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Forum topic by David Craig posted 11-02-2012 08:03 PM 1096 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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David Craig

2135 posts in 1767 days


11-02-2012 08:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool cost accessories blades bits frugality

When I first started woodworking, I would always feel the need to justify purchases. People would ask me “Why do you need this?” and I would respond with some justification that would explain how this purchase would save me money because I can now make … Nowadays, I just tell people that this is a hobby and the hobby itself is all the justification I need. I don’t ask people why they need a certain baseball card or piece of carnival glass. It is pleasure and that is that.

That being said, I think there is an underlying desire to be frugal or to keep costs down for many woodworkers. I think it is ingrained in most of us that woodworking serves an economic purpose outside of the hobby realm. We can make furniture, Christmas gifts, we can accomplish household tasks, that we would otherwise have to pay somebody to do. While others can, without guilt, add one more knick knack to the shelf, we feel compelled to justify the machines and materials that build the shelf that the knick knack sits on.

And, to me, that causes a problem.

I see many of us agonizing over the cost of a high quality tool. We put together formulas, estimate warranties, go with the “Cry once” philosophy so that we can make the purchases for the large items only once. All good and well thought out until you start seeing the blades and accessories that folks will put on these costly machines. How many times do we see folks (including ourselves) discuss the cheapest blade, the least costly sandpaper, the most discounted router bits, and fasteners that we place on these expensive tool purchases.

Truth is, that if you put the cheapest saw blade on a cabinet saw, you would be better off getting craftsman and putting an expensive blade on it. Same with the bandsaws, routers, grinders, etc. Trust me when I say that one fiinger pointed at you makes three fingers pointed at me :)

Not saying that frugality doesn’t have its place. There are hand tools we can invest elbow grease to save dollars, methods to extend the life of things, mid-price options that we can look into. Sometimes it is based on the quantity of use that we expect from a product and can go lighter as a result of that limited use. But I do have to laugh at myself, every now and again, when I look at some of the router bits from HF I have laying around or find a saw blade that I spent 10 bucks on, because I exerted so much time and energy in saving for the big tools that the money I need to spend to make those tools efficient I hold tight fisted like an old scrooge :)

Anyone else catch themselves in this web of irony?

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.


24 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1817 days


#1 posted 11-02-2012 08:16 PM

Not really. I find its easy to spend $100 on a saw blade or $100 on an telescope adapter. Those I don’t have to get permission for. It’s the big one that causes the problems.

But yeah, I agree, hobbies are expensive, regardless of what it is.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

892 posts in 768 days


#2 posted 11-02-2012 08:21 PM

Try owning an airplane, hobby race car, or a nice boat…

Buying it is only a down payment on using it. ;^)

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View Swyftfeet's profile

Swyftfeet

169 posts in 830 days


#3 posted 11-02-2012 08:23 PM

I’m thinking this forum its conversely true… People post often that they got a good deal on something, but I find more often than not they ask, which router bits are gonna last, can I justify a shelix head for a hobby 6” jointer, which sandpaper is gonna last ect…

I agree good cutters are a large portion of getting a good result. However for me (someone who hadn’t picked up anything but a 1” chisel in 2 years, with no prior wood working experience) buying a used G0690 3HP cabinet saw was a no brainer as my first tool purchase.

I paid $650 could likely sell it for $600, if I bought a 400 craftsman Id be lucky to get $150-200 if I dropped the hobby. My TS blade cost $120! I treat my TS like its fresh from the womb. she gets waxed and polished.

I try to buy whiteside bits unless its going on 7pm and I cant make it to woodcraft and I am on a time crunch.

Then again I am a bachelor, so far… Don’t have to justify jack to anyone but my 401k.

-- Brian

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1767 days


#4 posted 11-02-2012 08:23 PM

I tired using that analogy with my first wife. “Hey, at least I am not buying an airplane, hobby race car, or a nice boat” :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 907 days


#5 posted 11-02-2012 08:24 PM

Yup. I never justify my tools. I refer to them as my toys. I don’t make money on what I make. I have no justification that “if I have “x” I can do “y”, because I don’t really need to do “y”. I just want to because it’s fun. I have a house full of furniture that doesn’t need replacing, but slowly I am replacing it with stuff I make. If you factor tools and time into cost, it’s not really any cheaper than just buying something (quality not withstanding).

