I also build furniture as a pasttime, for many of the same reasons. One thing I've learned from woodworking is the benefit of using the best tools you can afford. Good tools won't make you a good woodworker (or cook), but bad tools make it difficult to reach your full potential.
With that notion in mind I'm looking to upgrade some of my cookware. Most of my current cookware is Calphalon nonstick "Commercial" or "Professional" that we received for our wedding in 1996. In addition I have 3qt and 8qt Staub enamel/iron dutch ovens, a 10" cast iron frypan, and a few of cheap stainless steel stockpots. My cooktop is 4-burner gas Jenn-Air with the 4 burners rated at 6500, 9100, 10500, 12000 BTUs respectively.
I have no major complaints with the Calphalon nonstick other than it's not the ideal cooking surface for everything. For the time being I plan to purchase 1 or 2 clad frypans and perhaps a sauce pan and saute pan or 2. I've read through a number of great posts on the "which cookware" question and I plan to go with 1 of 3 options: Cuisinart Multiply Pro, All-Clad, or Vollrath Tribute.
I'm leaning strongly towards the Vollrath. It looks like the Cuisinart is at least 1/2 the cost of the All-clad (even less in some cases), and the Vollrath is perhaps 20 or 30% less than All-clad. I'm guessing the Cuisinart performance is a little bit less than the All-clad, but not enough to justify the price difference. On the other hand, my guess is that the Vollrath is at least as good as the All-clad if not better, and certainly a better value at the price. And while the Vollrath is more expensive than the Cuisinart, I think the premium better reflects the true performance difference, plus the "made-in-USA" factor for the Vollrath is worth a bit more to me also. These aren't display pieces, so pretty & shiny aren't important considerations.
Am I missing anything here? Do I need to provide any additional backround info? Have I misread the relative quality / performance of the 3 different lines I'm considering? I look forward to reading your replies!