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Why I Buy Tools


fm2176

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While this post is written from my personal perspective, please share your own motivations for buying tools and talking about them in these forums and elsewhere.

 

Many of the regulars here and on other tool-related forums use their tools professionally and on a daily basis (the pros).  Some of us, however, have chosen careers that do not require, and in some cases likely prohibits, our use of tools (the collectors).  For example, I have served as an Army Infantryman for over 16 years, meaning that my most useful tools have been quick thinking, my weapon, and a radio.  Others here are law enforcement officers, firefighters, or work in private sector jobs that preclude tool use.  So, why do we buy so many tools and share opinions on them so readily?  I can't answer for everyone, but I can give some insight into my motivations.

 

A few years ago I was on a little bit of a Channellock buying spree (okay, I might have gone overboard, now owning at least fifty Channelock products).  I opened an account on a forum which is similar in name to a larger one I used to frequent, and one night I shared a few photos.  Within a few hours, mention was made about how shiny and new most of the pliers looked, and how pointless it was to buy them if they weren't going to see hard use.  That negativity prompted me to avoid sharing any other photos afterward.  Quite frankly, what does someone else's opinion have to do with my purchasing decisions?  Since then, of course, most of those pliers have been broken in to an extent.  Are they scarred and rusted from decades of use?  Of course not; they reside in a tool box or bag 99% of the time.  When I need them, they are there, in multiple places, almost always near at hand for a project, and once the job is done they are wiped down and put back.  As mechanic years ago, I took pride in maintaining my tools, keeping them as clean and damage free as possible (except for striking tools such as hammers and punches, obviously), and I knew exactly which drawer contained which tool.  The one set of Channellocks I used 20 years ago--actually rebranded as Blue Point with red handles--still looks almost as good as my newer acquisitions. 

 

Due to a lack of understanding or outright envy, a small minority of pros seem to heap abuse upon us collectors.  Even so, I rest well knowing that, while what I own is not used regularly now, it is there when I need it.  You see, like many other collectors, I have the occasional project, as well as plans and dreams that will require everything I've accumulated and more.  When those plans become projects and those dreams become realities, I'll already have much of what is needed to build, modify, or create whatever it is I desire.  When a repair has to be made, I can use my most powerful tool, the smartphone, to seek advice before using tools to make that repair.  When this happens, the collector becomes the Scout (as in always prepared).  Rather than paying the pro for his expertise and time, I can glean some knowledge myself on 95% of the things that come up, knowing that if and when I screw up a pro is a call away.  So far as I know my limitations, I can save money and the inconvenience of having a stranger enter my personal space.

 

Tool buying has become a hobby of sorts for me.  In this sense, I'd argue that it is one of the best hobbies to partake in.  The previous paragraph explains some of the usefulness of being a tool owner, so we will not delve deeper into that subject for now.  Look at friends, family, coworkers, and other people you encounter on a daily basis.  Some of them collect guns (which I have quite a few of as well, but that is another subject), some collect baseball cards, and some collect watches or shoes.  Guns are fun to shoot and may be used for self-defense, but they are not something that should give a person pleasure to use for their intended purpose (hunters aside).  Baseball cards may spike in value, but have little use outside of collector's value.  Shoes and watches can be status symbols and can have quite a bit of value themselves, but using them as intended detracts from that value, especially when it comes to the former.  Tools, on the other hand, are useful, hold a fair amount of their value, and can actually be used to create income if needed.  I won't pretend that I could sell everything and get back even half of what I paid, but I could generate some quick cash if needed.  Much more importantly, I can create things to sell, offer services, or otherwise make a few dollars off of my labor through the use of tools. 

 

For the sake of brevity, I'll close with this.  Unlike many Soldiers, I don't drive a newer vehicle.  I don't live in the nicest place and in fact the house I bought (which I don't currently live in) retains its late-70s styling (another reason to have bought tools--extensive remodeling in a few years).  I don't have the latest curved television, a thousand dollar laptop, or even cable.  Ultimately, I'm not overly driven by material possession or maintaining an appearance of ultra-modern middle class living.  I certainly don't spend hundreds of dollars at bars on weekends, and rarely do I even eat out.  Instead, I buy tools as a collector and potential Scout, not as a pro.  While I salute those who chose a trade or a service job, I'm no longer a professional tool user.  Love it or hate it, some of us buy tools simply because we want to. 

