I use my Systems Engineering skills to pay for the use of my woodworking skills. I’ve worked in the information technology field about 20 years. My career transition was from being self employed as a general contractor where I did a lot of custom woodworking, cabinet making and furniture building, along with typical carpentry and building activities. Basically my hobby became my job and my job became my hobby.
At 54 years old I finally built myself a decent shop and began working more with hand tools and less with power equipment. I’m by no means a purest and still love my shaper, but sometime the quietness of a hand plane is soothing enough to not want to turn the planer on. I like the Quiet and Solitude that comes with working with the handtools.
That said I’ve also always liked to restore things. Almost anything from old Victorian homes to screwdrivers. My shop is full of tools I have restored. My grizzly cabinet saw was $200 and a few days of sweat Equity. I recently restored a Walker Turner 16″ bandsaw I bought for $100. I have restored well over 300 handplanes of all types. My planer is a restored Craftsman (Belsaw) planer.
The list goes on and on, but I couldn’t have afforded the quality and quantity of tools buying new. I understand restoration isn’t for everyone, but it sure is a fun way to get what you want if you enjoy it like I do.
I’ll still never part with my table saw or bandsaws. I don’t turn my jointer on a lot (restored delta), and i could probably be convinced to live without my planer, but I also have a sawmill, so I use rough sawn almost exclusively. I like the mix and every hour in my shop is a decision, hand or power.