I read and participate a bit at the Pipemakers’ Forum, and am occasionally amused at some of the posters’ ideas of tool costs. For instance, Ken Lamb makes some of the best pipemaking tools in the business – custom-machined stuff that simply doesn’t exist on the open market in other forms – yet I often hear folks deriding his pricing as “extreme” and “too high”. For an amateur working on weekends, yes, but it’s important to keep in mind that amateurs are not Ken’s market (as if the warnings all over his site about not being responsible for beginners chopping their own arms and legs off aren’t enough…). Anyone interested in becoming a professional pipemaker NEEDS professional tools – the casual observer might question how Pipemakers’ Emporium could charge $600 for a tenon-turning machine when one can buy a tenon-turner from Pimo for $65… Well, start using your stuff hard on a daily basis and you’ll find out quickly! The chuck in today’s pic was my own lesson in this rule. I started out with this simple $50 chuck on my Jet lathe, unwilling to spend more when this one seemed just fine. In one year of use, I wore out the screws for the jaws completely, to the point that they would no longer tighten. The $50 replacement chuck wore out in seven months. Lesson? If you’re going to be living with, and off of, your tools, buy it once and buy it right!

Categories: Pipe Blog


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