Is it worth buying premium tools if you don't use them enough ? Metabo grinder.

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Sideways

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Sharing this cautionary tale just to make you think:

Angle grinders were never high on my radar as a DIYer mainly interested in woodwork, but after becoming interested in restoring old machines I found myself using them quite a lot with cutting discs and for surface preparation with wire brushes, flap discs and the norton blaze / vortex discs.

A couple of years ago I traded up from my little 4 1/2" Makita (good, light, but not especially powerful nor smooth) to firstly a Bosch brushless grinder and then added a Metabo 5" machine.

The Bosch is really handy. With a big battery attached it's powerful and it has the advantage of variable speed. Most of my metal cutting jobs can be done in a single charge so it is the one I always reach for first.

If you are stripping back a machine to bare metal, you really need a corded machine and that's why I got the Metabo. It has a rat tail handle at the rear together with a deadman switch and I find this comfortable. 1750W is seriously powerful and it has an automatic vibration reduction feature that really works and is one of the main reasons I bought it.

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I like the Metabo but since buying it haven't used it much. A lot of DIY got in the way and I haven't been doing the kind of projects that needed it recently. All the quick jobs are done with with the Bosch and I've only used up 3, maybe 5 cutting discs on the Metabo when I bought it 2+ years ago. That's less than a day's work for a pro tool.

Anyway, I needed to cut some stainless the other day so out came the metabo and though the job started well, after 5 minutes it was losing power and had become much noisier at the back end. I finished the job with the cordless and then opened up the back of the Metabo to investigate.

This is what I found:

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Some sections of the commutator were smooth and well defined as they should be on a nearly new tool.

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Other sections were badly damaged by excessive arcing

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And the edges of the carbon brush (I only pulled one out) also eroded away instead of having a clean edge as normal.
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This pattern of damage is consistent with a failure of some of the armature windings so I made a warranty request to Metabo UK who processed it without delay and had the tool back to me very quickly. I've given the grinder a 30 minute workout and it seems to be working OK again.

The BUT in all this is that the tool is 2 1/2 years through it's 3 yr warranty but failed due to a manufacturing defect that would normally show up on the first day's use.
It's OK buying premium tools but if this hadn't happened until it was outside the 3 yr warranty I would have been much more annoyed than if this came from Lidl or Aldi .
The reminder to myself is that if you do treat yourself to a good tool (and Dominos, Lamellos and many even not-so-premium woodworking tools are far more expensive than this) make sure you work it hard early on to flush out any manufacturing problem.

Oh - and always photograph the packaging before you open it. How anyone at Metabo think a couple of inflatable plastic bags will stop 6 lbs of angle grinder rattling around in a box or protect the contents if it gets dropped in transit is beyond me ! I was lucky. And it came back grubby so at least they have tested it after the repair 👍
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You’d not expect any damage or faults from a premium tool but I guess it can happen. Kudos for how they dealt with your claim but I’d of expected the engineer to at least wipe it down after all it is a cutting tool and the last thing I’d want is it slipping out of my hands while in use ..good advice regarding giving it a good work out ..
 
Having had both Bosch and Makita angle grinders over the years in 4 1/2 , 5 and 9 inch sizes I have never had one fail and being into metal more than wood back then they were worked hard, I still have a very old Makita and a Bosch that look tired but still function ok so is this just a case of cost saving by the OEM's or just poor QA ? Are Metabo not now part of some umbrella company that also owns Hitachi ?

That Metabo looks like it has the same mechanism as my Bosch for rotating the blade guard which I have always liked, the Makita has a wing nut and that armature looks like it should be in a ten year old machine worked very hard not something so new.
 
Both my Bosch cordless and Metabo grinders have that excellent system for rotating the guard just by pushing a spring loaded catch. It's a must. The little old Makita didn't, nor did a Fein grinder I used that was otherwise smooth and powerful for it's size but had a very poor version of the quick adjust that left the guard loose and rattling.

Defiitely a winding fault. That commutator hadn't seen more than an hour of run time.

The Metabo also has a system where about 3 ball bearings are free to spin in a circular track around the spindle. As soon as you start the tool they spin up, synchronise with the spindle and naturally take whatever positions cause the spindle to spin with least vibration. It's very clever because it adapts the balance to every disc or wheel you fit to the machine. You feel it happen every time you use the tool as a noticeable drop in vibration a moment after starting.

The grinder has a tacho to maintain constant speed under load, quick release nut, etc etc.
Metabo had a reputation for making the very best grinders and I hope post repair, the quality will match the design.

Metabo and Hitachi powertools (Hikoki) were both bought out by a private investment company who initiated the renaming of Hikoki to Metabo HPT. In the nature of these things, they are probably trying to increase the profits of the two companies so that they can sell them on and turn a profit themselves. But these will be reasonably long term investments.
 
Recently bought a corded Hikoki (Hoki-Koki!) which although cheap seems to be a good little grinder and which came in a nice blow moulded case, and Im quite happy with it so far.
 
This might be that they now buy in the armatures because it is more cost effective than producing them in house but this requires tight QA because it is your name on the line and not the armature manufacturer. This has always been an issue in manufacturing but was very well managed by Honda, others took there eye of the ball and poor quality components got through and only found by the customer.
 

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