Tools you don't need or regret?


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Hi, my name is Matt and I'm an occasional impulsive tool buyer. I've been very good about it for a few years now, but every so often I fall off the wagon. When I do, I pick myself up off the shop floor, dust myself off and start searching for the receipt. My habit is no where near as bad as it use to be, but when the itch arises I MUST SCRATCH...if you know what I mean.

The reason I'm bringing this to light is because of a post from Adam Cherubini on the "Arts & Mysteries" blog at Pop WW. I was looking for some great content for a little side thing I have going on and this post spoke volumes, while infuriating me a little at the same time. Adam's article was titled "Tools you don't need". Something I've asked myself and have been asked, in a couple of other little side things I do for fun.

Adam lays out a solid argument for why you don't need a certain 15 tools in your workshop (here's a hint in case you don't know Adam, they're all hand tools). I don't agree with him on a few, but that's beside the point. Where I do agree with him though, there are definitely some tools that seem like great ideas at the time. The kind of tools you just can't understand how you lived without before you brought them home, and then after a very short use of them, you barely remember how you thought you couldn't live without them.

For example in my shop here's a few to get the ball rolling. Unlike Adam, I'm not limiting myself to hand tools:

1. Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide System - familiar with this? For the lack of a better description, it's training wheels for cutting dovetails

2. 1/4" Collet Router - because it's 1/4" collet!

3. 45° Lock Miter Bits - by the time I set these up I could've assembled the corners something 10 other ways

4. Cornering tools - great idea, but I get way better results with my block plane (a tool Adam would be willing to pass on)

This is just the tip of the iceberg, I have so many more I don't know where to start. Any you're willing to share? Maybe we can start a support group with sponsors and anniversary coins (non legal tender kind, so we won't spend them on tools we'll regret).

Here's a link to the article http://blogs.popularwoodworking.com/blog3/CommentView,guid,b73862db-c1c1-4f72-a14f-700af68e63ac.aspx

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Good post

This might be a long list.

Regrets:

Every cheap chisel

12 pc set of skil router bits I needed one laminate trim bit for one project, but the set was only $20 more. Ten years later I have 11 new skil router bits.

small plastic router table Like 11 x 16 small

bench top drill dress

bench top band saw

Every cheap box of drill bits And I should know better

cheap rubber hose for air compressor dropped a piece of wood on in and cut it in half same day I bought it

power hand planer

fridge for shop Really, how far away is a cold drink anyway. Good idea, waste of space. not a tool but the point stands

14.4v impact driver was not big enough and I knew it when purchased just being cheap

plastic levels once again I should know better

have a bag of clearance stuff for two years that I have not broken into Buffing pads, plug cutters, and random wire wheels for drill

Tools I don't need

60 gallon air compressor Am I running a mechanics shop really am I?

drywall gun Nobody needs one unless they hang drywall everyday all day, and then it's questionable. Invest that money into a good cordless drill

makita 9.6v right angle drill good drill quality, not enough power for anything and I mean anything

paslode cordless framing nailer Don't get me wrong its awesome and handy, but in the last three years other people have used it not me. not at all

any six or seven of the twelve sets of sockets that I have

cherry picker

16 ton hydrualic pipe bender

engine stand

cheap harbor freight lathe

I am sure there are many others but that is all I can think of today. I can't pass on a clearance deal.

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Edge clamps never seem to work like you think; I throw them in the unnecessary pile.

Some 'economical' aluminum bar clamps that were a special buy from LV. Pads on the ends slide off as you turn them; not much clamping force; not much clamping reach. I now use one (of the 8) when I want to shape a handle.

A box of turning tools. I don't have a lathe :) To explain, I was set to buy a lathe the next week then someone said "Don't do it until you are done with all your casework projects or you'll never touch them again!" My house was all torn up for remodeling at the time so I didn't tempt fate ;)

A combination square from a crafty woodworking store. You could open boxes with the edges, the head lets go, can't lock it down. Went to return it, but the manager cranked on it and said "see, it locks" and refused to take it back. Now when I help my neighbor mortise doors, I let him use that one :)

So, Wilbur, take the blade out of the scrub and hit the grinder. Put a nice wavy profile and use it to texture.

