Buying cheap tools

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ajs

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In part this is a reflection on the tool regret thread posted yesterday, but also a point I've raised here and there recently.

Forget top quality. What are the tools you buy bargain basement stuff and why?

Feel free to debate an answer but keep it civil. If someone doesn't value your favourite tool it doesn't make them ignorant, equally if they choose to spend where you're cheap they're not an silly person.

A couple of my cheap picks:

1. Power sanders of any description. Different kinds of sander do different things, I may use a random orbit, belt sander or oscillating multitool depending on the task, but I've yet to find a real reason why a "good" tool is better than the £20 equivalent from Aldi or similar. Dust collection doesn't cut it: you're going to need to Hoover up anyway. Don't get me started on the pads where clogging is the limiting factor.

2. Multimeters. This came up here a couple of weeks ago. I do have an electronics background and do have precision meters in needed. Never use them. Better use a cheap one that's good enough for everyday stuff and cheaper to replace when it gets killed by an absent minded test on the wrong setting.

3. Hammers. I prefer ball pein hammers as a general rule but provided the head is secure and it's about the right weight for the job I've never seen the point in spending. Those Silverline ones are fine in my book but I'm open to persuasion.

I recognise this could turn into an inflammatory thread so again I urge civility, but believe it's worthy of discussion, after all few have unlimited budgets so it becomes a question of where to spend the cash available instead of how much in total.
 
I love rummaging around on market stalls etc. To find cheap vintage hand tools, does that count? I've got a pretty decent selection of planes, chisels, spokeshaves etc. that I got dirt cheap and only needed a little tlc to get working nicely - the tip here is to look out for older Sheffield made tools as they're usually decent steel and well made. You'll never catch me spending hundreds on a veritas plane!

Re. Your point on sanders, my experience is that cheap sanders vibrate far worse than better quality equivalents - I went from a £30 black and decker random orbital to a £60 Bosch professional and the difference is huge, and I'd still call that a pretty savvy price compared to festool, mirka etc. Dust collection is also hugely improved as well as noise.
 
it should be more of a question, does quality matter? I think it does in most cases even if you're a hobbyist, I've learnt not to judge people, if they want to spend huge amounts of money on high end planes it's not my place to criticise them, if somebody wants to spend as little as possible that's fine too, it's the end result that matters, what you make with what you have got, not the tools. Your average person knows next to nothing about these things and most people are impressed if you can make anything at all, let alone make it well or to a high standard because so few people can make anything anymore.
 
Excell sanders are ok imho.
I have a 6" one which has been great!

Faithful planes have been good for me a pine basher!

Wickes tenon saws likewise!

Stanley cordless drills and baulker 12v drills.
 
In part this is a reflection on the tool regret thread posted yesterday, but also a point I've raised here and there recently.

Forget top quality. What are the tools you buy bargain basement stuff and why?

Feel free to debate an answer but keep it civil. If someone doesn't value your favourite tool it doesn't make them ignorant, equally if they choose to spend where you're cheap they're not an silly person.

A couple of my cheap picks:

1. Power sanders of any description. Different kinds of sander do different things, I may use a random orbit, belt sander or oscillating multitool depending on the task, but I've yet to find a real reason why a "good" tool is better than the £20 equivalent from Aldi or similar. Dust collection doesn't cut it: you're going to need to Hoover up anyway. Don't get me started on the pads where clogging is the limiting factor.

2. Multimeters. This came up here a couple of weeks ago. I do have an electronics background and do have precision meters in needed. Never use them. Better use a cheap one that's good enough for everyday stuff and cheaper to replace when it gets killed by an absent minded test on the wrong setting.

3. Hammers. I prefer ball pein hammers as a general rule but provided the head is secure and it's about the right weight for the job I've never seen the point in spending. Those Silverline ones are fine in my book but I'm open to persuasion.

I recognise this could turn into an inflammatory thread so again I urge civility, but believe it's worthy of discussion, after all few have unlimited budgets so it becomes a question of where to spend the cash available instead of how much in total.
The tools you've mentioned are all in the plural.

Is there a reason for that? ;)
 
Forget top quality. What are the tools you buy bargain basement stuff and why?
Not a simple question because many take the view that you only need trade quality tools if you are trade and the difference in cost is mostly down to how long the tool will last for. This is not the case upto a point, below a certain threshold a tool will do the job but either badly or not easily. Cheap tools are cheap for a reason and buying a decent brand once is often cheaper in the long run than buying several cheap versions, or progressively iterating towards a decent tool with a trail of cheap cast offs behind you.
 
