Start Your Own Workshop
This section gives an overview for how to begin setting up your own workspace
If your only experience with making is through a commercial Maker Space or a well equipped workshop, like the MSD Machine Workshop, you might think it’s impossible to set yourself up at home to do some making. Through a clever use of tools and space you can actually achieve a lot more from a modest workshop than you may realise.
Figuring out what direction to head and what to buy can be very daunting. Hopefully your past experiences with making have given you an idea on what sort of projects you would like to work on.
Above all, the first thing you will need is space. Ideally a one or two car garage but if your focus is hand tools you could potentially set up a workstation in your house or apartment.
Whether you decide to do more traditional hand tool work or machine and power tool based making you will still need a solid workbench. This is often a first major project for a lot of makers and you will find that as your skills progress you will end up building a second or even third workbench to suit your working style.
The fancy solid timber workbenches a lot of wood workers use are expensive, complicated and require a workshop full of machinery to make. A simple bench can be made from MDF and plywood like the Cosman bench and once you add a vice to it you’ll be ready to start.
- Steel rulers
- Tape measure
- Marking gauge
- Combination square
- Marking knife
- Sliding bevel (not necessary but handy)
From this point on the tools that you buy are dictated by the work you are doing. In addition to the essentials listed above, here is a list of the tools (power and hand tools) that I would recommend starting with:
- Cordless drill $55 - $800
- Fine hand saw $18 - $250
- Set of chisels (6mm, 12mm, 19mm, 25mm) $30 for a set - $200 each
- Sharpening stones $40 - $200 (you will need 2 - 3 different grits)
- Honing guide $20 - $150
- Wooden mallet $10 - $50
- Claw hammer $9 - $90
- Circular saw (a track saw is better if it is in your budget) $59 - $200 (Circular saw) $399 - $1300 (Track saw)
- ½" Plunge router (you will need to buy router bits as well) $149 - $2000
- Coping saw $10 - $400
- Set of screw drivers $10 - $50
- A smoothing or jack plane $99 - $735
- A shop vacuum $99 - $1500
Depending on your projects you may not need all those tools but they will allow you to complete a lot of tasks. In addition to that list you could add:
- Low angle block plane $49 - $330
- Shoulder plane $169 - $469
- Random orbital sander $50 - $1100
- Trim router $60 - $600
- Card scrapers $15 - $40
- Files and rasps $12 - $250
If you have the space and budget to invest in some machinery you will want:
- Dust extraction $399 - $5000
- Table saw $849 - $6500
- Drill press $115 - $6000
- Bandsaw $149 - $6000
- Thicknesser $599 - $6000
- Planar/Jointer (or planar/thicknesser combination machine) $439 - $7500
- Router table $459 (plus router) - $1600
- Sliding compound mitre saw $160 - $2100
N.B. The price range covers home hobbyist to light commercial machinery, industrial machinery is a different price range.
If it is woodturning that you would like to get into in you will need:
- Wood lathe $450 - $6800
- Dust extractor $399 - $5000
- Bench grinder $150 - $1500
- Sharpening jigs $180 - $ 400
- Woodturning tools $65 - $200
- Face shield $50 - $130
All wood working activities require consumables and personal protective equipment including screws, nails, glues, sandpaper, wood finishing products, safety glasses, hearing protection, dust masks and work gloves.
It is impossible to say what you will need and what order you should buy things in but with a bit of research (there’s heaps of great youtube channels) you’ll quickly figure out what you need to start making from your own home. See the Where to buy section for a list of stores.