Tool Buying

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Forum topic by mbmattvt posted 03-19-2013 10:28 AM 1416 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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92 posts in 1910 days

03-19-2013 10:28 AM

Hi All,

I thought I start a new thread – since I didn’t find anything general on tool buying.

I’m wondering where everyone shops for tools.

I’m a beginner and have a few tools (but never have enough) – I’m trying to get the best deals when I purchase, so I’m always looking for discounts and sales, etc.

Right now I’m in the market for a router – I’m strongly considering the Triton 3-1/4 hp model TRA001.

Any hints or ideas on how to buy at the right time, right price, at a discount or with a coupon are appreciated (and I’m hoping that sharing the knowledge with the members will also help many more).

Happy woodworking!


-- "There are three kinds of men. The ones who learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." --- Will Rogers

16 replies so far

View syenefarmer's profile


488 posts in 3080 days

#1 posted 03-19-2013 03:12 PM

Price wise, the best time to buy is probably around Black Friday. Where to buy is full of variables. For larger tools like table saws, jointers, dust collectors, etc I prefer to buy locally. If there is a problem with the purchase I would much rather prefer to return it and deal with someone locally than the other alternative. Smaller tools such as drills, routers, sanders, etc I usually buy based on price be it locally or internet.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3158 days

#2 posted 03-19-2013 03:20 PM

Tough question….

Smaller tools are often found, both new and used, from a variety of sources. For new, I will often buy online from Amazon or Lee Valley, particularly if I do not see an immediate need for the tool. Others might be purchased from Rockler, Woodcraft, or the big box stores here locally. It really depends. When I see an immediate need for the tool, I’ll often frequent the big box stores…quick and painless. Used tools are great on eBay and Craigslist, though I’m typically not willing to do Craigslist on cheaper tools as my time is usually worth more than the drive.

For large tools, I tend to look at Craigslist first. However, if buying new, it’s important to understand that some tools like those from Grizzly, Rikon, and Laguna will have the seasonal sale…so if you want 10 to 15% off a large tool, it’s often best to wait until the right time of year.

-- jay,

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3182 days

#3 posted 03-19-2013 03:53 PM

Matt I have both the 3-1/4 hp Triton and the smaller one. The 3-1/4 is great in a router table but for a hand held it’s very heavy and I recommend the smaller one for hand held routing.

As far as general tool purchases research the specific tools your looking for on the internet. Compare prices against features among the different manufactures. Craigs list is a good place to start for used tooling. For most of my tool purchases, once I decide on a tool I’ll look on for reviews looking for customer service complaints, the tools fit & finish and performance & safety issues and then go from there.

I would suggest that you consider what type of projects your interested in tackling and scale your purchases to those projects in the beginning. Also consider the size of your shop. You can quickly run out of shop space.

Invest in quality tools and it will pay dividends in the long run.

Look for woodworking clubs in your area and join one. Most get club discounts and are a wealth of good information and experience.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2184 days

#4 posted 03-19-2013 05:05 PM

I buy most of my tools from craigslist. You have to be patient for the good deals but its worth waiting. Always bargain on craigslist for a lower price. For new power tools, find a local store that sells it and ask if they have any upcoming sales or recently ended sales that they will still honor. For clamps, I go to harbor freight.

View MrRon's profile


4770 posts in 3243 days

#5 posted 03-19-2013 06:12 PM

Buying off CL or E-Bay is like buying a used car. You might get a great deal or you could end up with a disaster. That being said, I prefer to look locally. If you live close to a large city, a visit to a used machinery dealer can bring some good finds. You will be able to see it before buying. Remember, if you see something on CL that sounds like a deal too good to be true, it is. The important thing here is to see the item before buying. People are sometimes too trusting. There are always people who will take advantage of that. I am very distrustful by nature and that keeps me from being taken advantage of.

View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 1958 days

#6 posted 03-19-2013 06:28 PM

This hasn’t been mentioned yet but keep an eye out for a lot of Lumberjocks looking to sell their tools or machines. Their tools may be used but the guys here are very honorable and will have taken good care of their stuff.

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View runswithscissors's profile


2751 posts in 2025 days

#7 posted 03-20-2013 07:22 AM

The Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking) Tool Buying Guide is an annual publication that has been coming out for several years now. They do comparos on various tools, and describe plusses and minuses on each tool. I’m sure you can find back issues, maybe at the library. Value (band for the buck) is always a part of their evaluations.

