Disturbing Trend

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Yesterday a big box showed up on the front porch. My wife said that it was a "gift for me"
It was a 12" delta disc sander.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)"8013
Apparently by BIL bought it for me as a thamkyou for helping him out with fabricating some replacement teak pieces for his (new to him) boat that were weathered beyond repair.
While it's not a purchase I would have made, it will get use and I will be a gracious recipient.
I popped open the box and both of the cast iron trunions were snapped off. Frankly, they're are not of the beefiest design. So I called up Delta and they are going to send me replacement parts... No big deal.
But I got to thinking that 5 out of the last 5 tool purchases that I have made, that have at least some cast iron components, (that eliminates hand tools and stuff like drills) have had either shipping damage or infancy problems that needed to be addressed by the manufacturer. (Delta, Jet, Woodcraft, Yorkcraft, Woodtek)
While I will acknowledge that guano happens, that's a pretty sad batting average.
It really reinforces the importance of buying from vendors/manufacturers who will provide decent support.
Do I just have crappy luck? Are my expectations unrealistic? What's your batting average?
-Steve
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"Stephen M" wrote in message
that I have

who
I've been buying tools for a long time, so have some perspective. Even discounting an old farts natural and advancing cynicism, things simply "ain't what they used to be".
Not one Delta or PC tool I've bought in the last three years has not suffered from some shoddy bit of manufacturing, design or value/price point engineering issue.
Remember the "victory cigarettes" in Orwell's 1984? He was just off a few years.
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Swingman wrote:

I'll agree with you both, and I'm only 36 years old. I'm not sure if it's gotten worse over the years because I've only been buying tools in the last 10 or so, but I'd say the quality is pretty bad. Even on something simple like a mobile base (from Delta). The directions are just plain confusing, to start. Then you get holes that aren't coplanar with each other within the brackets. It's very odd. And it's a societal issue. It's a race to see who can make the product faster and cheaper so the other guy doesn't do it first. Say you've got 10 guys making windsor chairs, all of them making a living. Then one guy decides to invest in a computerized windsor chair maker and can now produce them at half the cost. The public at large says "Hooray! Half off windsor chairs!" They now buy only from him, putting the other 9 out of work, who can then go to work for the computer guy at 10 bucks an hour living like crap. So you've got a bunch of people with computer made chairs who no longer think they're "cool" because everyone's got them, 9 guys making $10/hour, and one guy who has hopefully (I guess) saved the initial windfall from all the chairs he initially sold because now no one wants to buy them and he's got all this leveraged computerized chair making equipment. The business entity goes bankrupt, he moves to Myrtle Beach to golf and you've got a dead industry and 9 good windsor chair makers looking for a job in a new profession.
Or something like that. Sorry for the rant.
JP
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Jay Pique wrote:

