They Don't Make Them Like They Used To? Weigh In.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by cutworm posted 07-31-2012 11:37 PM 2097 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2819 days

07-31-2012 11:37 PM

What do you think? I waffle here. Some of the old stuff is really good and really cool but some of this new stuff – really great. I guess in the end technology improvements prevail. These new routers, jigs, clamps, etc. – they really help me. New tools are lighter. That may or may not be good. Micro adjustments, dust collection, Good stuff.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

44 replies so far

View jm8's profile


69 posts in 2338 days

#1 posted 08-01-2012 12:37 AM

I waffle on this as well cutworm. I have an old Sears & Roebuck table saw model #101-02162, circa early 50’s/60’s? There is absolutely nothing plastic on this. Solid as a rock and very heavy. The fence alone weighs about 20lbs. This was built to last. With that said, the fence is not very accurate, does not lock down well, and there is no splitter. But that is part of the fun, as I have to be creative. I feel the tools now, power tools anyway, are much safer to use and lighter. May not last as long, but I will take safety over long lasting anytime. Of course the tool is only as safe as the operator. As far as hand tools, I think older is better.

Peace to all

-- Joe from Western Ma.... Peace to all

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2602 days

#2 posted 08-01-2012 12:58 AM

In a lot of cases things are made better nowadays. Sawstop (the blade sensing technology), veritas planes etc.
I disagree about hand tools. Older ones are great, just not better than some modern tools (veritas, lie-nielson).

Where things really went downhill though, is that nearly nothing is made in the USA anymore.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2658 days

#3 posted 08-01-2012 01:04 AM

I think a lot of older tools were built to last indefinitely. And from what I understand, tools in the 40s/50s/60s were comparably A LOT more expensive than they are now. Now I’m sure there were plenty of sub-par tools made in the past, but few of those still survive today. Most were scraped or trashed long ago, leaving only the quality gems for us to marvel over today.
However, the vast majority of modern tool buyers don’t need an incredible level of quality and durability. It would be a waste of money for most of us to spend a week’s pay on a state-of-the-art, $1000 drill press when the $199 Craftsman will get the job done and will likely last a very long time. And people often call modern tools “plastic junk”. Of course, on many levels, it makes sense to use plastic. Its lighter, less expensive, and in many cases offers few disadvantages over metal. I mean, could you imagine using an all metal power drill for several hours at a time?
IMO, there are plenty of great tools still available to thosoe who want the best money can buy. But I think the tool market has learned that most people are looking for value, so they flood the market with mediocre-pretty decent tools with attractive price points.

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2217 days

#4 posted 08-01-2012 01:07 AM

No, If it was a all electric drill, you’ll be dead already…. There would be no insulation on the wires… and the tool would become like some tazer or something..

-- My terrible signature...

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2819 days

#5 posted 08-01-2012 01:15 AM

I thought there would be more nostalgia…. Battery drills, air nailers. Sure beats swinging a hammer. I still like those Yankee Drills but it’s hard to beat a battery drill. Tools have came a long way when you stop and reflect. I guess not all change is bad.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2658 days

#6 posted 08-01-2012 01:18 AM

Well I thought most would take for granted that the wiring would be insulated, but since X is in a literal kind of mood, I’ll clarify. “an all metal power drill with insulated wiring”. LOL.

View oldnovice's profile


6899 posts in 3393 days

#7 posted 08-01-2012 03:28 AM

I think that the tools today are in a class above those back in 50’s or 60’s not in the fact that they are better in functionality and or life span but in design quality.

The tools of the bygone era we’re designed with pencils/paper/drafting boards and the testing involved stressing a part till it broke, and if it did, back to the drawing board. Don’t get me wrong, they used what they had to the best of their ability. Additionally the choice of materials in those days was not what it is today.

The tool today are most likely designed on a CAD system and tested on the CAD station before a part is even manufactured. Changes can be made on the fly.

The is TV show that was called Mega Factories which showed VW, Philips, and John Deere, and how manufacturing technology has changed the products.

At John Deere, instead of punch presses which required too and die makers, they now use laser and plasma cutters and turn around a new design in less than 24 hours.

At the Philips Norelco razor factory the only people there are the machine technicians and the QC people and they turn out more razors than ever before …. and higher quality.

The VW factory in integrated into the city to such an extent it has to be pointed out to visitors. It get it parts on the same rail line that commuter user, new car storage looks like a high rise apartment.

