"Tools, tools, tools! Send a man on a shopping trip."

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Blog entry by JCMeyersIV posted 05-04-2013 11:38 PM 1387 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

$10000. Thats what i had saved up when i lost my job. That $10k was SUPPOSED to go to a down payment on a house. But when your girl of three years runs out on you to have a fling with some guy in the air force, and you get canned from your well paying, full benefits job… Things get a little tough. Jobs around here arent easy to come by. And with the economic state we’re in now its a lot worse. When i was going through all this i was woodworking to pass the time and keep busy. It wasnt until i started selling things to friend that it hit me… “I’m going to make this my life!”

Im young, no kids, no bills really, trucks in great shape an paid off. I discussed it with my father, a business owner himself, and he said if i ever wanted to do something like this that now was the time while i was young and had little responsibilities. And heres where my title came into play. I had $10k to buy tools, i thought “man. I’m golden! thats more than enough!”

Buy a jointer and a planer to mill my own stock, band saw, upgrade some of my cheaper tools i started with, build some cabinets and shelves for the shop, bought a couple nailers as time went on. By the time i bought the new tools and put up a temporary wall to divide off the garage i was down to less than $5k. i was a little shellshocked. I mean i knew money went fast, but wow. And i was still staying on the lower end, trying not to spend too much. I still had to have money for materials and business cards, and well you know the rest.

But i still found myself buying tools, not even just impulsively. Every time i started a project i’d find a new tool, or accessory, or attachment, or jig that i just had to have/make. The worst, and this is probably more true for everyone in anything, is deals. Oh lawdy! I drove two hours to get my dust collector. Only reason i bought my Dewalt slider is it was $100+ cheaper than the Bosch i wanted and had a free stand. Didnt need a new table saw (actually i really kind did) but the idea of using the 20% off coupon at home depot for a Ridgid 4512 was a little too tantalizing. I even upgrade tools i already have just because i like features on newer models. I had a decent Porter Cable oscillating tool and i saw the Bosch model and got it after only having the PC for 5 months. I also have a hard time not wanting new drills. Especially a good bargain for one. I have a hammer drill, an impact wrench, and a drill driver so i dont need anything else, but noy howdy would i like one. I can go to the local hardware store and see a small set of drill bits for the cursed $9.99 and they’re in my hand. God forbid theres two different sets, then i have one for each hand. Tape measures are the worst, i probably have at least 10 (never seem to be able to find any) and i keep grabbing more if their on sale.

I sort of figured i had some sort of problem. Until i saw some of the other peoples tool collections. Is it because we’re (mostly) men? Just a little too much Tim Taylor in all of us? Or is it hoarding? I tell ya what if hoarding was all woodworkers shops I’d actually watch the show. I spend some time everyday looking at new tools. Drooling over the Dewalt track-saw, fantasizing about the Festool Domino, daydreaming about having a radial arm saw, and the occasional very awkward near-orgasm over a uni-saw. Doesnt seem healthy at all…

I think with me its genetic. A testosterone fueled obsession that im genetically predisposed for. I’m not sure what i’m going to do when all my dad’s tools become mine. And he has all my grandfathers tools! Then I’ll have 3 generations of John C. Meyers owned tools! God help my future wife for all the garage space ill take up!

How about you folks? Share a similar tool obsession! Or even an observation about mine.


-- John, NNY,

6 comments so far

View Gary's profile


9330 posts in 3426 days

#1 posted 05-05-2013 12:15 AM

When you see shops of other woodworkers you likely see years worth of investments in equipment and materials. Some of the tools you drool over may be tools you would rarely use. It’s just too easy to buy new toys when the money seems available. But, I don’t really think it’s a testosterone thing. We have a few lady jocks that have pretty nice equipment. I’m infected with the same bug but for guns. I have all my ww equip. I have to look the other way when I see adds in magazines. I want it just because I don’t have that one and I want to know how it shoots. Another thing with tools, for me is, I like good equipment but will never pay the price some want because of their name. Festool leads that list for me. Also, I built up my list of tools primarily as I needed them. Oh well, enough blithering from me.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View a1Jim's profile


