Monday, July 11, 2011

High end vs low end

Well, it’s been a bit since I have blogged.  Apparently food poisoning and blogging don’t mix.  Any way I had thought I would start to outline the tools in my shop and thoughts about if they were worth it.  Then I realized that I had upgraded some tools since I first started and planned future upgrades already.  So I thought about the range of tools out there from high end pro tools to low end one time use types.  So what level of a tool should one buy? 
In my town we have a Home Depot, Lowes, 2 Menards, 2 Walmarts, and will soon have a harbor freight.  In addition we are a short drive to an acme tools and a rockler.  That means I can play with a range of complete crap to high end marvels.
If someone is just starting I would say don’t break the bank.  Mid range tools are fairly priced, or mid to high end treasures can be found cheap in the classifieds, on Craig’s list.  Heck, free hand me downs are also pretty cool.  But before you sink three grand on the delta unisaw, you should see if the hobby is something you are going to stick with.  So until you know if saw dust flows in your veins leave the pro tools to the pro’s.
Then again the old saying that you always cry when buying a tool, either when you pay for it or when you replace it is also good advice.  So my thought is to look at what you have first, what you can borrow second, and what you can buy third.  Do you have a drill or a circular saw?  If so don’t upgrade until they die or they fail to do the job.  When I first got married I got a cheap corded black and decker drill from a big box store.  It is still kicking and has yet to fail to drive a screw into hardwood.  One day it started to smell funny and I was sure it was going to die, so I bought a higher end corded Dewalt drill (which cost 50 dollars more then a new black and decker).  The funny smell stopped and the drill is still kicking. Functionally there is no difference.  There are things I like better about both drills, but for a DIY type or someone just starting the black and decker would have been a good call.  Save the 50 bucks for lumber.
Also remember some high end stuff is crap, and some low end products are hidden gems.  The question is how to tell the difference.  Read reviews and check out forums.  I like Lumber jocks, and  Look for common compliments or complaints on a product.  Lastly if you are on the fence between 2 products go to the store and handle them.  There are some nice tools that I have passed because I could tell the ergonomics were not right for me.