Perfection at all cost?

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Blog entry by spaids posted 11-19-2008 04:03 PM 1032 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As a new woodworker I often question the cost of a new tool. Some things are very expensive and I don’t understand why. I realize that there is more labor involved in the precision manufacturing of a high end hand plane but is there really a 1000% more labor? The more I learn about tools and whats available I am becoming more often shocked by what people are willing to pay. Is that cut really worth that ridiculous price for the tool.

What has finally pushed me over the edge is the Bridge City Jointmaker Pro. The price they are asking for this thing is so outrageous that I am actually somehow offended by it. I know its a free country and I don’t have to buy it or even want it. And I don’t want it. And I will never buy it. Yet I am still offended at how this company has priced this thing. Its the price of a table saw.

Has anybody bought one of these things?

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

16 comments so far

View lew's profile


11263 posts in 3174 days

#1 posted 11-19-2008 04:12 PM

I suppose there is always a market for expensive tools- like any other product. Probably more of a status symbol than anything else- you know- Cadillac versus Kia type of thing.

I sort of feel the same way about Festools. They are great tools- I guess- but at their prices, I will never know! My Hitachi, PC, Bridgewood and Delta stuff works just fine for me.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Roper's profile


1370 posts in 3131 days

#2 posted 11-19-2008 05:34 PM

don’t worry lew festools patent runs out soon and then everyone will make there own, i saw dewalts new circ saw with giude and its nice. as for price i truly believe that you get what you pay for. if you buy a lee nielson hand plane you will be handing it down to your grandkids, if you buy a buck bro you will buy a dozen in your life. same price over time.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3381 days

#3 posted 11-19-2008 05:50 PM

I think what you are missing is that to some people, there is a joy in owning, handling and using an exceptional example of craftsmanship. I honestly drool over the Sauer and Steiner infill planes and several others as well. I will never own one but I certainly appreciate the amount of hand work that goes into their making. When I retire I intend to attempt to build at least one real infill plane. It’s not that I can’t get as good of work out of my Stanley’s, it is just a pleasure to touch real craftsmanship. I suppose some people are offended that I charge a lot for my saddles. I keep my price in the range of the rest of the custom makers .You can buy a saddle for about what I pay for material. If that saddle will suit you, then that is the one you should buy. At any rate, please don’t be offended.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3131 days

#4 posted 11-19-2008 05:51 PM

I guess the other side of the coin is cheap tools. Having evoloved through that phase I find the best value is in the more costly tools that are not outrageous (as is festool) like bosch,hiatachi, dewalt etc. I find that these type offer much more quality at a reasonable price and always better that the cheap. personally I won’t even read a festool tool review (and I also am offended by these type of items)

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3733 days

#5 posted 11-19-2008 06:02 PM

I checked it out and I just don’t get the price either…to each his own.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5839 posts in 3003 days

#6 posted 11-19-2008 06:05 PM

Some things are just rediculously overpirced, but they must be selling them .Read the emperors new clothes to find how we all get suckered into paying for posh names.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View MickeyD's profile


130 posts in 2945 days

#7 posted 11-19-2008 06:12 PM

I have been looking to buy a plane and I have been astounded by the price difference. I understand a better quality plane will perform better, but I am just getting started in woodworking and there are so many tools that have to be purchased.

-- -Willing to try

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3733 days

#8 posted 11-19-2008 06:15 PM

I guess I can understand if I figure how much it would cost me to build one…I’d have to charge more than they do.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3046 days

#9 posted 11-19-2008 08:29 PM

This topic is one that comes up from time to time. End result is the same. Everyone has their own opinions and justification for tool purchases.

I totally agree with you on the JMP as a consumer. I just don’t see it working out well in the end. On the flip side a am 100% in agreement with the mfg on the price. It needs to be that high to recoup development investment, inventory spare parts, pay for specialty tooling, and of course turn a minimal profit to keep the lights on.

I think that is the disconnect. Both sides are right in their own respect.

What I am finding more disturbing than good tools for top dollar is that the import and knockoff tools are starting to really get comfortable charging just below top dollar. Check out the “new” disston saws at Rockler if you want a quick example.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View Jimthecarver's profile


1123 posts in 3204 days

#10 posted 11-20-2008 03:08 AM

I bet they don’t sell many of them saws! I believe in good quality tools but WTH are they thinking on this one?

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3205 days

#11 posted 11-20-2008 03:25 AM

Spaids: It is good you are incensed at the cost of that tool. Your emotion will motivate you to learn how to make all those joints with what you have on hand or can get for much less money. I would venture the guess that over 50% of the people on this forum are here because they looked at something and told themselves “I can do that for less money and/or with better quality”.

However, don’t fault the company selling them. If there are enough buyers, they’ll prosper. If not, they’ll lower the price or fail with that product. That is their choice. To buy it or not is yours.

The responsibility to wisely expend available resources has always fallen on the individual since the dawn of time as has the threat of others trying to get you to expend your resources for their benefit. Sometimes it can be a win-win. Most of the time its a win-lose. By your reaction to this issue, you have the potential to be a winner in woodworking.

Good Luck


-- Go

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 3624 days

#12 posted 11-20-2008 05:40 AM

Hello Spaids;
—-there is a story I often tell when the talk turns to ‘wood-working’....