117083 posts in 3570 days

#2 posted 05-05-2013 12:56 AM

Hey John
Sorry to hear about your problems. I’m a tool nut from way back with so many tools I have trouble getting around my shop sometimes. Be careful your tool buying can be used as a kind of getting ready to get going that never happens if you let it plus a financial drain . Being a pro woodworker is what many folks aspire to become gut there’s a lot of hobbyist you have to contend with that know nothing about business that will do a whole kitchen cabinet jobs for material plus a couple hundred dollars or free beer. All in all I agree with your father if you want to give it a try now’s a great time to try it before you have other things coming your way, If it’s what you really want I wish you much success.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1862 days

#3 posted 05-05-2013 01:49 AM

In my framing career, I used to pride myself on being able to do a job without the luxury of new, expensive tools. Framing is not cabinet making, is not traditional fine joinery.

I still think this rule of thumb applies- if I need a tool, for a specific job, and that tool will pay for itself within the first job of its kind, then I buy the tool, provided I am confident I will need it again. It was quite a few years before I acquired my first compound miter saw, for instance.

Now that I have some years under my belt, along with a career trajectory shift, I still try to obey that rule. Do I need it? Will it pay for itself? Will I need it again? Will it increase productivity and profitability?

A great carpenter can squander a fortune without these disciplines. A good carpenter can also figure a way, without a new tool. Rising to the challenge is a reward in and of itself. The cost savings are just icing on the cake.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2480 days

#4 posted 05-05-2013 02:30 AM

Rule of thumb I had to impose on myself when Ihad my trucking company: Buy NOTHING if it can’t pay for itself within a year.
I started out with one old semi and a rented flatbed trailer. 5 years later I was driving a brand new truck and pulling oversized loads with my own $300,000 trailer. I had five drivers pulling my flat beds and low boys in my trucks that were less than 6 years old. All paid for but that meant a lot of work to make certain each was paid for within the year.
I am disabled now and so I use wood working to take up my time and make a few dollars.
My tools are almost all used, but serviceable.
I still use my Milwaukee 1/2” drive cordless drill that is 15 years old. My bandsaw came from a friend who hauled it to Texas from North Carolina. My old tablesaw I bought for $50 from an ad. My newer(ish) tablesaw my boss gave me in exchange for a BBQ cabinet.
My mantra is still the same: make do with what I have unless I can justify the purchase and pay for it within a year or pay cash for it up front without taking away from the household needs.

You are young, may I suggest you put the majority of your money away… in a bank account with no checks or debit card. Let your dad hold it and dole it out after you have explained to him the need for a particular tool or item.
One rule I use, I never buy anything new without researching it and then sleeping on the idea overnight. It’s amazing how many ideas don’t seem so good in the light of morning. Especially when you have to rationally justify the purchase.

Good Luck on your endeavors, I wish you luck.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3327 days

#5 posted 05-05-2013 10:30 AM

The word discipline was mentioned above. A very important concept for anyone wanting to attain success. Impulsive behavior can ruin you pretty quick in business. I’m sure you will get there. We all make mistakes in the beginning and most of us learn from them. I’m sure you will too. Good luck with your venture.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JCMeyersIV's profile


75 posts in 2059 days

#6 posted 05-05-2013 01:45 PM

Hey guys thanks for the tips! Glad to see im not the only tool freak out there haha. Ill keep the pay for itself in the first year or job used for specialty tools. Keep in mind a lot of my stuff in sarcasm and tongue in cheek, like the testosterone comment. Some days the humor juices are flowing, some days theyre not. I’m glad youre all enjoying my blog! i really enjoy reading everyone else. And Gary, its funny you mention guns because i’m looking at getting a new browning autoloader for duck/turkey seas next fall. I also have a similar obsession with guitars haha.

But hey! Thanks for all your tips, communication, interest, and wishes of luck. I’m really enjoying all of it! Big day ahead of me see you all soon!

-- John, NNY,

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