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Thread: Justification for our tools and shops

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Justification for our tools and shops

    Not wanting to hijack this thread i thought i would start another because Frank and Allen mentioned a subject that i think has merits in a debate.

    There are two issues that hey raised.

    1) Justification of tools
    2) What happens to our tools after we pass and what will they be sold for bring up he issue of justification on spending too much for good tools.

    I have taken a mental beating of my own doing on this subject, especially since i made a very loud statement in my subdivision by building what people see as a huge shop building and stocking it with machines.

    I find myself constantly justifying it. So for a few of you that maybe are prone to feelings of guilt I offer my views.

    I have friends that play golf in the summer and have much to do in winter.

    Due to fees they spend in excess of $3000 per season and thats not including 19th hole and bets or extra clubs and balls or tips.

    At the end of the season they have nothing to show and nothing to do in winter except for those that go to the dome to continue to practice. Very few and an additional cost.

    I also have friends (back in SA) that inherited huge amounts of money from their parents. In less than 20 years that cash was gone. These were reasonably balanced and educated people all having a University education if thats anything to use as a barometer. The parents worked themselves to a standstill and both died at an early age by todays standards.

    Now i just had my 52 birthday. I started buying my shop tools and machines about 6 years ago. Slowly adding to the haul and working in the basement. That would have been at the age of around 46.

    I figured with winter being like it is and seeing many clients not having hobbies and not knowing when they should hang up their guns and retire, i would start early.

    The money i spend on my tools has nothing to do with what my kids will do with them when i am gone because i guess they would do the same if left them the equivalent in cash.

    I figured my tools over a 20 to 25 year period will still likely be around and in pretty good condition. In 20 years of golf membership my golfing buddy would still have nothing to show for it and would probably have turned over several sets of golf clubs.

    In order to only by tools once i have tried where possible, not always stuck to it for crazy reasons, to buy decent quality tools. I aint a contractor or pro but i have experienced the difference between good and bad quality tools, just look at my lathe.

    So i personally try not to feel guilty that i have set up shop to self indulge myself in a enjoyable hobby after working my butt off most of my life and providing for my kids and my family.

    There is no way i can justify the investment in economic terms and at the same time i cannot take any money with me to the grave.

    Now some have said to me i should have saved all this cash for retirement. And my reply there has been that to retire to doing nothing but sit in front of the TV would well kill me in a very short time.

    There is an added bonus that comes with our tools and our shop.

    Allen in your case you have provided your son with some real fine pieces of what i consider to be priceless furniture. He will be proud to have them in his new house. Money and buying them from Ikea or some other place would not have been the same. At the same time you got the pleasure and frustration along with the odd bit of injury in the making of them.
    But you could never have done it without the tools.

    I have helped many of my friends with all sorts of projects and it has given me great pleasure to be able to do so.

    These are outputs that none of my golfing friends have been able to do. They often leave their families alone on weekends, then come home having had their fill at the 19 th hole and aint interested in going out with their spouse and have nothing to show for it.

    So bottom line is guys dont feel guilty or worry for one moment about justifying your shop or tools.

    Just my 5cents worth. Whats yours.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    The only justification I need is that I enjoy it.

    If that flies with your family, nuff said
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    My dad was a woodworker and my mother painted and sewed so I guess the urge to be creative came natural. My dad shop consisted of a table top saw, a home made bench grinder, table top drill press, and a homemade lathe using a an electric drill as the head stock and hand tools. He very rarely used hard wood, mostly pine and turned out some realy nice stuff. I had a desire to take it to the next level, using hard woods and creating bigger pieces so in order to do this found it safer to get a proper table saw, I justified the planer and jointer to save money on hardwood and to be able to get the wood I wanted etc,,, etc. in short I was able to afford better then my dad but owe him for the inspiration. My wife encouraged me to do more so it was easy to justify the expense. I hope my 2 sons will continue in the tradition. I have a very small shop by many standards but like my dad I manage to get the work out. It's easy to justify something you love and thats justification enough. Besides, if I hadn't spent the money on my shop, it would have just gone for booze and broads...
    Last edited by Don Baer; 05-04-2010 at 06:01 PM.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    The only justification I need is that I enjoy it.

    If that flies with your family, nuff said
    I'm pretty much in agreement with Stu.

    I spend a lot of money on my woodworking hobby - both in tools and materials.

    My wife spends even more on her quilting hobby.

    Neither one of us cares what happens to our 'stuff' when we're gone.
    Jim D.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    I only have to justify my purchases to myself.
    This is a very expensive hobby, especially if I buy things like a lathe for 600 bucks, chucks, chisels, and in months havent touched it more than 3 times.
    Im not rich like alot of other people, so when I spend big dollars on a large purchase that is only enjoyed by me for hobby purposes, well, I guess its my upbringing that causes a tiny bit of guilt.
    I wont change.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    What if you play golf and woodwork

    I mentioned on another thread awhile back the my Dad was pretty handy with tools but my inspiration came from my Jr. High and High School shop teachers Mr. Stone and Mr. Dodge.

