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What are good starting tools?

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Alan McLeod27/07/2011 21:12:55
11 forum posts
Hi everyone,
I have a goodly sized garage and no tools. My primary interest is cabinet making - I have never done anything like this before and am not sure it will be for me.
I don't want my first foray to be ruined by rubbish tools but neither do I want to spend too much on a hobby I may have no feel for. I want to get started with hand tools and then move onto power tools later, I have John Bullar's book on this topic and the projects look great but there is little to recommend which tools are good.
My own budget is probably about £200 for saws, plane, chisels, sharpening equipment. I can go comfortably above this if the benefts are major.
Can anyone suggest good brands / models?
Thanks all,
BillW28/07/2011 16:09:07
711 forum posts
21 photos
Hello Alan and welcome,
May I say I admire you attitude to getting started, very sensible and I can sympathise with you not wanting to pay to much to begin with.
For planes I don't think you could go far wrong with Record (now Irwin) or Stanley, I would get a smoothing plane and jack or fore plane, I would not get the inexpensive ones on this link.
Don't expect them to work perfect out of the box, they may need honing and setting up, the sole's will improve with use (polish).
You will have to learn early doors to sharpen chisel and plane blades, I would put as much if not more effort into this as using the tools, go to a couple of car boot sales and pick up some cheap chisels to practice on.
Crown, Stanley or the Hamlet set (HTC011) chisels would be more than adequate for first use, I can't see the benefit of the very expensive chisels unless you are using them every day to earn your living, the main benefit of such chisels is they keep there edge longer.
I would get a tenon saw and a panel saw, saw technology and the steel used has improved so much that I don't think a recommendation is required for a panel saw.
You will of course need a bench with a vice, this could be your first project.
Lets hope you get a lot more feed back.
Alan McLeod28/07/2011 18:42:18
11 forum posts
Thanks Bill,
One of the things I love about this 'hobby' is the camaraderie and the fact that you guys who know what you are doing are so willing to share your skills and experience.
I am eager indeed to get started on a bench and am looking with disguised lust at a big pile of waste pallets... I like planning things so when I get a drawing done, I'll post it for comments / improvements.
Thanks again, hope to chat soon.
Julian28/07/2011 19:55:45
553 forum posts
28 photos
Hi Alan,
I will go along with Bill on this one, if you go to a car boot sale - get there early because all the good stuff will be gone otherwise. I only have some very old Record and Stanley Planes but they sharpen up beautifully, £5-10 each. Don't skimp on a Tennon or Dovetail Saw, a good one is worth every penny but saying this there is no need to spend the earth on one. You will find that as your skills improve so will your requirements for good tools also don't by kits and stuff. If you have a need for a tool go and get it and get the best you can afford plus a bit. you will also find the new yankee workshop website very usefull. SKY do re-runs of them from time to time.
Best of luck
Big Al28/07/2011 21:10:03
1602 forum posts
73 photos
For your budget, you should be able to put together a half decent starter tool kit.
For a bench plane my own preference is a no 5 1/2, which I use for most hand planing purposes, from planing end grain, straightening (as in edge jointing), smoothing and cleaning rough sawn faces. Although I now have a lie nielsen, I started with a second hand stanley 5 1/2. I have tried a no 4 and no 5 but my hands are too big for these planes. You dont need a no 7 or no 8 for straightening.
I have a set of crown chisel's that are not too bad, and I also have a crown gents saw which is good enough for my hand sawing needs.
For sharpening I would recommend some diamond sharpening stones, they dont take much looking after and perform well enough. But I would recommend a sharpening guide.

