Cheep Tools

Hi; I know that I do not have many readers 😉 but that’s OK. Sorry I haven’t made up a post recently. I’d like to say I’ve been busy, but I haven’t been. I was going to do this once a week as leverage to make myself make things, hasn’t happened yet 😉 sorry.

There has been, and indeed always has been and always will be, much discussion started by persons new to woodworking who are looking for “Cheep” tools to get started with. All of us who have been doing/making things for a while understand this.

We Sympathize, we really do! Then we tell you to spend Huge amounts of money.

Well maybe not Huge. You can get some kind of smoother plane for $20 at a big box store. OR… $219 for a good modern smooth plane from the  current best maker. 10 times the price seems unwarranted.


A Master woodworker can get some sort of performance out of a crap tool. Someone just starting out will only find frustration and anger in the package with the cheep tool in it. This is why they say “A master never blames his tools”. He knows the quality of what he has to hand and he knows how to compensate when the tool is no good. The phrase is usually used to point out someones deficiency when they complain about their tools, but I think that is backwards.

You buy that NEW inexpensive square, and it’s not square. you buy the lowest price plane and it doesn’t work because the chip breaker doesn’t meet the blade right. and can’t be made to fit right.

Cheep tools will either make you quit early and never pick up another tool, or you will buy another tool. Cheep tools are tools you buy twice.

Is there a middle ground? YES, yes there is. There are actually 2 middle grounds! (Huzzah for options!)

  1. Make your own! There are a lot of instructions out there for how to make your own planes and squares  and stuff. You could make your complete outfit yourself. And there are Kits for some of these things! There are even kits to make your own hand saws!


2. Used and antique tools. Specifically ones that were quality tools to start with.

Which have their own problems… finding them for starters. Antique shops, Used things shops, on line, E-bay, Etsy, tool dealers. The New LV smooth plane is $219. a restored Stanley is $75 to $150. already a savings! You can still find some for $5 occasionally. all rusty and in need of cleaning. But the search takes time and effort instead of just going to the store and getting one.

Restoration of old tools can be a hobby by itself. dealing with the rust and pitting. If you are in a blazing hurry to get started buy one already restored and ready to go. And the recent resurgence in popularity of woodworking makes them harder to find and more expensive but they still generally cost less than new ones.

Most of the tools I use are older than I am. Except the ones that I have made myself.

ask questions: and buy better tools is the best advice I can give anyone. With old tools you can frequently expect to sell them for the same amount you paid for them.

be well, count your fingers.


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