It's called The Race To The Bottom, the bottom being The Bottom Line - for the next quarter, with quality spiraling down as The Bottom Line goes up, or at least stays the same.
Somewhere along the line some gnomes now referred to as Wall Street Analysts decide how much each business should make in profits over the next 90 days. If a business falls short of their projected / expected profits the business's stock price drops. Who these people are and how they got this economic power is a mystery. How they keep this power is also a mystery, given Enron etc.. And they've missed some really big ones - Charles Keating and his Savings & Loan Fiasco The Venerable Ronald Reagan Administration made possible. THAT ONE cost US taxpayers a HUGE chunk of change since S&L were Federaly Insured.
There was a time when people bought stock in a company for the annual dividends the stocks brought. Today it's more about speculation - read legalized gambling - that someone will pay more for the stock in the future than you paid to buy it. MicroSoft doesn't pay dividends - nor taxes for that matter - the latter having to do with "tax incentives" presumably intended to encourage "business" and written in to law by "our" representaives in Congress and the Senate.
The probelm with The Bottom Line is the Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned approach to making things. QC costs money - from The Bottom Line. So if buying crappy raw materials contributes to The Bottom Line - at least for the next quarter - then buy crappy raw materials. By the time the consumer discovers that the finished product is crappy - you've got his/her money and you've met The Wall Street Analysts' projected profits. Eventually you'll have to spend more money on advertising to try and persuade the consumer that you've got a New and Improved product - that's not as crappy as your competitors. And on, and on and on and on - to The Bottom.
(snapped the cast iron tool rest on my JET mini/midi lathe. took it to the woodworking show and held up the two parts in front of the JET rep - with a small crowd standing around watching. "My, that certainly shouldn't have happened. Take it back to where you bought it - along with your model number, serial number, receipt etc. and I'm sure they'll replace it - for free" he said. "How about if I just give you this one here and you give me the toolrest on this demo model JET mini/midi lathe so I DON"T HAVE TO SPEND MY TIME REPLACING YOUR DEFECTIVE PART WHICH HAS MADE THE JET PRODUCT I PAID FOR A USELESS, HEAVY, FLOOR SPACE WASTING CHUNK OF METAL!" - I "suggested". "I'm afraid I can't do that - sir. But I'm sure our distributor, from whom you purchased it, will be glad to replace it - at no charge." -said the rep, turning away to engage another potential customer, now retreating.)
charlie b
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charlie b wrote:

Ack, "New and Improve"-ing is the device and moniker by which those marginal profit gains are foisted on the unsuspecting buyer.
I've eaten breakfast cereal and wiped my bum long enough to've seen this happen in many industries.
er
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charlie b wrote:

ROFL - more of us should do that :-).
I have been known to make snide comments about tilting tables at Shopsmith demos :-).
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Stephen M wrote:

I just bought a 3HP General table saw (650-T50 - http://www.general.ca/pagemach/machines/0general/650_350t50a.html ) which is canadian made.
The steel angle on which the steel tube sits on is bent at 2 places. Not only that, I think they sunk it in paint and let it dry aside so I've got tons of runs along its length. The other steel angle (the one behind the blade) is fine. Surprising for a 2.5K$ piece of equipment hein?!
I think the overall QC when down quite a bit over the last few decades. On the other hand, we can buy a lot more tools today to furnish a shop than we could 20 years ago with the same amount of money.
We're probably, as customers, the first culprit for this mess. How many idiots will simply pick the "cheapest" tool because it's the... cheapest?
I was in the market for a new cabinet tablesaw. I had the choice between Delta X5 at 2100$ with a promotion (free router) or the General at 2450$. I picked the General simply because it was a better saw, better built and also local made for me (I'm in Canada). I didn't give a damn about the 300$-400$ difference. I was already shelling out over 2K$ so I felt I was better to pick a saw that I'll be satisfied with for the rest of my life.
My point is we often tend to put the price at the top of our purchase decision even though it's just a few dollars difference. I don't honestly understand why someone will factor in a difference of 20$ when they're shopping for a 400$ tool. The difference is meaningless and shouldn't be in the purchase decision but the vast majority think otherwise...
So, the consequence is very simple and sad at the same time. Manufacturers just keep focusing on how to make products at the cheapest price they can. In some occasions they can do it by not compromising the quality but unfortunately in many other cases, they have to cut somewhere the customer doesn't really expect or want.
If we want to see this changing, we'll have to stop showing the manufacturers than only the price counts. Price is certainly something to pay attention to but IMHO should rank at priority 4 or 5 instead of being at the top. If manufacturers start loosing sales not because they weren't the cheapest but because they lack features or don't pay attention enough to details, they will start to change. But people want to pay the lowest price possible and easily accept to cope with defective products.
Cyberben
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snipped-for-privacy@videotron.ca wrote:

I've got the same fence.
Did you call them up? For sure they'll get you a non-bent piece. Given that angle iron isn't all that strong against diagonal forces, it's possible something happened in shipping.

