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First off, thanks so much for all the thoughtful responses to my post last week about artificial frugality and tool hoarding. I started to reply to some of the comments specifically, but soon realized that there’s so much interesting information there that the subject really deserves a follow-up post to dig deeper into the areas of scrap storage, what tools to keep, and for how long.

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We’re not at all like those “crazy” people on TV, right? I mean, it’s not like we keep a collection of 25,000 popsicle sticks, or retain the box for every single light bulb we ever buy. Of course, we do keep that leftover piece of scrap wood. And metal. Hey — that stuff is expensive! We’ll use it eventually. And don’t forget the specialty blade set for the table saw. And that awesome (rarely-used) power tool we scored at the flea market.

Actually, more than a few of the people I know through the tool world would easily qualify as hoarders, at least by the definition of “norms” not initiated to our world. In fact, I’ll admit it: I am (well, was) a Toolmonger hoarder. I fixed that this weekend. Read on to find out why — and how.

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A couple of years back, an “upscale” North Texas community’s HOA published a list of proscribed doings which included–and I’m not kidding here–parking a pickup truck on the street or in a driveway visible from the street. No, really. Luxury trucks, however, like the Lincoln Mark LT don’t count. “It doesn’t look like a pickup,” the HOA chairman told local media; “It’s fancier.”

I don’t point this out to make fun of the HOA (which others have already done in spades), but rather as a great example of just how crazy the excess of 2007-8 got in terms of trucks. The luxotruck market started with the Lincoln Blackwood, essentially an F-150 crew cab with a few slightly different body parts, a fancy leather interior, and a bed turned into a large, square, crappy trunk via a permanently-fixed electric bed cover. For these bonuses, buyers shelled out just over $50k–almost $20k more than the most expensive F-150 of the time. GM followed with the Escalade EXT, a similarly-dolled-up version of the Chevy Avalanche. To cut a long history short, the Blackwood became the Mark LT in 2005, and bit the dust in 2008 after the economy took a big bite out of the more-money-than-brains market. The Mark LT lives on, though, in a more work-friendly format: the F-150 Platinum, which (what a concept!) has a functional bed. 

Bottom line: trucks without beds aren’t trucks. They’re crappy cars, and they’re the epitome of the wannabe culture. It seems even the GQ crowd agrees, naming the Mark LT one of its “Douchiest Cars of All Time,” awarding the EXT honorable mention.

Just to be clear, we have zero issue with the idea of decking out your truck. Though we tend to prefer trucks that get the job done for less, we certainly don’t believe that hauling stuff means you should be stuck with no amenities. We just can’t get behind the idea of a truck without a bed, or a truck that carries a price large enough to buy another truck–and doesn’t offer any functionally superior capability.

That said, we do take issue with a few of GQ’s other “douchiest cars.” They hate the Trans Am, for example, citing the bird’s giant hood decal, “steamship levels of understeer,” and poor performance as douche-factors. We humbly suggest that they missed the point. Sure, the stock small-block won’t get out of its own way, but a number of GM crate motors make for an easy swap, delivering more power than anyone really needs. And who buys a Trans Am for the handling?

GQ also dumps on the Dodge Viper, correctly pointing out that it’s difficult to drive and pretty low on creature comforts. It’s just that “hot, smelly,” and loud functionality that we like–because it pisses them off.

Anyway, let us know (as always) what you think. Is the LT really a great deal? Did we miss something?

 

Seriously ya’ll. The date, and I’m not kidding here, was September 27th. On my way back to the hardware aisle to pick up some compact fluorescent bulbs I just had to shake my head. It has begun, already. A scant few weeks after Labor Day and already we’re confronted with Christmas trees and light-up hot air characters.

I’ve said this before; I really can’t blame the stores from trying to glean any profit they can anywhere they can get it. That’s what we’re all doing in one form or another. And I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I look forward to it every year. I even have a Santa hat I wear from about December 10th through New Year’s Eve. There are, however, at least two rather large holidays in between the end of September and jolly St. Nick.

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First of all, Toolmonger is not dead. Thanks for asking.

In case you didn’t know, Toolmonger is a labor of love from me, Sean, and Audra. The three of us are the entire staff of Toolmonger, and together we write, operate, upgrade, design, test tools, do projects, and try to keep the site afloat. We’re a business, but mainly in the sense that it costs quite a lot to keep the site running, and we try not to have to pay out of pocket for it when we can avoid it. (Sometimes we end up doing it regardless.)

Both Sean and I — the primary content generators for Toolmonger — have had some tough times recently. I won’t go into them because honestly they’re private. But we’ve had a hell of a time holding it all together personally and professionally, and Toolmonger took a beating for it in terms of content. We’re sorry we couldn’t deliver the regular content, but we’re not sorry we made the choices we did. Family comes first.

