Is one brand better than another?

How does one get a straight answer on which brand of woodworking equipment is better than another? Is this the age old woodworking question? By better I mean quality, reliability, functionality... Maybe there is no real answer to this questions because it tool specific. One brand of router is better than another but the same brands table saw is not as good. I've found this question/answer to be person specific. A friend will buy Delta but wouldn't touch Craftsman. My wife and I are looking for a jointer. Our hunt has taken us all over town. Woodworking shops, Sears, Lowes... . While in Home Depot looking for some track lights we ran into a friend who works there. He talked to us for 10 minutes about how good Rigid is. On the way out to the car my wife said one of her woodworking friends said never/ever buy Rigid. Why? Can it really be that poorly made. The way I see it is if it's that bad (name your manufacture) they would not be in business. Which brings me back to my question. My wife and I figure the best way to go about buying equipment is to listen to what others say, read up on what the manufactures say and buy what we feel is best for us.
Rick and Debbee
BTW, we just started on filling our garage with woodworking equipment after going to a friends house to use their stuff for the last 6 months. We bought the Jet lathe we are building a router table. The Delta band saw, and Craftsmen table saw are on extended loan from a friend who felt the need to upgrade their equipment.
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I'd say its a combination of;
1. Personal Opinion (with no experience of a particular tool - people basing their opinion on brand name only) 2. Personal Opinion (after having actually owned and used a particular tool) 3. The fact that some companies sell a really good product, yet the next one they sell isnt so good (as you mention) 4. The belief by some that ALL cheap tools must be garbage. 5. The belief by others that all Expensive tools must be better? 6. Pot Luck 7. The potential for particular brands to blow up all the time :)
Its really a mixed bag. Certainly its worth listening to what others experiences have been like, but I wouldn't judge a purchase on that alone.
-- Regards,
Dean Bielanowski Editor, Online Tool Reviews http://www.onlinetoolreviews.com ------------------------------------------------------------ Latest 5 Reviews: - Ryobi Reciprocating Saw - Infinity Router Bits - Incra Wonder Fence - Veritas Jointer Blade Sharpener - Miller Dowel System ------------------------------------------------------------

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everyone has their own favorite tools. that's the way it is. different strokes, and all that jazz. Your best bet is to see if the comments people make about a tool reflect your particular concerns. sometimes a feature for one person is irrelevant to someone else. Sometimes a comment will strike a chord with you, alerting you to a potential clunker, or perhaps a superior product. In the end, you should look the various contenders over and try them out if at all possible. Even if all you can do is plug them in and turn the knobs, and make a few adjustments, you'll get a 'feel' for the tool.
Does it do what you want "better" than another tool (assuming you are willing to foot the bill), or is a cheaper alternative just as functional?
Pick any tool category; there will be disagreement as to what is "best". REading tool reviews is helpful, but shouldn't be the basis for a decision. I respect what the reviewer's comments are, but I take it all with a grain of salt. I used to live in Missouri, so you gotta "show me".
I've bought specific brands or models for a variety of reasons. For example I bought a Fein vacuum mostly because it is quiet. It's expensive, but it's quiet. Would a model costing 1/4 as much suck as much? You betcha! Would I like the noisier model? No frickin' way!
Some tools, while the work well, are overly complicated to use. For some, it's no big deal, for others, a hassle.
You pays your money, and you takes your chances.
Ask ME about Craftsmen and I'll rant on and on about how much I think they suck. I think I earned the right to badmouth them because I've owned several of their POS. A few diehards (now I know why Sears calls their batteries Diehards) here will defend to the death the wondrous virtues of their favorite Sears tool. I don't mind SOME of their hand tools; it's the powered equipment I don't like. As a professional mechanic, I also shunned Craftsmen hand tools for Snap-On and Mac tools. For the handyman, Sears hand tools are more than adequate, but for working 8-12 hours a day with a wrench in your hand, give me the others.
Buying anything sight unseen goes against my grain, but in the case of the Veritas planes, I'm making a notable exception! <g>
dave
razingkane wrote:

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Did anyone mention things like how long the company has been in business or making the particular product? I think experience counts, and it will carry over to other products. How easy is it to get replacement parts? Lots of times I choose a particular brand because the competitions units are close to identical, but I have good luck with another tool, and I like the feel, so I choose the same company. Nobody mentioned price. If the price is very good, I will also jump brands, provided I like the tool and it is made well.
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real
Simple answer. The tools I own are great, the other brands you guy have are the ones that suck.
Although said in jest, there is a lot of truth to that statement. Where I see cheap, another sees great value. Also, what is a good choice for the DIY guy, is a poor decision for the pro. A good choice for a framing hammer is a poor choice for furniture building, but thee will be someone putting delicate trim on a cabinet with one.
I've rejected tools as unsuitable for be just because I don't like the color. Honest, entire brands are not in my shop because I don't like the looks, no regard for performance in the decision.
The tool has to feel comfortable in your hands. The best of tools quality wise will not perform well if you have trouble holding it comfortably. ED
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I think that one answer is that everyone assigns value differently, and most people assign different values to different types of tools. For some the joy of owning "the best" has huge value. They get joy from knowing that they have the top of the line tools. They treasure the fit and finish and enjoy the feeling they get from controlling the tool. They don't even have to use them to get value, but this is not to say that they don't use them.
Others put a high value on getting the lowest possible price for a particular tool and will gladly put up with bad fit and finish, awkward adjustments or bad ergonomics. They just want to do the job.
Some will only buy tools from a store that is local, where they can actually touch the tools before purchasing and in many cases need to purchase the tool for a particular job immediately and are limited to tools that are in stock. The opposite has no problem purchasing tools via internet/mail-order and spends lots of hours reading reviews to get the perfect tool.
Some try to buy American. Others look to how easy it is to get replacement parts, while different group looks to buy only used tools.
Over time people develop brand preferences. If they have had a good value from a particular brand of powered hand tool they tend to purchase more of that brand. Sometimes it is something as simple as battery interoperability.
I am not sure that my answer helps, but I can tell you I have a total mix of tools. Some of the highlights:
Delta Unisaw tablesaw
Laguna sliding table
Lagugna 18" bandsaw
Jet 14" bandsaw
Delta DJ-20 Jointer
Jet 15" Planer
Penn State 2.5 Hp. Dust Collector
Jet 17" Drill Dress
Laguna slot mortiser
Delta Lathe
Performax 16-32+ drum sander
Dewalt 12 SCMS
Dewalt 12 CMS
Craftsman 30 gallon oiless compressor
I tried to get the best "value" for each tool I purchased and tend to like the higher-end consumer tools but switched brands often.
I know that I missed a lot but other in the group will have more/better information
Bob McBreen
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