We Are Living in a Golden Age

October 5, 2017 - by Matty D

The world is awash in troubles, but for the DIY (Do-it-Yourself) Project Hacker there has never been a better time to be alive.

Three major trends are making this possible:

1. Tools are dramatically less costly, more widely available and just plain better than ever before

2. Information about using tools and finding, selecting and carrying out projects is more accessible than ever.

3. Project Hackers can often get much of what they need from the waste stream.

Tools Are More Affordable, Easier to Get and Better Than Ever

Let’s start with an issue that seems to involve a bit of controversy and get it out of the way right from the beginning: 

"Harbor Freight stores are flooding the world with junk tools made in China!"

Delbert Dumfolk

Harbor Freight is a privately held discount tool and equipment retailer, headquartered in Calabasas, California, which operates a chain of retail stores as well as a mail-order and eCommerce business. The company has over 700 stores in 47 states. The company employs over 17,000 people in the U.S and is opening new stores at a rate of roughly three per week! (The map below shows roughly 24 stores within a radius of about 100 miles from my house in southeastern Wisconsin!)

Quite a few people seem to find this alarming. Do they want to return of the bad old days when tools were prohibitively expensive and hard to get? They often cite the claim that the tools are of inferior quality. Well yes, they are almost certainly not at the level as some that you would buy from Snap-On, Mac Tools, or even the Sears Craftsman line. Do home shop enthusiasts and shade tree mechanics always need Snap-on quality? Probably not. If you use your tools every day to make your living, then you may need expensive tools, but if you rebuild one engine every five years as a hobby it may be much wiser to buy a less expensive tools.

And what about the quality of these imported tools? They have gotten much better in the last few years and the trend seems to be accelerating.  History tells us that this is what we should expect. I can remember when Japanese products were considered inferior. Who would argue today that companies like Toyota, Honda, Panasonic and Sony don’t make world class products and that we haven’t benefitted from it? Chinese companies are on the same path. 

In the mean time, I’m buying tools and outfitting my shop in ways I never thought possible. Harbor Freight isn’t the answer to all my tool needs, but they have certainly provided me with some real bargains. Nothing wrong with that!

The Information Age is Helping Home Shop Enthusiasts Take Their Projects to New Levels

Human beings love to share their knowledge and show off their accomplishments. New technologies have made it easier than ever for that to happen.

The internet allows groups to form around almost any interest you can imagine. Are you interested in old fishing lures? There is a group for that. They have a website. On their website they have a forum. In most cases you can join that group and in minutes be asking some of the most knowledgeable people on the planet your questions. They may also have resources like FAQs, Wikis and collections of articles. There are almost certainly videos on YouTube about whatever it is you are interested in. When I need to repair some thing on a car or an appliance I now just go straight to YouTube and watch somebody do whatever it is that I want to do. And it’s not just about fixing cars or doing home repairs. It can be about learning to write software, work with computer-aided design, be a better parent, develop a healthy lifestyle or plan a vacation.

 There has never been a better time to learn anything!

Money is Less of a Barrier Than Ever to Finding and Executing Amazing Projects

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