A commentary on tooling - my rant

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Forum topic by BillyJ posted 11-28-2009 07:22 PM 1424 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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622 posts in 2624 days

11-28-2009 07:22 PM

I can honestly say I like tools. I mean, I never met a tool that I would not want to have. Not only to use for a job, but to admire the craftsmanship, the utility of the tool, and trying to discover a way it could be improved.

I learned a long time ago that if you want a tool to last a long time, you had to take several things into consideration. First, and I believe to be the most important part, you must purchase a good quality tool. If you want a cheap tool, go to those cheap discount stores that sell Taiwanese tools. However, if you want a good tool, one that should last a long time with some common sense care, then a person should purchase a name-brand quality tool. The second part is to take care of the tool. Not that you have to baby everything, but clean up, wipe off, and not drop the tool from the top of a 3rd story job usually allows a tool to last a long time.

So much for the first part. Now I set the stage.

I was one of those guys standing in line on Black Friday. Yes, there I stood, along with about 20 guys (and two women) waiting for the Rockler doors to open at 7 AM. I was a man on a mission – only one tool to get, then pay and get out. I gave myself 5 minutes to complete everything (I missed by 2 minutes). The quest – a Bosch Barrel Grip Jig Saw w/case. It was a great deal – $99.99 for a $164 tool. And – it’s a Bosch!!!!

My rant.

Reality set in when I got home. It was built in China. Not Switzerland. China. True, it LOOKS like a Bosch and feels like a Bosch, but I have to wonder about the quality. This is not the first time that I came across a situation like this. My 4 1/2” Porter Cable Trim Saw was made in Mexico.

I am the first to admit that companies need to find ways to make profits. I don’t have a problem with that. Nonetheless, when quality tools are manufactured in countries known for less-than-stellar manufacturing abilities, I cry foul. Perhaps they still have QC in their plants, perhaps. However, based on the sloppy play I found with both tools, I have to wonder.

If they are going to manufacture these tools in 3rd world countries, with 3rd world standards; then charge 3rd world prices. Drop the prices down to Harbor Freight prices. No problem. But quit charging top dollar for tools that will last only a little bit longer than the cheap ones.

I know there are still a few quality tool manufactures left on this planet. And if I were a professional contractor who depended on my tools for a living, I would spend the money on those REAL top-of-the-line tools. But as a woodworker that does side jobs for fun and not as an income, I cannot justify purchasing a Festool saw. However, if these Bosch, Delta, and Porter Cable tools don’t stand up to my working conditions, then maybe I will bite the bullet and buy a Festool next time.

End of rant.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

13 replies so far

View SUPERDOG683's profile


36 posts in 2547 days

#1 posted 11-28-2009 08:27 PM

i try for the most part not to buy new tools.

i like older porter cable and milwakee.

i esp. like to buy them broke at flea makets and fix them cheap.
my best was milwakee right angle 1/2 inch elec. drill $15.00
brushes and a cord and i have wired 3 houses with it.,
my other is an all meatal 1/2 inch drill by thor from like 1940/1950???
that thor has drilled over a thousand rail road ties for different walls. was free
took 3 months to find the brushes cost $3.29 the cord i made my self.
i rebuilt that thor when i was 16 yr old. i am 42 now still in use. it was one of my
first power tools.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3335 days

#2 posted 11-28-2009 08:40 PM

( btw, some of the best tools were made in Taiwan before they all moved to being produced in China. )

Well, if more people like you stopped buying tools you deemed inferior, then manufacturers would be forced to address the issue of quality vs cost.

The issue is not that manufacturers need to move to China to make a profit. I once worked for a manufacturer here in NZ which still refuses to move to China and as justification, they point out that because of our advanced automation here in the ‘west’, labor cost is only 5% of the product cost. The issue is that manufacturers need to make more and more profit, so for some, reducing that 5% cost factor becomes important. This all comes down to our unsustainable economic model of perpetual growth. Companies want/need to grow year in/year out and it’s getting damn near impossible, in my opinion. Some of the tricks which have been employed for decades, if not centuries, is to rape/pillage weaker countries for resources and cheaper labor. Then it was planned obsolescence. ( If I make a product last a shorter time, then you need to buy another one sooner).

