Kreg Owners' Community

What are your top 5 Shop Tools ranked in order of priority and why? I've looked through the discussion boards and seen this discussed kind of randomly under the "Welcome" topic but I thought it might create some good discussion if it had its own topic. I'm in the process of purchasing tools and would like to know what others prioritize and why. I know each of us have our own preferences and objectives as far as what we intend to create and that often drives our priority with respect to the tools we use.

Thanks in advance!

Mark

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I'll bite, since I am new to the community. As the old saw goes - that depends on where you are, where you want to go, and and how much your wife gives you for your tool allowance. Approaching 70, you find that moving things around and trying to work out on the driveway calls for a different set of tools than the guy or girl with an adequate work space would consider. I am working on home remodeling at the moment, so most of it is casework. I cannot readily lift plywood onto a table saw these days so I have turned to new approaches to wood working.

1. Track saw approach for most cutting. I read a lot on the subject and went with Festool. Light, accurate, good safety features. Pricy though, but probably my last saw so I bought a Cadillac model.

2. Kreg Master Jig. Wonderful! I used to fight with a table saw to get dados and rabbets etc. Now, it a breeze to frame things and avoids the whole clamping and wait times issues - especially on the driveway.

3. Good assembly table. Saves the back and knees. Sometimes getting back up really shortens my work time!

4. Finish sprayer. Cabinets never seem to look as good if done by hand with brushes or rollers.

5. Tool storage. Clearly have to have somewhere to put all the toys to keep the grandkids out of them.

As to buying tools, over the last fifty years or so I have found that the old maxim of relying on a good, reputable manufacturer who honors warrantees etc is preferable and more economical that searching for best price as the first priority. 

Excellent points Gary.

Thanks for biting, Gary! I'm pretty new to the community as well and I'm pretty new to woodworking. I thought it would be helpful for me and others like me to learn from folks like you that have years of experience and have tried multiple different tools and approaches.

I'm very interested in your preference for the track saw and I agree it is pricey but apparently is worth it. Also, I concur with your thoughts on the Kreg Jig. I used mine in earnest last night to build some drawers for my work bench. Incredibly fast and straightforward.

So, do you use the track saw for the majority of your cutting? Do you build mostly cabinets? Any furniture at all? What type of finish sprayer do you prefer?

Gary V Morris said:

I'll bite, since I am new to the community. As the old saw goes - that depends on where you are, where you want to go, and and how much your wife gives you for your tool allowance. Approaching 70, you find that moving things around and trying to work out on the driveway calls for a different set of tools than the guy or girl with an adequate work space would consider. I am working on home remodeling at the moment, so most of it is casework. I cannot readily lift plywood onto a table saw these days so I have turned to new approaches to wood working.

1. Track saw approach for most cutting. I read a lot on the subject and went with Festool. Light, accurate, good safety features. Pricy though, but probably my last saw so I bought a Cadillac model.

2. Kreg Master Jig. Wonderful! I used to fight with a table saw to get dados and rabbets etc. Now, it a breeze to frame things and avoids the whole clamping and wait times issues - especially on the driveway.

3. Good assembly table. Saves the back and knees. Sometimes getting back up really shortens my work time!

4. Finish sprayer. Cabinets never seem to look as good if done by hand with brushes or rollers.

5. Tool storage. Clearly have to have somewhere to put all the toys to keep the grandkids out of them.

As to buying tools, over the last fifty years or so I have found that the old maxim of relying on a good, reputable manufacturer who honors warrantees etc is preferable and more economical that searching for best price as the first priority. 

Mark,

In addition to Garys comments---

#1

A table saw is a necessity---for ripping and cross-cutting.

For limited space, a contractors job-site table saw is the way to go.

The Bosch GTS1031 is my #1 choice.  It features a 10'' blade and can accommodate a 1/2" dado.

Light weight, easy to tote around, take up and down stairs, and set-up.

It can be clamped to a work stand, or the like, with ease.  Great for small garage shop, or the like.

