Talking myself out of buying premium tools

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shed9

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There's a misunderstanding with the blind "buy the best you can afford" recommendation that something like an LN plane and set of V11 chisels will yield any improvement in productivity over any decent English chisels and any good bailey pattern older plane.

It's not a blind recommendation though is it? These recommendations come with experience. Admittedly a good bailey pattern older plane is a viable alternative to any offering from LN but the operative word in that statement is the phrase 'good'; not something assured to the same level of the QA of LN considering the controlled distribution. Also yield of productivity is not the point for some people, for some people it's the woodworking itself, not how fast they can bang out widgets.

If the likes of LN, LV and Clifton didn't exist, people would be asking why there aren't any modern makers making premium tools.
 

D_W

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It's often a blind recommendation. There's less of it here than there is on the american forums, but Tony hit on it above - at one point, the idea of buying a non tensioned non-tapered carpenter's saw for $600 was considered money well spent ("buy once, cry once"), and there have been dovetail saws for as much as $500+.

I'm sure they all work well. Learning to sharpen an older saw and keep it in good shape will be more productive for the average person (and a disston 8 or 7 or 12 is probably better than any saw made by anyone now, anyway).

When I came to this forum however long ago, I was surprised at how cynical folks were about some of the nicer made tools (not all, but some) and how some ideas that are pretty closely followed in the US (modern irons, modern sharpening stones, etc) were just sort of ignored here.
 

Spectric

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There's a misunderstanding with the blind "buy the best you can afford" recommendation that something like an LN plane and set of V11 chisels will yield any improvement in productivity over any decent English chisels and any good bailey pattern older plane.
That fails if your budget is so low that you can only buy rubbish, time then to save up or use an interest free payment site. Also unless you can use the tool then it does not mater how much you spend or how good it is, this from experience in that even with a top notch trowel that in a freinds hands can lay bricks but in mine it might as well be a spade.
 

D_W

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That fails if your budget is so low that you can only buy rubbish, time then to save up or use an interest free payment site. Also unless you can use the tool then it does not mater how much you spend or how good it is, this from experience in that even with a top notch trowel that in a freinds hands can lay bricks but in mine it might as well be a spade.

This is a situation that suggests someone shouldn't be woodworking (cost of materials is the killer for me in terms of making things. That is, if I'm going to make something I'd like to make, but I have nothing to do with it, it's easy to get into four figures in materials and then what...In a baseline scenario here, decent wood is about $2 a board foot at the cheapest, and nice wood starts around $4-$5 a board foot. Things add up fast.

It's probably still true there that if you get out on the ground in a weekend morning, you can find things in a car boot. Perhaps not quickly, but you can find something good. I never liked doing that and paid market price or the occasional deal price for used tools, but with a little capability comes the desire to make nicer things and material cost is unavoidable.

AT the extreme edge of that is finding tree men here to see if you can get logs (in the suburbs, they're usually ground or left at the side of the road - if the tree men know nothing else about the disposal, they'll buck the logs - so that someone can be enticed on CL or another site to come pick up and take the wood - and then it's too late). But even at that, if you're lucky enough to get something like maple or cherry out of a yard tree, it's not common for the wood to be very good.

It's just a tough hobby for someone on that tight of a budget.
 

D_W

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But, but, but David, don’t you know here in the states, we have many boutique toolmakers, that have figured out how to capture unicorn tears, that make their goods truly premium! Look at the handsaw makers that emerged (with as many folding) over the past two decades. Put aside the like of LN, LV and a couple others, you end up with a significant number that are in business to fund their hobbies. Many produce goods no better that those available at Lowes, etc., except for 4 times the price.

Once in a great while, something is made so well new that you can make the case that it's hard to better it. But the premium saws thing is a matter of just getting something pretty that's also good and that's ready to use right away. But the next step is a costly one - what happens when a saw is dull. An old saw sharpened often is awfully good.

And how about the oft-said things about the type of saw steel and the need for hardness, etc. I kind of like saws a touch soft for joinery saws - they're easy on files and you can touch a small joinery saw up in about three minutes. 5 for a rip carpenter saw - at the most.

I guess the trouble for someone new is telling the difference between a $20 saw that's been made recently and isn't worth having vs. a $20 flea market saw like a disston 4 that is capable of really great work and will have a good level of hardness to be filed and used.

LN and LV probably came into business like fender's custom division. I used to wonder why fender thought it was OK for them to make not so sonically accurate versions of their stock amps starting at 3-4 times the price and up from there. And they answered that question when someone asked it on a tour. "it wasn't our idea - it was constant requests of customers asking". The kind of customers who see a $1200 amp and a $5k amp made slightly differently as being the same price (because to them, it is relatively the same price. It's a different price to me!! Neither makes anyone sound like Tim Pierce, and neither even sounds exactly like the original fender amps, but the latter is just what a small segment of the market wants and they don't want it if it comes from a boutique refit shop).
 

Giles55

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Thank you for your answer. It was not said in my original question, but I am more in search of vintage or modern quality tools that can perform very well (with some tool fetling if necessary). I never want to buy as cheap as possible just to get a tool. I know some people who do and I have been burnt in the past by their recommendation of a "good" tool. If I do not have enough money for a tool,I still can postpone the purchase and wait until I do have that amount of money allocated for the tool. The pity is that no toolmaker (especially the big box store one) do not write on its product, that it is actually a rubbish).
Yes, no problem. I have also thought of something else worth considering. When I started buying my own tools I new I would most likely have to spend many hours getting them set up correctly. An example would be my low angle block plane, a record. At the time I purchased the plane new, I only found one supplier offering the discounted price. I purchased the plane, it arrived and was the worst plane I have ever seen. The sole had a lump of 0.8 mm and the metal which the blade rests upon was so misshapen only a corner of the blade could be exposed. I purchased the plane in September and I set up a lapping plate by the kettle. Every time I drank tea I did 200 or 400 laps. Slow, measured mindful laps not the furious business you see on YouTube. I drink a lot of tea, it took a month and a half, then I had to file the casting and put lamp black on the blade, incrementally adjusting until the blade made full contact and sat parallel with the mouth. It took two months to complete. I don’t think I would do that now, I would buy a more expensive tool. But levels of commitment and motivation are worth considering. If you buy vintage tools and you ask the right questions on eBay for example, you should be able to get tools which won’t require excessive work. If you are not interested in fettling then obviously the expensive tools are the way to go. I have noticed my enthusiasm for correcting dreadful tools has waned. So again it’s all about where your priorities lie.
 

D_W

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I have noticed my enthusiasm for correcting dreadful tools has waned. So again it’s all about where your priorities lie.

This only becomes a problem for people who never get interested in woodworking. Otherwise, setting up a small gaggle of old tools should be enough to solve the problem of being ready to woodwork. There used to be a guy on an american forum who did almost nothing to recondition planes and then resold them. At some point, he started talking about how it was no longer fun because he couldn't easily profit on his ebay store. His view was that the market was ruined, and the hand tool woodworking thing wasn't fun.

I've lost the interest in buying tools just to fix them up and try them out (but have seen enough of them -there's little new for me to see). I can't make someone else have the experience that have in setting up fairly bad tools (it rarely takes long and there has to be something structurally unfit for things to not work out, but once in every 5 chances or so, that does happen - the tool is rubbish. 4 out of 5, the tool is usable and I'd notice nothing different between it and anything else).

On the same note, nobody who runs an organized and very productive hybrid shop could just tell me what to do to churn out a dozen kitchen cabinets in a week, either.
 

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