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Originally posted by jrcard: What is your favorite way of researching a new tool purchase? (magazines,internet,friends,etc...)
The Internet is the best way to find out current info on tools. When I was looking for a thickness planer I looked at old magazines and thought the Delta portable planer was my choice. The Internet told me it was a dud. I then went on to search people who bought which one and RIGID came out on top.
Don's right...I learned the same thing (after I bought the Delta) and sold mine immediately before the trouble started...still haven't bought the Ridgid due to a couple of cancelled jobs, but I'll get it soon....
I use the forums at various woodworking sites including this one for the info and the mags and websties for pics of the tools...until retailers set up usable displays to test tools (kinda like the test drive at your local automall) this is by far the best way to get feedback. (BTW, I really don't expect any tool retailers to do this)...
Kelly C. Hanna<br /><a href=\"http://www.hannawoodworks.com\" target=\"_blank\">Hanna Woodworks</a>
As far as I'm concerned, I use both magazines and the internet, but base the majority of my decisions on information from the net. I use the magazines to put together a list of those items I am interested in checking into a little further and then do my in-depth research on the net. The magazines can give you good basic input, but there is absolutely nothing better than getting information on the various tools directly from folks who have had the opportunity to use them.
It's both magazines and the net. I feels you can get the most information from sights that have customer reviews, Your able to get an over all feel for the product. But there too you have weigh the good and the bad. I have noticed on one sight that there is a person who puts down every product he reviews. I own 2 of these products and found them to be to notch. But I like to be able to get my hands on the product and test it out for my self.
The net is great for starting but to have actual people inform you of tools is the best for me.Honest word of mouth has worked more than not for me over the years. People who use and abuse the tools really know the tools as compared to a printed out review can tell me. You can hear the tone in words as you cant tell anything in black/white.
When I first started I had a foreman who was a makita man and a coworker who was a dewalt man. Never the twain shall meet. I ended up getting the first dewalt 18v hammer drill recip saw combo and took much flack. The drill lasted like a champ, the first generation cordless recip was pretty crappy (electric drywall cutter) but the point is my foreman tried to prove my dewalt was crap until it outlasted his bluster. He was convinced, probably even to today that yellow tools are crap.
A lot of guys on the jobsite are full of crap about a lot of things, skill with carpentry, skill with women etc. I think it may be a case where people are more likely to put up fronts in person than they would anonymously. It sort of carries over to tool talk too, everybody likes theirs best.
Of course I find the same attitudes on the net as well, but also find thoughtful buyers who are not fanboys to a certain brand, so it is very valuable. I like looking at amazon to see the reviews and this forum is good too. The problem is I end up seeing more tools as I surf that I didn't previously know I needed!
A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.
It's best to be open to all brands. Each tool company makes a few good tools, some that are so-so and now and then some real (*&^% tools. What counts is to find out which ones are the great tools regardless of brand and buy those. Finding the info takes time, but it's great learning. I've found that in many cases what works for one person may not be the best choice for another. Read up all you can and do ask lots of people about what they have and currently use. Please think about parts and service too.
The Web Is The Best Source Of Info Ever, But Nothing Takes The Place Of Putting Your Hands On The Tool. I Research As Much As I Can And When I Settle On A Tool I Buy It From A Dealer Like Home Depot Or Amazon, Someone That Has A Good Return Policy.
As Soon As I Get It Out Of The Box I Preform Some Accuracy, Performance, And Quality Tests. If The Tool Passes It’s Added To My Bag Of Tricks, If Not It Goes Back And I Drop Back And Punt. I Dont Mean To Abuse A Stores Return Policy, But If You Fork Over Big Bucks For A Tool You Should Be Able To Expect To Get A Quality Machine.
My very first point of research for any tool is the manufacturers website. Its very important that the product specifications are kept up to date and must have information as detailed as possible no matter how minute or seemingly insignificant as well as clearly listing accessories included with the tool. It can be frustrating at times to be looking for info on a tool only to not have the specific bit of information you need listed. Second I'll try to google up reviews of the specific tools to see what comes up. Last I'll browse forums such as this to see what people are saying. I'm usually a bit more carefull about reading user reviews because while many are inmensly useful one needs to be careful to understand when the user experience is really relevant. A lot of those reviews can be from people from limited experience with a tool or simply don't have enough experience on other brands to compare them to for it to really be worthwhile. Most people claim to be neutral when it comes to tool choice but the truth is brand loyalty always exists to some degree with everyone. While I have tools of almost every brand I'd be lying if I didn't say my first stops for anything I buy are the Dewalt, Makita, Ridgid, and Bosch sites.
Also forgot to add, one thing thats nice to see are lots of product pictures from different angles. Pictures can really speed up research particularly when you either don't have the option to to see the tool in person or its just a lot of trouble to go and see every single model you're considering at a store. Its nice to clearly see how its designed, where switches are located, etc. There is one thing in particular I like about Dewalt's website and its that they many times have pictures of the tools IN USE. It sounds silly but when you need to research tool types you are not very familiar with, seeing them in action can be a huge help. I can't telly you how many times I'm not sure if a tool can do what I ned it to and seeing it pictured doing just that makes all the difference. An effective tool comarison system is also important. Not so much with Ridgid since their lineups are mostly one tool in each category but for brands that make a bunch of different models for the same job it can be daunting to figure out exactly what is different or better between each model.
I start with good ole Google with a general search to see what is out there.
When I have the sites bookmarked in a folder for that particular tool I review each site looking at the tool specs.
When narrowed down I go to the forums (like this one) to get direct information from those who use them.
I then visit the retailers to view the tools and play with them for a while. I generally nab someone and grill them on their product knowledge. By this time in my research I end up knowing more. I actually sold a brad nailer to a lady just before christmas and I did not even work at the store. I was actually waiting for the guy to serve me and seen this lady in complete confusion. HD owes me one.
Then its back to the internet for price comparisons (local and mail order)
Then its purcahse time
I usually still keep an eye on the market for a couple of weeks after just in case the price drops so I can (hopefully) get a price match.
Pretty detailed . . . but I want to make sure I get what I want an need for my hard earned $$$$.
The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.