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Gerald Boggs

How many tools is enough?

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How many tools is enough?

 

I'm almost 20 years working as a blacksmith and I've been thinking about which direction I want to go and maybe building a new shop to support me for the coming years. Which got me thinking about tools, so I thought I would lay out all the tools I've used in the last year. Might have missed a couple :-)

 

In addition to what's in the photos, I have gas and coal forges, anvils, post vises, a swage block and a small cone mandrel.

 

For power tools: bench top drill press, dry cut saw, tumbler and a belt grinder.

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Edited by Gerald Boggs
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There's no such thing as too many tools, only too small a place in which to keep them. :lol:

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Um...not sure I am the one to comment on this, BUT

You want tools to make the work go faster and in some cases allow you to work larger than you can by hand. Depending on what you wish to make you can create a tool list of the "best" for such work.  Feel free to call me and talk

 

Ric

 

 

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1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

How many tools is enough?

 

Anymore, the answer always seems to be just one more than I happen to have at the time.

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I get in this argument with smiths pretty often (less now that I've bailed on Facebook though).

 

Way I see it, time is finite. Effort=time. Anything that reduces the amount of time/effort needed to complete a task, means I can spend that time/effort elsewhere. The older I get, the more I feel this way. 

 

And arguments about "cheating" just piss me off. Only people without good tools call it cheating. :P

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1 hour ago, DavidM said:

I get in this argument with smiths pretty often

What argument are you referring too?

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Since I no longer do architectural work, I don't need as much space.  What I would like to do, is compartmentalize the work, forge room, storage, bench work, finish, and maybe a small gallery.

 

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14 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

What argument are you referring too?

 

There is a recurring argument about tools, usually just have-nots barking that the haves are somehow not good smiths. :P

Not really what your question was about. lol

 

I'll never have enough tools. I've figured out my purpose in life... Which is to accumulate tools to pass on to the ABS when I die. ;)

 

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I'm ALWAYS going to be a tool freak.  There's always another tool on the horizon that will make  XXXXX job easier.  I've always been that way, no matter what the endeavor.  (firearms, reloading, woodworking, camping, forging and blade making.)  Never will have all the cool tools I "think" I need. ;)  The best example of that is reading how Jennifer and Rob write about draw-filing.  (I'm seriously impressed)  All I can think of when it comes to bevels is a big, beautiful and powerful 2x72.......which I don't have.  More tools and more money to buy them.  Never have enough of either. :D

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16 minutes ago, DavidM said:

Not really what your question was about

Even though I phrased it as a question, there never was a question, I was just showing what tools I used last year.  If I had any other intent, it was targeted at the beginning smith and the intent was to show that you can do a lot, with little.

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8 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

More tools and more money to buy them.  Never have enough of either.

That's how I feel about skill.  That's why I take at least one class a year.

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9 minutes ago, Gerald Boggs said:

Even though I phrased it as a question, there never was a question, I was just showing what tools I used last year.  If I had any other intent, it was targeted at the beginning smith and the intent was to show that you can do a lot, with little.

 

Of course you can do a lot with very little. The determined smith could start with fire and dirt, and produce just about any tool. It would be a lifetime's endeavour, but a very interesting one.

 

Tools are fun. I want all the tools. 

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37 minutes ago, DavidM said:

Tools are fun. I want all the tools. 

Well, OK.  What's your point?

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1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

Well, OK.  What's your point?

He wants all the tools.  So do I.:P

 

Seriously though, we use roughly the same toolkit. I have the power hammer and belt grinder, but otherwise it's about the same.  If I did fancy damascus I'd want a press.

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37 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

I'd want a press

Now that I'm getting old and weak :-), I'm starting to think about a press.  First got to get off my butt and wire the shop. right now, all I have is an extension cord running out from the house.

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The title of this thread is "How many tools is enough?"

"Enough" allows you to get the work done without wishing you had something to make it easier/faster/better.

 

I have tons (literally) of tools. Power tools and hand tools. I have a 20'x8' storage container and almost an entire side is filled with 4-shelf rack loaded with construction tools just waiting for me to start building the new shop/house retirement center. What I do with them after that is anybody's guess.

