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You get what you pay for


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Ok,

I haven't been posting much lately, but I decided to post here.

There are a couple old adage's that have been coming to mind lately while reading here.

1. You get what you pay for

2. Buy good, buy once, buy cheap, buy again and again

3. You have to be rich to afford cheap tools.

If you see tools from online tool wholesalers, or big companies selling for dirt cheap, there are reasons. Either the tools are not good to begin with, or they were the ones that never quite made inspection. Yes, the big tool companies generally have smaller subsidiary's and when a tool doesn't make the first grade cut it gets slapped with a new label and sold cheaper through somebody else.

In both my life and my fathers life, we have purchased countless thousands of dollars of tools. There have been many times we thought we could "get away" with the cheaper one, even if we only needed it for a single job. Well guess what, it's not worth it.

When I bought my first 14" bandsaw, I bought a 3/4hp saw with phenolic guides. It worked great for about 5 cuts, then the guides weren't quite as tight as brand new, and when I tried resawing my first 8" piece of wood, the 3/4hp motor was a little weak. Had I spent the extra $150 I could have gotten the 1.5hp motor and ball bearing guides. After about 2 hours of use on the one I had the guides were worn right down needing to be replaced, guess what, the guides were $40 alone!!!!!

I machined a set of oilite guides instead and when I moved to the new shop, I bought another bandsaw.

Next, I bought a 6" x 40" jointer. I thought it would be a great addition to the shop but knew I wouldn't use it THAT much so I bought a cheap one. Well, $450 later, and numerous hours setting it up and wasting wood I got rid of it, it didn't cut worth a damn. Before I bought the jointer I looked at a large belt sander, the differece was $1000, I have the belt sander now, not the jointer and I use the sander everyday.

I bought a craftsman router, one of their "professional series" routers, it was EXPENSIVE, but from a notoriously cheap company. Guess what, less than 5 minutes and the switch broke, fix that, the bearing housings are all plastic and the thing wanders more than a drunken dog in a junkyard. I bought a porter cable and have never looked back after that.

Even my painting gear. For years I thought Paasche airbrushes were the all end all, they were inexpensive, provided decent results, and I thought were easy to use. Enter Iwata, I bought my first Iwata and gave away all my paasche guns. I now have 5 Iwata airbrushes even though they cost 3 to 10 times the amount of a paasche. My clearing guns, I was using less expensive, but still good quality guns, well recently I've purchased some SATA guns and my less expensive ones now just sit there, the better guns spray better, use less paint, and are easier to clean.

Now for an off topic purchase:

When I started in RC jets and decided to purchase a turbine engine there were about 6 companies available. One was being manufactured here in Canada and was half the price of the rest. I paid $3200US for my RAM750 turbine. A friend of mine bought one of the Canadian ones for $1995Canadian. In the course of one year, my engine started and ran perfectly every time. My total investment in my engine, $3200US (about $4000 Canadian at the time). During that same year, my friend who was just as methodical as I was with engine maintenance and running, had to send his back numerous times for bearing changes (5 in total) A set of NGV's (nozzle guide vanes) and a complete combustion chamber. His "cheaper" engine cost him an additional $8000 that same year for a total investment of $10,000 in ONE YEAR. He wanted to sell the engine after that year and get a RAM, but guess what, he couldn't get squat for that engine.

The bottom line is, when something is cheaper, especially way cheaper, there is usually a reason. Even if you plan on using the tool only once, I would rather buy a good one and be able to sell it afterwards for a good dollar. Cheap tools comprimise your work, and safety. When I took apart that Craftsman router and discovered the bearing housings were plastic I was livid. We're talking a razor sharp bit turning at 30,000rpm and it's main shaft is held in by plastic!!!!!?????

Now when I buy tools, I buy brands that I KNOW are good, and I only buy locally where I know it's a true dealer getting the first grade tools and that I can get parts through.

My Satajet RP Digital spray gun is a $600 spray gun, I've found it online for under $400 at discount wholesale stores and I asked my Sata rep about that, he said that those are the guns that there is something slightly wrong with them, maybe a nozzle is scratched, or even maybe only the chrome on the outside is scuffed, they still work ok, but they carry no warranty and you will never get customer support from the seller. I don't know why companies do this, but they do.

