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Suggestions for tools for a tiny workshop?

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pooka

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Hi all,
My current workshop is extremely limited in size (about 8' x 9' - it is a spare room within our house), and unfortunately that situation looks unlikely to change in the distant future. To date, I have managed to get by with a circular saw (plus cutting guide), routers (soon to include a homemade router table), a (fairly flimsy) guide which which turns my hand-held drill into a poor drill press, and hand tools.

The majority of my work (items of furniture and shelving for home) has been with man-made boards, mainly ply, so far but now that I am looking to work with hardwoods I am planning to invest in some additional power tools. The frustrating thing though, is that, while my budget can currently stretch to buying a variety of tools, my space won't allow me to do so. So, I would value any suggestions that you all may have as to the most flexible minimal set of machinery that I should consider.

I should stress that I am not asking whether, for example, a bandsaw is better than a tablesaw (a topic that seems to have generated a lot of heat in other forums, as I discovered when I searched for info that would help my decision), but which would make more sense where you can't have both. I am coming from a position of ignorance, 'cos I have never used a P/T, tablesaw, bandsaw, morticer, etc., so I have no first-hand experience of their pros and cons.

Right now, I reckon that I have sufficient space to house a planer/thicknesser and either a bandsaw or a table saw, but probably no more than that (and wheels will play a big part in my workshop! :) ). I am considering a P/T because I haven't been able to find a local source of prepared wood (and perhaps the cost of having wood prepared would be better spent towards a P/T anyway?). As for the bandsaw/tabesaw decision, based on what I have read it seems to come down to personal choice, but if you were limited to one or the other, is there a clear choice of which one would be more flexible?

The products that I currently have in mind are a Scheppach HMS 260ci P/T, the Scheppach TS2010 saw, and the Scheppach Basato-3 or Electra Beckhaum BAS 316 bandsaw (all based on good reviews that I have read, and local product availability - I'd welcome any alternative product suggestions too though). As my workshop adjoins our neighbour's house, I'd like to keep noise to a minimum, so I have focused on induction motors where possible, in the hope that they are quieter.

As regards usage of the tools, right now I am an occasional woodworker, but I hope to spend more time at it in the future. In an ideal world, I'd like to make a career out of woodworking (which is one of the reasons that I am willing to spend money to buy decent tools right now) - that might prove too ambitious, but I guess I'll only discover that over time.

And advice gratefully received (apart from the obvious "Get yourself a bigger workshop!" :wink: ). Thanks.
 

johnelliott

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I think the answer depends on what you want to make. I think you would be well advised to decide on a satisfying project and get the tools you need for that project. Then repeat the process, modified by the experience gained.
Of the two, I would buy a bandsaw first, apart form anuything else, the cutting action is quieter
John
John
 

Aragorn

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Tricky one... :-k
Bedroom workshop adjoining neighbours + machine tools, sounds like a dubious combination to me!
Have you also thought of the need for a decent dust extractor for the kind of setup you are proposing?
A P/T + extractor is always pretty noisy... 8-[

How are you with handtools??
A good machine tool budget would buy such a fine handtool setup, the kind of stuff that will last your entire life and more...

As for wood preparation - a P/T is the best choice really and the Scheppach is excellent and quite a small machine too.

Adam is King of Small Workshops, and will no doubt have some good ideas, but for me the crunch comes when the neighbours start banging on the wall... and you can't hear it because of the machines!! :D

Good luck!
 

Adam

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Well, I'd be worrying about the weight of it all to start with! I've got the HMS260 Scheppach, and on wheels, I guess it doesn't take too much space, its using it that causes the problems, you needs space forward and behind. I do store wood on top of it when its not in use. I've got a large tablesaw, but if I was trying to work in an even smaller space, I think a bandsaw would be the way to go. Probably on a wheeled cabinet with some storage cabinets built underneath.

Remember dust extraction becomes important on a P/T and a bandsaw- they generate a lot more dust than you realise. P/T especially requires something that can pull through quite a volume of shavings.

