It's finally Autumn! I'm fairly busy in the shop, working time is about a week prior to ship.
It's finally Autumn! I'm fairly busy in the shop, working time is about a week prior to ship.
Cart 0

I think you need less tools

Wow can anyone have too many tools?

It seems like for any job there's a special tool which promises to make the process easier. I spend a lot of time doing a lot of varied tasks, so after a while the different types of tools pile up. 

Since often I think the task is a one-off, I'm hesitant to buy a great quality tool.  Thus, I'm left with a bunch of half quality tools that I have to store and don't care much for.

I don't like this.

 The other day I was talking to someone about shop stuff and he made the comment, "can you ever have too many tools?" It's sort of a classic woodworker/homesteader joke.  The intended response is "never".

But it's wrong.  You can have too many tools.

 -Too many tools clutter your work area.  They fill your shelves with things you don't need.
-Too many tools dilute your capital resources.  You spend your money on a lot of cheaper things instead of a few good ones.
-Too many tools mean each will likely get less proper maintenance and is more likely to fall into disrepair.
-Too many tools are too many abilities for you to master.  Your ability with each will be at best cursory.
-Too many tools are too much production that had to happen for you to own so many things. It's a waste of energy, materials, labor from everyone upstream to you.

Finally, too many tools is the result of a lifestyle of a person whose interests are constantly changing and unwilling to focus on achieving specialization in a specific area. This type of lifestyle is fun, but ultimately costly in the aforementioned ways.  This lifestyle will seldom result in mastery of any specific skill and will result in a lot of wasted space and old degrading tools.

 Instead, this is what I propose:

Less tools.  Only high quality, metal, stainless steel, heavy, solid, brand name, whatever.  Everyone's measure of quality is different but it should make you proud to own it.  You should want to maintain it.  You should feel like you ought to blow the shavings out of it and oil it regularly.  You see a good tool demands the respect of maintaining it. You paid more for it, you feel the obligation to keep it in good care.  And when you use it, the pride and pleasure should be palpable.

 Dowel-it doweling jig. A fine tool.
(Image: The Dowel-it 1000.   A fine useful tool that I use frequently.)

Less generalization, more specialization.  Having many varied tools is the trademark of a generalist.  They are capable at many things but not particularly skilled at any.  The phrase is "Jack of all trades, master of none."  But master of none seems to be the operating part.

Be a specialist. Get good at a few things and use your skill-set to create a variety of high-quality projects.  Stay within a subset of your trade instead of operating across many.  This is where greater value is, because you are able to create higher quality due to your focus. When you specialize, you tend to acquire fewer, higher quality items naturally, because your higher knowledge gives you greater discretion in your purchases. 

 That's how you create a quality workshop.  You don't need the new supposed time-saving tool.  You need what you already have.  Solid tools which allow you to do fine work, nothing more.

Newer Post