Buying Tools

Yesterday was a day of talking to folks, sorting out filming stuff, and working some more with some new tools I’m going to film. That’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, heh heh.

I know I have written this before, but it bears repeating:
When I got into this tool testing and reviewing thing, one of the opinions I had was that all the products were made in the same factory. I mean, they all look alike, and unfortunately almost all the equipment and tools are made in China, Taiwan and now India.

In this economic climate we could certainly get into a big debate over the issues that creates, but that’s not an issue I want to even think about getting into.

Having talked to alot of different manufacturers, the thing I found out was that there is a big difference, and the difference lies in the specifications, or better put, the tolerences the different companies specify, and in many cases it’s the company’s own specific design.

That’s why you see so many products that look alike, but what I have found is that there are big differences.

Stuff like runout and table flatness on the table saws, as well as size and specs on trunions, jointers, bed flatness, true helical byrd heads or knockoffs. Spray guns, needles being stainless instead of steel, needle seats being brass instead of steel, polished air/fluid ports, nylon or stainless cups instead of aluminum. Cutting tools and bits, carbide hardness or steel hardness… the list is endless.

All of these seemingly unimportant details are major differences in how a product performs. It’s like stains. Stains are basically “dirt” mixed in a transfer medium that allows it to stick to the wood. The big difference is in the quality of the “dirt” (pigments). It’s like the old cliche of “Good fresh oats, or oats that’s been through the horse once”.

And alot of expensive, pretty, polished-up tools don’t perform or hold up any better, and often not as well, but they have those “bragging rights”.

All I’m telling you is that you may see a product from one company and see what looks the same from another, but there can be big differences in performance, and usually alot cheaper for a reason.

What happens is that the products that do not meet the specifications of a higher-end company simply pass on down to the less particular ones, and so it goes.

I will also tell you that alot of the higher end guys have programs where the off-shore manufacturers must buy back any returns, and have their own staff people on site inspecting the products. And well some, they take the leftovers, and you get a deal (well, maybe).

Just thought you would like to know how it works. I will also tell you that alot of the higher end guys require each and every machine to be ran and tested, that’s why you may find wood chips in your new machine.

Well, it’s back to the shop and the stepback, got alot to do.

Later ya’ll,

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7 Responses to Buying Tools

  1. Denis Rezendes says:

    thats very true. like on the dewalt planers they say dont be alarmed if you find wood chips because every machine is tested before leaving the factory

  2. Monte West says:

    It”s me again.
    After that sermon, Truer words have not ever been spoken. I learned at a early age, that quality tools and products hold up under the real day to day pressure. I have waited a extra week or month so I could get the quality tool or product I wanted for a project and it has always paid off.
    I am still looking for you to show the hidden compartments on the desk to us. Please don’t HA, HA on this one.

  3. I promise I will show you monte, and just so you know i never ha ha , I always he he …he he

  4. Charles is right you get what you pay for most of the time. Having a small shop and not having the opportunity to tool test myself I trust magazines and real experts like Charles to give information plus and minus on tools and equipment. One instance were I kept reading top reviews on a group of band saws with there special cooling blocks and great power in my three favorite magazines I stepped up and paid the $3800 plus shipping cost for this band saw plus shipping plus a $250 Re-saw blade plus $250 for the special fence. After more than a year of use I feel I should have saved the extra $ 1800 and bought a band saw from one of Charles sponsors.. Yes the power is there but the customer service is only fair on it’s best day and the finish and engineering is far better on a company that has been selling taiwanese products for a number of years. So be very grateful for Charles reviews it will get you a better product and who knows even save you some money.


  5. Captjack says:

    I just purchased a Sawstop based on Charles video. Haven’t received it yet, so I can’t comment.
    On the subject of buying quality, my father always told me to buy the best you can, and you’ll only cry once.

  6. Thomas J. Tieffenbacher says:

    A couple of thoughts on Chinese tools. Many American Companies are having their products build according to international guidelines. Quality control is available and if you are interested in quality it’s provided. I am a guy who says “Buy the best you can afford to buy”. How many times are you going to use the tool? Charles has commented that he has a trash heap of cheap tools.
    What I was thinking about, is we’ve become consumers and not builders. Even when I am doing woodwork, I have purchased a tool from China. being a poor guy, I feel justified, because it allows me to do the job. Just realizing it’s not the rich guys, it’s the poor guys too. Where’s the balance?

  7. The balance Tom is in what is cheap, there is a big difference in cheap and inexpensive, when it comes to constant use things , like table saws, jointers etc, going for the best you can afford is the answer, in say a router bit for one use ..go for the lesser, but again its one of those things , buy a 19.95 spray gun and it doesnt work, your out, your better to buy a 39.00 one that does…I am NOT a proponet of super expensive tools…I find they are not better than the “Average tool”, but cater more to the glitz and glamor…by the same token , the bottom feeding crowd is all goes back to the fresh oats thing…what I really try to bring to the table is what I know works and I personally have…I have 150.00 saw blades for example that arent any better than a 39.00 one, but i got a few 12.00 ones also…let me rephrase ..I had some 12.00 ones..but it is a hard balance…its simple , you cant afford to buy cheap tools, the difference is knowing what cheap is

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