My experience in this type of ordeal came from buying a stereo amp at Future shop. It was a Panasonic amp, the store told me it has full warranty etc. One week after buying it, it quit working. I had filled out the warranty card and sent it in. I shop the unit back to Panasonic, I get a letter stating it was second quality and no warranty was ever on that unit. I called future shop and they said "oh, well what we mean is we will warranty it at our own repair facility" fine, I get it back from Panasonic and take it to future shop. They tell me "ok, now we have to send it away, it will be about 8 weeks"

I'm pissed now, but whatever, they won't take it back so I'm stuck. well, it took 12 weeks, I get it back and it still doesn't work, but they claim it must be something I'm doing and I will have to pay for the repair this time. Fine, whatever, it's a $600 amp, just fix it. Another 9 weeks later I finally have an amp that works with a $175 repair bill. About a month later it quits working again. I'm not stupid, I know how to use a stereo amp, and it's a HOME stereo too, not even a car stereo, I don't have power spikes or anything like that. They told me I'd have to pay for the repair again.

Well **** it, I went to a real electronics store, not a boutique franchise hole like future shop and got a new amp, still working 7 years later.

Anyway, sorry for the long read, but basically, if something is dirt cheap, you have to question it. I've looked at harbor frieght many times, found things I thought were pretty neat, but I've never bought anything from them, I've heard way to many horror stories.

Anyway, it's your money, do with it what you want, but the next time you look at a router that is only $80 when the next comparable good brand name unit is $200, just write the check payable to Jeremy Ferguson for $80 and I'll at least put the money towards a good tool rather than you just throwing it away on a piece of crap B) (that's not a slam to anyone, just a joke, I really believe buying cheap tools is just throwing money away)

If I had just bought what I should have bought in the first place I'd have saved so much money by now I could probably afford that 36" dual drum thickness sander I want :D

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When I went to buy the paints to paint my nephew's helmets a guy called into the shop and I heard one end of the discussion.

"No, I wouldn't buy that....The cheapest gun I think you could get away with for that is one of the cheaper SATAs...Yeah, about $200"

Which, of course, made me feel cheap for having bought a $75 gun from Home Depot, my logic being "I'm only trying this out to see if I'm any good at it/if I like it.

Oh well

I think the flip side of this is to remember that exspensive isn't the same as quality and inexpensive isn't the same as cheap. Your best bet before buying ANYTHING is to do as much research as you can stand. If a company has a reputation for good products then even their inexspensive products will probably be good (just probably, you know, not as good as their exspensive product).

But that's just my opinion, your mileage may vary

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I totally agree with you LGM. Of course there are a few cases where you get lucky with a good price item, but it's far and few between. Most of the Harbor Freight stuff isn't any good, you just have to know what items they carry that is good as some higher priced manufactured items. I would never buy a power tool that I intended on keeping from a manufacture that doesn't actually try to make the product last. As far as cordless drills go, I swear by Rigid and Dewalt. Where I work we have had great luck out of Dewalt especially the 18v ones, they can take a beating and never mess up once. I'm with LGM though on routers, I'd have to say the best I've tried was a Porter Cable hands down. Bosch and Dewalt also makes great plunge/fixed type. I always try to buy the best I can buy even when we are talking specialized tools for guitar building. I would much rather buy the good 16" fret levelers, with 3m Stikit sandpaper, and do my fretboards and frets the best way you can. It's not cheap, but it's proven. I just spent 89 dollars on a Offset Diamond File, but man does it work great and should last a very long time. I personally think your work reflects to some extent the quality of equipment you have at your disposal, if not I'd have never built a neck jig, or wood duplicator to make my guitars way more accurate and better playing. Sure, you can make it on cheaper tools, but it will cost you time and you'll spend alot of money on BC powders. lol

Oh yeah, one other thing LGM, how well has the SATA gun been working for you? I'm looking to get a better one myself. Don't tell me you went HVLP? lol.. Just kidding with ya..

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Oh yeah, one other thing LGM, how well has the SATA gun been working for you? I'm looking to get a better one myself. Don't tell me you went HVLP? lol.. Just kidding with ya..

Of all the guns I've used, I have NEVER seen a gun like this Satajet RP digital. It is bar none the BEST I've seen. It is reduced pressure, not HVLP, I have a Sata minijet III which is HVLP which I use for color, it works very well, but not for clears. The RP Digital is expensive, but it is phenominal.

Here's a crappy picture of the bigger guns I have.

IMGP0144.JPG

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Man, those are some nice spray guns. I especially like the SATAjet RP digital one!!! I've heard great things about them. They don't exactly qualify in the HVLP range, but from what I can tell they are a nice middle ground between conventional and HVLP. How big a compressor do you need to run it by the way? You've got a great collection. So what's your current brand choice of paint nowdays(base & clear)?

P.S. :D I'm not picky, you can mail me any one of those guns and I'll take it.. lol B)

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maybe this thread should've been called "Let me show you my expensive tools".

I don't completely agree with this. I have a $30 router that has served me extremely well and still works well.

