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scardeal
scardeal Dork
9/5/12 7:20 a.m.

At the moment, I'm a noob with woodworking. I have very little in terms of tools. I know how to sand, paint and stain, and I have assembled Ikea furniture... and that's about it.

I want to get to the point where I can build a decent furniture piece that looks professionally done. I imagine that I'll tackle a handful of simpler projects before jumping to the big one described below.

Desired "final" project:
Entertainment center with proper room for my center speaker (too wide to fit most off-the-shelf entertainment centers), integrated vents, exhaust fans and power strips, and lockable doors. It would store at least a computer (max size - 4U rack-sized, currently a Mac mini), a receiver, and maybe a blu-ray player in the future. It would also house, of course, the center speaker and maybe the subwoofer. It would have to support a ~55 inch LCD as well.

What I really need to know is what tools I'll need. I'm assuming that I'll need at least the following:
- drill/drill bits/screwdriver bits
- hole saw
- sandpaper
- miter saw
- clamps

Am I missing anything obvious? Is there any need for a planer or table saw to do this?

Grtechguy
Grtechguy PowerDork
9/5/12 8:09 a.m.

Miter saw is great for narrow pieces. You're not cutting plywood with it.

A circular saw with a guide would be a better choice. A belt driven table saw is the best.

A planer? If you're buying a mix of wood. You might look into a router for beveled edges as well.

All cheap on CL.

RossD
RossD UltraDork
9/5/12 8:28 a.m.

Allen wrenches, but they normal come in the box.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltraDork
9/5/12 8:30 a.m.

Cheap craftsman table saw is one of the first woodworking tools I ever bought. I've used it a ton. Haven't built much furniture, per se, but I have made a few bookcases, and a nice aquarium cabinet/stand.

A dado blade in a table saw can do some neat stuff.

scardeal
scardeal Dork
9/5/12 8:48 a.m.

What's the difference in what can be done with a radial arm saw and a table saw? I've seen table saws in action, but not radial arm saws.

Grtechguy
Grtechguy PowerDork
9/5/12 10:33 a.m.

Radial Arm saws are for cross cutting. esentially a miterbox on steroids. They "CAN" rip (cut with grain), just not as well as a tablesaw, nor as safely. If the blade get dull and catches, it can run at you.

Tablesaw > Radial Arm Saw

iceracer
iceracer UltraDork
9/5/12 10:53 a.m.

Router. wood lathe, if you want to get fancy. Shop vac. broom and dust pan

ProDarwin
ProDarwin SuperDork
9/5/12 10:58 a.m.

What do you guys think of a router attachment for a Dremel tool? Good for a once-in-a-while use? Or makes you wish you bought a real router instead?

Grtechguy
Grtechguy PowerDork
9/5/12 11:09 a.m.
ProDarwin wrote: What do you guys think of a router attachment for a Dremel tool? Good for a once-in-a-while use? Or makes you wish you bought a real router instead?

I can't even see a comparison?

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo UberDork
9/5/12 11:12 a.m.

If the shelves are going to carry any significant weight, perhaps a Biscuit Joiner. Or, if you have a table saw then routing the shelf slots with a dado blade works well too.

Grtechguy
Grtechguy PowerDork
9/5/12 11:29 a.m.

Another cool tool for furniture is a pocket screw jig. Hide all your fasteners.

DaveEstey
DaveEstey Dork
9/5/12 11:35 a.m.

specialty clamps. Some are just for 90s some 45s. You never need them until you need them.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
9/5/12 11:37 a.m.

That miter saw is mostly useless for building an entertainment center.

You need something to cut sheet material. The cheapest is a circular saw using a straight edge. This is not as simple as it sounds. I can do very well, but I've been doing it for nearly 40 years. But it is doable- just takes patience and careful measuring. YouTube is your friend.

Table saw is most people's solution. It's the hub of most wood shops, but it eats a lot of floor space. There are several portable contractor ones now that are reasonably priced and decent quality. Mine is a DeWalt DW745, available at Lowes brand new in the $350 range. Good enough quality to do most anything, with the one limitation that it's small size makes accurate cutting of panel products challenging. Used floor model table saws are available readily.

A radial saw can do it well. I disagree with the earlier safety comment. The radial saw is the only tool with the blade visible above the workspace. I know a lot of people with 9 fingers. You can almost be guaranteed when you see a carpenter/ furniture maker with 9 fingers that he lost one on a table saw. I have a good used radial saw for sale if you want one. It is a much more versatile tool for someone who doesn't have the space or resources for a dedicated table saw.

James Krenov was a very famous furniture maker. He hated table saws, and used a band saw for all his ripping. It's an interesting idea which very few people consider. He was very limited in the space in his shop, and argued that the band saw was much more versatile than the table saw. It does mean, however, for rip[ cuts that you probably also need a planer (or a hand power plane).

benzbaronDaryn
benzbaronDaryn Dork
9/5/12 11:51 a.m.

