Are there "cliques" in woodworking?
Text & photos by Tom Hintz
Since launching www.newwoodworker.com I have received emails from woodworkers from all over the United States and other countries. Most are interested in what I have built, as they are when visiting other woodworker web sites. However, several congratulated me for being supportive of those who use bargain brand tools. I was, to say the least, a little shocked to hear this.
I thought woodworkers might possess a healthy competitiveness regarding projects they build and skills they develop. I also expected subtle fiscal hierarchies within the woodworking community, to be softened by the common devotion to creativity in wood. The emails supportive of my failure to condem bargain-priced tools out of hand skewed this considerably.
Though I have not experienced it yet myself, the tone of these congratulatory messages leads me to believe there exists some level of disdain for woodworkers using what is perceived as lower priced tools or equipment. If this does exist, it represents an unfortunate disruption in the force we call woodworking.
I judge woodworking on creativity, fit, finish and effort. The brand name on the tools used to create a project is not, and should not, be part of the equation. Those incapable of seeing beyond the price of a tool should, if logic prevails, be even more appreciative of a well-done piece built with what they perceive as inferior tools.
Certainly we could argue that one machine might be more durable or more accurate after years of use. The high-dollar machines often have additional features or capabilities than the lower priced models. If we all had a budget that rendered the price of tools irrelevant, buying lower priced tools might be as foolish a decision as spending more than you have available just to display a certain nameplate in your shop. The same can be said of paying big dollars for a tool with features your style of woodworking does not require.
In the end, it is up to the individual woodworker to decide what tools best fit their budget and the needs of what they build. The capability to buy high-end tools, need them or not, is not a license to slight those who cannot.
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