I just bought the General International equivalent of that saw. I had to get a new top shipped out, as mine had a small but noticeable hump right beside the blade. I'd been prepared for this on an import, but I'd thought that the General version would be better. Guess nobody's perfect.
Chris
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Hi Chris,
I actually called the store where I bought it. They ask me to come back and they will exchange it from another unopened box. That's fine for me but I'm still quite surprised.
Cyberben
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Stephen M wrote:

I usually buy heavy stuff locally, as I'm fortunate to have several excellent dealers inside a 30 minute drive. I'm batting 1.000, as far as broken parts go, but only so-so as far as "completeness" of sealed packages. The only heavy items I've had shipped to me were a refurbed SCMS, which was packed in pour-in foam by Tyler Tool, and a Jet mini-lathe and stand. The pour-in expandable stuff is ugly, but it seems to do a wonderful job protecting the contents.
My DJ-20 and X5 bandsaw were both missing large, heavy, show stopping parts from sealed packages. I'm talking stuff like pullies, belt guards, and the _TOP_ of the band saw's closed base. Once the tools were made usable, I've been totally happy, but it took Delta 4 weeks+ on the band saw, and 3 weeks on the jointer to make me whole. The thing that really bugs me about missing major parts is that I know some other industries weigh boxes (internal sub-packs & complete units) during the packing process and can reliably ship things with many tiny parts, while the tool industry can ship a box missing_25_ pounds or an 18x18 piece of thick stamped steel! <G>
I've had good luck with Canadian-made General (no experience with General International), DeWalt, Baldor, and Jet, but I've had only one or two examples each, compared to six Delta tools. All of my hand-held Bosch, PC, DeWalt, Makita, Senco, etc... power and air tools have been perfect, so far...
I've seen the way the larger tools get delivered to my local vendors, and have come to the conclusion that most, but certainly not all, of the damage to big iron seems to happen during the retail to consumer ship, rather than the wholesale to retailer ship.
On another note, I have the same Delta 12" sander, and aside than the plastic adjusting levers making me leery, it's been a handy, dependable, and often used tool. It reminds me of some good-quality specialty hand planes, in the sense that you don't realize how handy it is until you've got it.
On the other hand (pun intended), I've been completely satisfied, often even thrilled, with every higher-end hand tool I've purchased, by Veritas, Lie Nielsen, Starrett, Hirsch, Bessey, etc... While it seems like the "mass-market" versions of those tools just get worse by the hour.
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B A R R Y wrote:

I'm like my dad, in that I try to put money into decent tools...I've looked at all his old Starretts and Snap-Ons and whatnots, and the quality is unbearably good lo these 50 years since he bought them.
On the other hand, four of the seven Starrett tools I've bought were crap, and a fifth was good but had obviously been "price pointed." Starrett ain't what they used to be. To my mind they are the next Stanley. Any precision equipment I buy in the future will be Browne and Sharp.
Veritas has been about 50/50...their hand planes are wonderful, but so far the rest has been mixed. Often times they're either cheap steel, poor castings, or poor designs. Not everything, but enough to make me shop elsewhere often.
Lie-Nielsen...100%. So far that's the only mfg I've found that's still worth the price, although I've never bought any Bridge City. I just can't justify $900 for a hand plane.
Oddly enough, I've had excellent luck with Dewalt. That's why I keep hoping against hope that B & D will bring Delta back to life.
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wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

That sucks to hear that!
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wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Which Veritas tools are you referring to?
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B A R R Y wrote:

Their forstner bits, striking knife, and sliding bevel (4") were all big disappointments. The forstner bits were horribly machined and wouldn't drill flat-bottomed holes, the striking knife snapped under very very nominal pressure within the first week, and the sliding bevel won't hold it's setting no matter how tight you make it.
Their Mk. II honing guide is fantastic for plane blades, but only marginal at best for chisels, especially if the chisel has a high taper angle from the tang to the tip...it won't hold these at all without a shim, which can then present problems with the chisel shifting.
I can't begin to emphasize again though how wonderful their hand planes are. This is where Veritas really excels.
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wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

