View Full Version : Question: How much money invested in your Home Shop

04-05-2009, 12:57 AM
Not intended to get into the whole "my thing is bigger then your thing" type of mentality but I would just like to gage the amount of compulsive/obsessive Machine behavior I have.

Mill…………………………............… $6500
Lathe…………………….........…….. $500
Surface Grinder ……….....………..$500 with hydraulic $900
T&C Grinder :……………........…….Free
4x7 Jet Horisontal Bandsaw ……$65
7 x 14 Johnson Bandsaw ……….$300
Lincoln Welder……………….......…$265
Machine tool accessories ……….$1000
Misc Tooling ………. $2000 to 3000 at least

Total …………………………........….$12530

Liger Zero
04-05-2009, 01:15 AM
Lathe = $500
Mill = $500
3-in-one sheetmetal wrecker: $300
Sherline mill/lathe set: $2500
Barstock bender: $100
Bandsaw: $100
Grinder: $40
Tool Grinder: free
Tooling: $ZOMG

Next purchase... an honest to God small press-brake with tooling. Going to finance that purchase solely with money I make in my shop making widgets. If things keep going I should be able to afford an old Diacro by July 2010. :)

04-05-2009, 01:27 AM
A lot...And I want to spend $500 000 more..

04-05-2009, 01:47 AM
A good question.

My answer is similar to Ringer's - lots!!! but as I have written all of mine off when I bought it, it has no "carrying" or intrinsic value as it is all just inanimate metal etc. that just takes up space unless or until I want to use it. I have no emotional ties to any of it. Irrespective of cost, it either does what I want it to do at the time - or it doesn't. That is its "worth" as it is only a means to an end.

But a couple of others:

- what is it really worth if you sell it slowly ie you are in no hurry?; and

- what is it worth in the event of a "Fire Sale" as a result of a bankruptcy, liquidation, divorce or a Trustee/Executor's/Mortgagee's etc. sale?

- what if you are incapacitated and can't use your shop?

- what if you "move house" - will you have room for all your stuff and will you be able to move it or afford to have it done at commercial rates?

These may well determine what your tools etc are really worth.

Dave P.
04-05-2009, 02:13 AM
You don't really want to know thw answer to some questions.
A few years ago I spent a whole day with a digital camera going
through all the drawers in the toolboxes, cabinets and shelves.
I've gathered a fair amount of stuff over the years, never seemed
like that much till I tried to document it.
Never tried to put a dollar figure on it, suspect it would vary depending
on the situation.
My insurance agent was speechless for a bit......
Dave P.

04-05-2009, 02:24 AM
Umm, maybe 5000 bucks. Well, thats what I tell my wife. Oh honey, theres only a couple thousand worth of crap in the garage. Then she responds with, ok, lets sell it, get rid of all that junk. LOL

04-05-2009, 02:25 AM
Gosh, I spent over $13k on ebay alone for tooling and goodies last year alone. That does not include the local tooling off CL and the like...

Its good to be single.... ;)

Doc Nickel
04-05-2009, 02:47 AM
I made a rough-estimate calculation last fall after getting my horizontal mill up and running, since I was curious about the same thing. I don't always recall precisely what I paid for something, and of course I've long since lost track of all the little $100 and $200 orders for endmills or inserts, or the quick trips uptown to buy $10 in drills, or the petty cash paid here and there at garage sales and pawn shops for $20 magnetic bases and whatnot.

I also didn't count raw material, junk and other debris. Basically just heavy machines, and tooling or support equipment (like VFDs) for those machines.

And I was kind of surprised to see it all add up to less than $25,000.

Now, again, that doesn't count hand tools (like standard combination wrenches or sockets) or hand power tools (like the Sawzall or the air sanders) or the supporting stuff every shop needs (air hoses, extension cords, random boxes of spray cans) or even some of the "ubiquitous" machines like the bench grinders (two of which are cheap $35 box-store specials anyway.) All of which undoubtedly would add up to at least another $10,000 to $20,000 if one were forced to replace it all at once (say, after a fire or flood.)

