| I learned a long time ago that you get what you pay for.
Right. How much I spend on a tool depends on how much I anticipate using
it. I am a hobbyist woodworker, so the economics work out to how much I'm
willing to spend on my hobby.
I bought the Skil belt sander basically for a single project, and wanted to
spend as little as possible. The screw for adjusting the roller skew fell
out a few years ago and I haven't found a suitable replacement. So the belt
walks all over. The pressure plate needs adjustment because when I place
the tool on a flat surface, the rollers bite more deeply than the plate.
(This may be related to the missing adjustment screw.) So maybe it's unfair
to judge a tool based on its performance in a degraded condition, and maybe
it's foolish of me to use it in that condition and expect good performance.
I've used hand drills from Black & Decker and DeWalt. We use DeWalt
cordless in our assembly area at work (rack mounted cluster supercomputers)
and they seem to hold up. My cordless DeWalt worked for three years or so.
The chuck disintegrated and the gearbox developed a hoarse gravelly sound.
I can't really cuss the tool, however, because I think having dropped it
into my salt-water aquarium had something to do with its eventual demise.
And probably with the subsequent demise of the fish. :-)
I have a corded DeWalt drill, which I use for heavy duty stuff like doorknob
holes. I described my current DeWalt cordless in the thread about whether
we save or throw out the carrying cases. I don't remember the model number,
but I paid about $300 for it. I love the three speed settings and the
torque clutch. I use the guy for light-duty drilling (high-speed setting)
and for all my power screwdriving. I like the sensitive torque clutch
because I do a lot of machine assembly where you *really* want to avoid
stripping the screw heads. A long Phillips bit and a torque setting of 1 or
2 is perfect for putting printed circuit boards into prototype housings.
I got a cordless B&D from a place where I used to work. They laid off our
entire field office, so in spite we drew straws for who got to walk out with
the substantial tool collection. I won. Except that the B&D is a gutless
piece of crap.
I bought the reciprocating saw because I'm in the slow process of remodeling
my 1940s era house. The guys who did my windows used a Milwaukee to saw
through the old steel window frames. I asked him how he liked the tool and
he said, "I wouldn't [expletive] pick up another [expletive] saw." Just
recently I had to saw some appliances free from a makeshift frame that the
previous owner had built around them. The Milwaukee went through 2x4s like
butter. And after kicking the mangled frame debris free, I noticed the
thing had cut through a couple of 16d nails like butter. God, I [expletive]
love that saw.
| Wow, a circular saw was your first power tool - damn, it was
| like my 3rd.
It was the first one I *bought*. I think I was 20 or so and just getting
away from dad's tool collection.
My dad and his father in law built the house in which I did most of my
growing up. My dad designed it and his f-in-l was the general contractor
(which he had done professionally for decades using mostly stuff he bought
at Sears). A lot of my early experience was using tools leftover from that
project. For years there was an unused table saw in our basement. I was
told the motor was shot or the shaft was bent or something. Nowadays I'm
kicking myself for not having brought it back to life. We gave it away to
someone who, unlike me at the time, knew its value.
But I found myself doing a lot of carpentry at the time, and a circular saw
was the most useful tool on my budget. If all you do is cut materials and
nail them in place, a circular saw is a good thing to have.
Several years ago I bought a series of shop tools -- a small band saw, a
small drill press, and a small radial arm saw -- with the idea of getting
more serious. They're all Craftsman. Why? Because Sears was close and
because I still had my grandfather's unequivocal praise of that tool line
ringing in my ears. This was a guy who knew every trick to building
everything from cabinets to office buildings. He had -- at some point --
done every phase of the work from mining the iron ore and coal to logging to
refining the steel to sawyering to cutting dovetails with a pocketknife to
mixing his own dyes.
My frustration with these tools in recent years is due, I think, to their
not being of exceptionally high quality to begin with. But it's also a
result of my inattention to keeping them adjusted and maintained.