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 Post subject: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:18 
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One thing I have noticed with the low end (cheap) side of woodworking tools is that they seem to get the more complicated bits right, but skimp on the simple stuff that could really improve the end result with little to no extra costs. It really annoys me.

A case that has cropped up recently for me is bench top planer/thicknessers, like this one :

http://www.charnwood.net/products/produ ... athway-119

They go to all the trouble of getting the adjustable height mechanism correct (which is very involved if you see one opened up) and then supply it with a god awful flimsy fence?? ....makes no sense. And there are countless brands all doing the same thing!!!

I know some of you will say it's to make it cheaper to manufacturer, and you're probably right. But when you take into account what they're selling at, I can't believe that making that fence better (like people who own this kind of tool often do themselves, very cheaply) would not result in negligible increased costs. Hell, pass the extra few quid onto the buyer, just make it useable!

For instance, I can't help but think a lot of these tools using pressed steel (which is always out of whack) could be improved immensely if they used laminated particle board (similar to a thinner worktop like surface). It would be flatter, very stable, very resilient and I assume not much more? perhaps even cheaper. Would it last as long as steel? no. But it would certainly last long enough in relation to the other components if treated properly. As an example, I have the Charnwood W012 Benchtop Router Table, which has a laminated particle board top, and it's very robust and flat.

Whenever I see the cheaper tools with the flimsy pastic or out of shape pressed steel, I think, had they used a laminated particle board for that it would be soooooo much better.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:22 
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I tend to see cheap tools as a starter pack, you buy them with their issues, you fix those issue as you go along and eventually you have something you understand which works well. without going through all of that you'd have no appreciation of how the tool works short of "you stick the wood in, fairy magic happens and it comes out the other side smaller". if you stick with it you eventually decide to upgrade to a better tool and you understand how to set it up, fix it and use it correctly because you've had the cheap stuff first.

I think that makes sense. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:23 
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novocaine wrote:
I tend to see cheap tools as a starter pack, you buy them with their issues, you fix those issue as you go along and eventually you have something you understand which works well. without going through all of that you'd have no appreciation of how the tool works short of "you stick the wood in, fairy magic happens and it comes out the other side smaller". if you stick with it you eventually decide to upgrade to a better tool and you understand how to set it up, fix it and use it correctly because you've had the cheap stuff first.

I think that makes sense. :)


My point is that the cheap tools don't need to be rubbish.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:26 
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ah but if they worked and wearn't rubbish you wouldn't get to learn, so being a bit rubbish (in simple ways you can improve without needing to cut new gears and such) gives you that chance. an intentional built in rubbish instead of a to lazy to fix it rubbish. :) it is funny how most of the complaints about cheap tools are things we can fix ourselves (ok some tools are just rubbish). I smell a rat.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:35 
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novocaine wrote:
ah but if they worked and wearn't rubbish you wouldn't get to learn, so being a bit rubbish (in simple ways you can improve without needing to cut new gears and such) gives you that chance. an intentional built in rubbish instead of a to lazy to fix it rubbish. :) it is funny how most of the complaints about cheap tools are things we can fix ourselves (ok some tools are just rubbish). I smell a rat.


I know what you're saying, but disagree.

I don't expect cheap tools to last long.
I don't expect cheap tools to be super accurate.
I don't expect cheap tools to have all the bells and whistles.
I expect to have to fettle a cheap tool.

But I don't expect to have to replace large components, especially when those components don't NEED to be as bad as they are. There are parts of a tool that need to be suitable for that tool to function as expected. In this case, a sturdy flat fence is rather important, and something that could easily be improved upon with little to no cost (as many people have done so)

I don't understand why they can make the complicated expensive bits work, but fail with the simple inexpensive bits.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:47 
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You are perhaps looking at the incremental cost of (say) a better fence in the context of what you paid for the tool. The manufacturer will be looking at it is a percentage of their profit. Bearing in mind the factory gets circa half (or less) what you paid for it after wholesaler mark up, retailer mark up, VAT, duties etc they may be working on thin margins. You get what you pay for.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:52 
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AJB Temple wrote:
You are perhaps looking at the incremental cost of (say) a better fence in the context of what you paid for the tool. The manufacturer will be looking at it is a percentage of their profit. Bearing in mind the factory gets circa half (or less) what you paid for it after wholesaler mark up, retailer mark up, VAT, duties etc they may be working on thin margins. You get what you pay for.


