one of the two best reasons

I’ve maintained a belief for some time now that one of the two best reasons for drawing a pay-cheque is for the purpose of acquiring tools. While I tend to get a bit weird about spending money in any case (spender’s remorse), I try my best to avoid feeling any buyer’s remorse; buying more/new tools is usually proof against the latter, if still subject to the former.
I’ve been lusting after a few tools for awhile now; some to replace tools lost on the boat, others necessary for my job, and some ’cause they’re just so cool. This week I went ahead and took care of a couple of these, ummm, urges.
I’ve been without a complete ratchet and socket set since the boat. Granted, I haven’t done so much mechanical work lately as to really require them, but it’s always such a pain in the ass to not have ’em when you do. I’ve been using a smaller set of these Home Depot house-brand Husky “black chrome” sockets at work, and figured they were decent enough for the price, so I picked up this larger set for my myself.
Another purchasing motivator is any situation where I feel, for even a brief time, dependant on borrowing somebody else’s tools. With this in mind, I’d been looking for a simple RO palm sander. Home Depot was out of the one I wanted; no luck at the local Ace or True Value either, so online I went… (Bless you! Curse you! PayPal!)
I ended up ordering a DeWalt sander, the Variable-Speed one nobody around here seems to stock. While some people decry DeWalt as being “just the expensive Black & Decker”, I’ve had good luck with my yellow tools. And, um, while I was at it, I went in for a couple more DeWalts “just in case”:
The next purchase was a trim router. I’ve had a few recent instances where a trim router would have saved a little time/aggravation, probably enough so to have paid me back for the purchase price. I’ve got my Dad’s old burly Freud FT2000E (not unlike the ol’ man himself, an indestructible if crusty workhorse), but so much of the routing I find myself needing to do is generally… smaller.
I’ve worked in a few shops where the go-to tool was the Porter Cable 7301. Great tool, punching well above it’s weight class, and as far as I know, pretty much the tool that defined the category. I’m trying a near-copy, the DeWalt version. Time will tell as to whether this was a wise choice, but being $100 less than the Porter Cable, the DeWalt will have to really suck to not be worth it.
The last tool I sprung for is a bit of a stretch, I admit. A DeWalt cordless jigsaw. I’ve wanted a new jigsaw for quite awhile now, and normally a cordless version would not be my first choice. However, my experience with a few other cordless tools has changed my thinking… and I already have 6 18V XRP batteries and 5 chargers (well, 3 singles and a double). I now have more than 2/3 of the cordless tools DeWalt makes.
The performance of the cordless cut-off tool, reciprocating saw, and circular saw have proven to me that these are fair-excellent replacements for their corded brethren. I’m expecting similar greatness from the cordless jigsaw. Of course, most of the work I do is wooden-boat refit work, or small-scale building reno & maintenance; in both cases, I’m often crawling into tight quarters with poor access to AC power, in order to make many small cuts. If I found myself making many long repeated cuts in heavier stock, I’d certainly go for the corded versions.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve spent more on tools this month than on my rent! Along with these “big ticket” power-tool purchases, I’ve been steadily increasing my stock of woodworking-, electrical-, and bicycle-specific hand-tools. In today’s economy, my most obviously-marketable skill is my ability to fix and build. It’s been a little over a year since I lost everything; I’m already feeling as secure as I ever have, and I can’t but feel that I’ve seen a great return on my tool investments.


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