Charles Neil Lecture

I ran into some good luck a few years ago. I just happened to be in the local Woodcraft and Charles Neil was giving a free seminar on finishing. I spent almost 5 hours sitting there watching, taking notes and talking to him between breaks. After the first 30 minutes it was strikingly apparent that this man has forgotten more about woodworking that I have ever learned.  I used to think of myself as a pretty good woodworker until I met him.

Top 10 points of interest from Charles Neil’s Finishing Session

1. Trace Coats, I am now convinced finishing is all about the trace coat.  Charles took a really expensive (grossly overpriced) tiger maple board off the Woodcraft shelf and started to show us the benefits of trace coats. He shared with us his process of “Popping the Grain.”  “Trans-Tint Amber mixed in water makes the best trace coat” he said, “but you can really use any color.” Trace coats are used to identify defects and to intensify figure.

2. A trace coat is simply an applied diluted dye used to enhance the grain and defects before sanding. When I say before sanding, I really mean before sanding. Charles put a trace coat on a piece of stock before sandpaper ever touched it. You could see curl, planer marks and defects.  He then sanded (briefly) with 120, another trace coat, then 180. Another trace coat and he was done. He sprayed a little shellac on it out of a can, and I have to admit, this 5 minute finish was better than anything I have ever done. Chatoyance, depth, color, you name it this finish had it. I couldn’t believe it. Charles also mentioned that he will use a trace coat on lightly planed boards to match the figure more easily for a tabletop, etc.

3. Charles said the only thing BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) is good for is pulling out dents in projects. He said it makes a wonderful finish, but there are better, more efficient products out there to use, i.e. Trans-Tint trace coat. Place a small amount of BLO on a cloth and use an iron (steam off) until the dent is pulled out. He also reminded us to get the iron back in the house before your wife realizes it is gone…oh and clean it really well.

4. How do you pull a dent out of a project with denatured alcohol you ask?  Well….Charles said to mix it with water (50/50) or “close enough”, fill the dent and light it on fire. Seriously, he said to light it on fire. In theory this makes perfect sense, but in reality I don’t think I will ever try it…well maybe once, twice if it was fun. The water soaks into the wood and starts to raise the grain, the alcohol (on fire) expedites the process, swelling the fibers, and pulling out the dent. Charles said it only flames for a few seconds then goes out. I think I’ll have to take his word for this one.

5. Sanding should be to effect not to exhaustion. Charles said that he will start with 120 then 180 and he is done. The exception to this rule is end grain. He will go 120-180-220-320-600. Anything below 120 is for shaping, not sanding.

6. Charles told several stories of guys who would count the drops of Trans-Tint in a particular volume of water to get their recipe for a particular color. “119 drops of dark mission brown in a pint of water…he laughs.”  How do you regulate the size of the drop?  What if you get to drop 100 and there is that little spray that has happened to all of us?  Charles has a simpler method of course. Mix 2 oz of dye in 2 oz of water and use this as a base. Add small amounts of this base to a pint of water until you get the desired color.

7. Want a cheap trace coat? Food coloring. He said it works like a charm and for pennies compared to the $21 Woodcraft charges for 2 oz of Trans-Tint.

8. Screw up the dye by applying too much?… spray on some Krud Kutter. He was able to take a very dark stain back to a very light and very manageable color. I asked if you could light it on fire and he just laughed.  I still don’t know if that meant yes or no.

9. One tablespoon of baking soda in one pint of water will darken cherry, mahogany and walnut as a pre-finish. It will give the effect of an older piece that has darkened with age.

10. “If you can’t finish it, you shouldn’t build it.”  “An excellent finish can elevate a mediocre piece to a good one, but a bad finishing job can make an excellent piece look awful.”  Charles Neil, 2014.

Mahogany and Spalted Maple Jewelry Box

This year for Christmas, I made my wife a mahogany jewelry box. I wanted to try something a little different. I really liked the contrasting colors of the mahogany case and the walnut splines. I found a short piece of tiger/spalted maple at a local sawmill and am really pleased how it turned out.

I made two drawers, the top being half sized and slides along the bottom. The bottom drawer sits on two rails underneath, creating a hidden compartment. Both drawers have mitered corners and walnut splines. These splines really do a nice job holding together an otherwise weak joint.

