No need

Sometimes, I have absolutely no need whatsoever for one particular tool or another. But often, I just can’t seem to rest until I get it.

There are lots of basic tools we simply must have for an efficient, productive shop. Some are big and expensive, such as a table saw or planer, while some are small and cheap, such as a clamp or rule. Without them, doing a good job is more difficult, takes longer and may not be our best work, so it makes perfect sense to acquire, use and maintain theses essentials.

Then there are the tools that catch our eye in the catalogs or in someone else’s shop. You may not have a distinct need for them in a useful sense, but gosh-darn you’d like to get one. No, you have to get one. Your desire for that tool becomes all-consuming. You become a woodworking analogy of the Cookie Monster. It’s all you think of.

I have several of these in my shop. Some didn’t cost a lot, but a few of them were over $100. After drooling over them in a catalog or online, I finally got them. Then, once I got them – nothing. The fever is gone, the desire is quenched, and you’re a happy woodworker once again.

Question: Of all those gotta-have-it tools, how many of them became a mainstay of your daily woodworking routine, and how many are collecting dust somewhere in your shop?

Sadly, I think I have enough of the latter that were I to be able to magically make them all disappear and, in the process, put a nice wad of cash back in my wallet, it would make me a happy woodworker once again.

Because then, I could get this one particular tool I’ve really had my eye on.



  • Good post, I really enjoyed reading it. You could have a thinning of the herd tool sale.

  • SawdustTX says:

    Shouldn’t admit this, but the tools I buy with very good intention of using them and truly believing they will make me a better woodworker — and then never use — are the pricey high-quality hand tools. Some high-end chisels, some nice (not crazy) hand planes, etc. But then I always default to either:
    1. my good old cheap Stanley block plane and acrylic-handled Craftsman chisels, or
    2. power tools

    And those nice high-quality hand tools look mighty handsome sitting on the shelf covered with a patina — not from use, but from collecting dust and rust from neglect.

  • Ariel Enriquez says:

    I know what you mean (who doesn’t?!). I’ve been collecting all the unessential tools in my shop and hope to “turn” them into the new Mirka sander system. The floor space gained will alone make the shop more useful: gone is the 80gal compressor whose main purpose was to power my pneumatic sanders (pancake can take care of the bicycle tires and brad-nailers just fine). Also parting with the 12″ ShopSmith planer; it’s been gathering dust for years since I upgraded to a used 20″ European machine. Lots of other small tools lining shelves around here that can go make someone else smile for an hour or two. Yeah we’ve all fallen victim to the impulse purchase from trade shows and tool catalogs.

  • Jim Allen says:

    Ah, the woodworkers lament! Been there, and the answer is decide where to store that new tool before it’s bought. If you’re into constantly creating new storage space for your shop, go for it. Otherwise, leave it until you really need it to do a job with. Then it’s a bargin!

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