I figure nothing from Hobo Freight can be a true gloat, right?
Well, anyhoo... I've been doing some carpentry, enclosing our garage to
create an entry/mud room/pantry/laundry, and dividing it to make a nice
big dorm for the three oldest boys. (Turning our home into a
So anyhoo, part of this process is clearing out the shop-slash-junk
stuff in the garage. The "stuff" will go in our storage building, but
we needed shelves first. I whipped out a quick pencil drawing for
shelves, but told SWMBO that for the first time in this project, I
needed to buy a new tool: a miter saw so that I could cut shelf members
I told SWMBO that I could get the HF 10" CMS for $99 on sale, but when
I got to the store, that model was at the full price of $129. The 10"
SCMS was on sale for $99 (regular $199). I know it's reported to be a
real POS compared to the sorta-POS CMS, so I plunked down $11.99 for a
one year in-the-box exchange if I manage to break it.
Out the door for $121.22; I figure if I wear this one out and get
another one 364 days from now, I wound up with a "buy one for half
price, get another for free" deal.
I only need a CMS for the occasional square cut on lumber, and some
repeated cuts to length. It's a cheap POS, but it will serve my needs.
I guess the gloat is SWMBO, who urged me to get the tool I need, and
volunteered to wait until December for the Conure she's been craving.
Don't complain about your tools. This is something that I see a lot
here, and I do not understand it.
I would offer you this:
- If you bought a tool for a specific purpose (accuracy not paramount
or for occasional use) and it fulfills that purpose, then you did well
- If you bought all you could afford but needed that tool specifically
to finish a job or project but is wasn't what you wanted, so be it.
You did the best you could with your given circumstances, so nothing to
be ashamed of there
-If you bought a tool (like this saw) that you can abuse the crap out
of learning on it, then great. Buy a better one when you know what
features you want and when you are more proficient, and keep this one
in the corner to cut fencing and use it to build 2X4 projects
If you bought a cheap tool and could have done better and just didn't
want to, then you deserve all the grief your new POS gives you. And as
with all the Crafstman tool owner that report here in tears of despair
on their problems with their "crapsman" tools (how cute), why should
anyone give you sympathy? Why did you buy them in the first place?
How stupid are you? If you have been so thoroughly traumatized to the
point you are immobilized and cannot simply return the tool, go on
Oprah. Otherwise, get off your dead ass and take it back to Sears.
I have said this many times on many forums and groups. The tools do
not make the craftsman. My experience over the years is that almost
without exception the capability of the tools far exceed the user.
I think it is a shame that people that buy what they can or what they
want, and then feel like they have to hold their hat in their hand when
addressing this group.
Better now. Climbing off 'ol soapy. Flame on boys.
I think a lot of times cheap tools have their place in any shop. It
depends on what it is and each tool is an individual case.
Unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance if you can get by with
a cheap tool or if it is a waste of money, making the inevitable
purchase of the high grade tool even more expensive. I think the only
rules you can go by is how much you are going to use it and how
important it is to get the best results. I would never fault anyone for
going directly to the good stuff and saving themselves any chance of
time and money wasted, and I believe that is the thing to do if you have
the money. Mostly I don't, but I can't knock the guys that do. Since
bargain hunting is necessary for me, I have a bunch of far from top of
the line tools where I'm glad I didn't spend more. All my squares and
tape measures are from Stanley and they all do their jobs perfectly. My
Harbor Freight band saw and drill press are good performers and are just
somewhat cheaper versions from the same Taiwanese factories as a lower
end Grizzly or Jet. On the other hand, some tools that seem very nice
and sell for nice prices are pretty dismal. Crown comes to mind in that
category. They'll never get another dime of my money. The marking
gauge I bought from them was unusable until I spent an hour of time
reworking the mortise.
But some cheap tools just aren't a good investment at any price.
Sharpening stones, hand saws and power saw blades are good examples.
You don't have to buy the most expensive, but you do need to do your
research and find out what is good and what isn't. In my opinion, most
other hand tools fall into this category as well including chisels,
planes, files and rasps. $30 isn't too much money for a Two Cherries or
Sorby chisel considering how much easier work goes having them compared
to a $5 cheapie. I've bought my last cheap rasp. It's hand cut only
from now on for me. The most expensive tools are the ones you don't
use. Sometimes experience is the only teacher here, but at least we
have rec.woodworking to share our good and bad experiences.
Agree with you on all points. My problem these days as a contractor is
simply finding a good tool for continuous use at any price. I used to
buy Porter Cable, DeWalt, etc. with complete confidence. No more.
Before all the business of the venture capitalists buying all the tool
manufacturers even started, the quality of tools crashed. Some of my
25 year old tools (yes, new bearings, triggers, etc.) are sturdier and
run better than the tools I have bought over the last few years.
