Go big or go…?

I will admit that I do occasionally buy stuff I really do not need. While very useful, some tools are unnecessary – or shall we say, a luxury. Sometimes they’re shiiinyyyy. Sometimes they speak to my inner cave man…

I follow a few people on Youtube, Instagram and websites – I don’t have all the social media platforms, because I do have a real 3D life – and some of the content creators on there clearly suffers badly from the nice / bling / red anodized / blue plastic / heuuge / over-the-top tool craving syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, NBRABPHOTTTC should not be joked (too much) about, and it is a real and serious issue amongst wood aficionados that are discontent of mother nature’s lack of an ability to shape wood into square boxes.

For the most part, this condition is harmless. There might be the occasional case of gambling problem manifesting its ugly face in tool hoarding (I don’t have money for rent, but look how shiny this speed square is!) but in general, this problem is self-adjusting. If not by common sense, SWMBO will give the lay of the land firmly and decisively.

Dear friend! If you have a gambling addiction or any sort of financial trouble – seek help! Very few can cope with those things alone. Openness and support is vital if you ever want to be free of those shackles! Tell your closest family and let them help you or support you! You deserve to have a good life and to be free of your problems. There is no shame either. We all have our demons and nobody is better – or worse – than anybody else. You are loved and you are worthy! Now grab that demon of yours by the cojones and rip’em off!

And I’ll admit that I do have my share of luxury tools. The luxury part being tools you in reality do not need, can do just fine without, needs once in a pale blue moon or you have more than one of the thing.

My latest purchase in that cathegory? This thing:

2” Sheffield steel!

That thing is HUGE! Great for the pizza oven, flippin’ burgers – and making huge mortises! Among a great many (other) things, young padawan.

To be serious, though – it is a tool I don’t expect I’ll need very often. But it has its uses, and I just had to have it because reasons. Compared to my 3mm (3/32”) butt chisel:

Brothers in arms!

Now, I’ve said this is a man thing. That is not entirely true. I bet there are lots of women who understand this perfectly. I know of a few female woodworkers who would look at that thing and immediately know that it is a TTBH – a Thing To Be Had!

I own a few angry pixie tools that falls in the same category, at least for me. My cordless Bosch metal band saw and my Milwaukee cordless caulk gun. I ain’t parting with those!

The metal band saw thingy came after I saw an episode of Mythbusters, and Adam savage pointed out that it was one of the greatest tools he had. Funny story happened to me with that tool.

Years ago, I bought the old family farm house. We needed to part off 2000 m2 of land to go with the house, and the corners of the property boundaries had to be measured up by a city employed surveyor. He marked the corners of the property and drove an aluminium pipe into the ground onto which he secured identification marks. He then grabbed a hack saw blade – just the blade! – and was about to cut off the excess pipe. I stopped him, as I saw that would take ages, and fetched my Bosch 18 volt metal band saw. I cut the pipe in seconds, and the surveyor yanked the saw out of my hands. He looked like he discovered gold and tasted chocolate for the first time all at once! He was in awe and wonder over such a great tool and had never seen anything like it. When he finished up and left, I bet he went straight to the store and got one! I would not blame him…

As for the caulk gun – the manual pump action torture device and I do not mix! I avoid using them like the plague! My hands starts to ache almost immediately for some reason (I am serious – I cannot use one for more than a few minutes). Anyway, I got that thing when I was about to replace the asphalt roof covering on the old house. I had to glue the asphalt roll roofing material down with beads of what must be the stickiest, barely viscous glue I’ve ever used. Childs play with that red squirt gun! Likewise, laying down a perfect bead of caulk in a corner is dead simple. I can adjust the speed of the thing from barely oozing to fire hose wannabe, and that gives me perfect control. Love it!

Necessary? Not really. But boy is it a luxury to have!

Simple upkeep is bliss!

I am all for living a simple life, but certain things does improve said lifestyle a lot. What one should avoid, in my opinion, is to have too much stuff that needs upkeep. In a shop environment, battery tools are a good example. A screw gun – or four – I get, but a palm router? A track saw? Those things do not need to be cordless. Unless you are an ignorant or a plain moron, you do hook those things to some sort of dust collection. Which requires a hose, because hoseless dust collection ain’t a thing (Dyson, you’re up!). If you have a hose, you can have a power cord too. Some tape or Velcro straps, and the two becomes one.

Battery tools are great for carpentry – I have used my battery operated circle saw and jig saw on numerous occasions when doing work on the house – but in a shop I fail to see their value. For one simple reason.

Batteries does not last forever. And you can bet vital parts of the anatomy on the fact that the tool manufacturers don’t give a rats’ furry ass whether you can get a new battery for your 15 year old tool or not.

The tower of blues to the right

Some years ago, I invested in a blues tower of tools. Bosch professional, which is blue. No reason why I chose Bosch other than the fact that I had an amazing deal with a tool shop. At the time I worked in retail; electronics and home appliances. Our store was on the 1st floor, and on the ground floor there was a store for professionals that sold tools, equipment, work garments, supplies, welding gas – anything for contractors, carpenters, machinist and so on.

And the two stores had a deal where we were allowed to buy goods for cost plus VAT in each-other’s store! I paid less than 50% of the retail price on any tools I wanted!

At the time I was renovating an old house, so I were able to buy any tool I needed – and some that I did not really need – for cheap. I am thankful for not having such a deal anymore. It became expensive………. If you are pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

But the thing is – those tools will probably outlast me. It is professional grade tools meant for daily use under demanding conditions. My screw guns don’t see half the amount of screws per year compared to what a carpenter uses on any given day. Mechanically they should then last me a lifetime. But what about those batteries? At some point, Bosch decides to upgrade and change their batteries. When the batteries for my tools die, I will have to toss both the battery and the tool!

We do need standardized batteries across brands. Much like the push for using the same charging plug for all cell phones – one of the not-too-many good things the EU has done really – we need standardized batteries and dust port sizes across brands!

Until that happens, I recommend that most of your angry pixie tools have tails.

SOME of my hand tools

A simple life I said. Simple upkeep. Well – I admit that have a bit of the tool hoarder bug. In the image above, you’ll find five no.4 smoothing planes. Five. Then a 6 and a 7. Since the image was taken, a 5 1/2 has joined the cohort.

However, three of those smoothers came as a package deal when I got that Sargent no.6. They will be sold after a bit of refurbishing. The 6 will probably go as well. Of course, having all the sizes of hand planes displayed on the wall looks cool and you will immediately think that I am a woodworking wizard when you see them in images. And you would be correct about the wizard part, but the planes ain’t nothing to do with it…😝

In all seriousness – some tools will transform your woodworking remarkably. They will be a great asset and help you achieve your goals. I play a few instruments, piano being my main one, and years ago I bought a Fender Stratocaster. That thing somehow fit into my hand like it was made just for me. The neck profile was perfect! And my guitar skills really took off. Getting a good tool will have the same effect. I struggle with sharpening; I cannot get a consistent edge if I do it freehand. Sometimes I can get an edge that’ll split atoms, other times I’d struggle slicing butter. So I got me a Veritas honing guide. Are my tools sharp now, you ask? Let me put it like this: Cern can take a hike!

But other tools will be a waste of good money, bling-bling and boasting factors aside. Yes, I am talking about certain blue and a particular red-loving tree-hollowing fowl company.

More on that on the next page.

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