Does buying the most expensive tool insure you have the best tool?

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Forum topic by a1Jim posted 03-04-2010 07:16 AM 3933 views 0 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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117273 posts in 3750 days

03-04-2010 07:16 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Earlier this week in a post I asked why someone would buy a random orbital sander that cost 3 times what other good brand name ROS cost. The person I asked this question said that they didn’t want to buy a sander that was unsatisfactory one and then still having to purchase the most expensive brand (supposedly superior sander) any how, thus wasting the cost of their original purchase. My original thought was that this person must have a lot more disposable income than I do. I then Thought about it and realized I own 4 Ros each rated vary well in different reviews. After adding up their total purchase price I realized they still cost less than the sander I asked about. I like them all but for different reasons. So who’s right the person who buys the most expensive sander or someone who tries different models out to see what they like?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

51 replies so far

View dmoore's profile


177 posts in 3487 days

#1 posted 03-04-2010 07:27 AM

Hi Jim
Great topic! I went through this about 6 months ago and it was tuff. My health condition would not allow me to use the Ryobi I had and liked by the way. I was unable to hold it for long periods and it just tired my arm. So I gave several a try and was loking for the one that would fatigue me the least. That all aside I ended up with the porter cable low profile sander and it was tooo expensive in my opinion but allowed me to continue sanding without regret. So I guess it was a good purchase. Looks are not always as they seem. My quality did not imrove but I did.


-- Duane, Ohio

View jack1's profile


2113 posts in 4201 days

#2 posted 03-04-2010 07:35 AM

Good topic. I don’t have a problem with spending good money for a great tool but, there are a couple of brands available that just can’t be as good as they cost… I can afford them but don’t see that there is that much of a quality difference to justify the extra cost. Then again, buying 3 or 4 tools until you get the one you like is not exactly thrifty either. I confess to reading the wood magazine comparisons and going from there. It’s too bad there isn’t a place to go to do your own testing.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View WayneC's profile


13776 posts in 4271 days

#3 posted 03-04-2010 07:39 AM

I’m not sure if there is a right or wrong, perhaps some different choices in selection.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dyidawg's profile


51 posts in 3186 days

#4 posted 03-04-2010 07:58 AM

Wow! I want to find tools that work for me. I don’t want to invest a lot of money at this point but I don’t want to waste money either. So, I read reviews and to friends who have some of the tools. Sometimes I can borrow the tools and get some experience with them. Since I do this solely for my own pleasure I prefer to be as practical as possible.

At one point I was thinking I should try to form a tool co-opt where we could pool a variety of tools that people could borrow and try to contain some costs. In the end I’m becoming attached to the tools I have bought and not fond of lending out tools unless I know the other person will take care of them

-- Wow, that was easy. Just follow the directions and use some common sense.

View RedShirt013's profile


219 posts in 3835 days

#5 posted 03-04-2010 08:04 AM

No, but buying the most expensive tool does ensure that the buyer feel they got the best tool, even though it may not be. And if the owner is happy and felt they got their money’s worth, that all that really matters right?

-- Ed

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3364 days

#6 posted 03-04-2010 08:05 AM


The person that is right is the person that compares based on the
experiences of others. If a shinny new tool comes out…wait a year
or two, it’s reputation will follow.

Gotta have it now, well you didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, you
know the risk.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3539 days

#7 posted 03-04-2010 08:13 AM

I’m with Wayne. I don’t think that one person or the other is “right”, in general. Each person could be right based on there price point, their opinions, their needs, etc. And, what may be right for a person today may not be right for them next week. I have tools now that I bought because they were right for me at the time. They gave me the functionality for a price I could afford. Now that I have had a chance to use them and find what I don’t like about them, I’m looking to replace them.

