Ponderings #26: Do We Ever Have Enough Stuff?

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Blog entry by Tomcat1066 posted 12-26-2008 08:36 PM 1138 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 25: Another Year Older Part 26 of Ponderings series Part 27: Reflections on 2008 »

A bookcase. Seems like such a simple project. I looked at the tools I had, or were going to get anyways, and I either had it or could get one inexpensively. So, I made out some rough plans in my head. I’ve had a ton of help with the actual design over on T-Chisel’s forum. The design discussion was mostly on specifics, nothing that required new tools (perhaps new router bits, but that’s a continuing thing for life I suspect). And yet, every time I turn around, I find more and more stuff that seems to be a necessity!

Do we ever have enough tools and gadgets? I know we never have enough clamps, and I’ve just come to terms on that one, but the other stuff? Miller dowels look like a good way to help support the bookcase shelves (I plan on using dados as well), so I order some with the Lee Valley gift card my wife and son gave me for Christmas (the card with it said “Have a Merry Woodworking Christmas!” What’s not to love here?) I figure that even if I don’t use them on this one, they’ll work well for something else. I seem to find tons of stuff I want/need and still don’t have and can’t imagine when I’ll actually get it!

Here’s what I have to keep in mind. Tools don’t make the craftsman. Like I pointed out the other day, there’s more than one way to skin a cat in woodworking, so if you don’t have a $500 dovetail jig, you can get a dovetail saw inexpensively (I’d go with the Veritas saw, but plenty have had good results with a gent’s saw) and hand cut them bad boys. If you want though, there’s nothing wrong with spending the cash on that $500 jig. There’s very few “wrong” answers in this game.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you don’t need “stuff” to do good work. You need that tool between your ears more than anything, and feed in knowledge, and gain experience, and you’ll be just fine. Me? I don’t have that experience thing just yet, so I’m trying to overcompensate with “stuff” :D

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

4 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4577 days

#1 posted 12-26-2008 09:16 PM

I LOVE TOOLS! But most importantly, I love using my tools.

As a business, the parameters within which I decide to buy my tools is different than anybody that is enjoying woodworking as a hobby. Tools make me money. The faster and more accurately that I can accomplish a task, the more profit I stand to make.

If you are not trying to make money, then time may not be as much of an issue. I personally could live with a whole lot less if I was not trying to make money.

As I work in my shop sometimes I stop and marvel. Whenever I need something, I reach under the table or to the shelf and I pull it out. I love my tools!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4352 days

#2 posted 12-26-2008 09:57 PM

I, like Todd, love my tools. I am not out for a profit, so I do a lot of working around. I am still amazed at how many things I have accumulated, however. And, I still get lust in my heart when I go to Woodcraft, Rockler, Lee Valley, etc.

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 4273 days

#3 posted 12-26-2008 10:44 PM

I understand completely guys. For those who make a profit, obviously speed is the primary driver in decisions. I don’t begrudge them that one bit. For hobbyists, speed may or may not be important. I don’t fault anyone for wanting “stuff”. However, I also think it’s important to keep in mind that stuff isn’t what makes the craftsman, it’s how that stuff is used.

For the beginner, it can be pretty intimidating, so the occasional reminder that the gizmo’s aren’t necessarily required is a good thing :)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4577 days

#4 posted 12-27-2008 02:14 AM

My tool purchases have slowed way down. I think that I have enough stuff. There is always something more but I can work reasonably efficient with what I have.

At this point I spend a lot of money on maintenance. The more tools that you have, the more they cost you in maintenance as they get older.

This is all figured into my overhead cost.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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