We would all love to have an unlimited budget to purchase any and all power tools we need for woodworking, and of the very best quality available ... sadly, not everyone can afford this, but there is hope.
All over the planet there are shops, stores and on-line dealers selling inexpensive power tools in every possible shape, color and configuration. The question is ... which ones can you buy that you will get some amount of service out of?
The good news with inexpensive power tools is that they all have many things in common with one another and there are ways of utilizing these tools and getting value from them. In our YouTube video we outline many of these details, but there is more ...
Power tools come in 2 versions ... corded, where you plug them into the wall and battery operated, where the tool comes with at least one battery. As consumers, we need to make all sorts of choices and the first choice we need to make when purchasing any power tool, is to determine how much and how often it will be use, this is the first key in selecting power tools ...
The whole purpose of purchasing less expensive power tools is to save money, but still get some value from the tool. If the tool breaks right away or is and "out-of-box failure", there is actually a negative value because it has cost you money and now you have nothing ... SO !!
THE 2 MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ...
to ask BEFORE you purchase any power tool, is 1) what is the warranty, or is there a warranty or guarantee with the tool and 2) what is the return policy for the tool. These questions are very easy to find out, simply ask, anyone working in the store, they will be able to tell you, if the can't do not purchase the tool, go elsewhere! It is fairly common for inexpensive tools to have a higher than average out-of-box failure rate and if you cannot return the tool, OR you have to return the tool by mail or courier to the supplier, any money you may have saved is lost.
THE NEXT MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
How often and how much will I be using the tool? If your answer to this is "I will use this tool a lot, and frequently" then you probably need purchase a better quality tool if you can afford it. Inexpensive power tool purchases often give the best value when the tool is use more lightly, and less frequently and we will talk about why this is a bit further down.
When purchasing tools, we have many choices, we can buy ...
- New expensive tools
- New inexpensive tools
- Used expensive tools (seldom do you see used inexpensive tools)
- And Colin's favorite - Refurbished New tools
Sometimes harder to find, but re-furbished tools can be an excellent value. These are always expensive tools that were returned to the manufacturer for some reason. Because they are better quality tools, there are parts available for them and they are repair by technicians and resold at discount prices.
WHERE TO PURCHASE? On-Line or from a Local Merchant?
Purchasing power tools on-line is getting more and more popular, but like all purchases, there are risks. In most cases, if you purchase a power tool it is up to YOU the buyer, to return that tool AT YOUR COST to the dealer or manufacturer, and in some cases YOU pay the return shipping back to you for the replace tool. This can add up to significant money. There are some sellers of inexpensive tools that count on the fact that it will cost too much to return a broken power tool to them and that most people will not do this, they simply eat the cost and throw the broken tool out and buy another one.
If you purchase from a local dealer, they are almost always more willing to do something with warranty or out-of-box failures, because having a person standing in front of them with a problem is often motivation enough to do something.
Make sure you know who you are buying the tool from and what their policies are, we cannot stress this enough.
HOW TO GET THE BEST LIFE FROM INEXPENSIVE TOOL
There are a number of reasons why tools quite or break and many of them have to do with the way the manufacturer made the tool and the materials it was made from. The most important factor to remember is the HEAT is the biggest killer of electric motors so avoiding letting any power tool heat up too much will help preserve it's life. The difference with better quality tools is that they often have designed the tools to better withstand heat and to dissipate the heat better. The problem with heat and electric motors is that heat makes things expand and when this happens tolerances of manufacturer start breaking down. Most power tools have heat sensitive switches or heat or thermal breakers that will turn the tool off if it gets too hot. It's never a good idea to push a tool to this extreme because in so doing you have pushed the tool to near it's breaking point and if you do this enough times, especially with lesser quality tools, eventually they will break down permanently.
To get the best life from inexpensive tools never let them get too hot, they need to be used in moderation and allowed to cool down after so time of use, and you will need to be the judge of that based on the tool and what job it is doing.
Another way to preserve the life of tools is to make sure you use extension cords that are of proper size. Undersized power cables can also contribute to motors straining and heating up, so always use the largest extension that is rated for that tool and if you don't know what that is, there are a variety of websites on the internet to help you calculate this. It will save you money!
WHEN INEXPENSIVE TOOLS FAIL
There is nothing to do, except throw an inexpensive tool in the recycling bin. Inexpensive tools will not have parts available, nor will there be service depots that will handle repairs to them. They are more costly to try and repair then what the tool is work.
Purchasing inexpensive tools is one way of getting tools to help you get the work done and they can be good purchases if you use them in a manner that will help extend their life. Like most things in woodworking there are choice and decisions and purchasing tools is an frequent and ongoing process.
Copyright Colin Knecht