Now, on the other side of the coin: How much is your shop worth, were you to sell it off? :D

We've all got machines we paid too much for, either because we wanted that particular machine, or because we put a lot of "sweat equity" into a junker but 'spent' more than a complete machine was worth.

But we also all usually have machines we got for a great price- haul it away, I'm tired of looking at it, or even when the angry divorcee says "how's fifty bucks sound?"

But given the current market in your area, and trying to keep things realistic, how much could you reasonably expect to get out of your machines and tools?

I'd gone back over that same list, above, and while I'd do well on a few things (the $150 drill press is probably worth closer to $250) I'd do badly on others (I'd bought the Grizzly mill new- it hasn't lost much value, but it's still not worth new price anymore.)

Trying to be realistic, I figured I'd be lucky to get about 50%, or around $12,000 to $14,000.


04-05-2009, 03:04 AM
My major machine tool purchases to date (i.e. excluding hand tools, shop supplies, materials and hardware):

6" Craftsman bench grinder and stand: On sale, $68 bought with birthday money from my 12th birthday
8" Craftsman drill press: Free - was purchased as a gift at a garage sale for 10 dollars (also for my 12th birthday)
6" Craftsman vise: $75 in christmas money the same year
two partial sets of lawson drill bits and a partial set of taps: free from my uncle who purchases damaged goods pallets
55 lb anvil: on sale for $25 from HF
135 amp, 110 volt Craftsman stick welder: $160 two years later
HF angle grinder: $15
Large Craftsman tool chest: $650 bought when I was 16 using money my sister and BIL gave me for spending the summer with them
Smithy Midas: $1110 the same year after working construction for the summer
Gerstner International tool chest, DI, endmills, combination square, wiggler, Craftsman/SPI 1-4" micrometers, etc: 18th birthday and Christmas gifts
Two 16 by 30 American Pacemaker lathes and tooling: $2500
Clark tool chest: $100
Organizers: $150
Interapid DTI: $200
26" Bertram shaper, tool steel, taps, reamers and endmills: $350
Misc Enco orders: ~$250

I'm working hard to catch up to the rest of you. (I had to count the little stuff) :D

Frank Ford
04-05-2009, 03:25 AM
My home shop $$$? Lots, but it's all relative.

In 2004, I bought the Sharp lathe and mill, and dropped a cool 30 grand in one swell foop. Probably have more than three times that all told in the shop.

But along the way, I've generated about the same amount of dough through my home shop efforts with the products I make and sell, consulting, and that kind of stuff. So, maybe it's a wash.

I'm an old soak, so my house is paid for, and with the grace of the infamous Prop 13, I pay 12 grand a year LESS for my three bedrooms on a 1/6 acre than my next door neighbor does for property taxes. (I can't even comprehend the property taxes on the place across the street a young couple just shelled out 1.5 million for.) No kids to put through college, and my wife's a cheapskate who hates jewelry and thinks having too many shoes is three extra pairs of flip-flops. I buy absolutely NOTHING EVER on credit - I save for what I want and need.

What's the diff? I don't take "vacations" or spend money on "recreation" and I wear cheap clothes, drive a 19 year old van, and do all the maintenance on this 85-year old manse. After living in this neighborhood for 38 years, I think we're still the only ones who do all their own yard and house work.

On and on I read about all the guys who spend so much time trying to get "deals" on machines. Me, I just pay the going price, get the thing I want, and put it to work for me - learning the craft, and making stuff I sell to pay for both the tools and the learning process.

I keep a strict set of books, claim all the appropriate deductions for a home business (even to the point of having a separate resale number and tax ID for it). Call it a second job, call it a hobby, whatever. It works for me. . .

Frank Ford
04-05-2009, 03:31 AM
Or, to put it in advertising parlance:

1/2" diameter brass bar - - $6.00
Tools to make it smaller - - $100,000.00
The learning experience - - PRICELESS.

