In Woodnet today I found a great thread discussing the ways that the current economic crisis has affected woodworking habits: How is the economic crisis effecting your woodworking habits? Some people asked “what economic crisis?” Others talked about salvaged lumber, hand made tools and spending reductions on new tools. For this article I handpicked my favorite quotes from the thread and then added on several of my own suggestions for reducing your woodworking expenses. Not all of these suggestions will increase the amount of TIME you have for woodworking, but they will decrease your costs ;)
If you think you’re already cheap enough take the woodworker cheapskate quiz >> If you come up “Frugal” or “Easy Spend” then you need to come back and read this article.
>> Limit Your New Tool Purchases
This one is obvious and mentioned by several of the posters in the thread. Some people reported that they were resisting new tool purchases despite finding great deals on Craigslist and through the eBay + Live promotion. What can I say? Spending less than you make is the core of personal finance. For those who still have their eyes on new power tools here are a couple of resources that I think will help you to save money
1) Buyer Beware, A Harbor Freight Buying Guide: The Good Enough, The Bad and the Abysmal
The biggest lesson I learned about HF is that putting a good blade on one of their cheap tools can give you incredible value. The other biggest lesson I learned is that shopping at HF is a learned skill that takes time. Print this HF article out and bring it with you the next time you go shopping so you don’t get tempted down the wrong path. Decent Harbor Freight Tools >>
2) Get the Live + eBay Discount on New Tools
For a limited time Microsoft is paying people to use their search engine, Live.com. They payment comes in the form of up to 30% off of purchases made through eBay’s “buy it now” program. You get up to 12 purchases and up to $2500 in savings per year using this program and you can use it on any purchases. I recently got word that Grizzly’s eBay team is working with shoppers to help them get the discount on Grizzly tools >>
>> Salvage, Reuse and Recycle Your Wood, Cutoffs and Sawdust
Here’s the quote that inspired this entire article: “In particular, I have started rummaging discarded furniture and other wood products to salvage lumber. I’ve come across lots of stuff from old maple dressers discarded at the side of the road, to cedar scraps in the dumpster of the local fence company. All in all, I’d say in just a couple of weeks I’ve found about 50 bf of FREE lumber!!!” That’s from mattsworld who started the Woodnet thread How is the economic crisis effecting your woodworking habits?
3) Woodworking with Pallets: A Guide to Finding, Breaking Down and Building with Pallets
Pallets are best for SMALL projects – birdhouses and small boxes and such. Plus they are a real bear to break down. Still, there are some who swear by them and in some areas they’re a plentiful and ongoing supply of free wood. As the links in the article show, sometimes it’s better to NOT tear them apart and build structures out of them instead… Pallet Projects >>
4) 28 Ways to Recycle and Reuse Sawdust and Woodchips
Walnut chips are poisonous to animals. Woodchips and sawdust leach nitrogen out of the soil, making it unsuitable for gardens. Keep those two points in mind and you’re on your way to getting more mileage out of what you used to throw away. This article has tons of tips and ideas for recycling your woodchips and sawdust, including the sawdust toilet and how to treat woodchips for heating your woodshop! >>
>> Take Care of Your Blades
Keeping your blades clean and sharp can really help to extend the life of your power tools… and taking care of what you already own is a great way to reduce spending.
6) ToolCrib.com’s Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Saw Blades and Router Bits
Are you using oven cleaner on your blades? It’s not a great idea. This article discusses alternative methods, even some green methods that you may never have considered… Keep your blades clean >>
7) DIY Carbide Saw Blade Sharpening + 4 Blade Sharpening Services
Sharpening your blades is far cheaper than buying new ones all the time. This article offers tips for sharpening your carbide tipped blades yourself – though I don’t recommend it – and then suggests some folks who can keep your blades in good working order at a price that’s far below new. Keep your blades sharp >>
>> Flex Your Ingenuity and Creativity Muscles
Reusing and recycling isn’t necessarily all about being “green.” It’s also about the satisfaction of not spending money needlessly. This can take flexibility, ingenuity and creativity, but hey – that’s why you got into woodworking in the first place!
8) 11 Cheap, Recycled or Free Items Useful in the Wood Shop
Wait don’t throw away that junk mail – you might be able to use it in your woodshop! This article discusses “junk” you might be passing up that could prove useful on your next project. Useful “Junk” >>
10) 6 Ways to Seal a Tube of Caulk
Why waste caulk? No, it doesn’t break the bank but hey, if you can save it you should. Here are 6 ways to squeeze every dime of value out of your caulk investments >>
>>11) Build it Yourself with Free Plans
Building it yourself isn’t always cheaper, especially if we’re talking fine furniture. That said, if you end up spending more on making your own sawhorses than what they cost then maybe woodworking isn’t a great hobby for you in tougher economic times ;) Most of these free plan lists focus on shop storage and power tool accessories which can really cost a bundle if you buy them new.
20 Free Cutting Board Plans + the 4 that Blew My Mind
15 Free Mobile Base Plans: Put Your Power Tools on Wheels
Wood Storage 101: 14 Lumber Storage Plans and 7 Storage Tips
32 Free Picnic Table Plans + Top 3 Most Awesome Picnic Table Plan Awards
15 Free Toolbox Plans for Woodworkers
24 Free Sawhorse Plans in the Hunt for the Ultimate Sawhorse
ToolCrib.com’s Ultimate Guide to Free Woodworking Workbench Plans
9 Sandpaper Storage Ideas (+ free plans)
ToolCrib.com’s Ultimate Guide to Free Router Table Plans
ToolCrib.com’s Ultimate Guide to the Crosscut Sled