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Thread: What tools should I avoid--to avoid developing bad habits?

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Hatfield, AR
    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley Covington View Post
    Avoid any tool sold at a Department Store or Big Box Retailer, especially if it is made in China.

    This rule will help you avoid developing the following 2 Bad Habits.

    Bad Habit Number 1: Wasting hard-earned money on reasonably-priced, attractively designed tools that are packaged and displayed with style, incorporate obviously clever improvements, but are junk the minute they are out of the packaging.

    Bad Habit Number 2: Throwing tools in the garbage (see Bad Habit Number 1 above).
    Caveat to buying the cheap BORG tools... Those tools can be made to work, and work quite well. I bought THIS $15 block plane. Out of the plastic packaging it is definitely a sub-par plane by every conceivable means. The sole was out, every edge on every component (stamped and cast) was rough, the blade was dull and not square, the mouth... I can go on. I also bought THIS file set. So now I'm $40 committed to one of two things: 1) a cheap lesson in futility. 2) A learning experience in rehabbing a plane with cheap files. I am now the proud owner of a cheap block plane that will take .002 shavings on a variety of woods. I have about 1.5hrs of hand work in it. Like most of my tools, it's another "ugly betty" that works quite well.

    So the day that I happen to come across an old plane that needs a little TLC, I'll be ready.

    I happened across Young Je's video of tuning a brand new Kobalt block plane. That is what prompted me to take the chance.

  2. #47
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Tokyo, Japan

    If you have not read this post by Mr. Schwarz in his Popular Woodworking Blog, you should.

    The Six Stages. Sounds kinda like gum cancer....

  3. #48
    Two words: opportunity cost.

  4. #49
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    We often talk about jigs or guides as a crutch, yet we use them all the time. It just seems certain ones are looked down upon. If you argue jigs are nothing more than a resistance to learning “free hand” woodworking, then I would suggest you throw away your straight edges, squares, marking guages, grinder tool rests, french curves, saw sharpening file guides and everything else that is beyond hand and eye. Derek’s point is well taken. If you want to learn the skill, do it. If not, use a jig or guide until at some point maybe you do. I don’t believe in the notion that you need to be able to have a certain predetermined set of skills to be considered a good woodworker.
    Last edited by Phil Mueller; 04-24-2018 at 7:17 PM.

  5. #50
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Philadelphia, PA
    Not to potentially resurrect a dead thread (what's considered "too long" to add your two cents on a thread around here, anyways....?) but I cannot stress and agree more with Joe Faulkner, Charlie Hinton, and others, here:

    DO NOT GO INTO DEBT FOR YOUR HOBBY (or hobbies). Pay *cash for all your tools. If you don't have the cash on hand, then save your pennies until you can. Even if you do make money off of your work, try VERY HARD not to purchase beyond your means (admittedly, that's harder to do, but...).

    The sheer number of tools I *thought* I needed that, as I saved up for them, realized I didn't (or figured out how to make due with a different/cheaper/other version, etc.) is greater than the tools I *do* own. It's helped make me more inventive/imaginative craftsman AND very confident in the tools that I *have* purchased; I don't own many, if any, tools I regret spending my hard-earned dollars on.

    Best advice I ever got that I couldn't not pass on. It's been a wallet- (and, frankly, relationship-) saver.

    *okay, who uses cash anymore...? So, if not with actual cash, then, as someone else pointed out, with plastic you can immediately pay off...

    Please Pick One of the Following:

    Built Correctly & Within Budget / Within Budget & Done Quickly / Done Quickly & Built Correctly

  6. #51
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    I don't own many, if any, tools I regret spending my hard-earned dollars on.

    Best advice I ever got that I couldn't not pass on. It's been a wallet- (and, frankly, relationship-) saver.

    *okay, who uses cash anymore...? So, if not with actual cash, then, as someone else pointed out, with plastic you can immediately pay off...
    Likewise, not many of my tool purchases end in regret.

    Not going into debt for a hobby is an important point with any hobby. One of my ways to save, bank and then spend is to purchase tools as inexpensively as possible, fix them up, hang on to them and then when a new tool is wanted sell off my spares from "Jim's bank of tools" to finance the more expensive tool. The hard part is in not selling a tool here and a tool there. Money tends to get spent if it is in the form of cash.

    Speaking of using cash, it can often lead to a lower price in many places. Sometimes even in a nation wide chain store at times. Especially if you spot the manager and ask. One night in a nationally known store one person was spotted doing the "boss work" and my inquiry while he was close to the registers was, "are there any discounts for old farts with cash?" He answered with, "tonight we have an old fart with cash discount of 10%." When doing this is also helps to not do it in a crowd of others who also might try to get in on the discount train.

    Also be ready to find this to not always work. In an antique mall where we have occasionally received discounts we couldn't get one a few days ago. All of the items we wanted to purchase were fairly recent additions to the stock. We spent about $70 on four items. One of which was a Griswold frying pan with a top marked $50. It seemed like a good price so what the heck.