Some other tools that you will need are, a coping saw, engineers square (dont bother with a carpenters square as they usually aren't square), sliding bevel gauge, mallet, steel rule and a marking knife.
With regards to manufacturer's I can only recommend company's that are probably beyond your budget, but not for reason's other than they are good quality tools that perform and feel how they should. If I were you I would try and find a tool shop that will allow you to at least pick up and look at the tools that you are interested in.
Hopefully this was of some help to you, if you want any more advice then please ask.
Julian28/07/2011 21:30:45
553 forum posts
28 photos
Alan - One other thing, I don't know where you are but one of the woodworking shows that are in the Magazines would be very useful for you. Al - you are quite right on the planes, I only have a No4 and No5 but my hands are quite thin so I find them just about right for me.
BillW28/07/2011 21:47:19
711 forum posts
21 photos
I'm going to disagree with Al on one point, try and learn to sharpen without a guide first, but I agree with the engineers square, it will take the odd knock.
I also have small hands.
Alan McLeod28/07/2011 22:42:20
11 forum posts
Thanks Bill, Julian, Al,
I am getting great info here - I CAN go above the budget listed and think I am going to! I plan to get the following so far:
Stanley no. 6 Fore Plane
Stanley no. 4 1/2 smoothing plane
Crown 12" 13tpi tenon saw
Hamlet HCT011 Chisel set (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 & 1 inch)
I like the idea of boot sales - I think I am going to get new kit until I know what I am looking at but will pick up some cheap chisels / saws to practice my sharpening skills on.
Al. Thank you for the other suggestions - I think these need some looking into )
fatboy29/07/2011 03:16:48
169 forum posts
116 photos
on the subject of chisels alan, when youre at your car boot sales check the chisels for names such as mathieson, addis, marples, ashley iles, stormont, also robert sorby, i find these older tools are made with better steel than modern tools and will take a keener longer lasting edge, i have built my set of chisels up over the years and i think the youngest one i have is about 40 years old and i have found them to be vastly superior to most modern versions, having said that some of the above firms are still going today and you can buy good quality modern chisels from them, but dont go buying a huge selection unless you are intending to get into woodcarving as a lot of them you wouldnt really use, i have about fifty chisels and i use probably six of them on a regular basis, the other ones having specific roles that dont come up too often.
Alan McLeod29/07/2011 03:29:07
11 forum posts
That's a great tip - thankyou!
Simon Reeves01/08/2011 13:29:25
622 forum posts
227 photos
Good advice from everyone I think. I would definitely agree with Big Al and Bill about the engineer's square. I have two, a 4" and a 6", both of which are far more accurate than any normal carpenter's square you will find. If you progress on to power tools like a table saw you can use them to accurately set a right angle.
For general cross cutting I don't think you can beat a simple hardpoint saw, around 22", but I've found it's better to buy a "branded" one as some of the cheaper ones can be a bit thin and whippy (try before you buy).
I also use an ancient Stanley No 5 plane for most of my planing. It was my father-in-law's, but with a bit of fettling, proper sharpening and TLC it cuts tissue thin shavings. A lovely tool.
There is nothing worse or more dangerous than a blunt cutting tool, so as Bill says, you'll need some kind of sharpening system, whether it's just an oilstone/waterstone/diamond stone, or a full blown powered grinder. Whatever you choose, you should be able to get an edge on your plane blades and chisels that can shave the hairs off your arm. Anything less is really not sharp, and yes, I'm guilty of using blades in that category (too often I think!). A fine waterstone will polish the edge if you use it properly.
Good luck with it all and don't forget to post your "makings" as you go along.
Alan McLeod01/08/2011 14:59:39
11 forum posts
Thanks Simon,
I have been looking into these and think I've settled on a diamond sharpener with a guide. I am going to practice without the guide on some cheap tools but don't want to ruin my good ones...
The engineers squares do definitely look good - but there is a bewildering array of sizes! Not sure what I am getting yet....
And yes - there will def be pics - the plans for my bench are nearly ready...
BillW01/08/2011 18:04:32
711 forum posts
21 photos
Regarding a square Alan, you could buy a 9 or 12 inch keep it in a box as a reference and use cheep ones for everyday use.
These wont be a good as say a Moore & Wright, actually at the price you could use them for everyday use.

Big Al01/08/2011 18:43:11
1602 forum posts
73 photos
If you want to keep your cost's down then try these, they are good enough for woodworking.
Derek Lane02/08/2011 10:37:05
3219 forum posts
1004 photos
Not really much to add to the above. When you make the bench make sure it is good and strong and have at least one good vice on it also some sort of dog system to make things easier to plane

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