Buying new tools is becoming a frustrating part of woodworking

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Blog entry by tworst posted 09-03-2010 05:37 AM 1692 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Long rant below, probably nothing useful in it for you other than you might feel like you are not alone when it comes to the frustration of buying tools…..............

I am pretty frustrated with the whole process of buying new tools right now. What should be a part of the enjoyment of woodworking is turning in to a pain. Example: trying to get a new drill press because the one I have has too much spindle slop to do accurate work. My purchasing criteria: buy a DP with tight tolerance on spindle and minimal runout. Thats it. Its that simple. Lasers, lights, tables, etc don’t matter if this criteria is not met. Go to local stores and check spindles by hand – all poor to terrible. Read blogs for hours, little if any specs/contradictory information. Go to manufacturer’s web site, download sales literature, no specs. Download manual, no specs. Wait, I have an idea! Contact the manufacturer! Why didn’t I think of this before? I saw the new Delta 18-900L, love the table and has some nice features like lasers, lights, quick adjust, etc. But of course, no specs on runout/slop. It looks like a great DP so I email Delta:

I have been looking to upgrade my drill press for months and I just saw your 18-900L. I love the table and quick/micro adjust depth of cut, laser and light features. But by far the #1 thing I am looking for in a drill press is the runout of the spindle. I have a Delta mortising attachement now and I simply can’t use it because the spindle slop on my Craftsman DP is so bad it would not be worth it. I have checked many machine spindles and they all have more spindle slop than I can tolerate. Can you tell me the technical tolerances on your spindle? Not just at the stops, but during the stroke. I assume there would be no problem using my Delta mortising attachment on this DP. Are there any plans to come out with a similar 15” DP?

Answer from Delta:

........ we believe the following information addresses your inquiry.

The information you are requesting is proprietary and cannot be given out.

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve you. If your question remains unresolved or if you require additional information please update this incident.

My replly:

How can the most important specification of a drill press be “proprietary”? That is like going to buy a car and they won’t tell you the horse power or mpg. It almost sounds like you don’t want the buyer to know the tolerances because they are no better than the typical drill press you can pick up at Lowes. My search for a drill press is entirely dependent on knowing the the tolerances or I might as well keep the drill press I have now. The lasers, light, table don’t matter to me if the spindle travel is inaccurate. So, it lools like I would have to order a $800+, 300 lb machine, unpack it and put it together and then measure the tolerances myself and hope it will be satisfactory. And if not not satisfactory, I would have to go to the trouble and expense of repacking it and sending it back. Here is an idea, why don’t you sell me the drill press and I will tell you how much I will pay for it after I get it. And since when is product compatibility proprietary information?

........ I believe the information you supplied addressed nothing….............

I know, I know, you get what you pay for. But you should at least know what you are getting when you pay for it. If Delta would have said: “Our specs are x, y, and z…..if these are not acceptable to you, you could consider model ABC which has much better tolerances but costs twice as much….”, then I could make an informed decision which, if any, model to buy. Is this too much to ask? I am about ready to build a jig on a pole and attach my cordless drill to it….........

Also searching for table saw. Went to Grizzly and found a Shop Fox 12” 3 HP model that I intended to use 10” blades on. Checked the manual, yep, comes with 1” and 5/8” argors. Great, ready to buy. Was talking to Grizzly tech about another aspect of the saw and the arbor issue came up. I was informed that it no longer has the 5/8” arbor. But I read the actual manual and it said it did. Well, the manuals aren’t always up to date. There was no mention of this on the sales page. It was shear luck I fouind this out. Okay, so now looking at 10” models. Found a Grizzly model that I liked. Then found a Shop fox model that looked identical to it for $400 cheaper. Hmmm, better download the manuals for both to check the guts. The grizzly manual had pictures of the trunion for makning adjustsments. But different pictures had different types of trunioins! And, one of the types was exactly like the trunion depicted in the Fox Shop manual. Had to call Grizzly to find out what was what. And I found at that the Grizzly was essentially the newer model and the Shop Fox older style. Once again I am told, you can’t go by the manual. You know, we put a man on the moon decades ago with the processing power of a wrist watch but we can’t get electronic manuals updated so a consumer can see what he is purchasing.Ok, so maybe I still go with the Shop Fox. Question: is there any difference in quality? The dancing around the question began. They are a “sister” company…..a red headed step child sister I wondered. The employees at Grizzly were helpful and at least answered my questions, not like Delta.

Bought a Jet JJP-12 planer/jointer combo. It arrived damaged of course. Had to send it back and get a new one. Neither had the paddle switch as depicted at the sales site. The manual showed push button switches. But hey, I know better, you can’t go by the manual. You have to look at the sales site. So I talked to Jet only to be informed, you can’t go by the sales site, you have to go by the manual! Son…........of…......a….........b….... what do you have to do to get accurate info?

Today I opened a box for a 2 drawer Sears toolbox. What I found inside was I toolbox that looked like it had been run over. It was literally distorted like a parallelogrm and the sides were at about 70 degrees to bottom instead of 90 degress. It took some very considerable force to do this. But the box was relatively unscathed. There is no way in hell this is shipping damage. Ok, shit happens, often apparently. So I called Sears. Damage? No problem. We will give you a refund and pick it up. OK, but why don’t you just send me a new one? We are not set up to do that. Why the hell not I thought. Fine, I will just order a new one. Got on line and found it at the Sears website while still on phone with them. Its $50 more now. I asked if I could get the same price I paid before and she said she didn’t know. Wait a minute, am I not talking to Sears? Yes, she said, but we have no authority over what they do. Then why do you have the same logo on your site…..............................I am going to have to take the damaged tool box to Sears and see if the will order a new one at the price I originally paid. If not, I plan to buy and return an item unopened every week until they capitulate. I am just plain tired of this shit.

