How Much Does Woodworking Cost?

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custard

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Let's say you wanted to equip yourself with the tools to build basic solid wood furniture and undertake modest joinery jobs. How much would the tools cost? If you'd have asked me that up until recently I'd have said about £1000, I'd have thought that would be enough for a decent quality, reasonably comprehensive woodworking tool kit.

Not even close!

A guy I know, who's two years into a City & Guilds furniture making course, often helps out in my workshop and takes advantage of my larger machinery for his own projects. A couple of months ago he mentioned he was running over budget on his tool buying. He's a meticulous record keeper, and keeps a list of everything he owns, what he wants, and how much it all costs. I was absolutely floored at just how much money he was spending. No wonder he works two jobs alongside his college training!

Here's his hand tool list,


Quangsheng 5 1/2 with spare iron 173.00
Record 04 (S/H) 17.00
Quangsheng Block Plane 67.50
Quangsheng 1" Shoulder Plane 111.00
Record Router Plane (S/H) 112.00
Stanley 50 Plough (S/H) 43.00
Bench Grinder (S/H) wheel, dresser, etc 68.00
Veritas Tool Rest 56.50
Misc sharpening items (saw set, files, slips, etc) 71.50
Panel, Tenon, D/Tail saws, (S/H) 36.00
Fret saw & blades 70.50
Card scrapers, files, burnisher 23.00
Set 6 Narex Chisels 66.00
Misc chisels and gouges (S/H) 52.00
Starrett 300mm Combi square 78.50
Starrett 150mm " " (S/H) 31.00
Mitutoyo 600mm ruler (S/H) 28.00
M&W 300mm ruler (S/H) 31.00
Layout & marking tools 65.00
Bosch cordless drill and spare battery 75.00
Drill bits 46.00
Spokeshaves (S/H) 14.00
Cramps 194.00
Hammers, mallets, misc hand tools 100.00
Bench with vice (S/H) 155.00
Materials for jigs & workshop accessories 180.00
Personal safety equipment 112.00

That totals just over £2,000. Two thousand pounds, blimey!

You might run down that list and say he could have economised here or there, I'm sure you're right. But bear this in mind, his purchases also included some great bargains (he found six Record 48" sash cramps in virtually unused condition for £110, and yet he still doesn't have nearly enough cramps), he found a fantastic barely used hardwood bench with a quick release vice that would have cost a lot more to make. Also he wasted a lot of money on purchases (don't we all) which I've excluded from the list, he bought quite a few used tools for example that proved unsalvageable, and he saved up for months to get a totally unnecessary shooting board plane that I've not included either. In addition, he's still missing some things. He hasn't nearly enough cramps or drill bits, he wants a longer bench plane, he could do with a smaller spokeshave, etc, etc. So taken in the round this doesn't look like a particularly extravagant or unrepresentative list to me. Furthermore, he was using college tools while he assembled his own toolkit. Most people don't have that luxury, they want a reasonably complete woodworking kit from the very beginning in order to tackle projects.

Then there's his machinery. He works in a single garage sized space and this is what he's got,

Axminster Trade planer/thicknesser 1170.00
Jet DC 1100 Extractor 240.00
Record BS300 bandsaw (S/H) 340.00
Trend T11 router (S/H) 190.00
Shop made router table (materials) 160.00
DeWalt 625 router (S/H) 145.00
Router bits 90.00

That totals over £2300. What's frightening is how much power equipment he's still missing. He doesn't have extraction for power tools, so spends a lot of time sweeping up. He built some clever router morticing jigs, but they struggle with deeper mortices, so he's cutting them by hand (or using my morticer). He'd like to get into veneering and lamination work, but he doesn't think his current bandsaw is up to that. He has to buy-in all his drawer pulls because he doesn't have a lathe and feels this sometimes lets his work down. Hand sanding is getting a bit tedious, so he'd like some power sanders. He really could do with a pillar drill. Most significantly he can't handle sheet goods and is finding that very restrictive. He doesn't have the room or the budget for a sliding table tablesaw, so is looking for a tracksaw. And if he's really going to be set up for sheet goods then he'd also like a Domino and/or a biscuit jointer. Ouch!

In addition to these you'd really want a starting stock of materials. Workshop consumables like abrasives, finishes, fastenings, ironmongery, and adhesives. Plus a decent selection of ply, MDF, and timber for the constant jig making that's required. That's probably going to be a few hundred quid at least.

