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Thread: Justifying tool purchases for Hobby Work

  1. #16
    Join Date
    May 2015
    NW Indiana
    Quote Originally Posted by Günter VögelBerg View Post
    I just remind myself of the money I used to spend on booze and pills and weed and coke, then suddenly woodworking seems cheap and sobriety seems even more pleasant

    2nd that - coming up on 36 years.

    Last year we worked out how much I would spend on getting a better shop, and that's what we spent. Did I get all the high end tools I wanted - nope. But the family - kids, grandkids and great grandkids - got what they needed or wanted and I can still make saw dust, and the occasional "thing". Balancing priorities is needed, and sometimes we need to listen to a voice of reason to get our priorities right. Fortunately for me I married that voice of reason 40 years ago.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

  2. #17
    You really only have to justify your purchases to yourself, and perhaps your significant other or business partners.

    We each have a different view of the 'value' of our money, our time, our effort, and our enjoyment.

    We'll all tell you what we like and dislike about our purchases; just ask! But take it with a grain of salt. Our decisions were made in accordance with our values, not yours.

    Andy - Arlington TX

  3. #18
    My kids grew up in my shop with me. Building them their first beds blossomed into a nice little business. I got nothing to say about justifying tools, but the idea that little ones and woodworking don't go together is misguided.

  4. #19
    Buy what you need for the current project, not what you THINK you will need for a project you have not yet begun.

    The domino and track saw do not reduce the need for jigs or more tools. I suspect you like most of us hobbyists do much of this for the challenge. That means constantly considering new techniques and therefore new jigs and tools. I didn’t say we always succumb to the temptation, but there is always another “domino”out there that we think is the Holy Grail.

    There is no such Grail. Domino does come close, though

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Melbourne, Australia
    When I had my first child my wife actually encouraged me to take up woodwork and I bought a radial arm saw and a few other minor tools. I built all our beds did all the shelving throughout the house and made all the coffee tables and kitchen table over a few months. In the long run I saved way more than the radial arm was worth. As a hobbyist justification, therefore was easy.
    Just another way to look at it.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Lebanon, TN
    I really can't add anything to what has already been said. It might seem super expensive now, but you'll have it for the next 15 years+.

    I have a few Festool products, accumulated over the past 8 years. Of the two I would replace in a nano second are the Domino and the Tracksaw.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Camillus, NY
    Ever wonder how the craftsman who built the furniture displayed at Winterthur in Wilmington. DE managed without Festool? Just sayin'😀

    "It is better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation" - Herman Melville

  8. #23
    I used to justify tools by the money we were saving on the furniture they allowed me to build. That worked well for us with me making all the beds, one set of kitchen cabinets, Kitchen table and chairs, etc.. But I couldn't justify "nicer" tools like my SawStop PCS that way. Or at least I did not. I also did not justify my Domino that way. My personal theory on Festools is to only buy them when cheaper alternatives are not available. There is no direct competitor to a domino so I bought one. But I think a Bosch jigsaw is about as good as the Festool, from what I read, so I use a Bosch. My Bosch 1250DEVS is pretty close to the bigger Rotex sander and I like it a lot.

    Do when I justified tools this way, I waited for a project I could not easily do without the next tool and bought it. My late wife totally went along with that theory. She typically encouraged me to get tools sooner - but only after she saw I could make useful things she liked.

    I would not get a Festool tracksaw unless you really need the depth of cut of the 75. I like my DeWalt and the Makita is favored by many. Kreg has an interesting saw too. For most tools, there is a middle level price tool that will be nearly as good/productive as the festool. My DeWalt's depth adjustment is not as nice to use as a festool, for instance, but it works just fine. And the motor is bigger, the depth of cut slightly more and with track it was about half as much.

    Another thing that could justify a Festool is if you will transport the tools a lot. Festool does a very good job with their Systainers setting you up for moving the tool to the job. But in a shop, I think the systainer for my domino just wasted space so it is in storage.

    I am not saying this is terrible but I remember an old cartoon from a Fine Woodworking about a guy with a really nice shop full of really nice tools. Somebody was asking his wife what he made in it. She said nothing, once the shop was done he hasn't done a thing. That is the opposite of my theory. I like nicer tools but only to get useful projects for myself or my family built.

    A jig with a plunge router will make nicer mortises than a Domino. It will take more time but will not prevent you from making anything. A hollow chisel mortiser makes rougher mortises than a domino but they work just fine. I have done mortises all these ways. But at this point, I can afford to buy tools just because I want them. So I bought a XL with a complete set of cutters down to 5mm but without the pre-made tenons. That is partially the cost but also because they would take up a lot of space I don't really have in my little shop. It is very easy to make the tenons (when in a shop with a table saw and planner). I also like to make wider tenons than the pre-made dominos when that is what fits best in the project.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Wright View Post
    Ever wonder how the craftsman who built the furniture displayed at Winterthur in Wilmington. DE managed without Festool? Just sayin'
    It's absolutely true that fine work can be done with modest or more traditional tools...there are millions/billions of good examples of that. It's also true that some modern tools make things easier. It's nice to have choices and as has been noted by multiple folks, "justification" is a personal, subjective thing relative to where on that spectrum a purchase might fall.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    NE Connecticut
    Lots of good advice here. I agree with the following:

    • Kids are ridiculously expensive (I had to spend almost $110k on daycare alone for two kids and know people who have spent much more)
    • Your time will be quite limited for at least 2-3 years after each child.
    • Consider devoting your time to your children as much as possible. They grow up FAR faster than you expect. Woodworking isn't going anywhere.
    • Consider waiting a year before making this decision. Being a parent radically changes your priorities.
    • A Domino and a track saw will speed up your work and will retain a lot of resale value
    • If you're young and going to spend money, buy the best you can reasonably afford.

