Your First Workshop : A Practical Guide to What You Really Need

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by: Aimé Fraser

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Book Description
A bewildering variety of tools, clever marketing copy, and lack of knowledge can lead even the most determined new woodworker to make many unnecessary purchases, causing frustration or retreat. Written for true beginners, Your First Shop offers inspiration and encouragement, guiding readers toward smart tool choices by providing realistic, reliable information. Best-selling author Aimé Ontario Fraser started working with wood in high school, and has taught extensively in workshops and classes since. Your First Shop brings that experience to readers. Woodworkers of every taste can find a shop style that works for them in one of the book's four sections: The Essential Shop, The Basic Shop, The Efficient Shop, and The Well-Rounded Shop. Topics include how each tool is used and what it is used for. The book also offers extensive advice on choosing a location for the shop, maximizing available space, and planning for future expansion.

Good place to start for first-time shop builder -- I bought this book out of curiosity even though I have a well-equipped shop. Looking back at almost 15 years of random tool purchases, I'd say that many people like me end up having a lop-sided set of tools. For example, I have lots of power tools but my first decent bench came together only 2-3 years ago. I have four corded and four cordless drill/drivers, but some essential small tools suggested in this book are missing.

With the benefit of hindsight I'd say that it is more important to have a wide array of the right things, rather than few high-end things. To that extent, this book is right on and a good place to start if you are setting up your (first) shop.

Now I await the sequel to this book " that you have finally set up your first shop, The Shop you really want to have and why". You know, the one with all the cool tools and set up. Seriously, I'd like to see a shop book that tells you about the higher-end version of every item it suggests. That said, I do realize that the preceding approach would create an intimidating atmosphere for the builder of the first shop rather than the inviting, simplifying, and "you-can-do-it" approach of this book. Overall, this book is a job well done and will serve a first-time shop builder well.

Your First Workshop
Aimé Ontario Fraser
A practical guide to what you really need
Now you have the guidance of an expert woodworker to help you choose the right tools and equipment to outfit your shop. You'll learn exactly what to buy (and why you need it) for each skill level in your woodworking. Plus you'll get smart advice on how to organize, light and power your shop, and where to store your stuff.

About the author
Aimé Ontario Fraser, author of the bestselling introduction to woodworking, Getting Started in Woodworking: Skillbuilding Projects that Teach the Basics, has been woodworking and boat building since high school. A former editor of Fine Woodworking, she is a frequent contributor to woodworking magazines. She also teaches woodworking and boatbuilding in Norwalk, Connecticut.


Your First Workshop

Aimé Ontario Fraser

A practical guide to what you really need

The Essential Shop
Drills and Drivers
Measuring Tools
Edge Tools
Hammers and Screwdrivers
Circular Saw
Sanding and Scraping
Shop Vacuum
Shop Envelope

The Basic Shop
Bench Plane
Measuring and Marking
Cabinetmaker's Bench
Shop Envelope

The Efficient Shop
Router Table
Drill Press
Specialty Hand Tools
Mechanics Tools
Shop Envelope

The Well-Rounded Shop
Dust Collection
Biscuit Joiner
Tablesaw Accessories
Router Accessories
Hollow Chisel Mortiser
Shop Envelope

Your First Workshop

Aimé Ontario Fraser

A practical guide to what you really need

Woodworking matters. It's more than a pastime or hobby -- being a woodworker means you know the satisfaction and pride that comes from using your hands and mind to build beautiful functional objects, and that you're as interested in the process as the outcome. Amidst all the speed and chaos of the modern world, woodworking gives us a place where we can slow down, pay attention, and take the time to do things right. Woodworking matters because it can make your life richer and more meaningful.

In woodworking, tools matter. It took a while for me to realize this because I had the not-uncommon notion that if you had the right attitude you could build a chest of drawers with rusty tools from the neighbor's shed. After some experience with decent tools, I realized that a properly sharpened and tuned plane is just as important as attitude. Good tools won't make you a great craftsman, but they will make it much easier to develop the skills needed to become one.

Your shop, the place where you keep and use your tools, is itself a kind of tool. A poorly laid out or organized shop can hinder your workmanship just as surely as inferior tools. But your shop is more than a tool -- it's also a creative studio where ideas become objects. For most of us, our shop is also a retreat where we can relax and recharge.

How this book is organized
This book recognizes that your skills as a woodworker, your collection of tools, and the layout and organization of your shop develop together. It's based on the notion that woodworkers go through four stages of development and each stage has its own requirements for tools and space.

The book is divided into four sections -- one for each stage. Each section opens with an introduction explaining why it contains those particular tools. Then it focuses on each tool in turn. Photographs across the bottom of the page show what the tool can do, and a photo-illustration of the tool points out important features. The text explains features or aspects of using the tool and tells you what to buy. The section closes with a discussion of some of the aspects of setting up and organizing a shop to use the tools properly.

One short book can't tell you everything you need to know to master each tool. But it can tell you what you need to know to purchase a quality tool with the right features. It can't show the latest tricked-out models of tools, but by sticking to simple classic tools, it can give you enough information to evaluate new features on your own.

The four stages of woodworking discussed here are not strict guidelines, and can't take into account all the tools used in woodworking sub-specialties (instrument making, boatbuilding, cabinetmaking, and the like). I don't expect you to buy the tools exactly in the order given, but the order has a logic. If you buy the tools and learn to use them in more or less the order given, you'll avoid the common mistake of buying too much too soon. Using the wrong tool or using the right tool improperly can be unpleasant enough to turn you away from woodworking. My goal is to get you started in woodworking with a string of successes that keep you going. By following the book's progression, you'll create a solid foundation of woodworking skills you can build on with confidence.

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