I reckon a bandsaw and router will give you plenty of flexibility, in the most compact format. OK, a tablesaw might be ideal, but stick with the handheld, or ebay it and get yourself a festool.

My workshop is 12 x 10, and has a lot more stuff. Don't even bother trying to plan it out, you'll inevitable end up moving things to optimise space once everything is in!

Adam
 

pooka

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Thanks for the replies.

Fortunately, the spare room which I am using, which was a bedroom, is downstairs in the house so it adjoins the neighbour's kitchen rather than a bedroom. It is certainly far from ideal still, but hopefully they have a noisy extractor fan above their cooker :)

For dust extraction I have the Record DX4000. I haven't use it in anger yet, but I am hoping it will cope with what I expect to be throwing at it with the likes of a P/T, etc.

I currently have a reasonable set of hand tools, but while I am developing skills with using them, I can't see myself being able to cut and plane things sufficiently squarely for quite a while yet. I do prefer using them where possible though.

I have tended to buy tools as I need them, to date. I have been able to get away with a small few power tools so far, but I have ended up with some very contrived setups to allow me to, for example, rip wood to my desired dimensions with a circular saw (a health and safety officer would have had a coronary on the spot in the worst cases :oops: ). I reckoned that a P/T, and some (relatively) safe means of ripping wood would be the next advisable tools to buy while I still have all of my fingers available to sign the credit card bill :shock: .
 

Gill

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From my experience, the one thing you'll need more than any machinery is space. In a room of that size, you'll not want to do anything that could hamper your ability to layout timber and assemble your pieces once they're cut.

My advice to you is to forget machinery altogether and get yourself a decent bench to work on - possibly one the Axminster folding benches such as this. Then start thinking about handtools that can do the job of machines, such as this. Like Aragorn, I'd urge you to consider hand tools very carefully because power tools make so much noise, especially P/Ts. If you start using those machines frequently, domestic bliss will soon be shattered. I'd suggest that the ability to store your tools when not in use should be an overriding concern and as a result it would be wise to avoid floorspace-gobbling machines like bandsaws, tablesaws, planer/thicknessers and the like.

It might be worth considering miniature woodworking tools such as the Proxxon and Dremel ranges which can actually deliver good results on quite large scale woodworking projects.

Gill
 

Adam

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The points made by Aragorn and Gill are valid, hand tools will get you a long way - making a shooting board for example. Could you get a mate to keep the P/T in his garage - you could easily tuck it in a single garage at the end - even with a car in it - freeing up some valuble space - it's something I considered. The P/T is the worst in my opinion.

Adam
 

pooka

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Sorry, I should have mentioned: I also have a homemade workbench with a Record vice, which I have relied on lot to date. It eats up space, but I'd find it hard to get by without it. For mitre cuts, I have a Nobex mitre saw, which I bought a while back in preference to it's bigger and noisier electric alternatives.

I can use my circular saw for ripping wood, and my router table for jointing, but I foresee this becoming more awkward over time - ripping narrow bits of wood is already a nerve racking affair with the circular saw, but as I have mostly been dealing with sheets of ply I have managed to avoid much of this (the few times that I have done it, with oak, have fortunately not left me with an irrational fear of oak itself :) ).

So, I am thinking of a bandsaw or tablesaw as a safe means of ripping wood. The P/T I'd plan to use for wood which I can't easily joint with the router and router table, which covers any edge larger than the length of my longest straight router bit. Unfortunately, those are also the pieces that a shooting board won't suit either.

As for space for putting together/gluing up projects, fortunately my wife has the patience of a saint and doesn't mind sacrificing space in the living room for days at a time :D Space for running wood through the P/T is a bit less of an issue, as the worksop has a double window (both windows open out fully, with no central divider left behind) in line with the door i.e. I can feed wood out through the window if I am dealing with a very long piece. The workshop door, in turn, lines up with the front door of the house, so that I have the option of opening things up so that I can take a lengthy run at the P/T if necessary... :wink:

Re storing the P/T elsewhere: it crossed my mind at one point alright, but the only contender would be my mother-in-law's garage. She is a lovely woman, and very accomodating, but I think it would put a strain on the relationship to re-arrange her garage on a regular basis :(
 

Aragorn

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Given what you've said, I'd definitely have a bandsaw rather than table saw at the moment. Great for ripping, quieter than a TS, can take less space (small footprint).
 