You really don't have to buy just expensive stuff. I completely agree with GEdwardJones though....

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i love my cheapo ryobi drum sander,my cheap 9" bandsaw,and my cheap $30 router does the job and doesn't wander(yet)...i am going to upgrade my tools eventually but i think alot of us have to live in the reality that buying all the best is out of the question right up front.

eventually i will have a shop full of good tools but until then i am having a whole buttload of fun with my cheap ones

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Tools can go the same way as guitars, ie. sometimes the name itself on the tool will hike the price without adding a whole lot to performance and durability. I was out shopping for a jigsaw the other day and noticed the extremes in pricing. Cdn Tire was selling bargain basement 3 amp jigsaws (Jobmate brand) for $24.99 while another place was selling the same size Makita for $120. I opted to buy the Mastercraft 3.2 amp jigsaw for about $30 from Cdn Tire just to cut a hole through a countertop to mount my double kitchen sink. I'm sure it will cut through my 2" thick mahogany without burning out. But I can't see the Makita being $80 better than the lower cost brands.

I just stay away from brand names out of Taiwan etc. that I've never heard of before. Its also easy enough to handle the tool and see where the weak points might be. If I buy a machine that has certain adjustment areas I usually test them out by moving the areas around and putting a little bit of stress on them. Things like adjustment screws inserted into plastic or cast aluminum are bound to strip sooner or later. Lots of other obvious things to look for. I never buy online, like guitars, I need to hold it in my hands before yanking out my wallet. Also, if a tool isn't used or stored correctly its surely not going to last as long as you'd want.

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Ok, I'm 35., have lived in 3 cities spanning 3/4 of the globe,getting ripped off more than half of the time, and being satisfied with things I've bought maybe 20% of the time. and have also worked in factories making various products, which makes me know all too well that super and inferior leave the same factory.

I've seen junk sold at expensive prices. I've seen better stuff sell quite unbelievably cheap.

I think it's mostly a matter of research. Taking the time and getting advice about what is good for the price it's being sold for.

And trying your best to avoid "grey market" products.

I've bought the crap from harbor freight, and I've bought good stuff from HF real cheap.

And also I've bought from Bridge City tool works (labeled by my brother-in-law as a place that makes "expensive tools for yuppy carpenters who don't want to get their hands dirty") and had to send a defective item back, even though their stuff is basically "top notch".

It's mostly a matter of luck. You can't control how the factory worker was building that day, and you can't always be told where a particular tool can be bought at the lowest price.

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Of course there are a few cases where you get lucky

My hand drill is the WALMART house brand, Power Max, it was $25CDN. It actually didn't work properly out of the box, I had to open it and fix one of the motor brushes, but it works GREAT! Once I even came close to frying the motor drilling out some metal, the thing got so hot I couldn't even touch it, but it still works...GREAT!

Also, a cheapo little import bandsaw I had, it did the job, but I just grew out of it.

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I agree with LGM in principle, he's right on.

But we're all coming at this from different backgrounds, with different wants and needs.

Since LGM is producing professional product, he needs professional equipment. I wouldn't want to pay someone to do high-quality work who was running some side-show operation.

And if he's running a pro business, then most of the tools are deductable (at least here in the USA they would be) and they are on a totally different caliber than a backyard guy like me, they are (and become) part of a business, and any professional business SHOULD have professional tools.

But to a guy just starting out, maybe just wants to build one or three, that 'buy the best first' approach doesn't work. It might work looking at it in hindsight.

We all know that it's more expensive to build your own guitar -even if you already owned all the tools-, (at least when you're starting out) much less buying thousands of dollars worth of grade-A tools to start out with, and that's what we were talking about on the other thread, 'starter' tools for 'starter' (or backyard :D ) guys.

To start out buying really high-dollar stuff when you barely even know how to use the damned thing yet doesn't make much sense tho.

When you're just starting out on a new interest, one never knows whether it will 'catch' or not, so buying the 'best' all the time could really turn into a very costly proposition if you went around doing that with every interest you ever 'caught'.

That would be like buying a brand new McNaught guitar to learn your first cowboy cords on...not even knowing if you wanted to really stick with it :D

So, I agree with Jeremy for the one way he is looking at the situation, he is absolutely correct coming from that viewpoint, but in reality, there are many ways to look at it, because we are all different and looking to get different things out of our guitar-building experiences. :D

...Sitting cross-legged on the carpet chanting 'Ohmmmmmmmmmmm'... B)

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I can see why you would need high quality tools because im sure they get alot of use. But others, such as myself can do fine with a cheaper tool because it wont get as much use. I still try to buy quality but im not gonna break the bank for a router ill use maybe 5 times a year.

