimes used to cut grooves. Carbide spiral bits are fragile and it takes very little abuse to ruin them.

I buy bits as I need them and don't much care for the kits. I suggest you do the same. A few standard bits most of us have are the round over bits, a circle cutter. You can get them in different depths, but mostly you’re likely to use the quarter, half and sizes. Another bit that is very useful for cabinetry is the half inch rabbiting bit with a bearing. Some come with a changable bearing that allows you to change the depth of the rabbit. Doing fancier stuff makes those cash register numbers spin because those bit sets cost a lot!

One more thing about using bits, don’t try to take off too much wood in one pass. Make several passes taking more wood with each pass. Pay attention to the grain of the wood (that is covered in most books on routing) with a final pass just shaving and making for a very smooth finish..

11) The most useful item I own for my saws is a Wixey digital angle gauge, which allows me to set up all my saws to exact angles (90 degrees to the table). It wasn't until I started being meticulous about this that my projects started working out right. These are cheap on Amazon.

I have a Bosch 10 inch compound sliding miter saw that I also love, but use it mainly for cross cutting long pieces.

12) Make a table saw sled (lots of YouTube videos on how to) to do perfect 90 degree cuts on your table saw. I have a little more money than time, so I bought the sled Rockler makes that has a swinging fence and a very precise angle scale. I love that thing and set up a special shelf right next to my table saw to store it and keep it flat. Cross cuts on the sled are wonderfully exact and it prevents most tear out, the ragged or splintered area at the end of a cut.

13) I had a lot of problems with tear out at first, but most of that stopped when I started using a sacrificial piece to push the last bit of a piece through the router. I use square pieces of MDF (medium density fiberboard) because it is cheap and stays flat. When it gets torn up, I just cut off a chunk and use what’s left. Really helps! I also found that I wanted to push that last quarter inch through the bit too fast, now I feed at a steady pace all through the cut.

14) Clamps: The joke is you can never have too many clamps. The ones I use most are about $3 each at Harbor Freight, about 8 inch F clamps (they look like an F). I have 18 of them. The same source has longer versions up to 24 inches and I keep 4 to 6 of the 18 and 24 inch models. I have several sets of 24 to 60 inch Jet Parallel clamps for making really square cabinets and other items where holding things square for gluing is important. I’ve all but given up on most plastic clamps, but have a few that look like scissors for lightly holding things together or down. Depending on what you’re making, a few wooden hand screw clamps could be useful.

15) Hand planes and hand tools: Learning to use these is something of an art, as is proper sharpening of their blades. There are lots of woodworkers who really love working with hand tools, most will suggest you buy used and clean and tune them up. Chisels are important particularly if you are making furniture. Sharpening chisels is a basic skill involving many ultra fine grits of sandpaper, ultra flat surfaces, maybe diamond grit sharpening stones—arcane stuff, but anything less than a razor sharp chisel is pretty useless. Don’t scrimp on chisels, cheap ones get dull fast. Look up sharpening methods on YouTube, it takes patience but not much money to work sharp.

This has run pretty long, but I think the information is helpful for someone new to the hobby. And yes, you can spend a lot getting set up,
10-22-2013 07:49 PM
jw2170 Welcome to the forum.
10-22-2013 07:20 PM
Semipro Hello and welcome to the forum

Introductions - Router Forums
10-22-2013 06:03 PM
old55 Welcome to the forum.
10-22-2013 05:47 PM
doughnut13
trying

tring to get 10 threads
10-22-2013 05:44 PM
doughnut13
newby

just starting in. how do you find info?

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