OK, venting complete, I feel better now…........................

PS. Why does the text in this box shift up periodically while I am trying to write this? It’s not a big deal but it is annoying. I hope this information is not proprietary.

11 comments so far

View wichle's profile


96 posts in 2369 days

#1 posted 09-03-2010 07:07 AM

Have you compared the runout of the spindle without the chuck, vs the runout of the chuck and the runout of a good drill in the chuck. You may be surprised. By spindle is perfect, ZI am on chuck numbe 2 which is not terrible but not perfect. Bottom line, chuck could be the problem.

-- Bill, Michigan "People don't come preassebled, but are glued together by life"

View tworst's profile


23 posts in 2260 days

#2 posted 09-03-2010 07:24 AM

I have not done that specifically, but I have had the chuck off and throughly cleaned and reinserted. But I think there are two issues. One is the runout, the other is spindle slop. I think you can have near zero runout but still have a lot of slop with even just a slight side force. I can grab my chuck and easily move it around. It came like that out of the box. Sometimes when drill a hole, the bit skews away from where the drill bit point first touched the wood. So, I think even with no runout I would still have a problem. I will check what you suggested.

I was really in a foul mood when I posted the first part and missed the window to edit it. I used a few colorful expressions that might offend some. Sorry, will avoid doing so in the future.

View tworst's profile


23 posts in 2260 days

#3 posted 09-03-2010 07:24 AM


View Salty's profile


73 posts in 2469 days

#4 posted 09-03-2010 07:39 AM

So did you go with the Delta or the Grizzly? Just kidding… that sucks that you’ve had so many problems. Hopefully things will work out in the end.


View JuniorJoiner's profile


463 posts in 2862 days

#5 posted 09-03-2010 07:46 AM

try this one.

I have similar frustrating stories in my search for quality machines, I have just opted to use what I have until I save enough pennies for the best stuff where quality and customer service is not an issue(ie felder, festool, uber expensive, but worth it for less hassle)

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View William's profile


9906 posts in 2264 days

#6 posted 09-03-2010 12:49 PM

Bottom line is that things just aren’t made like they used to be. Example being, I have bought two new drill presses in the last two years (both had to be carried back). On both presses, even though they were nice and pretty and had all the fancy perks, when you assembled them and turned the things on, there was enough slop at the chuck/spindle, that they would have been great at wobbling out the holes of anything I was trying to drill to get a tight fitting hole. Calling, writing, emailing, or otherwise communicating with these companies is completely futal. I even had one sales rep tell me he tightened up the slop in his drill press (from his own company) by putting a piece of masking tape around the spindle before installing the chuck. WHAT!? So here is a sales rep telling me that the chuck is so loose on his own machine that he can get a piece of masking tape between the chuck and spindle. Does this really sound quality produced to them?
On the other hand, I do have a Shopsmith that was made in 1962 that is still just as accurate as the day it was made. The only reason I wanted a new press was that with my bad back, it is hard on me to stand the Shopsmith up to use the drill press feature.
I didn’t mean to go on a rant of my own. I just wanted to let you know that you’re certainly not alone in your frustrating search for quality tools. I think a lot of us probably know exactly how you feel. Good luck to you. I hope you can find one you’re happy with.


View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2408 days

#7 posted 09-03-2010 02:29 PM

For what it’s worth, I would have called them instead of emailing them. Generally when you can engage in conversation with a real person and explain what you’re looking for, they’re more likely to give you answers.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Doer's profile


22 posts in 2245 days

#8 posted 09-03-2010 09:12 PM

Instead of buying new tools…...think about when they were made to last longer than your lifetime…......take a visit to this site and or join the even more useful forum that also has classified ads for these timeless machines . Every machine I own is made in the USA during the 60’s and 70’s and cost one hell of a lot less.

Rescue an old woodworking machine.


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2537 days

#9 posted 09-04-2010 12:48 AM

´thank´s for the rand :-) now I feel a lot better after reading this
all I can add is … glad you ain´t living in Denmark


View tworst's profile


23 posts in 2260 days

#10 posted 09-04-2010 04:07 PM

Thanks everybody for the words of empathy and suggestions. One commenter mentioned that at least I have the means to buy tools in the first place and this took the edge off the whole situation. Actually, I have my health and all my fingers too. So, hey, its all good.

Some people recommend buying american, but right now I would buy a DP from Kim Jong Il (communist dictaor, North Korea) if it had good spindle specs. Of course, I would clear it with the State Dept. first.

View tworst's profile


23 posts in 2260 days

#11 posted 09-07-2010 07:04 AM

Update: Sears store did me right.

I was able to take my damaged tool box to a Sears store and they took it back and ordered me a new one at the (lower) price that I bought it at originally on line. The Sears guy (Adrian, Morgantown WV store) was curteous and helpful. I even got some kind of a discount that I was not expecting. So, BRAVO to Sears and Adrian for some good customer service and what has been a recent nightmare with multiple vendors over the last few weeks. It feels good to post something positive about tools for a change. I just wish places like Sears carried more variety and inventory of tools (like the used to) so I could deal with them directly, person to person at the store and see what I am buying. Every time I place an order online I hold my breath opening the box when it arrives.

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