Conduct a product search on Bosch tools, for the features this tool offers.

 

#2 Router(s)---another must have shop tool, for working wood.

A trim router is a nice tool, for machining small size stuff.

At times, I use it more often than the larger size routers.  

The Bosch PR20 1HP variable speed palm router, which has a fixed base, edge guide, as well as a plunge base.

It accommodates 1/4'' shank bits---has provisions for using guide bushings, very useful for many routing tasks, and accommodates a dust chute (optional accessory).

Model: PR20EVSK palm router kit

The Bosch trim router can be installed in a Rockler trim router table (made for this tool)---very handy for machining smaller stuff.

The included base plate affixes directly to this router, without having to drill extra hole. 

This table can be easily clamped to a work surface---table, stand or bench top, as well as on the tail gate of a pickup.

A step up in router size is a Porter-Cable 690 series 1-3/4 HP router, or the 890 series (2-1/4 HP),

or ( equiv brand router tool).  

The PC features 1/4" and 1/2" router bit shanks.

A plunge-base is a very useful feature option.  I find the plunge base more useful to the fixed base.

If i was to have only one router, I'd select the 890 series.

Porter-Cable offers the most readily available optional router accessories.

It has been the standard to other brand routers, on todays market.

#3 Jig Saw.

A very useful tool.  Variable speed is the way to go---a necessary feature for cutting a variety of materials and using various jig saw blades.

Bosch is my #1 choice.

Bosch JS470E, 7.0A Top Handle Jig Saw

Most prefer the top handle grip (photo above).

I prefer the barrel grip (photo below)---it facilitates routing tight circles.  When making tight circular cuts, place one hand on the barrel, and the other hand on the top for pivoting.  (Preferred by most European craftsman).

 With one hand on the top, you can rotate the tool by cord---it's that easy.

It can also be used with one-hand operation, by gripping the barrel.

I personally have the HD ''Industrial" jig saw, model 1591.  It features rollers and guides, like what you'll find in a higher end band saws.   This HD model will make 90 degree cuts in 4x4's.

A jig saw is also capable of making straight cuts---I use a straight edge, for perfect straight cuts.

It's important to use a quality blade and the right blade type for the intended material,  for optimum results.

Bosch jig, described above, feature a dust extractor hookup.

It can also be mounted to an auxiliary base, and fitted into a work table---akin to a table mounted router. 

#4 Drills---and hand planes---a necessity, in any wood working shop.

reversing-variable speed.

Block plane, #4 and #5 smoothing planes, and a shoulder plane (useful extra).

#5 

Router table---

another very useful item.   A bench top style is very handy, when space is limited and one needs portability.

 or 

Bosch Laminated Router Table with Cabinet 

The enclosed cabinet provides tool storage and catches lots of sawdust.

Ken has provided some invaluable advice, much better than I could have done from my amateur viewpoint.

Table saws are the work horse of the trades and handle a wide range of cutting, dados, rabbets, etc. In my case, due to age and health limitations, I have elected to move to the track saw for my primary use, now. Fitted with a jig or two, they can handle repetitive cuts with very good accuracy, but are not going to be any where as fast as a table saw for large numbers of cuts. However, for job site portablility and occasional home duties, the track saws will perform very well. Storage is minimal and the amount of work space is about half that needed for a table saw. My table saw is 'parked' and hasn't seen any use since I got the Festool and track. Kind of tells you that I am tackling my cabinets and other repairs without its need. Check out Ron Paulk for a good reference on the Festool track and how he uses it in conjunction with a portable table saw. He blends the best of both types of saws as a professional in home construction. www.woodworkingchannel.org/Ron+Paulk 

Most of my work, as I noted, is casework, that is to say boxlike construction such as cabinets, shelving, and such. Some of it looks like furniture when I am done with it! ;-)

I bought a Graco sprayer, long ago, that I still use for house painting. It handles any kind of paint or finish materials and just refuses to die. However, I am looking at a smaller capacity HVLP sprayer for cabinets. HVLP stands for high volume, low pressure. It delivers materials to the surface with less mist etc than conventional  spayers. Graco and Milwaukee have been around for years and have good reviews that you can google. I found Graco available through Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, Lowes, and other vendors. Home Depot has a low cost Milwaukee HVLP sprayer that I believe would be in line with what I am searching for as a cabinet finishing sprayer. Graco also makes quality HVLP sprayers; my research on these is still on going.

