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  • The true value of woodworking tools

The true value of woodworking tools

“My Greatest Fear is that when I die, my wife will sell my tools for what I told her I paid for them.” - Anon


What are your tools really worth?

With a plethora of tool brands in the market today, each working hard to position themselves and secure their place in your workshop, it can be hard to know the real value of your tools.

We’ve put together a bit of a guide to help apply some logic to this age-old question!

To start with, each tool should be assessed on its own merit; how do its features stack up?

Note the price paid (or advertised price in today’s market – If something is permanently “discounted”, its value is the discounted price and not the inflated retail price), available features (don’t forget safety features) and use this as a base to evaluate the tool’s worth.

Does brand matter?

At the end of the day, the brand does matter. The quality and length of service of the tool, convenience of warranty or aftersales support and customer service all reflect back against the brand. A brand that continues to look after its customers after the sale, is worth more and will continue to be worth more than one that only cares about the initial sale.

Does Warranty matter?

It goes without saying that warranty IS an important factor and the good news is that all reputable brands will be covered by some form of warranty (for various periods) from initial purchase date.  A better question is what value do you put on the warranty, and is a long warranty the mark of a good product?  Consider the fine print on what is covered and not covered. A brand that values its reputation and has invested in being around for the long haul will continue to support their products outside of advertised warranty rates. Consider the warranties offered by car manufacturers;  Many recognised higher end or premium manufacturers offer 3 years, whereas others can offer up to 7 years. Based on warranty alone, does that make the premium manufacturerd products inferior in quality to the 7 year warranty options?  

Does the retailer matter?

The retailer does matter. The retailer provides another level of support to you if anything were to go wrong. A Bricks & Mortar retailer will stock and align themselves with brands that they know will support their customers after the sale. No retailer wants the reputation of being the destination for bad products. Generally, the retailer will have a larger store footprint than the brand, allowing the brand greater coverage and access for their customers. A retailer with a national presence gives you the opportunity to purchase from your local retailer offering you convenience not only for the purchase, but also for any warranty issues. You don’t want to be trying to freight your table saw across the country back to the brand to investigate a fault or fix the issue. 

Time is precious.

Time is a finite resource and anything that saves you time is good. Quality tools save you time and give you one less thing to worry about. The return on investment for a tool that saves you valuable minutes every time you use it is easily calculated. What else could you achieve in those saved minutes? It all adds up!

Are older tools better than new tools?

There’s a nostalgia around antique tools which have become heirloom pieces due to their quality of craftsmanship.

Today, you’ll often find that newer tools have improved on the previous designs. Design innovations (learned only through decades of trial & error) have seen vast improvements in many tools, making them lighter, faster or stronger.  Tool technology continues to improve and with it, safety features continue to improve. Brands such as Veritas dedicate themselves to traditional hand tools using new concepts, materials and manufacturing processes. But don’t throw away those old tools yet!

Scoring a good deal on a second-hand tool gives us a sense of pride as we’ve not only either saved money or gotten something with more features than we would otherwise have been able to afford, but we’ve contributed to the circular economy by giving the tool a new life. Old hand planes can have a new life simply by flattening the body, sharpening the existing blade, or replacing the blade with a new one.

Second-hand machines can be a great way for someone to introduce a machine’s functionality into their workshop without blowing the budget. But choose carefully, and ensure they are safe to use (both mechanically, but more important, electrically).  An informed buyer can pick up a bargain.  A less educated one can quickly end up spending more than buying new.

Do the tools make the woodworker?

Put simply, no! The woodworker makes the woodworker!

We all know that person with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of <insert brand name> tools and a workshop set up that is cleaner and better laid out than any store display! Woodworking is 90% about design, practice, skill, dedication and heart. The tools are there to facilitate the final 10%.

Surround yourself with the woodworking tools that you need and that add value to your woodworking journey. They will always be worth more to you than to anyone else.

Don’t sweat over what’s going to happen to them once they are of no use to us anymore!