Spending more for better results - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Spending more for better results

Spending more money for tools does not guarantee better results.
Museums are filled with woodworking projects that were made with very simple tools.
Some on our forum often recommend beginning woodworkers to buy the best or at least buy the best you can afford. The cost of entering woodworking will become staggering if this advice is always followed. It's enough to keep beginners from getting involved in woodworking because it's just too expensive.
Power tools have improved over the years. New features have been added. More safety has been added. Hell if nothing else, they're all UL approved. Not so with early power tools.
I recommend any novice enter this craft slowly with a very long range plan to outfit their entire shop. Any tool can be replaced or improved on over a period of time.
As the skills improve so can the tool quality (or not).
If one board is cut on a $6,000 saw and another is cut on a $600 saw; most of us can not tell which Saw made the cut.
Okay let's get the discussion started.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #2 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 07:15 PM
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I believe these adage to be true.

"Utilize your tools" and "mechanize if possible"

As far as advising someone what they need, it's not my job.
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post #3 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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I believe these adage to be true.

"Utilize your tools" and "mechanize if possible"

As far as advising someone what they need, it's not my job.
This forum is based on opinions.
Whether you voice your opinion or not, we all have "our" opinions.
Many seek the forum for these opinions. Once they gather several, they can form their own opinion.
Many times it's not a matter of being right or wrong, it's just an opinion. And we can agree or disagree.
There are so many choices in woodworking. And that's what makes it so interesting.
I think a novice can get some great advice from more experienced woodworkers. But it's up to the novice to sort through the information and decide where to put their trust.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #4 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 08:27 PM
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True enough.

My experience is limited. Many if not all here have far more experience than me. I try to give very little advice and limit my comments to my experience.

However, if a poster wants to spend his money and is choosing between several $3000 saws, who am I to tell him not to? Why does anyone who has a limited budget believe their experience operating within that limited budget is good advice for someone that has a lot of money and is ready to spend it. Hey, spend away. If I have experience with one of the tools he is looking at, I would be comfortable conveying that. Often I see a reflex response to buying advice met with a buy used and go to CL when the guy wants a new saw.
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post #5 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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True enough.

My experience is limited. Many if not all here have far more experience than me. I try to give very little advice and limit my comments to my experience.

However, if a poster wants to spend his money and is choosing between several $3000 saws, who am I to tell him not to? Why does anyone who has a limited budget believe their experience operating within that limited budget is good advice for someone that has a lot of money and is ready to spend it. Hey, spend away. If I have experience with one of the tools he is looking at, I would be comfortable conveying that. Often I see a reflex response to buying advice met with a buy used and go to CL when the guy wants a new saw.
I agree with you. We all have different budgets. I think it makes a lot of difference in buying for a hobby verses buying for your professional trade. Your livelihood.
I've seen shops on this forum that are dream shops.
And I've seen beautiful wood projects made with tools that many of us would call inferior.
So basically I'm saying it's the talent more than the tools. Good talent can make great things with old tools or cheap tools. Great tools makes everything easier for a talented woodworker. :smile3:

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #6 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 09:41 PM
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I don't know, I'm sitting here tonight struggling to type, my hand screwed up as a result of a safety device on a nail gun. It seems a huge majority of the accidents I have are a result of safety equipment.

I was using a framing nailer Saturday and because the safety had such a taunt spring on it it caused me to put my hand too close to ground zero and a nail turned out and got me on my knuckle. Had the safety not been there or at least a reasonable spring on it I could have had my hand back 6".
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post #7 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 09:52 PM
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When I began assembling tools for a dedicated workshop so many years ago, everyone said "Buy the best and it will be all you will need to buy". I studied what was available,weighed the pros & cons, budgeted and bought the best vallue for the feature/function. I learned to love woodworking from a journeyman finish carpenter who built wonderful cabentry on site with a contractor''s saw. My Father-In-Law made beautiful woodworking with nothing more than Craftsman tools. I know a fellow who filled his shop with nothing less than PM & PC brand tools. They sit rusting in his shop andb he really never made much of anything. My entire shop likely cost less than his tablesaw & lathe.
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post #8 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 09:55 PM
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Here's how I outfit my shop. First I don't buy tools until/unless I have an immediate use for them. I check out the used market (ads, garage sales, on-line sources).

If I'm going to make a major purchase I usually check out the reviews in woodworking magazines. Gotta look at their review criteria cautiously cause some may not apply to me. The top rated tool may be the best for a production shop but over kill for a hobbyist.

Lastly I don't have any brand loyalty. I have Delta, Dewalt, Porter-Cable, and some off-shore brands. I buy what I think is the best for me.
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post #9 of 53 Old 07-09-2017, 10:52 PM
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Spending more for better results

After running a retail business for 36 years, working 6-7 days a week and not taking a vacation that lasted more then four days for more then 25 years, I've finally reached a point in retirement where I can relax and have a bit more left over each month then we need to live on, so I'm not going to apologize for spending money on what I consider a fun hobby.

