There are times that we all feel alone in our ideals or principles. There are times I often wonder if I am the only person on Earth who sees certain things a certain way. In fact, sometimes I feel that nobody will ever understand what makes me tick. So at that, I give you this post:
Am I the only woodworker that thinks used woodworking tools are way overpriced?
I’ve purchased used woodworking tools in the past; I admit it! Some of them even turned out to be decent bargains relatively speaking. I’ve always felt that the best reason for a woodworking hobbyist to purchase a used tool was saving some cash. Nobody is going to convince me that old tools are of better quality than comparable new tools. There may be an exception or three to that statement, but in general, you can purchase a new tool of the same or even better quality for the same relative cost. Don’t believe me? I’ll give you an example.
My jointer plane is a Stanley Type 11. Including tax and shipping I paid around $175.00 for it, which was in the ballpark of every other Type 11 jointer in similar condition that I’ve seen. If we use the labor theory of value as our guideline, that plane cost me roughly 6 hours of labor to purchase. At that, I am at a little less than half the cost of a #7 jointer from Lie Nielsen or Veritas. BUT! The plane also took me around 4 hours time to clean, hone, and refinish, not to mention the fact that I needed to purchase a few items in order to clean the tool, including Brasso, mineral spirits, and a brush. Suddenly, the plane was not such a bargain when you factor in the labor costs it took to purchase and restore it. In fact, they are nearly identical to the cost of purchasing a brand-new, high quality plane that is by many accounts better, and comes with a full guarantee! You may argue that my labor costs do not properly reflect my ability to restore an old tool, and that an experienced tool restorer could have finished the project in less than half the time. That is very true, but I am talking about myself, not a professional tool restorer or woodworker.
If you don’t believe my numbers, check it out for yourself, they are fairly accurate. Sure, there are some tools that are real bargains. For example, I paid around $30 for my egg beater drill; it was a steal, and a lucky break for me. The tool needed no restoration and was ready to use immediately. You can almost never say that about planes, chisels, or saws. Most used tools that are inexpensive are either near-garbage, or will require so much time and effort to restore that purchasing a new tool is usually a better option. If you want to collect or use old tools because of their history that is one thing, but if you are looking for a bargain then you may be looking in the wrong place.
Am I the only woodworker that thinks Japanese style saws really suck?
Even before I started woodworking I had heard great things about Japanese style pull saws. “They are crazy accurate!” “They are much easier to use!” “They are super sharp!” “They are inexpensive!” Of all of those statements, I only agree with the sharpness claim. I’ve used enough Japanese saws to know that they don’t offer any advantage whatsoever over a Western saw. They are no more accurate, no easier to use, and a good one is just as expensive as a comparable Western saw. I’m not saying they don’t work; obviously they do. I am saying that I think Western saws are better, hands down! There is not a single Japanese saw that I’ve seen which can do the same job as a Western rip-filed panel saw. Japanese dovetail saws do a nice job, but, once again a good one costs just as much or more than a Western saw, and in my opinion is flimsy for lack of a better word. Let’s not even mention the fact that you cannot sharpen most of them. -“But the pull stroke is much more accurate and doesn’t bind!!”-That’s highly debatable, yet even if that were true, the Japanese style handle is harder to grip and leads to less accuracy than the Western pistol grip in my not so humble opinion.
Now I’m not telling anybody what to do. If you like Japanese saws then who am I to tell you differently. But don’t try to tell me that they are somehow magical. Everything I’ve encountered leads me to believe that Western saws are superior.
Am I the only woodworker that wonders why there hasn’t been a calendar of hot woodworking women?
At the risk of sounding really sexist, I have to think that in a world with 7 billion people there aren’t twelve attractive women woodworkers who are willing to put out a tasteful calendar. I’m not looking for thong bikini photos here, but perhaps a strategically placed tool apron wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I know that this sounds terribly degrading but I am a guy, and I enjoy woodworking, and every now and again I don’t mind so much seeing a scantily clad attractive woman. Isn’t the only logical conclusion to combine my two passions into one small and useful package. Everybody woodworker needs a calendar right? And women woodworkers need not be excluded. I would have nothing against a calendar geared towards the female of the species. In fact, I have a few free days next month if anybody needs me to pose for a few pictures…