An Ethical question


I have a lady friend that likes to do woodworking. As she does not have many tools, likes to come over and use my tools. My principle is that it is under my supervision, which is ok by her. When it comes to sharp tools I want to be there, say saws etc. When it comes to sanders I will let her do it on her own. Same with drill motors.
The other day she used a sander without a sanding pad on it and and managed to sand the velcro hook off the pad itself so now the pad will not except the sanding discs. The sander is no longer available so it is useless. Yes it is old but was in good working order.

My question is whether I should chalk this up to my experience or ask her to pay some of the cost?


Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

16 Replies


Is she paying you anything to use your tools? If not, I would think that you would be entitled to a replacement. If you were allowing me to use your tools without cost, I would want to buy you a new one or fix yours for you!

Can you just purchase the hook side of the Velcro and replace it? Adhesive packages of hook & loop are available in numerous sizes.


“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

I replaced the pad on my sander, but it wasn’t very old. It’s worth looking into.

I would say if it’s the first mistaken destruction of property, then I’d let it go, but if there’s a pattern I’d ask for replacement. Maybe she can find a used one in a swap sheet.

Losing fingers since 1969

I’ve had students do the same thing but I feel like I should have warned them that can happen and that they should make sure there’s sandpaper on the sander and that it would ruin the sander if there’s no sandpaper on the sander. I felt since I did not make her aware of the possibility of damage, replacing the sanding pad was on me. If you feel like she should know that she damaged your sander tell her and if she offers to contribute towards a new sander accept her offer. Other wise I’d let it go.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker


I’ve done this several times… I’m not thinking, pickup the sander (an expensive Mirka, no less), and ‘sanded’ for a few minutes before realizing what I’ve done. I agree with both Brian and a1jim.
Having said this, I’m very careful about who I let use my powertools and equipment. The simple fact is that woodworking is dangerous – Life can come at you fast.

1st question: Are you single?
2nd question: How does she look?
3rd question, (regardless of first 2 questions)
Probably chalk it up to experience. Try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The sander was old anyway, good excuse to buy a Mirka. :)

Figuring out how to do something you have never done is what makes a good challenge.

Oh Bentlyi there is always one in every crowd…ha ha I was expecting it!

May be she was from Ramsleyswoodworking and a looker to boot

1. Any way my take on it all would be if I was single and she was interested I would try to follow it up somewhat.
2. No doubt she is otherwise why would you try in the first place.

Now Madts:-

I tend to agree with the blokes…sorry leftie, however I do agree an offer is a nice gesture, as its an admittance of their mistake, but as Jim said may have been due to lack of knowledge.

So as we have all"screwed up" somewhere along the line be it big or small I still think encouraging the dieing wood work craft is worth it, as long as the misakes are not repeated too often.

I remember one time I was building Cubby houses for a struggling company and split a piece of Red Cedar cladding highly visible at the front the boss was furious.

Regards Rob

I can’t help feeling that letting others use your tools is not the best idea, except when you are willing to supervise them. If they weren’t supervised and they ruined something I think I would blame myself and pay the bill.

Mike, an American living in Norway

Yeah, this reminds me of when someone ran into my son’s car and we were repairing the damage…and he tried to use a brad point bit to drill out a spot weld. A 1/8th inch drill bit is trivial in cost, though. Nobody uses my tools without asking, and if they don’t know how to use them, I’ll probably do it for them instead of letting them damage them. In my world, people who use my tools for free should pay for the damage, given that they paid nothing for the tool but possibly a smile or a “thank you” for the use. It reminds me of the time when I was out of town (in the US Navy), and my car was parked in my parent’s driveway while I was gone. One of my brothers-in-law convinced my parents that the car needed to be driven instead of sitting for months…at least he didn’t wreck it or blow it up, but I didn’t appreciate the “favor” when I found out about it.

Steven- Random Orbital Nailer

My tag line says, “The reason I have what you want is, I never loaned it out before.”

If someone wants to use our tools, we should be up front about replacement of tools damaged by abuse, neglect or loss.

That said, while other people were buying things for themselves, be it skis, a new shotgun or what have you, my money went to my tools. As such, it’s okay to be selfish with them, just as they would be about lending you their skis, shotgun or other item you don’t have.

If I destroyed someone’s tool, it’s on me. That does not mean replacing a Porter Cable framing gun with a Harbor Freight version.

All that aside, this could be counted as a lesson, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask her to cover the cost of new Velco you have to, like Brian said, glue on in place of the old. I keep a stack of the foam pads for my several 1/4 pad sanders just because I know they die too.

NOW, if it were my Festool, I’d want the money for the replacement. After all, for the $20.00-$40.00 bucks, those I allow in my shop usually don’t get pinged for sandpaper (a sheet or a disk runs a buck, even in quantity) heat, air, electric, tool wear, blade wear, etc. Many times, they get free wood. Pretty cheap rent, in my opinion.

I bought a stack of pads I can put on any of my 1/4 sheet sanders. They come with aluminum plate backs already on them.

A bit of shopping and I don’t doubt you could find hook-and-loop versions, then drill air holes before installing them.

It’s like anything you do in life you have to evaluwate your choices you make ,some people as you say,say “I don’t lend tools” others lend without a second thought,you have to devolope your own policy along with your policy you have to decied if it’s going to varible acording to who asking or set in concrete. If you lend tool you have to be prepared to never get them back and or tools after loaning tools out and have them being returned damaged. Whatever the outcome your the one who made that choice and your the one who will reap the benifits or negitive concequences for your policy and inforcing your policy or not.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

Yep, Madts. Had a friend who never hesitated loaning me a tool and even getting me started on a new job. As such, with certain exceptions, it was hard to say no on a lend.

My two angle grinders were variable speed ones. He didn’t know that, he just needed a grinder. so I went to Harbor Freight, bought one, pulled it out of the box and “loaned” it to him.

Keep in mind, he, frequently, worked atop buildings, such as the WAshington Attorney General’s Office, which is several stories. About the time he had to carry several loads down, the grass below was looking pretty soft to him, and a great cushion for small hand tools.

Yes, a bucket with two ropes (one to lower, one to tip and empty) would have solved the problem, but. . . .

Anyway, I don’t know if it held up, but I never asked for it back and he never got around to returning it. In the end, no damage to my Milwaukee or Makita.


I only let certain people use certain tools.  I would never let someone use my shop.

But that is me.

If she broke something she should replace it.  I hope w/o you having to ask.


Going back a few decades, or so, I noted the teenagers who had to pay for their own tires learned to respect their equipment better than the silver spoon crowd.  When the latter did come to appreciate the cost of things, they tended to be stingy with their money, finding excuses to not contribute.

A buddy took for granted the wood I had in my shop. Especially if he knew I'd acquired and processed it myself. I took him to town and we shopped for a bit of walnut and mahogany. He developed a whole new respect for what he'd been taking for granted.
1st question: Are you single?
2nd question: How does she look?
Did I miss where the answers were here? 
Going back a few decades, or so, I noted the teenagers who had to pay for their own tires learned to respect their equipment better than the silver spoon crowd.
I loved to burn off tires in my car back in high school days. Fortunately I worked at a service station and we never sold "used" tires, just gave them to the recycler. I'd always make sure they were bald first. 
Yeah, I was a baaad boy 8^)