To this stage in my workshop I have been primarily focusing on capability. Procurement mode. Hoarding mode. Call it whatever you want, the goal was to get the tools I needed to make what I wanted to. For the most part, that phase is complete. I have tools I never imagined at one point or another I would, like a bandsaw and a lathe. With the addition of an upgraded planer in the fold I can say I’ve moved on to the next phase: accuracy and quality. Quality of tools, and accuracy of my work.
I bought the DW735 because it was a true upgrade from my Ryobi AP1300. Better and more blades, a better exhaust, and more accuracy on the depth of cut. I wouldn’t really consider my miter saw to be a quality upgrade, as one Hitachi replaced another – the capacity is what was really upgraded. However I have discovered the laser on it is very, very accurate. This will come in handy later. My chisels? I suppose niceness can help with accuracy, but they are simply built with more quality than the HF ones.
What I think I’m going for next is accuracy. I have put on my wish list several items which I think will help me get there. Incra T-rules, Woodpeckers straight edges, an Incra miter gauge…etc. I’d like to be more accurate and more importantly I’d like to be able to take more time in what I’m doing and verify what I’m about to cut or modify is what I really want to do. Even with the project I churned out in a few hours, the sideboard, I was very aware of my accuracy and double-checked each thing I was about to do – and it showed. Now I want to take that forward to every project I do. I’ve put up with being ‘close’ way too much and it ends here.
I’m also planning on bringing my router table back, and in a big way. The thought is to go with an offset table with an Incra positioner and a router lift of some sort for a 3HP router. With this layout and making the modifications to the miter saw station I should have room to add it back. This will be a full, freestanding table on casters just like before, but with an accuracy and convenience I have yet to experience. With accuracy comes a cost, and it will be painful to do. However, if there is room for it, this may be the last router table I ever build. Or at least I’ll have all the components I’ll ever need.
I have gotten the green itch lately: Festool. I still say that they have some tools that would seem to me as pure luxury or indulgence, but I can’t say I’ve ever would have turned down one of their track saws. A Domino or a dust collector? Sign me up. Their LR32 system for shelf pins and etc is very nice, but is a big buy when you factor in the router as well.
At some point I’ll upgrade my table saw to a bigger motor and a more accurate fence. For right now though, I’ll be content with keeping the blades clean and the fence aligned and the markings accurate. My bandsaw has a nice new fence that seems accurate enough, the next step is to have a few blades on hand. My lathe is plenty capable of what I want to do with it, and the accuracy comes down to sharp tools and god measuring equipment – both are in the pipeline. The drill press drills nice holes. The sanders could use some new and more varied grits, and I could use a capacity upgrade on the handhelds – the Festool dust collection here would be choice. The mortiser could use a tune-up. Probably just a bit of sharpening and setup would do the trick.
As I become more accurate and produce more quality items, then Phase 3 comes into play – presentation. I’ll be working on my finishing skills and capability. Once I start thinking about that I will have to have some plan in place to keep my finishes from freezing, because that’s an investment in itself.
Things are pretty good in the shop right now. I’m thinking it’s only going to get better.