Gotta have it

I learned a lot in redoing my shop layout. One of the things I learned is that I buy a lot of stuff I donít need.

Being a packrat is in my nature. I rarely get rid of anything. My office is a depository of everything Iíve ever worked on regarding writing. Iíve been writing and getting published since 1984, so thereís enough stuff crammed in there to qualify my office as a Superfund site. For some reason, I must think that an early draft of a computer game review I wrote in 1985 is worth keeping because I have a file folder for it, along with hundreds of others I never look at. But you never know, I might just need one of them someday.

Iím the same way in the shop. I wonít bother to discuss how I save scraps, because there is no such thing. Itís just small stock, not scrap. But I save one-time-only jigs the same way, even jigs that I know absolutely, positively that Iíll never use again.

When redoing the shop, I came across lots of old things I continue to save. However, I also came across tons of new things. This is stuff I bought, stuff I just had to have because I knew I couldnít live with out it. Stuff I saw in a catalog or store, and try as I might resistance was futile. I shelled out the cash and went home with my prizeÖ and then never, ever used it.

Stuff like a center-finding plastic thing thatís been hanging on my pegboard for 10 years. Never used it. Stuff like a hinge-mortise-corner-cutter Ė route the mortise, place the thing there and give it a tap, and bingo bango it squares the corner. Never used it. Stuff like a small coping sled for the router table. Never used it.

Donít misunderstand me; these are all good products for someone. But their coolness at the time deluded me into thinking that I needed them when I didnít. So they sit and gather dust, and I never get rid of them. Why? Because Iím a knucklehead.

And Iím betting Iím not the only one. Take a mental inventory of your shop and Iím sure youíll come up with a few of these Ė maybe more than few. Come on, admit it.

Now, give me the best example of something you bought for your shop, something that you just absolutely had to have, and then never used.

Till next time,



  • Alan Young says:

    AJ- It isn’t the things I bought that I don’t need that cause me to wonder–….for me it’s that bag of screws, pair of hinges, door catches or four new brushes-you name it– that I need for the project. I walk into the shop, set the item(s) down momentarily whilst I gaze at the mess. That brief moment is enough to distract me to something else and at the same time remove from all memory and awareness where I put my recent purchase. By the time I am ready to use/open the item-I can’t find it, remember where I set it or worse- did I even buy it in the first place??? Now then did I tighten those screws that hold my head on?


  • Hi AJ Ė Iíve been thinking, but I canít come up with a single thing that is in my shop and has never been used. The closest I can come is a Hitachi random orbit finish sander. But itís not that I didnít use it, itís that I used it a couple of times and it broke. I took it back to the big box store where I bought it, but because I didnít buy their in-store warranty they said Iíd have to send it to the factory service center. I think it was in Bangkok.

    I didnít have time for that so I bought a new sander (different brand, different store Ė what can I say, I carry grudges like they were ticks) and finished the job at hand. The dead sander got tossed in a cabinet and forgotten about. When I came across it again I figured the warranty had to be expired so there was no point sending it in now, but I didnít throw it away either, just tossed it back in the cabinet. I came across it the other day and wondered why I kept it. I looked at it a while, rolled it over a few times then stuck it back in the cabinet and went back to work.

    So I have *one* thing that doesnít get usedÖ but not because I didnít try.

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