Is it my imagination, or is this a damn expensive hobby?

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Forum topic by mummykicks posted 07-22-2013 07:27 PM 1838 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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109 posts in 1803 days

07-22-2013 07:27 PM

I’m new to this hobby, but it sure seems like I can’t make much progess on projects because every time I start getting somewhere I find I need a jig or fixture, or some hardware or tool and yet another trip to HD or order from amazon…It’s like there is this black hole that sucks money out of my wallet, but no completed furniture comes out the other end. I look around my garage and just can’t seem to grasp where all the money went.
It also seems to take a very long time to get very little done. I mean on an hourly ‘entertainment’ basis I’m certainly getting a lot of hours for the money I’ve spent, but it’s just amazing to me how little I seem to accomplish after 6 hours in the shop.

30 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2619 days

#1 posted 07-22-2013 08:16 PM

I’m not sure you’re looking for suggestions or just needed to ‘vent’ a little, but it sounds like you might need to re-consider the projects you’re tackling. Lots of things can come from the shop in little time, using very few tools.

From a hand tool perspective, check out The Anarchist’s Tool Chest for a study in how few items are truly required to do a wide variety of furniture projects. For power tools, though, I’m not much help but I’m sure the various router bits alone (for a single example) are expensive. But for either, quality = $ is the rule.

In the end, though, it is a hobby and if you’re getting hours of entertainment, you’re doing well! And if you’re buying quality stuff, there’s a certain return level you can expect should you every ‘sell out.’ But that won’t happen because this is a Great Hobby, right?

Good luck!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3743 days

#2 posted 07-22-2013 10:19 PM

It is your imagination …. it is all relative!!

Compared to a bar or strip club habit… woodworking is pretty cheap.

Compared to meditation or a Jane Fonda Workout… woodworking is expensive

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3231 days

#3 posted 07-22-2013 10:34 PM

It could get expensive in a hurry but then so is photography. The camera gear in my avatar pic cost over $8500 (Canon 1DMKIII and 300 f/2.8). :-)

I sold the lens after I retired and that let me upgrade or add to my tool inventory in a lot of ways. :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3649 days

#4 posted 07-22-2013 10:49 PM

it is all relative in more than 1 sense.

one tool could be considered expensive to one person, while not that expensive to another person.

It also is what you make it to be – some people need all the store bought jigs they can get their hands on, while other people make custom jigs according to their immediate needs out of scrap wood or someone else’s garbage (so to speak)(recycling). Some people need the latest and greatest machines and lots of them while others plan what they intend to make, and just get those tools required.

But… like any hobby – the beginning also draws the most money out until you have at least the basic set of things required for you to make the things you plan on making. once you have those, expenses will change to materials and hardware mostly.

Start small, grow as you need – look at local listings for used tools, don’t be afraid to buy old beat up tools and restore them or clean them up to make them usable – a great way to acquire great tools on the cheap.

And Welcome to Lumberjocks, and to woodworking in general.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7757 posts in 2914 days

#5 posted 07-22-2013 10:49 PM

You aught to try astro-imaging, if you really want a money hole… Just sayin’...

THAT’s my other money hole… ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3231 days

#6 posted 07-22-2013 11:39 PM

“It’s like there is this black hole that sucks money out of my wallet”

Apparently you have never owned a boat! :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Woodmaster1's profile


962 posts in 2587 days

#7 posted 07-22-2013 11:48 PM

Just think in 50 years you may not have to buy very much. I have been at it for over 40 years and still buy things and make new jigs. I have enjoyed every minute of it.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2983 days

#8 posted 07-22-2013 11:57 PM

it does take awhile and lots of money to build a tool collection “that you actually use” but you’ll always have them.
some things don’t ware out and some do. that’s the fun in it…

View mummykicks's profile


109 posts in 1803 days

#9 posted 07-23-2013 08:32 PM

I’m in Tucson, so it’s not boats, but it could be quads. Same idea though. Buy the quad, then the trailer, then the truck to tow the trailer, then the gas for the truck, then gear, etc..

I’ve heard many people’s astronomy hobbies get killed once they try to get into astro-imaging.

I guess I expected the bleeding to stop sooner for some reason.

This thing is like gremlins in the swimming pool lol. Buy a miter saw and then all of a sudden have a pressing need for 16’ of cabinets. Every tool I buy seems to spawn a cabinet or organization requirement that didn’t exist before. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

At least it gets me out of the house and I don’t have to worry about sunburn.

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2007 days

#10 posted 07-23-2013 09:11 PM

Definition of “BOAT” ... A hole in the water into which money is poured.

This CAN be an expensive hobby, but only if you make it that. Buying from Craigslist or Ebay might make some folks turn up their nose at “Buying someone else’s USED STUFF”, but I call it “Getting a BARGAIN”

And besides, I dont hang out at the bars, I dont play golf, I dont play poker with the guys, I dont go to the casinos, I dont own a boat, nor a 4-wheeler. All things considered, this hobby keeps me in my shop, AT HOME, and the wife is fine with that! Plus she gets first dibs on most any of the little “projects” I make that she likes. :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Don W's profile

Don W

18718 posts in 2568 days

#11 posted 07-23-2013 10:02 PM

Although I agree it can be expensive, I don’t agree it has to be. I’m not a fan of Swartz’s writing, but I do agree with his concept. I don’t follow it, but agree its a viable option.

Learn to work with the tools you have.

That all said, it doesn’t sound like you’re having fun. If you’re not having fun its not worth it at all.

You’re going to have to expand on the time frame topic. We all work at different paces, so you’ll need to define your interpretation of “not getting much done”.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7592 posts in 2801 days

#12 posted 07-23-2013 10:15 PM

Yup, it’s expensive. With all those tools out there, and all those magazines telling you you need all those tools; with all that beautiful wood and all those websites showing you what you can do with that wood… well… it’s hard to keep the ol’ wallet in your pocket sometimes.

But with some self control, and some creativity, a woodworker can do a lot with just a little.

On YouTube there’s a great old video of a guy making a pair of wooden shoes with little more than an ax and a log. I think a guy who can make something nice without fancy tools has a lot more skill that a guy who needs a shop full of expensive machines. And that has to be far more satisfying!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Fresch's profile


229 posts in 1921 days

#13 posted 07-24-2013 02:03 AM

I listed out a bunch of stuff and then removed it; America is great!!
It takes time to get all your stuff, buy right and the best you can afford at that time/ wait for the deals they come.

View patron's profile (online now)


13604 posts in 3341 days

#14 posted 07-24-2013 02:16 AM

after 50 years of buying tools
some more than once as they break down

i would have to say
woodworking is not expensive
eating is

i have been broke the whole time

and i still am

and still buying tools too

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3161 posts in 3109 days

#15 posted 07-24-2013 02:20 AM

If you are just starting, expect it to be expensive. Do you have any fix-up activities around the house that you can justify using those same tools to get them done? When you are done, the tools will still be there.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

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