I don't know anything about wood working other than I absolutely hate brads. My dad bought a cedar shed from costco and it was my task to put it together. The damn thing probably took someone about 30min to put it together firing an air stapler brad gun at 100brads/minute. Oh my what fun it is to have to pull out 30 brads and renail/screw the panels back together. I guess in shipping the wood paneling seperated from the wood fram exposing the 1" brad staples which could not be pressed back in. I literally had to clip the backs of the brads off then realign and use screws to secure.

EvanB
EvanB UberDork
9/5/12 11:57 a.m.

Nobody has mentioned a hammer?

scardeal
scardeal Dork
9/5/12 12:10 p.m.
EvanB wrote: Nobody has mentioned a hammer?

Why use a hammer and nails when you can use screws and a drill/screwdriver? I highly doubt I'd use dowel pins.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltraDork
9/5/12 12:51 p.m.
benzbaronDaryn wrote: I don't know anything about wood working other than I absolutely hate brads. My dad bought a cedar shed from costco and it was my task to put it together. The damn thing probably took someone about 30min to put it together firing an air stapler brad gun at 100brads/minute. Oh my what fun it is to have to pull out 30 brads and renail/screw the panels back together. I guess in shipping the wood paneling seperated from the wood fram exposing the 1" brad staples which could not be pressed back in. I literally had to clip the backs of the brads off then realign and use screws to secure.

It's a lot more fun when you've made the joint yourself, and glued the pieces before firing brads into it. A pneumatic nailgun, like most air tools, is freakin' awesome!

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
9/5/12 4:09 p.m.
EvanB wrote: Nobody has mentioned a hammer?

Hammers are rarely used in decent furniture making.

Mallets, yes.

Hammers, almost never.

RX Reven'
RX Reven' HalfDork
9/5/12 4:53 p.m.

Here's the only tool you'll ever need:

stuart in mn
stuart in mn PowerDork
9/5/12 6:04 p.m.

A decent table saw is a good investment; you can get 'contractor' saws with folding stands so they don't take up a ton of space when not in use. Fine Homebuilding magazine runs reviews of them every so often.
A good hand held circular saw and a straightedge will also do most of what you want to do, it just takes a little more care to set up.
For that matter, carpenters and cabinet makers used hand saws for hundreds of years before electricity came along. I have an assortment of rip, crosscut and back saws, and often I can make a cut and be done in less time than it would take to set up a power tool. They also won't wake up the neighbors if you're working late at night.
A small oscillating palm sander is also very useful:

benzbaronDaryn
benzbaronDaryn Dork
9/5/12 6:09 p.m.

If you must use brads please use a center punch to finish pushing the brad into the board. I do like to use my little electric brad nailer but just like everything there is a time and place. I think there is a bit too much fast food workmanship that I see. I wouldn't even consider buying new furniture, most of it is chinese junk.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
9/5/12 7:27 p.m.

In reply to stuart in mn:

While it is true that woodworkers have used hand tools for centuries (and I have a full array of them), cutting panel products accurately with one is challenging at best. Especially if you are trying to rip it.

Though the OP has not shown us any plans, a modern entertainment center is almost always made out of panel products.

I don't think a hand saw is a very good recommendation to an amateur for this project.

But Scardeal, if you'd like to learn a bit of old-world craft, are a bit of a purist, have the patience of Job, and waay too much time on your hands, it's a neat option.

motomoron
motomoron Dork
9/6/12 12:08 p.m.
  • Good measuring tools: Tape, fold-out rule, machinists square.
  • About a dozen sharp pencils. You'll misplace one every time you use one.
  • Nice, used craigslist cast-iron table saw w/ a very fine, decent quality blade.
  • 1/4 sheet sander. I love my Porter Cable.
  • Scroll saw and good blades. Again, Porter Cable.
  • Router w/ chamfer, round-over, and cylindrical bits. I like...well, you know.
  • Nailers: 24 + 18 ga.

Nice to have but not essential: Biscuit tool, circular saw, jointer, planer, Kreg jigs.

Essential: A roomy, well lit place to work in an organized manner.

Anti-stance
Anti-stance Dork
9/6/12 12:41 p.m.
RX Reven' wrote: Here's the only tool you'll ever need:

His woodworking shop is the Taj Mahal of woodworking shops. Everything is hooked up to a vacuum system, it is awesome!

Hal
Hal Dork
9/6/12 2:43 p.m.

Like most have said, a table saw is the most useful if you are doing furniture. The biggest, most expensive item in my shop is my table saw. You don't need one that big to start with but it is nice to able to rip a 4x8 panel in half lengthwise with no problems.

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