I had a weird thought pop in my head last night about what I would change about the tools in my workshop if I had to start over. I’m not talking regrets or anything like that – my learning process was and is invaluable. I’m also not talking about a new workshop. If for some reason my funds that I’ve spent over the years were restored to me and my workshop empty and a blank slate. Basically returning to 2010 with the knowledge I have today.
I’d start with my first tool, my table saw. I wouldn’t buy the same one. While I used the mobile feature a few times outside, I really need a heavier saw that is heavier duty. If I couldn’t change my power situation I’d buy a Ridgid or a Steel City that had the same power requirements. The saw tends to want to move when large or heavy items are ripped. If I wanted to budget for a power increase right away, I’d go for a beefier saw.
My planer and drill press CL finds are fine, I’d do that again. I’d still take the planer because I got my money out of it, and the drill press should serve me for years to come. Even though I find it a bit too large at times, the price was right and I wouldn’t want anything less powerful. I bought a handheld power planer that I never used and gave away. I bought a cheap biscuit joiner that I’ve used once. Obviously, on both of those I would save the little money I spent on them.
I would have bought a more powerful bandsaw, with the caveat that it would fit in the shop and work on the same power. If not, then my HF saw might be bought again. I would have skipped the 10″ Hitachi miter saw and gone straight to the one I have now, or would have bought a Kapex. I would have spent more time researching routers and not have two that are basically the same power-wise. I’d have one at 2HP, and one at 3.5HP. Of course, when I get the bigger one having two different setups will be nice for handheld use.
I would have taken nicer tools seriously. I would have considered Festool a lot sooner, and perhaps the smaller router would have replaced one I have now. I’d own a track saw by now, and have saved myself a lot of trouble with the edge guide and a cheap crappy circular saw. I would have invested in good measuring tools early on, like Incra rules and true straight edges. I would have gone bigger on the air compressor.
The biggest thing I would have done differently though is not waste so much time, money and energy on fixtures that were in essence disposable. One router table. One miter saw stand. One saw extension (or outfeed with a different saw). I would have taken any plywood scraps to my attic for flooring. The amount I spent building things I no longer have might have paid for a couple nicer tools by now.
Just things I would do differently. If this helps someone else starting out, I’ve done a good deed.