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Tool frustrations

2012-06-15 22:05:08.67669+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Online woodworking tool stores are pissing me off. Well, okay, that's overstating the case, but I'm not a fan of "we're going to mark up the living daylights out of stuff and then send you coupons which you have to track" business model (canonically: Michaels). However, Woodcraft also has the Shinwa 301/S03.00 Bakuma American Slim Cut Hand Saw 300mm, the tool which made me fall in love with hand tools, and which I have used to rip 4'x8' sheets of plywood rather than set up the power tools. Really.

But the blades are essentially disposable, so I end up tacking extra things on to orders there, weighing a few extra cents on this or that product vs buying it from someone else, and...

The thing about that saw is that I've also started to realize that I could use a few more hand tools. A joinery saw with a finer tooth would be nice, maybe something like Lee Valley's Gent's Saws. And I've got some chisels pieced together from garage sales, some of which are great, some of which aren't. Highland Woodworkin's Narex chisels seem to be a fantastic bang for the buck. So I look around and start to realize that everyone's got their own branding of various tools, and it's hard to figure out what's worth a damn and what isn't.

I look around and think "maybe it's time to drop the bucks on some Lie-Nielsen or Glen-Drake tools" products. People who tell you flat out whether you're buying O1 or A2 steel. However, there the difference seems to be that these tools have had the attention to detail paid to them to do the sort of finishing that I need to be able to do anyway: They've been properly flattened and beveled and edged and...

I'm torn, then: Is the 4x premium really just that the chisel has been finished? How do I tell? How do I tell on saws? And on a saw, how do I tell if it's worth it to sharpen it myself, have it sharpened, or buy a new blade?

[ related topics: Interactive Drama User Interface Cool Science Invention and Design Law Woodworking ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2012-06-17 01:22:43.783719+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, Amazon would do away with one problem: Trying to find the equivalent product from different vendors, but it wouldn't do away with the basic disclosure problem. Which kind of takes me back to really, tools cost 4-5x what the hardware stores, big box stores, and even woodworking specialty stores have taught me, and I need to just buy them by choosing the manufacturers, not by choosing the retailers.

The good bit is that, with things like Festool, this means I can choose the retailers based on how much they're willing to be there with the catalog. I love that I can just call up my local Festool dealer and say "yeah, those screws on the bottom of the router. Have a few of 'em there next time I come in." and they say "Will do, Dan".

#Comment Re: made: 2012-06-16 10:18:47.143711+00 by: DaveP

I don't know about woodworking tools, but there have been cases recently where various hobby stuff I want has started being sold by Amazon, and in spite of losing smaller vendors (or having them fulfilling things for Amazon and making less profit) I've let out a little cheer because customer service will get better, bait and switch will go away, and I'll end up getting better prices.

I do worry about Jeff Bezos taking over the entire world of commerce, but not all that often, because most of the time it makes life better for me. I used to worry about him killing local businesses, but after multiple experiences like spending a few hours on Thursday trying to find some automotive LED indicators (aka dashboard idiot lights) for my motorcycle (I was after a standard part, but did not know the part number because I'm adding new, rather than replacing something existing) at local stores and coming up dry, I just came home and ordered from Amazon. They'll be here on Monday, with free shipping, and I won't really miss any of the local businesses I tried.

If there's been a human in any of them who had been willing to spend a few minutes looking through a current parts catalog, they'd have me as a customer, but either they had old catalogs with no LEDs or humans who just didn't care. Good riddance. I hope that when they're gone, I'll be able to find the local auto-parts store that doesn't suck because it'll be the one still open.