Tool Brands?

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Forum topic by JasonConwell posted 02-12-2011 10:27 AM 1809 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 2905 days

02-12-2011 10:27 AM

I am new to woodworking and have been looking at various tools. There are so many brands (Jet, Powermatic, Shop Fox, Grizzly..Etc) Any advice? I do not want to break the bank but I also do not want to buy junk tools. Any help/experiences would be appreciated. Thanks

10 replies so far

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2918 days

#1 posted 02-12-2011 04:16 PM

There isn’t one tool manufacturer out there that makes the best of everything. When I look for a tool the first thing I do is google and look for tool reviews. Amazon is a good place to look.

-- New Auburn,WI

View iamwelty's profile


260 posts in 3354 days

#2 posted 02-12-2011 04:24 PM

Ridgid has been a good brand for me… Very affordable and the tools have all been good. Home Depot has a habit of discounting models on a regular basis and almost give the tools away… plus you get a life time warranty.

-- There is a fine line between eroticism and nausea...

View Hoakie's profile


306 posts in 4275 days

#3 posted 02-12-2011 04:36 PM

I’m with ScottN. There are gems and duds with all the major tool manufacturers and certain models (even from the reputable ones). It is great that we live in an era where there is so much information out there from people who have the fortune/misfortune of buying before us. Just remember however, you have to take some of the reviews with a grain of salt. Typically you will ALWAYS find someone who has had a bad experience, or just doesn’t know what they are doing and post a bad review because they are using a tool improperly or have set it up improperly. You will also see bad reviews for a tool that really talk about the purchase/shipping experience. You will also find reviews from “fans”/”haters” that will think that everything from a particular manufacturer is the “the best”/”the worst”.

Good luck and I’d say if you are debating between a couple brands of the same tool, ask for opinions. I’m guessing their are several pros and hobbyists that have what you are considering and can give you good advice and share opinions. Just remember you will never get 100% consensus :)

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View biglarry's profile


76 posts in 2927 days

#4 posted 02-12-2011 04:52 PM

I agree with Scott there isn’t any manufacturer that make the best of everything. I have Delta, Jet, Sears, Black and Decker and Wood Master for my stationary tools. These tools are not the top of the line from any of the manufacturers, but they are what I could afford at the time. Most of my tools are about 20 years old and I keep saying that I’m going to upgrade but never have.

At the time I was buying my tools, Grizzly wasn’t the quality that I hear about today, they were more of the Harbor Freight of the day. From the reviews that I read I think the Grizzly might give you good bang for your buck but don’t discount any of the others.

My real advice is to stay away from cheap, you usually get what you pay for.

Good Luck.

-- "When the going gets tough, switch to power tools." - Red Green

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2931 days

#5 posted 02-12-2011 05:26 PM

Man you are opening youself up to a world of hurt. There aro some that will tell what brand to get and then others that will tell you the same brand is junk. I’ve been buying tools and making a living with them more than three decades, and I’ve found that qaulity comes with a price. Altough good tools are expensive, they can still offer good value being the least expensive tool in that category with the features you need. Ask people you now who USE the tools that you are seeking. Some tools I’ll buy are factory reconditioned, You’ll save some money add still get the factory warranty. And tools that I wear out after years of use I tend to buy the same tool over and over so that I accumulate the miscellaneous parts needed to keep the tool functioning. And last, try and find a tool store that main business is tools, you can haggle with them over price, the big box stores don’t have has wide a selection and you pay what their sticker price is.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View hokieman's profile


192 posts in 3993 days

#6 posted 02-12-2011 07:01 PM

Yep, search the tool reviews. Some companies make great table saws but not so much in other tools. There is no line that stands out in all tools unless you are talking hand tools and that is Lie Nielsen.

View knotscott's profile


8178 posts in 3614 days

#7 posted 02-12-2011 08:25 PM

While each of the brand names you listed is generally well regarded, brand name loyalty can be confusing and can hinder efforts to get the best tools for the money. Tools that share the same logo often have little in common with each other. Plus things change, so opinions of a 20 year old tool often don’t correllate to a tool of the same name made today. Look each tool over well, compare features, price, retail situation, warranty, type, and buy the right tool…not the right name.

