What Old Power Tools Should I Buy?

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Forum topic by BDFan1981 posted 01-10-2012 05:04 AM 5998 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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99 posts in 2324 days

01-10-2012 05:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: power tools old how to buy

Since I do not want to buy anything “Made In China” the only way I can get a good power tool nowadays (in my opinion) is to buy tools made before 1993.

Sure, there were tools after 1993 that were still made here in the USA and/or Europe, but I feel 1993 is the cut-off since Bill Clinton, who began his first presidential term on Jan. 20 of that year, signed into law the NAFTA… enough politics, let’s get on with the tools themselves.

Country of origin aside, what features should I look for, or avoid, on these pre-1993 power tools?


14 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#1 posted 01-10-2012 05:11 AM

It is not true that all power tools are made in China today. Dewalt makes
some major router and saw models in Italy, for example.

Anyway, Porter Cable is a pretty good American brand and many of the
tools were made in USA more recently than 1993.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2500 days

#2 posted 01-10-2012 05:54 AM

I’d check Delta, Porter Cable, Powermatic and Emerson made Craftsman. Of course lots of really old stuff out there too, like King Seeley, etc. I’m sure some of the vintage tool crew will have lots of input.

View kcrandy's profile


285 posts in 3426 days

#3 posted 01-10-2012 05:57 AM

I am so happy with my old compound miter saw by craftsman which only needed a new blade. Good heavy cast iron. Solid on.

-- Caulk and paint are a poor carpenter's best friends

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2803 days

#4 posted 01-10-2012 05:58 AM

HI Ben Im not sure where were going with this but what specific power tools are we talking about here ?

View BDFan1981's profile


99 posts in 2324 days

#5 posted 01-10-2012 06:07 AM

What I specifically meant was in regards to the durability of all power tools made prior to 1-20-93. As I said before, “Made in China” is a thing I want to stay away from as much as possible, and many (if not all) power tools made today fall into that syndrome.

As I previously had stated, besides the country of origin, what baubles/bolt-ons should I look for or avoid on any of these power tools made prior to 1-20-93?

EXAMPLE: I know the Elu #3338 router (also sold as the DeWalt #DW625) has an electronic variable speed control and 2.25 HP (model #3339 is similar, but with a 3 HP motor), achieved by setting the dial control for any one of five positions (5 being the full 22K RPM, 1 being the lowest speed of 8K RPM). The lower speeds are handy for preventing burning of your workpieces, and also makes the motor’s sound level easier on your ears.


View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2351 days

#6 posted 01-10-2012 06:50 AM

I have tools made in china and japan, usa and europe and here in the NZ… and they are all known brands (well here in NZ anyway)... and all have served their purpose and most have exceeded my expectations. (I have some old power tools (made in china) that are 20 years and good as the day I bought them… I have a black & decker drill that died afer 2 years…

If they are a brand they have to be made to that brands standards. Now I will admit there are some shit things that come out of china, there there are also many reliable products that are…

That a side… things I look for against the price is if it is OEM or not… OEM is usually bit more pricey. I then look at the quality of the build and materials. Does it feel flimsy, or robust. Named brand means nothing really, espically if an un-named brand and most come from the same factory and assembled else where…

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3456 days

#7 posted 01-10-2012 06:58 AM

I would start looking for older Delta and Powermatic, especially pre 1970. Both manufacturers built high quality industrial machines that are still running stong. Parts are still available and easily obtained. Machines prices are usually good and with a little elbow grease will last another 50-70 years. The NEWEST tool in my shop is a ‘77 Powermatic drill press. I highly recommend Old Woodworking Machines, but I am a different breed. I like things made in the USA.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#8 posted 01-10-2012 07:07 AM

The Elu line from Dewalt is still made in Italy – the DW621, DW625 and
DW712 from what I know, and probably others. Elu was a Swiss
company B&D bought in the 1990s, mostly I reckon for their superior
router designs and tooling.

The DW610 router is a version of an earlier B&D industrial with a 1/2”
collet instead of the 1/4” usually seen on the B&D. A very good basic
workhorse of a router, but unrefined by today’s standards. I have
one of these and about 5 bases I got 4 of from a shop that went under
so I’ll never give it up due to its versatility to me with all the bases I
have. It is a rugged router in any case. I don’t recall the country of

View JasonC73's profile


49 posts in 2539 days

#9 posted 01-10-2012 07:09 AM

I know what you mean. Some of the old power tools were massive and indestructible. I have a varied assortment in my shop based on how often I use them and how much frustration I am willing to put up with. I have a 50’s craftsman half sheet sander that I could use for demo work if I like. The nice thing about many of these machines is that a tap and die set and some solder will keep it working for another 10-15 years. I have a craftsman 70’s radial arm saw that is wonderful, and most of them were recalled. After I bought it for 25 dollars I went on their website and they sent me a free table, blade guard etc just for putting the serial number and the address in. I spent about an hour tuning it up with some wd and a green pad, then finished the moving parts with paste wax. It is a versatile dream. On the other hand many tools have turned out to be a disappointment, I have mowed through many models of random orbit sanders, finally the Dewalt seems to do the best job.

View BDFan1981's profile


99 posts in 2324 days

#10 posted 01-10-2012 07:44 AM

Black & Decker bought out Elu in 1984, according to their 1990 edition of their history.


View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#11 posted 01-10-2012 08:06 AM

Elu was making routers under the Elu name into the 90s
in Europe and the same routers were introduced as
Dewalt’s in N. America. The 621 and 625 are both
standard-setting routers.

Those routers were never to my knowledge marketed
as B&D which by 1984 had been made a “diy” brand
with Dewalt, Elu and other labels covering the pro
end of the line.

I have a B&D router from the 1980s and it is a real cheaply
made plastic piece. Way shabbier than anything I’ve seen
from Craftsman, for example.

View BDFan1981's profile


99 posts in 2324 days

#12 posted 01-10-2012 09:38 AM

My B&D model 7604 router, made in Mexico, is also a low-grade model. I bought it at Ernst in summer 1995. I wonder if yours is also a model 7604, or perhaps, a model 7600?

In regards to the DW615 (also Elu #3304) and DW625 (also Elu #3338), are those the EVS (electronic variable speed) plunge cut routers? B&D did market the Elu line as “Elu – Woodworking Tools by Black & Decker.”

On eBay, there is an Elu #3338 2.25 HP plunge cut router with EVS and on the tag it proudly says “Made in Switzerland” which was Elu’s old base of operations.


View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2627 days

#13 posted 01-10-2012 12:52 PM

Are you looking at smaller power tools? I’d be weary of an 18+ year old tool with a universal motor…....unless it appeared lightly used or was fire-sale-priced. Motors aside, other replacement parts might also be a challenge to find.

Larger tools with induction motors tend be a bit more bulletproof. I just recently (and reluctently) sold a 1950s Craftsman 8” tablesaw. Despite its age, it performed wonderfully. I’d still own it if I wouldn’t have stumbled upon a GREAT deal on a 80s Craftsman 10” saw. My drill press is also a dinosaur, but works fine.

View BDFan1981's profile


99 posts in 2324 days

#14 posted 01-10-2012 07:10 PM

For those wanting a quality finishing sander, here is a late 1980s B&D model 4015 on eBay:

This design goes back to the late 1960s. From the mid 1970s-early 1980s this was painted a dark grey and sold as model #7465.


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