Many of you sent some really nice emails, ranging from encouragement to post again soon to simple questions about when things would resume, and your missives meant a lot to us. (A few sent some nasty notes, too, but hey, we get those even when things are running smoothly.) Thanks for letting us know that TM is important to you and plays some small part in your life.

I’m not sure we’ve ever told you this, but that’s why we operate Toolmonger. Yeah, we’re into tools. But the TM community — those of you who comment, email, tell us about your projects, tell us when you think products are crap (or great), argue vehemently about how things should work — that’s what keeps us going. On numerous occasions we’ve had opportunities to make Toolmonger into something more profitable at the cost of what we consider the community. Each time we’ve declined. We lose a lot of advertising over it. A couple of years back we even turned down an offer to buy Toolmonger, an offer which would have helped us pay off our houses. Why? The people who wanted to buy wanted to pimp you to a mechanical, soul-less ad-driven forum designed to generate zillions of page views in creepy ways. Screw them.

At the same time, you need to know that the advertisers you see regularly here on Toolmonger — especially Stanley and DeWalt — have been very supportive in their dealings with us. And by supportive, I mean that they understand what Toolmonger is and don’t ask for crappy things like fake reviews or cheap, gimmicky promotions. They don’t play games with us when we don’t like the products and say so on the site. Sure, not all of their tools will be winners. We know that and they know that. Hell, I can’t afford many of their tools, either. As always, we recommend you select the best tool for your needs and budget. But we can say this: they put ads on the site, and they pay for them. Period. They treat us well, and I think they treat the community well. We’ve met many of their people, including the advertising and promotional folks, and I can say this: they give a damn about trying to make a good product. We’re happy to have their advertising on the site.

Anyway, we thought we’d be back in the saddle last week, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Things have finally calmed down, though, and we’re trying to get back on track today.

Of course, we can never promise crap won’t go bad again. We can promise, however, that we’ll do our best to get you fun, entertaining, and informative tool and project content. And we look forward to your comments and general fun. Seriously, reading your part of Toolmonger is as therapeutic for us as (hopefully) reading our part is for you.

Have a good one, folks, and we’ll see you on the site.

 

It’s been a comedy of failures around my place lately, with the “new” wearing off the house and its contents and lots of little issues cropping up. It’s given me a lot of opportunity to think about the perfect way to buy products you expect to use for years to come — whether that’s a dishwasher, an air conditioning unit, or a high-end power tool. And I’ve discovered that no matter how I come at the problem, I almost always end up seeking a balance between price and features.

I know this seems pretty obvious, but looking a little deeper, it’s a lot harder to figure than one might suspect.

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Earlier today I received an email from a Festool employee asking that I correct a price on my recent post asking your opinion about the Kapex vs. the Bosch Glide. I’m happy to correct the price, of course, but it struck me that, despite the fact we’ve written about Festool numerous times and our readers have expressed a lot of interest in the brand, today’s email was the first time I can remember Festool ever reaching out to us in any way. This reminds me yet again how much I wish readers could fully share the tool journalism experience. You can learn a hell of a lot about a company based on how they interact with journalists — yet virtually no one talks about the experience.

Then again, that’s probably because we assume readers are more interested in the tools themselves than the human stories behind them. Anyway, if you’re interested in some of those stories, read on. If not, scroll up or down where you’ll find plenty more pics of cool (or funny) tools and opportunities to weigh in on them.

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So Santa C. left you a gift card in the stocking. Some consider it a hollow gift that displays no forethought — but we do not subscribe to the particular vein of thinking: we love gift cards. What they really are is someone giving you exactly what you wanted, just on a sort of time delay, and allowing you to do the mini shopping-spree yourself. We consider it a happy time that comes just after birthdays and holidays.

There is a danger with the gift card, however — happy trigger finger syndrome. It’s that feeling you get the day after receiving the card that has you standing at the gates of whatever store is on the glossy front of the card and ready to spend it. There are two paths to wise gift card spending.

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It’s not that we begrudge home centers making their profit. In fact, we like them and shop there all the time. However, when I’m heading in to pick up some drywall anchors, a few potting planters, and an A/C filter and am confronted with a scene like this pictured above, I’m annoyed.

It’s nothing new: This same scenario has been played out earlier every season for the last 20 or so years. In our local big box the holiday trees went up on Labor Day. Here are a few tidbits to remember when navigating the buying rush this season.

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In July, Chuck wrote about the looming end to incandescent bulbs 40 Watts and higher. Unfortunately Congress has yet to act to repeal any of these bans. However, many debates remain on whether the newer CFL or LED bulbs will really offer a savings over time in relation to incandescent bulbs. With 2012 and the first phase-in of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act inching closer, some entrepreneurs have decided to play the futures game and stock up on the soon-to-be-banned bulbs.

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