Hello, all.

So, I have recently purchased a house, and am working to (slowly) build my power tools collection. Right now, I am stuck with what I had while in an apartment, which is just a very pathetic drill, a very small reciprocating saw, a sheet sander and a circular saw.

I'll likely be getting a Ryobi One+ drill for Christmas, and once income tax returns are filed and come back, I'll probably be getting a table saw, and maybe a scroll saw.

So, I guess my question is two fold:

1) Would that be enough to get me going?  I mean, I know these things used to be made from broom handles, but I want to make something decent, at least.

2) As I grow my tools, what should I look at getting?  Keep in mind, I can't drop $500 on a single tool, so I'd be looking at $100-$200ish for the tools.

Any advice will be helpful.


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A cheap bandsaw and scroll saw can be extremely helpful. some kind of belt and disc sander, maybe some drum sander attachments for your drill. Then, as you build, you'll discover what you need and what you want. My tool collection just keeps growing, sometimes it's to be able to create different things, sometimes it's just to make certain task easier or more accurate. And it also depends on if your just building for yourself or are wanting to mass produce for sale.

I think Richard hit it on the head. A small band saw (around $100) is very useful for CBG builds. A belt sander (less than $100) is priceless. A drill press is one of my most useful tools. As many clamps as you can fit into your shop is a good investment. Beyond that, your builds will dictate what tools will work best for you.

Tooling up can be extremely expensive, and just to make a few guitars it is easy to blow money where the value doesn't really come back, as others have said, i find a well set up bandsaw my go-to tool of choice, if you are lucky enough to find an older,  good quality bandsaw with a cast iron table, that would be my choice, there is not much on stick in a box builds they can't help with, add 1 good drill, a couple of quality rasps and chisels and you are away, from there as needed , you can add more specialised stuff, but buying higher quality is the way to go, i had a cheap, lightweight bandsaw for a while, and it actually made working harder, so i watched and waited until an older [40+years] saw was advertised for much the same price as current cheapies, and grabbed it, it's a bit heavy and old looking, but i only have to adjust it when i change blades, and it just eats wood accurately

Well, the tooling up would also be a benefit me in day to day life as well... :)

Or I could at least convince myself of that.

#1 investment should be an extensive drill bit set with as many different sizes as possible (lots of different N/64th), with a drill bit gauge card (looks like a plastic index card with a bunch of measured holes in it).

machine tuners work best when the hole they fit in is a perfect fit.  economy tuners with just a shaft work best in the smallest hole that is a frictionless fit, other tuners with a shoulder and screw-down grommet work best where the hole is a thumb's pressure fit.

the mounting screws that hold the tuner from back-spinning under string tension are easy to break, you want pilot holes that are the same diameter as the valleys, so only the peaks of the threads dig in and you have contact with the valleys of the threads.  And only screw them till seated, they hold against a shear load, not a tension load and don't have to be muscled in like a ceiling hook to hang a bicycle in the garage.

A drill press is very useful for the machine tuner holes, any slop/ovaling/wobble with a hand drill loosens the fit and you get issues with the worm gear binding later. But a good v-block guide and being careful and you can get by without it.

My #2 tool is a bench top sanding station, I shape necks, nuts, bridges, headstocks, and clean up fret ends and neck/fingerboard/fret end roundovers with it.  A belt sander mounted upsidedown in a vice works very well as a cheaper alternative.

My #3 is the band saw.  cutting necks to length, making square shoulder cutouts to 'thin' the headstock to the right size for the tuners I'm using at the moment, cutting out a square nut slot, cutting the relief in the through neck to allow the box-top to vibrate and/or the little dado for the pickup, curved cuts for the headstock, etc.

how to get by without a drill press

LOve that idea! Thank you. MY cheap drill press sucks, this will be much better!

I actually inherited a tool that holds the hand drill and you can crank it down like a drill press.

Obviously, it's not large, by any means, but for this, it would work, yea?

Clamps. Lots of clamps! Can't have too many.

I have quite a few...

Which, I know means, GET MORE!!!


Hi, all the tools mentioned here are well worth considering. If you get a drill press you can also use it as a drum sander, as already mentioned, and as a thicknesser by using the tool pictured here.

Its called the Safe-T-Planer. It fits into the chuck of the drill and the table is brought up to the desired thickness and the timber is pushed under it.

I would say a thicknesser/planer is a handy tool to have as it allows you to utilise a range of different timber thicknesses and not rely on what's in the store.

Good for preparing tops, backs, sides and fingerboards, all of which ideally need different thicknesses. 

I've had this one for years, it's made in the U S A.

Cheers Taff

What do you need power tools for?  A drill press is very useful for accurate drilling, but for starting off get some decent hand tools and learn how to use them. Workbench, clamps, try square, long straight edge, spokeshave, jack plane, chisels, tenon saw, fretting saw, side cutters. So many guitar building questions are down to the fact that folk can't use hand tools, so they are searching for some magic bullet power tool or jig that will make up for their lack of basic hand tool skills. I made over 200 guitars with just a drill press as my only power tool. There are too many accidents because people don't acquire a feel for working with wood, and end up cutting their fingers (or even loosing them) because they couldn't detect whether the grain in a piece of timber was going to get grabbed by the planner or saw when they fed it through the machine. If you learn the processes with hand tools you'll be a much better and safer worker once you eventually get into using power tools. One member on here lost the ends of his fingers on a jointer planer, when he could have done the same job with a cheap hand plane - he's sworn off using that dangerous tool now, unsurprisingly.


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