I struggled on a method to line the insides of the trays, then I recalled using flocking in a high school shop class. Back then the choices were basically green, black, and red. Today there are a variety of colors to choose from, I went with wine (burgundy). This stuff is super easy to use, apply the adhesive like paint, spray on the flocking, and let it dry. One word of caution, don’t skimp when applying the adhesive, you may end up with an area or two that is weak and doesn’t hold the material as well.

I made a very basic spline jig a while ago for my tablesaw and found more uses for it than I thought I would ever have. It’s really easy to use, just make the basic box, determine where you want the splines to go and set the box in the cradle in the corresponding guidelines. It’s not perfect, but close enough for an amateur.

I have used shellac forever in most of my projects as this stuff is so versatile, in fact I can’t name a project that I didn’t finish with shellac, even my Maloof Rocker has a half dozen coats of shellac. Well that is until I discovered General Finishes oil/poly mix. This stuff is fantastic, it wipes on with a cloth so smoothly, and the oil really enhances the wood. I used three coats lightly sanding with 360 between and then a coat of wax. I was concerned that the poly would look like plastic if I applied too many coats, but a topcoat of wax really did the trick.

The one thing I am not happy with are the hinges. I wanted to try these new hinges, and they work great, but were a bear to get lined up and install. I am actually off just a bit and the lid is a little offset, I’ll have to research a better way to install these. Basically I lined everything up, drew an outline and hand routed out the mortise. There really has to be a better way to do this.

I enjoyed making this for my wife, it took about 10 hours to do, but that was mostly trial and error with proportions and such, I didn’t have any plans to go off of. Actually, I just started fooling around with Sketch-up, maybe next time I’ll have something to work with.

I just hope she doesn’t expect me to fill this thing with jewelry now.  Otherwise, I’ll have to research wooden jewelry, you just never know…..

Starting a Woodshop for Under $2,000 (Part 3)

This is a continuation of a three part series on my thoughts of starting a woodshop on a budget.

In part one and two this series, we laid the groundwork for the beginning of a nicely equipped woodshop. We will finish this series with part 3, adding a few final touches to our shop so we can start making some shavings.

At this point of the discussion a few planes and saws are smart buys at this point, and in my shop they are a crucial piece of equipment. I could have listed them with our Jack Plane above, but it makes sense in the order of operation to add them to our list at this point. A Stanley block plane will do everything you ask it to, within reason. I have had one for years and it has served me well, giving me little reason to upgrade. Having said that I am intrigued by this low angle plane from Veritas, but I am digressing. A shoulder plane may seem like a luxury considering our $2000 budget, but I can tell you from experience, once you start using one of these, you will find a number of uses for it in your shop. I like the Veritas Bullnose plane for these operations, but it may be a little out of our price range at this point.  A quick EBAY search has found several Stanley 92 shoulder planes for about $75. Depending on the timing that you are reading this post, this option may not be available. If we have room in the budget I would consider this a high level addition if there is wiggle room, let’s reserve $75 – $150 for this. To be perfectly honest, as your skills improve, a wooden rabbit or shoulder plane is simple to make and serves in many of the same functions, for a fraction of the price of a metal shoulder plane.

It is now time to talk about saws. I like to keep this discussion simple because we have a workhorse in the shop in the form of a table saw, therefore I do like to utilize it as much as possible for miter cuts, cross cuts and ripping, as well as dado and tenon joinery.

A good jigsaw comes to mind, mostly because of its versatility, for this exercise.  It can be used to assist in breaking down rough stock to size as well as cutting more complex curved shapes. I own the Ryobi jigsaw but this may be a little out of our range considering the option of a corded version for half the price. This is not a crucial piece of equipment, so I say go with the corded version for $30.

There will come a time when a good handsaw will be needed for cutting dovetails, correcting a miter joint, or tenon work. It is inevitable that the discussion of pull vs push saws will come into play here, and I have, and use, both. For this discussion however, I am leaving out the pull saws for the sole reason of versatility. For simplicity I like the Veritas Carcass (crosscut) saw for about $80. There are a number of operations that this saw can be used for, making it one of the most versatile tools in the shop. You are not going to be able to rip long lengths of boards or crosscut 6 inch pieces of stock with this saw, that’s why we have the table saw and jig saw, but you can make multiple types of finishing cuts, dovetails, miters, tenons, etc.