    I will add that I often find it convenient to have my workshop to use for household repairs and upgrades. I don't think I've ever used a Domino for household stuff, but my tracksaw has definitely been useful around the house.

    Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your child!

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    N.E. Ohio
    How do you rationalize a tool purchase?
    There are such things as used.....
    Festool does sting quite a bit at first, but, in the long run, almost all of their tools will bring a smile of satisfaction to your face as you use them.
    I justified my TS55EQ track saw purchase this way:
    - I was using a low end Ryobi circular saw & a shop made guide to break down a sheet of B/C plywood. Halfway through the cut, the blade bound - the plywood tipped off the supports & left me standing there with a stalled saw- grinding frantically due to the blade binding in the cut, me trying frantically to free the saw while not having the plywood fall. I ended up throwing the saw at the plywood and jumping back out of harm's way. Thankfully, the breaker tripped at some point in that mess.
    I ruined the plywood and I probably didn't do the saw any good.
    I went inside - shopped around for a better circular saw. A top end circular saw was going to run me about $200 - by the time I added a good blade. I was about 1/3 the way to a TS55EQ ($500-something at the time w/55" track and $89 for another).
    I priced good hardwood plywood and it ran about $120 for a 4x8 sheet. I remembered the trashed sheet of B/C @ that point and headed out the door to run to Hartville Hardware to pick up the Festool.

    It was easy to justify spending the extra money since over the years, the Festool has more than repaid the original investment.

    I no longer use it though. I've since added a cordless Makita track saw. The cordless allows me to take it right to the supplier and cut my sheet goods down to their final exact dimensions - and load the cut down pieces in my Hyundai Kona ( sub compact SUV) - so - I no longer have to have the expense of a van or truck
    The Makita is almost as good as the Festool. They are close enough that I pick up the Makita all the time. One of these days, I'll sell the Festool.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Do yourself a favor and dont limit yourself to getting stuck on the cost of the Festool. Im not a Festool fan though there will be a Domino one day when a project will pay for it or there is enough regular work for it in the shop that it wouldnt spend the majority of its time in the cabinet.

    You can go to places like CPO outlets and by factory recondition tools that will land to you looking basically like new with a full warranty for far less money than new. I dont use a track saw often in the shop but it is handy when breaking down large counter top blanks, solid surface, and so on. I am not going to pay for a Festool or a Mafell thats going to sit in the cabinet 95% of its life. They are all pretty much the same tool when it comes down to it with only very subtle differences. A Makita or other brand that can share tracks with several other brands (avoid Dewalt different track) will save you a bunch. We bought the makita and a track for less than $300 bucks. Then bought a 118" track for the same money but the short track will suffice for a lot of work.

    For me personally I would avoid sharing a purchase with anyone at any time. Ive just never had any luck with that sort of arrangement though I envy people who have relationships where that works. For me its always a scenario where its not there when you need it, its treated poorly/differently than you would treat your tools. Thing comes back with something broken, augmented, modified, dull blade that "oh I meant to order a new blade" and so on. I have a motto in life, captain your own ship.

    The domino is a different animal though no doubt there will be knock-offs about at some point.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Yea, I only have one friend who I ever share tools with and I've known him for 40 years...real close, in other words. His first choice is always to have me do something in my shop or at his home, but on occasion...few and far between...he'll use something of mine to get a job done "in situ". Sharing tools/tool cost is a bit scary to me.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 02-06-2020 at 10:12 AM.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    The domino is a different animal though no doubt there will be knock-offs about at some point.
    I suspect, like the track saw, the day the patent expires (patent date was 2004 so 4 years from now)

    There's been a whole host of great comments and I'm really not sure there's anything I can add, other that to echo that enjoying the time with kids is something I would keep as a high priority again. FWIW, the tools that the craftsman in Wilmington used weren't cheap when new either. Nor are hand tools today, really.

    It also depends on your goals. I'm not typically buying tools simply to reduce labor costs these days, unless it's a task I really just hate doing. This is the reason I have zero interest in said Domino, I like making mortise and tenon joints too much. With the last purchases, they've either been 'good deals' on items I've been wanting for some time or a project has dictated a need.

    scope creep

  15. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by mike stenson View Post
    I suspect, like the track saw, the day the patent expires (patent date was 2004 so 4 years from now)
    Interesting, I was just thinking that the Domino had been out for a long time, and no competitors. FWIW, I've seen some people do DIY versions.

    One other justification I want to throw out there. I've got an old house, and it has needed a lot of things over the years. When we moved in I had two doors so badly warped that they would not latch, and only stayed closed because of rubbing against the frame. I was quoted a price of ~1K per door, and decided that I was better off spending the money on tools than on buying doors. I was able to outfit an entire shop for less than $2K, and build two doors.

    I've since gone over that budget a bit with a couple of things, but it's a reasonable justification to say can I save money building this myself?

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