Noel

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Pooka, can't comment on the Basato but stay well away from the EB 316. I've the 315 (green version) and although not total skip material wopuld never buy another EB BS. Do search on 315 or 316 and you'll get the details and other user's views.

Noel
 

Gill

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pooka":1lpv29vb said:
fortunately my wife has the patience of a saint and doesn't mind sacrificing space in the living room for days at a time...
The patience of a saint? Crikey, she sounds as if she's got more saintly qualities than just patience :shock: !

Oh, and I'd endorse Aragorn's opinion that a bandsaw is probably better in a small environment than a table saw. Depending on the thickness of timber you'll be cutting, it might be possible to bench mount it, too.

Hmmmm.... don't suppose I could interest you in a scrollsaw by any chance? Every workshop should have one, you know :).

Gill
 

Gill

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Sell a scrollsaw? Perish the thought! Heck, I've only got two as it is, assuming you don't consider the Spiralux to be a proper woodworking tool.

Mind, £20 or so for an old Hegner (that's what it looks like to me) could be good value, even if it does need a bit of re-conditioning. By the way - I've got no association with the sale of that saw on eBay.

Gill
 

pooka

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Gill":27yymc4f said:
Hmmmm.... don't suppose I could interest you in a scrollsaw by any chance? Every workshop should have one, you know :).
It's probably just as well that I have a small workshop, 'cos otherwise I might be irrationally interested - I'm a terrible man for gadgets, I can't seem to get enough of them! :D

Thanks for everyone's views so far. Re the choice of bandsaw versus tablesaw, am I correct in assuming that, generally speaking, the advantages of the bandsaw are?:
- it can rip wider, or thicker, pieces of wood,
- it can cut curves,
- it can make stopped cuts more safely,
- it is safer to use due to no fear of kickback,
- it is quieter to run (is this still true when compared to a table/bench saw with an induction motor?).

My thoughts had been leaning towards a bandsaw originally as opposed to a tablesaw, because with some creativity with my circular saw I can simulate a small number of the activities of a tablesaw (hoping that the presence of a bandsaw will help me avoid the more dangerous uses that I have put my circular saw to in the past). One thing that I wondered about though was the quality of the cut produced by a bandsaw, but presumably I can clean up all/most cuts with the P/T where necessary.

Are there any basic/core things that a tablesaw can do that a bandsaw can't that I should bear in mind if choosing a bandsaw? - for example, I presume that a bandsaw can't safely cuts dadoes (but I can do those with a router anyway so I can easily get by with my other tools). Right now, I am thinking mainly in terms of ripping timber, and I can't think of any limitations of the bandsaw over the tablesaw there, but do people find that there are other things that they regularly turn to their tablesaw for that the bandsaw couldn't cope with?

Also, I am thinking in terms of a 12" bandsaw, which I think is still small enough to fit in my workshop yet hopefully large enough to cope with what I may throw at it over the next few years. Should I be considering something smaller, or even something bigger?

Sorry about the endless list of questions. It is a huge relief having a forum like this where I can ask questions like these, no matter who stupid, 'cos I have no faith in the answers that I would get to such questions from my local stockists of woodworking tools.
 

gidon

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The bandsaw is probably more versatile and certainly safer to use than the table saw. But the main consideration is it doesn't give you the accuracy of cut a table saw will. You're correct, you could joint the (straight) cut. But this is more work and it's more difficult to guarantee dimensions of repeat cuts. Ie - on the table saw, you can set the fence (very accurately on a decent one); cut 1 or 50 rails and they will all be exactly the same width - with no further work necessary (perhaps a skim of a hand plane as you see fit). Also cross cutting is very limited (thoat of bandsaw limited). And the table is small when handling larger pieces.
I'm not knocking the bandsaw, but I would think carefully about what you want to do. Can you use your circular saw setup to trim a 2 1/2 inch wide plank to 2" easily? I managed for 6 years without a bandsaw - and now I have one it's very useful - but it's for very different tasks to the table saw.