I have a Craftsman TS that is from the 70s’ and I have really no reason to upgrade to a 2010 or better.

So what I am trying to say is that the tools we used before are in fact the tools that make it possible to make the tools we use today!

Does that make sense?

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View AHuxley's profile


663 posts in 3347 days

#8 posted 08-01-2012 04:22 AM

The reality is high end tools and machines today are better than the old tools and machines they are just expensive and rarely seen in hobby shops, however the same was true of high end machines back when the “old iron” was being built. Except for a very few machines that are destined to go the way of the dinosaur (NA cabinet saws for one) it is easy to find a new machine that is the equal or better of anything built 50 years ago. The difference is some hobbists can afford a Oliver jointer or a Buss planer but you rarely see them buying new top end stuff from Martin and Altendorf. A high end Martin shaper and a high end Altendorf slider will run you into 6 digits for the pair and they are FAR better in most every respect than anything made “in the old days” but if you bring the old iron prices to todays dollars (or Euros) you will see they are priced in the same ballpark.

The difference is we have a ton of inexpensive tools that lets hobbists equip shops in a way almost no hobbists could 40-50 years ago, even in their dreams so yes the inexpensive tools aren’t built to the standards of the industrial machines of the past but corrected dollar for dollar you can buy better and with an unlimited budget you can buy much better. However, the industrial tools (even the stuff from light duty manufacturers like Delta, Powermatic and Walker Turner) from the past are bargains now, the bigger stuff often sells for pennies on the dollar. case in point my most recent addition to the shop is a Northfield jointer that sells for over $15,000 today and I paid less than 1K and it is pristine, compare it to a Grizzly 12” jointer and it makes the Grizzly look feeble and weak.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3701 days

#9 posted 08-01-2012 04:27 AM

If you buy quality, they are better today. These battery drivers sure beat that Yankee screwdriver I carried 35 years ago ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

377 posts in 3108 days

#10 posted 08-01-2012 07:06 PM

It amazes me to look at the ads in old magazines. The prices appear to be higher than the same size and brand that is available today. It seems like 8” jointers were selling for around $800 in 1980. That is right around what you can expect to pay for an 8” jointer at Grizzly today. No doubt that the $800 jointer in 1980 is a heavier duty machine than what you can buy for $800 today.

-- Steve

View chrisstef's profile


17426 posts in 3032 days

#11 posted 08-01-2012 07:21 PM

Im in the thought of it all depending on how you work. For me im a “close enough” kind of guy and sneak up on most of my work with hand tools to finish, old han tools that is. This makes my power tools required to be less than accurate. Im not measuring to .001” the hell with that im no machinist. This lead me to the reason that i like older iron better than most newer stuff but thats not to say the new stuff isnt good, its great, but typically its more than i need. I also really enjoy bringing old iron back to life. Ive always thought of myself as an old soul. I like to make things that will last and i buy things that will last … the disposable society aint much for me.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


6766 posts in 2225 days

#12 posted 08-01-2012 07:31 PM

My Boice-Crane 6” jointer sold for $85 (MSRP) in 1937 and was considered ‘low-cost’.. adjusted for inflation, that works out to about $1200 in todays dollars. I would rather have my BC than anything I could get for $1200 today, simply because it’s over-built, over-engineered and works as well or better than anything out there currently. And coincidentally, I bought it two years ago for… $85 :)

1937 catalog listing:


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2819 days

#13 posted 08-01-2012 09:56 PM

seems like all of the above is true. The old stuff has cool factor and is built like a tank while new tools bring accuracy and repeatability. @ Old Novice – the place I work has been on that show a couple of times. BMW Manufacturing. Pretty high tech place. I see that jointer weighs 220 lbs. Belt gaurd is optional. Times have changed. That’s about the same weight as the Ridgid jointer. Maybe slightly heaver. I think the Ridgid is about 200lbs. Nice looking jointer though.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View oldnovice's profile


6899 posts in 3393 days

#14 posted 08-01-2012 11:14 PM


DROOL, you said BMW!

I know I missed that show and just got part of the Ferrari show. These are ALL impressive factories, better products, higher quality, greater competetive advantages.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View muleskinner's profile


896 posts in 2462 days

#15 posted 08-02-2012 12:43 AM

The fallacy in the “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” school of thought is that we only see the examples that have survived. The vast majority of items built 60 or 70 years ago have long ago been relegated to the junk heap.

-- Visualize whirled peas

showing 1 through 15 of 44 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics