Tool crazy… and I know it

12 Mar

The recent tool purchases…

I’ve started building some tables in the shop recently. I’ve needed to use my router a lot. I decided it wasn’t practical to keep moving the router in and out of the router table, I was losing time setting it up and breaking it down. For the most versatility I chose a router kit with two bases, fixed and plunge.

Porter cable was the brand we used most at woodworking school, it's solid and reliable and familiar, so I favour it.

I bought it "used" off of ebay for $150, but it's actually in mint condition, there's no dust, wear, or scratches ANYWHERE. There's even lubricant from the factory on the motor visible here.

Not a scratch.

I wasn't super keen on the old time-y features of a toggle on off switch and...

... a thumb screw for locking my settings in, and lack of soft-start. But I'd also used exactly this model at school. I knew updated features would be more convenient but that I could do without them for the sake of my budget.

I'll update you on how this kit performs.

At $40 I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get this mobile base for my router table.

Now it's not an awkward affair to re-position my router table when working on longer lengths of wood.

During my current build I was also in dire need of various sized forstner bits. I decided to get this set and upgrade only the most used bits to carbide later on.

Keeping tabs…

So as I tabulate how many tools I’ve acquired in the past 8 months I find I’ve been steadily adding to my collection and at a greater speed than I’d thought I could. This is partially due to my thrifty ways, the fact that I’ve been working to pay for my tool habit, and also due to a supportive spouse. I say that if we invest money in tools, there will be returns on it when I start selling furniture.

An analogy… to take away some of the sting

Of course it’s starting to become a bit tense in the house when mention of another potential tool purchase is made. “Another one?!” I often make the comparison to being a chef that needs to stock a kitchen from scratch. They must get all the large and small appliances, pots, pans, and any and everything else that is needed for a chef to properly do their job. So does a woodworker. I got a bit of a shocked stare when I mentioned that I now have about 1/3 of the tools I will eventually have.

Admitting I have a problem… but am still in denial

There’s a definite high that comes with my tool purchases, and I see that it can be an addiction. I’m often looking at or thinking about tools in my down time.I don’t want to get carried away, but at the same time this is the perfect window of time for me to be indulging in my profession’s trappings.I don’t have many expenses in my life and I haven’t started a family yet.

You can’t go back…

I find that once you’ve known the convenience of having the proper tool for the job, it’s hard to go back to “making do” with several starter tools that’ll get the job done but only with much effort and time. If I was a hobbyist I wouldn’t mind, but since I want to build a business, my time and sweat is worth more.

Being cautious about which tools to buy…

I’ll write a tool wish list, then I prioritize it and then I sit on it for a while. I work in the shop to see what’s the newest thing I find I can’t function well enough without. I often find out that my initial list of tools takes a back seat to what the shop tells me it’s missing. Good examples of this were that I wanted to buy an air filter to hang from the ceiling. I thought- “that’s top priority!” Next on my list was a dado stack and a dado brake cartridge for my table saw. But in reality at the time, my dust collection system plus dust mask were doing the trick, and I had a router table to handle the jobs that a dado stack would do. What I really needed were some parallel clamps, a bench vise, some glue and some sand paper! Those won out.

I recommend to any woodworker purchase tools based on immediate need first, it really does save on unnecessary tool purchases. For example, I want a lathe, but I still haven’t needed it, and can’t justify the loss of space in my shop. I want a spindle sander, but ended up buying a drum sander kit for my drill press to save on space also.At least for now.

4 Responses to “Tool crazy… and I know it”

  1. ChrisHasFlair March 12, 2012 at 2:56 am #


    I’m not intimately familiar with the current Porter-Cable 690 series of routers, but I’d guess that if your router is an older one, it’s of better quality. That’s all I’m going to say here.


  2. Christine March 12, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Ah, I can only imagine the amount of tools required to set up a proper shop. I’ve been building one single bookcase, and I’ve already spent more money on tools than the actual project! And I’m a complete amateur. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts on building a shop and on buying used tools, I already bought a POS jigsaw off Kijiji so I’m hoping to not repeat that error in the future…

    • Warped Boards March 12, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      I’ll definitely write a post about my second hand tool purchasing experiences- great idea! Each used purchase is a bit more of a gamble that is for sure, but it can be done with a minimum of risk.

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