I have a friend who often turns out some exceptional pieces of furniture and such. Seems as if one day he was telling stories on himself about how he worked with wood. Well at a pause in the conversation with another couple, his wife jumped in with this comment; ”but …., you don’t work with wood, you work with power tools.”

....and so the story continues on. I never give power to a tool other then ’I’, since in the end or at the start….I am the only tool that remains worthy too my-self and I know my cost. Those other’s, (what some call tools) well after all, they are only an extension of my eye and hand.

I worked with hand tools before I ever got involved with power tools, now I also own power tools//machines and often this causes me to walk a tight rope between gladden and sadden, quantity against quality. There was a time when I placed great worth on acquiring new tools and was all-ways justifying the need to buy more. Over time I have learned that the way a power tool cuts the wood, does not all-ways agree with the spirit of the wood that resides within the soul of that tree. And so now I buy fewer power tools….and the hand tools I acquire, become lesser also. Not only have I learned to un-plug the power cord, but I work the wood in different ways, even with my hand tools. I should also add that yes, I still use power tools//machines (even to be cost efficient), but that is not where my heart is any-more, so I mean no-disrespect to any that like the tools of power.

I hesitate often to call myself a woodworker, since in reality I am a ‘worker-of-wood’. One might ask is not this just a play on words….and so a play it might be. But who’s getting played is the question to ask?. Look at how ‘woodworker’ is marketed and sold in todays society, how many magazines do you know of that have that name in their title. Now open the magazine up and before you see any-one working wood….you will see pages of advertising that is marked towards selling some new machine//tool. All to often, we the ones who work with wood are targeted by a ‘thought cloud’ of marketing advertisers who work for the tool companies. ”I mean come on now, this is 2008 and time is worth money, (of course very few ever mention that the use of time pays dividends at the bank) step out and up in your shop with a new power tool.” We even go to ‘woodworking shows’ which should really be called power tool shows and are promised that this ‘one’ will cut shop time in half and….it’s all so easy.

Does one see where this is going, no-longer does one need to spend time learning the wood and how the grain patterns flow together, for and with the use of a broadax. Never again will one have to sit down and figure out how they did that sliding dovetail without a power tool bit….and what about making a hand tool//saw that cuts the sliding dovetail. What about those hand made slicks that were made before my time, which I now own and use and will yet be passed on to other’s after my time is up? These are not sold by high priced ‘names’, but in essence we are led to believe that the high priced ‘names’ know more then we do. Hmmm, I was working wood as a kid out in the woods, with a pocket knife and broken coke bottles, (which I used for planing and gouging) screwdrivers sharpened on stone were my chisels, for making objects out of wood. How many have ever split a piece of wood with a stone wedge or used a froe to split a wood wedge along with a tree branch for a mallet? I know I’m starting to ramble here and in todays fast paced society, these old ways are not politically correct, since the gods of big power tools seem to like to take our money, as they are all-ready thinking on the models we will yet need next month….next year.

I travel across many woodworking forums such as here and one thing I see more and more often, is the amount of new folks seeking to learn about woodworking. This is good, but then all to often comes the ‘cloud thought’ sent their way that says; ”you will need new power tools to do it better and faster”. This is what I call the curse of living in a fast paced society along with all the manufactures who make with an eye for craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is what you//I are, it is the jewel we find within our-selves that some call integrity and when we learn about ourselves as workers-of-wood….the articles we produce are pieces of wood art.

The question I see that keeps coming up on these forums, is that after starting to buy into the need for all those//these tools….the next question many ask is how do I make it do what they said it could//should do, and then latter as the many are reduced to fewer, there is a realization that maybe I need to step back and see what comes next….;

....worker-of-wood or worker of tools....

And yes I did like that play of words you used; ”Perfection at all cost ?” Being a ‘perfectionist’ I know about cost. And then folks will say to me; ”what a blessing, you are such a perfectionist.” I used to think this was great….kind of made me ‘heady high’, now days I will look that one in the eye and also tell them that being a perfectionist can also be a great curse….LOL. Hope you don’t mind my word dribble here, maybe I should have turned this one into a blog//story….and;

....only my .02 cents of opinion, but my .02 still has some common sense!

Thank you.

-- --frank, NH,

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 3486 days

#13 posted 11-20-2008 06:15 AM

You want to see pricey, check out these Holtey hand planes. Their shoulder plane sells for 4200 Pounds Sterling not including V.A.T. That’s $6280 USD. $5742 USD for a smoother. They look like work of art planes, but WOW on the price.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3424 days

#14 posted 11-20-2008 02:54 PM

I’m a firm believer that everything is worth exactly what somebody can sell it for. Apparently they are selling these at this price. I’m just happy to live in a free market society with so many choices available. Its not my place to decide if someone else pays to little or too much.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3424 days

#15 posted 11-20-2008 03:13 PM

RE: Frank, I hear what you’re saying. I’m firmly convinced there are some “woodworkers” i’ve run into who would just as soon push a button and watch robots do all the work. Not that theres anything inherently wrong with that, and theres certainly a niche for them in this world. But i do seem to pity them for their lack of joy in the hands on working of wood. Their lack of reverence for it all sorta puzzles my sensibilities too..

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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