    The price check on ebay when we got home proved me right:

    Griswold No 800.png

    Another item was something we have been looking for since the 1980s. A friend gave us a large three tined fork, about 2' long and 3" wide at the tines. It is great for garden work. It is branded Hercules Food Service Company New Jersey. My search for another fork or the company has been for naught. This looks like it could pick up a good hunk of meat without any flex. So in the store was a different large fork that looked like it could pick up a side of ribs without any problems. It was marked "Granny's big A$$ Fork" $12. It is a bit lighter than the Hercules, it also has a wooden handle on the end. The Hercules fork is just a heavy piece of stainless steel with a bend on the end so it can hang on a rod.

    We asked if there was any discount for cash. Since the two 'big' items had only been in the store a couple of days the answer was no.

    Remember though, if you don't ask, you likely won't get.

    All in all it was a good deal anyway.

    The deep side of the cast iron unit was used to make up some chow for me using a whole baked chicken and some roasted chili and tomatillo wasabi sauce, yummy.

    That will likely stay in our kitchen until the kids inherit it.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by kent wardecke View Post
    Workmate portable work bench. It will teach you to "get by"instead of using a true functioning work bench
    Workmate... Useless price of junk I've given two away ;-) I'm a slow learner

  8. #53
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    I use mine as a storage shelf....have used it once as a clamp to do a glue up....that has been it.

    IF you start a project with a tape measure..make sure it is the only one used throughout the project.....same with a square. Old saying about too many cooks.....also applies to too many tape measures....just pick one, long enough to do all the work on the project. Then hide all the others in the shop...

  9. #54
    Stanley Covington

    Thank you very much for the link to Schwarz's blog post.


  10. #55
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Lau View Post
    Good tips, everybody!

    My only deviation is that I quite like my limited mijingfang planes.
    The HK trim and high angle polisher work great once tuned...particularly on dubious stuff that scares baltic birch plywood or mdf.

    If I was using a white steel kanna from a good smith, I would cringe/cry with every stroke.
    Having shelf sitter tools that only work that "very special" piece of wood is like having a sheep dog that only runs lambs and not Rams. Pretty soon you end up with a lot of expensive and beautiful tools that you can sit on your shop stool from the big box store and watch them rust.

  11. #56
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Dickinson, Texas
    Shiner beer in Idaho? Shiner is a Texas beer.

  12. #57
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by kent wardecke View Post
    Workmate... Useless price of junk I've given two away ;-) I'm a slow learner
    I've got one at my cabin and use it all the time. Its portable, the clamping system works great. I'd buy another one for sure. Of course, its not intended to be a Roubo, its called a Workmate after all.

  13. #58
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    DuBois, PA
    Having done this, as a hobby, longer than many here have been alive, I have to add define your goals and then add a"stretch goal" to keep you striving for more.

    Lots of good advice here, and several professionals and advanced hobbyists that you can learn from. For me, there are things mentioned that work for me and not for others & vice versa. Don't get hung up on the tools so as to cloud yourself from learning good technique.

    After thinking about this thread through the day, I've decided to add somethings that have been helpful to me: first are top notch pencils, TomBow is a top brand, and real graphite & cedar. For mechanical, get a .3mm. You want Starrett accuracy in a saddle square? Try a Shinwa, through Amazon (might be $15 and called a miter square). While on Amazon, looked for a used copy of Robert Wearing's book on "woodworking fixtures and jigs" (cheap used, and some of the best money you'll spend.
    Last edited by Tony Zaffuto; 05-19-2018 at 3:19 PM.
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  14. #59
    Thanks for the link. I'm probably between stage 4 and 5...maybe I'm near terminal.

    I think:
    1.) Just do more woodworking!
    I have my blum workbench in my car, so no excuses now. With holdfasts and Lee Valley accessories, it's pretty capable. Adding some sorta front vise will be even nicer.

    2.) Carefully weight out how much I need a tool before buying it.
    For me having two yankee drills is too much, as is three eggbeaters. Mainly, I use some Bosch cordless drills and drivers unless I need the noise down....then, I have a miller's falls eggbeater.

    3.) Stop being cheap about wood, and use what I have
    I'm used to being a bottomfeeder, since having a hobby is considered a wasteful indulgence in my household. For instance, my dad's only indulgence for his first 10 years of work was a cheap, made in China $100 Yamaha guitar.
    In contrast, I have two full sets of chisels (Stan's set, and a beater set off ebay), Lee Valley LA planes, a good Jointer plane, three router planes that I've never used, and a plough plane. I also have a garage with some power tools and a stockpile of port orford cedar that I've been saving for guitar necks and billets.
    If I don't use the wood I have, it'll just create spaces for Rats to stay.


    ps. For the new guys, my most useful tools are-- a good set of chisels, a good Japanese pull saw, a good bench plane (LA jack--machined flat). After that, other stuff can be substituted.

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