Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

What tools are needed to start a hobby cabinet shop/ furniture shop?

4833 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Exlud
I have some extra space and would like to set up a modest hobby cabinet/furniture shop.

What are the tools needed to build cabinets and furniture such as a nice bedroom set and living room, dining room and office storage for the ol' homestead?

I am thinking plywood sides with solid fronts?
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
The center of any shop is the table saw---buy the biggest that will fit---

As you advance in skills---surface planer---router table---drill press--band saw--

Get that saw--the other tools will let you know when you need them-----
Uuhhhh... You will need a way to break down sheet goods accurately. And you will need to mill rough sawn lumber into usable stock. That is the basics. Sanding comes to mind too. So does dust collection.
cabinet saw and/or track saw
another table saw for dadoes
large assembly table
air nailers/pinners
did I say clamps?

sanders sanders sanders
finishing room/booth thats about enough tools to do a simple cabinet or dresser
1. Like mikeswoods said....... The table saw will be the center point of your shop. This is where you get what you pay for. Since you will be mostly working with stock that is 1" and under, you do not need a lot of power. What you do need is accuracy which come from a solid ripping fence system. Although a nice cabinet saw would be nice, you could get by with a good used contractor saw and add a nice Biesmeyer, Shop Fox, or T-2 fence. All 3 are rock solid and can be trusted rip after rip without the constant fiddling of cheap fences. If you can afford a new saw, I would recommend Powermatic, Grizzly, SawStop, Jet, Shop Fox, and Rikon as solid candidates. Grizzly gives the best bang for the buck from all of these.

2. Routing.... you can not build cabinets without routed edges and expect to sell. You can start with a good hand router and build your own router table later on as you build confidence and skills. Don't bother buying a router table because you can build your own at 1/5 the price that is much more rugged, and has the features that you want.

3. Clamps...... buy lots and lots of clamps. Some of the new squaring clamp systems are really nice and fairly cheap. When you are done buying even more clamps. You will be surprised how many clamps you will need.

4. Dust control..... buy the best that you can afford. Wood dust can seriously damage your lungs over time.You don't need a great big system to start out with. There are some really good 2-3 HP. systems out there that will pull dust and chips nicely. Always install a good "micron" rated filter/bag. You can make your dust control stationary or put it on a mobile base.

5. Bandsaw.... Must have sooner or later. Stay away from the 14" and under saws. Most are under powered and require constant fussing with guides and tensioners.

6. Squares.... Buy some quality 4" 6" 8" 12" squares. You can buy them single or as a set. I have a really nice set of cheapo "Groz" squares that are as accurate as my high dollar Starrets. Some guys like combination squares, but I avoid them because even a little dust/dirt in the rule slot can affect it's accuracy.

7. Sanding system...... I won't go there. I still sand everything by hand because it slows me down and I get that one last chance to pick up minor fixable flaws before finishing. Production work would be another story.

8. Paint booth....... It is not a must have if you keep your shop dust free, but even the cleanest shops have some pesky dust particles floating around just waiting for you to start varnish/Poly work. ;)

9. Marking system....... Pick one system for marking lines and stick with it. It will make a world of difference in your accuracy. It doesn't matter what you mark lines with as long as it constant. (pencils, scribes, knives etc. etc.)

10. Nailers/Stapler........ 23 & 18 gauge nailers. A stapler also. All the major players make decent nailers and you can buy them in combo sets some times. I own PC, Bostich, Senco, and hitachi nailer and I can't say any one is better that the others.
  • Like
Reactions: mikeswoods
I think this is actually backwards. The things that separate so so from great are the design and finish. Literally everything else can be done in multiple ways with various tool sets, but getting outstanding designs and outstanding finishes isn't easy.

Paint or stained finish makes a big difference on what's needed for building - paint is more tolerant in some things, and much worse in other ways. If you don't plan your build / finishing sequence correctly, you can easily spend more time sanding and finishing than you spent building.

For the build, plan on lots and lots of clamps, as already noted.

For general purpose, I'd have a router, router table, and router guide, circ saw or track saw and guide, table saw and various jigs, including a sled and dado setup, a 4" power plane and planing / jointing jig (I don't like jointers, but you may prefer one), biscuit or domino jointers, pocket screw equipment, possibly doweling jig, sander. You'll also need good measuring equipment for both setting up equipment and checking it's operation.

If you're going to do furniture with turned legs, you'll need a lathe.
I have some extra space and would like to set up a modest hobby cabinet/furniture shop.

What are the tools needed to build cabinets and furniture such as a nice bedroom set and living room, dining room and office storage for the ol' homestead?

I am thinking plywood sides with solid fronts?
Plywood boxes with a face frame?
Table saw
Panel saw
Some assembly system for face frames (dowels, pocket screws, hoffmann..)
Assembly table that is FLAT. I believe it was someone on this site who built some low horses for assembling/sanding cabinets. Those looked pretty brilliant.
Clamps. All of them. Then some more. Then build some clamping jigs.
Shaper with a feed roller. They make a huge difference.
Drill press
That should get you rolling.
If you have the equipment budget add a ShopBot or other CNC for cutting and drilling the sheets. For doors, you can't really beat one of these:
Those two can really make a job fly through a shop, but they are priced accordingly.
Once you start down that road, JLC makes some pretty slick specialty clamps as well.

As I think about it, you'll probably want some sort of design software to plan the jobs. Also if you go the CNC route, you'll want to be able to pass machining data with your software as well. On the other end you'll have to consider finishing. If someone in your area is good at it, I'd probably farm that out.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.