 

For what I do, and plan to do, I probably have enough tools (says the man who just opened a box with 3 new hand files) other than buying replacements for stuff that doesn't quite work well enough anymore.

 

Ric has the right perspective though. Figure out what you want to do and tool up for that. Then follow Gerald's advice and start with a minimum required. Then see what happens.

Sooner or later you are going to want to do something that just would be a heckava lot easier/faster/better with something other than what you have.

Decide after you have broken your butt trying it with what you have.

 

Good questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I doing this solo or will I have helpers?

2. How much time and effort would be saved by adding X to my tools?

3. How big of a power hammer is really needed? :P (sorry, that slipped in)

4. Is this going to be my primary source of income, or is it something auxiliary? 

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Hello group. My name is Joshua, and I'm a toolaholic. I have been sober for about 20 minutes now,,,,,,,,

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Ric is spot on. I've been in his shop...its awesome. I fix cars for a living so i was encouraged by the industry to be a toolaholic when i already was one. Some of the tools do crossover to my knife hobby. My magnetic inductor works simply slick for softening the end of the tang for preening. I dont mind, i plan to futz around in the shop after I retire until i croak. Heck, il probly buy a socket set for adjusting the hit man pin on a flux capacitor if the tool guy had one. Id probly get a free jacket with it.

Tom

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The issue I have, and it is deep seated in my psyche, is that I think the tool will solve the problem of not doing the work. The most useful tool in the the shop is YOU. Everything else is there to make the use of YOU easier. Things to heat to make the metal soft enough to forge and not crack (be that charcoal or gas or induction). Use of a means to apply force to change its shape (be that a hand hammer or power hammer or hydraulic press or drop hammer or screw press). Ways to join pieces or make large bits into smaller bits. In the end we are either changing the shape of metal or heat treating it.......find out what you need to accomplish and tool up to do that without breaking you or your bank account. Whatever you do...do not copy me.....I spend hours a week designing tools I will never build to make operations efficient for a product line I will never make. Ric

 

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On 1/29/2020 at 9:53 AM, Gerald Boggs said:

Even though I phrased it as a question, there never was a question, I was just showing what tools I used last year.  If I had any other intent, it was targeted at the beginning smith and the intent was to show that you can do a lot, with little.

 

As I seems to be taking just about every piece of scrap that I think can one day become a tool or repurposed this is a good display of tools to see.  I am often wondering do if need to make/buy a particular tool to make what I want.  Lately this has been making me into a hoarder of garbage, taking everyone's beat up old hammers, pipe wrenches and old cold chisels.

 

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it's impossible to part with a tool you might use one day. it's impossible to not bring home a tool you might use one day. I mean after all, you "might" use it one day.

 

But one of the most important lessons a craftsman of any kind should learn is how to do what they need to do with what is at hand. If they find themselves taking longer than they should that a different tool will remedy, they should make it if they can, or find one if they can't. That's a continuous cycle, because next week you may find (or make) something even better, but you may use the old one again someday.

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1 hour ago, Richard Furrer said:

The issue I have, and it is deep seated in my psyche, is that I think the tool will solve the problem of not doing the work. The most useful tool in the the shop is YOU. Everything else is there to make the use of YOU easier. Things to heat to make the metal soft enough to forge and not crack (be that charcoal or gas or induction). Use of a means to apply force to change its shape (be that a hand hammer or power hammer or hydraulic press or drop hammer or screw press). Ways to join pieces or make large bits into smaller bits. In the end we are either changing the shape of metal or heat treating it.......find out what you need to accomplish and tool up to do that without breaking you or your bank account. Whatever you do...do not copy me.....I spend hours a week designing tools I will never build to make operations efficient for a product line I will never make. Ric

 

I am fundamentally a lazy man. The most effort I spend on anything is trying to figure out the easiest way to get it done. Sometimes that involves making or buying a tool, but it is never my first option. The tooling is always a last resort, and probably a bad way to go about it, because I often waste time and money creating scrap.........

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2 hours ago, Don Wilwol said:

it's impossible to part with a tool you might use one day. it's impossible to not bring home a tool you might use one day. I mean after all, you "might" use it one day.

It's hard, but one can cure oneself of this.  I now sell or get rid of anything I haven't used in the last five years.  Except for these every once in a while tools, like a bottle jack.

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