POLL: How to approach my DH about his collection of tools, machinery, and electronics...?

Should I....

  • Definitely talk to him; he needs an intervention!

    Votes: 8 17.0%
  • Casually point out that he has no more room in his workshop...

    Votes: 17 36.2%
  • Don't say anything at all; poor guy works hard and these "hobbies" are good for his mental heath!l

    Votes: 15 31.9%
  • Some combination of the above... please explain!

    Votes: 4 8.5%
  • Other! (Because you *always* have to have an Other).

    Votes: 3 6.4%

  • Total voters


I’m just somebody that you used to know…
Mar 7, 2001
I'd like to start by saying that my DH is a hard worker, especially now that his company has moved to a new location and he went from a 20-minute commute, one way, to an hour commute one way.

His hobbies are electronics, machinery (CNC machine or something?), he also has some very large equipment in his work shop in our basement. The largest one stands about 6' tall and unfolds all of its parts to a footprint of about 5' X 6'.

So... he also has storage bins.... lots of them... and shelving.... FILLED with "parts". He's fairly organized and can find what he's looking for within a half hour.

Over the years he has spent thousands and thousands of dollars on all of this. This part doesn't really bother me; we can afford it.

Oh I just remembered! He recently bought a 3D printer which is pretty cool. He made a 3D cat, a 3D dog... and that's it, so far. :rolleyes1

My problem or concern is that he's been buying and buying, and saying "I need to get this item because it goes with that other item that I bought last year, and without this item, I can't use the original piece of equipment".

He has filled his rather large work shop, and even has his shelves full of "stuff" in the laundry room, and in his home office.

At this point, he has basically run out of room to actually operate most of the machinery. The one called a Bridgeport, that one alone is huge and takes up a lot of space.

As for his regular tools such as air compressor, hand tools, drills, saws, nail gun, etc, those all have been used by us on projects at our house, as well as projects on our daughter's house, so I'm not including those for the sake of this post.

Bottom line: How should I approach him to tell or ask him to please stop buying more things when the things that he already has don't fit into our workshop. We don't have a garage, so it's only the basement workshop that can hold these things. (I told him and he agreed, years and years ago, no tools will ever be left in the rest of the house. I keep a very clean and tidy house, where things are all put away, no piles of stuff (I hate that!), etc.

He agrees with my "a place for everything, and everything in its place" philosophy, but he's literally all out of room for what he already has, and I just know that he's going to need "this item to go with that item, then I can use this machine to make this or that.....".

Thank you, if you're still reading!!! :laughing: :surfweb:

I would love to hear any opinions on this! Thanks in advance! :disrocks:
Can you guys get together one weekend and go through everything? Then he can see what all he has, what duplicates he has, and you get the area cleaned up bit. Then he can decide what he wants and what he wants to get rid of. If he has duplicates he might be able to return for store credit or resell for a decent price. That could help with his habit.
My husband has thousands of dollars of woodworking tools and wood.
HE has a two car garage for this shop.
as long as it doesn't overflow into the house, I'm fine with it.
I spend money on what I want, so he can too

I can relate to this, as I too have some tools like that and a 3D printer...and an upcoming 3D printing company :)

There's various ways to go about things. Sometimes, certain things may be better to order from somewhere else if it requires a big machine and isn't used very often. Or re-organizing the space and deciding which projects are done most often and which tools may be better to reside somewhere else. Maybe he has a friend with a garage who could use some of the tools and he can visit and use it there?
I'm in the camp of my dh works hard and he gets to buy whatever he wants whenever he wants.
However if there is no room to store all the stuff he buys I think it's ok to step in with an intervention LOL
Maybe propose a whole house clean-out- even rent a roll off dumpster and clean your house from basement to attic to garage. Or even better have a garage sale!

I mean, there's no real harm, right? It's not a bad idea to suggest he clean some stuff out, just for the sake of space, but as long as it's not impacting you financially or anything, it's probably not worth making a "thing" over it.
Exactly this. If you don’t feel like it’s an unhealthy compulsion and he just likes to collect things I’d just let it be. If it’s starting to invade places it shouldn’t be I’d point out we had a deal that it wouldn’t be coming into the house. Otherwise I’d just leave him to what sounds like his harmless hobby.
Well, while I would like to say let him do what he wants, the issue I want to raise is, what happens to this stuff when he is no longer around?
Have you discussed this? Sounds like you have a lot of money tied up in something you or someone in your family would need to deal with.