We are due for another summary:

Suggestions:
1. Bosch 4100 ($575)
2. Used Jack Plane ($75)
3. Dewalt power planer ($129)
4. Bench Grinder ($65)
5. Honing Stones (75)
6. Measuring Tools ($60)
7. Chisels ($100)
8. Block Plane ($30)
9. Shoulder plane (?)
10. Jig saw ($30)
11. Carcass saw ($80)
SUBTOTAL: $ 1,219

This is the time when we start to realize that our frugality is starting to pay off. We have about $800 in our budget remaining, and I have a few thoughts on how to use this as we move forward.

At this stage, our shop is now set up to do some very basic operations, but this does not mean basic woodworking. We have the potential to dimension lumber from rough stock, rip and crosscut with some high degree of accuracy, cut simple joinery such as mortise and tenon, miter joints, dovetails, etc. We can cut dados, and rabbets and simple curved cuts. We have some confidence in a high degree of accuracy based on our choices of measuring tools and operations. It is at this point where I believe we need to be a little creative in order to maximize our funds.

When reviewing our list thus far, the obvious tool that is missing is a router. However, I’m going to suggest that we can get away without one at this point with the caveat that when more funds are available, this is likely another one of our top selections based on need. I believe we can use our “router fund” for a few things to accomplish similar tasks but with increased versatility.

“Router fund” tools. A very basic run of the mill Porter Cable 2 HP router will run about $160. Add in a simple table for $140 and a few basic bits (6 x $10) and we are talking about roughly $360. The contrarian may say, build an accessory table along your table saw and sink the router in it and/or buy a laminate router. This is fine, and I would agree, however the laminate router will run you about $100 and you will still be responsible for the bits and table, either by purchase or build. This route saves you about $100 – $125 but I think there is a better approach for the new woodworker.

Dados can be made using the table saw and a simple sled that is easy to build. This is not my favorite sled, but it is simple, easy to use, and easy to build, and more importantly, gets the job done. The reason I mention this is because, no matter what dado operation you are doing, it is important to clean up the cut using a router plane ($160). There is no dado that will be perfectly cut, and the router plane does a fantastic job cleaning this up and making life a lot easier during the glue up. The router plane can also be used for hinge mortise cleanup, tenon cleanup, as a marking gauge, etc. Next to the table saw and carcass saw, I think this is one of the more versatile tools in the shop. It is expensive for our budget, but even with a router, I would insist that this tool be part of my arsenal.

You may be asking yourself what about mouldings?  You can’t cut mouldings with a router plane! I wholeheartedly agree, however, I think I have a solution. Matthew Bickford explains in his text, Mouldings in Practicethat a single pair of hollows and rounds can produce a large number of profiles when making mouldings. Adding a second pair can double the number of profiles available to the woodworker making mouldings. In reality, I have several sets of hollows and rounds, but I only use a handful when making mouldings. Hollows and rounds can be found all over the place, flea markets, EBAY, garage sales, auctions, etc. I have picked up a number of them for just a few dollars. Some need a little work to the body, all will need work to the blades, but for less than $60, and a little work, I can get a very usable pair of 6 & 8 hollows and rounds, or something close to it.

Suggestions:
1. Bosch 4100 table saw($575)
2. Used Jack Plane ($75)
3. Dewalt power planer ($129)
4. Bench Grinder ($65)
5. Honing Stones (75)
6. Measuring Tools ($60)
7. Chisels ($100)
8. Block Plane ($30)
9. Shoulder plane (?)
10. Jig saw ($30)
11. Carcass saw ($80)
12. Router Plane ($160)
13. Hollows and Rounds ($60)
SUBTOTAL: $ 1,439

We are now left with about $550 left in the checkbook, and have created a very nicely equipped and workable shop. I’m going to leave a majority of the remaining funds for clamps. No matter what level of woodworker you are, you will never have enough. I also have a few remaining items that I feel are very useful, but not critical. I also assume that the future woodworker has a basic set of tools such as a hammer, a drill, wrenches, pliers, sandpaper, eye/hearing protection, push sticks, etc.

As previously mentioned, I have allotted roughly as much money for clamps as I have the tablesaw. If the table saw is the workhorse for operations, clamps are the workhorse for completion. In some way, I feel clamps are more important than the tablesaw given the fact that I can mill, cut and shape stock with the tools on our list without a tablesaw, but I cannot build a thing unless I can glue and clamp it up.

