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Ridiculous amount of tools?

has anyone else ever acquired a ridiculous amount of tools?

About a year ago I had to move, and in moving, I of course had to
inventory all of my tools, and it was then I realized I had 7 large

the smallest was 50 pounds, the heaviest was 500 pounds. I actually
had no idea i had to many of them, as I had gotten them over a number
of years. I ended up selling most of them, but I still have my 3
favorites :slight_smile:

Has anyone else been superised by something they had in their

Having an old barn I can stick odds and ends of tools into, as I
come across them, I would have to say that I know there are tools
piles away that I have completely forgotten about, and/or will never
have a use for.

I lost an old blacksmith shop on the farm to a lightning strike fire
in '05, and sorting threw the ashes I was amazed at how many tools I
had set away in there and forgotten about.

Tools provide the opportunity to repair and create. Used properly,
they always provide the user with some manner of return, whether
keeping an aging automobile on the road for another few months, or
creating something with precious metal for sale. Tools provide value
back to the user.

Surprises in the tool tray? Yes, a number of tools here date from
the Second World War… three remarkable ones date from the 1860s.
And from all corners of the industrialized world… both former and
current. All tools here are ~ frequently or infrequently ~ used to
provide value, for us. One other was owned by my grandfather, several
others by my father. My son, also uses these (and in doing so adds a
generation to them).

In some circumstances, tools can be aesthetically pleasing, works of
engineering art… if you will… to be enjoyed… caressed, even.

Too many tools? Certainly if there is a build up of duplicates in
the same work area, yes too many. Consider selling these surplus
tools, as this will give back some coin and clear some clutter.

However, one can have several different manners of “widget
whackers”, each which performs a specific task and each which is
reasonably expected to be needed, in anticipation of that particular
widget needing whacking sometime in the future.

It is a given that as one matures and grows his or her skill set,
the number of tools ~ logically ~ tends to grow.

However, the related (sometimes showstopper) problem always seems to
be that no matter how large a workshop/studio/garage is… it
eventually becomes too small. And if someone can eventually come to
that frustrating conclusion… then that person should count their
blessings because there are so many others who are denied such a

For the record, I only reached a maximum of five lathes…but am
now down to just one old friend (but considering another…)

Jeff in Canada

I now have a ridiculous amount of tools and books, because at the
very beginning of my journey into jewelry, I made a deal with my
selfthat i would buy a tool or a book with every order that I made.
Now 8 years later, I have a wonderful selection of the odds and ends
thatare so useful in this career. blessings, pat, p.s. bet there are
a lot of us out there with a huge amount of tools:)


Fascinating! Are you thinking of sharing? Or, having a “come play in
my tool bin day”? Where do you live?

Mary A, musing in Massachusetts

Has anyone else been superised by something they had in their

The prudent imprudent tool collector does not count.

Neil A.

Hi all,

Ridiculous? No, but I did just buy a new lathe, which brings the
total up to 6, ranging from 2 pounds, up to 5000, along with 5 (or
maybe 6?) anvils, ranging from 40 to 400 pounds. One of my screw
presses fell through the driveway the first time I unloaded it.
That was pretty ridiculous.

On the sane side, one of the other lathes is all-but-sold, and a
second one will probably end up donated to a machinery museum when I
get it back together again, and two of the others are under 5 pounds

I think there are levels of ridiculous-ness. There are collectors
who just want a whole set of (X), or all of (X), and never plan to
use (X) That can get pretty ridiculous.

Most of us, I think, are pretty close to my situation: “buy while
you can”. Many of the tools that we need haven’t been made in years.
So they’re rare, and the supply isn’t dependable. So you buy it
whenever you can. That’s why I have 5 (6?) anvils: I picked up
another one at an estate sale a couple of months back, just 'cause.
It’s in iffy shape, and needs work (and is almost the same size as
one of my better anvils) but you never know, and besides, if I don’t
end up wanting it, one of my students probably will. So I grabbed it.

Equally, one of the little lathes: A boley with a couple dozen WW
collets for $50?? I’d be stupid not to get it. Eventually, I’ll
either set it up, or sell it. Either way, I guarantee it’ll be worth
more than $50 to me at that point. (and it’s small enough to live in
the back of a drawer until that happy day.)

I do have a theory about acquiring tools though: “The Black (or oily
brown) Hole Principle”. Once you’ve got a certain critical mass of
tools, they start attracting others. Once people know you “have
tools”, at a certain level of seriousness, they start giving you
other tools. One of my students gave me his old radial arm saw,
because he wanted it out of the garage, and he figured I could use
it. Same thing with my wood-cutting bandsaw, and tablesaw. (Sometimes
I think it’s sort of like bringing offerings to the wizard…)

Also, certain tools enable you to use tools that others can’t. For
example: my multimeter has allowed me to fix all sorts of other
tools that were headed to the scrap-heap because “they don’t work”.
Typically, it’s either a blown motor, or a fried switch. Easy
replacements both. In one memorable case, it was a thermal overload
that required the operator to punch it back in manually. Push the
button, and off it went. I’ve picked up all sorts of ‘dead’ tools
that way. A little TLC, and most of them have been with me for years.
(I didn’t actually end up with the tumbler with the thermal reset: I
told the owner about it, and let him keep it. That level of karmic
debt I don’t need.)

