Except where noted, these are the actual tools that I use in my shop. I included a brief, but honest assessment on each one of them. I also included links where you can find further information. Some of these links are affiliate links and help to support my website, but no costs are ever extended to you!
A cutting mat is not absolutely necessary, but you will save your bench top if you have one! With reason, larger is better. I use a 24″x 24″ for most of my veneering work. I can only find self healing mats now, but the one I use in not self healing.
I use a utility knife for most of my veneer work. The blades are held more solidly in the non-retractable type than in they are in the ones with retractable blades. The one I use is out of production, but this one is very similar.
A good straightedge is essential for veneer work. I bought an aluminum one that is 48″ long and cut 16″ off of it. Now I have one that is 32″ long and one that is 16″ long. I then applied some PSA sandpaper to the backs so they don’t slide around.
This is not the same vacuum pump that I use, but it is remarkably inexpensive and it gets decent reviews on Amazon. I use an old refrigeration pump that I got off of eBay. Joe Woodworker is a reliable source and he also sells vacuum pumps.
I recently tried this Two Cherries veneer saw and I love it. Joe Woodworker sells these for less than Amazon and you have the option of buying it pre-sharpened. Mine came “sharp” and it worked well right out of the box, but I honed it a little more than Joe did and it works fantastically.
I made my first vacuum bag from a roll of vinyl that I got at a fabric store. It worked ok, but it was stiff and it was hard to get it to seal well. I later found a polyurethane bag at an estate sale and it is much nicer. Mine is 4’x 8′, but I think a 4’x 4′ would be good for most projects. I recommend going to Joe Woodworker and either buying a bag or buying the parts to make your own.
Saws that I use in My Shop
Makita LS1221 12-Inch Compound Miter saw
I have owned this Makita miter saw for over 17 years and it has been fantastic. It has plenty of power and it is also very accurate. What I especially like is how much more capacity the 12″ saw has than the 10″ version of the same saw. My only quibble would be with the fence, but I don’t like the fences on other miter saws either.
I have owned my Saw Stop for 12 years. It was not available in any retail stores when I first bought it and I had to have it shipped to my house from Oregon. I love this saw. It has plenty of power, it is as solid as a rock, and it runs with virtually no vibration at all. The hand wheels have nice heft and they operate very smoothly. The 3HP motor really does have plenty of power, but if I had to do it over again I would probably get the 5HP motor; just because!
I ordered mine without a fence because I already had a Vega table saw fence, which I like very much.
I’ve had the Vega table saw fence for about 15 years. I liked it so much that I installed it on my Saw Stop. What I like best about it is that it slides back and forth extremely smoothly. This allows me to make very small adjustments with no trouble. The cursor is easy to read and I can reliably set my cut at a glance. Of course, it is also very solid and it locks into position every time. The main difference between this and the standard T-Fence is that the Vega fence rides on a round stainless steel tube, whereas most others ride on a piece of angle iron. Personally, I think the Vega is a superior fence.
I have an older version of the MM16 band saw. This is one of my favorite tools in the shop. Mine has a 3.6HP motor and a 14″ resaw capacity. The motor never bogs down, but the newer version now has an amazing 4.9HP. Most band saws have crowned wheels, but the Mini Max has flat wheels and they track perfectly with absolutely no fussing around: I love that! Dust collection is good, too. But, the MM16 is not perfect. Adjusting the guides is awkward, and it is a bit frustrating trying to fit wide blades through the tiny slot to the left of the table. The MM16 comes standard with a foot brake which is a really nice feature, especially on a saw with big cast iron wheels. Unfortunately, the brake on my saw quit working. Even with its faults, I still love this saw!
I have an older version this sander. It is a great sander, but if I had to do it over again I would buy something different. I think there are a lot of good sanders out there that are way less expensive.
Delta Belt/Disc Sander
I have a Delta Belt/Disc sander. It has a 6″x 48″ belt and a 12″ disc. I love this machine, but it is out of production. A friend of mine has the Jet version of this and it is not nearly as nice or as heavy duty. If you can find a used Delta like this at a good price then buy it. If I were in the market today then I would consider the Powermatic 1791291K Model 31A 6-Inch/12-Inch Belt/Disc Sander