“No Net New” in 2016: Or How I Stopped Buying Tools and Started Using Them

Hi, I’m Joe. I’m a tool-a-haulic. It’s been 116 days since I last purchased a tool.

New tool abstinence is not an original idea. In fact it’s not even my idea. I heard Shannon Rogers talk about the concept of not buying any new tools for one year right around Christmas time. Instantly I knew what I had to do. My self-imposed rules are simple:

  1. Nothing net-new. If a tool I have breaks, I can replace it. But I cannot add a tool, sharpening stone, cyclone attachment, etc to my collection
  2. Shop made tools are okay as long as they replace something. I made most of the planes I use. Some are not ideal and I’d like to remake them. As long as I re-use the iron, it’s acceptable.
  3. Consumables are exempt

I had just filled a 10 cubic yard dumpster with most of my scraps, broken tools, worn out jigs, and anything that had pissed me off in the last few months. My 2 car garage shop was looking pretty clean and de-cluttered.

I put some effort into organizing my hand tool area a bit better. I re-made my marking gauges and squares in a matching theme, and got all my hand tools in one place. I don’t like cabinets (which I will discuss in another post) so I hung everything on the wall.

This is it most of it:

All of my most used tools are right there on the wall. 5 steps from my benches (yes I have two). These are the tools I use the most and are involved in almost every project. To the right of my bench, I have a small Japanese-style chest with my No.45 and it’s cutters, spoke shaves, rasps, carving gouges and other miscellany.


So, how’s it going?

Pretty well actually. I’m about 5 months in and the pangs I see when that 25.00 moving fillister shows up in a Facebook group still hurt. However I’m really learning to use my tools, and more importantly leaning limitations. Both of myself and the tools. So far the results have not been surprising and I will go into more detail on subsequent blog posts.

Have any of you ever tied this? How did it go? Will you be my Sponsor?


5 thoughts on ““No Net New” in 2016: Or How I Stopped Buying Tools and Started Using Them

  1. “Hi Joe”, isn’t that how they start an AA meeting? My name is Mark and I have a woodwork installation business. I have been in woodworking since 1973. I got married in 1977 and saved everything we could, bought 5 acres (Five Acres and Independence) and built a wood shop to live in. My wife made me build a house, which was fine, because I could have the shop to myself. Needless to say, I have been buying tools for all that time. I also have 6 children and they took some of our resources. I was an “unplugged woodworker” for years, mostly out of neccesity. For the past 20 years I have collected tools and bought every tool that I could justify.
    I am trying to stop. Actually, I can stop any time I want. I just don’t……
    I have to buy some tools for work.(Is it okay to throw something for the shop on this pile?)
    I enjoy flea markets (tool guy’s liquor store)
    I go to production shops and see all the latest toys.
    I recognized that I might have a problem when I was at a flea market and was “needing a rachet” I found one in a plastic tub with alot of other tools and an inch of water. I asked the owner, how much, and he ending up sell the whole bin for $20. After clean up I ended up with 13 rachets, 18 adjustable wrenchs and a total of 87 tools. Most cleaned up okay. I gave away most, but relized that I have enough!


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