He's not aiming for a professional standard workshop, but he wants to be able to make his own projects reasonably efficiently in his own workshop as a side line to employed work as a woodworker. So in that respect he's not too far removed from many hobbyists.

Put that all together and it comes to over £2,000 for hand tools, and probably £3,000-5,000 for decent level machinery and power tools.

That's an order of magnitude more expensive than I would have predicted. I'd tended to think of woodworking as a pretty affordable pastime, but looking at the hard numbers I guess I was wrong. If you actually want to make stuff then woodworking is a costly hobby, and I now feel guilty about encouraging people to take it up when the true costs might be excessive for them. Maybe it's just more financially realistic for many people to think in terms of something like turning or carving instead, I don't know? I was going to add luthier work to that list, but looking at the Stumac catalogue I guess that could soon run out of control as well!

I'd be interested to know what people on this forum are actually spending on their woodwork, both in terms of the kit they've bought and how much they spend on an annual basis on tools and materials?
 

Friedrich

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It's only cheap for people who buy their tools over few years and don't keep a list of how much everything has cost them...
When buying tools I look 4-5years ahead and their future values, If I Know I will be able to get for the stuff I buy more or less the same money some years later I consider it a good buy and an investment.
Just don't get suckered in buying overpriced gimmicks or low quality stuff and you will be fine.
The biggest problem I see is people not doing research and shopping at the wrong places or just paying way too much for used tools or buying used tools that are knackered ,when was the last time you were happy about an used tool which were used&abused even if it was really cheap? Pay a bit extra and get quality stuff :)

I would rather park $50 in a good tool I can sell anytime for the same $50 than spend that $50 going for a diner.
 

Droogs

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When I restarted woodworking 4 years ago it was from what was probably the lowest point in my life after having been homeless and unemployed for 2 years, 9 months of which involved me living in a tent in the bushes of a local park. During that time I was not entitled to any benefits from the dss and got by doing odd jobs and was living on around 2K a year. Since then I've spent around £800 on tools all nearly junk shop or boot sale finds and when I've not been able to find what I needed I found scrap metal/wood and made it by hand. My clamps apart from some lidl cheapies are all hand made from salvaged wood and are all i need.
As things have improved with my lot i have probablyspent a further £2k on some power tools and am now very lucky to share a workshop space with a great joinery firm who allow me to use the cnc and larger machines they have for bigger stuff. You don't have to spend a lot, just learn to use what you have and can afford to buy. This may mean you have to take a couple of extra steps and a bit more time but hey ho. Over time as things improve you can then get the extra goodies that make life easier but they are certainly not essential after we managed to make a lot of amazing stuff without all the gucci fandangled festool kit for around 5000 years.
Like anything even if you have all the gear you may not necessarily have any idea
 

sunnybob

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I started from scratch 3 years ago, but without any intention of furniture making, just bandsaw boxes and odds and ends. i think I'm up to around 3k on machinery.
350 bandsaw
large makita router in home made table
4" belt sander
mitre saw /table saw combi
bench pillar drill
50 litre chip extractor
lunchbox thicknesser

a £100 on a record 52 1/2 vice
Another few hundred on hand tools (all used) as i never intended to do much by hand.
(I actually have more than I need or want now as I bought a job lot from another retiree).
I suspect just under 4K for everything wood related. A bit high by some standards I suppose, but it is now my only retirement hobby.
My wish list is pretty small now. The only thing I would like would be a table saw, but no room at the inn for that.
 

Rorschach

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It's as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be really. Some of those tools he got for a good price, others he has has overpaid or bought something that is not essential.
 

pollys13

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One thing leads into another...... and this little, ' hobby ' starts to add up.
Also having decent quality tools to do the job, ain't cheap.
I've found you can shop around for best price but at the end of the day.... it .... costs... what... it costs.. what.. it costs :)
Loadza of money but loadza fun.
 

memzey

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Woodworking can seem expensive but to put it into some perspective I know several people who have spent £3k on golf clubs plus over a grand a year on club fees. At least one expects his clubs to last no more than six years max. I think part of the reason why woodworking can feel more expensive is because we are making things that could otherwise be bought and when making furniture from solid hardwood, it is almost always possible to buy a utilitarian piece off the shelf for less than the cost of materials we used in the making of our project. To my mind this isn't a fair comparison though as the ikea medicine cabinet I could have bought for the £20 odd I spent on materials for my wife's commission would no doubt fail earlier and would also have represented a compromise in terms of dimensions and style, whereas by making from scratch we can build to our exact needs (and that's not to mention the fun we have making while avoiding another trip to the dreaded shops!). There are many ways to spend ones money. Woodworking is as good as any imho.
 