Hope this aids in your research for tools.

That's great information Ken! I have a table saw - just not a very good one! Part of the reason for my creating this topic was to figure out my next steps in terms of tool acquisition. When my Rikon band saw arrives next week I'll have a pretty good band saw, a pretty good compound miter saw (Hitachi RSH12), a pretty lousy table saw (Old Delta ShopMaster), a Porter Cable biscuit joiner (recently acquired), a serviceable Skil jigsaw, a Skil router that I don't like very much (could be my lack of knowledge on proper use), a nice mobile workbench / assembly table that I built, and various other smaller hand and power tools. I made a decision to take $$$ I had been saving to buy a Honda Gold Wing and re-purpose it to outfitting my garage shop. i have the money for a decent cabinet or hybrid table saw but not really the space. I thought maybe buying a decent router and building a mobile router table with a good insert, top and fence my be a good next purchase for me. Seems like from all can read that a good router mounted in a good router table makes for a pretty versatile tool. Would that be a better next step than a good table saw? My current saw is usuable for small stuff. For breaking down sheet goods, I don't use the table saw. I use a 2" thick piece of rigid insulation, a straight edge and my circular saw equipped with a nice, sharp 60 or 80 tooth blade.

Anyway, this seems like a good place to get good information before I make decisions. I think I would rather have one or two really good tools and learn how to use them very well than to have a whole shop full of tools that frustrate me when I use them because I haven't spent enough time with them or they lack features or power.

Thanks again for the information. Any other thoughts are welcome.

Ken Darga said:

Mark,

In addition to Garys comments---

#1

A table saw is a necessity---for ripping and cross-cutting.

For limited space, a contractors job-site table saw is the way to go.

The Bosch GTS1031 is my #1 choice.  It features a 10'' blade and can accommodate a 1/2" dado.

Light weight, easy to tote around, take up and down stairs, and set-up.

It can be clamped to a work stand, or the like, with ease.  Great for small garage shop, or the like.

Conduct a product search on Bosch tools, for the features this tool offers.

 

#2 Router(s)---another must have shop tool, for working wood.

A trim router is a nice tool, for machining small size stuff.

At times, I use it more often than the larger size routers.  

The Bosch PR20 1HP variable speed palm router, which has a fixed base, edge guide, as well as a plunge base.

It accommodates 1/4'' shank bits---has provisions for using guide bushings, very useful for many routing tasks, and accommodates a dust chute (optional accessory).

Model: PR20EVSK palm router kit

The Bosch trim router can be installed in a Rockler trim router table (made for this tool)---very handy for machining smaller stuff.

The included base plate affixes directly to this router, without having to drill extra hole. 

This table can be easily clamped to a work surface---table, stand or bench top, as well as on the tail gate of a pickup.

A step up in router size is a Porter-Cable 690 series 1-3/4 HP router, or the 890 series (2-1/4 HP),

or ( equiv brand router tool).  

The PC features 1/4" and 1/2" router bit shanks.

A plunge-base is a very useful feature option.  I find the plunge base more useful to the fixed base.

If i was to have only one router, I'd select the 890 series.

Porter-Cable offers the most readily available optional router accessories.

It has been the standard to other brand routers, on todays market.

#3 Jig Saw.

A very useful tool.  Variable speed is the way to go---a necessary feature for cutting a variety of materials and using various jig saw blades.

Bosch is my #1 choice.

Bosch JS470E, 7.0A Top Handle Jig Saw

Most prefer the top handle grip (photo above).