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3153 days

#8 posted 02-12-2011 09:15 PM

Ditto above, any/all companies can and do sell junk while having excellent equipment for sale at the same time. My thoughts on this are that all too often it is the bottom of the line, or the price leaders, that tend to have the highest rate of lemons. Along that line of thought, I have always tried to buy a couple of steps/models higher on the totem pole in order to avoid any “guaranteed lemons.”

Am I spending too much money on equipment with that kind of attitude? I am sure some would argue that point, but I would counter:

1. I have lived most of my life with just a hammer, screwdriver, handsaw, and a pair of channel-locks to fix any and ALL things. At 58 I decided that I could and should change that minimalist attitude.

2. Better quality equipment is a joy to use and easier to maintain, IMO. Regardless of the brand, I try to look at their better models (not the best, but at least mid-range).

My 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3509 days

#9 posted 02-12-2011 09:51 PM

My motto is to always get the best I can afford. To do this I suggest a bit of reconissance – you must do research. When I am considering a tool purchase….I will read reviews…talk to folks I know….look online at videos…and especially see if there are any reviews or discussions on LJ’s.

I also consider whether I can find these tools used or reconditioned….as you can find some great deals on used tools or on reconditioned tools (check out your local craigslist…trader(magazines)...or other sources (ebay is good to see what the pricing is on used tools).

There are certain manufacturer’s that I consider as a no buy – the top of these are Laguna (due to their horrible customer service and shoddy quality controls), Black and Decker (just plain crap), craftsman (their new lines are as bad or worse then B&D in my opinion)....and Kobalt (Box store brands).....most of the other manufacturers have a mixed bag of quality and you really need to do your homework – an excellent example is Harbor Freight….they have some hidden gems along with some horrible crap you really need to research your intended tool.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3368 days

#10 posted 02-13-2011 03:46 AM


I assume you wanted more direct guidance. I will divide this into two categories – Tools v. Stationary Machines. I have been in the business of woodworking since Carter was President and these are my opinions (of course this is all opinion). Devann is generally right. You usually don’t get great tools at bottom prices. But again (in my opinion) If I had to pick one brand for tools then hands down I would choose Bosch. In particular, the Bosch plunge router combo and jig saws are outstanding. It is my favorite brand – I have NEVER had a Bosch lemon. For a biscuit joiner however, my vote goes to the Porter Cable which I have found to be a very, very, nice machine. There recently was and possibly still is a great sale at Woodcraft which gives you the biscuit joiner AND a 1.75 hp router for the price of the joiner alone – check it out. OK. when it comes to big Stationary Machines its much more complex, mainly because, unlike tools, here you do not always get what you pay for. Again, IMO and I don’t want to upset anyone, but if you don’t “want to break the bank” then in IMO I would avoid Powermatic on general principle. I should point out that some people are very happy with their Powermatic table saws, but IMO many other Powermatic machines too often represent the most expensive option, but are not the best option for quality. In recent years, I have read too many posts that complain about warped jointer tables and loose bearings in their drill presses etc. I had a later model 66 Powermatic table saw and it was very poorly made – again warped tables, misaligned bearings, crude castings etc. To be fair, I have their band saw and it has been pretty good, but there are better options now for this too. So, I’ll apologize in advance – Sorry to anyone whose is a fan of this company, but IMO their glory days are long gone. The same parent company makes Jet with a few less frills, but the same castings so maybe consider a Jet for less money over Powermatic – just a thought. Delta – I noticed this was not on your list – Delta is another formerly great company that now is less reliable. There are still some Delta machines I would buy. Their signature table saw – the Unisaw – is still American Made and is is a truly nice machine, but its over $3000.00. But with the Unisaw you DO get what you pay for. By all means however, avoid their current version 14” band saw. Grizzly (which makes Shop Fox) represents a great option for many people. Many consider Grizzly to be the best bang for the buck in the woodworking universe. There is a lot to substantiate this view. The vast majority of people have very good experiences with Grizzly and heavens knows the price is right. Read the posts on this site and I think you will agree. My experience with them has been great. I own their G0490 8” jointer and have nothing but praise for this machine which only cost me $850.00. I would certainly give them a serious look. For a table saw in particular though, you might also seriously think about Sawstop. Its the one with the safety feature that stops the machine the instant it contacts your hand and thus saves you from a serious injury. I own one and it is simply a beautiful machine. Owners of these machines love them. These are my opinions. Others will have other opinions. I hope this helped.

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