I would start with obtaining as many pipe clamps as you can muster. I have used pipe clamps for, well, as long as I have been making sawdust. There are most certainly better options out there for clamping methods, but not on our budget, as a bulk purchase. What good does it do me if I want to build a dining table and chairs and I only of a few Bessey clamps, because they cost $110 a pair. We will need a variety of clamps, and we won’t limit ourselves to pipe clamps, but they will be the bulk of our purchase. I can always find pipe clamps at auctions, yard sales, etc for $10 – $15 a piece, 36″ – 60″ on average. You will also need an assortment of other clamps for different procedures whereas a pipe clamp may not be the most appropriate device.  Whatever clamping selections you choose ensure that you have a variety of sizes with a bulk of them in the 12 inch to 36 inch range, a few shorter and a few longer.

My preferences (Base this on your woodworking preferences):

Misc Clamps:
Frame clamps ($30)
Spring Clamps ($10)
Irwin Quick Grips ($10)
Irwin Quick Grips ($37)
Bessey 30 Piece BTB30  I found this set on Craigslist and paid $250 for it, almost new.  Just an example of the deals you can find if you take a few minutes to look.  I do not suggest buying this set for $600+ as advertised.

Pipe Clamps assorted lengths

6 inch clamps:
Bessey Tradesman ($13)

12 inch clamps:
Bessey Tradesman ($15)

24 inch clamp
Bessey Parallel ($32)
Bessey Tradesman ($18)

36 inch clamp
Bessey Tradesman ($21)
Bessey Parallel ($37)

50 inch clamp
Bessey Parallel ($45)

DO NOT BUY THESE TYPES OF CLAMPS. (Aluminum rail)
Don’t focus on the brand here, this is not the point. The aluminum type clamps are awful, they slip quite often and do not hold enough pressure.

Depending on the type of woodworking that you do I would also suggest these items as a substitute for a few clamps, or as first buys after the shop is set up and you have additional funds to invest.

Card scrapers ($17)
Bevel gauge ($22)
Marking knife ($14)
Flush cut saw ($18)
Tablesaw setup blocks ($21)

There you have it, a nicely equipped woodshop (tools) for $2,000. I would venture to say you now have a base set of tools to make almost anything. Happy woodworking.

Starting a Woodshop for Under $2,000 (Part 2)

This is a continuation of a three part series on my thoughts of starting a woodshop on a budget.

In part one of this series, we used a little under half of our allotted funds and established some of the workhorses of the shop. Part two of this series will allow us to drop down from the 10,000 foot level and start building something that looks like a woodshop.

We will continue where we left off with the hand plane philosophy and a block plane is the next purchase for our new shop. An EBAY search will find several Lie Nielsen block planes for under $100. There are several excellent choices in this arena, an old Stanley, Veritas, or even the Wood River low angle block plane is a safe choice, but for the price, a used Lie Nielsen is the hands down winner.
Before we get too far into this discussion, we will need something to sharpen all of these tools with. If you can find an inexpensive used DeWalt or Delta bench grinder for under $50 and it is in good condition, I would say consider this option. Pay particular attention to the grinding wheels, just make sure they are usable (no cracks), and FLAT. If this is not an option for you, I would go with something from Grizzly like the T24464. You certainly do not want to skimp here and get an under powered grinder that stalls with each pass, but you don’t need a $200 grinder either, especially when you are learning how to sharpen everything. Over time you will learn how to sharpen your tools and find a method that works for you.

A bench grinder will only do half the job, a set of honing stones will be necessary to fine tune your blades and make your handwork a lot easier, cleaner, and safer.  My high school shop teacher always told us, a dull tool is an unsafe tool. Due to the fact that we have a limited budget to work with here, a Tormek is out of the question, however, I would suggest looking into this and adding it to your short list of tools to buy in the immediate future. I have a few sharpening stones that I occasionally use instead of my Tormek, or if I take my tools on the road for whatever reason. I really cannot recall the brand of stones, but as long as you are not going super cheap, I don’t think you can go wrong as long as you get a few grits working up to the 6,000 grit range for a finely honed blade. A quick search on Amazon found what appears to be a few good options here and here, but I’m not married to these. As far as the budget goes, lets just call it $75 for sharpening stones.

Suggestions:
1. Bosch 4100 ($575)
2. Used Jack plane ($75)
3. Dewalt hand help power planer ($129)
4. Bench Grinder ($65)
5. Honing Stones (75)
SUBTOTAL: $919

To this point we can now take a rough board and make it flat and square.  If we want to do anything else with it, we better be able to make accurate measurements and cut joinery.  I believe absolute necessities for measuring and marking are a good combination square, a 12 inch ruler, 36 inch ruler and a tape measure.  This may be overkill in some opinion, however there is no point in making the cut unless it has been layed out correctly.  I strongly believe in using one ruler over the course of a project, as much as you can for consistency, but there are times when the extra length or convenience of a shorter ruler comes in handy. A good tape measure is useful when roughing stock, going to the lumber yard or checking cases for square. For this reason I’m going with the Empire series rulers.