I prefer the barrel grip (photo below)---it facilitates routing tight circles.  When making tight circular cuts, place one hand on the barrel, and the other hand on the top for pivoting.  (Preferred by most European craftsman).

 With one hand on the top, you can rotate the tool by cord---it's that easy.

It can also be used with one-hand operation, by gripping the barrel.

I personally have the HD ''Industrial" jig saw, model 1591.  It features rollers and guides, like what you'll find in a higher end band saws.   This HD model will make 90 degree cuts in 4x4's.

A jig saw is also capable of making straight cuts---I use a straight edge, for perfect straight cuts.

It's important to use a quality blade and the right blade type for the intended material,  for optimum results.

Bosch jig, described above, feature a dust extractor hookup.

It can also be mounted to an auxiliary base, and fitted into a work table---akin to a table mounted router. 

#4 Drills---and hand planes---a necessity, in any wood working shop.

reversing-variable speed.

Block plane, #4 and #5 smoothing planes, and a shoulder plane (useful extra).

#5 

Router table---

another very useful item.   A bench top style is very handy, when space is limited and one needs portability.

 or 

Bosch Laminated Router Table with Cabinet 

The enclosed cabinet provides tool storage and catches lots of sawdust.

Gary, you and Ken have both provided very valuable insights. The Festool is intriguing and I have seen the Ron Paulk Youtube videos on how he uses it conjunction with the work table with all the holes in it. I currently use  my circ saw and straight edge for breaking down sheet goods since I don't own a Festool. Once broken down into more manageable sizes, I can usually do the rest on my table saw.

Regarding sprayers, I recently saw a review of the latest and greatest. I guess I should look into those. For now, I've been using the "rags and brushes" approach. I figured it must be better since it was more time consuming. Apparently not.

Thanks again for taking the time share your knowledge!

Gary V Morris said:

Ken has provided some invaluable advice, much better than I could have done from my amateur viewpoint.

Table saws are the work horse of the trades and handle a wide range of cutting, dados, rabbets, etc. In my case, due to age and health limitations, I have elected to move to the track saw for my primary use, now. Fitted with a jig or two, they can handle repetitive cuts with very good accuracy, but are not going to be any where as fast as a table saw for large numbers of cuts. However, for job site portablility and occasional home duties, the track saws will perform very well. Storage is minimal and the amount of work space is about half that needed for a table saw. My table saw is 'parked' and hasn't seen any use since I got the Festool and track. Kind of tells you that I am tackling my cabinets and other repairs without its need. Check out Ron Paulk for a good reference on the Festool track and how he uses it in conjunction with a portable table saw. He blends the best of both types of saws as a professional in home construction. www.woodworkingchannel.org/Ron+Paulk 

Most of my work, as I noted, is casework, that is to say boxlike construction such as cabinets, shelving, and such. Some of it looks like furniture when I am done with it! ;-)

I bought a Graco sprayer, long ago, that I still use for house painting. It handles any kind of paint or finish materials and just refuses to die. However, I am looking at a smaller capacity HVLP sprayer for cabinets. HVLP stands for high volume, low pressure. It delivers materials to the surface with less mist etc than conventional  spayers. Graco and Milwaukee have been around for years and have good reviews that you can google. I found Graco available through Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, Lowes, and other vendors. Home Depot has a low cost Milwaukee HVLP sprayer that I believe would be in line with what I am searching for as a cabinet finishing sprayer. Graco also makes quality HVLP sprayers; my research on these is still on going.

Hope this aids in your research for tools.

Mark,

For now, the Delta saw will suffice.

Give it a fine tuning---square-up the fence and make a cross-cut sled.

 

For cutting larger pieces, down to size, I use an circular saw, and straight edge.

The best all-purpose straight edge, I’ve found for the money, is the Rockler straight edge system.

