Convincing myself to buy quality (warning-mindless ramble)

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 11-15-2013 04:30 PM 1911 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1678 posts in 2830 days

11-15-2013 04:30 PM

I first began woodworking and craft building about 6 years ago. At that time, I made considerably less money than I do now, and was starting my tool collection with only a drill, circular saw, and a dremel to my name. Given my tight budget and thirst for greater skill/capability, I tended to buy low end tools. I didn’t want to pass over an interesting project solely because I didn’t have the right tool to complete it. Some of those tools are still adequate and I use them frequently, but in most cases, I’d love to upgrade at this point.

One example would be a Craftsman Evolv Jigsaw. Its was $24.99 new. It works OK, but ‘just’ OK. The base plate tends to shift over time, giving my cuts a slight bevel. I have to check it for square before each use. Most of the time, its square; but the fact that I ‘have’ to check it each time is annoying. But since the tool is workable, I can’t really justify replacing it with a better model. That said, I feel stuck….actually looking forward to the day that the tool fails me (LOL), justifying a shiney, new, high(er) end jigsaw. Don’t get me wrong, for $24.99 the Evolv owes me nothing. And for a homeowner that needs a jigsaw every five years, it would fit the bill. But my wants/needs have outgrown it.

I have several other tools that would fit this category. But the story would be the same.

These days my situation is slightly different. I make a better income. Definitely not “rich” by any definition, but firmly middle class. And I’m not in situation where I lack much in the way of tools. I have pretty much one of every mainstream tool. So I’m not in situation where I need to buy a new tool every month (or more often if I’m being honest)- like I seemingly used to. So the conventional wisdom of “saving up for the better tool” is typically an option at this point.

But for whatever reason, I’m stuck in my old mindset. I decide I need a new tool. I start eyeballing the mid-upper end offerings of said tool, and convince myself that it’s smarter to spend an extra 50-100% for the better quality. But I always seem to gravitate toward lower end models. Some of these models get good reviews, and are often regarded as ‘good nuff’. But I’ve reached a point where ‘good nuff’ might not make the most sense. Especially if I’ll buy it and use it……but yearn for the day that it dies so I can buy a nicer model…..that I’ll ‘enjoy’ more.

And I guess that’s the essence of this rambling, and the mindset I need to adopt. I don’t build and/or repair things because I have to. I do it because I ‘enjoy’ the process and sense of accomplishment. I shouldn’t pollute that sense of enjoyment, with a C-minus tool…… if I don’t have to. I should just buy the best I can comfortably afford, and get-on with my life.

All that said, I will not buy the $139 Scheppach Track saw (that gets decent reviews). I will buy the $380 Makita (that gets glowing reviews). I’ll use the hell out of it, for many years to come, on countless projects. And with any luck, it will still be in use after I’m a vegetable or worm food.

There, I said it. I feel better now.

25 replies so far

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2702 days

#1 posted 11-15-2013 05:06 PM

Ted, you’re either in a good mood, on drugs or it’s Friday…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5171 posts in 2691 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 05:09 PM

Move to the higher end tools if you want, but keep in mind what an acquaintance of mine says: “tools that are no good require more skill” :)

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2830 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 05:12 PM

DKV- don’t all three go hand-in-hand??

View MrRon's profile


5190 posts in 3441 days

#4 posted 11-15-2013 11:04 PM

I have tools that are too good for me, but I will never have to replace them. It may seem overkill at first, but years from now, you will not regret buying the best possible. People think that quality has to improve over the years. I’m of the opposite mindset and that is prices will escalate, while quality will either remain the same or go down. It’s called hindsight.

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2121 days

#5 posted 11-16-2013 12:06 AM

I can buy pretty much whatever I want but I won’t pay a ridiculous premium for the ‘best’ when its only marginally better. Now I don’t make my living woodworking, if I did I might have another opinion.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19007 posts in 2765 days

#6 posted 11-16-2013 01:07 AM

Don’t overthink it Ted. Buy the best tool you need. More money doesn’t always equate to better tools. Because if you think you shouldn’t pollute that sense of enjoyment, with a C-minus tool, wait until you pollute that sense of enjoyment, with a C-minus tool that was an A+ price.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View lightcs1776's profile


4234 posts in 1852 days

#7 posted 11-16-2013 01:35 AM

I’m new here, so take this for whatever it’s worth. Like you, I didn’t have much money when I was younger, but did have four kids to feed and my wife stayed home with them, so I understand where you are coming from. I have found the best way to purchase just about anything is to remove the least expensive and most expensive brands and look at the reviews for those in the middle and upper middle range. The premium tools usually have features that I just don’t need and will likely never use. The cheap ones will be more expensive in the long run as they will have to be replaced much sooner than a decent tool. Regardless of what you do, once you make the purchase, don’t keep second guessing yourself (which I constantly do, despite my own advice), just enjoy the new addition to your toolset.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3845 days

#8 posted 11-16-2013 02:42 AM

I no longer have the Jones to buy tools and I’m fortunately
well equipped. I do buy tools from time to time and mostly
I feel like my dollars go further with power tools and except
for chisels, less far with hand tools, which seem ridiculously
pricey to me today. When I was getting started and
real hungry to learn I invested a lot in hand tools and didn’t
think a lot about shopping on price.

