Extremely Average #54: Frantic Speed Shopping

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Blog entry by Ecocandle posted 02-25-2010 05:19 AM 1930 reads 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 53: Henry Wood Detective Agency: The New Office Part 54 of Extremely Average series Part 55: Is It Worth It? »

The sun was out today and it was the first time this year that I noticed the days seem to be hanging out a bit longer. They are sneaky that way, sort of creeping up on spring. After all the snow this winter, I will welcome spring with a giddiness that I haven’t experienced in years. Of course, it was still cold out, when I got into my car, but the sunlight on my face warmed my spirits considerably.

I had errands to run. I needed to get some petrol and oil for my car. I was craving a Jimmy John’s sub, so that was also on my list. The top task on my list however, was to try to make it over to ACME tool before they closed, so I could see the Festool rep. I had marked on my calendar that he would be in town on the 24th and 25th and today is the 24th! Since I purchased Mary the Jigsaw, I have been interested in seeing either the 5” RQ 125 FEQ or the 6” RQ 150 FEQ sander in action.

The Festool representative, Matt, had a piece of tiger wood, which had recently admitted to cheating on his wife with several types of exotics, from all over the world. Not only did I get to see it in action, I got to do the sanding! It was fantastic. He explained how to hold it correctly and also told my why it was important. Because of the design, it sort of looks like one might hold the sander too far back. He explained that this would lead to horrible chatter. So I did as he had instructed and there wasn’t any chatter, it was smoother than a famous golfer picking up a porn star.

We started with some 120 grit and worked our way up until we were using some weird space age polishing pads. I have read that new woodworkers often over sand. The 6” RQ 150 FEQ sander, which has a random orbital setting and a gear setting, also has an attachment which collects dust. The dust collection was incredible. There simply wasn’t any, the tiny little vacuum seemed to get it all. When I had made it through all the grits and polishing pads, the wood was polished like a new driver.

Before I knew it, the store was closing. I wasn’t prepared to make my purchase today, as I like to mull tool buying decisions over, but I also was not at all prepared to leave ACME tool empty handed. That would be crazy talk. So in a near panic I scooted over to the section with measuring and marking devices. I swooped down the aisle, deftly grabbing a Crown Tools 10 ½ inch bevel in rosewood, a wheel marking guage by Shop Basics, and then frantically hailed one of the remaining workers, to unlock the Freud router bit cabinet. The ACME guys are always friendly, and they never rush me, but I have developed a terrible habit of making them wait on me to close up, so I am trying to do better. I looked at my iphone and I had my new ¼” double flute straight bit, with one minute to spare. I plopped the stuff on the counter and bought them. Whew that was close.

Worry not, if you thought that the closing of ACME, cut my woodworking shopping short, for I still intended to wonder over to Home Depot. Between ACME tools and Home Depot is a Jimmy John’s sub shop, so that played right into my plans. I had the #5. Yummy!

As many of you know, I am working on building a router table. I have some ¾” ODF, which I thought I might take two sheets of and glue them together for the top. I have decided against that option, in favor of a more expensive one. I want each project to teach me a bit more about woodworking. So I have decided to glue up a bunch of 1×2 pieces of hard maple and oak, to create the table. Of course, I will be standing the pieces on their edge, so that the final thickness will be similar to the 2 pieces of ODF, but it will let me do some gluing. Also, I have been dying to try out my cauls, so this should be fun.

There is one additional benefit. I plan to assemble the tops, such that there is an opening, which is about a half inch smaller than my router table plate. This eliminates the need to cut a hole. I will give a more detailed explanation about how I approached my table top, after I have completed it. I bought 70 linear feet of wood, a piano hinge, and some Titebond II Premium wood glue. All in all, a good day, and now I get to go downstairs and cut some wood.

-- Brian Meeks,

24 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117603 posts in 3909 days

#1 posted 02-25-2010 05:36 AM

Maybe It’s a bit of sour grapes Brian but I can’t understand why anyone would purchase Festool tools, They cost two to three times what other good tools cost . Are they that good or are their buyers going for the prestige thing or is it that they just don’t know about tools. You seem Like a very intelligent person I was just trying to understand Festools appeal as far as your are concerned.