You will find here that the bandsaw and festool guide clamp folks are probably more vocal :))) but that doesn't mean that will be the best system for you.

By the way I used to do woodwork in a spare room with a table saw, circular saw, jigsaw and bench plus some basic hand tools. The first thing I got when I had a proper (albeit still small) workshop was a p/t'er. I managed without a lot of things by going along to a woodworking class where a whole room full of machinery was available!

Cheers

Gidon
 

Shady

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Some observations:

I've gotta say I'd take Gidon's advice: scope out local woodworking clubs or courses that will give you access to decent tools...

That said, I'd disagree on the tablesaw front. They are just significantly more 'industrial' than bandsaws. Yes, you have to clean up and true surfaces after bandsawing, but for hobbyist use (particularly in a small room in the house) that is also true for the sort of tablesaw you'd get. Put it this way: if you could afford the sort of tablesaw that'd free you from any hand finishing, you could afford to move to a bigger house, or at the very least rent a decent workshop for a year.

Without wishing to dissuade you in any way, I work in a double garage (from which our cars are banned... :twisted: ), and still wish for about double the space...

There's no way I'd use a P/T in the main house: you'll have dust and chips slowly but surely infiltrating everything you own. There's also a considerable fire/explosion hazard.

I'm sure you've thought of all this, but my response would be to save the cash, dust and mess, spend it on having your chosen woods milled and dimensioned for you at the lumberyard (find a good one), and then work with hand tools in your room. You'll produce great work for probably the same price, without sacrificing the house...
 

SquareCircle

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Jeeze Pooka
Hate to be in your position again. whatever you do you'd always wish you'd done something else. Especially with machines. Then one day you wake up wishing that you just had a first class set of planes (finally realised what sharp steel was about) chisels and hand saw's. That way you can butcher wood to your hearts content at 12:30 a.m without the noise , dust and jangled nerves.
Of course by then its too late. Spent all your dough on horse power. All the best.

SC
 

pooka

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Re availing of machinery locally: I have tried to find local places (in Dublin) that offer woodworking training, but haven't managed to do so. I can find courses on using a lathe, and courses on carpentry (carpentry in this context seems to refer to working on roof, door frames, and so on. i.e. building-trade type of woodworking as opposed to the production of furniture as such). The absence of courses is bizarre (when compared against the UK or elsewhere), but the long and the short if it is that I don't have access to the necessary machinery. And don't get me started on the wood suppliers round here - the only one that I have found that will dimension wood locally charges ridiculous money for hardwoods (the bulk of their business is man-made boards - some of their prices for hardwoods are upwards of 25% higher than their competitors and this is before factoring in the cost of dimensioning the wood). The next nearest supplier that will dimension wood for me, and does have good wood, is more than an hour's drive away - they are a small operation too, so while I expect their service to be good, I'd probably need a second trip to collect the dimensioned wood that I chose in its un-dimensioned form on my previous trip (to give them time to prepare the wood). I seem to have opted to live in an area of the world devoid of most things wood-realted :(

Gidon, thanks for the tip regarding accuracy of wood cut on the tablesaw. It seems like I may have been naive in believing that I could produce very accurately dimensioned wood using just a bandsaw and P/T (or is it more a case of being able to produce accurately dimensioned wood this way, but that it takes more time?). Regarding the trimming of a 2.5" wide plank to 2" - that is the kind of thing that I have done a few time with my circular saw, a cutting guide, a sacrificial cutting table, several clamps, several sacrificial bits of wood, and some prayers :shock: It is definitely not something that I want to repeat often. More recently I have used a japanese handsaw (ryoba) for this, but cleaning up cuts that are often a little off-square (and sometimes more than a little off-square :oops:) can be a real headache in the worst cases.

