Ah, Relativity

Six years ago, I made my first big woodworking purchase. By big, I mean over $100 – in fact, it was my first purchase over $65 (a circular saw). This expense was a brand-new, $300 table saw, nearly as expensive as all the tools I’d purchased together to that point.

Gradually, the cost of the tools I bought increased: a $50 combination square, a $220 hand plane, a $1500 jointer. Going from buying a $300 table saw (a table saw being one of the more expensive pieces of equipment in a shop) to a $1500 jointer would have been crazy, but between the purchases of these two tools I bought a lot of other tools, gradually ramping up my assortment of tools and my overall investment in my workshop. By the time I bought the jointer, it was only about 10% of what I had invested in my shop at the time. As time progressed, the quality of tools naturally increased as well.

Most of my tools are good quality, but not many are top-of-the-line. Premium power tools and machinery always seemed out of reach – a Festool circular saw for $900, a Sawstop table saw for $3000, or a new infill hand plane for $1000 per inch of length.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I paid a visit to Felder Machinery Imports in Nanaimo, BC. I had heard a lot about their sliding table saws and had done my research into this type of saws predominantly used in Europe. As with many European tools, sliding table saws have been slow to catch on in North America. I was convinced of their benefits and decided that it was time to inspect one in person and learn more about them. I was very impressed in every way, from my reception (they picked me up from the ferry) to the machines and their in-depth knowledge and no-BS answers. Then we sat down and crunched numbers. For the saw I liked, let’s just say that I could buy a small, brand new pick-up for the cost of the saw delivered. And I am seriously considering it.

Suddenly, that $900 circular saw seems reasonably priced, affordable, almost cheap. And the Sawstop table saw is a bargain (well, for the safety feature is always was). The infill plane still seems like an unlikely purchase at this point. Just last week, I bought a router kit on sale for $130 without much thought at all. I almost bought two, if I could have carried them. By the way, I now have seven routers, plus a router plane, and a wireless router for my laptop computer.

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