An interesting debate started in LumberJocks in the Battle of the Brands thread: does tool quality trump pure skill, or is skill more important than quality?

An obvious answer is that they’re both important. In the forums though the debate really polarized and a very interesting conversation started. The debate can be summed up by these two quotes from two Jocks.

From the Skill is King camp comes WayneC:
“A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

What WayneC so eloquently states here is that skill and… we’ll call it “woodworking wisdom…” trumps the quality or even type of the tool.

From the Quality Tools DO Matter camp is ColoradoClimber:

“Perhaps if I or my crew were all as talented as [insert revered hero here] I could cut my tool budget down to one roll of chisels and an old saw to share between us. But since we’re mere mortals we tend to benefit by not having to fight our tools while trying to work hard and produce something of value.”

ColoradoClimber clearly has a business to run.

Quality tools make a difference for him and his work crew. If quality tools can decrease production time then the investment makes sense and he need have no qualms about emphasizing tool quality over the absolute mastery of “woodworking wisdom.”

The Question’s Root:
Why do some woodworkers seem to feel ethically bound to give up increased quality tools for an internal focus on improving their skill?

And at what point in your development as a woodworker are you truly hampered by the quality of your tools? What is the point where you must replace your tools in order to improve quality?

I don’t have the answers to these questions – only you do.

I highly encourage you to read through the LumberJocks thread as it’s a thorough working over of the question of power tool quality vs. woodworker skill.