Shady, assuming I use a decent dust collector (hoping here that the Record DX4000 lives up to its better reviews), am I likely to still be looking at a significant amount of sawdust escaping from the P/T? I take your point about having to hand finish cuts from a lower end bandsaw or tablesaw, but I don't mind having to do a little bit of that (my current hand tool skills stretch to tidying up cuts that are mostly okay, its the poorer cuts that I often produce with a hand saw that cause me more problems). I hope that my skills with hand tools will increase over time, making the whole process easier and faster, but that is likely to happen more slowly than my need to complete projects unfortunately, hence my looking to machinery to fill the gap now.

SquareCircle, my current thinking is that it is impractical to dimension rough timber with just a set of planes (well, without a few years of experienced teaching on their use anyway), although I'd love to be able to. My preference is for handtools, dating back to when my father first showed me the basics of working with wood as a kid, but I have never spent enough consistent time at it to develop the skills that I'd like. Right now, the machinery alternatives are more of a practical solution than an ideal solution to my current needs.
 

Alf

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pooka":9fr5y6o8 said:
It seems like I may have been naive in believing that I could produce very accurately dimensioned wood using just a bandsaw and P/T
In that case call me naive; it's what I use. :D The table saw half of the Maxi 26 sits permenantly under a piece of ply and never gets used - blooming thing was more inaccurate than the bandsaw anyway, just as Shady says. You've got a limited space there, so really hand held power tools are the way to go, but if you're going to shoe-horn any machinery in, the bandsaw and P/T would the ones I'd pick. The beauty of the bandsaw is its small footprint, given its abilities. I'd go for the largest you can reasonably squeeze in/afford; 12" proved a bit too limiting for me, so I'd say go for a 14" if you possibly can. It won't take up hardly any more room than a 12", and size does matter. :wink: The P/T does make an incredible mess, but if your dust/ex is up to the job, you should be able to cope. It might pay you to invest in an air cleaner to catch the finer dust before it infiltrates the whole house though?

Other than that, get to grips with the hand tools as much as you can. They're your friends, really they are. I know what you mean about the powered stuff giving you accuracy straight away (been there, done that) but it really doesn't take that much practice before hand tools give you even better accuracy. Sharpness is the real key, and just having the nerve to try and, if necessary, fail. But it's a lot easier to make an unsalvagable mistake with a power tool than it is with a hand tool... :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

Shady

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Pooka - bummer on the local issues...

With reference to a dust collector - and forgive me if I'm telling you what you already know here, but it took me a while to understand this as an amateur woody - there are really 3 types of waste and resulting waste collection 'devices'.

First there's the thick/coarse 'chips'. A P/T specialises in converting your stock into these at a tremendous rate ( :roll: ). Not dust as such, more like machine shavings. The bad news is that the best collector in the world won't get all of these from a P/T - there's just too much being spat out, in 360 degrees range, from the cutter head. The aim of the collector with respect to this waste (imho) is really to avoid too much getting onto the stock, and then being pressed into the machined surface by the rollers, leaving very annoying dimples all over your newly dimensioned wood. The good news is that it's not airborne for very long (unless you're working in a jetstream), and can be easily seen and vacuumed up.

Secondly there's the finer 'dusty' equivalent, produced by tools like the bandsaw, tablesaw and hand held equivalents. Properly adapted and tweaked, a good DC will get 'most' of this.

Finally, there's the really fine 'airborn specks'. These are what I suspect will cause you most problems in a domestic setting, over time: you'll just suddenly realise, one day when the sun's hitting the surfaces, that there's dust over every surface in the house (and of course, that'll include your lungs if you aren't taking precautions.)

Sooo, given that you've got no options, I'd go with a good coarse/medium waste extractor - I use a record one, but this is the sort of thing:
http://www.axminster.co.uk/product.asp?pf_id=21425&recno=4,

but I'd definitely go with a fine air cleaner. Something like this portable jobby could be running in the room while working to keep the airborne waste to a minimum:

http://www.axminster.co.uk/product.asp?pf_id=21189&recno=5

I use one, even though I'm in the garage - it's also very useful if you're obsessive about finishing: after the carpentry, but before the finishing, leave it running in the room for a few hours to clear all the crud out of the air. HTH - good luck.
 
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