Wood working tools (or any tools for that matter) will be one of your biggest upfront costs to start a shop or expand the one you already have.  How can you save money on good tools so you can spend those savings on other aspects of your shop?

This was the beginning of my wood shop. A few auction bought clamps, a cheap palm sander and a Craftsman scroll saw.

The above picture shows the beginnings of my basement shop.  Including the things I bought off the shelf at retail prices I got started for around $250 including some lumber to saw on.  Not too bad.  Let me share with you some of the places I save money on tools and lumber  and maybe you can save some dough as well:

  • When I first started I bought dimensional and planed wood at the local home centers.  Since these beginnings I invested in a planer and it has paid for itself in allowing me to buy rough cut sawmill lumber or use pallet boards to craft my creations.
  • Although they sometimes get a bad rap Harbor Freight has good prices on basic tools and I’ve had good luck with their stuff.  C-clamps, pneumatic brad guns, hammers and sander belts and paper are some of the things I buy there and have no issues with.
  • Local hardware stores (not big box outlets) for nails and screws.  Instead of buying a small amount in prepackaged container your local small store typically can sell in bulk or by the pound.  And if you need just one or two specific screws or bolts you can usually buy just one or two.  My local Ace is awesome for this and if they sold a wider selection of wood I probably wouldn’t shop at any other hardware store.
  • Shop your local auctions.  Go online and look for these estate or consignment auctions and save big money on tools.  If they are selling something you want, look up that item online and get an idea about what you are willing to pay for it and go bid on it.  I have a plethora of auction buys in my shop.  From clamps, rulers and squares to router tables, drill press and saws.  All bought on the cheap from local auctions.
  • I go into local consignment shops, Goodwill or antique shops.  While not a good place for power tools or lumber I’ve bought countless small hand tools in these places.  Screwdrivers, chisels and small hand planes are common items at these outlets.

You will not be able to buy everything on the cheap at these places I suggested but in the long run you will save enough money to cover the cost of the few tools you went out and paid full retail price for.  My best example is my planer.  I shopped for used or auction ones with no luck so I just went and bought a new one to the tune of nearly $400.  That’s a lot of money to me for one tool.  A couple of months later a guy contacts me wanting a piece made from walnut.  So I priced the wood and found dimensioned and planed walnut was in the $9 a board foot range.  Wow.  So I shopped local sawmills and found some already dried rough cut walnut in inch thick slabs for .75 cents a board foot.  Also wow.  I saved a lot of money on that one project on my end and the planer was well on its way to paying for itself.  By now it has paid for itself a few times over.

Most of all be frugal but do not be cheap when buying tools.

Thanks for reading.  Be good.  God bless.