I have another thought as well: The PackRat’s Creed:

“I can do almost anything, with little or nothing. Therefore, I wind
up saving little or nothing, of almost anything.”

On to the scrounge!


I wonder if the subject line for this thread was borrowed from one of
my recent contributions. I think for my own personal use I have
enough tools to fit out at least three benches. Apart from just
enjoying having lots of tools I find it very important to have
several sets at hand for convenience. Of the most critical tools you
might need to complete the general work I like to have spares
available. Things like pendant motors & gravers I have my main ones
that get used on the bulk of the work then at least 2 sets as
backup. The last thing you want when major pressure is on is to stop
working to fix something or make a new graver etc. Being able to
choose from every possible width or shape graver is crucial to
keeping quality up where it should be. Nothing wrong with having lots
of tools just keep them in as perfect condition as possible.

And have fun
Phil W

Has anyone else been superised by something they had in their

Ah the hoarding gene.

My Father has that, he has multiple lathes, in his garage…
including a 7ft tall turret lathe. He also has multiple other
machines… none of which are being used… all in a very tight
confined space. Tonnes of machinery… which I have to get rid of

Regards Charles A.

P.S. Also found two four litre icecream containers full of
toothpaste caps… and this is not the strangest find.

P.S.S. The best find was a bottle of Ouzo from the 60’s :slight_smile:

Now here is the definitive story in my life about that “problem.”

As a young-ish woodworker I met an older, much more experienced
woodworker who became, in a friendly and informal way, a sort of
mentor to me when I was living in the interior parts of British
Columbia. The relationship did not last very long because a couple
of years after I made his acquaintance, myself and family decided to
move to the coast. My mentor urged me then to look up his old mentor
who lived in VIctoria, our destination. That gentleman was a
distinguished authority on traditional furniture construction and
repairs. He had written famous and excellent books on those
subjects. Well, I am a dilatory sort of person, was generally
pre-occupied with establishing family and business in new
surroundings, and tend to be socially shy or inept anyway, so I
never did anything to follow up on this recommendation. However, it
fell out quite by accident that I was walking through a shopping
mall one day and the Great Man himself was there. He had been
invited to set up an exhibit of his work and techniques right there
in the centre “court” (as they like to call these places). WIth a
workbench, an assortment of tools, some projects in various stages
of progress, he was holding forth to any pasersby who might be
interested about the fine points of his art, and selling copies of
his books by the way. This was too easy an opportunity for me to
pass up so I strolled up and introduced myself and conveyed
greetings from his former disciple in the interior.

The old man’s face lit up at once. He was well into his nineties at
that time (about 30 years ago). He was especially delighted to meet
a fellow woodworker rather than the procession of harried mothers
buying back-to-school stuff for the kiddies or folks hoping to
discover that their Granny’s antique chair was worth a small
fortune. “You have come on a very special day,” he said. “You’ll
appreciate what happened to me today.”

“What happened?” I asked.

His reply came at once.

“I have reached Nirvana!” was his reply

Needless to say, I was intrigued. I begged him to tell me how this
had happened and how he had recognized his entry into that exalted

He said,“Before I came here this morning I wandered out into my
workshop and had a look around to see if I had forgotten anything
needed for this day’s work. As I looked around I was suddenly struck
by a stunning realization that, for the very first and only time in
my ninety-four years, I could not think of a single other tool I

So, for those of you wrassling with that sense of not quite having
enough tools, or wondering if your number of tools is “ridiculous’”

  • there is the answer. There is an end to the problem and you’ll
    know it when it happens, if you live long enough…

And may you all do so.

Marty, In Victoria, still a few tools and years short of Nirvana.

Once you've got a certain critical mass of tools, they start
attracting others. 

My observations have brought me to the conclusion that tools can
breed like coat hangers in the back of a closet. I know this to be
true when a “new” tool shows up that I do not remember buying…
absolutely certain… I think. wink!

All the best,

J Collier Metalsmith

I’m a bit of a hoarder ; as much of one as I can get away with,
being married to someone who doesn’t really appreciate me being that
way as much as I’d like. I get away with it some, as long as I keep
it all in the garages and storage room. She has been shown the
usefulness of hanging on to seemingly useless bits of metal and
other objects she might have thrown away though, in the years we’ve
been together. More so since we moved out of the city and I’ve taken
on more of a role of handyman.

I get away with hoarding tools; one should never throw away tools,
as it just isn’t right. Ridiculous amounts of tools for one person,
but it sure beats the heck out of wandering around wondering where
you left something, when you have duplicates of certain tools parked
in two or three strategic places. So yeah, ridiculous like a fox !.


or a ridiculous amount of time?

