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Going stateside - any tool recommendations?

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sammy.se

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Hi All,

I'm going to the US for a week, and I thought it might be a chance to pick up any tools / equipment that might be hard to source in UK/EU.

On my list are parts and router bits to make plantation shutters - which seems to be hard to get in the UK.

Is there anything you recommend I look out for to buy while I'm there?
I'll have access to those big brand stores (Lowes, HomeDepot) plus also online shipping - if I place the order before I go, it will arrive when I'm there.

Thanks,
Sammy.
 

AES

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I haven't been to the US for quite a while, but "back in the day" any local Sears Roebuck branch was always worth a browse (their "Craftsman" brand range was always worth a look, though I have heard, indirectly, that these days they're not as good as they once were). Anyway, Sears usually to be found in any big edge of town shopping mall.

But the odd few Craftsman tools I have are all excellent. And their bed sheets and towels were always very good too BTW (still got some in regular use that are at least 20 years old).

And it used to be standard practice that when a crew from an overseas airline went to the US to pick up a new Boeing or Douglas off the line the aeroplane came home with the freight hold "packed to the gunwhales" with tools, etc.

But as said, that's a few years back now.
 

Bodgers

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sammy.se":25yxcq47 said:
Hi All,

I'm going to the US for a week, and I thought it might be a chance to pick up any tools / equipment that might be hard to source in UK/EU.

On my list are parts and router bits to make plantation shutters - which seems to be hard to get in the UK.

Is there anything you recommend I look out for to buy while I'm there?
I'll have access to those big brand stores (Lowes, HomeDepot) plus also online shipping - if I place the order before I go, it will arrive when I'm there.

Thanks,
Sammy.
No tool reccomendarions, but check out Woodcraft stores. I went to Woodcraft in Knoxville when I was there last. They are like a large Axminster. There were wood carving lessons going on whilst I visited. Worth a trip if one is on your route.



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Inspector

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Sears is gone. The Craftsman name was picked up by some big company same as Stanley and some Borg stores like Lowes sell it.

The Borg stores don't necessarily have good tools. They have a lot of branded stuff some of which is good and some dung. If it doesn't come blister packed or heat shrunk plastic on cardboard to hang on a hook they don't have it. Likely similar where you live only bigger.

Woodcraft and Rockler are the two woodworking franchise/chains with stores all over the US and have lots on their websites.

If you get to Canada Lee Valley has the best woodworking tools and they have a shipping warehouse or two in the US so ordering from them is not a problem.

Whiteside Machine Company is a well known and respected router bit company you can mail order from.

If I think of any others or you get specific to what you are looking for I'll add more.

Pete
 

marcros

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It really depends what you are looking for. DMT stones were good value when I got some, but that was a while ago and the dollar was much better. Pipe clamps are worth a look but they are fairly heavy. Lowe's or home depot had them on their shelf, I think I got them from Lowe's.

Just beware that there aren't huge amounts of physical stores to visit. You may find a woodcraft, but other than that they are fairly scare, like over here. Shipping takes longer than over here, plan on things taking 3 days to a week. Amazon can be similar in timescale.
 

sammy.se

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Thanks guys, for all the suggestions, I will have a look!!

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MikeK

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Inspector":3sce35tk said:
Sears is gone. The Craftsman name was picked up by some big company same as Stanley and some Borg stores like Lowes sell it.
A lot have closed across the U.S., but not all. I was in South Dakota and Virginia earlier this year and visited several Sears stores. I was able to buy and mail about 45 pounds of hand tools and accessories to replace missing tools and fill gaps in my mechanics tool set.

I was not impressed with the two Woodcraft stores I visited in northern Virginia. I wanted a set of DMT Dia-Sharp stones, but every fine and extra fine stone in stock was damaged. One had a huge gash on the surface visible through the packaging inspection window. I ordered the stones directly from DMT instead.
 

sammy.se

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What about the tools made it worth buying and shipping? were they hard to find in the UK, or better quality, or...?
 

MikeK

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sammy.se":3bo7t102 said:
What about the tools made it worth buying and shipping? were they hard to find in the UK, or better quality, or...?
I assume you were asking me. :D

Almost all of my automotive tools, both SAE and metric, are Craftsman because I couldn't afford Snap-on or Mac at the time. I was living in the U.S. and the Sears no-questions-asked return policy on broken Craftsman tools made it very affordable for me. The quality was good and in over 30 years I think I returned three screwdrivers and two 3/8-inch ratchet handles that failed during during use.

