Why do many tools appear to be inferior?

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On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 20:13:07 -0600, Thomas snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Thomas Beckett) wrote:

You're likely to experience a greater number of failures, but not that many: if you have only one tool, you are likely to use it much more than each of the eighteen.

First, I don't believe that there is any greater reliance on cheap tools/goods now than 50 years ago. I think that the first point you made is the key one: most of us own a lot more stuff of all kinds than our parents and grandparents. So there is a lot more cheap stuff floating around. Secondly, one reason for manufacturers to concentrate on the cheaper stuff (in addition to market share, etc) is the cost of repair relative to the cost of initial production. At most levels of quality, it is possible to produce the majority of goods incredibly efficiently - just think of all the components mechanical & electronic in a sub-$1K computer - but repairs are not. Even if you make something really well, the probability is high that something will eventually break and it is likely that the repair cost will run on the order of 30 - 100 percent of the purchase price. Most people I know are likely to opt to purchase a new item instead. This is a disincentive to high-quality goods.
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Thomas Beckett brings his outlook to us with:
snip of long diatribe that is mostly inaccurate

First, learn something about plastics technology. Plastics often save money, but just as often increase quality and safety. They provide greater electrical safety, drop resistance, and grip safety versus most thin cast or sheet metals while also providing lower manufacturing costs, and lower development costs.
Second, the number of power tools owned may increase the chance that one of them is going to fail, but that is incidental and of little importance. Anything complex may fail at any time for any of variety of reasons, almost none of which have to do with quality of manufacture or design.
Third, motors are designed to last a specific number of hours in actual use to provide a minimum use time, not a maximum. If every tool is designed to last 500 hours, Joe or Jane Average is going to pay for that 500 hour lifetime, and never use the tool more than 10 hours. If the tool Joe or Jane buys is designed to be last for 75 hours, and they use it for 100, they've gotten more than they paid for, not less.
We have more types of power tools than ever before, available from more manufacturers than ever before. The buyer has the responsibility to learn something about the tools and materials used to make each brand before making the purchase. People who don't do so don't get tools that last (and serve) as well as those who do. Too, those who make decisions based totally on price almost never get good quality tools. Price, though, is always a part of the decision, and should be, because buying more tool than you need may be as wasteful as buying the cheapest tool on the market.
Finally, over-generalizations about a field as large as the power tool field are good only for relieving the feelings of someone who has made a poor tool buying decision and blames it on someone else.
Charlie Self "Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good." H. L. Mencken
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Because you are expecting way more that what you paid for.
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Now, somebody take a survey. Find out how many people believe that ANY Sears Craftsman tools can be returned, no questions asked, for a free replacement, at any time. I bet more than 500 out of 1000 would say yes.
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BUB 209 wrote:

ANY implying what? That this also includes machines, mowers, etc.?
They do honor the hand tool guarantee. Or at least they did the last time I broke something.
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Silvan wrote:

I was in a Sears when a guy brought in a dead hand drill he thought Sears should replace for free. It was old enough to have a metal body.

Me too. I know they'd even replace the screwdrivers I used to chip paint off a concrete wall but my conscience won't let me take them in. ;-)
-- Mark
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I had the fortune to be working at Sears when an older gentleman with a dump-bed pickup and the back full of tools dump the entire load in the parking lot. Yes, he thought the power tools were lifetime warrantied. No, they never have been. If you ever got to replace one after the 1 year period, you had a nice employee just "make it happen" for you.
About your conscience and the screwdrivers, Sears knows they will be replacing tools not used for their intended purpose. They figure if they get you into the store to replace the tool, you might buy something else.
Had a guy come in with a broken 1/2" breaker bar snapped just below the head. Out of curiosity, I asked him what happened. He mentioned something about 3 guys and a 6 foot cheater pipe. I replaced it with a smile.
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David G. Sizemore wrote:

That one year Dad got about 750 million cubic buttloads of logs dumped on our garden, the guy at Sears did finally request that we put tape on the maul before returning it the next time. We were going through three a day at the high point of that.
Wow, I musta been stronger than I am now. I don't remember how many cords that wound up being, but it lasted three or four winters. I had to do 2/3 of the splitting, and never could convince ol' Dad of the efficacy of a handy dandy hydraulic log splitter.
Thanks to Sears, we kept whoever makes those things in business single-handedly that year. :)
Then many years later, I used the same dull, rusty, mangled maul to rip up a bunch of carpet tacks. Worked great. No problem getting a new one either. :)
(I'm glad Dad got a pellet stove or I'd probably *still* be guilt tripped somehow into helping him split all that. :)
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Yes, I'm saying that's what most people believe, or at least it's factored in subconsiously when people think about Sears warranty policies. Sears does have generally good return and service policies. For example, they were ready to come out and replace the motor in my 6 mo. old tablesaw until I realized I hadn't pushed the reset button hard enough. But no, they aren't going to replace my Crafts- man Chinese-made rolling toolbox with the broken handle even if it's not a year old. What I'm saying is, people hear, "y'know, if that's a Craftsman wrench, they'll replace it for free," and think that applies to all Craftsman tools.
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On 26 Nov 2004 22:07:59 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (BUB 209) wrote:

My answer: only hand tools. Dunno if that's correct or not, but that's my understanding.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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