Cost of tools

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You know as a seasoned woodworker, for three decades, I just can’t believe how the cost of woodworking tools have gone up. I have a list of hand tools I really would like for the shop ig. clamps, turning tools, new lathe chuck, drill bits Etc.. When adding up the prices of these hand tools, im just amazed at what it cost us as woodworkers to either expand into a new area or expand the area we are already in. As a novice, mid-level or professional we all have a love to work with our hands and receive the smell of the wood we are cutting to produce a end result that can be handed down from generation to generation or till someone decides to remodel again. Basically the majority of woodworkers do it for the love of it. Nevertheless, continuing to keep dishing out money at great expense.
In my opinion I believe the cost on these tools could have an adjustment . What are your thoughts on the cost of tools?

-- Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

I buy a lot of harbor freight stuff. If you shop carefully, and you are willing to take time to tweak and tinker, you can get good use out of them for cheap.

I’ve always reinvested monies made from jobs back into my shop that way it doesn’t hurt the wallet so bad. It’s taken years to get what I have but its worth the wait. I agree with looking at reviews from others before buying anything. I’ve always gone middle of the road when possible. Good luck

-- Daba

Interesting that my left tilt Uni cost about the same as my right tilt, twenty years latter, but to replace either now would run about four K.

Next, jump to worm drives, Bosch sabers and so forth. They really have not gone up that much, if at all, in twenty years. My first Bosch barrel was about $170.00. My third was about the same.

Mass production has improved saw blades and you can get some decent ones for fifty or sixty that would shame the best thirty years ago, for the same number of FRN’s.

Clearly, it depends on the item.

Jeff, back in the days when much of my equipment was Craftsman, I used to joke about having bought a couple thousand dollars in Sears products using a Sears card, though I didn’t have one.

I pointed out to people they could get whatever they wanted for as little as $10.00 a month. All they had to do was, buy me the tool(s) I wanted using their Sears card.

My first joiner was a 4" Craftsman. I used it a week or two and quickly figured out I needed a 6". A few weeks of that and I understood why I needed a long bed six inch. Then. . . . .

When i began woodworking for money 30+ years ago i started with very little tools. Each project i built i invested the profit into tools and shop supplies. I would never spend less than $200 on a powertool as it could then become a tax deduction. When i priced a job i kept it real simple, i listed everything i used and totaled that, then i added the same amount for labour. On most jobs it would work out to about one and a half times what i was making in my day job. Since retiring about 4 years ago i havent charged people anything as i consider it therapy to work in my shop. Now when i shop for tools i try to buy the best i can, it may take me some time to save the cash, but i like quality tools. Most of my hand power tools are Makita and Dewalt. I still have a great pro black & decker corded drill. The cost for quality has not gone up too much, its just harder to find the true quality.

-- CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

When I started as a carpenter’s apprentice my boss gave me boots, a worn out toolbelt and worn out carhart coveralls and told me it would come out of my pay each week.He also told me to buy one new tool every week.And I have
been doing that ever since.I think acquiring the “tools of the trade” is a life
long endeavor and doesn’t seem expensive then.

-- steve66

Yes woodpecker1 they do know and this is what cause most to buy cheap and rebuy the same tool after it breaks or wears down and is unusable. I try to look at a lot of reviews before buying. I can tell you personally i can’t afford highend tools like festool, so i try to look for middle road tools but fill in with some Lee Valley, Grizzly, Jet Etc..

-- Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

I can relate. Yes high end tools can last for many years and can in many cases out perfrom cheaper or knock offs. This allows these high end tools to be priced higher and this causes the sticker shock. This is where most would call it unjust to purchase. Then some look at the cost over years and recoup the cost in their projects as bud5911 stated. I’m hoping to continue in doing that myself, adding shop fees into my work to recoup tool cost and blade sharpening.
Here’s a question… has anyone traded woodworking for tools. Personally i Have. My close friend wanted to redo his parents kitchen cabinets i told him he pays for all materials and he buys me a new festool sliding miter saw. I thought that was a fair trade in building 27 upper and lower cabinets. Im still waiting for ananswer. What have done if anything?

-- Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

I feel your pain Jeff. Myself, I am fortunate in that I bought most of my hand tools 40 years ago when I began my cabinetmaker/millmens apprenticeship. The tools were expensive back then and I would purchase 1 or 2 a week, mostly Stanley tools. I have taken good care of these tools all these years and they have been good to me. I have 2 other hobby’s, photography and golf and the same holds true for the equipment that I need to do those to endeavors. It comes down to this, if you want to play you have to pay. The manufacturers know this and are more than happy to supply what ever it is you want, and will continue to upgrade them every year to entice away your $$$$.

I know what you mean, as a professional I make and sell things to repeat customers. I don’t mind buying most tools although I do believe some prices are ridiculous. My goal is to make money on every tool I buy. If I couldn’t make money on it then I doubt I would be a woodworker. The whole game is too expensive.


I probably wouldn’t complain too much about the cost of tools if they were of a high quality, but so many poorly made, cheap imports are priced as if they were custom-made. Really well made tools demand very high prices that I can’t justify because it is only a hobby for us. When I realize how much time I can spend making a box or some other small project, I can’t say that their prices are too high — just that they aren’t justifiable for me.


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

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