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Hmm..tools I love, but don't need. God, I think I have a lot of those.

1) My Woodrat. An incredible and incredibly expensive router jig. It can do tons of things, I can do with other methods, but love doing on it.

2) Drift Master Fence. Definitely, not a necessity, but hey...easy repeatability.

3) 2 - No. 45 Multi Planes..one is a Wards, which is actually cooler than my Stanley and all the profile blade. I don't even use it, but love that I have it.

4) A second planer. I have both the DeWalt 735 and 734. It's nice to have one for "questionable" stock.

5) My Excalibur sliding table for the tablesaw. I used to just rip things on a sheet of rigid blue board insulation. But, this thing is sweet!

I'm sure there is more, should I tax my brain, but many of the things I have "seem" necessary.

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I'm amazed that nobody has done the decent thing and offered to take orphan tools off the streets. Remember guys, these tools have feelings too. PM me for the address of a "safe house" I happen to know about. :)

Oh, but don't send anything from Ryobi. I already have too much of that junk.

- How about a router where the bit slipped slowly out of the weak 1/4" collet on the VERY FIRST use out of the box?

- Or a cordless circ saw used to break down plywood that has so much flex in the base plate that the blade randomly varies about 10 degrees of of 90?

Other stuff I regret buying:

- Strap clamps that caught my eye at a woodworking show

- Anything meant to assemble picture frames. Can't remember ever building one. Can you say Target?

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There's a traveling tool store that use to come around here each summer. They'd setup a big tent, backup some semi trailers and people would flock to them.

They had everything from automotive to woodworking at amazing prices. People, including myself, would buy two or three of everything because they were so cheap it didn't matter if it broke after one use...you had the others to replace them.

I still have a few clamps and some stuff in the junk drawer to remind me of all the wasted money I spent there.

Another addition to my first post is my compressor and nail guns. I've used them for installing crown molding once. But now they just sit there.

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Another addition to my first post is my compressor and nail guns. I've used them for installing crown molding once. But now they just sit there.

I still have a lot of trim to install and a little framing, but hope to let a lot of dust settle on my nail guns at some point.

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I have a brand new Weller soldering gun that I bought maybe 3 years ago, I haven't even taken it out of the box yet. I've been using my pen type craftsman soldering iron for everything. So I guess that can go on my "don't really need" list along with the Olsen wobble type dado blade that was on clearance a few years back. That one I opened and checked out but decided was a pain to setup so I stayed with my regular dado set.

I also have some that I've gotten limited use out of like my Milwaukee Sawsall Hatchet or Makita grinder. I also have a craftsman bench grinder with a stand that I picked up 10 years ago that I've really used maybe 5 times.

Tool regrets for me revolve around not having enough cash to buy the top of the line all the time and having to deal with any shortcomings with the middle of the road stuff but generally I don't think I've done all that bad that I can really say I regret buying any of my tools...

-Jim

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Two tools that I use a LOT less than I thought I would: a low angle block plane, and a scrub plane. :blink:

That ought to start some discussion. ;)

hmmm, glad I asked about the scrub plane :) I am a little surprised about the block plane though.

I use my regular angle Stanley block plane all the time when hanging doors or cleaning up some end grain. I suspect I would use a low angle at least as much. Maybe not if I were using a shooting board and a smoother to clean end grain though...

I think power tool guys and carpenters use block planes more then big Old Timey woodworking folks like you would though ;)

So maybe I'm not so surprised...

-Jim

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i get a lot of tools as gifts that i don't need or use but no regrets there. people i love being thoughtful.

the tools that i have purchased that don't see much use get relegated to the basement as i'm not a fan of the cluttered workspace. my miter saw for instance. i don't use it because i never set up satisfactory dust collection for it and i have cleaner/more accurate ways of making the same cuts. it's in the basement until my next construction project (a shed's coming up) when it'll be mowing through 2x4's in the backyard.

i can't even say i really regret the wasted money from the lesser tools which i've upgraded. a family member or friend usually benefits from my good fortune as well. the 1.5hp jds single stage collector that's being replaced by my new 3hp oneida cyclone (arrives today :)) will be passed along to my uncle, etc..

perhaps the only true regrets in woodworking for me are the wonderful boards that were sacrificed for the sake of my learning curve..

