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Having the right tool

How often have we been in the position of having to do something, knowing that there is a tool or a piece of equipment that could get it done easily, quickly and efficiently? Personally, I have been in this position many times.

But, in many of those instances, the cost of the tool or equipment was not justified by the need.

For example, I was once asked to make a piece of molding to match some trim in an old house that was being restored. I could have easily had a shaper cutter made up to run this molding but the customer only needed one four foot long piece to replace one that had been badly damaged and he was not willing to absorb the cost of the tooling.

I could have simply declined but, well, you know how that goes…

So I started looking at my router bits and small planes and worked out a way to make the piece using what I had on hand. It took a bit of time but I was getting paid for that time and in the end, the cost to the happy customer was much less than the cost of the custom tooling would have been.

In this case, the right tool was the one I already had.

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Who’s right?

It is often said that the customer is always right. Obviously, this is suggesting that the customer should always be accommodated in whatever he or she wants. And, to some extent this is a good policy. It can often lead to a very happy and satisfied customer. But not always.