I’ve complained in the past about the assumption some woodworkers have that you have to own the most expensive tools or be a part of their tool-owning cult in order to be a “serious woodworker”. Well, someone tried that again, arguing that you couldn’t be a “serious woodworker” unless you owned a Festool track saw for breaking down sheet goods. I immediately rolled my eyes, not having even broken out my regular circular saw in years, but this time, to my surprise, lots of people came out saying that was absurd, that track saws were, for many people, a complete waste of time and money.
I guess woodworking common sense is getting through to people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that track saws are useless, they can be useful, although certainly not invaluable, at jobsites, but most woodworkers are not working out in the middle of a field somewhere, that’s something left to the construction trades. However, track saws, especially when you get to things like Festool, are absurdly expensive for what they give you, I can take a cheap circular saw, add a wooden guide rail, and get the exact same results for 1/50th the cost. I have a 10-foot aluminum extrusion track that cost me less than $20 and it works for circular saws, jigsaws, routers, etc. These are people with more money than sense and it shows.
I always felt like a lone voice in the wilderness with this, rarely did anyone ever agree with me and the loudest voices were always the ones who felt special because they had the most expensive toys, even though they were producing work that was seriously sub-standard to what others were doing with “lesser” tools. My father, before he died, did a lot of really amazing work with nothing but a cheap bench-top saw because he knew that it wasn’t the tools that mattered but his own abilities as a woodworker. That’s something I’ve tried to carry on, not because I can’t afford to go out and buy all the green tools I want, but because I can do more with less and that leaves me more money to spend on things that really matter like wood. Plus, I’ve got the same problem with Festool and Saw Stop junkies as I do with Apple zombies. Their attitude of superiority really puts me off, therefore I have no interest in owning any of those products. Ever.
So please people, don’t waste your money buying the latest gadgets and flashiest products because you think it makes you look better. Sam Maloof never owned a Saw Stop and look what he produced. James Krenov never had a Festool track saw. Tage Frid was all about what he made, not what he owned. Modern woodworkers need to learn those lessons too.