This is exactly why I didn’t buy an expensive table saw. My Set TS limit was $1000.00. I bought the R4512 for 500$. Why did I do that when I had 1000.00 to spend? Because I also bought a few really high quality blades, zero clearance inserts, a dado stack and dado insert, and some safety stuff etc. So in reality, I spent $1000.00 on everything I needed to have a fully functional table saw that meets my needs.

I think I have done an outstanding job at picking the best of the bunch in the value segment. Aside from 1 “systainer” tool I don’t like to brag about, many of my tools are from the value segment. However all of my blades and cutters are from higher end manufacturers (whiteside, Freud, etc). Cutters do make a MASSIVE difference. All in all, research is your friend. I say this a lot, look at my review of the craftsman professional router. $100 cheaper than the Bosch and I would pick it over the Bosch even if it were the same price. The HF 10×18 lathe is amazing. You don’t need to spend A LOT of cash for decent tools. You do have to “pick through the trash” to find the gems though.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112106 posts in 2235 days


#6 posted 11-02-2012 08:39 PM

I think I swing both ways cost wise ,it has to do with how much justification I can conger up to buy any particular tool. Many times the tool I think about a long time may be a company that makes the one and only tool ,like the Fein muti-tool back when I bought it,it was around $350 now HF sells them for $19.00 is the quality different ? you bet ,but $326 different ??? Does this mean we should wait until a company’s patent runs out to buy cheaper knock offs? The answer is no at least re the multi-tool. I’ve gotten years of use out of it and it has done many jobs I could not have without it. Now if I could only afford a Festool domino or should I wait until the patent runs out? Hmmm I hope I live that long :))

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1767 days


#7 posted 11-02-2012 08:44 PM

The Fein is a good example of what I am talking about Jim. I bought the Dremel version when it first came out. I then worked on recommendations on how to use a Fein blade on it because the Dremel blades, well, sucked. However, I have seen people buy the Fein and then purchase HF blades for it. They would be much better off going the other way around.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

892 posts in 768 days


#8 posted 11-02-2012 09:03 PM

I tired using that analogy with my first wife. “Hey, at least I am not buying an airplane, hobby race car, or a nice boat” :)

Fortunately, New England is laid out in my favor… What helps me, is that my wife’s (who HATES to fly, even in airliners!) favorite beach, Race Point / Provincetown, is a 35 minute flight and walkable from the airport, or a 4+ hour drive.

This is the same analogy I use for woodworkers who make nothing but shop stuff…

Make nice things for the house, and the purchases go over better. Spend three weeks on a crosscut sled, and get complaints.

Not to mention, ALL hobbies keep us out of the strip clubs! It’s all about reference point! ;^0

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1767 days


#9 posted 11-02-2012 09:05 PM

So it probably was not a good idea for me to offer my wife a TS sled and give that lap dancer a pair of wooden earrings? Now I understand the alimony… j/k

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 907 days


#10 posted 11-02-2012 09:15 PM

I have celebrated my last 17 birthdays on Race point beach and I plan to be there for however many I have left. I love that place.

My wife made her way into my shop after I turned my first pen. She asked how hard it was, and I told her that considering the only practice I had was some youtube videos and my first pen wasn’t terrific, but wasn’t horrible either, it wasn’t that hard. So she made one. One turned in to 96 (at my last count). She has actually spent more money on tools in the past 2 months than I have. As of last weekend, she is REALLY into making cutting boards now. She isn’t comfortable ripping the strips, but she does the jointing, plaining, glue-up, sanding, edge trimming and finishing. She also threw a fit about my cross cut sleds or any jigs I made, but boy does she like using them to trim pen blanks and squaring edges of cutting boards after glue ups. I even had to make a tiny one just for her (in her defense, my cross cut sled is 30” x 36” with a 48” fence, pretty large to handle and overkill for pen blanks)