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^^^ ditto.

Yea, now that I have a Domino I never use my TS tenon jig.

Or the dedicated mortiser that Norm talked me into buying.

Or my DeWalt biscuit cutter.

Or the 100+ biscuits I have.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I'll take $350 for all of it.

$350 for all that plus a Domino!!! SOLD!!!!

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I've really been trying to think of my ALL TIME MOST REGRETTED PURCHASE in woodworking.

I think it would have to be this 8" Power Mitersaw I purchased the first year the traveling tool tent came to town. It was maybe $25-$30 (my first warning sign)? I used a 7-1/4" circ blade on it, that is, when I could get it on the saw.

The arbor wasn't uniformly the right size (maybe they used a wobbly lathe to make it lol?). The guard and hood would have to be COMPLETELY disasembled and removed to get access to the arbor to put the blade on.

Once it was installed it wobbled like the rear tire on my first car in 1987, a 1979 Chevette with no floorboards or door panels. And the "preset" stops were more like 44 degrees vs 45 and don't even ask how I had to tighten and adjust both the head and table for 90 degree cuts. Thankfully I had plenty of scraps from test cuts, duct tape and chewing gum lol!

But a few years later I sold it for almost as much as I bought it for at a garage sale lol!

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1) Milescraft TurnLock 3 in 1 router guide kit - to bulky to use effectively in most cases

2) I would've gone with the large Varitas shoulder plane instead of the medium

3) I wish I knew what I was doing before I bought my Ryobi BT3100

4) I should've spent the extra $50 for the Bosch router kit instead of the Hitachi - the hitachi is a good router but the plunge base sucks

5) I wish I went with a 1.5hp or 2hp DC unit, instead of the 1hp unit I bought

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dovetail jig- I keep it because I might need it in the future and it was a birthday present that I just had to have.

biscuit joiner- used it once and haven't really found much use for it since then.

radial arm saw- takes up too much space and I can to the same thing with other tools just as quickly and with more accuracy.

detail sander- sounded great at the time, not much use in my world.

There are probably others but I haven't used them or needed them and I have forgotten about them.

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My porter cable 557 biscuit joiner. I wanted one for so long but when I finally got one I had no need for it. I still am looking for the chance to use it. I did some thick edge banding on plywood but just ended up gluing it. For joints I just use m&t.

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My porter cable 557 biscuit joiner. I wanted one for so long but when I finally got one I had no need for it. I still am looking for the chance to use it. I did some thick edge banding on plywood but just ended up gluing it. For joints I just use m&t.

+1 on the PC 557. I told myself I really needed it when HD was discounting them. I've had it for a couple years now and only used it twice.

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  • 1 month later...

For me it the hollow chisel mortiser. Watched Norm Abrams use his for years, so when I finally got a shop I bought one (tabletop version). I couldn't believe the mess left in the bottom of the mortise and found it difficult to clean out. Discovered that I like using a router for mortises about a million better, the bottom of the mortise comes out beautiful, don't have to mess with sharpening a four sided chisel, my router doesn't bust out in smoke or get clogged with chips. Dang, I should sell that thing.

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All of my clamps from Harbor Freight. Only one of the 24 actually stays clamped when you tighten it, and it is missing the screw to hold the end on. (I used a bent nail to replace the screw. I think it's a 4 penny nail... not certain, since I picked it up off the floor of my Grandfather's workshop...)

Only other tool I regret using, and I didn't pay for it, is the table saw I have use of. The blade is not square to the miter slots, the fence drifts when you clamp it down, and the blade does not go to 90 degree vertical. All these tips for working with your table saw assume you can actually disassemble it to get it to line up, which mine does not. Yes, it's a name brand saw. No, I will not divulge which name. (I have several for it, none of which can be repeated in polite company.)

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Great thread... I'm cracking up and some of the stuff.

I've noticed when I can get something cheap from Costco it's always not great but still servicable and I'm satisfied. But when I get something cheap from Home Depot it's always a major POS that I wish I never brought home. A few screwdriver sets come to mind.

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