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Forum topic by 47phord posted 05-12-2012 01:39 AM 2501 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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182 posts in 2472 days

05-12-2012 01:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: rant humor

Okay, so I am the (semi)proud owner of a Craftsman 21833 tablesaw and thus am a victim of it’s blade alignment curse. Yesterday, I went to the extreme of pulling the whole trunion assembly out of the saw and disassembling it in a vain attempt to figure out what was causing the problem. Long story short, I wasn’t able to figure it out, but after cleaning the joints and reassembling it, the problem isn’t as bad; after a lot of farting around, I got it adjusted so at any blade height below 1 1/2” it is dead square to the table. After that, it drifts out until I get to 3” and the back edge of the blade is about 1/24” off from the front; still usable but not great. Luckily, 90% of what I do is below the inch-and-a-half point so it’s not a big hairy deal, but still…
I’m telling you all this because it brings up something I have noticed in regards to woodworking tools, there is no middle ground in terms of quality: you either buy cheap junk and get what you pay for, buy mid-grade stuff and get slightly-better junk or, spend big bucks on a pro model. This is a hobby for me. I have no intention of ever doing it for a living, so it really pisses me off that to get (for example) a table saw that is accurate and reliable out of the box you have to spend over a $1000 on a professional grade tool; I’ve read the tool reviews here and elsewhere and that does seem to be the case. I’ve finally gotten some extra money socked away for some large tool purchases (probably a drill press and possibly a surface planer) and, after the TS debacle, am doing a LOT of research and I’m running into the same problem: almost everything I look at that is in my price range has the words ‘this is a great xxxxx BUT’. Maybe I’m reading too many reviews and burning myself out on the negative stuff I see ( I do tend to be a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy) but I don’t think so.
Granted, the TS thing isn’t the end of the world, I’ve built plenty of stuff and had it turn out just fine (at least by my novice-woodworker standards) but that saw wasn’t inexpensive by any means. But, I have made other purchases that I’ve lived to regret (Harbor Freight Miter Saw anyone?) and I’m tired of throwing good money away on bad tools. On the other hand, however, I have trouble justifying spending $700+ on a drill press that I will probably only use a couple times a month. GRRRRR. Sorry for the rant, but I had to get that off of my chest. I look forward to your comments!

35 replies so far

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 3006 days

#1 posted 05-12-2012 01:50 AM

That is because the most costly part of building something is not the parts, but the Quality Assurance, so the only way to make sure you get good quality assurance is to pay for it. That’s why Harbor Freight tools are so hit or miss. Some of them are fantastic and great, while some of them are such crap that you just want to scream. And this could even be within the same tool (can get a lot of dead motors until you get the one that works etc..)

Harbor Freight has a pretty liberal 30 day return policy, so you can make sure what you get is working and such.

Basically you have two choices, either you pay the company to do the QA, or you do the QA for them, and unfortunately that’s one of the most expensive parts.

If I bought a table saw, that I couldn’t align to be square “enough” I’d return it, (if you bought it used this obviously isn’t an option).

Time is money, you can’t get mad that tools that cost less have less time in them, if there was the same level of QA in all the tools then there would be no inexpensive tools.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View klassenl's profile


194 posts in 2893 days

#2 posted 05-12-2012 01:55 AM

Yep, that about sums it up. Junk or poorhouse.

-- When questioned about using glue on a garbage bin I responded, "Wood working is about good technique and lots of glue........I have the glue part down."

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8609 posts in 2563 days

#3 posted 05-12-2012 02:03 AM

You need a Grizzly catalog

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2527 days

#4 posted 05-12-2012 02:34 AM

With all due respect to everyone, the issue boils down to economics. While it used to be “you get what you pay for,” that is not always true any longer. You can be sure that you will seldom, if ever, get professional quality and precision for a “hobbist” price. However, Pacific rim tools are not the quality of 15-year and older “made in U.S.A.”. If I were starting out in today’s market, I would be looking at used tools which had been (1) made in U.S.A. (Canada for General), (2) by Delta, Powermatic or General, (3) professional grade, and (4) buy only one of the best rather than a lot of inexpensive machines which will need to be replaced with a better grade in the future. You won’t get every tool you want in short order, but you won’t be frustrated all the time and always looking to upgrade what you have. Also, General still makes some models in Canada which I would seriously check out. Festool makes top quality tools, as does Lamello, but you will pay for them.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2521 days

#5 posted 05-12-2012 02:41 AM

One very bad aspect of capitalism is that the market gets milked for each little baby step it takes. It’s not, “how can we make the best….” it’s rather, how can we make money. It used to be that if you made it excellent, you made money.
Personally, I believe that this is only the sad truth that evil will always win over good. There is simply no integrity anymore which is why I think I love to make things myself. I know what they are that way.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2520 days

#6 posted 05-12-2012 03:44 AM

The more expensive tools have their flaws too, just usually not as prevalent / serious.