This 12 inch combination square has gotten fantastic review on Amazon and it is under $20.  To maintain consistency I would also select the Empire 36 inch ruler ($20) as well. I also suggest the 25 foot FatMax from Stanley. I personally use this tape measure in my shop and for $20, I don’t think it can be beat.  Skimp on this buy, and you will deal with inaccurate measurements and limp tape that buckles every time you try to measure anything over 6 foot.  The obvious upgrades here are Sterrett products, but we don’t have $100 in the budget for a combo square.

A good wheel marking gauge is also a great option here. I prefer the wheel gauge over a pin as it makes a much cleaner cut and is significantly more accurate. Dovetails, mortises, laying out stock for hand planing are just a few uses for this tool, I consider it a must have, and for $35 it is definitely in my start up shop.

Chisels are next on the list.  Don’t be tempted to run out and buy a set of Lee Neilsen bench chisels, a base set of 4 (1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″) will put you back about 250 bucks. I have had a number of bench chisels in my day and to be perfectly honest my favorite set that I use today is the Wood River set from Woodcraft. Having said this, I purchased my set of 8 years ago (too far to remember) for under $100. They did require a little work to flatten the backs and sharpen them, however it was not overwhelming. In reading reviews, this appears to be an issue now but I can’t speak to this personally. My Wood River chisels hold an edge really well and take all of 30 seconds to hone them when they become dull. I’m not sure if the quality has gone down over time, I can only speak for mine, but I really like mine. As I mentioned I purchased a set of 8, but in reality I only use four or five of them.  I would go with the 4 piece set from Woodcraft ($40). Alternatives would be Marplesfrom Irwin for under $60.

We will not have the luxury of a mortise machine, so we will need a decent set of mortise chisels as well. Again, deferring to my previous statement regarding Lie Nielsen, I own a set of Narex chisels that I could not be happier with.  This three piece Narex set ($50) can be found on Amazon. This set comes in 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes, I have never had the need to add to this set due to a size limitation.

To stay on track, we need to run a subtotal again:

Suggestions:
1. Bosch 4100 ($575)
2. Used Jack Plane ($75)
3. Dewalt power planer ($129)
4. Bench Grinder ($65)
5. Honing Stones (75)
6. Measuring Tools ($60)
7. Chisels ($100)
SUBTOTAL: $ 1,079

Starting a Woodshop for Under $2,000 (Part 1)

The name of this blog is the Intelligent Homesteader based on the book, The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, who cites extreme value while investing. The question I usually ask myself before making any purchase is, where is the value in this and how does it benefit our homestead. Using the general philosophy of deep value investing by Graham, lets take a look at establishing a very well equipped woodshop while keeping value in mind.

I had been listening to a podcast by 360 Woodworking with Chuck Bender and Glen Huey. They were discussing what tools to buy for a beginner woodworker with a $2,000 budget.  If you want to take a listen, it is episode 5 of 60 with 360 Woodworking. Actually the title says $1,500 but they reference $2,000 several times so that’s what I’m going to go with.

Chuck and Glen had a few points that I would absolutely agree with, but I also have some differing opinions as well.  I’ll try to put together a list of tools that I would consider starting out with if I were advising myself 20 years ago.

The first decision that needs to be addressed in your future wood shop is your preference of tools i.e. hand tools vs power tools.  This debate has been going on forever, and I’m not about to add much to it, however I can tell you I prefer a blended approach. For me woodworking is not necessarily about the end product, this is likely why I have a bunch of unfinished projects, for me the journey is what makes this endeavor satisfying.

The older I get, the more I steer toward a hand tool approach. However time in the shop is a high value commodity on my homestead so I can’t afford to spend 12 hours hand planing stock before I get to cut my first joint. I have an even mix of hand tools and machines in my shop, but my primary focus anymore is hand tools for fun (joinery), and power tools for efficiency (stock removal).

Having said that, this post will be about creating a reasonable shop on a budget that is both enjoyable to work in, and reasonably efficient. I will not take for granted any wood working knowledge, but one would have to assume there has been some previous experience.

