Author Topic: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?  (Read 5951 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« on: July 22, 2014, 12:38:10 PM »
I live in a 700ish sqft condo. Over the years I've lived there I've performed a number of small woodwork projects that come up from time to time. At this point I've been doing all my tasks with a cheap drill I had as a teen and a hacksaw. I've been throwing around the idea of seeking out a reciprocating and/or circular saw but I'm not sure if it's really worth the storage space or money.

First off, since these projects are so infrequent is it even worth it to consider adding a motor to my woodcutting? Sure it takes me a few hours to cut up a 2'x2'x7/32" board, but there's a good chance that's just my inexperience and I almost never have to do so. If I have a saw I have to store it year round, which I could do but I'm not the type to frivolously add more potential clutter. On the other hand I will likely be doing more woodwork in 5-10 years after we pull the FI switch (most of the process is pretty fun) so it could potentially make sense to add a saw to my list of tools. After all, my battery-powered Ryobi drill has lasted me well over a decade.

Secondly, if having some kind of saw would be useful would it be better to just stick with a reciprocating saw? I can see that a circular saw would help with straight cuts, but reciprocating seems a lot more multi-use overall.

Thanks on any replies, mostly just getting my thoughts all written out here. Another thing to consider is that hair is currently on fire. Wife graduated last year with nearly 80K worth of student loans (semi-long story) and while we're down to the last 5K of 7%, 5K of 5% , and 10K of 3% that's still a negative net worth.

As an aside some of the projects over the past 5-6 years have included supports for a bed with broken metal supports, carnival game for outside event, rafter support for Olympic rings as I start up body weight exercise routine, an external duct system to provide airflow to a canopy bed (wife just started night shift and canopy I put on was trapping heat and making it hard to sleep), and I'm eventually going to need to modify a door frame to accommodate the furnace (house builders made the furnace closet just big enough for the unit they put in when they built it).


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2014, 12:48:39 PM »
The other advantage to a circular saw is you can set the depth... So if you cut up a floor you don't cut through wires and pipes at the same time.

Personally i would spend say $100 on some tools.



  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2014, 01:31:08 PM »
I've lived in a similar size condo for 11 years.  The two wood projects (other than the flooring which was outsourced) I've done are:

1.  When replacing the dishwasher, I needed to precision cut two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood, then laminate them together to create a 1 1/2 inch sub-flooring for the new machine.

2.  I wanted to get rid of a massive armoire that I never should have purchased in the first place, because it was so freagin heavy and inappropriate for a small space.

In case #1, I had the "home center"/lumber yard do custom cuts (no charge).  In case #2, I borrowed a circular saw from a buddy, sliced up the armoire, and threw the pieces in the dumpster little by little.


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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2014, 02:43:56 PM »
I would just rent the right tool for the job at the time you need it. No storage space needed. Rentals are usually pretty cheap.


  • Stubble
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2014, 05:19:19 PM »
I would say a circular saw is one of those tools you pretty much need if you're cutting up boards and panels with any regularity at all. Versatile and small, it can do most things that a table saw can do but with a little more time and setup. (And perhaps a few attachments.) I do only light projects and renovation around my house and the circular saw is one of the few tools I absolutely couldn't get by without.

My philosophy about tools has been: buy them only when you need them. And sometimes, the time savings or better result outcome counts toward a need. Nailing in a bunch of paneling takes forever doing it by hand. If you value your time (and we do, or we wouldn't be Mustachian!), you'll go out and buy a nail gun because the time savings vastly outweigh the $75 or whatever a nail gun costs. I put the circular saw in the same category.

Since your hair is on fire:

1) If you don't have a project coming up soon (i.e. this weekend) that will require the saw, put it off for awhile. Perhaps make it a milestone reward for paying off some arbitrary percentage of your debt.

2) Circular saws are extremely simple machines, you have to look hard to find a bad one. Hop on craigslist and get one from there. Check it out before you buy. Make sure the blade doesn't wobble at all. Plug it in and make sure it spins. If you haven't been around tools much, note that most circular saws sound like something is grinding in the motor when they're spinning down. I don't know why but it's perfectly normal. And if the blade is dull, don't skimp out on a replacement. Yes, you could very well end up paying more for a good blade than you did for the saw. :)

Good luck!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2014, 06:34:49 PM »
I'm talking about cars not houses, but the principle is the same.

