When you work on personal projects, maybe some professional ones, what kind of approach do you take?
I figure there are 2 main approaches most people will fit into. You can 1) plan everything out and buy everything you think you might need, and 2) improvise and make do with what you have.
Most people will land right in the middle of both groups – they buy some new tools or supplies, and design or modify the project to make use of what they already have available.
I tend to over-think all of my projects, which leads to things getting out of hand sometimes. But ToolGuyd wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t like this.
The advantage to this is that I have a growing selection of parts and supplies that I can use for other projects. For instance, if I try two types of router bits, and one works better for the immediate project, the other might work for something down the road.
Or if I buy some rubber sheet material to make a few specialty sized washers, I might buy more than 1 thickness or material type to see what works better. With things like that, it’s hard to know what works better, so I try different things and turn it into a learning experience.
I wish I were the type of person that could just cut larger bolts down to size, but I’ve never been like that. I’m the type of person that will buy a small box of fasteners if I know I’ll need a size I don’t have. Or, maybe 2 times out of 3, I’ll buy a few different boxes of fasteners in sizes I’ve needed but improvised around in the past.
If I’m going to pay shipping, I take the opportunity to pick up all kinds of other stuff, and things balloon from there.
It’s important to not let things get out of control. It’s foolish to buy a laser cutter when a fret saw or scroll saw will do. Or a CNC cutting machine when a jigsaw and sandpaper will take less time than it takes to program the CNC cut path.
One of the main problems is to get lost in the details. It’s not ideal if researching a minor part of a project turns into a distraction that takes a lot more than an improvisation.
So, how do you approach a project?
I suppose this applies much more to personal projects than professional ones, but some things should translate well. A tool or accessory that comes in handy with an unusual task in a professional setting might come in handy down the road. But the approach to a professional project is limited by how “time is money,” and there’s also the greater importance to minimize costs.