We have already discussed that this endeavor in woodworking will be a blended approach. Having said that, I believe strongly that any shop setup must begin and end with a way to process rough lumber into something reasonable to work with. Relying on dimensional lumber from the big box store is not an option.

For me this discussion must begin with a table saw. This will be the largest purchase but the decision we make in a table saw can either make you or break you. I believe there are three viable options for purchasing a table saw based on the experience of the person setting up the shop. If the new shop owner has a modest understanding of the tools and some experience using them, I would suggest searching out Craigslist, auctions, etc., for a table saw. I put a 20 year old Jet cabinet saw in my shop that I picked up from an older gentleman getting out of the hobby for a whopping $600. This thing was in great condition and had a fantastic after market Biesemeyer style fence.

A deal on a table saw like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I don’t think it is reasonable to assume this will happen for this scenario, but it makes it worthwhile to at least check for something used. For argument sake let’s assume that this opportunity is not available, therefore my choice of table saw comes down to two options, the Grizzly G0771or the Bosch 4100 work site saw.

The Grizzly is likely out of our range with a sale price of $695 (not including freight), but if we have an opportunity to buy this saw, it will more than likely last for a lifetime. The fall back will be the Bosch ($575), with the understanding that it will likely be replaced at some point within the first 10 years simply due to the limitations of a bench top model. The reviews are excellent for this tool and may be a great choice for the entry level woodworker. I was surprised to see that it is equipped with a 4 hp motor, so under-powered issues associated with most bench-top models will likely not be a problem here.

There are a host of shop made jigs that can be made for a table saw with just a few pieces of plywood and some drywall screws, so there will be no need for any purchased accessories for our saw at this time. The blade is included in the Bosch model, however I cannot make any claim regarding the quality.

As a side note, the Bosch model is available on Amazon, which is a huge bonus for this exercise, i.e. no shipping cost and may also eliminate any state sales tax. When reasonable, I will try to order from Amazon based on these factors.

As I consider the stages of processing rough lumber, the next logical step in tool selection will be something to square the stock into manageable pieces. The next selection may surprise some people, but I would advise against a power jointer, simply due to the cost. An Amazon search will bring up a few bench top jointers for about $250, but as I can attest from previous (regretted) experience, just don’t do it. I wish I would have spent that money on a good quality jack plane. The experience of learning how to use a plane efficiently will serve you well over the next 50 years in the craft and this is a tool you can use for a lifetime.

I would suggest buying a used No. 6 Jack Plane and restoring it. I realize a new woodworker may not have the experience to rehab an old Stanley hand plane, but there are literally a ton of YouTube videos explaining the process. Paul Sellers has a fantastic 1 hour video on the subject and I highly recommend anyone interested in this process to watch it. Rehabbing this plane serves two purposes, the education of the experience as well as forcing the woodworker to learn the basics of squaring stock and mastering a hand plane is invaluable. The No. 6 is a versatile tool and has many uses in the shop, one of which in our example will be to square the face and edge of a board. It will take a little work, but picking up a used Jack Plane for under $75 is realistic.

By this point you may think I am setting this woodworker up for a future of Popeye forearms from hand planing everything, but this assumption would not be correct. My next suggestion for our future shop is a power surface planer. Considering we are already up to about $650, our resources are slowly dwindling. A bench top planer is the obvious choice here and the gold standard has been the Dewalt 734 for a long time. This is the planer I purchased almost 20 years ago and it is still going strong. I have had to make some minor repairs over the last two decades but it has been a proven workhorse.

Having said this, I am not going to recommend the Dewalt planer for this shop, not yet anyway. In a few years, I would suggest that this be one of the first upgrades, but considering our budget, we simply can’t afford the $400+ price tag. My suggestion for a surface planer will be the Dewalt D26676 portable hand planer for $129. Our order of operations for milling stock will start with the jack plane to surface one face and one edge, and then run the power planer over the opposing face with a jack plane cleanup. The $250 saved will be instrumental when we approach the end of this discussion and realize we are almost out of money. Keep that extra $250 in your pocket for now, we will need it later.

Here are the stats thus far:
1. Bosch 4100 ($575)
2. Used Jack plane ($75)
3. Dewalt hand help power planer ($129)
SUBTOTAL: $779

It looks like this may be a long post, so I have decided to split it up a bit. If this sort of thing interests you, come back for parts 2 and 3 of Starting a Woodshop for Under $2,000.