Paul Alciatore
04-05-2009, 03:37 AM
Too much


Not enough.

04-05-2009, 03:59 AM
I do my damndest not to keep track...
or, a lot less than the racing?


04-05-2009, 07:18 AM
Machines... not that much
The new 30 x 60 building I NEED... makes a little more expensive ;)

Your Old Dog
04-05-2009, 07:57 AM
Well, surprizingly it's the one thing my wife don't mind me spending money on. I told her I have enough money tied up in the shop to have kept me drunk at local area taverns where the fluzzies hang out for the past 18 years, 7 months and 3 days. She wants me to buy a new square column mill complete with DRO :D

04-05-2009, 08:24 AM
I would never tell. My wife might read this and start selling it off! If she started at one end of my shop while I'm working on the other, I might well turn around one day and upon seeing half of the shop empty, start buying more.

Dave P. has a good point, if any of you have not taken good quality digital photos of your toys and not talked with your insurance agent, you should. We have all spent a bit of time on this hobby and you hate to not have some sort of insurance against loss. Take the photos at a minimum.

Honestly, I dont keep track of what I have spent after a tool has paid it self off. Bought a lathe and within 3 months I paid it off with a few evening jobs on it. I know where I am in my budget from month to month and I work to stay in it. Then its all about looking at the next shop toy.


04-05-2009, 08:43 AM
I really do not know how much I have invested in my shop. Most of my tools have been bought on the cheap, when I found a good buy. Even then, many are the result of a series of purchases and sales of other machines as I worked my way up.

I added up the cost of my rotary table once, it is a brend new 8" Yuasa that I paid $100 for at auction. I had worked my way through about a half dozen other RT's, buying and selling as I got a better one, and had made a profit of several hundred dollars along the way.

My lathe is similar, I paid $500 for it, a 13" Sheldon, but at the same sale, I bought a Millrite mill for $50.00. I sold the mill for $1500, so my lathe cost me minus $950.00.

Machining as a hobby is more expensive than many others, but much can be recaptured when the tools are eventually sold if the sale is conducted in a reasonable manner. It does pay to inform your wife and family of what you consider the best method of disposal if you leave them stuck with the tools.
My wife has a list of two or three auctioneers I recommend, and that is how it will go after the kids have taken their pick.

The cost will vary, but if you consider, for instance, the cost of a full set of golf clubs, membership in a country club, the funny wardrobe, greens fees, cart rentals, and all the other related expenses that are associated with collecting a handful of scorecards, broken tees and smiley golf balls, a home machine shop is really a pretty good investment.

Liger Zero
04-05-2009, 10:13 AM
Well, surprizingly it's the one thing my wife don't mind me spending money on. I told her I have enough money tied up in the shop to have kept me drunk at local area taverns where the fluzzies hang out for the past 18 years, 7 months and 3 days. She wants me to buy a new square column mill complete with DRO :D
Wife-unit joins me out here quite often, she worked machine-shop before getting a "real" job in an office. (real being her term not mine, I consider her a traitor to America and humanity and a drain on resources because she is a "manager" not a production worker like me. Shi* she's standing right behind me isnt't she?! :eek:)

:D ANYWAY Kidding aside, she's been known to fire up the lathe or mill and make things from time to time. I'm trying to get her interested in The Art Of Bending but I'm having no luck so far. She's more of a mill-driver than anything.

One thing I appreciate is her talent for finding "things" across multiple catalogs and databases. I needed a decent bench vice, Had dozen catalogs and websites open wasn't making any progress until she helped. Told her the features I wanted the price and the color and we got it sorted in an hour.

04-05-2009, 10:46 AM
I have no idea what I have spent on tools and tooling. My SB was a gift from my father, I built my CNC mill and it wasn't cheap but it was quite a bit less than an equivalent commercial product. The Swiss horizontal mill I picked up a couple of years ago cost me $300. The 16" shaper was free. I paid $200 for my like new Unimat with all accessories. The Strands drill press was a gift. I built a variety of other tools such as my bender and picket twister and they were made mainly from scrap. The recent lathe build has cost about $10 so far in out of pocket expenses although some of the materials were purchased at some time in the past. Most of it is scrap material.