I quit buying DeWalt recip saws as they continually break. A couple of
years ago I got 4 in a row and something broke on all of them within 10
days of purchase. I bought a Porter Cable recip and have had no
problems. But I have had bad luck with the Porter Cable circular saws
and won't buy them anymore. Love the drills from both DeW and PC for
the most part.
But on a recommendation from one of my fellow miscreants, I bought one
of those 19.2v saw, drill, and light sets based on their generous
return policy. I paid about >half< of what I paid for my DeWalt heavy
duty 18V, and purchased a 2 year no questions asked replacement on the
spot warranty. While a little bulky, all the tool have worked great
for the last 18 months. So for half the price I got a lot of value.
(OK, I admit it surprised me too.)
You should always buy the best tools you can within your budget. Some
of the cheaper tools don't even do what they were deisgned to do, which
is why they invented "the return". In this day and age, as long as you
don't want cash back, it is not unusual to take a tool back to the big
box stores (I know, not all of them) and they will exchange the tool
after the refund period. Tools are like all other goods purchased
these day... you pay your money and take your chances.
I've actually thought about that before. I can get hand tools that are
so good they are almost works of art in themselves, like Lie-Nielsen
planes and hand made saws from England and Japan. But for portable
power tools, the choices are pretty much crappy or mediocre. There is
no Lie-Nielsen equivalent that I know of, unless maybe it is Festool.
They're all mass produced consumer items, even my top of the line Bosch
jigsaw, which can be bought at any home improvement store.
I know, it is all part of the Wal-Mart business model that has swept
nearly every industry. Everything is price, price, price. The big
chain retailers constantly pressure manufacturers to sell for less while
the manufacturers all merge into big, dumb, soulless corporations that
want to make a quick buck. Quality is the first thing to go since the
MBA's that run them aren't in the business of making tools, they're in
the business of making money. They will only deliver the quality that
the lowest common denominator of the market demands, and not even that
if they aren't losing market share to the competition.
You didn't say what brand, but my brother has an 18v set from Craftsman,
and the circular saw drove me crazy. It just didn't last cutting 3/4"
white oak when I was helping him do some home improvement project a few
weeks ago. Maybe it was too much to ask from it, but it was cut for 30
seconds, charge for 6 hours. I like cordless drills though. That is
one thing modern tool makers got right.
I've been on a roll returning tools lately. I got a Bosch jigsaw that
was missing a part and a Dremel scroll saw that had a slightly twisted
arm. The second scroll saw was better, but not perfect. Gotta love
that made in China quality, but I wanted to save a few bux over the
Dewalt or the really pricey ones, so I'm as guilty as anybody.
Here's an example of a well-placed cheapie. I bought a pnuematic
cut-off saw from HF for about $16. I didn't even need it really, just
thought it would be handy to have around. Since then, it has become
indespensible and I use it frequently. Honestly, I got my $16 value out
of this tool the first time I used it and I would not have been
surprised if it failed after a few uses. In fact, it keeps going
strong. If it doesn't last a year, then I'll probably replace it with a
better one that would be expected to last a lifetime, but until then
this one does the job beautifully.
This argument doesn't really apply to expensive machinery though where
even the cheapies can be hundreds of dollars. It's a much bigger risk.
And that is my reasoning as well. As much as I'd like to have the
biggest/bestests MakWaltTachi 12" SDCMS, this one will serve just fine.
I used the same logic to buy a Ryobi BT3100; I couldn't have bought
nearly as much "traditional" saw for $250 (sale price). The difference
is that the Ryobi is acknowledged as well-made, just "different". The
HF looks, feels, and sounds "junky", but I couldn't have bought any
kind of name-brand miter saw for a hundred bucks. (Not unless you count
a Delta "Tradesman" (or whatever they call it) as "name brand".)
Usually, I try to stick with the "high end" for all my tools, but
quite a while back I got the Black and Decker miter saw for wacking
off 2"x4"s, and it has really exceeded any expectation I had for it.
It's kind of odd, but the thing looks and feels like a DeWalt, and was
better adjusted out of the box than most of my Delta stuff. For $99,
it has paid for itself a hundred times over- and it has graduated from
"crappy jobsite saw" to the machine that I use to make good finish
cuts when I make furniture (with a nicer blade, of course.)
I've been kind of noticing a sea change with the tool industry. Like I
said, I try to stick with the high end stuff, but every so often a
well-meaning relative or my wife gets me a cheap version of a tool.
Oddly enough, after I roll my eyes a bit and sigh, I've discovered
that as the quality of the *good* tools is going down, the quality of
a lot of the *cheap* tools has gone up, and the stuff that was
unusable junk a couple of years ago is really starting to be able to
hold it's own.
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