A Lot Goes Into Finding the Right Tool For the Job

Prairie Gleanings

It's taken me a few years to learn how to blend price and quality when purchasing tools.

Published on: August 10, 2010

Last weekend, I found a $200 14-volt, cordless DeWalt drill on sale for $99.

At first glance, they appeared to be out of this sweet deal. Upon further examination, I realized someone had hidden the last sale model among the Hitachi drills. To say the very least, I was ecstatic to purchase my first yellow power tool.

Five years ago, I would have balked at spending $100 on a drill. I would have gone with the cheapest brand. Then I would have bought seven batteries once I realized how short the life is and how long they take to charge. (I’m speaking from experience here.)

Years of home renovations, car maintenance and basic repairs have taught me the fine art of tool purchasing. Long ago, I read an article that said to always buy the most expensive brand you can afford. That’s fairly good advice, but it leaves out one very important aspect: how often will you be using the tool? Here’s a few questions I ask myself before buying tools.

  1. Is the premium brand worth the price? I normally go with a middle road brand for Phillips head drill bits. Last week, I found even the middle isn’t enough when driving a screw through cement backer board for tile. After slipping off screw heads and gouging my hand multiple times, I bought a package of Bosch titanium bits. They were about twice the price, but I didn’t have any more slippage. My hands thought it was well worth it.
  1. How often will you be using the tool? I don’t think it makes much sense to buy the very best tool if you’ll only be using once a year. I’ve had a cheap table saw for about three years now. Since I only use once or twice a year, I don’t see the need to have the very best.
  1. Will I get a better tool if I spend more money? Sometimes, the price doesn’t mean a whole lot. Years ago, I bought a cheap, metal straight edge for drywall. It’s just a long piece of steel, not sure how more money would have helped me there.

Oh, I’m leaving one very important aspect of tool purchasing out: get your wife to realize the value of good tools. It’s taken me a few years, but now she understands the importance of having the right tool for the job.

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