Archive for the ‘Buying Tools’ Category

Taking you to the mat!

May 23rd, 2009 1 comment
Semi-close up of mat

Semi-close up of mat

I saw that the good people over at Popular Woodworking took my suggestion to give horse stall mats a try to battle hard-floor fatigue. I think these mats are one of the best secrets out there. I became aware of these back in the day when lifting was the current obsession (there are two laws that govern my life… one, I’m always obsessed with something and two, I will research the subject of that obsession to death). So, deep down in the lifting forums people talked of actually getting gym flooring thicker than a 1/4 inch and costing less than a million dollars a square foot as is the case in any sporting goods store. The stall mats, at 3/4″ thickness, are so far superior in both quality and value it’s not even funny.

You’ll most likely find these mats in tractor/farm supply stores. Expect to call around a bit as these stores may not have an online storefront.  I purchased mine in 2006 for $40/mat from a local Agway. The store owner had a wry smile as she looked me up and down and said “you don’t have horses do you.” I was impressed by her profiling ability and wondered if she had previously served in law enforcement.

I guess I was perhaps a bit luckier than the Popular Woodworking folks as the mats supplied at my Agway were of the non-stinky variety. While all of these mats come from recycled tires, apparently the manufacturing processes vary… some involve adding sulfer while others do not as noted here in the faq of this stall mat manufacter. I have mine inside my home and no aroma issues to mention. So this may be the one thing to be mindful of if you look to purchase.

Getting these mats to their final destination from the store will undoubtedly rank as my greatest achievement in life. My spacious Neon could not accommodate the mats in the flat position so I had to roll them up which is not something they like to do naturally. I expected to have to make two trips but with some manipulation I was able to get all 4 in the car. My car turned into a true low rider with the extra weight.

When I got home I carried all 4 up a flight of stairs to the gym. A hundred pounds and much more awkward than a dead body, each mat was a real test of determination. I then cut them to fit the room. Started with a box cutter and found that a linoleum knife did the best job. You can get one 4’x6′ mat and cut it into pieces for several stationary woodworking machines.

The mats have since been repurposed to my woodworking shop as I sold my power rack which I believe was defective as the weights rarely moved themselves while I watched TV. Using these mats has definitely reduced fatigue and joint discomfort that I used to experience during longer hours on the feet and thus have made woodworking more enjoyable. No more aching feet, knees, and back for me! You don’t have to take my word for it… it seems to be working out for Chris Schwarz and that means go buy it in my book!

Categories: Buying Tools, Deals Tags:

Buying tools for both you and America!

September 8th, 2008 5 comments



I’ve been on many woodworking blogs where members lament the cost of woodworking tools and in particular the higher quality tools with seemingly disproportionate pricing. Festool and Bridge City Tools are commonly referenced in these posts. I too will admit to participating in the discussions in the past but no longer as I have seen the light! Here is some of the logic that will allow you to easily break-free from such unnecessary financial restraints:

  • Reduce/Discontinue saving money for retirement. Honestly, what do you need when you retire? Spend your money now on high quality tools and you’ll have all you need to keep you occupied. Other than that it’s just time for Wheel of Fortune and applesauce any way.
  • Do not procreate. I’m sure you’ve read that in it’s entirety it costs upwards of a million dollars per offspring. That’s 1000 Jointmaker Pros!!! Consider return on investment – with fine tools you’ll be able to recoup some of your investment with what you produce; creating a new human rarely yields a significant return (if you do create one may I suggest that you teach it to throw a nasty left-handed curve ball to increase this possibility). Plus you’ll have much more time for woodworking as you reduce the time-drain associated with rearing. Note: this may result in a certain, incalculable emotional void which may further result in reducing your lifespan by approximately 20 years (and thus solving the retirement problem… win/win).

While I do understand that these paradigm shifts are directly away from conventional financial thinking I think it’s the progressive approach. Look, China has already instituted a one-child limitation. If we are going to stay ahead of them we need to do one-better and thus a no-child rule should be in our future.

