First some words about me and then the question.
My first employment was in the automotive machine shop that my father
managed. Later on, I ran the place.
A boyhood interest in radio brought me a ham radio license and when I
was 25 I went to work for Hughes Aircraft (later GM-Hughes) as an
electronics technician. In the next 30 years at Hughes I was at
various times: assembly line supervisor, senior research assistant,
member of the technical (engineer), engineering group head, retired,
contract consultant. When Raytheon bought Hughes, my contact was
terminated and I was asked to hire on with Raytheon, which I did for a
couple of years before I could no longer stand working for them. This
brings me to today when I have time to pursue a long-time interest in
woodworking. A couple of "woodshop" classes and the construction of
about half of my house is pretty much my experience so far.
I have always been a "hands on" guy and a voracious reader; in fact,
I'm primarily self-taught in my fields of interest, pretty much
learning by making mistakes [g]. Some course work in photography
proved to me that I was a damn good darkroom technician, but an artist
I am not. I'm sure the same applies to woodworking. So, I take great
delight in reading this group as well as FWW, et cetera.
By now, you're saying this belongs in the "How did you get into
woodworking thread" so let me veer to the question:
Why do woodworkers put up with such crappy tooling and machinery?
My loving wife is encourging me to buy whatever I want for my shop so
I am in the market (I think) for some new tools. (This is why I will
continue to wear my wedding ring in the shop, but I digress) I have
been reading this group and all of the other references I can find for
reviews and opinions and frankly I appalled at what I'm finding.
In my former jobs, I have literally specified, approved, purchased and
used several million dollars worth of machinery, electronics test
equipment and components. *Never*
would I, or my employers, put up
with buying stuff that was in the sorry state that seems to be the
norm for woodworking equipment. Neither would our customers put up
with us supplying products of similar quality.
As a radio amateur I put together a number of Heathkit radios. These
were of course, "kits"; it even said so in the company name. I
suggest in the interest in truth-in-labeling that woodworking
equipment suppliers should be required to add "kit" to their names.
For example, the "Stanley Plane Kit" company.
The instructions would say, "Unpack your plane kit and disassemble the
pieces. Finish the manufacturing process by, flattening the sole,
filing the throat, adjusting the frog, grinding and honing the
chipbreaker, flattening the back of the iron and refining the edge.
Reassemble the pieces and adjust for a proper cut."
The instructions for Marples chisel kits would include instructs on
retempering, regrinding and honing the blade (Other chisel kit
manufactures could leave out the retempering part.)
If I believe the reviews, even a $2000 Powermatic PM66 table saw is a
kit. The instructions would say something like, "Throw away the
crappy table extension that was broken in shipment and build a new one
out of hard Maple banded in Rosewood." Additional instructs would
tell how to make shims to get the iron extension wings flush with the
tabletop and file the miter gauge so it doesn't scratch the table.
And, "Oh, by the way, we sold you a "saw" but if you want to actually
cut something, you'll have to buy a "saw blade" separately and that
motor cover you see in all of the pictures is extra too."
The Grizzly table saw kit would include instructions for contacting
the trucking company that dropped it off the truck, to make a claim.
The General International table saw kit would include instructions for
completing the manufacturing process by drilling the holes required to
attach the "Made In Canada" fence to the "Made in the Far East" saw.
There have been millions of words written about arbor run out, table
flatness, aligning the blade to the miter gauge slots, getting the
miter gauge tight in the slots, getting the fence parallel to the
blade, poorly designed blade guards, lousy dust collection, making new
table inserts and on and on. All of this over a rather simple piece
I very recently assembled a Jet 1100 dust collector kit. In this
case, I knew it was a kit that required assembly, but why didn't they
include the tap that I needed to chase the threads to get the paint
out of them so the screws would go in without galling? A half hour
job turned into two hours spent chasing down a tap.
What's up with this?