AJB Temple

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I started making things in wood when I was about 6 - starting with swords using a kids tool kit. When I started making guitars I did absolutely everything with hand tools apart from an electric drill, and I got by with very little. when I made my first kitchen (nearly 30 years ago) I was quite well off economically and so I bought nice Elu tools and in today's money easily consumed £1,000 on a chop saw, router, cordless drill, jig saw (Bosch).

I think if you want to equip even a domestic workshop to a high standard today, if you want to include machinery and good quality hand tools, you can easily spend £20k or more. Based on people I have seen, they often buy tools that are unnecessary (and get little use), or they buy cheaply and end up on an expensive upgrade path.

My own policy has been to buy tools only when I need them. Even then I make mistakes and have bought things that I should simply have managed without (like my 15" veritas tenon saw for example!). I don't consider woodwork to be a hobby, as I am rebuilding my house, making kitchens, furniture etc, and so the alternative is paying others. But I don't delude myself that it is in any way cheap. Just for my own use I guess I have spent £12k just on oak in the last 12 months. And I get trade prices.
 

Jacob

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He's gone mad on the hand tools and skimped on the machines. What's a £56 "Veritas Tool rest" ffs? Or those top price rulers and squares! New planes aren't necessary either.
But he hasn't a table saw - the no. 1 machine IMHO, followed by PT.
Ideally a combi, usually excellent value and would also give him a spindle and a slot morticer.
 

Bm101

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Interesting post Custard.

"I'd be interested to know what people on this forum are actually spending on their woodwork, both in terms of the kit they've bought and how much they spend on an annual basis on tools and materials?"

Honest answer... Couldn't tell you. I'm sat in my shed right now having a pint of cider and a break from doing up the new drill after getting back from work this morning. I wonder... I started looking round and adding up (very vaguely) and I had a bit of a shock tbh.
I fell into all the beginners traps. Learnt my lessons. Won't bore everyone to death with the details but here's an example of escalating costs at least for the beginner.

Meddings drill. Spent months looking. £133. Great price right? Imperial keys £20. Degreaser. £10. Oil and grease lets say £15. Variety of flapper brushes for stripping and cleaning £8. Probably buy some new bits for it. Let's guess £30. Paint, undercoated and finish probably £35. At a guess. Few quid here and there for citric acid etc. I'll probably end up putting some new ball handles on the bars after all that work. No idea let's guess £20. All of a sudden we're biting the a*se of 350 quid. That's doesn't come close to the real cost. The drills I'm using and all the other bits that I've been doing this just long enough to have already accumulated. When I started I didn't have that bit of spare wet n dry at the right grade. But it was all paid for at some point. I won't include my labour costs because it's a hobby.
Having said all that. What value do I get out of it? It's priceless. Never had a real interest. Was always a pub man. 5 pints a day. Now I have a deep love and interest and I'm learning all the time. Keeps the old grey matter churning. I still love a drink but the kids are here now and I can't live that life anymore. Don't do TV. This is my one release. Wouldn't swap it for anything really. I watch the costs and I'm very careful not to fall into buying premium tools etc I don't need now. I tell the lads at work and they think I'm mental so that's as much justification as I need to know I'm on the right track. We're all different. Thank God.
Sorry for the bore on. Right. Back to stripping the drill. Anyone know where I can get hold of a bsw thread flip flap oiler filler.. :shock: ffs.
Cheers
Chris
 

Bm101

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Ps. And yes SunnyBob. I know you're reading this and shaking your head in despair mate. :D xxx
 

sunnybob

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how did you guess? (lol)
£190 on a brand new bench drill. YES, it did have problems, and I had to do some work on it, but youre way out in front on cost and labour.
But hey, I cant boast about having a refurbed meddings.
 