As a metal worker,
Nirvana is…
It really has to be…
to be able to make what one wants.

It doesnt matter what it is wether its wood metal clay, or whatever,
theres a real buzz from thinking up an idea in ones work then
finding a way to make it efficiently, economically and it helps if its
profitable too.

Tho often one makes something just for the sake of it.

Nirvana also has to be having the time to do everything that one
wants. Ive been at this game for 45 yrs, had an absolutely fantastic
time, and at 78, need to think about taking early retiremet at 90.The
lord willing. However joking aside, If im given another 10 active
years, what do I really want to do with this limited time frame?

Its a serious question.

My answer so far is I want to make beautiful things. Michaelangeo did
his best work when he was over 80.

He supervised the building of St. Peters in Rome.

so theres hope for me yet.

Id welcome all your thoughts on this leading question.


My Father has that, he has multiple lathes, in his garage... none
of which are being used.... which I have to get rid of somehow. 

hi, can i have one of the lathes???, dave

Go for it Ted. Don’t let a thing like age bother you. Do whatever
you feel like doing at that particular time in your life. If you
don’t then you may well wonder a year from then, hmmm why didn’t I do
it THEN! I’ve turned 80 last August and am loving it. Never have I
felt so in control of my life. It is a time when I know who I am
(finally) and know who I want to be (yeah I still have goals),
haven’t given up my healthy habits (go work out every other day and
walk one heck of a lot), eat healthy, but this bit of having to have
a certain amount of sleep - nah, I just sleep when I am ready to,
which is seldom before 11:30 or 12 at night and I’m wide awake again
at 5:00 am. Just decided years ago that 5 hours of sound sleep was
all I needed. So…don’t plan on early retirement, or retirement at
all. Just keep making and doing until you no longer have any desire
to do so and then switch gears. I took everything back out of a
gallery a couple of years ago - just decided at this point in my life
I didn’t want to actively sell. I do repair jobs from time to time,
some for nothing (depends on what it is) and once again I have found
a renewed interest in painting. Painted for 30 years in my life
before I started making jewelry and have done that for 30 years, so
now back to painting, and I’ve renewed my interest in sewing with a
charitable organization of making pillowcases for the kids with
cancer. Good use of time and money, not to mention it is fun.

So I say, go for it, Don’t let age determine for you what you will
be or do at any time of your life.

Kay who finds it enervating to be 80+ - and today I’m out in the
yard trimming hedges, clipping big bushes, digging some up. Who said
you had to be sedentary at this age?

Dear Ted, I know what you mean, I can face the next 10 years as the
best or worst, the choice is mine. The best would be to find someone
with my rock hound nature who wants to become an Alaskan Snow bird,
travel half the year to great rock places and the great summers here
in the heart of Alaska. The worst, I do nothing but think about the
way it could have been, blessings pat

Anyone can hoard a vast array of tools. You can buy dozens of tools
and spend thousands of dollars, but to be able to use them is the

Tools don’t make the person a better jeweller, or a setter. But the
ability to use them in a way to make each tool worth its own value,
is the secret.

I don’t make any newer tool, but my credo is to "adapt, or modify"
each item as to make my life at the bench easier, is the route I
take. Apparently there are so many newer time-saving tools coming on
the market, but we must be selective in buying what is necessary.


The real problem is that every time I take a workshop in order to
learn a new technique I, being a dutiful student, purchase all the
tools on the list of those “required,” for the workshop. Hence, I
acquire a number that I I just don’t really need, or want. Took a
workshop in texturing of metal, and a bead blaster plus cabinet was
on the list of “required,” too ls. Got it, used it once, did not use
it again, and finally, found a friend who can use it, so am making a
gift of it to her. Then there was the workshop I took on photocopying
for etching, and also for making screens for enameling. Again, I
purchased the “required” tools. Used the GoCo apparatus and screens
once. Then GoCo, went out of business and the lamps which are
essential are no longer available. So, I now own a bunch of Welsh
Screens, Screening materials, and the GoCo, for which one can no
longer get lamps. Now, I have a bulk of material taking up much
needed room in my already cluttered studio. Then there are all the
tools for forging (used rarely), anticlastic raising (used rarely),
specialized expensive wax working tols, which are not as useful as
the ones I made myself, well, you get the point.

New workshops in the offing. Dare I sign up??? Will my already
cluttered studio be able to deal with yet more “require,” tools???


can i have one of the lathes????

Yeah, I could probably arrange that… the smallest weighs in a
little over a metric tonne, they run on 415v.

I live in Australia :slight_smile:

Regards Charles A.

Ha ha, yes, I’d like a lathe too, but a small one. It’s the next to
last house on the left, with a big front yard and little dogs you
can’t even see from the road. How’s tomorrow afternoon ?. Can you
also deliver some extra floor space wherewith to put it, please ?.