The tool market, like most others, is diverse and supports many companies and many options. If there was only one “right” tool manufacture, we would not have the choices that we do now. The companies that were not “right” would not survive.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View a1Jim's profile


117273 posts in 3750 days

#8 posted 03-04-2010 08:21 AM

I Think you hit the key issues Ed. It’s not what is the best tool or the the cheapest it’s whether we believe we are getting what we are searching for in a tool ,either the best tool by spending big money or the best because we have bought the same brand and know it’s going to do well in other types of tools, or we are buying because we feel a certain tool is the best bargain. It’s all what we believe not what’s factual.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View LeeG's profile


40 posts in 3194 days

#9 posted 03-04-2010 08:33 AM

I don’t look at it as most or least expensive, but rather as in long-term value. I value my time. Things don’t break when you aren’t using them – they break when you need them. So when they break, it not only costs money, it costs time.

I used to work for a guy who had a tile setting business. He used $50 drills from Sears to mix his grout. About every 3 weeks, he’d burn one out. This caused him all sorts of problems. One day I brought in my Milwaukee Hole Hawg and let him try it. He said there was no way he was paying $300+ for a drill. After 3 weeks, he bought it. I ran into him 3 or 4 years later, and he was still using that same drill – pretty good value.

This doesn’t mean I get the most expensive of everything (although my wife seems to think this is the case). When I was looking for table saws to get me started in my shop, I of course looked at all the big names – Powermatic, Delta, Sawstop. I ended up with the Rigid contractor saw. FWW had reviewed it as the best saw for under $1000, and it was only $450. I may outgrow it, but I don’t expect it to fail me.

On some items, the usability of top of the line items is apparent to anyone, on other things you need to be an expert to understand the differences. I buy the best quality tool where the ‘thing’ that makes it better is within my current or planned skill set.

Hope that makes sense.

-- Lee in Phoenix

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3320 days

#10 posted 03-04-2010 08:37 AM

My Grandpa used the words thrifty or scotch for many things. He had no idea that so many products would be on the market today. The spectrum of tools now is not what it used to be in days of old. They used to last for a lifetime but cost a lot too. Now you can buy a tool to last for a job or two and be thrifty. I beat the heck out of hand held planers & have no issues with throwing away the Ryobi , with the Bosch blades too. But I will not let anyone use my festool stuff as I hope they will last a lifetime!

-- $tudie

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3246 days

#11 posted 03-04-2010 09:27 AM

I think both are right. It all depends on the needs of the person buying the tool and no 2 people ever have identical needs. I tend to do both depending on the tool. For example, I like to cut dovetail joints using a jig. Therefore I have the most versatile and most expensive dovetail Omnijig that money can buy from Porter Cable. It cost $600 plus accessories for a toal of about $1000. My chisels cost me about $12 for for a set of 3 from Home Depot and I sharpen them with my belt sander. If I were cutting dovetails by hand I would invest in a much more expensive set of chisels plus sharpening tools.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View TomHintz's profile


207 posts in 3572 days

#12 posted 03-04-2010 10:44 AM

I think spending more leans toward getting the better tool but like everything, it is not a hard and fast rule. When I have a choice between price points, I look for the reason for the difference. Usually I can find good reasons for paying more for the better tool but I have found some things that are simply overpriced.
Everyone likes to get the best deal they can but we have to pay attention to what we are buying, not just the price we pay for it.

-- Tom Hintz,

View stefang's profile


16058 posts in 3508 days

#13 posted 03-04-2010 11:14 AM

Hey Jim, good question. “best” is just too broad a term. As already pointed out, different people have different criteria. There are so many factors to consider in a tool; price, ergonomics, efficiency, quality of parts, color, guarantee, availability of service, etc.,etc. There really is no such thing as an unqualified “best”.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View degoose's profile


7243 posts in 3528 days

#14 posted 03-04-2010 11:33 AM

i always say buy the machine that does the job you want… don’t worry about price… If it happens to be cheaper than the other … bargain.. yeah.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View knotscott's profile


8140 posts in 3549 days

#15 posted 03-04-2010 11:54 AM

The person with a sander they like that does the job is right (and happy). Spending more only ensures that you’ve got less money in your wallet. However, sometimes there’s just a better mousetrap, and it usually costs more than the “regular” mousetrap.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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