If I had it to do over again...


Last night, I was flipping through one of the first woodworking books I'd bought, Woodworking for the Serious Beginner. It seems to be out of print, and have some mixed reviews, including a one-star review from someone who finds the title offensive because table saws aren't appropriate to apartments.

Nonetheless, I think nearly everything they wrote in 1995 still holds true, and if was starting again without the tools I'd already collected, I'd follow their recommendations for starting up: a simple table saw with a cast-iron top at the center, a router, and a jigsaw, (plus a mix of measuring and hand tools) and then the series of shop-built shop furniture they prescribe.

Instead, I'd already bought a tablesaw that came with accessories duplicating many of their projects, with an aluminum top, and lacking the one key feature they recommend in a tablesaw: minimum need to adjust it.

While I really do like my Ryobi BT3000, and it's done some great work, testing and adjusting cuts every time I've moved the saw or left it sitting for a while isn't a great way to encourage beginners to get to work. For starting out - and I know this doesn't make sense from a long-term business standpoint - it'd be a lot easier to have a saw with a blade fixed at 90° and a fence and miter slot guaranteed to be square to the blade. Eventually, once I'd learned to work with that, then getting into adjustments would be okay...

The only disagreement I really found with them in re-reading the book is about dust-collection, and then only about a detail. The Oneida Dust Deputy, which my wife got me for my birthday, has made the shop vac plus cyclone option much more realistic than it used to be. (And despite its being a finicky creature, I do think a small bandsaw is invaluable, and much safer than a tablesaw for a lot of small operations. It can come later, though.)

Their pacing is right, and I especially like that they recommend building furniture for the shop before building furniture that will go in more public places. It's the right progression, something I'm doing even now.

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This page contains a single entry by Simon St.Laurent published on December 10, 2009 12:10 PM.

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