A gift for myself

So, I have that $50 gift card good for any woodworking item I want. The question is, what do I use it to buy?

As you read last time, I found a $50 gift card to a woodworking supplier that I’d misplaced three years ago. The practical part of me says to put it away – somewhere I’ll remember it this time – and save it for when I need to get something. If something breaks in the shop or I absolutely have to get something for a project or article I’m working on (which will certainly occur), it would be good to get a $50 discount on whatever it may be.

But I know me. Well enough to know that there is no such place to put something where I’ll remember it later. I own three sets of screw extractors (at least three, that is) that I have no idea where they are that prove that point. So, I want to get something now, right now, while that card is burning a hole in my pocket.

What, though? I don’t need a single thing for the shop that I can think of. So, I guess I could go two routes. The practical route would be to stock up on expendables like sandpaper, blades, screws, stain or something like that. Or I could indulge myself and start flipping through their latest catalog until I come upon something that makes me say, “Yeah, I gotta get me one of those.”

Not looking for suggestions here – by the time you read this I will probably have already ordered whatever I’ve decided on – but I’m curious: What would you do?

Here are the rules: You have a $50 woodworking gift card. You can’t turn it into cash or use it anywhere else but that supplier, so you must get, or apply it to, a woodworking item for yourself. And, for the sake of our hypothetical situation, you can’t really need anything right now; this has to be an impulse purchase.

So, what would you get?



  • Ralph Boumenot says:

    Go for broke. It’s like found money. Spend it on hardware that you didn’t buy the last time because it was too expensive.

  • Lloyd Kerry says:

    I’d buy a good clamp of some type, one you might not normally buy.

  • Gene Kelly says:

    Fifty dollars doesn’t really go that far any more. I would want to use it on something that made me feel like I was treating myself to something special. Definitely not on expendables. Maybe a new carving gouge or a precision square, something that when I am holding it in my hand, it just makes me feel good.

  • bill says:

    open their catalog to page 6 and whatever is in the middle of the page is now yours.

  • BillyJ says:

    Ralph’s suggestion is on the right track. Every time I walk into a woodworking shop, inevitably I pick up and handle something that I think I could either use or wish I had (just in case). More often then not, it’s something that I can afford, but just cannot justify buying (in order to just say I own it).

    With $50 falling down from the heavens, I would meander over to the woodworking shop before it burned a hole in my pocket and pick up that “wish I had that in my shop” item. If it costs more then $50, then at least it can be used to pay the tax.

  • Harry Hill says:

    True, a good suggestion is to spend it on expendables that one knows they normally use. Then again, if there is a new gadget that catches ones eye and it can have a use in their shop then go for it. It does not have to be needed immediately. Gifts are not always practical but since the person is making their own selection they might as well make is fun for themselves. (Myself, I’d go for the gadget. That may be one of the few times I can justify spending money frivolously). I am interested in hearing what you bought. Harry

  • Gary says:

    Clamps. The next job might otherwise require more clamps than you have and this will prevent that from happening.

    You can never have enough clamps!

  • Mark Johanson says:

    There are always consumables I use on a regular basis: glue, fasteners, sandpaper, scrapers, sharpeing supplies, even an upgraded router bit or 2. Stock up and have it when I need it.

  • KeithM says:

    Go for a shop vac pre-separator — Rockler’s Vortex or Oneida Dust Deputy. I got the Vortex for my birthday last summer. It does a wonderful job keeping the vac bag free-flowing, clean and empty. The added benefit is that I tend to clean up more often now.

  • johnny s says:

    Flip through the catolog. Get that thing that you could never justify , but you though would be handy.

  • Chuck Riccardo says:

    Laser attachments for chop saw, drill press, etc. are always welcome. Expecially for older eyes…

  • Hi A J
    I recently read your article about your favorite tablesaw item which was a zero clearance throat plate.
    I have a Porter Cable jobsite saw and I can find no one that sells this item. Like you, I consider the zero clearance to be very important. I’m wondering what your suggestion might be for making one.
    Your comment would be appreciated. I’m thinking possibly the right gauge plastic but the problen of securing it in place could be difficult. Thanking you in advance————————Bill

  • Randy Walker says:

    How about a chunck of that fancy burl, or maybe a piece of that expensive exotic wood that you have been lusting over.

  • Don J says:

    I’ve wanted a dedicated rip blade but the one I want costs over 100. With the gift card its now at a reasonable price to buy it.


  • K. Riley says:

    CLAMPS, you NEVER have enough CLAMPS.

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