Obviously, it has been a while since I have posted. Summer time brings a lot of yard work and other activities, but I would certainly prefer to be in my shop working on a fun project. It seems like just about the time I got my shop somewhat organized, I was pulled in another direction.

However, woodworking and tools remains on my mind. Frequently we all read comments online defending tool purchases. Some are thrilled because the tool was cheap. Others, because they bought the absolute best tool made.

My question then is, was it a good value? My moto has been, cheap tools are the most expensive tools you can buy. This is based on my years of experience having bought some real junk early on in my career. If they don’t do the job properly, or the fail after little use, I consider that a poor purchase. In woodworking, is the quality of cut what you need to produce your work? Is the accuracy there. How much exta time do you spend using poor qualiy tools, or maybe the wrong tool? These questions must be answered on an individual basis. It doesn’t even come down to whether you are a pro or a hobbyist. What, and how much are you building?  What quality level are you after? And then, the all important question is–How much can you spend? What are your priorities. Are you setting up a shop from the ground up? Or are you upgrading tools, or maybe building projects that call for tools you don’t already have?

I frequently hear Harbor Freight purchases defended on the premise that ” I only need it one time”. In that case, that may be a valid arguement for feeling that a really cheap tool is the best value. Personally, I can’t bring myself to buy their power tools no matter how cheap the are. This is not to say that I would never buy other tools from them. I consider some of their products a decent value for me at times. Those who have seen my shop would consider me a tool snob. I guess I couldn’t argue that. I own a lot of really high end tools, especially Bridge City Toolworks products. Are these good value? I can’t say that they are, but I felt they were worth it to me. I absolutely love using these tools. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Do I need them to produce good quality work? No, although they do inspire me to work at a higher level. Some people fish and hunt. I buy tools!

I believe Festool is another example to bring up. Whenever the name is mentioned online, there are always  negative comments, usually based on price alone, and so often by those who have never used or even seen the tools in person. Are they “value”. This is a question each individual must ask. Personally I think they are. Are all my tools Festool? Unfortunately not. I can’t afford to go out and replace all my tools, no matter how good they are. Even if I had unlimited resources, would I? I can’t even answer that, and probably will never have to. To me though, the engineering that goes into all their tools is superb. The quality of cut and accuracy is fantastic.

Now, back to my question. What is value when it comes to tools? Honestly, the question has no right or wrong answer, though we all have out own opinion. Do you buy on price alone and brag about the deal you got? Or do you buy the best, which most cannot buy, and brag how much better your tools are? The key is to always examine all the factors–amount of use, quality of work, type of work (do you really need Festool to build craft items for a flea market?), How much use will the tool see in it’s lifetime, and so many other things that will influence the decision.

So often I read of those who buy the tool based on the best price. Then they go on and on about the poor adjustments, or lack of power, or even the fit and finish of the tool.( We seem to understand this when it comes to pricing our own work.) If we cannot, or will not pay for qualiy, do we have the right to expect perfection. Our buying habits have forced manufacturers to seek cheaper ways to make their tools. Maybe, just maybe some of the blame lies with us, but that topic is for another day. (And boy, will that open a can of worms!)

Hopefully this will encourage you to really evaluate your tool decisions on multiple factors, not just price, whichever camp you happen to be in. There is certainly some logic on both sides here.

Thanks for looking