It allows me to try different innovative products then just a basic set of woodworking tools. In fact, my selection of machinery is limited more by my ability to get it down a set of basement stairs then the cost.

I buy American wherever I can, because not only do I feel it's important to support my country, but we make some really innovative products for woodworking. The miterset that forum members have recently talked about is one such product. I think companies like Incra and Woodpeckers and Jessum and Forrest and Whiteside and Lie-Nielsen and others deserve our support, and I'm glad I can afford to do so.

In my relatively short woodworking career I've had contractor saws, hybrid saws and cabinet saws, they all cut, but I sure like working with my cabinet saw the best. The quality of the fence, the all metal hand wheels, the large work surface and extension, heck, I'm a sucker for nicely designed and working equipment.

I'm hooked on routers. I started with a homemade table and fence, then a Rockler table with plates which I though was a much nicer experience and never looked back. Until I got frustrated with sawdust getting caught between router motor and body, making it frustrating to adjust depth of cut, so then I got a Rockler router lift, and never looked back. Soon I got a Jessum master lift II and 3 1/4 hp router, and I never looked back. After a while I bought an Incra fence, and was able to do things I was never able to do before, and never want to go back. If you don't get to try things, you don't know what you are missing.

Do I think you should buy the best you can afford? Why not if you can afford it. I've never been disappointed by equipment that exceeds my capabilities to use it, only equipment that's limited my options and expectations.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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Last edited by Terry Q; 07-09-2017 at 11:46 PM.
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post #10 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 01:46 AM
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Buying the best you can afford does not mean you will end up with a top of the line tool, it simply means you may have better than an entry level tool.
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post #11 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 06:45 AM
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The phrase "buy the best you can afford" is OK, but incomplete. You do not always need the best that you can afford.

I prefer to think of it as "buy the best that you can afford and need for the type of work you are going to do."

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post #12 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 06:47 AM
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In some utopian world far far away everyone starts out exactly equal with nobody having the advantage over others, but to steal the title from the popular conspiracy movie, everything is a rich man's trick.
There are people, psychopaths most likely who are perfectly happy to have thousands of people murdered to keep their positions and stations in life well beyond that of most people on this planet.

Now, I'm happy to think there are no psychopaths on this forum willing to have people outright murdered to have the most expensive tools in their shops at their disposal, but I don't actually know this as fact. I'll just take it as an article of faith that we're mostly fairly honest people here.

Now, that aside there is a line or even several that separate quality tools that make woodworking much easier than others.
At the same time there seems to be unscrupulous manufacturers who are happy to sell dangerous and unsafe tools as well as people who simply do not or will not take the time to learn much of anything about traditional methods and instead are always looking for shortcuts and happy to sacrifice quality for bragging rights and/or quick profits for whatever reasons.
I doubt there's any question that there is no shortage of people who will buy or sell very low quality goods for the quick buck or to save a penny.
I think by far most of us would rather own a good quality plane (for example) than a very cheap one that is difficult to use, won't hold an edge and so on.
Many people are willing to drop $1000 and more for the latest and greatest piece of machinery when much less expensive traditional tools will work just as well, but do require a bit more practice and skill.
The humble mortise can be produced with a sharp chisel and a mallet for a fraction of the cost of the Festool floating tenon setup. And I suspect there are more than a few people who have bought them who will never become proficient using them and instead will stash their $1000 worth of Festool in the closet and give up in frustration simply because they want some expensive tool or piece of equipment to do all the work for them.

Hey, have I rattled on enough about this yet? LOL

Don't you just love the phrase, 'It takes the guess work out of....' ? That seems to be shorthand for 'We know you're a lazy schmuck and are willing to sell you lazy in a box.'
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Last edited by allpurpose; 07-10-2017 at 07:02 AM.
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post #13 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I don't know, I'm sitting here tonight struggling to type, my hand screwed up as a result of a safety device on a nail gun. It seems a huge majority of the accidents I have are a result of safety equipment.

I was using a framing nailer Saturday and because the safety had such a taunt spring on it it caused me to put my hand too close to ground zero and a nail turned out and got me on my knuckle. Had the safety not been there or at least a reasonable spring on it I could have had my hand back 6".
Steve
Sorry to hear of your accident and hope you heal fast.
I had a long career of selling nail guns and I've seen or heard of many accidents. Never good. I could take up an entire post on nail gun accidents including one death in Amarillo, Tx.
I agree with you that some added safety equipment is not always safe, but this is primarily having to do with table saws for me.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #14 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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I've never heard the term " sell you lazy in a box", but I like it.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #15 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 10:18 AM
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Clearly we are all different. We come from different backgrounds. We have different skill-sets. We have different budgets. We have different space available for our shop size. We have different plans of actions. I frequent the vintage machinery forum, many there buy old machines and restore them. It gives them quality machinery at a fraction of the cost of a new comparable machine. That particular course of action isn't for everybody. Some have the money and are ready and willing to spend it on a new hobby. Nothing wrong with that in my view. Setting up a basic shop can be whittled down to a few basic machines or at least a few processes that can be accomplished by a few basic machines. Debating between how to make a cross cut whether to use a sled or a radial arm saw or a miter saw or whatever while an interesting discussion, a new user can select one and call it a day. A few basic tools will get anyone started. If you have a limited budget, maybe CL is the answer. If you got some money new tools might be preferable.