That sucks!
I'v been very happy with two of the bevels (4" & 10") and the striking knife, but they're a few years old.
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Snippage

While I agree that some Vertitas products are misses (try to use that an aluminum dovetail saddle square gauge with a marking knife) I think the sliding bevel is the neatest thing since sliced bread. (however I do own the 10")
I'd call 'm on that
-Steve
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Cast isn't what it was, that's for sure. What used to be done at some length is now done quickly. Castings used to age a year, perhaps, now it's out of the mold, into the oven, and on to machining.
Had the same problem with large-crystal Grizzly castings on four of five machines purchased for our school shop.
Other problems of mismatch, missing, and so forth are likely related to parts subcontracting. My SiL works for a fabricating place, and generally takes a trip to the user, as he will this weekend, with prototypes in hand to verify that they _will_ serve, not just be in spec. He's had problems with US foundry products, too, so it's all over.
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Stephen M wrote:

It's not just tools. I'm in the building business and I'm constantly getting compromised packages.
I think there are at least three factors at work here.
The first is the "improved" engineering capabilities when designing parts and components. The manufacturer, looking to minimize cost and weight and all of those other things that add to the item cost and "don't add to the bottom line", use sophisticated engineering to design parts that just meet the tool's working requirements. Shipping is not a working requirement - at least to them, apparently.
The second is that more and more of the tools are coming from further away. Half a world away. With all of the added handling and potential for damage.
The third is the company's decision on what constitutes acceptable losses during shipping. If the company built reinforced crates to ship everything, everything would arrive unscathed. Unfortunately that's an expensive way to go. So they cut back on the packaging. The bean counters determine the sweet spot between damage and packaging costs.
I don't think it's yet occurred to these companies that the only thing worse for little Johnny (you and me) than not getting a present for Christmas (tool arrives at the door), is having the Christmas present broken when he unwraps it. The heightened expectations, honed with anticipation over the waiting period, come crashing down. Any Dad, having experienced the kid's giddy glee while opening the package and witnessing the crash and tears, would vow, "That will _not_ happen again!" Businesses haven't figured this part out yet.
R
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SNIP
I could very well be mistaken, but I think much of this has to do with this new way of buying tools online through places like Amazon. I had a Jet 12" disk sander delivered last year, ordered through Amazon and delivered by UPS (I believe). The sander arrived almost unscathed - very minor dent in the metal cover underneath the table - but the box was practically destroyed and falling apart.
The sander weighs something like 70 pounds and, I believe, isn't packaged for individual shipment. Stacked on a pallet, fork lifted to a store inventory shelf and carted to a customer's vehicle at the brick'n'mortar store, yes, the packaging is just fine. However, placed in the shipping stream of manual handling on and off conveyors, roller transports, trucks and the like, that solitary heavy package is subjected to much more bumps, bangs and general wear than the packaging is made for.
I agree, it is frustrating to have to get replacement parts on a new item and then wait to use it in some cases - but I guess we could offer to pay more for better crating protection... nah, that ain't gonna happen.
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"Stephen M" Snip

Snip
It's our own fault. As long as there is a market for cheapo junk, the quality index will continue to slide. Places like Harbor Fright and others continue to attract buyers looking for the absolute cheapest machine or tool with no regard to the quality or more importantly, the people who are working as slave labor in horrible living conditions making this junk. I too have purchased Delta, Jet and other tools that came from China so I'm guilty as well. However, I do not shop at HF or buy no-name Chinese tools.
I believe it will turn around. The automotive industry has. In the early 80's American made cars were at an all time low in quality. The import market proved you can make a quality vehicle at a competitive price. This forced domestic automakers to up the quality or go out of business. Now, the quality of all cars is very good. However, save some Korean makers, the cost of cars/trucks is high, relative to other products.
Bottom line is as long as there is a market for cheap/poorly made products, someone will make and sell them to us.
Dave
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