I love rummaging around on market stalls etc. To find cheap vintage hand tools, does that count? I've got a pretty decent selection of planes, chisels, spokeshaves etc. that I got dirt cheap and only needed a little tlc to get working nicely - the tip here is to look out for older Sheffield made tools as they're usually decent steel and well made. You'll never catch me spending hundreds on a veritas plane!

Re. Your point on sanders, my experience is that cheap sanders vibrate far worse than better quality equivalents - I went from a £30 black and decker random orbital to a £60 Bosch professional and the difference is huge, and I'd still call that a pretty savvy price compared to festool, mirka etc. Dust collection is also hugely improved as well as noise.
Don’t think that plastic thing Bosch provide for their sanders is of any value at all … pity, the sander itself is pretty good.
 
Don’t think that plastic thing Bosch provide for their sanders is of any value at all … pity, the sander itself is pretty good.
Which plastic thing are we talking about? If you mean the "dust collection" box then sure, it's pretty much pointless. But connect the sander to a vacuum and it collects about 95% of dust, as opposed to about 3% from the black and decker I had before 😂
 
Not a simple question because many take the view that you only need trade quality tools if you are trade and the difference in cost is mostly down to how long the tool will last for. This is not the case upto a point, below a certain threshold a tool will do the job but either badly or not easily. Cheap tools are cheap for a reason and buying a decent brand once is often cheaper in the long run than buying several cheap versions, or progressively iterating towards a decent tool with a trail of cheap cast offs behind you.
I don't think you should skip on tools you use in daily use.

Other tools I might use once a year like an SDS drill angle grinder or a tile cutter I don't mind the make or brand! Normally I'm happy to find a drill bit or disk!!
 
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Oooooo hammers :)
I like my estwing. It is very well balanced and great to use. Ive had a fair few over the years but the estwings always feel the best to use. I had an estwing 'go misding' so i bought a stanley 'surestrike' and I hated it from the first day. After a week i bought another estwing. Im on number 3 atm

Cheap power tools can be ok, but for trade users, the ergonomics, dust collection, power and accuracy all come into it. Specifically sanders, peter millard did a great test between the bosch and festool.... and the dust control looks great

Edit to add: in answer to your question, ive got a cheap macallister kango. It was 120 quid from screwfix, weighs about 25kg and smashes up concrete. It would have cost me 130 to hire a makita for a week..... so basically it was free because i allowed for hire when pricing the job.
It wont have the same level of vibration control and no doubt wont last as long, but i hardly ever need to smash up thick concrete and have smalled kangos for block walls etc
 
1. Power sanders of any description. Different kinds of sander do different things, I may use a random orbit, belt sander or oscillating multitool depending on the task, but I've yet to find a real reason why a "good" tool is better than the £20 equivalent from Aldi or similar.

I learned from my father, albeit later in life, that only the rich can afford to buy inexpensive tools that are used on a daily basis. He was an avid woodworking hobbyist after he retired, but not a good judge of quality when it came to buying tools. His unintended motto was "buy cheap, buy often", and he certainly lived up to this. Unfortunately, he never threw out any of the broken tools and added them to the Expanding Closet of Misfit Tools for others to find later.

After our father died, my brother and I cleared out his shop so our mother could enjoy the use of the garage for her car for the first time in over 20 years. We found dozens of broken drills, sanders, jigsaws, circular saws, biscuit joiners, hand tools, socket sets, screwdriver sets, and so on. My brother was initially interested in salvaging the tools because there were no obvious signs of abuse. However, as he worked his way through the pile of corded 3/8-inch drill motors, he discovered that they had simply worn out and could not be repaired.

Individually, these were inexpensive tools and would have been welcome additions to the occasional DIYer or handyman. However, the volume of broken inexpensive tools was sobering. Rather than spend money one time on a quality tool with a decent warranty, he spent many times that amount buying lower quality tools that were built to a price point. At the time he would have bought the first batch of tools, the most expensive equivalents would have been much less than the cost of half of his failed collection.

Even with the tools that still functioned, the lot had no value and no one was interested them. We hauled several truckloads of his shop to the landfill and the garage was used as a garage for the first time.

If you are going to use an Aldi, or similar, inexpensive tool infrequently, or even once, then I see no reason to ignore them and they could be good value. However, if you are going to use the tools daily, for extended periods of time, or as a source of income, then you might want to be prepared for frequent replacements.

Dust collection doesn't cut it: you're going to need to Hoover up anyway. Don't get me started on the pads where clogging is the limiting factor.

I respectfully disagree with this statement entirely. You are welcome to visit my shop if you are on this side of the Channel and I will show you what effective dust collection looks like. I still vacuum stray chips from time to time, but the easiest way for me to reduce the cleaning and suspended dust is to collect the dust and chips at the source. Unfortunately, the less expensive power tools I've owned do not do even a reasonable job at this.

