Workshop Wish List: 1996 vs. Now

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-9-31-28-amI was looking through vintage issues of the magazine this morning and stumbled upon “A Workshop Wish List” from 1996 wherein we randomly selected 500 subscribers to tell us the tools and equipment they wanted in seven price categories, chosen from a list that we provided.

I don’t know what all the choices were; we didn’t list them. But what I find most interesting is that in every price category but one, the winner was a power tool or an item one would use with a power tool (routers in particular). I wonder, if we ran the same sort of survey today, that pattern would hold. I doubt it. (That said, most of my choices below are power-tool related – but I’m already well-stocked on hand tools.)

It’s also interesting to see those 1996 prices; most of the items cost significantly more today, even allowing for the relative worth of a dollar in 1996 vs. today, though a few have dropped in price.

Here are the winners:
• $25 or less: A subscription to Popular Woodworking Magazine (still an excellent choice and still less than $25!)*.
• $25-$50: Router template guides.
• $51-$100: Router dovetail jig
• $101-$150: Precision router fence
• $151-$200: Pneumatic finish nailer
• $201-$300: Dust collection system
• $301-$500: 12″ planer

I’m not going to provide a list of items from which to choose (no time; I have to get in the shop, stat!), but what’s on your wish list in these approximate price ranges?

Here’s mine, with the caveats that these are for my personal shop (we have most of these at the PWM shop), that the price range noted is for the specific tool I would buy, and that my choices might vary at any moment:
• $25-$50: Set of Vix bits
• $51-$100: Skilsaw circular saw (I borrowed Christopher Schwarz’s for demo work; it’s simple and awesome – and the only brand I’m calling out here)
• $101-$150: Full socket & wrench set
• $151-$200: Jigsaw (yes, I own something that could charitably be called a jigsaw, but…)
• $201-$300: Travisher
• $301-$500: Dust extractor
• $501+: 14″ band saw
• $2,000+: The rest of my windows installed (Hey – It requires tool use, so it counts!)

– Megan Fitzpatrick

* Arguably, this one is also power-tool related, given that we didn’t serve many articles at the time on hand-tool use.

Here’s the article in it’s entirety:

3 thoughts on “Workshop Wish List: 1996 vs. Now

  1. 8iowa

    Back in ’96 I had a Shopsmith system in 1/2 of a garage. This included the bandsaw, jointer, planer, dust collector, and a small work bench. My wish list then would have reflected my scarcity of quality hand tools, and the lack of knowledge of how to use them.

    I still work in 1/2 of a garage (different home) and still use the Shopsmith (with many tools upgraded) but I now have a good assortment of hand planes, chisels, saws, and marking and measuring tools. I’ll have to credit PWW and the WIA’s for helping me to become more proficient as a ‘hybrid’ woodworker.

  2. pmac

    I don’t know if this counts, (or the price range) but it is workshop wish list related: Better lighting. ( which, in my case requires a lot of electrical work, not as bad as your new home but still some significant work.) a Merry Christmas!

    1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Oh yeah…I need that, too! (The electrician is supposed to come next week to sort out the bathroom wiring, run 220 for my table saw and a few drops in various locations in the basement. Right now, I have one – yes, one! – 110 plug available down there…two if I unplug the washing machine.)

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