Power tool guide (one included with system) rides in the straight edge for total control when cutting or routing.Get maximum control while ripping or shaping stock up to 8' longIncludes a T-square attachment43476 - Dado Jig for Low Profile Straight Edge Clamp System (Sold Separately)

 

For making short cuts, an aluminum bar stock , ¼ x 2 x 36’’ will suffice nicely.

Also, an alum angle 2x2x1/4 x 36 is very handy, as well as an alum channel---2’’ wide with ½’’ flanges and 1/8’’ thk by 36’’ long.  I keep these in my shop and use them on the job-site, for many cutting tasks---circular saw, jig saw, routing, and the like.   They’re compact and take up little space.

 

Kreg offers some excellent router tables and stands.

The frame can be enclosed and equipped with a shop built cabinet.

If your short on space in your shop as i am 12x12, a good thing is to have every large machine portable.Most of my equipment on braked castors,so you wheel it out use it wheel it back.I have a dewalt 745 tablesaw on a portable stand again wheel it out do you cuts wheel it back,the only way to go in a small area.Safety is the issue here you need space round the machine when in use otherwise can get pretty dangerous.As ken said portable machines a good option, for me the the tablesaw is king of my shop with a few homemade jigs its surprising what you can accompolish.

I've found this type stand to be very useful, for in the shop, on the driveway or patio, and on the job site.

(I set of two of these for larger work pieces.

Astro Portable Folding Work Stand 500 lb. Capacity - 557003

It folds nice for compact storage.  Chain links connect to open hooks for quick height adjustment.

("S" hooks can be added to the chain end link, to make the work surface lower).

2x stock can be rested on the top surface, to make a platform for sheet goods.

Sheet stock can be added to suffice as a work surface, and clamped to keep the sheet from shifting.

OR

drill holes in work top---install carriage bolts, recess the bolt heads---use electrical rigid conduit pipe clamps on the underside and hold in place with wing nuts or threaded knobs.

A portable shop tool can be clamped onto this platform---use the chain links to adjust the working height.

(works nicely for me with the portable job site saw, router cabinet, or the like)---

secure the power tool to the platform.

The platform can be equipped with a feature, so as to use install a jig saw on the underside of the platform.

Two such set-ups can be used, for multiple machines.

Works well for small shop and garage shop use,

It all breaks down easily, can be stored flat, and takes up minimal space.

Works for me.

PS---

For a portable router table, for small shop or job site use, 

this type model is very nice.

The table top contains many nice features than makes it a very universal and compact router table.

This table/stand can be enclosed to collect sawdust and store tools.

 Install plywood sheeting inside the frame.

Make an access hinged door on the front to access the router and enclosed objects.

An electrical switch box, with receptacle, can be located in the frontal area for plugging in the router and vac system, 

OR 

use a separate foot controlled power switch

Router Table Foot Pedal Power Switch

I use a 3 way plug receptacle, plugged into the receptacle, for the router and vac hookup.

One switch controls both power tools ON-OFF simultaneously.  

(Very handy so the vac turns on and off with the router)

(CAUTION:   Unplug the router from electrical service when performing bit changes). 

 

 

I have to say that I was surprised to see the very first reply say that their #1 tool was a track saw. I was thinking the VERY SAME thing, but thought I was the odd man out.

I use a track saw system from http://eurekazone.com/. It has changed my woodworking life!!  I found trying to handle plywood on a table saw absolutely insane, and I couldn't use a circular with a simple straight edge to save my life. I'm now a plywood cutting MACHINE!!! They also have a router guide that allows me to use a router in place of the dado blade on a table saw. I also use their square and repeaters.

#2 - Compound sliding miter saw. I have a Craftsman, but if doing it again would buy a Bosch.

#3 - Kreg Jig

#4 - Impact driver - these things are amazing. I bought the Bosch 18V. BTW, I also got the little Bosch 12V driver and like it very much.

#5 - Router - I got the Bosch with the wood handles, but hear more and more good things about its newer big brother.

#6 - Porter Cable Nailer/compressor combo kit. I hear rumors that PC has cheapened their nailers. Sad if true.

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