When I moved my shop from the garage to the basement, dust collection was the focal point of my shop design. The equipment layout was balanced between workflow and the dust extraction distribution. As I replaced the small powered tools, the dust collection was always a key factor, while cost was never a factor.
 
I try and buy used quality tools on ebay, the price is right and the tools are mostly in very good condition.

If I but new, it's a once in a lifetime purchase, so generally the best I can get my hands on.

I try not to buy power tools anymore and prefer to slow down and work by hand, and for what I do it's generally just as fast. Except if I'm framing, then it's out with the sawmill, chain morticer and high torque, slow speed drill.
 
If you are buying tools because they are cheap you probably don't need them. A few years ago I noticed that I had a lot of tools I never use mainly sanders and drills that had become obsolete because I was too tight to buy a quality tool at the time. Now I mull over every purchase for a few months while saving the dosh for something that will last a lifetime. No more ' buyers remorse ' to ruin my day. ;)
 
Oooooo hammers :)
I like my estwing. It is very well balanced and great to use. Ive had a fair few over the years but the estwings always feel the best to use. I had an estwing 'go misding' so i bought a stanley 'surestrike' and I hated it from the first day. After a week i bought another estwing. Im on number 3 atm

Cheap power tools can be ok, but for trade users, the ergonomics, dust collection, power and accuracy all come into it. Specifically sanders, peter millard did a great test between the bosch and festool.... and the dust control looks great

Edit to add: in answer to your question, ive got a cheap macallister kango. It was 120 quid from screwfix, weighs about 25kg and smashes up concrete. It would have cost me 130 to hire a makita for a week..... so basically it was free because i allowed for hire when pricing the job.
It wont have the same level of vibration control and no doubt wont last as long, but i hardly ever need to smash up thick concrete and have smalled kangos for block walls etc
This is the one cheap tool I would heartily recommend; mines an Erbauer version, but having used lots of breakers (hydraulic, pneumatic and electric), this is hands down the most effective, irrespective of price.

Of course, if you break seriously tough material, day in, day out, you’ll destroy it. But with appropriate regards to HAVS, you’ll get jobs done easily with this.

That aside, I hate cheap, new tools!
 
I recognise this could turn into an inflammatory thread so again I urge civility, but believe it's worthy of discussion, after all few have unlimited budgets so it becomes a question of where to spend the cash available instead of how much in total.
This last bit..... it will depend on what each individual wants to achieve and why.
For instance, im a site carpenter and speed and accuracy is important.
Adam does a lot of varied work, like timber framing, carving, restoration etc. ( if i had a chance at a hobby, it'd be slower woodwork, gotta be more satisfying ) and in that vein, i would think for most hobbyists, money would be best spent buying high quality second_hand hand tools so you can enjoy your hobby time even more. ( basically what adam said )
 
This last bit..... it will depend on what each individual wants to achieve and why.
For instance, im a site carpenter and speed and accuracy is important.
Adam does a lot of varied work, like timber framing, carving, restoration etc. ( if i had a chance at a hobby, it'd be slower woodwork, gotta be more satisfying ) and in that vein, i would think for most hobbyists, money would be best spent buying high quality second_hand hand tools so you can enjoy your hobby time even more. ( basically what adam said )

Absolutely agree; second hand it fantastic, on so many levels. I’ve had top-shelf stuff cheap or free, all in excellent condition.
 
My 1st power tool was a b/ decker hammer drill, hammer drills were a fairly new concept to me circa 1978 ish . IT was fine for a few holes for shelving etc . Showing my age but purchased a circular saw attachment for it and cut/ split several lengths of reclaimed maple flooring to make a frame for growing rubber beans on my allotment- again it worked fine but was very slow . A year or so later I was installing a shower and was drilling 20 mm holes through double 3”joists and it got warm , then hot then started to smell and finally burst into flames- I learned from then on that unless I wanted to buy a drill per job then the better the quality the longer it would last . The only time I would consider a cheapo tool is a one off job where I’m unlikely to ever use it again. If The cost of this tool can be added to the job price then it’s all good if it gets said job done even if the tool dies . About 30 years ago I brought a battered old hilti te52 for such a job - breaking up a 3m x 3m concrete garage floor and a 1m x 9m concrete path - the hilti was perfect and custom told me to keep it . Last week I was breaking up 3 inch rendering from the internal walls of the house I’m working in with the same hilti- best £60 I’ve ever spent as it’s only ever had a new power cable . I will mourn its loss when that day comes around.. quality pays even if it’s old quality..
 
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