-- John, BC, Canada

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 2472 days

#7 posted 05-12-2012 11:15 PM

I know I need to just suck it up and buy the good stuff. HillbillyShooter, I agree with you 100%, made in China sucks; I’ve learned that lesson well (better late than never, right?) I’ll have to watch Craigslist more I guess.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2527 days

#8 posted 05-12-2012 11:29 PM

You will never regret the purchase of a genuine, quality tool, while the joy of a bargain quickly fades. I’ve spent the last 35 plus years collecting good tools and I’m truly thankful to have purchased my major shop machines in the 80’s and 90’s. Best wishes and enjoy your journey.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View cdhilburn's profile


102 posts in 2919 days

#9 posted 09-12-2012 10:03 PM

I know I am late to the party but I found the same problem with my 21833. Kept it too long for them to honor the warranty and didn’t use it enough to discover the problem. I sold mine on CL for $300 and paid $375 for a granite top Ridgid with some extra goodies added in. It sold quickly but I priced it right. I couldn’t in clear mind try to get top dollar. I took a chance and sold my saw first that way I had the money for a new/used one. I was without a TS for about a month until I found what I was looking for. I really wish the 21833 would have worked because I really liked it. I guess if you always work with the same thickness stock you can just adjust the alignment at that one height and never change it. Good luck!!!

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 2472 days

#10 posted 09-13-2012 01:14 AM

cdhilburn-Well, like I said originally, mine works fine when the blade is adjusted lower and being that I’m stuck buying S4S from the big-box stores for the time being, it’s liveable. Like you, I’ve thought about selling mine and using the proceeds to upgrade, but have decided to just live with it for now until I can spring for something good. CL around where I live seems to be devoid of good table saws for some reason-at least it has been every time I looked.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3148 days

#11 posted 09-13-2012 01:55 AM

Unfortunately “Made in China Sucks” is rapidly becoming an urban myth of disproportionate size. The Chinese are increasingly exceeding what America can, or no longer builds, in the way of quality and workmanship. This is not always the case, but we all need to wake up and realize that America is going the way of Great Britain when it come to World manufacturing domination.

Nearly all big manufacturers are largely subcontracted to Chinese/Taiwanese companies so don’t knee-jerk when someone tells you to grab a Grizzly International or Rikon Industries Catalog as just two examples.

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

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3205 days

#12 posted 09-13-2012 02:48 AM

Yes, I saw a good example of China’s technical manufacturing prowness today with the release of the new
Iphone 5.
No way we will ever be able to manufactur something like that for $8.00

View Scott's profile


121 posts in 2458 days

#13 posted 09-13-2012 04:21 AM

I’ve only been buying mid-range tools myself. I take some time shopping around for anything I’m buying retail though. I make a point of stopping into Sears to look at stuff hands on, as well as Woodcraft. Then I still go back and read reviews. Maybe even have a 2nd or 3rd visit, and wait for a sale.

One thing about reviews is 90% of them are worthless. You need to read into why they’re complaining about something. I’ve read reviews where people complained that some belt sander burned out after being used for 10 hours straight. Well, I have no intention of buying consumer grade items and using them in professional settings, so I can easily discount those reviews.

The only reviews worth reading are ones that say “this wasn’t setup correctly out of the box, so you need to re-calibrate this part”. They’re the reviews written by somebody that is qualified to review it.

Now, if there’s 100 reviews that say it was DOA – probably a good idea to steer clear.

Honestly the purchases I have been happiest with are the ones I’ve bought used from CL or estate sales. I expect the used stuff to be quirky and that I need to spend time calibrating and maintaining. New stuff frustrates me a little more, even if its still the same level of maintenance, just because I put more money into it.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4128 days

#14 posted 09-13-2012 04:37 AM

crank49, you made me laugh out loud : ))


We are constantly full of excuses why we cant compete against China or any other nation while we sit on our own fat asses where if an asian owned the same land, they would already be exporting food ?

I find it odd, having been brought up a farm boy, to finally grow up and see so many people defeated by their inability to cultivate their own back yard and fail to realize they just aren’t that special so if you want green grass, quit blaming your neighbour.

Plant an Apple Tree for fun

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View bladedust's profile


210 posts in 2500 days

#15 posted 09-13-2012 04:38 AM

As my dad used to say, “cheap is expensive”. Buy something cheap (lesser quality) and you will wind up buying it again and again with an added bonus of frustrations and aggrevation. Buy something expensive (of quality) from a quality company that stands behind its products and it will last a long time and work when you ask it to.

I would wait to buy qaulity when I can afford it rather than deal with the aggrevation. Just my 2 cents.

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

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