The right tool for the job, eventually

I try not to acquire new tools until I have exhausted other options first.

One reason is that I'm cheap. Money I don't spend on a new tool is money in my bank account earning [checks interest rate] a layer of dust.

One reason is that new tools need a home. They need space on a shelf or a wall or a floor. The real estate market is tight there, because that's where the other once-new tools are currently living.

Consciously, I try not to get new tools because using slower, more manual, less efficient, less specialized methods have something to teach. While working on these concrete blocks in the backyard, I started with just a hammer and chisel. It's magic to score a line around the block with a chisel, and then smash into that line and crack the block in half. Do this for a while, and you get a feel for the material and plenty of practice cleaning up rough edges.

But it's slow. And rough. There will be no Davids in my backyard.

Later I moved up to using an angle grinder to score the line—the blade isn't big enough to cut through anything itself, so I still need the hammer and chisel. Also, the blades I had were the abrasive type, which wore down so quickly that it wasn't going to be cheap to finish the project, so I stepped up to a diamond blade that would last longer after getting practice with the cheap blade.

Now I've stepped up to using a Skilsaw to cut the blocks—and an angle grinder and a hammer and chisel to finish. There are options beyond this like a full-sized cutoff saw so I don't have to make multiple cuts, but they get beyond my threshold for cost, storage space, and likelihood that I'm ever going to use them again. (Renting is not a viable option—this project will last forever, the rental fees would be [whistles].)

That's how it should be with tools: a progression upwards as you acquire more skills, as you can justify the usage, as you have the experience to know what you want in a tool. I've used that approach with other things like cameras and bass guitars. (I assume everyone knows at least one guy who started playing the guitar by buying a Fender and an expensive amp and pedals and effects and on and on, and they were as awful as they were loud.) Don't buy a professional camera if you're new to photography. Start with something small and less capable, get a feel for using it, get a feel for if you want to use it, then step up later as you know enough about the path ahead to choose wisely.

Quality tools are not a substitute for quality skills.

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