Since the monstrous spike in traffic resulting from a woodworking plan appearing in SketchUp’s newsletter, I have received several email messages from readers.
Here is one from Tom with a question:
“Hi Jeff. Saw your info using SketchUp and working with wood. I am a beginner at wood working. I just bought a compound miter saw to use for small projects and to get my feet wet and wondered if you can lend any advice about the types of power tools I should have for my shop and about using SketchUp to build plans from for a project. Any help is appreciated.”
Not sure I am qualified to answer this question; the woodworking corner of the internet is full of information on this subject, but here is how I replied…
“Thanks for visiting my website. Here is what I did when I started.
I bought a table saw. This kind of saw can cross-cut and rip boards. I got a 10″ contractor style saw (I currently use a Jet 10″ saw). I quickly bought a 6″ jointer to ensure I got a flat edge and face on my boards. With these two tools, I could glue-up panels for cabinet sides and table tops.
I bought a router (don’t buy one with a 1/4″ collet – too small for some router bits). A router can cut in a variety of ways, but especially decorative edges on boards.
I did a lot of woodworking with just these three tools. Of course, I had a drill, coping saw, etc – smaller purchases. A drill press is very handy to have.
Much later I got a compound miter saw which I now use for most cross cuts and some angle cuts.
I would encourage you to look into hand tools like planes and a decent set of chisels. I am just getting good with the three hand planes I own and find them very rewarding to use. These kind of tools also require a sharpening set up which can be (like everything) inexpensive or expensive. Much of this depends on what you want to make though.
SketchUp is a great software product and tool, but many people find it to have a big learning curve. The best learning product I know of is Dave Richard’s DVD which is inexpensive and can be ordered by going to Taunton Store.com. See the link below.”
One thing I would have added had I thought of it – search for a local woodworking club. I am really enjoying my membership in the Alabama Woodworker’s Guild. This past Saturday, I got a schooling in plane blade sharpening skills and then hand plane set-up. This was hands on, one-on-one training with an expert. And the training was with my sharpening accessories and my hand plane; I felt that was important. No learning on some other honing guide for example. I now have a polished edge on my #4 smoother and it cuts wonderfully.
While there, I spoke to Guy Lovelace; a woodworker from north Alabama. He is a recent reader of my blog and we had a great conversation about the classes he has taken with Chris Schwarz as well as Roy Underhill. I would add that to my advise to Tom: take classes. I have taken one; a great one – a full semester woodworking shop class at the University of Alabama while a student.
I am interested in your thoughts as well. Leave a comment and let us know what advise you would share.