The True Economy of the Half Set

It took all of ten minutes after posting on the false economy of half sets of hollows and rounds for me to come across a half set I couldn’t pass up.

I wouldn’t have been looking, but I was having significant communication issues with the first dealer, so I wasn’t even sure he could fulfill the order I placed last week. In his defense, he’d been on vacation, and I felt bad when I finally did hear from him after cancelled my order.

So what changed last night? Well, the half sets I’d been considering up until that point were uniform makers. While tool collectors go out of their way to snap up these sets, decreasing supply and increasing demand, I’m not really a collector at heart.

I don’t want to own tools for the sake of owning tools. I want to own tools for the sake of using them.

Enter: the harlequin set. The harlequin set has the same sizes of planes as its purebred cousin, but lacks the uniformity of maker prized by collectors. These sets are priced according to the value to the user, not to the collector. A typical collector would have to snatch up many harlequin sets to assemble a collectible set.

The other nice thing about harlequin sets is that because the price isn’t inflated by virtue of it being a matched set, there’s no loss of value if you split it up. So two years from now, if I figure out there’s a plane in the set I’ll never use, I’ll have no qualms about selling it to a fellow craftsperson. If I knock one off my workbench and the wedge breaks, I’ll make a new wedge and move on.

So this morning, I placed an order for that harlequin half set of hollows and rounds, and once again I’m waiting for tools to show up on my doorstep.

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