Idea Shop 6, Paycheck 1: Start Off on the Straight and Narrow
With your shop site assessed and basic tool kit gathered as described in the introduction, the first payday has arrived and you have $150 ready to start building a shop. So without any woodworking-specific tools (yet), where do you start? Simple.
The first $150 budgeted buys a circular saw and materials to make a couple of cutting guides that help this construction-site staple cut as true as a tablesaw. (More on the cutting guides after detailing what else this check buys.) We chose a Skil 5480-1 circular saw. Find reviews of similar models at woodmagazine.com/tool-reviews.
The standard low-dough, 24-tooth blade included with most circular saws is meant for rough-cutting carpentry materials such as 2x4s. For the cleaner cuts required in furniture-grade materials, purchase better-quality 24-tooth and 40-tooth blades. We recommend Freud Diablo D0740R and D0724R.
A square helps you identify and correct problems as you dress stock, lay out and cut parts to size, and check assemblies for edges and faces that are 90° to each other. It's also immensely useful for setting up and checking the accuracy of the stationary tools you'll acquire later. Learn more here. Note:If you can spend extra during this pay period, consider upgrading to a top-quality combination square that will maintain its squareness through repeated use. A square that's even slightly off only creates and compounds errors. See woodmagazine.com/tool-reviews for combination square reviews.
There's a saying amongst woodworkers that you can never have enough clamps. You'll likely learn this is true as you work more wood, so start your collection with four 4" spring clamps.
To make the cutting guides, buy a 4x8' sheet of 1⁄2 " AB birch or pine plywood. Look for a sheet that lies flat with no large patches in the veneer on one face. Also get an 8-oz bottle of yellow wood glue (learn more about woodworking glue here and here) and a 4x8' sheet of 1" extruded foam insulation. Get the stiffest variety offered; it will last longer. To cut the plywood, you'll lay it on the insulation to support it and provide clearance below for the saw blade.
When you get it all home, read the manual for your new saw, and install the 40-tooth blade. Then follow the plan in this article to turn the plywood into two cutting guides that will help you make arrow-straight cuts in sheet goods. Watch the process in a free video here. Save your scrap plywood for another circular saw jig you'll build next paycheck. And follow these tips for making clean cuts with your circular saw.
Tuck the leftover money into a container of your choosing, because that's the first bit of cash that will go toward a tablesaw in a couple of months.
Next, Idea Shop 6-Paycheck 2.