The 2013 edition is on the newstands now.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View kizerpea's profile


774 posts in 2367 days

#8 posted 03-20-2013 12:37 PM them out….free shiping…bosch routers are #1


View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 1958 days

#9 posted 03-20-2013 01:11 PM

+1 on the Bosch router. I use the Bosch 1617 EVSPK plunge router and couldn’t be more happy with it

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2173 days

#10 posted 03-20-2013 07:01 PM

The advice that I always get when purchasing tools is buy a nationwide brand and shop around holidays.

-- "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 BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2369 days

#11 posted 03-20-2013 07:10 PM

I go to the big box stores if it’s something simple, but their woodworking tools is limited. I usually buy my power tools on Amazon, however I’ve had cases, like my Bosch table saw, where it was a bit cheaper for me to use a 10% mover’s coupon at Lowes. Disposable stuff comes from Harbor Freight. Once every few weeks, I stop at the antiques store on my way home from work. I just spend 20-30 minutes putzing around, every so often they’ve gotten a hand plane, marking gauge, chisel, etc that I’ll walk out with for a fair price.

I had my wife buy me the Bosch 1617 Fixed/Plunge package for Christmas this year. I’ve used it maybe 10 times, but I love it so far. Price was cheapest on Amazon at the time.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View knotscott's profile


8015 posts in 3375 days

#12 posted 03-20-2013 09:53 PM

Everyone’s goals and needs are a little different, so there are lots of ways to approach your tool buying. I’m a hobbyist on a budget, so I look for value. I don’t need the very best, but usually want a tool that will do the job, will be a pleasure to use, and that’ll last long enough to make it worth what I paid. Spend your resources on the tools that are most critical to you.

Research can pay off. If you pay a premium for something, at least know what advantages you paid for. Note that sales people will tend to recommend what they make money from, so don’t be surprised if a dealer says negative things about a line he doesn’t carry. I tend to pay more attention to the type and class of particular tool than the brand…ie: stationary jointer vs benchtop, portable jobsite saw vs contractor saw vs hybrid vs cabinet saw etc, or hand router vs table router. To ensure I get the most for my money, I try to avoid being overly brand loyal….it can really blind you to quality, or lack thereof, of a given tool if there are preconceived expectations. Every brand has gems and lemons, evaluate each tool on it’s own merit. By including all brands, you stand a much better chance of getting a sale price. There are often a lot of similarities between the same type of tool across brands….ie: a typical Asian made cabinet saw will be pretty similar from Jet to Grizzly to Steel City to General International to Laguna to Shop Fox if the tool is in that class of saw. You often pay a premium for dealer support and/or extended warranty, but you very often get a comparable or very similar tool. Features may vary a bit, so figure out what you like, and what’s worth a premium and what’s not. Get to know the models, features, and regular street prices of the major tools… then you’ll know when a great price is offered. When I see what appears to be a phenominal deal from a local store on a tool that’s been on my hit list, I check the return policy and buy it…it can always go back if necessary, but if you pass, the deal is often gone when you go back.

Used tools can offer good value under the right circumstances, but not only isn’t there a guarantee on used tools, there’s no guarantee the right deal will come along when you’re ready. It’s still good to be looking regularly.

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

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2970 days

#13 posted 03-20-2013 10:36 PM

There will usually be tool sales around “Father’s Day” which is coming up in a few months. That’s when I got my $650 table saw for $409 about 3 years ago.

Companies like CPO Outlet have refurbished tools for somewhat of a discount..

Harbor Freight has continuous sales. What ever you want that they have, if it is not on sale, wait a couple of weeks and it will be.

Right now, most of the big Box stores are concentrating on yard stuff for those of us who are not slogging around in snow.

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 2178 days

#14 posted 03-23-2013 05:13 PM

My favorite setup on the router is the Porter Cable 2 1/4 with 2 base kits. I keep the fixed base locked in the table and just drop out the motor to the plunge base for other tasks. It is very handy and I would strongly recommend it for a starting point. Its hard to buy 2 or 3 routers which would be ideal and this solves that problem. You can always upgrade later.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2864 days

#15 posted 03-23-2013 07:25 PM

Someone mentioned Black Friday. There is also Cyber-Monday which is the Monday following Black Friday. is probably the best known internet retail site, but there are many ,many others.

Often a search for a particular tool will list what site has the best price for that tool. Also many of the good tool sites
like have sales going on around this time of year as well as through-out the year. Create some accounts
with a few of these to get coupons emailed to you.

Harbor Freight also might be worth getting on their mailing list for their monthly sale-flyer.

Ebay and Craigslist are a few more internet sites that come to mind if you want to buy second-hand tools.

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