Fair Woodworking

December 27, 2014

The 2015 Fairwoodworking Buyers Guide

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog — fairwoodworking @ 12:00 am

So if you were hoping this guide included a table saw shootout, you will be mildly disappointed. No, this is more about how to buy than what to buy.

First off, it’s a really great first world problem to not know what or how to buy another tool. I’ve come to discover that woodworking, above and beyond the side hobby of acquiring the tools needed, can be an expensive way to fill my free time. There have been times when I’ve reveled in a Cocobolo and manganese bronze budget, and other times when I’ve wished I could buy 2×4’s with Canadian Tire money.

What I’m saying is, not everyone that is interested in woodworking can afford either the time or the money to take up the hobby, and as unfair as that may be, most of the world is trying just to put food on the table.

So with a little perspective in mind, here we go.

1. Avoid beginner sets of tools.

The word “Beginner” is marketing slang for cheap, disposable, garbage. Yes, the big boy tools are somewhat more expensive, but if this is your argument, you may need to re-read the introduction of this post. Bottom line, if you can’t afford it, save your money, until you can.

2. Save your innovative tool re-purposements for once you have mastered the tool in its intended use.

Too many times, I’ve seen beginners (including myself) get sidetracked by wacky ideas of taking tool “A” and if they just hold it upside-down and backwards, and lubricate with jello, they can remove the need for any other costly tools that would normally be required.

If that is you, re-read the beginning, take two aspirin, and call me in the morning.

So now that we have wisely chosen a good quality tool, desired for the attributes its makers intended it for, we are half way there. The final steps are just as critical.

Getting away with said purchase.

3. Always pay in cash.

Cash is the old school “hand tool” of the financial world. Cash is real.

When you take the time to save your pennies, well not here in Canada any more…

When you take the time to save your nickles, you ensure that you are not accidentally stealing from the mortgage account, because you’d hate to return from a buying spree to discover that you no longer have a shop to work in… But on more of a day to day level.

Cash is relatively untraceable.

That’s right! Cash is the king of the “Unauthorized Purchase”. Some of the folks at my favorite local tool store get a real charge out of this concept. They think it’s funny, but we know it’s a key to survival.

4. Workshop camouflage

This tip is not entirely my own. The idea was there, but I learned the perfected version in a class with Vic Tesolin of Minimalist Woodworker fame. We’ve all known that a making a new tool look a little older and dirtier is great camouflage, but an application that has no adverse effects can be easier said than done. The genius is in the simplicity. A dedicated bucket of clean sawdust for the dunking, nay, purification of each new, nefariously acquired addition. This both masks the vintage, and welcomes a new friend into the fold.

5. Don’t throw out the box the tool came in.

This one is a little tricky in the short game, but pays off huge in the long. I found that getting Authorization for purchases is easier in the beginning. Those first few boxes are the key. They are the forest that will hide the newly purchased “trees” that you didn’t get the time to discretely dispose of. Oh, and a little dust on a new box never hurt anybody either.


6. Don’t let your wife read this post…


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