 

This is a draft idea for another project.  I apologize for the unfinished feel of it, but if approved, a much more refined version may be placed elsewhere.  Please share your own reasons for buying tools, and if you are a pro, please do not take the above as a dismissal of your skillset.  We DIY'ers rely on your knowledge and lessons learned, and hopefully most of us know when a task is beyond our ability.

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Tools are an investment for your time. The only reasons I have to not buy a particular tool, are if I can see no future use for it, the design is poor, or there is no way that it could ever return its value to me in my lifetime. I work off of the principal that if you need to use an item, in your personal or professional projects more than once, you should purchase it over renting one.

 

I have many tools that fit the description of "Do you ever use that thing?". I take care of my tools, my investment in my time, and have many that have seen heavy use but still look as though they have seen much less. I do not use tools on a daily basis as much as I used to, but I refuse to hire someone else if it is at all possible to complete something on my own. I have simply found it almost impossible to be satisfied with the finish product of anyone around me, or available to hire locally. I am not a good customer to work for, as my critique is brutal, and people love to have their work complemented, even if it is unworthy. Tools help me achieve more than what I am normally capable of and they can sit on a shelf for years for all I care, without use, and wait for that one opportunity to help pay for themselves again.

 

The only real limiting factor, and the only real reason for turning loose of any of my collection, is storage space or existing work space. Turning loose of any tool is also balanced against the thought of future use, replacement, or upgrades. Moving the entire kit several times, has adjusted my attitudes and taught me the importance of cost of transport versus keeping "stationary" items, and selling them off in preparation for a move. It is one of the few times I am willing to divest myself of something that has paid its way.

 

Do I collect tools? Yes, and I could give a rats arse about what someone else thinks when it comes to if they look like they have not been used. I moderate my collecting urge to what I feel will be useful, but in the end, I still have an addiction to having the ability (the tools) to complete as much as I can on my own.

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I suppose it started with me taking a few years of woods class in high school. I didn't have much interest in tools at that time. A year after high school I kinda got away from the woodworking stuff to try a computer major which was an interest I had at the time. I decided it was not something I wanted to do so I decided to switch to construction major. I had interest in tools but not enough to buy much. The school was using nicd DeWALT stuff a wondered why they hadn't upgraded to 20v max yet. The summer of 2015 a friend comes to my house and hands me a new DeWALT drill/impact kit as a gift I guess. They were the first power tools I had ever owned. A bit later, I don't know when, I found the TIA youtube channel and the videos tended to interest me so I subscribed. I wasn't really buying tools then but my interest kept getting larger and larger.  I finally decided to get a TIA forum account and kinda started to become apart of the forum and interact and whatnot. End of summer of 2016 I saw a flexvolt preorder tool deal and it started from there. I bought 2 preorder deals that had tools I could use for work and kept on searching for more deals. End of 2016 I decided to look beyond tools for work and more for tools to use at home. Throughout 2017 I have been picking up a tool here and there. Major tool spending is something I am trying to cut down on. A new home, vehicle, and/or shop could be possibilities in the near future.

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Tools have been my toys for about 15 years now, started with the craftsman 19.2v set had a big ice chest looking case also had a bunch of corded stuff ended up having to sell my toys when the recession happened, got stuck working at home Depot for a couple years was to poor to really get back into tools but after my second year at home Depot I said screw it and spent my entire tax return on tools best choice ever every year since then my wages have increased, and I have built a name for my self heck last night I was cold called and offered $30 an hour to go manage a different hospital, just this year I have gotten $11 an hour in raises and my work load has decreased all thanks to my tool addiction

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

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There seem to be a number of us who have our own justifications for buying tools.  It is easy to imagine the effects that income and cash outflows have on our habits.  Right now I'm paying rent as well as my mortgage, but don't have a vehicle payment.  I should be promoted in February, though, and my next assignment will see me gross around $1500 more each month than I make now, even after losing my special duty pay.  That coupled with the opportunity to stay busy when off duty might motivate me to buy the few DeWalt tools I don't already own.

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