Here I am week #2 of not getting out to the shed, thanks to this vile virus. I’m not going into detail here, I’ve done quite enough bleating on social media.
Not being able to turn anything, I have spent much of my time watching Youtube videos. (I mean no offence to Youtubers here, I have also watched several hours worth of professionally made DVD footage) I have re-read some of the many woodturning books I own, some for the 4th or even 5th time. It makes me feel like I’m participating, even if I’m not.
My copy of March 2016 Woodturning magazine came in this morning. I was reading Mark Baker’s leader, regarding the value v’s cost of tools and equipment, and started thinking. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen comments on internet communities/social media etc. regarding tools and equipment. In some cases it would appear that if you are not willing to part with a sizable proportion of your income for the most expensive tools, then you have no business participating in the hobby. [I refuse to call it “the craft” because this brings forth mental images of rolled up trousers, aprons, goats, and clandestine meetings in dark rooms]
I know I am not alone in practicing my hobby on a very tight shoestring. My budget is quite often zero. There have been occasions where I have been unable to turn a pen, because I couldn’t justify spending £3.00 on a bottle of superglue. Perhaps I don’t have any business participating in my hobby because of the state of my finances? It is what it is though. I get bye.
I have saved for tools and other items, only for the money to be needed elsewhere in the household. I actually stopped taking money for private IT work I have done, and ask for gift cards instead. That way I am unable to spend the money, and can gather better tools & equipment than I would normally be able to afford.
For some though, this still isn’t good enough. My turning tools, apart from my hand knitted carbide tools, are mainly from the Axminster Perform range. I find these very acceptable, but to read & listen to comments you would think they were made of chocolate and ready to kill at the earliest opportunity.
My current bowl gouge is 4 years old next month and still has a couple of years in it at my current rate of use. I keep it sharp, to the best of my ability, and use it for far more than bowl turning.
I believe in buying “the best you can afford” where tools are concerned. My current tools are what I can afford. I can’t buy a Crown Cryo ½” Ellsworth bowl gouge at £80-odd, but at various times during the year I can just about stretch to £18 or so for the Axminster gouge if the need arises.
Does this mean I am less worthy as an amateur turner?
I don’t think so. No more than having the top of the range digital SLR camera makes you a great photographer.
I started at the bottom with a cheap set of Chinese made tools, which in the wrong hands (mine) turned out to be downright dangerous. I very quickly dumped them for a better set, which are still going strong despite an average price of £20 each.
Would an average price of £80 per tool make me a better turner?
I can’t see it personally. If your technique is wrong, then changing tools will not fix that IMHO. An old saying I heard when serving my apprenticeship was, “A bad tradesman always blames his tools.” I really cannot fault the tools I have. I can fault my own lack of experience and skill. This is getting better, despite only getting an average of 5 hours each week to practice.
Not forgetting, I have been branded stupid and lazy by some ass-hat for “not finding the time to spend on my hobby, and making BS excuses.”
That is, unfortunately, the kind of mentality you get hiding behind a keyboard 3½K miles away. That is also the type who criticises for not spending money you simply do not have on what they think is the best on the market.
These dwads have no concept of individuality or independent opinion. If you don’t follow their doctrine like a good little sheep, then you are wrong. End of.
I went to the Harry Callahan school in that respect. “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.”