I have countless small tools and hand power tools for every possible application. Currently I spend the most money on cutting tools even though I make and resharpen many of them. One of my current projects is to make spiral flute taps. First attempt is this, not usable for various reasons but it proves the concept.


04-05-2009, 11:27 AM
Prior to getting interested in machining my tools and shop gear were oriented towards working on my Jeep. So I'd guess $1000 or so for hand and air tools, $500 for the air compressor, $700 for the MIG welder and accessoried, $700 for tool boxes, and $100 for the workbench I build from lumber and a butcherblock tabletop.

Then I spent $110K for my new attached 2-story garage.

Now for machinery I spent $4300 as a package deal for a Bridgeport mill, Monarch 10EE lathe, and got a big Johnson bandsaw thrown in for free. There was a fair amount of tooling that came with the machines, so I've had to spend only about $400 so far at Enco/MSC.

Getting the machines powered required $350 for a VFD/enclosure for the mill, and $500 for an RPC for the lathe.

I've also spent $300 for cabinets and materials for an additional workbench.

At some point in the future I will install a 2-post automotive lift.

J. R. Williams
04-05-2009, 11:43 AM
The people who worry about how much money you have invested in your shop need something better to consume their time. For my part the shop and tools are priceless. How can you fix a price on the enjoyment the shop provides?


04-05-2009, 11:48 AM
Personally I've stopped adding it up after all it's a hobby and as I dont smoke got rid of the car I spend my money my way!
If you want to worry about money just think how much the car has lost over the years makes tool spending quite a cheap hobby it will certainly have a higher value than the rust bucket unless you have a really old one!


John Stevenson
04-05-2009, 11:51 AM
At the last audit I reckon I have five pounds eighteen shillings and seven pence invested in my workshop.

{Edit } Ower Gert sometimes reads this list...................................

Glenn Wegman
04-05-2009, 12:13 PM
On and on I read about all the guys who spend so much time trying to get "deals" on machines. Me, I just pay the going price, get the thing I want, and put it to work for me - learning the craft, and making stuff I sell to pay for both the tools and the learning process.
It works for me. . .

I think along similar lines.

About 30 years ago I was told that if people would expend as much energy trying to make money as they did trying to save money they wouldn't have a problem to start with!

Works for me, although, my tools are my livelyhood so time is money :)

I like a good deal too, and there are obviously exceptions to the above, but the bottom line is that I value my time.

As for the original question:

I try not to think about it!

The most depressing thing I've done in a long while was to attend an auction of a closed machine shop. Pennies on the doillar :(


04-05-2009, 12:46 PM
SWMBO has, on occaision, asked me why I have invested over $10K in tooling just to make a part that I could go and buy for $10.00. She just dont get it:D

04-05-2009, 01:42 PM
I've picked everything up cheap ..

but i know how much its insured for ..the insurance replacement value of it all is £30,000.

every year the insurance company insist i make up an inventory of its replacement value ..
what happens if i needed to use the insurance ..is anyones guess.

all the best.markj

Jim Caudill
04-05-2009, 01:51 PM
I'm guessing in the $30k range.

04-05-2009, 04:58 PM
I don't keep track of what I have invested in my shop; and, I try to not think about it. It keeps me happy. That's enough for me.

I have a rough idea, however, of what the total cost. For a while I was a part owner of a farm. Every now and then a $10,000 rent check would come my way. Seeing as how it was "found" money, I'd plow it into the shop.

Well, it's surprising how fast $10K vanishes when equipping a machine shop. Quite a few of those checks came and went before I sold my share of the farm. It all went into the shop. All the major machine tools I bought used. I can say the same for most of the precision instruments; I bought them from a retired machinist.

