What tools don't you have and why don't you have them (other than price)?

Frank Pellow

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
This is the subject of a thread that I started at a couple of other woodworking forums and, on both of them, the thread resulted interesting discussions. So, I thought that I would launch a similar thread here.

I now have a very well equipped shop, but I find that I frequently surprise someone when I tell them that I don't have tool X, Y, or Z.

I decided to put together a list of tools in this category -starting with the ones that are most obvious by their absence.

1) Vise: Three months ago I got rid of a "mediocre" woodworking bench because it was not worth the room that it occupied. It had two "sub mediocre" vices. So, I find myself in the very strange position of not having a vice in my shop. All my life, even when we lived in a small apartment right after our marriage, I have had some sort of shop and, until now, there has always been vice in that shop.

2) Woodworking bench: I have two general purpose benches and one Festool multi-function table (MFT) that I am making do with until I build a "proper" bench.

3) Router Table or Shaper: These things scare me. But, I have recently decided that I will buy/make one in spite of this fear. That, along with the workbench, will be high up on my list of projects and/or acquisitions this winter.

4) Combination square: I simply never got around to buying one and, as near as I can tell, there is nothing that combination square can do that I can't already do with some other tool in my possession.

5) Powered Miter Saw: What with my table saw, my MFT, and a good non-powered compound miter saw, I simply can't justify getting one of these.

6) Dado Blade for Table Saw: I much prefer making dados with a guided router.

7) Wood Lathe: I might get around to buying of these some day but it won't be for a long time. It is more likely that I will get a metal lathe, a forge, and some welding equipment. I did a lot of metal work in high school and really liked it.

8) Wood Moisture Meter: No excuse -I should have one.

9) Laminate Trimmer: I will get one when I have a project that requires it. That will probably be this winter and I will probablty get the small Bosch unit.

10) Drum Sander: I simply don't need one of these. I have three Festool sanders and they easily handle all my sanding tasks. I do have the parts for a 18 inch V-Drum sander from Stockroom Supply and plan to get around to making the portable case for it "one of these days".

11) Mortising Machine: I have not had many projects where mortises were called for. The few mortises that I have needed to make were easily handled with drill and chisels. I expect that I will get one some day.

12) Dovetail jig for a Router: So far, I not made much that required dovetails, so have made do with cutting these by hand. As is the case with a mortising machine, I expect that I will get one some day.

13) Spray Gun: Up until now brushing and rubbing have worked well for me. I am only just starting to experiment with different ways of finishing projects and I expect that by this time next year I will have a spray gun.

14) Power Nailer: I don't like using them. I feel that I can use better nails and do a better job when nailing by and. And, I am very fast. Maybe, if I was working where time was money I would feel differently.

15) Compressed Air Machine: This is related to the previous two items.

16) Downdraft Sanding Table: Because of the great dust control with my Festool sanders, this would be redundant.

17) Radial Arm Saw: I am afraid of these and will never have one.

18) Biscuit Joiner: I don't think that biscuits are any better than dowels. But, I might buy the Festool Domino Loose Tenon machine when it becomes available in North America because loose tenons are better than dowels.

19) Belt Sander. I find them quite hard to control. And, now that I have a Festool Rotex 150 sander, a belt sander is redundant.
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tod evans

frank, my answer is the same as it was last year.......i don`t have an infill plane......although id like to invest in several they`re a luxury item that i`m unable to justify to myself at this point in my life......tod

When you need one let me know and I will rent you one of the three tha I am lucky enough to have. They are very handy and are just an all around cool tool.

Jim Hager

N.E. Arkansas
I don't have a mortising machine but I do want one. If I knew what an infill plane was I would probably want one of those. The list would be rather long if I included everything that I really wanted to have but I just don't have time for the list right now. Gotta get my butt up and go to work.:type: At least it is Friday.

Rennie Heuer

Staff member
Constantine, MI
I decided to put together a list of tools in this category -starting with the ones that are most obvious by their absence.

2) Woodworking bench
3) Router Table or Shaper
4) Combination square
9) Drum Sander

We all moan from time to time about not having 'something' in our shops. While reading through your list I found a few that are missing from my arsenal, but also realized how fortunate I am that many were already safely ensconced somewhere in my garage.

I have an old (1920's) maple bench that I really like, but it's a poor substitute for a good assembly table. I have begun collecting the parts to build a router table and hope to get to it in the spring. It seems silly, but a good combination square has been on my list for a long time. Maybe I'm not thinking straight;) . As for a drum sander - might be nice, but there is no way I could fit one in and the use might never justify the cost.

One thing not on your list that I have been eyeing for some months is a good shoulder plane. I love Arts & Crafts furniture so M&T's are a way of life in my shop. I could really put one of these to good use.

In spite of what's missing, I have to recognize the tremendous blessings I already enjoy - not the least of which is a lovely wife that thinks everything I make is wonderful and tolerates my lust for tools.:)

Steve Clardy

:dunno: :dunno: :dunno:

I guess the next most needed item is a line boring machine for shelf pins

Stuart Ablett

Tokyo Japan
Once you said "Other than price" my list went to near zero, cause if I had the money, I'd just buy what I need want, but the budget don't allow that.