Sadly, all these tactics of cheaper labor, cheaper resources, products with shorter life span and the current economic environment in which growth is extremely difficult, seems to be coming to a head.

And there, my friend, you can turn your anger against this system into action. Don’t buy these tools!

Festool, btw, is only 1 of many quality manufacturers still remaining…but if you really think there is a gap in the market for a well built American product, it is possible to live the American dream and fill the need by going out and starting your own power tool company, which you hope will begin to attract back buyers like you, who would rather pay a little bit extra for a quality tool. Lee Valley does this with hand tools and so does Lie-Nielsen. They got into business for precisely the reasons why you think that the road to cheap tools has gone too far.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 2624 days

#3 posted 11-29-2009 02:40 AM

Superdog: Thanks for that thought. Although I purchase older major tools (an old Delta TS & panel saw), I haven’t thought about the hand tools. Good idea.

daltxguy: Some very good points. I agree with you about the planned obsolescence, which is very sad indeed. I guess I really never paid that much attention until I had to replace tools that wore out. Fortunately, there are some companies left. Guess I will need to seek those out from now on.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View Richforever's profile


750 posts in 3141 days

#4 posted 11-29-2009 02:53 AM

We are coming to the moment when companies run by selfishness rather than concern for customer needs will be going out of business. Seems like it has taken awhile, but the more they operate improperly, the bigger and faster will be their fall.

I like quality tools. So it takes me awhile to save up for them. But they serve me well and make life better.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View End_Grain's profile


95 posts in 2558 days

#5 posted 11-29-2009 09:17 AM

Sorry, I disagree. The customer is 99% responsible for the state of our products, not just WW tools. The customer drives the market. HD removed the Dewalt DW735 planer from inventory. Supposedly it was above the price break of the customer when compared to the lesser priced Rigid planer and the Dewalt wasn’t selling. Now if that happens enough times across the board, Dewalt will be forced to look at two options; stop production of the 735 or compete price wise on the unit by making manufacturing compromises in either materials, labor or manufacturing tolerances or all three.

The most laughable example of this is that I read a report that stated contractors building/bidding on the border barrier between the US and Mexico where largely using non US citizens for construction because the ‘customer’ price didn’t support the labor costs otherwise.

End of my rant also

-- My greatest fear is that when I die, my wife will sell all my stuff for what I told her I bought it for.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3581 days

#6 posted 11-29-2009 11:43 AM

it’s not the “where” it is built or “who” it is built by that is the problem. The company is to blame for the quality. They are the ones that say “this is what we want”.. they are the ones who say “this is the quality that we want”. They are the ones that say “we approve this product”.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Roger's profile


21 posts in 2566 days

#7 posted 11-29-2009 04:17 PM

My take on all this is,,,,GREED. On the part of the manufacturer. In order to make huge profits, reduce costs. How much?? As much as the buying public will bear.
In my opinion HD dropping the DW735 since the Ridgid was lower priced shows this perfectly. We can sell 10,000 units at a 20% profit margin or 2500 units at a 50% profit margin. These are ficticious numbers of course but they show my thoughts.
Therefore, in order to keep the large profits the DW735 is outsourced to whomever will satisfy the Greed of the selling company. That means, keep our 50% profit margin with whatever reductions are needed. Never, never sell any type of quality at a reasonable profit, make as much as possible.
That’s my take on this matter and only my opinion.

-- Do like you always do,,,,,Get what you always get!!

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 2624 days

#8 posted 11-29-2009 06:12 PM

Oops – opened up a hornets nest. Sorry.

I know the bottom line is profit – period. However, MsDebbieP has a good point. Having worked in the machine-tool industry in my prior life, I watched QC slip. Cutting corners, for whatever reason, seemed to be OK. Call it laziness or apathy – it all contributed to the closing of shops. This is a problem that is still around today.

