Let’s face it. I’m a wood worker and I love tools. I can’t walk through a hardware store without checking out the tool aisle. I pick them up, test to see if they have power. Check the prices and of course, what new accessories are available. It seems like there are new and improved models every month. Certainly every year. But I have a fully equipped workshop. So unless I need it, really need it, I don’t buy anymore.
You can have too many tools! I can’t believe I just wrote that but it’s true. Having too many tools means clutter in your work shop unless you are one of the lucky ones with endless amounts of space. It means you will have tools you will never use or tools you want to use that you can’t find. I got a great deal on a used radial arm saw. It was through a friend; it was delivered to my workshop for me and set up. How could I refuse? 5 years later, I’ve used it once, it takes up about 20% of my floor space, and it has become simply a place that I stack wood. So once you have what you need to complete most projects it is time to stop buying the latest new gadgets or great deals! They end up taking up space and creating clutter, the last thing you want in a workshop.
So when is it time to replace a tool you own with a new model? As I said, you could do this at least once a year but what’s the point? Most older tools do a good job and get the job done! For example, I have a compound mitre saw. Do I need the new one with the laser for alignment? Does the old one get the job done? Yes! Then I really don’t need the new one. And I so I don’t buy it! I can’t say I am 100% true to this policy but I try. Sometimes it is just safer not to go to the hardware store!
It is time to buy a new or replacement tool when you don’t have one that can do the job or your old tool is no longer working correctly. For example, at the end of my wood working season last year I did a little bit of work with my router. This is a really old tool. I’ve had it 10 years and bought it used from another friend who had it at least that long. It’s been well used and has done a great many jobs, well. But last year, it was a struggle to get the job done. Somehow, the blade kept dropping, or rising. The cuts were uneven. But it was a small job and I finally finished it and put the tool away.
Well it’s a new season and time for a bunch of new projects. I got out my trusted router and table and set up. Fortunately, I used some test scrap lumber and not my limited supply of “good” wood to set up the router. I quickly discovered that no matter what I did the blade either raised, just enough to wreck the cut or lowered, cut through the plastic collar on the table and ruined it. So it’s time to retire this tool. Maybe someone could take it apart and fix it but after 20 years of service, I have a clear conscience. It’s time for a new router with all the new bells and whistles. Time to go shopping.