Again though, I don't understand why they can make the complicated *expensive to manufacturer* bits work, but fail with the simple inexpensive bits (in this case fundamental).


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 11:58 
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because the "expensive" parts are off the shelf, normally handed down from the more expensive tools, economy of scale, they make millions of that part for all the manufacturers, they only make thousands of that part for 1-4 manufacturers. think about that cog, is it really only used on that one machine? or is it a boilerplate part that is used in millions of other applications? were as the fence is specific to that machine (or type of machine).


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 12:04 
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novocaine wrote:
because the "expensive" parts are off the shelf, normally handed down from the more expensive tools, economy of scale, they make millions of that part for all the manufacturers, they only make thousands of that part for 1-4 manufacturers. think about that cog, is it really only used on that one machine? or is it a boilerplate part that is used in millions of other applications? were as the fence is specific to that machine (or type of machine).



Sorry. Don't buy that :p A fence is a pretty generic thing. And when I'm talking about manufacturing, I mean the system or components of as a whole, not each individial parts. The insides of that machine are very complicated to assemble.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 12:11 
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no, the aluminium extrusion/steel plate might be generic the attachment is very specific, as is the guard. you aren't going to find it on anything but a planer thicknesser. it isn't made up of other parts which are interchangable between machines (excluding handles/knobs etc.), you can't go in to a store and pick one of that part up, things like gear trains or belt drives are all generic, so are bearings and bushing, lead screws etc. they aren't made for just this machine, the fence is surely, I'm not going to find it on a table saw or in some other item.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 12:17 
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novocaine wrote:
no, the aluminium extrusion/steel plate might be generic the attachment is very specific, as is the guard. you aren't going to find it on anything but a planer thicknesser. it isn't made up of other parts which are interchangable between machines (excluding handles/knobs etc.), you can't go in to a store and pick one of that part up, things like gear trains or belt drives are all generic, so are bearings and bushing, lead screws etc. they aren't made for just this machine, the fence is surely, I'm not going to find it on a table saw or in some other item.


There are so many parts of that machine that will be specific to it, like the Aluminium Tables (which they got right), which I should imagine will be far more expensive to manufacturer than a simple fence attached with a few generic fixings


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 13:43 
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You have to make the more expensive models look more attractive, other wise no one would buy them.

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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 20:37 
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Are people attracted by those fancy looking bits - or maybe fooled by them? Then assume that the rest will be of similar quality?

You can't assume that the company morally wants to produce the best best product ever. So much stuff nowadays is made with a limited shelf life. Will companies make a planer that is perfect and lasts fifty years and does its job excellently or are they happy to push out some old cr** that will need replacing in five years (the fence being an experiment for their parent company perhaps). They won't get many repeat customers but there'll always be another wave of people willing to but the entry level stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 22:04 
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Hello,

Wouldn't making all the poor bits of a cheap machine better, just make the machine into the expensive one, which had all the bits well made in the first place? You can't have your cake and eat it! Buy the expensive, good machine or be prepared to fettle the cheaper one. What the OP really wants is to pay little and get a lot, which has never happened in the history of the world, even though some are duped and then disappointed by promises of such.

Mike.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheap tool design
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2016, 22:56 
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You have to pey a lot of money to get a machine that needs no fettling.

Most machines, China made or lower end European all have bits that are weak or have design faults. Im always having to replace knobs, handles, rrpair welds.

The most robust machines I have are 40 year old Wadkins.

I imagine Martin, Panhans and similar German machines are great out of the box.

I think it is astonishing how cheap modern power tools can be. A titan sds breaker for under £50 for example.


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