With regards to not saving for retirement aren’t we just taking the lead from our government? They’ve clearly established the fact that social security is a worthless pursuit. Additionally, our government has begged us to spend more and stimulate the economy. Taking all this into context I believe it is clear what a real American needs to do here… and that is to buy tools, and clearly the more the expensive the tool the better American you are!

This epiphany has allowed me to place an order for a Jointmaker Pro and it can do the same for you!! I’d like to be an even better American and purchase a Festool Domino but Festool pricing (and control over dealers) is beyond obnoxious. Now I’m off to remortgage my home loan to pay for all this… I’m sure I can get one of them sub-prime deals that’s all the rage these days.

Disclaimer: This post is in no way endorsed by The Happy Rock.

****** UPDATE *****

This just in… I’ve officially become a highly-patriotic American by purchasing the Festool Domino… As a result I can proudly adorn a flag pin indicating my well-purchased patriotism.  This purchase was made possible do to the sale of my 3 yr old, Sally. No, No… I’m not selling off small children for tools, although, the thought had crossed my mind. Sally was my 3 yr old Mustang (with only 12K miles on it!)… selling a sweet Mustang to support your woodworking hobby… now, I’d say that’s commitment!!! This Domino better have that new tool smell!!!!!

Gone but not forgotten

****** END UPDATE *****

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Braving the Amazon

July 8th, 2008 1 comment

— Update: Amazon has unceremoniously discontinued their 30 day price protection policy. Bad Amazon! That’s a very BAD AMAZON!!! Monitoring the cart prior to buying is still somewhat useful. —

Tools, tools, tools… just never have enough of them do we? Well don’t get discouraged. You can melt that plastic and not feel so guilty about it if your getting good deals, right?!? As is common for everyone, I have my preferred sites and slightly varied buying strategies for each. Today I’ll share my Amazon strategery and explain why it’s best to keep your cart full.

Amazon is my go to site for everything outside of woodworking and many purchases for woodworking. If nothing else it usually provides a good baseline price along with performing a froogle (I think google calls it “product search” now… I still use the froogle url). If you track products on Amazon you will see that for brief windows of time Amazon will drop prices on items (and significant price drops at that, at times). Beyond these price drops, why is Amazon’s site so special? Well, It’s their cart. They have the one cart to rule them all… (in a golum voice) it’s my precious. I currently have 171 items in my cart so clearly the Amazon cart is bigger than most, right? Ok, maybe not, but here’s why it’s huge in a different sense…

What the cart does for you is it allows you to quickly find price drops on the items your interested in. Amazon’s cart is truly your friend (the one that will actually tell you that your dragging a roll of TP behind you) in that you can add items to it and click the “save for later” button and every time you visit your cart in the future you will be notified of any increase/decrease in price (see pic below I just took… no good drops, but you see the format). Next, just stop by your cart every once and a while and you’ll get a feel for the normal pricing range on a particular product.

Now you’re the jaguar in the Amazon, poised to pounce on that disoriented dingo of a sweet deal when it stumbles by (yes, yes… currently dingos in the Amazon have not been documented… but, you have watched “Lost” right? We weren’t aware of polar bears on tropical islands before this documentary aired. Dharma dingos in the Amazon could happen… and my guess it that they would be significantly disoriented and thus ripe for the pouncing.

So you’ve purchased something on Amazon (great deal or not), what do you do next? You, add that dingo to your cart again and “save it for later”. If that item drops in price in the next thirty days Amazon will credit you the difference without question. A simple email to customer service does the job. I have saved hundreds of dollars this way. So if you see an item that your interested in dropping and dropping don’t worry to much about waiting for the absolute bottom to be reached (especially since you don’t know where that bottom is and it may jump back up). Just snatch it up knowing that your locked in to the lowest price Amazon will sell that item for over the next 30 days that you observe and request a credit for.

This probably sounds like more work than it really is (mostly becuase I keep blabbing nonsense inside of parenthesis). Just have a tab loaded up with your cart and do a refresh every once and a while (if your not using tabbed browsing by now shame on you). When I’m looking to make a purchase I do this regularly, in sync with checking email (I have nothing else to say… just getting one last parenthesis fix (mmmm, nested parenthesis are even more satisying)).

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