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I realize that not all of you are reading from within the U.S., but I understand things are getting tougher all over. So here’s my question: Has the slowing economy affected your tool purchases at all. If so, how?

I can tell you that it’s affected me, especially in terms of optional tool purchases. For example, I’d love to have a new set of ratcheting box-ends in common SAE sizes, but because I already have plenty of SAE combo wrenches (non-ratcheting, of course), I’ll stick with what I’ve got until things loosen up a bit. And I’ll probably hold off on major wood power tool purchases since Sean’s got those covered — and it’s only a short drive from my place to his.

But how does it affect you? Bonus: Tell us whether you’re a pro or DIYer, and if you’re both, how cash affects your purchases for each. I’m interested!

(Thanks, redjar, for the awesome CC-licensed photo.)


11 Responses to Reader Question: How Has The Economy Affected Your Shop?

  1. ToolGuyd says:

    My spending habits haven’t changed too drastically, but like yourself I’ve been trying to avoid buying optional tools. I will continue buying what I need while my wants are added onto my wishlist for future consideration.

    This is true both personally as a DIYer, and at my place of work as well. I’m trying to be resourceful and conservative with my orders to ensure that there are sufficient funds for unanticipated future tool and equipment needs.

    I also find myself planning projects with more care and in greater detail so that I waste as little raw materials as possible.

  2. Wayne D. says:

    I got laid off twice last year and am still looking for work. I have had to get creative with what I actually have. I have put off buying a compressor, table saw, drill press, and a mini-mill. I have actually been amazing myself what I can get done with hand tools and small power tools that I already had. With the exception of the press, I really haven’t missed anything.

  3. Bob says:

    There are now more great deals on used tools available through private sales due to the recession’s impact on the building trades. For instance, I scored a great deal on a nearly new Type 1A step ladder recently from a painter who wasn’t doing much business.

    I am a hobbyist and homeowner when it comes to using tools.

  4. Matt says:

    I’m a mechanic and not much has changed for my purchases- but that’s par for the course, since I’ve always been pretty frugal with my tool buying. I did put a set of new impact guns on credit with my Mac distributor last year, but it was getting time- I had three guns in varying states of (dis)repair, and the more “reliable” one required weekly adjustment to keep it from just blowing air out the sides. I do love my new impacts, though, lightweight and powerful. I did buy the combo Makita Li-Ion driver kit from Home Despot when they had them down at $135, but I guess that was right around when things were really getting bad and I figured I could handle the cost. I’m definitely not looking to hack up too much more anytime soon, things are still a little shaky.

  5. Jerry says:

    Homeowner, hobbyist, DIY’er and tool freak as well as a user of tools for work. Fortunately I have the tools for my trade without any needs.
    I have somewhat removed the tool supply places from my weekly adventures. It used to be a pleasure to find some tool that I “just had to have” and feel comfortable buying it even though these purchases sometimes turned into a one-time use – you know? Took it home, tried it out and then put it away sort of forever because I really just liked the idea of the tool and had no real use for it. We all have some of those tools.
    On the plus side, when December rolls around and people start searching my list wish, they should have a lot of choices.

  6. fred says:

    I have good records – and I probably could retrieve data back to 1997 or so if I dug a bit. What I found was (I should correct for inflation (CPI or GNP deflator) what we spent on hand tools and small power tools (expense not capital) for one segment of our buisiness over the last several years:

    2006 – $26,302
    2007 -$28,304
    2008 – $33,455
    2009 – $30,804
    2010 – $4,846 YTD (if we continue at this pace this would be about $30,000 at YE)

    The numbers are a bit lumpy – but the trend had been up. 2009 was down a bit from 2008. Our revenues in 2009 were also off – but only by 8%.

  7. MattW says:

    You want to save money on tools?

    Quit reading Toolmonger.

    Man, I crack myself up sometimes.

  8. Matt says:

    Harbor Freight!

  9. Eddie says:

    In a sense it has created my shop. When my hot water tank blew up we decided to remodel the kitchen instead of repairing cheap remodel job that was there (linolieum, mismatched fake brick paneling, stove and oven from the 70’s etc…)

    This necesited the conversion of our old 12 X 12 storage shed that is falling apart and rotting away into a workshop.

    This shed conversion to shop is still in it’s early stages.

  10. Phil says:

    “because I already have plenty of SAE combo wrenches (non-ratcheting, of course), I’ll stick with what I’ve got until things loosen up a bit.”

    I assume you’ll accelerate your purchases if those things that loosen up are metric? 😉

    As for me, I’m toning down on the more frivolous purchases a bit, but still keeping up-to-date buying tools and such that are needed, and those that save a fair amount of time over what I would use now. The beauty of it is I can fall back on these tools as a continued means of support if my current job tanks. So, not only are my tools and machinery the toys that make me happy, they are my means of making a living, and a means of making a living in other fields as well. It gives me a broad set of options.

  11. Mike lee says:

    Clearance, Clearance, Clearance. Since the econony is bad, stores are putting more tools on clearance.

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