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Frugal Woodworking #1: Christmas presents

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Blog entry by daveysprocket posted 02-03-2009 07:32 PM 918 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Frugal Woodworking series Part 2: Homemade coat rack »

I wanted to start this entry based upon the success I’ve had in completing projects, not on a shoestring budget, but NO budget!! My wife is currently not working and is staying home with our two children, and we are squeaking by on one income. We’ve become very frugal and have found ways in this economy to saving money by investing in things that will save over time. Here’s an example:

My wife belongs to a group that includes numerous women who give each other Christmas gifts every year that average just under $10/ea. That start to add up when you figure all of the other friends and family as well. We saw in some catalog birch log candle holders that we both really liked and couldn’t believe the prices being asked for them. My wife asked if we could make something like that and I figured why not? I went out to the firewood pile and found some birch logs that were pretty nice looking and made a couple of different styles in a few minutes. She loved them. We went to a local discount store and found votive candles in glass pretty cheap. I showed my wife how to use the drill press w/forstner bits and we began mass producing these things in all shapes and sizes. The kids joined us in the shop with their finger paints and made ornaments from the trimmed off ends. We had fun and everybody who saw one wanted one. I have requests for next year’s presents too.

Since then I have found other “free” wood in my woodpile that I have made picture frames and other little projects for people for very little $$$ that they seem to enjoy.

I have also discovered that good tools are a Godsend but there are also “good enough” tools for right now. I’ll use the dirty word found around here which is Harbor Freight. I know, I know, but $5 for a 10 piece set of screwdrivers?? I mean how good do they need to be?? I’ve never broken one and I won’t be sad if I do. Besides, I could by lots of them at that price. Five dollars for a set of 6 chisels was not worth the $5. Their edge only holds for a couple of cuts and is not worth the time. I have their cheap biscuit jointer and have to say I am quite happy with it. I have made countless projects with it without any issues. I would be leary of dropping it and would love a good one, but for now, it’s just fine. I have more frugal woodworking things to discuss if there is any interest.



9 comments so far

View Mario's profile

Mario

902 posts in 2802 days


#1 posted 02-03-2009 08:26 PM

In these times this is a great idea for a blog, I look forward to hearing more.

Thnaks.

-- Hope Never fails

View Rustic's profile

Rustic

3156 posts in 2347 days


#2 posted 02-03-2009 08:26 PM

keep them coming. I love to hear about woodworkers who make something for very little money or none.

-- www.carvingandturningsbyrick.com, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View John in SD's profile

John in SD

140 posts in 2564 days


#3 posted 02-03-2009 08:45 PM

AS Rick said …..Keep em coming, In these times this is needed badly…I know some will say HF stuff is bad no matter what, but They may not be in the same shape financialy as others, also I perceive a great time of inflation coming…..so lets be prepared
John

-- Life used to be soooo much simpler!!!!

View Rustic's profile

Rustic

3156 posts in 2347 days


#4 posted 02-04-2009 12:29 AM

Harbor freight has good and bad points. I bought a trim router for 20 bucks a few yearas ago and it is still going strong. I think it depends on what you buy.

-- www.carvingandturningsbyrick.com, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View jm540's profile

jm540

150 posts in 2170 days


#5 posted 02-04-2009 08:07 AM

That is great. I would like to hear more. I took a piece of maple out of the fire wood stack the other day and made my wife an over sized chess piece decoration.in two hours of enjoyable time

If I hadn’t some b**ch would have greatfully paid $100 thinking 12 Indonesians ( amazing craftsman by the way) spent 156 years building it

They can support a family on $ 2 a day where do you think your money is going.

You wanna talk about your the wife’s job you did it you and me down at harbor frieght you and me
Don’t get me wrong I am waiting till they have that work bench on sale again for $159 I’ll buy it and when it it dies i’ll use the beech and scrap the metal it is the only only value they offer! I have looked at there great price many times but the loses are far greater

you wanna talk bout bad economy well it went when we wanted something we couldn’t afford that came in a box then we liked having it and after moved accross the room but it broke so we bought a nicer one from the store not in a box but we bought the same piece of crap.

your wife can now make candlesticks in america she should.
and the last thing you should should be triing to sel is harbour frieght

-- jay Rambling on and on again

View daveysprocket's profile

daveysprocket

40 posts in 2158 days


#6 posted 02-04-2009 03:15 PM

While I knew the HF comment would cause a stir, it wasn’t my intent to “sell” their product or even have a debate about it. A very large chunk of woodworking products are not made in the US, even some of the high end stuff, so I’m not sure what the point there was. My point simply was, some of the low end HF stuff has allowed me to break into woodworking without breaking the bank for equipment I could never really justify. I mostly pick up good used equipment when I can. Some of us don’t have the luxury of running to the store to pick up all the high-end equipment necessary to make a $100 project. Trust me, I drool over the Rikon bandsaw everytime I see it (ahhhh….someday). My guess is that some of the economic problems are from people buying high end things that they could not afford and put them on credit because they feel they deserve it somehow. I’m trying to stay with what I CAN afford now and still produce something of value. That was the point of the entire blog. I’m sure some out there can understand where I was going with this.

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

23 posts in 2169 days


#7 posted 02-04-2009 03:38 PM

I agree! Some stuff isn’t worth it. But it still boils down to ‘living within your means’. It depends on what you need and what you need it for. Alot of my tools and low quality. I do wish, all the time, for better stuff, but it is foolish, in my opinion to buy an expensive and unique tool when you will rarely use it. An good example is when I was out of town and had car trouble. I needed a socket set. Since I have a great set at home there was no need to invest in quality. I would never use it. So the cheap crappy set it was, saved me a whole lot of headache and expense by avoiding a trip to an unknown shop. I still use that set 10 years later.

-- Tim, Isanti MN www.mnserenity.com

View jm540's profile

jm540

150 posts in 2170 days


#8 posted 02-05-2009 04:41 PM

sorry I just got ranty. I have china products and can’t afford to run down to the store and by a new tool. The only thing made in America anymore is reality TV. I also think protectionism is part of the reason we are in the shape we are.
My anger is with the subject not you sorry about the misdirection. I live in an area where every week they close factories because they can’t compete and walmart is always packed. I just got twisted. The local dairy is cutting it workers saleries to keep from laying off while at the store 2 blocks away there milk is $1.50 a gallon more.
The thing that really got me is Two of my mentors ,make great items ie… cedar chest and clocks they do very well to sell them for material and a couple of bucks for there time if any. The items are well made and will last for ever. people will him haw them and pay nothing. People will also go down to a store and pay twice as much for an inferior product with out giving it a second thought

-- jay Rambling on and on again

View daveysprocket's profile

daveysprocket

40 posts in 2158 days


#9 posted 02-05-2009 05:18 PM

I agree. I work across the street from the Ford plant and I know what you mean. I have found that people tend to favor a handmade gift over a store bought one. We gave out canned goodies from our garden for Christmas too. Everything was well received and I think people understood that we needed to save money this year.

Does anyone else have any small homemade Christmas gifts that they made? If so, how where they received?

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