It just struck me, though. All of my other Bosch tools were either made in Switzerland or the USA. This was the first time that I saw “China” on a label. I know companies off-shore in order to increase that bottom line, but at some point they need to decrease the cost to reflect their savings. $100 regular price would a good SRP for that Bosch jig saw, then lower it for sales. If I know the tool is going to fall apart after a year or two of continuous use, I don’t mind buying a cheap one if all I do is use it occasionally.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2901 days

#9 posted 11-29-2009 06:38 PM

This is interesting. I bought a Bosch barrel grip jigsaw several years ago on Ebay. It was new and its model is 1584 AVS. I paid a bit more than $99 though. I paid $130 for it. It’s made in USA. Its been a great jigsaw. I was told several times by various stores that a lot of the discounted tools, yard equipment, etc, even though its under a name brand is made just for the discount market. They said the Toro lawn equipment, John Deere tractors, etc, sold at stores like Home Depot are not the same equipment that you would buy from a Toro or JD dealer. I wonder if thats what Rockler is doing. I know my JD lawn tractor that I bought from a dealer is twice the weight as those sold at HD. If so, that might explain why the ones Rockler are selling are from China.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Blake's profile


3442 posts in 3295 days

#10 posted 11-29-2009 08:00 PM

I think End-Grain’s comment is really interesting.

As for anybody who says that its all about “GREED” for these companies… guess what: these companies (all companies) are only in business to make a profit. Thats the whole point. There’s no secret about that. They are here to make money, as much money as they can, literally at the expense of the consumer. From day one. The only reason a company makes a good quality or poor quality product—past, present or future—is because thats what they think will sell and make them the most amount of money.

And you will always get what you pay for. The only reason that Bosch was so cheap is because it was made in China. At that price, its the only place they can manufacture it and still make money.

Consumers often think that the manufacturer “owes it to them” to make a good product. They don’t “owe” you anything. Its ridiculous because you are voting with your wallet for cheaper tools. You can’t seriously think they owe you a top quality product at a bottom of the barrel price? It doesn’t make sense.

By the way, I rarely buy new tools. About 90% of my tool purchases are used tools. The old tools are better, because at the time consumers ‘voted with their wallets’ for higher quality tools. They were considered an investment. The other 10% that I buy are good quality tools that I have done a considerable amount of research on. I can’t afford to buy cheep tools.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Ger21's profile


1047 posts in 2552 days

#11 posted 11-29-2009 08:33 PM

I’ve owned a Bosch Jigsaw for almost 15 years. It was the same price then as it is today, about $165. If they didn’t make them in China, they’d probably have to charge about $250 for them. How many would they sell at that price?

-- Gerry,

View ChuckV's profile


2872 posts in 2948 days

#12 posted 11-29-2009 11:33 PM

My thoughts are related to Wayne’s comments about lower-quality discount versions of name brands. I guess that this phenomenon is pretty well known, so we should not be surprised that we are not really getting a Brand X, but it just seems a bit deceptive to me and tarnishes the true Brand X. I remember the problems I had trying to get a part for a “Delta” faucet that I bought at HD.

I respect a company that makes the distinction clear. General has done a great job of this with the two branches as described here.

-- “And the products of wealth push you along on the bow wave of their spiritless undying selves.” ― I. Anderson

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3335 days

#13 posted 11-30-2009 09:36 AM

General, btw, is one of the manufacturers which still manufacture in Canada and I would say, still produces high quality equipment. I am a bit biased because Drummondville, Quebec, the location of their HQ and manufacturing is my original hometown, but I grew up using their equipment and it still looks and is built today as it was then.

While we are on the topic of quality manufacturers, I’ll throw some more names out there of the ones I still respect. Japanese made Hitachi and Makita (though beware because I think some Makita is now made in China too), German made Fein, Hilti and Festool.

And just to add to the previous conversation, consumers make up ~60% of the economy of the USA, therefore what people buy has everything to do with what manufacturers produce and sell. Vote with your $$. It’s incredibly powerful!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

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