TL;DR
Get your significant other involved. She is planning more projects for me than I am planning for myself now. It’s not uncommon on a Saturday AM for her to say “hey, run to the mill while they are still open and get some maple and cherry in case we want to make stuff this week”.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112106 posts in 2235 days


#11 posted 11-02-2012 09:25 PM

Hey David
Since i’ve already gone the expensive route on the multi-tool I have found a way to save on blades,I saw in a magizine where a guy took a cheep saw from HF the one with about a 14” blade 2” wide and cut it into a dozen or so blades to fit his multi-tool all that’s left is to drill holes in each of the blades to mount them . I bought a couple Hf saws on sale $1.99 while they had free shipping and ended up with 24 blades for $4.00. are they as good as the originals? Heck no,
but the cut fairly well and I don’t have to sweat hitting nails when doing rough carpentry. It’s a case of beauty and the beast.
Having been married 45 years I would avoid the offering of a table saw sled to my wife as any kind of gift unless I want to be clobbered with it :))

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1017 posts in 945 days


#12 posted 11-02-2012 09:28 PM

When my wife wanted a new kitchen, and I had been laid off for a few months with no chance of going back, I said, “My table saw won’t do cabinets. That requires a higher level of precision and repeatability.” For this kitchen remodel I got a new table saw, a planer, a jointer, and various smaller items. And we’re STILL so far ahead of where we’d be if we had to buy cabinets and counter tops and such that it’s pretty amazing. So… on the one hand, there were items that were justified based on the job that needed to be done. I picked up a Delta 14” band saw and some planes, and….. not sure it will ever end or if I want it to.

Just recently (within the past week) my wife said she’d like to learn how to use the wood shop equipment. Some guys would probably shudder at the thought, but …. she’s really interested and I know she can use the stuff if I show her how. She’s pretty handy. And once she understood the answer to “Why do you need so many different saws?”... I mean really understood… she was fine with it and I’m really looking forward to having her out there with me on occasion.

View 47phord's profile

47phord

175 posts in 896 days


#13 posted 11-02-2012 09:29 PM

I tend to justify tool purchases by buying them when I need them, not just because. Case in point, the project I am working on now calls for some pocket hole screws; I don’t have a jig for that yet, but I will soon. In my case, cost always is a factor; I have a Craftsman TS (which I hate a little more each day) and I use Freud blades. Would I love to have a $1500 cabinet saw with a full assortment of Forrest blades? You bet. But not because I think I need them to enjoy my hobby (which I don’t), I’m just a Guy; and as we all know Guys like tools, the shinier and costlier the better (bragging rights, you know).

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 907 days


#14 posted 11-02-2012 09:42 PM

It’s a lot of fun Charlie! I got the “why do you need SOOO many saw blades!!” question a lot. After making some cuts I then got the “how come I don’t need to sand the edges when YOU cut something?” question. So I explained that she was squaring cutting board ends with a 24 tooth ripper and showed her what an 80 tooth cross cut blade can do instead. Now she gets it, and requests I change blades before she cuts pen blanks or any other cross cuts. We have a lot of fun in the shop.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Roger's profile

Roger

14612 posts in 1462 days


#15 posted 11-02-2012 10:04 PM

Good thoughts and topic David. For myself, I have always (still am), not afraid to try & fix anything and everything. I feel fortunate and thankful, that I am able to do/fix of all sorts of things around the house, in the garage, etc. Like my prof says, “a dabler of all, master of none”... I don’t know nothing about everything, but, I do like doing everything, even tho, I don’t hardly know anything. WHEW! That being said, I’m a bad one to talk about never having a full wallet. I just can’t justify so many of these outta site tool costs that exist out there. This is one of the biggest reasons I really enjoy everything, and everyone on these fine pages of Lumberjocks. It’s like having a very, very large, extension of family and friends. All of you out there have had an impact on me and my abilities of being a better woodworker, and I wanna thank you all for that. OK, I’m done ramblin. I do like to save money on my woodworking when I can, because that means I’ll have extra money for my other hobbies. Ya’ll carry on. Work/Play safe. Keep makin dust, weather it be with an old 1950’s Craftsman table saw, or a 3000 dollar Saw Stop, we’ll all have a good time.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

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