Ponderings #20: The Problem with B&D Firestorm Stuff

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Blog entry by Tomcat1066 posted 11-20-2008 08:25 PM 1421 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: Where to start back Part 20 of Ponderings series Part 21: Grand Plans and Harsh Reality »

I’m shopping on the ‘net earlier today and found myself at the BORGs’ sites. I’m in the market for a new jig saw and a router (yeah…need a few tailed apprentices to make woodworking a bit more enjoyable for the time being). One of the saws was the Black & Decker jig saw. At about $60 less than the Dewalt or Bosch I was looking at, it had all the same features or a few more.

Here’s the problem. None of the specs actually tells you how it works in the grand scheme of things. For example, I have two other Firestorm tools. My compound miter saw is Firestorm as is my circular saw. The circular saw had some issues ripping a 2×12. The miter saw has given me no problems. at all, but it’s only been on one project, a couple of raised garden beds for my Mom.

According to the specs, these tools should be able to do anything the more expensive ones do. However, is that really the case? The thing is, since I need a router also as well as knowing I’ll need a new circular saw down the road, it’s really hard to pass these up. Granted, it’s easier now that I know the circular saw can’t handle rips like I’d prefer (though I’m debating about picking up a good rip blade and see if that makes a difference), but it’s still there.

So, I’m now trying to figure out which tools I’ll need for my next project and make sure I’ve got what I need for it. I figure that rather than buy up everything I’ll need now (handheld power tool wise), I’ll get the minimum for this next project, then purchase what new items I’ll need for the next one.

Now…to figure out what’s next…

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

10 comments so far

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4017 days

#1 posted 11-20-2008 08:57 PM

Get the Bosch and cry once. Cheap jigsaws are unable to keep the blade tracking properly, and have a tendency to stall/bind in all but the thinnest of materials, it will also vibrate a ton and produce jagged cuts (the bosch has a zero clearance insert). I used to have a cheapo jigsaw but honestly it’s night and day.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3988 days

#2 posted 11-20-2008 08:58 PM

I think everyone will agree that you get what you pay for. That said, I have had no luck with B and D or any of the lower priced(I started to say,”cheap”) power tools. If you are just going to piddle around occasionally, they might get you by. If you want acurracy and longevity, buy the best. I’ve had good luck with DeWalt, PC, Bosche, Milwaulkie and Makita. The first set of power tools I bought, were B and D and Sears. Most didn’t last a year. I have a 12 inch DeWalt Miter saw that is 7 years old and still cuts to the center of a pencil line. I have a Makita 3 1/4 horse plunge router that is 17 years old and sound as a dollar(well, maybe better than that). I have a 12 year old PC jig saw that has outlasted several cheap ones. I think I’ve made my point, Good Luck. There are lots of reviews on tools here on the site. I seldom believe what I read in magazines. I understand that they are dependent on advertiseing. However, many times FWW and PW will give some good reviews. I usually trust them on what they call best buys and best values.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3822 days

#3 posted 11-20-2008 09:10 PM

Damian: Thanks for the recommendation. The Bosch, IIRC, was a bit cheaper than the Dewalt, the difference was less than $1, so I was on the fence between the two.

Thos: I hear ya. My miter saw has seen such limited use that I doubt I’ve seen the downsides of it yet. It would just be so much easier if they didn’t load up on features that look really good when comparing the different saws.

Of course, I’ve never really used a good quality jig saw so I have no clue what one will do. However, I’ve already got a cheap POS jig saw and the it actually made cuts at 45 degrees! That would have been awesome if I hadn’t had the saw set up for a 90 degree cut ;). There’s no reason to waste more money on cheap, I agree. It’s just so HARD!!!! ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3848 days

#4 posted 11-20-2008 09:16 PM

I have to agree with both Thomas and Damian. A friend of mine, who is a pro, once advised me early on when I was just getting into woodworking to buy the most tool I could afford. Usually I have followed this advice but have bought one because it was cheaper. These inevitably lead me to “cry” about the purchase whenever I used the tool.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3822 days

#5 posted 11-20-2008 09:21 PM

Actually, a ratings set-up exactly like Amazon’s would be perfect. Then, the lack of stars would make it easier to pass up the “inexpensive” tool!

Honestly guys, I do hear you all. I’m just complaining that it would be easier if these says didn’t look so competitive side by side when comparing the specs online. That would make it SOOOOO much easier, you know?

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3746 days

#6 posted 11-20-2008 11:56 PM

Patience, that’s the name of the game. I save to buy the good tool. Exibit some patience and save to buy the next good one.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View kansas's profile


165 posts in 3727 days

#7 posted 11-21-2008 02:08 AM

Don’t forget about used tools. I have bought nearly everything used. Any this allows me to do what—-buy more tools! Some manufacturer’s offer reconditioned tools on their websites.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4126 days

#8 posted 11-21-2008 03:06 AM

The context in which I buy tools is as a professional. I know guys that buy FireStorm, Ryobi, or Harbor Freight and they never last. They are cheaper because they are – well, cheaper. Something on the inside is definitely different.

I have very few problems because I pay up front for quality tools. Many of those tools are like old friends that have been with me since the beginning of my business from 11 years ago and used daily as a pro. Those tools have paid for themselves over and over.

I do believe that you get what you pay for.

The more expensive jigsaws in particular, are worth the money. They give an awesome result when cutting.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View roundabout22's profile


94 posts in 4112 days

#9 posted 11-21-2008 07:15 AM

My sister-in-law asked me to build a samll play table for her preschool. I didn’t have a jigsaw and had the same thought. “I just need a jigsaw for this job, and then I’ll uprade later.” Since I don’t use a jigsaw regularly I hadn’t upgraded. My wife got me a grizzly saw for Christmas last year. While it wasn’t/isn’t the Bosch I wanted I can’t believe the difference it and my black and decker I got a few years earlier. I can only imagine how much better it would be with those other saws. Go with something better than the B&D. You’ll definately be happier with the purchase in the long run.

-- remember always measure once and cut twice

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3822 days

#10 posted 11-21-2008 01:28 PM

Thanks folks. I needed to be reminded that it’s plenty better. I’m not 100% sure when I’ll get the jig saw, but I know I’ll need to replace my circular saw, and have my eye on a Porter Cable that was priced reasonably online ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

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