If I stand in the middle of my shop and look around and then ask the question "Where did it all go?" it's hard to come up with an answer. That's why I try to not think about it.


04-05-2009, 05:16 PM
Looking at how all your investments have plumeted by 50% don't you wish you spent more??? At least you would have something to show for it! Depressing isn't it?? Fred

04-05-2009, 05:22 PM
I am sure that SWMBO has a number calculated in her mind, based on what she saw in her fingers when she liquidated most of my "old" shop. The actual dollar amount spent on the "replacement" shop is actually nearly 100 times greater than her calculated number. She is now amazed when a "project" does not need "another tool", and she is usually surprized that I don't need to take truck trips to purchase materials or "bolts".

See, I have "friends" that are willing to print me out a "second" bill to distract her, while I move the "lot of stuff" into the shop. Unfortunately, I have not be able to stop the children from complaining that they are hungry and cold at night.

04-05-2009, 05:23 PM
Like the rest I do not want to know. But over the past 30 are so years I would make a good guess . it would scare the heck out of $100,000.00 . I added up the price of my tools at work one time just in my roll around tool boxes this is just measuring tools . Came to over $50,000 So with that again at home plus machines and cutting tools and attachments god only knows. but its just a hobby . And i do not hunt are fish are do anything else but ride Motorcycles. I know people that spend that much just to kill something.
One thing for sure all hobbies cost . Weather you play golf are boat are hunt and fish are what ever else. I have never seen a cheap hobby. And the bad thing is if I tried to sell it all I might with real good luck get $20,000 for it all . So save your money the line starts out side when I die.

John Stevenson
04-05-2009, 05:28 PM
I have never seen a cheap hobby.

Running a brothel is about the best one.
You have it, you sell it and you still have it.


04-05-2009, 05:52 PM
Probably so John - but having led the life of purity, chastity and innocence that I have, I will take your word for it.

I have it on good authority that the tools of trade, while not all that good looking are very durable and last a lifetime. They will stretch a yard before they will tear an inch.

I believe that there are no measurements taken in microns but they are fussy about some ball-bearing clients.

Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is the preferred way oil.

"3-in-1" oil is a prerequisite of machinations and "menage-a-trois" where odd math are used as 3 into 1 will "go".

Sometimes I do think I've "missed out" with the sheltered life I've led - I suspect my "shop" might be a lot different than it is if it were otherwise.

04-05-2009, 06:26 PM
Probably so John - but having led the life of purity, chastity and innocence that I have, I will take your word for it.

Tiffie....I'm surprised you can even spell "innocence" :D

04-05-2009, 07:35 PM
Or, to put it in advertising parlance:

1/2" diameter brass bar - - $6.00
Tools to make it smaller - - $100,000.00
The learning experience - - PRICELESS.

no **** little beaver !

04-05-2009, 07:55 PM
I started with a free craftsman 12x36 lathe I saved from the scrap-man which paid for the rest of the shop over the years...

most of my equipment has been paid for with labor and the good old barter system...

I have made some out of pocket purchases for tooling maybe $1500 and $600 for an M Head Bridgeport that came diectly out of work on that old craftsman ;) , but the majority of my stuff was something someone else believed UN-fixable and worthless.:cool:

04-05-2009, 08:36 PM
Insurance renewal documentation reared its ugly head to ask the same type question recently. Really hard to answer. From a lighter side, less than I would have spent on Cigarettes since I quit 30 years ago. Or what a boat is "a hole in the water that you throw money into"

J Tiers
04-05-2009, 08:52 PM
Frank doesn't understand "getting a deal", but he runs a business, so that is an entirely different thing.

I didn't "need" any of this stuff, so I bought it bit by bit, as it presented itself. I doubt I have the price of one asian import 12" lathe in the entire shop, including tooling and tools. And it is actually very well stocked and tooled.

