Every luthier has a collection of power tools that they love or love to hate. Since I have been involved in woodworking since 8th grade and studied under my father who was a carpenter, furniture worker and luthier, I have seen my share of woodworking tools.
Over the years I have learned an very important lesson. It is very simple. Buy the best tools that you can afford. The tools become the extension of our hands and buying excellent quality tools will last for generations.
Usually you find statements like that associated with fine hand tools. Stationary tools have been around for quite a while and now and I believe it applies to them as well. This leads us to the favorite tools that I have in my own shop. Now understand, that I work with more than just guitars. I also build furniture and have other woodworking hobbies. Also, what works for me may be slightly different for your experience.
We will start with the most important Stationary Power Tools with significance toward guitar building.
What I will do is give you a general listing of all the tools in this article and then take each one and go into greater detail.
Clicking on each of the links will bring you to an article on that piece of machinery. I will talk about my likes, dislikes, modifications, accessories and what I recommend.
Also, I will give you some alternative brands you may want to consider. Finally, I will discuss the jobs each piece of machinery is capable of handling and some precautions you should take when working with this equipment.
Stationary Belt Sanders:
OK this is my baby, I love this tool. This is a piece of machinery that I would not want to be without. It’s a Delta 31-300 6-Inch Belt Sander with a 12″ Disc Sander.
Dual Filter Dust Collector:
How could we talk about all of these dust generating devices without including a dust collector to eliminate all of the toxic particles that these pieces of machinery can produce. If you decide to graduate into a full-service wood shop, you will need a dust collector that is up to the task and that one is the Powermatic 1791076BK Model PM1900 3 HP 3-Phase Dust Collector with Bag Filter Kit. I have it and it works incredibly good.
18″ Band Saw:
My pride and joy in the Band Saw market is the JET JWBS-18QT-3 18-Inch 3-Horsepower 1PH Band Saw with Quick Tension lever. I do all of my stock re-sawing, mold construction and general guitar building with this saw. It is easy to set up, very accurate and built like a tank.
18″ Drill Press:
I’ve had many drill presses in the past, starting with a Sears Model, Delta and another Delta. I have finally settled in on the Powermatic PM2800 1792800 18-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press. It is a great unit, easy to operate and very accurate.
22/44 Drum Sander:
Again, this is a tool that I bought later in my woodworking career, but I have often wished I had purchased one much sooner. I have the JET 22-44 PRO 22-Inch 3-Horsepower 1PH DRO Drum Sander with Table and Caster. This machine saves so much time and allows greater speed and accuracy than you can imagine.
15″ Surface Planer:
I learned a long time ago that a great surface planer is worth it’s weight in gold. The trouble is you need to spend some gold to buy one. So why not buy on of the gold-colored Powermatic 1791213 15HH 3 HP 15-Inch Planer with 230-Volt 1 Phase Byrd Shelix Helical Cutterhead. This machine does a flawless job on all of my major planing projects and I wouldn’t want anything else. The Helical Cutterhead is a great feature on this model.
10″ Table Saw:
Since the table saw is one of the prime pieces of equipment that can seriously hurt you, I wanted the best I could afford. I’ve had Sears, Delta and Jet, but I absolutely love my Powermatic 1792016K Model PM2000 10-Inch 3 HP 1-Phase Table Saw with 50-Inch Accu-Fence and Workbench. It is a real honey and the centerpiece of my woodworking shop! It is solid as a rock and came perfectly setup as delivered, which is a rarity.
Bench Mounted Sharpener:
As far as powered grinding and sharpening chisels, blades etc. what other choice than the Tormek T-7 Water Cooled Sharpening System. This does a perfect job and give you perfectly sharpened and safe tools. Again, safety is the goal and sharp tools promote safety.
20″ Scroll Saw:
After operating for many years without a scroll saw, I finally broke down and bought the DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw. I haven’t been at all regretful and I really like this machine and all it does for me.
Oscillating Spindle Sander:
While not an expensive piece of machinery, this tool does have a prominent place in my shop. I purchased the Grizzly G9922 Oscillating Spindle Sander and make good use of this tool.
Stationary Buffing Arbor:
I could never get a gloss finish to look as good as I wanted until I bought this spindle buffer. With very little effort I can get the shiniest finish you can imagine with this great little tool.
The Final Word:
OK there you have it all of my machinery that I have accumulated over the years. There are more pieces to add, but they play a more subservient role to these that are listed.
Keep in mind that these are listed in order of importance to the fully-equipped luthiers shop.