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
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
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
NewsGuy.Com 30Gb $9.95 Carry Forward and On Demand Bandwidth
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
Remember the "victory cigarettes" in Orwell's 1984? He was just off a few
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
Or something like that. Sorry for the rant.
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.)
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.
I just bought a 3HP General table saw (650-T50 -
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
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...
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
I'd call 'm on that
NewsGuy.Com 30Gb $9.95 Carry Forward and On Demand Bandwidth
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.
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
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.
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
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.