dzj

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Most people also own the shop/ garage where they do their woodworking.
A car and trailor are also hard to avoid. So in the grand scheme of things, a few thousand
pounds spent on a hobby over the years isn't that big a problem if you navigated the real estate
hurdles.
The tools and machines he has is enough to start professionally.
Such mode of work is more about finding good clients. A tool can always be bought.
A table saw and some extra shop space wouldn't hurt, though.
 

g7g7g7g7

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I've been putting myself through college for the last 2 years and my priority was building a set of roughing tools a 110V transformer, 110V collated drill, a combi drill, a level, good tape, hammer, nail bag, plaslode gun etc. The lot of them were dead cheap secondhanders, that utility got me roughing jobs which paid for finish joinery kit, which has opened up more work and is paying for my fine woodworking and workshop kit. The key is to buy only what you need and use that to pay for what you want. By piecemeal trying to put together a workshop kit nothing is really bringing in the revenue needed to maintain and expand that kit.

I still think it's possible to put together a mixed hand/power tool workshop with a grand but it's going to have limitations and lots of stuff will need constant replacement.
 

No skills

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I suspect Custards friend will be 10k in before he feels comfortable about taking on any possible commission that comes his way, unless your a handtool only worker then good machines cost big money - any low end stuff is quite frankly dung, I know I've had a lot of it :lol: (and still do!).

Building up a set of tools for house bashing is a different game IMO, cheaper power tools are quite useable and you can get up and running for a lot less.
 

thetyreman

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Droogs":7nt829ya said:
When I restarted woodworking 4 years ago it was from what was probably the lowest point in my life after having been homeless and unemployed for 2 years, 9 months of which involved me living in a tent in the bushes of a local park. During that time I was not entitled to any benefits from the dss and got by doing odd jobs and was living on around 2K a year. Since then I've spent around £800 on tools all nearly junk shop or boot sale finds and when I've not been able to find what I needed I found scrap metal/wood and made it by hand. My clamps apart from some lidl cheapies are all hand made from salvaged wood and are all i need.
As things have improved with my lot i have probablyspent a further £2k on some power tools and am now very lucky to share a workshop space with a great joinery firm who allow me to use the cnc and larger machines they have for bigger stuff. You don't have to spend a lot, just learn to use what you have and can afford to buy. This may mean you have to take a couple of extra steps and a bit more time but hey ho. Over time as things improve you can then get the extra goodies that make life easier but they are certainly not essential after we managed to make a lot of amazing stuff without all the gucci fandangled festool kit for around 5000 years.
Like anything even if you have all the gear you may not necessarily have any idea

that's a very inspiring story, good to hear you are doing better now.
 

RGZoro

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When I had first set up back in the USA I bought my tool over a year or so. It wasn't anything extensive but with patience it got the job done. It looked something like;

Dewalt table saw (a brand which btw is far more affordable in the states) $450
Bandsaw $400
thichness planer $500
Miter saw $200
Drills (a couple Dewalt and a Black and Decker) $250
Basic chisels $40
Bosch (blue) router and table $580
Total: $2420

And then there is all the things that I either don't remember and/or don't want to think about how much I spent on them such as levels, squares, sand paper, clamps, clamps, clamps, clamps, hand tools, hand power tools, compressor, nail guns, Dremel kit, Kreg jig, etc.

With what I feel was a pretty basic kit I was able to make what I think was some respectable first two tables.

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I'll have a budget of around 3000 pounds to start a new shop over here, had to sell everything since it wasn't dual voltage, and am hoping to start off with a much better tablesaw. Looking at the Axminster trade tablesaws. Hoping to find one used.
 

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cowfoot

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If he's a couple of years into a C&G course, he's not doing this for a hobby. I'd say he's a lot better off than many a young person who's just borrowed £30k+ to fund a degree.
That aside, it's fairly solid advice to never buy something without looking at the resale value - in woodworking terms that means you're better off buying Veritas than Silverline (if you can afford the initial outlay).
 

Brian18741

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Interesting to consider. If you just want to get working wood you can do it quite cheaply with hand tools. A few chisels and a mallet, a no4 plane, rip saw, back saw, measuring and marking gear and a few clamps. I used a set of £4 diamond plates to sharpen for ages. All available very cheaply on eBay if you buy second hand. Couple of hundred pounds to start with.

Machines are obviously a different ball game but you certainly don't have to spend thousands to start making things!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk
 

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