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Tool brands: How do you decide?

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Forum topic by ChuckC posted 08-23-2012 04:05 PM 1552 views 0 times favorited 66 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ChuckC

687 posts in 1586 days


08-23-2012 04:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tools brands

We all tend to gravitate to one brand or another. Some people buy Powermatic or Festool because they want a high quality tool while others love Harbor Freight for the value. In a perfect world we would get high quality at a low cost with great customer service. That’s probably never going to happen.

I find myself somewhere in the middle. I can appreciate some of the stuff Harbor Freight has but for the essentials I’d rather spend more and get more. I also don’t want to have to screw around with a tool after I buy it. Some people like that, and that’s fine.

Another huge factor for me is customer service. I’ll always stick with a company known for excellent customer service. I had an issue with my Powermatic BS 2 weeks ago. It’s 2 years out of warranty and they sent me the parts, free, no questions asked.

What makes you choose one brand from another?


66 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3447 posts in 2611 days


#1 posted 08-23-2012 04:11 PM

Grizz lathe, TS, and BS in this shop. Value and customer service for me.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Surfside's profile

Surfside

3135 posts in 824 days


#2 posted 08-23-2012 04:19 PM

When I was a total newbie in using different tools, I usually base my decisions on other people’s insights. Then I pick the best I think I can handle. After several experiences with both the tool and the company’s customer service, my views on different brands changed. Some fail me, some I have built a good relationship with. Experience helped me decide what to choose and what’s not worth it. Not to be bias, I tried calling every company and picked who stands out.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15695 posts in 2869 days


#3 posted 08-23-2012 05:13 PM

Me? I strictly go by color. Powermatic makes great tools, but I just can’t stand that shade of yellow. :-)

All kidding aside, I feel pretty much like you do. I’m not necessarily stuck to a particular brand, but I do a lot of research before I make a purchase. I look at price, performance, and customer service. Usually , one tool stands out as the best choice for my needs and budget. If not, then I pick the one with the coolest color.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

4682 posts in 943 days


#4 posted 08-23-2012 05:21 PM

I try to stick with Stanley for old handplanes, otherwise I don’t really have a brand for power tools that I stick to. I have 2 Porter Cable routers, a Porter Cable biscuit joiner, a Porter Cable ROS, a Bosch corded drill, Bosch jig saw, Milwaukee Circular Saw, Ryobi cordless drills. That exhausts my power tool line up at the moment. For me, I do a lot of research before I buy something. I take into consideration my price range, and find the best value that I can within that range. I’m not particular to brands per-say, just quality. I also try to stick to brands that I can buy locally. I don’t know why… I buy so many things off the internet, but when it comes to power tools, I’d rather buy local… easy return? See what I’m getting first? I’m not sure

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist - www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods

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jdmaher

281 posts in 1230 days


#5 posted 08-23-2012 05:28 PM

Bang for the buck.

Bang includes quality, performance, reliability and capability (capacity + power). I want all of these to be above average. Note that quality & reliability minimize the need for customer service, but if I hear from others that service sucks, I’ll avoid that brand.

Buck is what I have to spend. If I can’t afford it, I (almost) always wait until I can. That means I do without – a lot. I’m often surpised by how I manage to make do even though I don’t have the tool I just GOT to have.

I don’t actually buy all that much in tools. I’m too broke and too busy trying to make stuff.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5451 posts in 2026 days


#6 posted 08-23-2012 05:49 PM

When I’m considering a tool purchase, I make a list of the likely suspects in my price range, and evaluate each tool on it’s own merits. I’m generally looking for good value for a hobbyist, so my needs are different than a pro’s. Warranty is a factor that I consider, but brand name is a very minor consideration… no one company offers the best value of every tool. I generally won’t buy based solely on brand, nor will I avoid a tool based on brand….the surprises can go both directions! In this day and age it’s very easy to overpay for a typical decent Asian import tool with a premium name that rolls out of the same factory as others.