Now that I live in Germany, I wanted to stay with the Craftsman product line and I had one opportunity earlier this year to stock up and mail the horde back using the USPS channel provided by the U.S. military. One one of my other trips back to Virginia, I bought the steel Oneida Super Dust Deputy from Woodcraft and mailed it back. It was the largest Dust Deputy that could be mailed through the USPS, even though Oneida refused to mail it to me.
 

mbartlett99

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I'm generally based stateside for work and often try to pick up stuff but with the exchange rate right now there're few bargains to be had tbh.
 

marcros

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not tools, but weber bbq gear from US Amazon was v cheap when I last went. in fact, bbq things generally were good value.
 

John Brown

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mbartlett99":3nrxhqhg said:
I'm generally based stateside for work and often try to pick up stuff but with the exchange rate right now there're few bargains to be had tbh.
I have to agree.
I've been every year for 20 years (American wife with big family), and it doesn't feel cheap any more. Except for fuel and cigarettes...
Timber's probably a lot cheaper, but the airline baggage weight limits are not helpful.
 

Emstuv

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I'll second the exchange rate issue (also with American Wife and travel over every year).

Last year I picked up some Kreg jigs (these were cheaper, and plastic = light), some bandy clamps at Rockler and some moulded sanding pads for patterns.

I chained myself to a Sawstop, but my wife gave me a look so I had to leave.....
 

galleywood

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Checkout the import duties that you might have to pay at Customs, when you return to the UK.
 

Bodgers

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galleywood":34g2hm2q said:
Checkout the import duties that you might have to pay at Customs, when you return to the UK.
The duty free level is pretty high for personal imports stepping off a plane. Last few times I went I walked through nothing to declare is it was under the £300ish level. There is always the option of splitting it up between you and your significant other if they are travelling with you.
 

Eric The Viking

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Last time I was in Sears was last November, during their Black Friday sale. Only very overpriced junk on the shelves - everything worthwhile had gone. AS stated a few stores remain, but Sears as-was is over, sadly (I, too, liked Craftsman tools).

Stay away from Harbour Freight: it's too depressing - almost everything they sell is Chinese and very poor quality. They are also not cheap, considering.

I wanted to find some diamond stones too, oddly enough - the pocket sized ones to go with a knife given as a present. I couldn't. There aren't that many outdoor pursuits shops in the south LA suburbs, and the range was poor - I was unsuccessful.

One approach worth trying is to shop on-line and organise delivery to a USA address for you to collect to bring home. I've done this a fair bit (e.g. airless spray kit is a LOT cheaper over there (for houses - dunno about woodwork), and I've bought parts and spray tips I couldn't get here easily. I also got Festool accessories (slightly cheaper than here). If there is a specialist tool shop near where you are staying, or even a general good ironmongers, it might be worth a visit. We found a really good one in San Francisco a couple of years ago, where the trades stopped in - they didn't sell rubbish tools, and were pretty good value. Avoid Home Depot - the same as Harbour Freight, but more expensive (and don't mention flamin' wire nuts!).

T'aint as much fun as it used to be. It seems that the trades buy far more on-line, and many of the old tool shops (and obviously the Manly Man-Corner of Sears) have gone.

E. (family over there).
 

Hlsmith

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There work wear is very good if that's something your interested in
I wear Carhartt logger or Carpenters pants and they are far superior to anything over here I think there Dickies stuff is similar
But they are expensive over here
If I ever get a chance to go I'll be visiting Cabela's and buying mountains of jeans and overalls and general toys
 

MikeJhn

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May be worth looking at the cost of the Leigh jigs in the US as they are Canadian, you never know they be a lot cheaper and you can't buy a better dovetail jig.

And Fuji spray gear is also Canadian despite the name, tips and needles must be cheaper on that side of the pond.
 

sammy.se

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Hi all,

Thanks for all the advice! Certainly a lot to look into but it seems the quality of physical shop items has diminished over the years.
Agreed about the exchange rate - not much advantage at the moment

I'll be having a look online to see what might be good value, to get delivered while I'm there.

Will defo look into the kreg, Fuji and Leigh stuff - although I wasn't planning on making big ticket purchases - but plans change ;-)

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AES

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This is all v interesting to me too. Not that I have any US trips planned but it does highlight how things have changed and how quickly time has passed since I was last a regular visitor (2007/8??)!

"My, my, doesn't time fly when you're having fun?" And a pity about the Sears/Craftsman situation.
 
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