Before I start this post out, I would like to say that any advice on a skill or subject helps. Even if it happens to be something that one can’t afford money or time wise. That being said, a recent forum discussion on sharpening plane irons has prompted me into writing this.
It seems that I have a problem. And I am positive that I am not alone. In fact, I hear-by declare that we need to setup a twelve step anonymous program to help deal with folks out there that are in the same predicament as me. It seems that every solution I come across for a particular woodworking problem or skill seems to be answered in what I can summarize as a two word instruction: “Spend money.”
Now, I realize that gone are the days of the average man in the United States being tool-wise enough to warrant companies spending their efforts on producing quality inexpensive tools. Our craft and hobby has become a niche market that even the best of tool makers are shying away from. If not completely, then at least in terms of quality.
Anyway, it is a perplexing problem. To make it even worse, in every suburb in America there is inevitably a discount tool store hidden in the back of a strip mall that has a decent selection of tools at what seem like bargain prices. Only problem is, many are made in poor quality. If you are lucky, the store may carry a variety of entry level tools that have been reconditioned after their first user broke them out of the box. This helps a budget minded tool man but even then one can find themselves lusting after that $200 item that we still can’t seem to afford.
Now I have discovered a hidden secret in the world of tool shopping and using. You don’t always have to pay for quality. Calm down, I’m not saying you wasted $800 on your Powermatic Jointer. What I am saying, is if you know what to look for or are just stupid lucky like me, you can get good quality at bargain prices. I kind of stumbled on this one by intentional accident. After buying a Crapsman dovetail router jig that I was completely dissatisfied with, I spent part of my store credit buying a Shark 12” pullsaw. What had I been missing!
Here I thought that if I was going to get a handsaw that was worth a damn I would have to spend upwards of $100 and this damn thing that had been setting on the rack for years as I glazed over it was only $19.97!!! Now, I haven’t every used a $100 handsaw, but I can’t imagine it being that much better than this. For $20 I got a saw that if I loose it I won’t cry and in the mean time it bites through the wood better, faster, and straighter than I ever got out of my old circular saw.
So, I’m coming back to my original rant. What they hell is with the answer “spend money”?
I do realize the difference between Craftsman and Delta in terms of quality. But do I have to go out and buy F-Style bar clamps at $19.99 when Harbor Frieghts got ‘em on sale? If it don’t break, a clamps a clamp. Right?
Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to put together than dream shop with all the luxuries and prestigious name brands. Until then, I’m going with a few lower brand or even generic tools that I realize do the same thing with the same quality results for less than half the cost. Remember, the tool just does the work. You’re the one responsible for the skill.
-- He said wood...http://hickbyassociation.blogspot.com/