Buying new tools is always a two part decision making process for me. First, I love tools so in the end I know I will have to wrestle with my emotions. I am a self-ascribed tool addict and find joy in purchasing a new table saw or even an antique hand-place from the garage sale down the street. The second thing I keep in mind is business. Will this tool be an investment for my company? More specifically, will it make my work more efficient? Will it save time? Will it save me money? At the end of the day, I am blessed to have enough work with a waiting list of over six months so I know that the faster I work the more money I am going to make. Some tools enable me to work faster.
A good and recent example of when I was deciding whether or not to buy a new tool was while I was working on a job building cabinets for a yacht club clubhouse. The library which housed thousands of books needed a new home, and the club commissioned me to create a library.
It was important for me to pay attention to each detail, no matter how small, when planning out its construction. Because of the sheer number of glass doors, I was required to fit more than 300 brass hinges. Since my shop is not outfitted to only create cabinets, we tend to do more hand work than would be done in an industrial shop. In this case, the hand work was cutting insets for the hinges. We decided that although using bench chisels may not be the most efficient way, the alternatives were too expensive or inconvenient.
We knew of a tool called a corner chisel which easily cuts 90º corners for fitting hinges. By simply lining the straight edges of the cut and striking the edge with a hammer, one can achieve a perfect 90º corner with a clean, crisp and straight edge. It turns your rounded corner into a neat square corner.
To achieve this with bench chisels, we calculated it would take an additional two hours. Although this is not a lot of time, it does equate to a lot of money. Being that a corner chisel is inexpensive there was no question that this tool would be beneficial for this job. We ordered it, used it and were very happy with it. Plus, I knew it would find a home in my shop and be used again in the future.
I am a big fan of small trinket tools that have simple uses, and the corner chisel ended up doing us very well. So although there have been times when I purchased a tool through my addiction and found that it was not the most rational purchase, the example above of the corner chisel was without a doubt a money saver and a smart purchase.