    I started out with the basic hand tools and back in the 70's. I won a radial arm saw in a company sponsored sales contest and the rest is history. I bought a Shopsmith about 12 years ago and have been replacing it with good quality used tools (for the most part) ever since. (I had also owned a contractor supply store before the last recession hit in 1990 and managed to add to my collection)
    Everything I make is for my family. With 5 married daughters and 1 married son I keep quite busy with my request list. My skills are far below what most of the folks on this forum have but have been improving since joining here.
    My son has shown some interest in woodworking but one of my son-in-laws is a talented guy and drools over my shop whenever he comes over.
    I gave up golf years ago, but I can't imagine giving up woodworking.
    After I'm gone If my wife doesn't have to sell the tools to make ends meet I hope someone in my family will enjoy them as much as I have.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    While I agree completely with what you say Rob, and as well with what Stu says, I can't but really hesitate a lot when the time comes to buy a new tool.

    Funny enough I can spend twice as much on a present for my wife or one of my relatives without a second thought.

    However, when I have to buy something for myself I always have problem in taking the decision, I just keep telling/asking myself "Do I need it?" "Don't I have similar tools?" There was a time where I could not afford them, but now that I can the feeling is the same.

    We only live once, and we should enjoy life as much as we can, or so I think, then why is it so hard to me spending 200$ on a set of chisels?
    The machines I have and many of the tools come from extra money I earned and as it was extra I didn't hesitate at all in buying them.
    Best regards,

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    ok.. here's my 1.5 cents worth... golfing, like fishing,hunting,skiing,running,sewing,quilting, and about a zillion other activities are considered hobbies. they are things that people like to do in their spare time,etc... everyone seems to have one and most have at least one. I have a co-worker who LOVES to play golf. he's a scratch golfer and makes a few coins on side bets. I have friends and family members who love to hunt or target shoot. they spend a LOT of money on their sport. I have other friends who love to play softball i the summer, to the point where they'll spend HUNDREDS on aluminum bats. As for woodworking, it's an expensive hobby, or can become one very quickly. My grandfather re-did antique furniture as a hobby, and that's where I learned to appreciate the craft. I bought most of my tools , because my grandson needed a bed, and I knew I could build one of better quality than could be bought by his parents. they couldn't afford anything other than a Wal-mart quality bed. I just kept building things for other family members who wnated a piece built. not professional quality by any means, but better than what's in dept. stores.I now consider it a hobby, that must share my time with my other want-tos... and it does. I know that I'll not get a decent return on my $$, as used tools takes a beating at most auctions, or sales thru newspaper ads. at least thats what I've seen over the past 40+ years that my Dad and brother, being Auctioneers, have sold at estate sales, etc. I wish that my hobby would be interesting enough to my Grandsons, or other family members, that they'd want to have a go at it as well. if they do, the tools are theirs for the taking after I'm gone. if you can't help your own, you shouldn't help anyone, thats' my country-bred philosophy. I will say that I've never taken $$ from the home budget to buy anything, and what I did buy had a purpose( for the most part)in completing tasks mentioned above. I have no qualms about those who pay big $$ to join country clubs to play golf,just like I have no problem with thsoe who spend $$ on anything they enjoy, as long as it doesn't affect the home budget. constraint is alwys necessary in these situations. all hobbies are or can be expensive to be sure.
    now, it's summertime, and I really don't want to be in the garage building things.. I've been inside all winter and I want to enjoy a garden,mow the grass, paint the house, etc... I do my ww'ing when it's too cold to be outside, or when a relative/friend NEEDS a piece built for their family.
    sorry for being long-winded....
    "Treat everyone equally,keep your word, and overlook peoples''ll make plenty yourself "..... spoken to me by a much wiser man than I.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I'm with Stu but as a comical aside; I have yet to spend anywhere near what I spent during my year or so of enthusiastic golfing. Especially if you count the 19th hole.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    Neither one of us cares what happens to our 'stuff' when we're gone.
    Actually I have thought of what happens to my tools after I am gone for some time now. It all started when I saw an estate sale and the tools that were there. For some reason, it made me sad to see this woodworker's tools up for auction. Maybe it was because I do not have any children to pass my tools on to.

    I have decided that if they are not needed by my wife for survival (assuming I should go first)(and they should not be) I am going to find the right young struggling woodworker and donate my handtools to him. The handtools mean the most to me and actually have the greatest value. I would want them to live on as a set and appreciated by someone who would know the value of them. Not so much the monetary value (although there is that), but the quality of the craftsmanship they exhibit and the care that was given to them by me.

    Once I decided that, I felt much better about my purchases and what happens after I die. I am creating a dynasty (I hope), like Benjamin Seaton's chest.
    Last edited by Bill Satko; 05-03-2010 at 07:25 PM.

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