How much time anyone spends learning their craft is up to them. A purist might believe that some level of apprentice like training filled with hand operations is necessary. Others might believe all you need to do is spend the time learning what you need to know to accomplish the task art hand. A purist might believe you need to hand cut dove tail drawers to have a full grasp of the task at hand and others may use Kreg screws, others may use one of the new drawer router bits and still others may use the myriad of joints available. At the end of the day it is up to them.

Money, clearly doesn't buy skill. Having good machinery, if you can afford it isn't a crime either.
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post #16 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 10:58 AM
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A lot of this boils down to talent and skill. I am an amateur photographer. I have seen photographs produced with a cell phone by a skilled photog that understands light and composition which are gallery quality yet I can hand a $40,000 Hasselblad camera to someone with no understanding of light or composition and they will produce poor quality snapshots. The same goes for woodworking or any other art/craft. It is not the quality of the tools but the skill, talent, abilities of the individual and the willingness to develop and fine tune their talents through understanding, practice, and learning.

I am a better photographer than I am a wood worker but my wood working tools are of better quality than my cameras. Go figure.
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post #17 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 11:36 AM
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One more comment about buying the best tool you can afford. You are starting out, you have decided you have $500 to spend on a table saw, what do you buy?

1. A used 10 year old bench top for $100 and keep the $400 for something else, probably towards a better saw in a couple months.

2. A new job site saw for $500, serviceable but has limitations.

3. A used contractors saw for $500, a tool that will be serviceable for several years, maybe forever, and worth upgrading the fence, etc, in the future.
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post #18 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 11:38 AM
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When I started this hobby I was about 12 YO, I worked and saved up money to buy used tools, and i had a pretty impressive shop stocked with vintage tools, Old Deltas, Powermatics, Walker Turner, Wallace, Davis and Welles, there wasn't much I didn't have but I made good furniture with it

Fast forward 50 some years, my wife and I ran our own HVAC/R bidness and while starting out money was so tight we got in the habit of saving money when ever we could. Then our business exploded, a few years we were paying over $200,000 in just income tax. I remembered when I was a kid and we were studying taxes in school I swore if I ever made enough, I would gladly pay the taxes, I lied LOL So getting a 40% discount on tax deductible tools was, a pretty good incentive to tool up, but I was still very cautious about spending money

About 4 years ago our son got medically discharged from the Army, for TBI and PTSD, he will get disability for the TBI as it cannot be cured, but the Army offered him a deal on the PTSD, they would give him over $100,000 severance pay or he could get $1,000 per month, but a yearly evaluation to see if it has improved, if so the $1000 per month would quit. Knowing how good the VA took care on us Nam vets I told him to take the money and build a nice house here on the farm. He said he would think about building a house, but he said they didn't mind living in the single wide we pulled here in 95 while we were building our house.

Between him and his wife, they pi$$ed away all that money in record time, about 2-3 weeks, my wife and I decided screw leaving anything for them, so we started spending a lot more, I have spent about $15000 on new machines and updates, So now Ihave spent a little of our savings so I have to build more furniture and cabinets to justify to myself spending the money on the tools LOL

I think a 44 ft Prevost is calling my name, I will get a new mini lathe, bandsaw and drill press and sit at a campsite building pens and wine stoppers
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post #19 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 12:03 PM
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Spending more for better results

I learned early in life that good tools make good work easier.
I do not want to be able to blame my fubars on my tools, so I buy the good stuff.


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Last edited by WesTex; 07-10-2017 at 12:07 PM.
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post #20 of 53 Old 07-10-2017, 12:31 PM
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There probably is no single right answer to a question like this, but I can tell what I have done and I am happy with the approach that I have taken. I will not buy cheap tools, like the lowest quality store brand found in "big box" stores...but not every serviceable tool has to be ultra high end either.

I have chosen quality over price, and strongly prefer American made whenever possible, for over 30 years now and with just a few exceptions, I am using the same tools now that I bought 15, 20, 25+ years ago. My preference is to buy quality, even if I have to wait to save up the difference, and then treat them right. I am sure that 80% of my tools will still be in fine condition to pass along to my boys someday and I get much more enjoyment out of them now too.
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