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

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

890 posts in 761 days


#7 posted 08-23-2012 06:04 PM

One tool at a time, for me. Brand is almost meaningless.

I lean towards tools I’ve selected hands-on @ Coastal, Tools-Plus, or Woodcraft, those I’ve had good results with in various classes, and those with a great rep with my local woodworking school’s staff. I’ll also consider magazine reviews as I narrow the field on a tool. If Rigid, Harbor Freight, or Grizzly has an example that has done well in reviews and comparisons, I’ll also include them in my touch research.

I normally do not put much weight on individual online reviews, except for patterns, or if I am very familiar with the individual reviewer’s experience.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View teejk's profile

teejk

1214 posts in 1335 days


#8 posted 08-23-2012 06:27 PM

I was fortunate enough to buy when Delta/PC made good/affordable tools so my shop is entirely those brands other than a yellow Dewalt 735 and a few Bosch pieces…

Like many, I went through the Craftsman era when I started (and had no money so that Sunday ad was important)...but the experience wasn’t too good so I swore off cheap tools forever…if I can’t afford a good tool, then I save some more until I can.

Delta now seems to require a mortgage, PC has been downgraded to the economy line (whoever bought Milwaukee tried to do that also and almost killed the brand).

I guess if I had to start from scratch, I would look at Bosch.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 899 days


#9 posted 08-23-2012 06:28 PM

RESEARCH!!! Spending more does not always mean getting more. Barry is correct. Brands are meaningless. Here is a perfect example:

Grizzly lathe – 284 shipped

HF lathe – 157 shipped (with coupon)

These are the SAME lathe. A buddy of mine got the grizzly used on CL and it needed a few things. When he called Grizzly to order the parts, they were out of stock and told him to use the ones from HF because the lathes are the same.

So if you used your logic of “spending a bit more on a brand name”, in this case, all you would be getting for 130$ is a different brand name.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View CessnaPilotBarry's profile

CessnaPilotBarry

890 posts in 761 days


#10 posted 08-23-2012 06:32 PM

It looks like those two lathes have an awful lot of Jet mini-lathe parts, too!

An interesting aside to all of this is that as more and more tools come from the Pacific Rim, it seems like less and less is done to disguise the relationships.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View Surfside's profile

Surfside

3135 posts in 824 days


#11 posted 08-23-2012 06:34 PM

Lumberjoe just nailed it!

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112070 posts in 2228 days


#12 posted 08-23-2012 06:52 PM

I agree with most of what Knotscott except there are brands that I won’t buy because of past experiancies buying those brands such as Ryobi ,Skill,black & Decker and many but not all Harbor freight tools. It does make a difference what your budget is ,if you can only afford a Skill jig saw then a skill jig saw is better than no jig saw. If you handle each tool one at a time ,search LJs, Finewoodworking & Wood magazines and perhaps start another thread asking about that particular tool.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

687 posts in 1586 days


#13 posted 08-23-2012 06:54 PM

You raise a good point, Joe. The Harbor Freight dust collector looks a lot like others too. I’m sure it’s the same.

My logic of “spending a bit more on a brand name” ?? No one wrote that. I’m assuming you are referring to my statement of “I’d rather spend more and get more” which is very different. All that means is that I would rather pay a little more now and be happy with it than buy something less and be frustrated every time I use it.

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15695 posts in 2869 days


#14 posted 08-23-2012 06:56 PM

lumberjoe: Don’t forget Rockler’s version (which I own):

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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lumberjoe

2833 posts in 899 days


#15 posted 08-23-2012 06:59 PM

Sorry chuck, I misinterpreted what you wrote. many people feel that spending more will get your more, and that is not always the case. There are some areas, like router and drill bits for example, where I will not consider the “cheaper” options and go with the bands I trust. Those are not high dollar items like tools are though.

If you do plenty of research, you can find the best product that meets your needs

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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