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Elitism in Woodworking - Cephus' Corner

Elitism in Woodworking

April 19th, 2015

elitistsNow I don’t think this is intentional for the most part but I’ve seen a bit of a problem recently while hanging out in some woodworking forums. There is an unfortunate tendency for people to insist that you either own the biggest, most expensive equipment or you’re somehow inferior.  Oh sure, they don’t say inferior, they just make it very clear that they’re looking down on you from their workshop in the clouds, filled with equipment they don’t really use. but it makes their egos feel good that they spent the money.

This certainly isn’t an issue only in woodworking, in fact I’ve noted it in many other groups, it’s really a human problem, not a woodworking problem, but once again, it rears it’s ugly head.    There are a lot of people who suggest, quietly, that they’re a better woodworker because they have a Saw Stop or a Festool, tools that are extremely expensive and frankly, I don’t think are really worth it. I’ve already made my thoughts known on the Saw Stop but I still see people arguing that the brake is worth the extra expense.  I still don’t think so, I’ve been woodworking for more than 30 years, I still have all my fingers and toes and I was thinking that I don’t even have a single permanent scar attributed to woodworking.  That’s because I’m careful, I follow safety rules, I use my guards and, unlike the people who are acting like they’re special for buying an expensive saw with “safety features” but take off the saw guard all the time.  I am responsible for my own actions.  I don’t need some nanny being careful for me. That means I can spend more money on other things than waste it on safety features that are entirely unnecessary.

By the same token, there are lots of people out stroking their egos, pretending that expensive tools make them better people.  They don’t.  I find this is really prevalent with the Cult of Festool.  There are people out there utterly addicted to owning green tools, whether they’re actually superior or worth the money or not. They go to absurd lengths to argue that they’re better when honestly, I can produce the same work with a “lesser” tool for half the cost.  Honestly, what a lot of Festool tools do is simply cater to lazy woodworkers.  I mean, you have their TS55 Track Saw, which essentially takes the human element out of cutting wood.  You set up the track, you push a button and it cuts the wood for you. Well how damn lazy is that?  You can’t push the saw yourself?  Seriously?  And again, it has a safety feature that makes it foolproof.  Maybe fools shouldn’t be working with power tools in the first place.  And the cost?  $615 MSRP without any of the extras.  Compare that to a Makita track saw at Home Depot which sells for $399. Even an equivalent DeWalt saw only runs $499 at Lowes. But wait, those aren’t green, they’re not as good!

I also think there’s a bit of wishful thinking and a refusal to deal with reality that I see far too often.  In another post, someone said they had 500 board feet of cherry in lengths from 12-18 feet long.  His storage only has room for 9 foot long boards so he wanted to know how long people thought he ought to cut it.  There were an unfortunate number of people who figured he could just bend the laws of nature and not cut at all, but get an 18 foot long board into a 9 foot tall space. I figure this guy knows what kind of room he has, if not cutting the lumber was an option, he wouldn’t have asked how long he should cut it, but there are a lot of people who can only think of what they would do in their own space and not really care about the question being asked.

That’s really the problem, so much of this is about ego and not actually trying to help other people.  Woodworkers will come on the forum, ask a very specific question about two potential tools they might buy and the Festool brigade will come out and desperately try to talk the buyer into something from their cult. Someone asks about table saws that aren’t Saw Stop and the only thing the Saw Stop faithful can do is push their religious idol.  Guess what guys?  It isn’t about you.  Either help people with the questions they ask or don’t bother.  We know about your loyalty.  We know that you wear your pride for throwing away money on your sleeve.  I’m wondering if they don’t secretly feel bad for doing it and are now trying to get others to repeat their mistake so they don’t feel alone in their error.

Fanatics should not impress anyone, they shouldn’t be catered to, they shouldn’t be respected, these people have a problem.  They lack self-control, they lack objectivity and they certainly want to push their fanaticism on others, just like the religious do.  These people need help, not a defense.  Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen any time soon.  That’s my problem with elitism.

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.