Should the owner of a custom woodworking business be responsible for supplying personal hand tools such as drill/drivers, batteries for such, measuring tapes, squares, and or routers?
We maintain a very large selection of tooling such as router bits, band saw blades, saw blades and all durables like screws, nails and sand paper. In addition we have a large selection of hand tools and power tools for common use.
I feel responsible woodworkers should supply their own personal hand tools that would include the above mentioned, drill/drivers, routers, measuring and layout devices as well as chisels and others. In most other trades such as auto mechanics, framers, plumbers and so on, the worker must have a set of tools. I also feel most individuals will treat the tools better if they have to supply them. We would offer secure areas in the shop for each employee to store their tools. We could even offer some sort of payroll deduction purchase plan if needed to assist with the initial outlay of cash to tool up.
I would like some feedback on what owners and employees feel about this issue. Thank you very much in advance, all feedback will be welcomed and valuable.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor R:
Yes to things like drills, batteries, routers. No to things like tape measures, square, chisels, hammers, screwdrivers, etc. The powertools wear out fast and expecting the employee to buy themselves a new router after burning it out or having someone else break it while working in the shop I don't think it would be right.
Figure out where you would want to have tools based on where you need them and how you would want them stored then do that. A blue shadow board with a blue hammer on one side of the bench with a red shadow board and red hammer on the other will keep you from hiking unnecessarily and make it real easy to know where to go when you need something.
Standardization is the key for custom shops. There are already so many things working against you that you ought to take advantage of opportunities when you can. This one represents pretty low hanging fruit.
Employees operating heavy equipment (saws, shapers, CNCís, presses, etc.) should at least provide an apron, hammer, nailset and pliers. The company should also provide to those that need them supply boxes which contains screws, nails, glues, clamps, air compressors and nail guns, drills, routers. It all depends upon your job description.
To maintain control of this you must set up at 'tool list' that employees are required to purchase and maintain by a certain date. To help with this you can also work out a company tool purchase system wherein the company purchases tools from the list for the employee and is paid back in installments be they physical payments or payroll deductions.
The idea behind making the employee responsible for tools is to increase awareness and personal responsibility. Someone will care for something a lot more if they have to pay for it.
On the other hand if youíre just knocking out the same product day in and out, then I agree with Contributor T that it's easier to have the tools needed for a given operation at that station ready to go.
So you need to make this decision based on your production needs and then put it into place. The key is that it has to be something in writing that a potential employee knows about before hiring. If youíre thinking about just requiring your current employees to start buying tools, well that's a whole different thread.
If you have an installer on your payroll you should provide tools also. Will an experienced installer have his own tools - perhaps. Again it shows commitment to his trade. If he is not on your payroll he should have everything including a license, insurance and trailer. I do feel that when you assign an employee a set of tools that they should be responsible for their care and maintenance.
I furthermore think that allowing employees to carry bags/tool boxes in and out of my shop would tempt some of them to take some tools out. Not so much the core crew, but the new employees that float in and out of jobs. Like I said, it is an inconsequential point. I realize it may be different in your situation.
I like to sharpen my own tools and what are the chances the last person to use it would touch it up after use . Drills are different, as well as sanders because they don't require the same amount of upkeep as planes and chisels. Even hammers are kind of personal. I don't like to go to use my finishing hammer to find the face all dented because someone used it to flatten a piece of metal. I went to use the block plane in the shop one day to find that someone had sharpened it on the belt sander. I supply all the tools but the journeymen I employ all still use their own tools.
A residential contractor friend of mine is moving toward giving his employees a list of tools to buy and a check to purchase them. The employee gets to keep the tools if they stay with the company. His idea is that the worker will take care of the tool better if he owns it. The contractor also gets to ensure the quality of the tools and that his crew is fully outfitted for the job.