These days, with ebay, I would buy used tools. Good ones
were hard to find for me when I was beginning.

View RT31's profile


54 posts in 1854 days

#9 posted 11-16-2013 03:22 AM

Maybe keep an eye out on ebay or craigslist. If you see a nice tool at a good price jump on it. Even wait for a huge sale and see if you can get a steal on something. Christmas sales are right around the corner.

As i see it, time is on your side. Just don’t wait till your dead.

View Jofa's profile


272 posts in 2036 days

#10 posted 11-16-2013 03:40 AM

I understand your sentiment, Ted. It applies to many different passions that we have.

I’ve been a guitar player for 30 years. I’ve played professionally and have appeared on a few albums. However, I’m one of those guys who has a really hard time justifying paying top dollar for my gear. I now play every Sunday at church (contemporary Christian music) with two guitars, each of which cost me less than $100 used. I sometimes walk into the studio with my cheapo gear and get looks from other musicians with $1200 guitars but the sound and feel come through fine. My point is that I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of what I have and as guitarists say, “the tone is in the hands”. I think the same holds true for tools, at least to a certain extent.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

View JonHitThingWithRock's profile


97 posts in 1920 days

#11 posted 11-16-2013 08:16 AM

I’m in the same boat as you, Ted. I started off around 5 or 6 years ago with the cheap portable tools i got when i was in the army, and the same mindset of immediately buying the cheapest thing because i was broke, now i make more and can afford better stuff. I’ve been replacing not-so-great stuff with good or great stuff, and the things i build are becoming better as both a result of better tooling and growing skill. I recently replaced my terrible 3-wheel delta bandsaw with a much better grizzly anniversary edition, the delta could do most of the same stuff, but it took 5 times as long and was way more of a pain to use, my next upgrade is my old craftsman table saw with a grizzly 3hp cabinet saw (eventually), which will undoubtedly be many times better. There’s a lot to be said for guys that buy cheap tools and keep them working forever, but I’m more interested in the woodwork and less in the machine maintenance, and am willing to pay for the convenience and quality. Never feel guilty for wanting better stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with selling your still-functional tools on craigslist after you’ve bought their replacement (that’s how we got some of our first tools when we started).

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11059 posts in 3626 days

#12 posted 11-16-2013 12:26 PM

I have rarely been disappointed in buying the best I could afford.
Judging from the Craigslist offerings in this area, quite a few folks don’t share that mind set.
Or, as JonHitThingWithRock suggests, they are upgrading.
There is nothing sweeter in the shop than using a well made tool.
All that said, “BEST” isn’t always expensive. In fact, it rarely is.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Farrout's profile


187 posts in 3352 days

#13 posted 11-16-2013 12:42 PM

Every time I tell my kids ‘Always buy in the middle’ their eyes roll up. Here we go again.
If there are options, I try to buy in the middle.
My story,
Sears used to have Good, Better, Best on their appliances.
For example, washing machines.
Good worked, did the basics and probably lasted a couple of years.
Better was an entirely different mechanical model with upgraded steel and motor.
Typically it had only one or two functions.
‘Best’ was the same mechanical model with lots of electronic controls and 5 or six functions only one or two of which were ever used.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I should be a genius!

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2121 days

#14 posted 11-16-2013 02:39 PM

Farrout that certainly applies to washing machines imo. I read about nothing but problems with these low water disc agitator ‘green’ top loaders or fancy ‘green’ front loader machines…$2,000 for a washing machine…really? I opt for the $500 ‘best’ stainless tub good old fashion beat the clothes to death top loader with a good old fashioned cork screw agitator, 40 year old technology refined to perfection, my clothes are clean and rinsed free of soap!!

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2830 days

#15 posted 11-16-2013 03:09 PM

We recently bought a washer/dryer. Like you, we preferred to avoid the latest.greatest gimmicky technology, in favor of battle-tested designs.
Unfortunately, the washing machine your mentioned is becoming harder to find. I fear the days of the 15+ year service life of a washing machine might be a thing of the past. Most of the newer designs have LCD screens and other useless crap thats just begging to break. I’m certainly not “anti-tech”. I can embrace a better mousetrap…....if its actually better and more reliable. But I sure as hell don’t need a washing machine to send me an email/text message when the cycle is over. Or a fridge to make a grocery list for me.

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