One inescapable fact. Good, complicated software tools are seldom cheap. Same applies to quality machine tools. Good and cheap do not ride the same bus. This leaves the amateur and the hobbyist in a tough position. But only when expendable cash is limited and there is no return on investment available.

Professionals can (and do) purchase expensive tools of their profession or trade as it permits them to recover the cost as part of doing business. High cost for quality and features gets the job done faster and better.

I know good tools make any job more enjoyable. Some cheap tools can be so inferior or limiting to personable ability, frustration far exceeds enjoyment.

I like using the best tools I can and also cannot afford. An affluent hobbyist doesn’t consider cost. I am not exactly one of those folks. So, I scheme and dream about what tools I would like to have and what I could do. Then I pop back to reality and start looking at what I can actually do… Ha!

I my reality, there are limits. I know far more enjoyable projects and opportunities exist within my personal boundaries than I could ever hope to accomplish in my lifetime.

The rule is to do the best with what is actually available or obtainable. 

Pushing limits is not a crime. I can dream about the unobtainable at no cost to me but time. I make a few of those dreams come true when I can, but most are resigned to reality and are never designated a “need”.

Recently I have examined the several CAD (computer design software) tools I presently own. The creators of these tools have beginner packages. But my use of them far exceed what is offered for the starting amateur. I have purchased the professional grade versions. 

But the ownership for professional quality and features is not a one-time cost. Software makers want continuing income from a limited market. Updates are free (usually) but upGRADES are additional cost.

I must decide the software I keep up to date and the ones that work fine where they are.  I find in most “new features” they are of no value to the work I do. Upgrade is NOT needed.

Hardware machine and hand tools almost never need an “upgrade”. True, they can sometimes be improved. When I started buying my machine tools, I bought the cheapest. But every one of them needed to be torn apart and rebuilt to perform decently.  Later, investment in higher cost quality tools proved their value with excellent out of the box operation. The truth is, “You get what you pay.”

A retired hobbyist knows one thing very well. Spend wisely.