For some reason, the larger things which I have "bought new" have almost never given the satisfaction and performance of the things I got used for a good price, and put some work into. I dunno why, perhaps it is because although I am actually 20 years or so too young to recall the depression, I got to "re-live" it because my parents fixed instead of tossing stuff, and grandma was the best "make it work" person I can think of.

In any case, for example, I have three drill presses, and the total investment in the three is under $350, INCLUDING a new chuck for one. One is, admittedly well-used taiwan trash, but the others are made in USA (OK, one I don't know the brand, so I can't prove it)

04-05-2009, 09:11 PM
Smartest buy for the shop was a trip to Grizzly and the nursery. Lathe and accessories $2,600.00, potted blooming plant $26.00.:cool:

Frank Ford
04-06-2009, 01:40 AM
Frank doesn't understand "getting a deal", but he runs a business, so that is an entirely different thing.

'taint all that simple. I can do the "deal" talk all day long - I've been a garage saler forever and have an abundance of stories about small and large "scores."

I do run a business (Gryphon Stringed Instruments) and it's my regular 40-hour a week job.

Machining is my hobby, but I run it as a business so I can take advantage of the tax savings - a quarter of my home expenses are then deductible because that's the proportion of the square footage I use for my shop and home office. The money my hobby generates basically pays my out of pocket expenses for whatever tooling, cameras, computers, software I want, but nothing for my time. So, as a business, it's a big fat loser. As a hobby, well, it's fun and cheap this way!

In the process of making the products I sell, I get the kind of "behind the cranks" experience on my lathe and mill that makes for solid learning and skill building.

The point is that the REAL deal is what you do with your gear. If you really use it, then the cost is relatively immaterial compared to the time you invest. (A great quote from the 1921 Gibson catalog: "Gives satisfaction long after the price is forgotten.)

When I announced to my better half that I was going to get into machining seriously, she never had the slightest objection to my spending the dough to get set up. A couple of years later she said, "Gee, I never thought you'd get so seriously into the stuff - you spend so much time in the shop, I'm really impressed."

Now, I should mention that we're 16 years into our second marriage (both of us), and things couldn't be better. Her ex had hobbies, too. The last one's name was Yolanda. . .

04-06-2009, 07:39 AM
1936 11" SB lathe - $150
1940s B&S #2 Universal mill -$200
1930s G&E 20" shaper - $175
1916 LeBlond 17" lathe - $150
second 1940s B&S #2 Universal mill -$20
1930s B&S #0 Omniversal - $400
Delta Radial Arm Drill Press - $375
UP Mill/Drill - $200
Taig Micro Lathe - $400

Tooling for the above - Priceless (ok, i have no idea on that, but well over $1000, in fact easily $2000)

so that puts me up around $4000. i'll add another $1000 for various support equipment i'm sure i am forgetting, to bring my total up to $5000. that is spread out over almost ten years, so $500 per year isn't too bad. most (well, all) of the large machines were purchased at least three years ago before scrap prices went crazy. i also live in an area were old iron shows up pretty often.

my list doesn't include things like normal drill presses or air compressors or other items i have slowly acquired over the past 20 years for general "garage use". if i included those items, along with several Craftsman toolboxes of tools, that would be another $3000 or so. those items have easily paid for themselves with vehicle repairs and other odd jobs around the house. what i used to do was price out a job (like a head gasket replacement), and if the cost at the local garage was $500, and i needed to buy $200 in tools and $100 in parts, i would do the job myself and save $200, plus get a bunch of new tools. that is how almost all of the Craftsman toolboxes got filled. happily i am now at the point that there isn't much in the way of tools i need to buy, so odd jobs just cost me money for parts. :)

i'm a pretty good scrounger and that's the main reason my wife doesn't mind me playing. if i told her i wanted to buy a new $6000 vertical mill, she would suggest i think otherwise. :) in fact, the Taig is my only machine tool i have purchased new, and i had to think long and hard on that one. micro/mini lathes in good condition don't frequently come up for sale for cheap prices, so i figured i may as well go for it.

andy b.