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3398 days

#2 posted 02-25-2010 05:45 AM

I have used table tennis paddles that cost less than $50.00, but the one that I have at $250.00 is vastly superior, it is the same for my badmitton racquet, tennis racquet, my camera equipment, my $11,000 dollar desktop computer, in fact, every time I have purchased something of lower quality, I have almost always ended up buying the higer quality one anyways, and been upset at the waste of money. So I buy the expensive equipment, tools included, because it is just too darn expensive to buy cheap stuff.

But that is just my opinion. I am sure there are many people who couldn’t explain what the difference between a $10.00 badmitton racquet and a $150.00 one, for those people, by all means, spend the $10.00.

So though I have limited experience in woodworking, the Japanese hand saw at $28.00 is not nearly as good as the one at $100.00. So I have decided, that I would rather do without a tool for a while, then buy one I don’t want, and eventually spend the money anyway.

My methodology basically means that I won’t have any regrets, though I may have fewer tools than those who buy a box of 50 router bits for what I spend on one. It is just what is best for me.

As for prestige, I am not sure that there is much prestige with Festool. Now the Nickle plated Veritas block plane, that is cool!

-- Brian Meeks,

View a1Jim's profile


117603 posts in 3909 days

#3 posted 02-25-2010 06:01 AM

Interesting. I guess you drive a Rolls Royce? :-))

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3398 days

#4 posted 02-25-2010 06:06 AM

No, I don’t like cars. I usually buy disposable ones. I don’t care what they look like. I have had lots of cars that cost less than $1000. My current one is probably the nicest one, it was actually bought used a while back, and it is a Chevy Mailbu. But the paint is peeling off. Which is ok.

If I were using my car for a competition, I would definitely spend tons of money on it. I just use it to get to the ACME store, so it doesn’t need to be very nice.

-- Brian Meeks,

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3398 days

#5 posted 02-25-2010 06:08 AM

On the other hand some of us simply like to collect all kinds of tools. I truly belive I need them and then never really use them as much as I thought I would because when it comes time to do the job I find something that is more practical. I end up selling them off at cheaper than I paid for.

BTW I just bought the RO150 and the CT 33. I will let you know how I like it after the weekend

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3398 days

#6 posted 02-25-2010 06:16 AM


That sounds excellent. I can’t wait to hear. I am curious, have you ever won a Stanley Cup?


-- Brian Meeks,

View Kacy's profile


101 posts in 3417 days

#7 posted 02-25-2010 06:38 AM

Great inside reference to Hockey Town, USA … and I agree on the general idea that you get what you pay for on tools, IT and photo equipment, even cars (although I drive a paint peeling edition of a caravan nearly 20 years old for the 3 mile round trip to work each day).

-- Kacy, Louisiana

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3398 days

#8 posted 02-25-2010 07:25 AM

I do love hockey. I hope Mr. Chelios isnt’ sick of that question. :-)

3fingerpat, thanks for the link. I am going to check it out now.

-- Brian Meeks,

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3405 days

#9 posted 02-25-2010 11:36 AM

Jimmy Johns #5 is my all time favorite sub…

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3727 days

#10 posted 02-25-2010 02:26 PM

I’m astonished! No, really.
Your reference to your $11,000 desktop computer bowls me over.
I spent many years in the computer world, building and tending networks, installing equipment of all kinds and responding to problem calls of every sort imaginable.
Even so, I never came into contact with an eleven thousand dollar computer.
Nor have I seen a five thousand dollar one.
And I would love to have ten thousand to start my office over again. The head swirls with the thoughts of what I could buy, the computer, the peripherals, – !!!!
I thought I had a pretty good computer, with its Core2 quad processor, a boat-load of RAM and a huge hard drive.
I’m very satisfied with the nice router sitting on top of my tower and the nice fast Internet access it gives me. My two high res printers sit there on the right end of my table waiting, quivering to do my bidding,
BUT – the whole lot didn’t cost even five thousand.
The thought of spending that much on a computer while driving a car that cost less gives me a feeling like a burr under my saddle.
Of course, I’ve admired fine cars for many years, I’ve been accused of being an automotive snob, and if I could have one I’d be driving a one hundred thousand dollar car and still living in a two hundred year old house.

