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Stuff wears out

It’s a fact of life – both everyday life and woodworking life – that stuff wears out, not matter how well made it is.

I need to buy a new keyboard. I type a lot as part of what I do for a living, so the standard cheap keyboards that come with computers don’t work for me. So, 10 years ago I bought a really good “clicky” keyboard (IBM computer users will know what I mean) that’s perfect for copious typing.

In the decade of its life I’ve written eight woodworking books, edited half a dozen more and done countless magazine articles. Oh, and 832 Over the Workbench blogs. Along with everyday non-work use that has to amount to millions of keystrokes, this wonderful keyboard is starting to wear out so I’m shopping around.

The same holds true for other quality products, from cars to refrigerators, table saws to drills. Cheap products rarely wear out – they just break quickly – but good stuff can last years. Woodworkers are lucky in that much of what we use is designed such that regular maintenance can keep them going for years. But there comes a point where even the best tools earn retirement.

I have a Woodworker II blade I’ve been using for at least a dozen years, sharpened many times. Fantastic blade, but I think it’s finally ready for replacement. Good drill bits can also only be sharpened so many times, and since I prefer brad points – difficult to sharpen anyway – I could stand to replace several of those as well. My venerable Porter-Cable 690 router has been a workhorse since I got it in, I think, 1996 or 1997. It’s been battered, beaten, used (and even dropped on my head once) constantly in my shop. Although I own four routers, unless it’s light trim work I’m doing it’s still my favorite. But it can’t last forever either.

Nothing wrong with any of this. The key is to buy quality stuff, not junk. That way, you’re nearly always guaranteed that you’ll see your tools last well into old age – yours and theirs.

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