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Ok, let's take one example:

I bought a 6" digital caliper from Harbor freight. Ground my own notches in it to measure fret-wire. I paid $20 for it.

Is it inferior to SteMacs $50 one ?

I checked it's accuracy by measuring various feeler-gauges. It's dead-on every time. But I guess it just has to be inferior to one of those $125.00 calipers, but I'm not sure how. It's giving me the same reading they would.

The only part I worry might stop working is the electronics in it, but it's quite likely that that part is made from the same parts used in the electronics of the more expensive ones. My $30.00 non-electronic caliper made in Switzerland is quite crappy compared to this HF caliper.

I once went to this "closeout" store called 'Big lots' and bought a set of 4 big taps (5/16"-3/8"). Tungsten carbide, made in japan. $3.00 They work great.

I'm telling ya, it's all timing and luck. Even the top-of the line stuff can suddenly be using inferior bearings or something

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Kind of off subject, but the only reason I was thinking about buying the Stewmac calipers was the ability to measure fretwire. How exactly did you make it so that it can measure fretwire? I don't see how it's possible, so I'd like to know how you did it so I don't have to pay 50 bucks for calipers that I'll rarely use.

Devon

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Dremel "cut-off" wheel to make the one small groove on the "jaws". Then I used a friend's diamond bit to grind the bigger "notch" on the end; the part that measures the frets when they're on the board. You should hold the tool against a block of ice, but what I did was clamp it in my vice with aluminum on the vice jaws to help act as a heat sink. And I didn't just keep grinding in one shot. I would grind for probably 20 seconds, then let it cool for 10 minutes before going at it again. I didn't do the mod where you grind the slanted end of the caliper "jaws" really thin. I know Erlewine did that to his, but are they also doing that mod to the ones they sell ?

Yeah, you can save yourself the work by buying the stewmac ones, but if you're the type who buys tools to make and modify other tools then it's the logical way to do it.

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I like to keep an eye out for good used stuff. If you are patient, someone will give up a solid tool for a great price just because they don't use it much or are moving and don't want to haul it or they bought an even bettter (or bigger capacity) tool. I'll be scanning the newspaper ads tomorrow, like every weekend.

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Yes, used can really be a great way to go, especially if you can then sell it later for the same price you paid for it. Haven't done it with tools, but I've often bought used music equipment and then sold it for more. You just have to know all about the equipment to know if you can replace worn parts, and what parts it has that get worn.

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Guest Litchfield Custom Gutars

Ryobi tools rock. They're USA made and cheap. Otherwise I prefer the better brands, but i BUY what I can feasibly afford.

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maybe this thread should've been called "Let me show you my expensive tools".

I don't completely agree with this. I have a $30 router that has served me extremely well and still works well.

You really don't have to buy just expensive stuff. I completely agree with GEdwardJones though....

thanks TSL, that's what I'm all about, lets show off my expensive tools, do people really think I'm that f*cking arrogant?

In case anyone didn't catch things, I never said don't buy good priced tools, I said don't buy cheap ones, cheap tools don't necessarily mean inexpensive, my craftsman router being a good example. Cheap tools wear out, aren't accurate, and are dangerous.

My experience has always always been, if I bought a tool that would only "get the job done" vs one that will do it and do it well, and properly, I am aggravated that I didn't get the better one.

This has absolutely nothing to do with me wanting to show off my "expensive tools", it has to do with TRYING to give people some advice on buying tools.

I don't get it though, I can't remember the last time I started a post without somebody saying something negative to me, I don't post much anymore due to lack of time, and when I do somebody has to say something. geez.......

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Don't worry about it. I guess it can be a sensitive subject because non of us want to feel like we were fools everytime we were scratching our head about what to spend our money on. Some of us have had different circumstances, so " pay more, get better' certainly has applied to some. But since I've been buying tools since I was about 10 years old, I found there's no definite rule to follow.

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I guess it can be a sensitive subject because non of us want to feel like we were fools everytime we were scratching our head about what to spend our money on.

that's it.....exactly

couldn't have said it better

for me when i spend money on tools i have to consider

1)value(price vs quality)

2)how much use will it see(i don't have a good weather proof spot to keep my tools in..they all get a little damp from time to time)

3)most important of all...how do i justify the cost to my wife

i don't have a business so when i buy a tool it BETTER not be the most expensive one or else i will be hearing for the next ten years about the time i spent $300 on a router when she wanted a new pair of shoes.

and that is not a joke....anyone else who is married knows what i mean

business expenses are easy to justify to the wife...hobby expenses are just considered toys

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