I don't do ToolTime often here. There's a reason for that.
As a general rule, everybody has a backwards process for purchasing tools, especially gadgety-type tools. It goes like this:
-If it was easy, I'd do it.
No, you really wouldn't.
It's the same idea that gets you into trouble in house design. If you had a big fancy tub, you'd bathe luxuriously every day. If you had a pool table, you'd play all the time. If you had an elaborate kitchen, you'd become a world -- or at least, neighborhood --renowned chef.
But you stand in your shower every morning and look at your jetted tub over there, you start storing boxes on top of your billiard table, and you make mac and cheese in your stainless steel microwave and put it on your granite countertop.
To predict what others would benefit from, you have to watch what they try to do even though it is difficult, and make it easier for them. I used to often be consulted for strategies to remake existing rooms in large houses to entice the occupants to even enter them, never mind use them. I used to refer to them as "furniture mausoleums" --rooms inhabited only by chairs, the specter of Martha Stewart, and the ghosts of paychecks past. You don't go in there because all the living never happens in a living room anymore. You're not going to sit in a hoop dress and read The Mayor of Casterbridge while fanning yourself and waiting for Jeffery Devonshire Fairfax the XXIV to call.
And so it is with the tools. If you're struggling mightily with next to nothing trying to make things, then you'll probably get the benefit out of tooling up. Otherwise, forget it. You'll become what Kliban called the Satisfied Hammer Owner, a guy with forty five different hammers displayed inside a series of hammer-shaped outlines on your pegboard. Every so often you'll dust them and rearrange them.
I have to cut a lot of wood, as you could imagine. It is a calamity for the central machine in a wood shop to be disabled. And because I intimately know what I'm trying to do, I know exactly how to proceed. Here's how my little rat mind works, and how yours should, too, in any situation like this:
- Is it broken? (Well, it sounded like a coffee can filled with bees and washers being thrown at a plate glass window, so, yeah, that's a definite possibility)
- Do you need it, really? (Well, not really. I only use it twelve hours a day six days a week, so it is kinda handy)
- Can you fix it? ( Give me two weeks, and the run of a machine shop, and I'll come up with something. I'll be bankrupt in two days, so maybe that's a bad idea)
- Can you jerry-rig it? (Sure. I did once already. That's why it's a total wreck now. And the words "jerry-rigged blade spinning at 3500 RPM" don't make me feel like Christmas.)
- Can you get someone else to fix it? (Sure. I'll carry it up the stairs, and bring it to Taiwan. It'll be good for me, cardiovascularly, I'm sure.)
- Can you get another one? (Absolutely. It's on a truck from Pennsylvania right now.)
- Can you afford it? (No. But it costs more not to buy one than to buy one. That's the logic that escapes everyone. Which leads me to...)
- Can I keep going?
I've lost my wits. But I'll have decent tools, by god.