Thanks for bringing this thread up again Frank. Its fun to think about. Mainly I'm holding off buying more toys - I mean tools, because of space and time. The shop is full and I don't have time to maintain any more tools - already spending too much time sharpening, calibrating, lubing, etc that I would rather spend working wood.

There are some tools I just don't see the point to: radial arm saw, anything with lasers, and biscuit jointer.

Trying to get rid of my scroll saw and accessories to make room for a Festool MFT.:thumb:

Art Mulder

London, Ontario
Once you said "Other than price" my list went to near zero, cause if I had the money,
I almost completely agree with Stu.

However, Frank, I would change the original rules like this:
" other than price or time "

If I was retired, like some of the folks here, or if I didn't sleep, like Stu :rolleyes: , I might spend more time in the shop. But as it is, I have a young family, and this is mostly just my hobby, so I don't spend as much time in the shop as others. So it isn't always just price that keeps me from buying things. Other things it's more: well I don't spend enough time to justify the investment.
Interesting question.

It seems in years past, everytime I thought there was a new gizmo or tool I just had to have, I would get it and never use it. Mortising Machine, Bigger planer, bigger jointer....

Now I no longer look at tools like that.

I am switching over to hand tools more and more, and get by on the tools I do have. Of the few new tools I want, I am looking at building my own...the satisfaction of producing them being almost as good as using them.

Don Baer

Staff member
I buy tools as I need them and as my skills in woodworking improve. Sure there are a lot of tools that would make building furniture easier but as I am making a transition from sheet goods to solid wood the configuration of my shop is changing and so are the tools I use. Presently I have three router but no shaper. Would a shaper do a better job then my routers, of course but the value (cost vs use) cannot be justified in my present configuration. Things I will be getting in the future as my furniture making improves include.

A larger Joiner - next on the list

Some sort of a large sander. - I'll probubly make this

A larger lathe - :thumb:

A floor standing drill press

Other then that I am pretty well set.

I am very fortunately the LOML supports my habit or a hobby.

Last year when I attended the Mallof workshop and saw his shop one of the things that impressed me was the lack of fancy tools. There wasn't a euro slider anywhere in his shop and no spray equipment either.

Lee DeRaud

33.8736N, 117.7627W
Well, other than money...what Stu said.

The stuff I already have is biased heavily by the need to fit it into a two-car garage and leave room for the car. That immediately removes a whole bunch of stuff I can't afford anyway from the "nice-to-have" list.

So I guess the first "tool" on the list is a 600+ sqft dedicated shop.

Which would leave me with a lot of room for tools I can't really afford. Lather, rinse, repeat.

(We should probably have a thread titled "Chicken or egg?" where we discuss whether the tools/shop/whatever we have is driven by the kinds of woodworking we do or the other way around.)

Jeff Horton

The Heart of Dixie
I was blessed with several old machines needing restoring. These have equipped my shop very well. Especially once I get them all restored. There are a lot of tools I don't have nor really want. Like some of the previous posters I like hand tools and I like my money. I rarely buy on impulse so I just buy what I will use. Or think I will anyway. :rolleyes:

I don't have a mortiser, I have a full set of chisels and a couple of mallets.

My belt sander died and I rarely use it. No plans to replace it.

No guided saws. I can make a wood guide that works.

No dovetail jig. Really don't care for routers and would rather learn to do hand cut dovetails.

ken werner

Central NY State
No DT jig. I cut em by hand, or occasionally use a router to cut to my lines.
No cyclone [yet]
No shaper - router & table suits my needs
Do have a TS, but long for a Sawstop
And no fancy Lie Nielsen 25th anniverary 4.5 smoother, no thanks to Mr. Clardy. Oh, and price had something to do with that one.


Jim Young

Northville, MI
shaper - don't see the need as long as I have my router table

drum sander, nicer lathe, spindle sander, belt sander, 20" planer, SS TS, shop building - fear of death ( wife would kill me if I spent the money on these items).

Alan DuBoff

Former Member (by the member's request)
Yates-American Y-36 Bandsaw...space is the reason. Arguably the finest bandsaws ever manufactured.

Vaughn McMillan

Staff member
I don't have a current need for a shaper...like Jim, my router table has me covered (for now).

There are tools that I don't have, but don't have room or power for. That would include a better bench, a cabinet saw, a real planer (although my Delta Snipemaster does OK for $200), a drum sander, and a bigger jointer, bandsaw, and lathe. Oh, and probably most importantly, better dust collection than a shop vac. Ah well, at the next house I'll shoot for all that. :rolleyes:

Greg Cook

Tokiwadai, Japan
I need a good 14" band saw, a 6" jointer, a floor drill press, and to get off craigslist and freecycle!:D Maybe then I can get the garage/shop clean and organized, and start doing some more projects! Oh, and I need the turning chisels on the order from PSI that they screwed up. I do not need the self centering drill vice they sent instead...:dunno: ...yet.

Steve Ash

Do you consider a permanent heat source in the shop as a tool? I've been heating in the past with kerosene reddy heaters and just last year bought a propane heater, but I want to install wood heat in the shop....I make my fair share of mistakes and I have a good supply of BTU's just waiting to be used.