I bring up this because 3 years ago my neighbor passed away unexpectedly. . He worked from his home making bows for string instruments. He had a large inventory of "blanks" (wood to be made into bows), some of it exotic, endangered rain forest wood that he had to have a special permit to import into the U.S.. He once told me he had accumulated $50,000 of these blanks over 40 years in business. He also had ivory, which needed documentation to show it was legally imported, and I believe has restrictions on resale even if it was legally imported. The gold and silver he used for ornamentation was much easier for his widow to sell.
She found an auction house that would take all the wood, pick it up, and auction it off but that took a year. I'm not sure if she has found a way to sell the ivory yet.
A whole lot of money tied up in things that were not easy to sell, and he kept taking equity out of his house to run his business, so after 35 years in the house, they owned $150,000 still on a house they paid $76,000 for.
I know my wife and I have discussed what to do with my hobby, my collector car, if something happens to me (assuming neither of our kids wants it).
What TVGuy said :)

My DH56 owns TONS of "guy stuff", collected over the years, and "precious" to him. Everything has a memory, and I think some of it helps him feel young again ;). I feel that as long as it's not taking away from "bill money", since he works hard, oh well. *However*, if he were to die before me (and I hope he does, haha), I refuse to be "stuck" not knowing what to do with all of it. There is an auction house that specializes in his specific interests the next state over, and he understands (although doesn't really like) that a large part of the collection would go there. What we HAVE been doing, to be proactive, is having me video him holding and talking about each item, recording its specific details in a spreadsheet, etc. Hopefully that way I won't get ripped off if and when the time comes. Even so, I know that nothing will bring the kind of money in resale that he paid in original purchase.

If your DH is like mine, and is good about keeping it corralled in the basement, just close that door, physically and mentally, and let him do what he wants. Better for the marriage :).

Has he thought, also, about what will/might happen if and or when you decide to downsize/retire/don't live somewhere with a huge basement? We are planning on moving to be closer to DS within the next few years, and it's going to be a real "Come to Jesus meeting" for my DH. Right now he has a 1000 sq ft basement, two car garage, and various outbuildings full of "stuff", and most will not be able to go with us. Not my worry, but not going to be pretty!

I think it's hard, too, if you're *not" a collector, married to a collector. I'm busy getting rid of stuff in anticipation of the move, but for everything I take out, I know there's more coming in (to the basement), so I completely get it.

you might approach it with him as a need to inventory everything for insurance purposes. offer to help set up a spreadsheet system so that in the event of a fire or theft an immediate inventory could be accessed. he may find out by going through the mass collection, depending on it's value that you need to up your coverage (and you both will have to decide if it's worth it to pay more out in premiums for items which sound largely unused).

you could offer to sit, laptop by your side and start entering items. he may be VERY shocked to find out how many duplicates of items he has until he's faced with the raw data. going through items one at a time may also create an opportunity for him to organize identical items (so he stops duplicate purchases) and weed out those he no longer wants/needs.

i've got an ocd'ish sib whose is VERY organized but even he was shocked at how much machinery stuff he had amassed over the years until he decided to start downsizing and clearing stuff out. it doesn't look like near as much as it is when it's neatly stacked in hundreds of bins, boxes and cases.
It seems like at some point soon he should realize on his own he is out of space, and he will either decide to rearrange, get rid of some things, stop buying, or he will start to move things into other parts of the house.

I think it's when (or if) things move into other parts of the house (that he already agreed not to do) that you would bring it up.
I’d be concerned if he was running up credit card bills and not paying them off. Is he going over budget with his expenses that you are unable to save or pay other important bills?
My Father was a little like your husband. He built a racing car as a hobby and then a traction engine etc, he set up a room so that he could develop his own photographs and could really turn his hand to anything. He had workshops filled with lathes, specialist machinery and tools, huge and small. He was born in 1922 so of the generation that wasted nothing so nothing was ever thrown away and if he ran out of space he built another outbuilding. He was a civil engineer by trade but often spent his weekends making parts for broken old tractors of local farmer friends who paid him in whatever crops etc they grew. When he died seven years ago, there were twelve functioning workshops full of machinary, plus four sheds full of 'junk' , although he knew exactly what was where and how to find it. For over a year, I left it. I couldn't bear to look inside because the smell of the machinery reminded me so much of him. Eventually, I gave it all away. I could have sold it but I wanted it to go to people who would love these old machines as much as he did.
Anyway, I think the insurance list is a good way to go. Also, I think these tools gave him something to live for, a way to fill his days after my Mother died.
I want to know how he got all that stuff down into the basement! lol I'm guessing he needed a lot of help?
My problem or concern is that he's been buying and buying, and saying "I need to get this item because it goes with that other item that I bought last year, and without this item, I can't use the original piece of equipment".

So, how is this a concern? Is this becoming a financial burden? Is that the problem? If so, say that.
Ok as a guy who has lots of tools myself, i will say that if he fixes stuff around the house them maybe most of the stuff is needed. You would be surprised at the stuff you need to fix something correctly. The savings from that will surly make up for the ofset of the procurement of the tool itself. If its a hoarding issue, then thats diffrent. But you say he does use most of the stuff. The other stuff maybe hobby related. If it makes him happy and really only effects the basement, who cares.
I would say just leave it alone! If it's bad enough for him to need intervention, only he can make that choice. It would be much different if you could not afford it, but facing him with this again (I'm sure you've said stuff before this) will probably not be any help. It sounds like a hobby that's gotten out of hand, but it's not something you, yourself will able to 'fix'. As long as it's contained in 'his' space just try to ignore it. Good luck!


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