Getting into custom joystick building. Power tool suggestions?

What tools would I need in order to produce fairly decent quality custom joysticks? I’m looking at buying a table saw or miter saw (a miter saw is much cheaper and seems like it would do the job), router (with or without a router table?), and a drill press (the thought of drilling acrylic with a hand drill frightens me). I know I will need plenty of hand tools as well, but I already have most of those.

Any ideas? Thanks.

Table saw before miter saw. A miter saw can’t do rip cuts, cuts down the length of the board. A table saw can do a miter cut. Bench top drill press should be enough. A router is great for cutting the holes for joysticks but will not be good for rounding over an edge without a table.

In order of priority here is my list;
** High quality dust mask, especially if you are cutting MDF**
Table Saw
VOC filters for your dust mask, paint fumes are not good for you
Drill press
** More filters**
Router & table
** shop vac to collect dust from the router**
Miter saw
**High quality filters for your shop vac
** Second router, leave one permanently in the table, the more powerful one.
(I think you get the idea)


Is a 2.5hp router a huge difference than a 3hp router and also can a plunge router be used off and on the table?

Your router question is a depends answer. There is a difference but it depends on the type of bits you are going to put in it. For the type of work involved for stick making the additional power is not needed. For the table you can use a plunge base or a standard base router. The key is the depth adjustment needs to be accessible from under the table or while it is mounted to a router plate.

As an example to both questions I have a 1 1/2 horsepower plunge base router that I use in and out of my table. It is a little weak when I use a large (3/4") round over bit. I just take it in smaller bites instead of trying to hog out the full radius in one pass. This lessens the chance of tare out and even MDF can tare out in the corners. I tend to take 1/4" bites per pass though the table. This usually takes care of the tare out issue and leaves a cleaner final cut. One final tip, keep your bits sharp. Either replace a dull bit or learn to sharpen the ones you have.


Thanks your response was not only fast but very informative the whole reason I asked was it was a 100$ difference in price between the 2.5hp and 3hp so that hundred can go towards the table thanks again.

Tools that made my life easier!
#1.ROUTER (a dremel can only do “some” of the things a router can, invest you won’t be disappointed)

  1. TABLE SAW (this baby will make you proud, effortless straight length cuts are what you NEED)

  2. DRILL PRESS (don’t make the mistake of buying a “mini” drill press. “size matters”)

you can produce top notch boxes with just these 3 tools and their proper attachments alone

Thanks for the info guys. I picked up a table saw and drill press yesterday. Probably going to get the router/router table today.

oh yea be careful with the table saw, kick back can be very dangerous :wasted:

And make sure that you have a proper safety setup on that drill press. Look at my for sale thread for the reason. (ouch)

what is a good size for a drill press? And sorry to read that Kaytrim but I will learn from you and keep it safe thanks for all the advice you guys.

I could have made my sticks with just a table saw, router + table and a drill press and shop vac, but I use rougher wood so I also use a thicknessing planer and a jointer to get the wood as squared up as possible. Another thing you will need are clamps and a sanding block.

^^^and with clamps, he meant LOTS OF CLAMPS - you’ll never have enough

I have some questions.

For the router, what bit would I need to make a joystick template (JLF /w S-plate) into 1/2"MDF? Is it just a straight bit? I need to cut the square shape straight out starting with a holesaw, then maybe a reciprocating saw to cut the square out by hand, then router for the S-plate to sit in the MDF?

Can the router be used to drill the holes in the MDF/Plexi, or should I look at a seperate drill press for that?

I only have a reciprocating saw, the blade is bent and it sucks. I chose to use maple for the cabinet, it’s built, but it’s the biggest piece of shit you will ever see, I’m too ashamed to link to a pic, it’s just terrible. What’s the best tool to make precision cuts, just a table saw?

Thanks for any help.

You need to make a template that the router will follow to cut out the hole for the joystick. Keep an eye out for an update to my work log. I will be doing this step soon.


yea just a straight bit, purchase the proper tools for the job! get you a drill press (with 30mm forstner bit or hole saw)and table saw (with a mdf blade) and don’t skimp if your gonna attempt to build boxes these tools are essential.

I can not wait to see that update, Kaytrim.

Unfortunately, getting in to stick building, and doing it correctly, takes a small fortune. Nothing else I can add to the list of “must haves”, except for saying have fun. :smile:

I was using my router and a template to get the holes in the plexi/lexan, but I found it very difficult as my router would creep around too much for me and it didn’t look clean enough for my liking. Also, it seemed to cause more cracks too. I ended up just making a template and using the drill press and a hole saw instead. It saved me lots of time doing it this way compared to using a router and a template.


I bought a $100 drill press… it works great… no reason to buy anything more expensive for my purposes… I also bought a $100 router and table combo…

As for my cutting… I use a Mider Saw and a Jig Saw… I dont have a table saw…

However… make sure you use FORSTNER bits with the drill press… it pretty much eliminates any kicking.

My thumb would like to disagree. 1 1/4" Forstner bit in Curly Maple. The bit grabbed the wood pulling my thumb into the bit.

Here is my drill press after the accident. Make sure you have hold downs and a bigger table for the drill press.

Well I couldn’t find any hole saw bits in Canada that were 24mm/30mm, so I ordered some online.

Explore jeevion

Will they do? Used with a drill press?