10 years ago I restored my car using what I had. I got the job done, but some of the tasks were less than fun.

2 years ago I replaced the broken gearbox, involving taking the engine out again. This time I bought a set of ratcheting spanners.

That purchase literally halved the time it took me to remove and put back all the incidental bits like radiators, starter motor etc. It cost me money, but saved me far more than the cost in hassle factor and job enjoyment. I vote for buying the right tool for the job.


  • Bristles
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 07:28:06 PM »
Second the Craigslist/pawnshop route suggestion if you really must own one.  Also, see if there is a tool library in your area:

Personally, unless I had immediate plans to use one heavily, I'd hold off of the purchase until I found an offer I couldn't refuse.  In the meantime, borrow or rent unless the cost of buying a used one is close to the rental cost.  (Assuming your storage is free and the clutter is not going to negatively impact you, otherwise, stick to borrowing and/or renting.

Edit:  since there's no tool library in Nashville, it would be pretty badass if your started one.  Then you could have free access to the saw, and help a lot of other people out ;)
« Last Edit: July 22, 2014, 07:32:24 PM by Emg03063 »


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 11:24:40 AM »
For someone who would like tools but has limited space and doesn't need a heavy duty tool (as in construction grade saws), how about Dremel? Some time ago I bought a Dremel XPS 400 (?) as a kit. It included the basic dremel tool, a reciprocating saw / jigsaw attachment, as well as some other things. I don't know if there is a circular saw attachment or not. Just an idea.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 11:36:29 AM »
A reciprocating saw is great for making rough cuts quickly, through a variety of materials. It's not very useful if you want to make straight cuts when building something. A circular saw would be much better for this purpose, and a table saw might be better still (though table saws and condo living probably don't mix). Get the right tool for the job, but don't buy it unless you have a job in mind.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 02:38:03 PM »
A good corded jigsaw might be what you're looking for.  It can make long straight cuts if you use a clamped straightedge, or circular holes, or notches, just about anything.  Plus, you can use different blades for different materials (wood, metal, formica, ceramic, etc.).

You can find good used ones on cl, pawn shops etc. but I often just buy a new tool when I need one.  A hard case is nice because you can store blades etc. in it, and it will stow away on a shelf or deep in a cabinet until needed.


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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 03:08:43 PM »
IMO a recip saw is MUCH less of a multipurpose saw than a circular or jigsaw.  For me, I use a recip saw primarily for destruction.  (i.e.  teardown before remodelling or rough cutting something that will later be covered by trim or new work.)  They tend to be brutal, jagged "all horsepower, no finesse" saws -- especially if you're new to them.  I feel like my fillings are going to shake out when I use them.  They're great for rough cutting.  They're not great for any sort of wood working.

Jigsaws are great multipurpose saws.  Circular saws are a close second.  ...but each has their strong points and weak points.  You're likely to want both eventually.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 04:59:37 PM »
A good set of basic tools are not an expense, they are an investment. An investment that lets you fix / create / repair many things FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  The payback is enormous!  That said, you don't have to buy pro rated gear.  If you can wait, the big box stores have great sales around Christmas and Fathers Day on power tools. If you are trying to save $$$ over the years, do not buy cordless, battery powered tools. The batteries die after 3-5 years and the cost to replace or rebuild is high. Buy tools that plug into AC outlets and you will get decades of usage for the average homeowner.

Buy a circular saw first, not a reciprocating saw.  A recep saw "Saws-all" type saw is for demolition and not for fine/accurate cuts. If you really need one for occasional use check out Harbor Freight Tools. You can get one that is good for occasional use for around $25 if you use the -20% coupon available everywhere.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Wanting the right tool, or just being lazy?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 06:29:40 PM »
I'm voting for a jigsaw. You can get precision cuts that take just a bit longer than a circular saw. There's a bit of a learning curve but I like mine a lot. I never use the circular saw now. I might if I'm ripping lumber or cutting down a sheet of plywood. But even then I tend to get cuts at the lumber yard.


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