Priorities. We all have them and there’s no accounting for them.
What I think is important and worthy of occupying the top spot on my list would make other people crazy.

But I can’t get over the thought of an eleven thousand dollar computer!
Mmmm! Does it make your breakfast, too?
I’m just kidding, Brian, because I’m so stunned.

All that ramble is preface to my next comment.

I concur with Jim, who owns more tools than I would have space for or the skill to use them.
For the price of a Festool tool (that does sound like stuttering, doesn’t it?) I could have several well made, well regarded tools.
I would never, as far as I can imagine, opt for a Festool rather than a solid Grizzly, for example.

And please, please, let’s not start a big argument over the idea of spending too much or too little for one’s toys and tools.
Brian, I respect your right to spend your money on whatever you want. Its none of my business.
But I am overwhelmed to think of it.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4154 days

#11 posted 02-25-2010 02:36 PM

Brian, it sounds like you have made a good choice with whatever sander you decide to get. I have said many times that the best piece of advice I have ever been given is to “spend the most money your budget will allow” when buying a tool.

Let us know what “companion” you select for Mary.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3441 days

#12 posted 02-25-2010 03:49 PM

Don’t take any offense to the questions and the surprised responses regarding cost Brian. Most of us out here are frugal and have to make choices and justifications for the tools we buy. For me, it is a tradeoff. I tabulate where I will need to make a personal sacrifice in order to purchase a tool or item I want. My car is used, my clothing and house modest, tools are justified by the amount of home repair I do on my own without hiring someone. It is pretty cool to be in a position where one does not let price be the driving factor in tool purchases.

Please do keep in mind that some of the lumberjocks on here are the John Mcenroes (yes, very dated reference) of the woodworking community. So if you find yourself in a position where you do have to be more budget minded in the future, they can advise you on a good choice of quality tools at a more affordable price just like a budget minded tennis pro might be able to recommend a great racket that isn’t 10 bucks or 1000, but some where in the middle.

Just our nature, I guess, to automatically calculate just how many bologna sandwiches we would be eating this year to have a shop full of Festools :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View SPalm's profile


5332 posts in 4214 days

#13 posted 02-25-2010 04:46 PM

Hey Brian, I still love reading your posts. Thank you.

As far as the router table top; thickness has nothing to do with it. It is flatness that you want. Thick helps to keep it flat over the years as it supports a heavy router hanging from it. So your glue up of a butcher board top sounds fun, it is only the final flatness that matters. (Good Looks help too, but heh…) The composite man-made tops can be a lot more forgiving with the seasonal changes and stresses that real wood can offer. All in all, I would think that a sufficiently built butcher board will remain flat, but I would not guarantee it with a big hole in the middle. So I guess, just make sure it is flat and strong.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3398 days

#14 posted 02-25-2010 05:44 PM


Admittedly, the price of the computer, includes software. Many of the things I use for work, Photoshop CS3, 3Ds Max, Sony Vegas, Sound Forge, Camtasia Studio 4, and others, are very expensive, so not all of it is hardware. I make my living with my computer, so it is helpful. Some of the video renders I have done, have taken over 24 hours, and wouldn’t have even been possible on a lesser machine. If I could afford it, I would spend closer to 40K, and go back to school and learn serious animation and sound editing, but for now, that isn’t something I can afford. I may one day use my woodworking skills to build a small sound booth though, which would be good for doing ‘stock audio’. But I digress.

I have read reveiws of Grizzly products and have seen many that speak very highly of them. So I imagine they are good too.

I am sorry if my choice of tools has offended you. I don’t mean to hurt anyones feelings when I write about my woodworking journey. The truth of the matter is that I will one day buy the Sawstop table saw, despite there being lower priced table saws, and I am sure I will purchase lots of Lie-Nielson and Veritas products. That is just who I am. I hope you will still read my blog and comment as you always have interesting stuff to say.

-- Brian Meeks,

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3727 days

#15 posted 02-25-2010 05:54 PM


No, no, a thousand times, NO!
I am NOT offended.

Please forgive me if I made it sound that way.

Mea culpa.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

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